Saturday, November 27, 2010

Email Beginnings

I've been blogging for less than a year. Before that there were tell-tale signs that it was in my future.

Take this email for instance from last year's Thanksgiving Day:

11.26.09 8:09 PM   [Thanksgiving Night]
To: Auntie Lynne, Auntie Donna, Tammy, Wayne, Scott, Todd, Trevor,


Hi, all,
I got up early this morning to get a jump on the Thanksgiving cooking.  I was alone in the kitchen, everyone else still asleep and while I cooked, I began reminiscing.  Here are a few of the things I remembered that have made my day today.

Competing to be the first to see the dome of the capitol building in Providence when we were getting close, chanting "Bumps, bumps, come on bumps!" for my mother's sake because she always had to go to the bathroom when we were bouncing over some bridge close to EP [East Providence], fighting over Grandma's dressing, setting tables, making placecards, lots of aunts laughing while doing dishes (we weren't allowed because the dishes were the "good" ones and we were too little), the Thanksgiving parade in Grandpa's basement, Grandma's speech about not having to eat anything you didn't want today, Happy living up to his name wacking us in the rump with his wagging tail as he waded through the sea of people at Grandma's house, Grandpa's toast that Jeff had memorized at a young age and adopted as a tradition to carry on, piano, uke, banjo, kazoos and bad singing that was nothing but sheer fun, trying to catch the football game at the end of the block and still make it home in time for dinner, Auntie Lynne fussing at us for growing while we were gone, Dad and Uncle Butch comparing bald spots.

I have wonderful childhood memories of Thanksgiving at Grandma's house.  Hope your memories are as special. And I hope you had a great day today, too.

Love,
Dawn

PS _ Tam, forward this to Todd and Trevor, please.  I don't have their emial addresses.  Thanks.
May your Thanksgiving memories and its spirit of giving thanks bleed into the rest of your year...and all the years to come.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Coming In Second

It's Black Friday, and I slept in.

Whenever there's a giveaway, I find myself saying, "I never win anything," and I don't hold out high hopes. But when I stop to think about it, I have won a few times.

Once, in sixth grade, I won a poster contest sponsored by the American Heart Association. I drew a picture of a frog in a pond of dead ducks with a caption that said, "Don't smoke. You'll croak." My parents and I attended a very nice dinner and my poster was unveiled and used that year in a very low-key, local-shmocal ad campaign.

That night, I won again. A man's tennis shirt was one of the door prizes. It just so happened that my dad was an avid tennis player, and he feigned surprise when he opened it as a Christmas gift that year. (Apparently I was frugal and thrifty even as a kid!)

At the last annual homeschool meeting I attended, I won a canvas bag as a door prize that I have enjoyed thoroughly. It boasts Spring-colorful stripes, leather straps and a buckle.

Well, two Saturdays past, while I was minding my own business at the ice skating rink waiting for Reagan to get off the ice at the very last second, I checked my email messages to pass the time.

I had a message from Lisa-Jo (the gypsymama), whose blog I read, but have never been in direct contact with. I opened the message and read:

Well, guess what? One of the winners of the Deeper Still conference tickets can’t go. So her ticket is back up for grabs and you were next in line. Whaddaya say? Wanna go attend the event with Kay Arthur, Priscilla Shirer, and Beth Moore.

What could I say? Except ...

AB–SO–LUTELY !!

It's a 5½ hour drive to Birmingham. I've never, EVER gone anywhere alone. I have never driven in event traffic. I left home at twenty and married a man who has taken good care of me ever since. I'm like a little girl who's never done anything on her own. And I'm terrified.

But I'm going.

All alone. To face 12,000 women who will come in safe, comfortable groups. My hubby's on board (although he can't believe I'm doin' it), mom is thrilled, and my best friend even tried to tag along.

I'm not sure what's gotten into me. I just think that this fell into my lap for a reason. I should seize the moment, throw caution to the wind, and just do it!

I got a few more emails last Friday – you know, to build up the excitement I guess, and  get this – while I was having Mom's car worked on so it will be road-ready. **YAY!** There were a few more details telling us whom from (in)courage we (the ten winners) can expect to meet. They are also planning a little meet and greet for the deer-in-the-headlights looking ten of us, so we won't feel quite so alone among an arena full of steel magnolias.

