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11:48 Saturday April 7th Easter eve…

Easter has always been an important holiday to me since I came to believe. I was raised in a home where my parents didn’t want any talk of two things… politics and religion. My first encounter with Jesus was reading the bible back in Jr. High.  I was able to see him without a bunch of pre-conceived notions or after too many boring flannelgraph Sunday school lessons. I was taken by the way he interacted with people. I’ve never been the same since those early encounters. I like to spend Easer alone remembering… remembering how different my life could have been without the decision to follow him.  And being thankful for the life I’ve had that’s better for having known him.  I know that so many horrible things have been done throughout the ages in the name of God… and that saddens me. But I have a feeling it saddens Jesus too.  Every day I get up and think about the miracle of still being alive and of being loved by the creator of the universe. I know some of you think I’m crazy for believing. Thanks for hanging with me anyway. 🙂  This is one of my favorite Easter poems. I think of it every year at this time:

 

Bareback In Kansas

by Eugene Warren

(A Poem About The Passionate Love Of Christ)

The mare lathers the wind,

her mane streams like light,

my face is full of it;

I ride her like a lord of pastures,

a meadow in each eye,

stockpond deep in the center:

water down to mud, mud down

to limestone colorless

at those depths,

greasewhite until sun yellows it.

I am thinking of You

as her hooves bite the grass, spreading it;

I am thinking of Your face,

bearded and serene, of Your eyes

like the pond on a clear day,

a double depth cloudless;

I am thinking of the mouth in Your side

that spoke the fountain,

of the dark bloodcaked eyes

in Your hands and feet weeping,

I am thinking that You loved me

as I mounted the ladder

& shoved the thorns around Your skull,

I am thinking

that the palms of Your outspread hands

watched me as I turned from the hill

& went laughing back to the city

to spill wine like blood down my throat

& tell whores of the Fool.

I am thinking of the spear thrust

that brought the fountain from the rock;

I am thinking Your dead eyes held my image,

I am thinking You broke the darkness

& came after me,

I am thinking You tore the weeds

from my flesh

& sowed good seed,

I am thinking of the nails driven into Love,

 

I am thinking of the governments raising steel helmets

against You, of the nails of denial in our mouths,

I am thinking of Your look that changes,

of the Light that sweeps from Your wounds.

And the mare races through the pasture,

her mane flies in my face,

I lie close to her neck,

the speed of her gallop is not more

than the speed of Your mercy:

And I know that You loved me

though the hammer was in my hand,

though the spear was registered in my name,

though I laughed and taunted–

You did not crush me, You hunted me,

& the swift arrow of Your mercy

shattered the swollen ball of my selfish eye

& Your kiss blossomed my sight anew;

And I know that You are the lamb,

that You are the tiger;

I know that Your love stands against all night,

that darkness’ king has known the temper

of Your blade & fled;

I know that none evades You,

That death’s shattered on Your rock.

And I know that this mare will rise with me,

that You will touch body as well as spirit,

that the blossom will have its stem,

that Your city stands forever,

that the tree bears in season & out,

I know that You know my name

& call it,

& my answering is to

Life.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011 (8:55am)

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep…

Today is surgery day. I’ve got great surgeons and I’m hoping for the best. I’ll be asleep and trust that they have my best interests in mind, and that they will be able to do healing work I can’t do for myself. I have to give up control and trust. But I believe that it is God who ultimately holds my life in the palm of His hand. He has certainly walked with me though so much in my life time. I have no doubt it will be the case this time too.

It is a good thing knowing that there’s very little about my life’s journey I would change. I’ve always tried to live in the moment and to invest in the lives of the people who are a part of my world. This journey with cancer has made me even more committed than ever to make the most of the time I have and to live with passion.

This has been a hard season. I’m very tired physically, but I have a renewed sense of purpose. On the front of my teaching notebook, where I keep my study plans for my students etc I have this quote:

“Courage doesn’t always roar

Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying…

I will try again tomorrow”

For years now my life has been measured day by day, and many times moment by moment. Here’s to once again dedicating each of those moments, long or short, to the Creator, who has loved me all along the way, and to you too, the precious gifts that God has placed in my life. All my love to you all. I’m looking forward to our next time together.

12/22/11

The other day I was watching something and they mentioned South Carolina’s state motto: Dum Spiro Spero. Translated it means  “While I Breathe, I Hope.” I even lived in South Carolina for awhile and I didn’t know.

