Monday, March 30, 2009

Moon Dance

Friday was a beautiful spring day! The sky was blue with wispy clouds. It was sunny, warm in the low 60's and the smell of new earth was in the air. What made this particular day so memorable was it's evening. The night air was still warm and beckoned us to come outside. So, after dinner Peter & I slipped on our walking shoes and headed into town for a cup of coffee.

I love our town. The old Victorian homes line both sides of the main street amidst the manicured, budding trees. Historical houses donn the names of early settlers and original town buildings, newly restored, remain active with business life. The downtown bustled with restaurant patrons seeking to reconnect with friends and loved ones. The scents of grilled steak and fries, Italian cuisine and the sound of clinking of glasses of wine all filled the air at once as we walked into the Half Moon Cafe. We weren't the least bit hungry but the brilliant presentation of colors on the plates passing by made us think, "maybe." However, not wanting to be shut up inside, we ordered our Jamaican Blue decaf coffee to "go" and headed back outside.

As the voices of the restaurant crowd diminished we took the first sips of our coffee and quoted one of our favorite jazz tunes, "What a marvelous night for a moon dance...!" And we danced our way to a seclude park bench on the town green. We sat together, sipping coffee and whistling "Moon Dance" to each other while the pressures of the week slipped away. We had one of those conversations when you spend time dreaming of the future with no limits and reminiscing of good times from the past. It was a perfect moment in time; a moment you wish you could replay over and over again.

I think of this as my father lays in a hospital bed in isolation awaiting a diagnosis unknown. I think of my mother whose strength is depleted both physically and emotionally because of him. I thinks of this as I witness the not-so-golden years of my in-laws and visit my lonely widowed aunt who struggles with kidney disease. Do they have a moon dance moment to hang onto? All of these thoughts slip into my mind today as I sit in awe of my husband whom I've loved for almost 3 decades. I pray that if there be a day in the future when one of us must sit in isolation or struggle with life, that we can hold onto the memory of our moon dance and know life is still good even when it comes time to moon dance at the banquet of the Groom.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Inspiration. It's the thing, the person, the act that incites you to action. What inspires you? What is it the moves you deeply enough to do what it is you were designed to do?

We think of inspiration when it comes to the arts. We assume the artist is inspired by the object of their masterpiece; the muscian inspired by the subject of their composition; the writer by the main character of their book. Having addressed the question "What inspired you to write?" often since February 1st I know, for me, inspiration runs deeper than the subject.

When I think about writing, I fail at creativity. I start to outline and methodically, logically sculpt a topic. It's empty. Void of emotion. A report. Dull. Uninspiring. It has everything to do with the subject but nothing to do with inspiration.

My inspiration is worship. Worship runs higher than my thoughts and deeper than my emotions. Worship speaks to my heart, my innermost being. It touches the core of who I am and triggers me to move into my passion. It moves the focus off myself and onto Christ. It insights me to express my love for God through music and words. It causes me to listen to the Creator who then inspires me with words.

Tonight, writing is much too methodical. I need to worship.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Patient Endurance

Running. I don't like it much. The constant pounding of my feet on hard pavement, rocks in my sneakers, sweat covered skin, pain in my sides, in my shins, heavy breathing, frantic, heart pounding aggravation is not something I want to feel. (You can tell I'm not in shape).

I do like walking, though. It's more pleasant. It's a slower pace. There's time to take in the scenery, have a conversation with a companion or just simply think. The steps are kinder to the body and there's less focus on pain. Although I may not reach my destination as quickly, I can endure the distance and pain more easily than if I were running.

In either case, running or walking, to go the distance means I have to build up my stamina, my endurance. I cannot expect to run or walk a 5k race if I've not built up my body to go that distance. It takes time and diligence to condition my body and build up the strength to endure. That takes patience as well. Patience to wait for your muscles to tone, build muscles; for your lung capacity to build up and for your mental capacity to mature to push through the pain. But, eventually your body responds and the distance is mastered and your endurance is strengthened.

I can't say I've the ambition to master such a discipline for running or even walking a great distance for any reason. But, I do know that there's a journey of life I'm on that without endurance training of the heart, would be miserable. Endurance training of the heart comes by walking in God's Word often. Take the time to sit quietly, read scripture and invite God's Holy Spirit to speak to your heart. I'd love to say daily because I know that's necessary. Is it a reality for me? Not yet. But, I am working on that. Walk in constant prayer. That doesn't mean to walk with your head in the clouds but in your busyness interrupt your thoughts with prayer for everything. Don't reserve your conversations to times of rest and meditation but pray constantly especially in your busyness. Walk with a companion. My husband's favorite quote is from Winnie the Pooh, "It's always more friendly with two." It's the same in our life's journey. We were created for relationship with God and with others. Wether you are going through the best or worst times of life, open your heart to friendships with those who can lift you up, encourage you and speak truth in love when needed and always point you to Christ.