So I'm looking forward to meeting ten new friends, bloggers I admire the likes of Lisa-Jo, Holly Gerth, Kristen Welch, Ann Voskamp, Robin Dance, and a few others from DaySpring. (Did I just name drop?)

For me, coming in second worked out just fine this time. I'm gonna be so proud of myself for doing this terrifying, wonderful thing. It's not a bucket list item (not that I have one), but I imagine I'll learn a lot about myself on this little big adventure. I've already discovered that excited-scared is an emotion second only to laughter-tears. And I'm quite sure it will be just as soul satisfying.

Don't worry. I'll be back to tell you all about it. If, that is, I don't have a heart attack from the excitement before then.

Thanks (in)courage! Thanks also to the winner who declined! It's the best thing I've ever not won ... so far.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Upside-Down Thanksgiving

It was 1620 when the Mayflower, a cargo ship doing its best impression of a passenger ship, landed off-course, much farther north (and colder, snowier) than its intended destination of present day New York. One hundred twenty-six passengers and crew volunteered to confine themselves to two thousand square feet below deck without a  single window for sunshine. They sailed two miles per hour over two thousand seven hundred fifty miles of ocean day and night for sixty-six solid days.

When they anchored, their real trial began, because they were about to be acquainted with a New England winter. Only fifty-three survived til spring even though they wintered on-board the ship.

As soon as weather permitted, about mid-March,  these fifty-three men, women, boys, and girls who cheated death began an all out effort to survive the next winter.  With their grief and their winter of suffering as motivation, by Autumn of 1621, they had Wompanoag Indian friends, newly built homes, and a harvested  meager first crop. They were better prepared to survive this foreign land with its harsh winters. And they gave thanks because they had hope, bonified hope, of better than fifty percent chance of survival this time around. It was a true Thanksgiving.

This morning our family of five awoke in a heated home of twenty-four hundred square feet all to ourselves. Like the pilgrims, we had to be ready and had our work cut out for us. Not because sure death lay ahead, but a Thanksgiving celebration. And we didn't fare as well as they did. There was complaining, then fighting, and no working together. Excuses and put-offs and demands added to the turmoil.

The Pilgrims knew they were dead men walking, with odds against them.  They set their sights and laid their rolled up sleeves to another deadly winter to come, their thoughts never far from the death and suffering of the winter past. A real threat of death caused them to strive toward life.

We know nothing of this. But we should. We know only warmth, safety from the elements. We know only literacy and wealth. Remember only grace. We expect life, not death, and are without motivation.

We clean our carpets not wanting anyone to see our dirt, invite thirty to celebrate the one day out of three sixty five designated for giving thanks. And although we really are thankful, it's a two minute acceptance speech to thank the Academy and our Producer and  Manager. We glitter and walk the red carpet, take trophies home to our glass showcase of accomplishments.

But we are the trophies of his grace. And we don't know this yet, can't remember, have forgotten that we cheated death. We complain, expect, and demand, while we polish our silver for a Thanksgiving dinner with a tarnished heart.

And how do we give thanks? How do we remember and live grace and thanks and mercy when we should have died from sin exposure during our first winter? How do we build a house unless we're motivated by side-stepped Gates of Hell? We must find motivation in condemnation foregone because of a Gift. Can we take it for granted? Because it was. Granted. Can we lower our expectations to raise our thanks giving?



I want to gather around a table that supports God's bounty, and remember I've escaped beyond explanation my due end. I am Pilgrim in a strange new land, with the lowered expectation of my sure demise were it not for grace granted of God.

For we can only be thankful when we remember we are unworthy and unable, when there is a real threat of death, and a taking of life for granted.

You can read of others who write of the spiritual discipline of giving thanks by clicking on the graphic.



”holy

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Deer Sightings

We saw the deer today.

All of us this time. We left the house early, while dew still hung in the air, and the sun was still a promise to the Sunday ahead.

Four years ago, shortly after we moved into this neighborhood, Mike was alone at dusk when he crossed the wooded ridge that buffers the residents from the main thoroughfare. There are railroad tracks at the crest of the ridge, and it was there that Mike first saw it: a deer in the clearing that looked up and stared straight back at him.

Since that night four years ago, we've probably crossed those tracks a thousand times or two in our comings and goings. If one of the kids, or all of the kids, or even just me is with him when he stops at the tracks to look both ways before crossing, Mike says "Look for deer, kids."