Anyone who’s known me for a while knows that one of the maxims I live by is “There’s always hope as long as we’re still breathing.”  Life has a way of creating all sorts of twists and turns. There is certainly no guarantee that everything will be easy, or comfortable along the way. But I was thinking the other day about how in the midst of some of the toughest times of my life I also met some of the most amazing people, and had incredible experiences along the way.  These last few weeks have been tough physically and emotionally, but I’ve had such a sense of God’s presence with me. I’ve also been overwhelmed by the love and support of the people who populate my world.  I am so thankful for each one of you and the history we share together.  I have no idea what the future holds, but I do know that I’ve got some great traveling companions for the journey.  And in the mean time I’m more committed than ever to really live fully in the moment and to be fully present with everyone I’m with.  In the midst of the holiday season and the busyness, hopefully we can all remember that the greatest gift we can give each other is ourselves.

I’m reminded of this Old Testament scripture:

17 Though the fig tree does not bud
   and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
   and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
   and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
   I will be joyful in God my Savior.

 19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
   he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
   he enables me to tread on the heights.

Habakkuk 3

 

10:22 am, Friday 7/22/11

I wrote this several years ago, as you can see, but I wanted to move it here next to it’s update.
 
Hey gang it’s a looooong one, but it has some great news for me.
 
Sunday, June 8, 2008 (5:01pm)
The Space Between…

The older I get the more time seems to fly by. Part of that is due to my somewhat crazy work schedule. I get up every day and work at making it through. The next day I do the same. I try to really live in the moment while I’m there with each person I encounter. But still the months race by… the years race by. More and more I’m becoming convinced that time is the most precious commodity of anything we possess. To be continued.
 
Sunday, June 29, 2008 (1:05am)
Ah… see what I mean. 21 days went by… in a heartbeat. For me, the lack of writing normally doesn’t mean “no news.” A lot of times it’s because there are so many things going on that are so meaningful, that I can’t figure out how to condense them into a few phrases. My private journal is considerably more full. Even there sometimes it’s hard to put into words the inner working of my warped brain, or my spirit. I looked back and realized that for the most part, since February, there’s been only silliness in my blog with the exception of a heartfelt prayer for peace and a remembrance of a dear friend.I think we all have those things that occupy the space between. They make their presence known late at night when we can’t sleep, or we are weary… sometimes they are fleeting memories that show up in the midst of great joy. Sometimes for me they happen in one on one encounters here in my teaching room, late night at Barnes and Noble or out to eat with someone. Sometimes it’s triggered by reading someone else’s blog.

So many times lately I’ve had those kinds of people encounters where I wished that I had a video camera running to record the moment. Some of those moments I wish I could share with all of you. There are times when the things that come out of my students mouths (especially the young ones) take my breath away at how they see life… how they get what’s important about living and God and loving people.

There is one little boy whose father has to travel a lot for business. Most of the kids I teach like that are almost always angry at their fathers for their not being around. This little boy loves his dad though… and more than that, he knows how much his dad loves him. Every week he tells me about the stuff they do together and the trips they make together. I hear stories of his dad moving heaven and earth to get back early from business trips to make it to his talent shows and activities. I wish his dad could hear him talk, and I made a mental note to call his dad and thank him for being a great father and let him know I see it all over in the life of his son.

This time in the space between, something amazing has happened in my life. That’s what originally caused me to start this blog back on the eighth. Anyone who’s known me for any length of time knows my sketchy church history. I’m like the Typhoid Mary of Churchdom. I’ve been in more churches that have had horrible things going on… both dealt with and swept under the rug… with sin and corruption and pain and pastoral flameouts… you name it… I’ve been there right in the middle of it. At the end of the day, much more than being angry or bitter, it has left me on one hand with a lot of grief for all the brokenness and loss, and a sense of thankfulness on the other hand for the mercy of God and His ability to bring new life out of the pain.

There aren’t many things in my life that I deeply regret… but there was one that left a huge pool of grief for years. In the early 90’s, due to some circumstances out of either of our control, I felt like the best and most loving thing I could do was to step away from a relationship with one of my best friends, music partner, and also a partner in ministry, who happened to also be a pastor’s wife. For me, and other women in our close knit group, it was hard because we so wanted to be there for her and her son. Through all these years I’ve continued to pray for her and her family and I’ve missed her. I’ve missed having the chance to see her son grow up. Every time I’ve gone out to play, I’ve thought that she would have totally loved what we were doing. And for all these years I’ve hoped that one day there would be a way to make it right.

Recently, I heard that there were some major changes getting ready to happen in her life… and I knew that I knew that I knew that it was time to contact her again, although I had no idea how she would respond. When I called her, she called me right back… and on June 8th, at nine in the evening at Barnes and Noble, we saw each other for the first time since around 1993.