At first they looked in earnest. After a month of disappointments, there was frustration. At about the five month mark, they began arguing with their Dad about there not being deer in the woods - and all their various reasons why not. But Mike was quietly relentless, insisting, even if dryly, that we keep a eye out for deer.

It became funny. By then, one of the kids would imitate him, saying it just like he does if they could beat him to the punch. And Dad began to be mocked. But he didn't care, or argue back, or defend his long-ago sighting. Undeterred, he just kept on saying, "Check for deer, guys."

Then, this morning, it happened. We were running late, talking about the milk that was spilled in our haste to get out the door, still making sure we all had on seat belts.

Mike put on the brakes as soon as he crossed over the tracks, put it in reverse, and said, "Did you see it? Deer!"

Adrian said, "Come on, Dad, I'm late!"

Mike stopped the truck right on the tracks, and there she was. She was simply there after all those time of not there. All six of us had a staring contest. She didn't move a muscle, stood stark still, peaceful, but alert. It lasted only a minute, and I suppose she won since we were the first to speed off. It did set us back in our lateness to church, but oh, was it worth it.

The kids were speechless. Such satisfaction that seeing brings after such long-awaited promise. It's not that they had doubted that Dad had seen a deer, it was just the believing that they would never would.



But this is how I want to always see those tracks in my mind's eye. So I can practice seeing things unseen. And hopefully in the future cut down on the cycle of disappointment, frustration, rationalizing, and scoffing before I see what God knew was there all along.

blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.~John 20:29

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Christmas Wishes

Christmas lists are a tradition around here, and they get saved from year to year. I can't wait until the kids are in their twenties and home for Thanksgiving. I plan to use a few of the earliest,  cutest ones as placecards on the Thanksgiving table that year. The rest will be in a file on top of the fridge awaiting their review after dessert. I'll be waitng for their laughter and their take on Memory Lane. I think they're gonna love it.

Those wish lists are always a hoot, even since they've gotten older. We still hold to a belief in Santa around here, all of us, but I'm beginning to feel we should rethink this. It seems to be backfiring.

Here's how it's gone so far this year:


Reagan shows her list to Dad and here's how the conversation went:

Dad: Ya know, Santa has his own list.

Reagan:  I know, I've been good.

Dad:  But he doesn't bring guitars to girls that leave their clothes on the floor and toothpaste in the sink.

Reagan:  Dad, it's okay. They make them in the workshop, and I've done a good job.

Dad:  I don't know, Reagan, it's gonna be a close one this year.  Are you sure? You can deceive yourself, but not Santa – He's got his list.

Reagan (turning the page over, scribbling...) hands her list back to Dad.


Reagan is our sassy child. If you know her in real life, it goes without saying.

When Noelle was about three, her list included a reindeer and a sleigh. We told her on Christmas morning that Santa couldn't part with either one or there'd be no Christmas for anyone anymore. She went with that, much to our relief.

Even now, the girls are harmonizing in the kitchen to Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, singing too loudly, as usual.

If you give a mom a Christmas list, she'll want to bake gingerbread cookies.....

I do believe the Christmas spirit has invaded. And I think that's just fine.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Gift of a Lot

A lot is two words, not one, and I've been called Dictionary Dawn on more than one occasion. The English major in me is a tad geeky (or snobby some might say) about words. But this is important because words mean something. And "a lot" is two words, just like "a little" is two words. But a lot is not a little. A lot is a lot.

As in, I like chocolate cake a lot.

Or, thanks a lot.

It means in abundance, many, much.



In Ecclesiastes 5:18-20, God shows up four times, and each time he's busy doing something. He's giving.

He gives life (18).
He gives riches and wealth (19).
He gives joy in our labor (19).
He gives gladness in our hearts (20).

Then God gives us the the gift of all gifts: the ability (empowers us) to receive our lot (19).

This lot is a portion, a part, or a share. As in a parking lot or a lot of land. It's an amount apportioned to each.

When a lot comes from God, it's a lot and a lot. It's a portion that's big. A generous God doesn't give anything else any other way.

Psalm 16:5 tells us the Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup (a synonym for our condition in life, or lot in life). He alone supports, maintains, or upholds my lot. In other words, he doesn't cast lots, but holds them secure.

Translation: The inheritance God has given me is good stuff, and it's safe. No one can steal it away.