In all these years we never ran into each other. To me when I was contemplating calling her I was blown away by how long it had been when I stopped to do the math. For me the space between 98 when my husband became ill and now has been one huge blur of work and medical bills. It seemed like yesterday when I saw her last. It was like the years just melted away and we had a great time catching up on a lot of missing years. We are both older and more tired, and yet, even with everything I think we are both at a point of looking forward to this new season in our lives. Last night we went to dinner at a place I eat at all the time… and it turns out her son, who’s now in his twenties works there and I have talked to him before. I remember looking at him and almost asking him if he was her son.  Perhaps I’ll have a chance to spend some time eventually with the young man I loved so much as a young boy. There’s so much more to the story, but it’s still in process… to be continued.

The recent events have made me really stop and think about a lot of things, including why we who are a part of the “Christian subculture” will allow things from pastors we would never allow from people who were just showing up on Sunday mornings. Pastors these days only get canned if they get caught in some heinous act. The last few weeks have made me think that maybe we should start with really looking at how they love and care for their families. If they can’t do that, then maybe it doesn’t matter what a “gifted speaker” they are. Perhaps instead of bowing out, I should have stayed at my friend’s side and become an even bigger pain in her husband’s back side. There’s no way of knowing for sure. But I did apologize to her for not being there. I would like to apologize for not finding a way to let him know what was going on and for disappearing out of his life… and to apologize  for all the crap he had to go through at the hands of the church.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to reconnect with such a dear friend. God is all about forgiveness, restoration, and second chances.  In the end, real church is about being family… and continuing to love.

So, I’ve rambled on long enough for now. There’s so much more I could say… and probably will somewhere down the line. Let me just say that I am one thankful girl. And such a weight has been lifted.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite portions of the Bible, that has been so true for me in Psalm 126…
1 When the LORD brought back the captives to
Zion, we were like men who dreamed.

2 Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”
3 The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negev.
5 Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.
6 He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.

WORDS OF WISDOM ABOUT FATHERING…   Several years ago I met an angry young woman named Nikki in an Aol chat room. She was angry at God and didn’t trust the rest of us all that much either. As it turned out, she had a good reason to be angry. One day as she was walking home from her church youth group, not far from her house, she was abducted by a guy who beat and raped her repeatedly, drove her to the dump stabbed her repeatedly and tossed her lifeless body out like a piece of trash. Somehow she managed to crawl to road and lived. She went through a painful recovery period. In the long run her own father couldn’t deal with her, and she went to live with family of one of his friends. I think her father’s rejection was almost more painful than everything else that happened to her.   One of our other online friends was a pastor and he asked her if she had a chance to say something to the father’s of his congregation about how to be a good father, what would it be. Below is what she wrote him. It turned out that part of the reason she was so angry when I met her was a secret she kept from us for a long time… she had cancer and she was dying. But in the process of so many online encounters with several of us, she reconnected with the God she loved as a child, and experienced the real love of friends. When she died she as truly at peace and impacted countless people’s lives, including the doctors, nurses, and other patients that saw the transformation and all her friends and adoptive family. I think of her often and the conversations we had. And every father’s day I take out her letter, written so many years ago now, to that church and to us all.  And each time I’m thankful that God is a Father to the fatherless and that he sees and knows our pain and is crazy about each of us, regardless of how our earthly fathers have done.  

Date:     8/23/99 1:43:35 PM Pacific Daylight Time

From:     Nikky

 Hi Dennis, how are you. I am doing ok. and yes, just ok.  

 Now for a letter you requested. First I am no expert on how dad’s or daughter should behave and everyone is different. but I will tell you what’s in my heart and how I feel about things. My suggestions are just that. Take them like you would anything… How does it stack up to the word of God?

      I feel very strong about fathers never abandoning their kids. But you know its not just a question of not being there. Sometimes kids are abandoned with the dad still there. They are too involved in their work or something else. Take time everyday to love them and show them they are special. Every girl thinks her dad is next to God. She see him as the smartest and strongest person alive. It makes us feel safe. What happens when we don’t feel safe anymore?  Where will we go and what will we look for?  Remember that who our dads are is who we will look for in a husband. I think God has given men an awesome responsibility in being the head of the family.

Don’t ever stop hugging us. The pats on the behind we may outgrow but we never out grow hugs. Talk to us about what you think. We are interested. We want to know that you are ok. That’s how we know that we are ok. We will make mistakes. Help us to learn from it without having to be afraid of making mistakes. If we get hurt, we are girls. Let us cry and if we are moody, that’s ok. We will not be that way forever. Make us laugh, that is the best thing u can do.