And if our big, fat, beautiful gift of His life, wealth, joy and gladness doesn't always look like those things here in this life, then the momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things that are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.

This means that the lot we see here is going to be a lot more in the life to come — if we have the eyes of faith to see it.

Proverbs 16:33 tells us the lot is cast into the lap but every decision is from the Lord.

When lots are drawn and portions given, God is exercising his sovereignty. He is in control of our life circumstances — our lot, what we are given. And he tells us it's a blessing, a good gift from a loving God.

Have you ever wondered what His lot is? What God's portion is? He does have one, you know. The Lord's portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance. Deuteronomy 32:9.

So I am my Beloved's, and He is mine. We are each other's lot in life. And it's an abundant life and eternal life, a lot of life.

All because He gave...and enabled us to receive...a lot.

And because God's apparently a bit of a Word snob, too.



I'm writing in community today about giving with Ann Voskamp and others who chonicle their walk with Him.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Heroes

It was my usual nap time, and I was yawning, hence the cup of frozen cappuccino in my hand. Sundays are, after all, for Sabbath rest, and I usually try to comply with a weekly nap.

But yesterday was different because it was the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. So I sipped my coffee in hopes that my eyes that would be closed in prayer would not drift off into slumber.  The saints had golden bowls to fill with prayer. We gathered in a classroom auditorium, only sixty or seventy in a space made for two hundred, and I felt inadequate to meet such need as I saw around me.  There were too many empty chairs, and too many persecuted countries and people groups, and not enough time.



We heard reports from Eli Fader, a missionary to Sudan asking for prayer regarding the six-year peace agreement between the warring North and South that comes to an end this January 9, 2011. Should the south secede from the Islamic north, an iron curtain will fall upon the people of the north shutting out any evangelism or Christian missionary work. Should the Christian south reconcile with the north, they will be overpowered by the Muslims, no longer free to Christian worship.

How to pray?

Ozgur Jerdan introduced himself as a "Muslim-background believer" when we shook hands just before the program began. He's a Turk who is no longer Muslim, a contradiction in terms, an identity torn in two. Yet he stood in the flesh before me with the quavering voice of a college student broken for his homeland.

Struggling for composure at the podium, he asked volunteers to pray for his Christian countrymen to look to Jesus rather than focus on their persecution. That fear would not hold them captive from their faith, and that they would respond with love and forgiveness toward their persecutors. He mentioned the recent murder of a German missionary and his wife's opportunity to speak with the Turkish reporters. On the very day of her husband's murder, she looked through the camera to the eye of every Muslim Turk and publicly forgave those who took her husband's life.

We heard from Sainey Fatty, a native of Gambia, a small western African nation. He came to the US to study in New York, but what he learned in America was the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

"Gambia is ignorant of all things Christian, and what they do know is false," he says.

His family has disowned him these seventeen years, and his visa is soon to expire. Without an extension from Attorney General Eric Holder, he will be deported in December to certain death in Gambia for his conversion to Christianity. (Senator Graham and Congressman Wilson are working on behalf of his visa petition.)

He said people have called him brave. "But I am not brave. I was afraid. Afraid to die without Christ."

Among his prayer requests was a desire to see Gambian Christians be willing to return to their nation to speak the gospel.  Absent from his requests was a plea for his own uncertain and precarious future. That concern was raised by Sam Elijah, the organizer of the event, an Indian missionary come to evangelize America.

We heard from representatives of China, Nigeria, and India. Prayer requests that money would not tempt the Chinese church to compromise with a communist government, and for aging Chinese house church pastors. Seventy and eighty years of age is no match for communist prisons. We prayed that government officials in Nigeria would stop denying that fifty years of civil unrest is indeed religious persecution and much more than politics. We prayed that suffering for the kingdom would not become a stumbling block. That God would strengthen Indian Christians to resist their government's agenda to make Hindu the national religion, making religious conversion illegal.

The translator on the screen said, "When they pressed the broken bottle to my stomach, I cried out, 'Lord, help me! I do not want to deny you.'" Today that girl bears scars of her faith, and a testimony of a faithful God.

Not only is persecution a human tragedy, it's a spiritual reality. And I am obligated to my brothers and sisters who risk it all to serve the Lord. It's my responsibility, my honor, to pray for them. It is the least and the most I can do.

Will we not give one sleepy afternoon in prayer on behalf of their affliction? Can we not fill the golden bowls to overflowing at the feet of Jesus?

As I set my empty coffee cup on the floor at my feet, my western ease and luxury pressing hard against my full belly, I cried out, "Lord, help me! I do not want to deny you!"

So I did not fall asleep yesterday afternoon -- I did battle. And Christ won.

Moments later, I sped home, westward into a glorious sunset, like heroes do at the end of fairy tales. I don't feel like a hero. But I think I have prayed for a few ... with a few. I smile, and the Holy Spirit winks his fire-tinged sky in my direction. I think of the light rising on the other side of the horizon on my persecuted siblings. Because my day was ending, theirs was just beginning.

: : :

In light of that day, I count more blessings.

307 ~ that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, not even persecution

208 ~ my bible - every. single. page.

309 ~ that owning a bible is a tremendous responsibility

310 ~ that prayer is, too

311 ~ we are alien and stranger to this world

312 ~ the Spirit of God Who unites us into one body with Christ as the head

313 ~ that every nation and tribe and people and tongue will be there

314 ~ peace, security, freedom to worship without risk of bodily harm

315 ~ that I've been given much, and much will be required

316 ~ one afternoon in prayer -- not much, but little

317 ~ brave heroes who are afraid to be without Christ

318 ~ riding off into the sunset

319 ~ persecution and luxury both overcome so as not to deny our Lord

Adding my multitude of blessings to a multitude of others at a holy experience. Join us, won't you?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Confessions of a Pastor's Wife


Google Images
 This is completely indulgent on my part, given my last post, but what the heck, it's my blog.

1. My name is Dawn. Don't be afraid to use it.
What is it about the pastor's wife and not being able to use her name? Who wrote this crazy rule?

Can't we just break this one? It's my name, I'm used to it. I look around for the source when I hear it. I even perk up if I hear something that only sounds like my name.  And although there was that bit in fourth grade about wishing my name were Francesca, I rather like my name. It's common enough. People know how to spell it, pronounce it. But it was never the most popular name around, and there aren't fourteen of us everywhere I go. I don't find it offensive whatsoever to be called my name, just as I imagine you don't when I call you by yours.

But there are some in our church family who just can't bring themselves to it. I'm addressed as Sister, Mrs. Dawn, and First Lady. While I find none of these substitutes disrespectful, I have begged for my own name, but with many, to no avail. I try to play along because I know they mean well. Just know up front that you may have to call out, "First Lady!" more than once before I realize you're talkin' to me and respond accordingly. Just sayin'.

2. If you speak privately with Pastor Mike, don't assume I know all about it.
In  fact, assume I don't. The first lesson from seminary Mike took to heart was that pastors are supposed to protect their wives from the inside beltway of the unsavory aspects that do arise from time to time in church life. I must say, right now, that Mike has had pa-lenty of opportunities to practice this one ... in the past. This skill is getting fairly rusty since CWO is the most wonderful church family ever, and government in our church is after the biblical model, cutting down on a lot of the political jockeying.

But if you have unloaded your burdens to your pastor or sought pastoral advice, you have made a deposit in Fort Knox. Be assured he will take it to his grave. There is no safer place for your secrets. (Unless you are one of our children, in which case he will use you as a sermon illustration.) I, however, do not know, nor do I want to know your goods. If you come to me with chapter two of your saga, you'll just have to start all over again at the beginning. You've been fore-warned.

3. Please do not ask me for the details of any upcoming events on the church calendar. I cannot help you.
Yes, I'm aware that I'm the pastor's wife. Yes, I attend almost everything and end up with all the details correct myself. But I don't listen for details from the announcements. I just get in the car with whomever/whatever I was supposed to bring with me when Mike tells me it's time to go. I don't know anything about the calendar because I live with the calendar-maker. You're on your own.

4. I'm really in quite the hug conundrum.
I've never been the huggy, touchy type, and our church is a true melting pot of cultural ingredients the likes of black, Latin-American, and Caucasian. I have found the different cultures to have different greeting expectations. Caucasians are content with a hand-shake at most, but simple eye contact and a "hello, how are you?"  is perfectly acceptable. Black culture requires a quick hug, while Latinos don't feel properly greeted without a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

I have completely given up trying to meet these expectations. Can you imagine my embarrassment as I kiss the cheek of someone who was expecting a mere half-smile? So, if you hug me, I hug back. If you don't, you get the "hello, glad to see you" variety. Please don't think I play favorites or feel like you've been slighted. The true confession here is how much time I've spent plagued with thoughts that I may be offending someone because I hug her all the time, but never hug you.  I love you all. Trust me. And I'll hug you if I have to.