 If you are hurt, don’t hide that. Let us see that it is ok for you to cry. Again we will be drawn to what we see in you. Would you have your daughter want a man that had no emotions. And its ok to see that you are human. It’s what you do with your emotions that’s important. Above all, always protect us. I can go a lot of direction with that one. But always protect us. from strangers, from friends (not all friends are good ones), from ourselves (we don’t always make the best decisions). If its not going to harm us let us make bad ones. And then lift us up and love us…

 Back to friends… We will determine our lives by who we choose as friends so be involved with what we are doing. Make sure that you pick your girls up from school every now and again, even if they take a bus. You will be amazed at what you will learn driving home. Find those insights into our souls. There are a lot of ways to do that. Have a slumber party for your daughters, and just listen and enjoy them. When you get a few girls together you will be amazed at what you will learn. I’m not talking about being sneaky, but just to pay attention. Did you know that the best times to communicate about anything is 15min after an event?  Talk about a movie on the way home. Let your girls talk after you pick them up at school. Take them out for a snow cone.

What I’m saying is be involved in their lives. Pray now for God to be raising up godly men for your daughters, and remember that someday you will lose them to another man. But make sure that they are healthy and they pick a man that is like you (examine yourself to see if you are good enough for your daughters). If so, then relax. You have done a great job. As for dating, let them date when they are ready and not before. Being interested in boys doesn’t mean that they are ready for dating. But being mature does. It’s not a question of age but of maturity. Learn to say no. If a girl knows that she can wrap her dad around her fingers, she’ll no longer respect him.

 Remember that we are emotional and we need to talk. We feel before we think. Hey, God made us that way. Above all never stop loving us and always be the example that we need. And don’t forget to listen to us. Be all that God wants you to be… The kind of father and the kind of husband to your wife that God created you to be. Watch the way you treat your wife. Love her and make her the most important person in your life other than God. How you treat her is how we think we should be treated. God had given you a special ministry… Like the parable of the talents. When God comes back show Him you have made a wise investment. He will welcome you into his kingdom. Let your children be your glory and a testament to your life. They have their own minds and you can’t always fix everything. Never tear down their self-esteem. It is so

fragile and harder to put back up. If you make a mistake, say so. It’s who you are that counts not perfection. And it’s as you have said many times to me…  It’s who you belong to. Make sure that they find and marry a man who loves the Lord more than them.

 Be just the kind of man that I’ve known you to be.  You will do fine and God will take care of the rest.

Love you in the right way,

Nikki

I hope this makes some sense to you>>>>

It does Nikki… I miss you dear friend. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

5/19/2010

When I’m with my friends who are involved in leading ministries, there’s always talk about “attracting more young people” to get involved. A lot of times they talk about needing more youthful music, or programs blah blah blah. But I don’t think that’s really what the “young people” are after. They are after the same thing those of us who are older are after… they are looking for people who care about them. They are looking for real relationships. They are looking for a place where they can be themselves and where people will help them work through the questions they have and hunt for answers together.

There’s a lot of talk about authenticity lately. I think it’s a good thing. But there’s a lot of confusion about what exactly that is. Some people argue that people use it as an excuse to sin and we shouldn’t. Other’s argue that if we really love Jesus we won’t “smoke, drink or chew, or go with girls that do.”  That’s not what I think of when I think of being authentic.

When I was young, I grew up in a pretty abusive home. I lived two lives… the hellish one at home, and the other that I tried to keep separate. I was afraid to let my friends get to close to my life at home. But the result is that I felt fractured. Part of the healing process for me after I became a believer was allowing God to integrate those separate parts of my life into one person. To me, to be authentic means to just be honest about who I am, how I’m doing and what is going on inside of me, as well as my relationship with Christ. That doesn’t mean deliberately trying to get away with stuff I think or know is wrong. I just means that I don’t try to hide my brokenness.  There’s a freedom in that. It also creates an environment where my friends and students feel more free to be honest with me too.

Most of my younger friends especially thrive in an environment where they don’t feel like they have to hide their brokenness… where they feel like it’s ok to come with their questions, and their anger, or their pain, and know that there are people who will still love them. In the midst of that we can heal together. I’m not interested in big, bitchin’ worship, or zippy video. I’m not interested in great sermon delivery. I’m interested in sharing life with other people who I know will support and pray for me. I love it when the church functions as a family. Here’s to more real connection going on.

The previous posts on this blog were originally hosted on a different blog site. Where possible, when I moved them I included their original post date. I did not move the comments. Thanks so much for stopping by to visit.