And to think there was a time I wasn't the slightest bit interested in being a pastor's wife.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fewer Words

The Preacher instructs us to let our words be few. After all, God is in heaven and we are on earth, so He is to be feared. (Ecclesiastes 5)

There's something irreverent and selfish about our babbling on and on.

When Isaiah saw the Lord in his majesty, he did have a few words. But those words were of his unclean lips. There was a need for his words to be burned, purged. The seraph was happy to oblige him.

Because being in awe of God makes us speechless. Dumb.

How can words be few when you're a writer, and that's what you do? String words together to paint pictures. To apply Balm to the wounded.  To wrap your small (but God-deemed significant) self around Him who's not only too big, but infinite. Even his gifts are too big. Too grand. I, too small. Too limited.

Can I take them in? Only with words that are the sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15). Only by counting...

289 ~ asking for Dad's parenting advice after our own miserable failure in those roles ourselves
290 ~ his wise advice: keep 'em talking to you - our very own downfall
291 ~ that this would have made Grandma so very happy
292 ~ God made happy, too, because it's his grace
293 ~ warm sun through my office window
294 ~ the maple's testimony to everlasting life


295 ~ video birthday wishes from kids in Guatemal who have met me but once, and love me still
296 ~ daughters when they share
297 ~ colonial America preserved in an historic district


298 ~ the eight steeples I counted that slash the Savannah skyline, marking forever our culture for Christ
299 ~ indoor swimming in November
300 ~ a congregation of five on a hotel room floor
301 ~ Live oak and Spanish moss reminding me of home


302 ~ man-sized hugs from a son whis is still a boy...but morphing
303 ~ the ride home
304 ~ the kind of beauty that comes with age


305 ~ that being awe-struck is being dumb-struck
306 ~ the foolishness of God confounding the wise

Choosing my words to be those of praise and counting blessings in community with others at One Thousand Gifts.

holy experience

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Savannah's Steepled Sky

Steeples are architectural towers that grace many Christian churches and cathedrals. Colonial Georgia in historic Savannah sports many because it's colonial America: the people who founded these colonies were, in fact, Christians.
Bell towers, or belfrys, were often incorporated to communicate community-wide. They spread news of celebration, of danger, of times of day. They kept the pace, and a town in safety and synchronization.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."
 ~ Paul Revere's Ride, Longfellow
The word spire comes from an Anglo-Saxon root meaning spear, denoting martial strength and a reaching heavenward. Although they typically grace religious structures, the symbolism works for government edifices as well, such as the Savannah City Hall. Quite an elaborate affair, don't you think? A spire, a belfry, and a clock.
The clock tower became part of Christian architecture around AD 600 as an adaptation of a military watchtower.

But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. ~ Micah 7:7

 When clock towers merged with the church structure, they became more elaborate, topped with grander, taller roofs, resulting in what is known today as a steeple.
"It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority."
~ Jesus, to his disciples who were anxious to see Isreal restored as a sovereign kingdom.

Then they said, "Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.
~ Genesis 11:4
 So tell me, are these beautiful structures a demonstration to God of our proud work, to make a name for ourselves?
Or are they demonstrations of man's worship of God, a lavish offering to Him?
"The house which I am about to build will be great, for greater is our God than all the gods."
 ~ Solomon, 2 Chronicles 2:5
 Which message does this seem to communicate to you?
Is this to man's glory or God's?
I am grateful I have no need of answering. His word tells me:
Do you not know you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
 ~ 2 Corinthians 3:16
 I'm relieved that when storm clouds silhouette the cross that spires high in the sky, God sees not the beauty of the cross nor its height.
He sees our need and He reaches low.
He emptied himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in the appearance as a man, He humbled Himself...
and He drew near to me.

All photos are of Savannah, Georgia and taken by my son Adrian.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Yet Not Consumed

Tree branch green
with solar energy
until chloraphyl drains.
A slow giving up,
a yielding,
to a falling down.
It sparks
a crimson blaze.
A bush
a-burning
sheds a layer
to stand
stark straight
and stiff.
Yet not consumed.
A naked skeleton
without flesh
or circulation
skirted by red,
orange,
brown confetti.
A festive bon voyage
for maple
that burns.
Yet not consumed.

A holy place
each tree on fire
playing dead,
shedding cover,
yet budding life
. . .anew. . .
in Spring.

It's the Song
of the Redeemed
the maples sing.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power, and divine nature, have been clearly seen, so they are without excuse. ~ Romans 1:20

Monday, November 1, 2010

Passport to Freedom: Politics and Gratitude

My husband left his country of origin with his parents and three siblings. He doesn't remember; he was only two. But they were empty-handed, especially my mother-in-law, who was stripped of even her wedding rings.  They were Cuban refugees seeking political asylum in the United States. It was the beginning of a family, although united in Christ, being divided by political boundaries much like the Berlin Wall. Mere brick or ninety miles of gulf water: so close, yet so far. Only within the last year have the remnants of his extended family been able to get out, some forty years later. Many never saw one another again face to face.

Mike's dad was an accountant and an opera singer. He rode motorcycles and was the choir director at church. After the Revolution, the government instructed those who wanted to leave the country to come to a government office to register. The morning after Mike's dad did just that, the father of four found himself instantly jobless.

He turned his kitchen into a black market bakery and sold cakes on the street to support his family: his wife, his mother-in-law, his brother-in-law and his four children ages 7, 5, 2, and an infant for two long years of waiting to leave.



Government officials came to their home to take inventory of their personal belongings, which somehow were no longer personal or belongings but had become confiscated property of the Cuban government. The day before they boarded a plane with only a few clothes to their name, inventory was taken again. All had to be accounted for. Their piano broke in the meantime, and they had to replace it before they could leave. A farewell gift to the Revolution, I suppose. Even family photos were denied them. Why? They left stripped of their dignity, their belongings, and their freedom.

They adopted a new country, and, gratefully, a great country adopted them. I was there when Mike swore oathed allegiance and became a naturalized U.S. citizen twenty years later.

Stories like these are not just movie scripts or six o'clock news. They are the burden and heartbreak of people I love, and countless others worldwide that remain disconnected from me by the peace, security, and freedom I expect rather than treasure.

Politics matter.

Freedom is a responsibility.

Please vote your Christian values tomorrow.

Let your one voice be one voice that is heard.

: : :

Two weeks worth of gratitude accumulated, including but never limited to:

258 ~ a pre-release movie screening
259 ~ an old friend reconnecting with God, her husband's salvation, and the anticipation for her phone call in two days' time for the juicy details
260 ~ text messages with good news
261 ~ walks with Mike
262 ~ Family Little House on the Prairie Night
263 ~ Pioneer Woman's French Breakfast Puffs by Reagan that took so long for her to make that they were for lunch instead of breakfast
264 ~ my little girls wanting to learn homemaking skills, making my heart happy
265 ~ waiting on the Lord so long I learn that what he really wants is me to rest in Him, not wait on Him
266 ~ that He is with me always, he's gone before and will lead me onward
267 ~ a kindred spirit blog friend to learn from, counting me among her blessings - sweet
268 ~ counting her, too
269 ~ a long day at work
270 ~ husband who begins putting away the leftovers while I read to everyone
271 ~ folding the last two loads
272 ~ Pastor Cristian's voice, Spanish, face, laughter filling my kitchen from the webcam
273 ~ the kitchen table, the place of fellowship in our home
274 ~ the privilege of driving Mom when she needs a ride
275 ~ that she lives close in this time of her life and I actually can
276 ~ Titi Omi, who is vivacious and generous and loves her nephews and nieces to pieces
277 ~ fresh slates at school every nine weeks
278 ~ every fresh slate, and do-overs, and second chances
279 ~ starting over
280 ~ not giving up
281 ~ Adrian with his guitar, Noelle with her harmony, making our home God's sanctuary
282 ~ shared duties for beautiful worship last Sunday
283 ~ this Sunday's hymns
284 ~ the right to vote
285 ~ my freedom never more taken for granted
286 ~ one lonely stamp in a baby's passport that changed our lives:
Ministerio Del Interior, Inmigración, Cuba
Salida [Exit]
Diciembre 7, 1967
287 ~ that gratitude is its own kind of passport to freedom
288 ~ that he whom the son sets free is free indeed


I'm counting Gifts of Grace with Ann Voskamp today.
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