Over time these few disciplines will build patient endurance to weather the joys, the pains and distances of our journeys as we look toward the goal...Christ's return.

Monday, March 16, 2009

"Prayer Works!"

Each trip to the orthopaedic doc brings a shiver of doubt into Peter's conscience. After two weeks of therapy on his once broken wrist, the therapist accompanied Peter to the orthopaedic's office this morning to witness the miracle she's seen. She too cannot believe a break (actually a crushing) like his has healed without surgery. Again, knowing in his mind and seeing with his eyes the great healing God has performed Peter still questions: "Has God truly healed my wrist? Is He still present in this process? Have I done any damage to it in my therapy process?"

Peter and the therapist sit in the examining room awaiting the newest xrays to arrive. The doc comes in placing the xrays on the lighted board and says, "Unbelievable!" The doc explains that bone has already begun to grow where it needed to be replaced. New, healthy bone tissue is forming miraculously in places that surgery should have held bones together.

He then asks for Peter to show him the range of motion in his wrist and to flex it in all different directions. "Unbelievable!" he says, again. "You shouldn't be able to do that!" The movement and strength are beyond the docs expectations! Praise God!

As he shakes his head, with nothing much more to say, the doc gives precautionary warnings and proceeds to tell him that he will certainly have arthritis in his wrist. Peter replies with boldness, "No I won't. Prayer works!" The doc is taken off guard, chuckles and resolves, "You're right. Prayer does work!" The end.

Friday, March 13, 2009

"Being Sifted?"

The language of cooking has always amused me. Words like braise, scald, blanche, pouche, fold, cream, sift. They're strange words but they define an exact procedure that when done correctly creates delectible flavors, textures or degrees of done-ness that make you ask for a second helping. I can recall trying to follow recipes when I was first married and skipping over the step of sifting the flour because I didn't have a sifter. In the end the baked goods were delicious so what did it matter if I sifted or not? I finally inherited a small sifter from a family member 10 years ago. That Christmas while making my famous ginger snaps I decided to pull it out of the cupboard and sift my dry ingredients like the recipe had always called for. Not only did the recipe call for sifting but it required that I sift twice. "Wow! Picky!" I thought to myself. "What's so important that you have to sift these ingredients twice?" Well, I decided to sift...twice. The texture of the dry ingredients were finer, lighter and the sugar-topped ginger snaps cracked more evenly and nicely in the end. They tasted about the same (delicious) but I must admit they were lighter.

I ran across the imagery of sifting yesterday in my quiet time. Like 22:31 Jesus is celebrating Passover in the upper room (The Last Supper) with his disciples. Jesus has just admonished them for arguing (again) over who will be known as the greatest in God's kingdom. He stresses the point that the ones who are the least, the ones who serve will be considered the greatest just as He has come to earth to serve and not be served. Then, almost abrubtly, Jesus turns to Peter (Simon) and informs him "Satan has asked to sift you as wheat." The footnote on "you" says the Greek meant the plural form of "you." In other words, all of the disciples will be sifted. Furthermore, Jesus has prayed specifically for Peter and asked that once he has gone through the sifting process that his faith wouldn't fail and that it would be used to strengthen the other disciples.

Above is a photo of a native woman from Kenya, Africa sifting wheat. In ancient times this type of sifter was used to separate the good kernals of wheat from what is called the chaff or the impurities, the waste. What remained was the pure wheat kernal, ready for milling, grinding into flour for baking. In today's terms, prior to stainless steel millers or grinders, (in the days of stone mills) impurities were still present sometimes in the finished product. That's one of the reasons recipes call for sifting; to get rid of the imperfect chaff, impurities. Sifting, I've read, also takes out clumps from the flour settling in storage and also adds air to produce lighter cakes and pastries.

So, when Satan is asking to sift Peter (or us for that fact) I don't think he means for the good to remain. I think he is hoping we get irritated with the process and lose our faith. Jesus, however, allows the sifting of His disciples (including us) for the opposite; to shake us up, loosen the impurities from our lives so that the strong, faithful, wholesome, pure hearts remain. In return, Jesus urges us (as he did Peter) to encourage and strengthen the community of His disciples around us.

Is sifting necessary? In one cooking article I read they say no, it's not necessary BUT it does add quality to your baked goods. telling! Is the sifting of our lives necessary to Jesus, to His kingdom? No, not really. But, the end result will add quality to our lives. It will remove the clumps from settling too long in our pews and will lighten our hearts from the impurities we tend to collect and hold onto over the course of our daily lives.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"Always Pray and Never Give Up"

Why is it that something so simple is the last thing we want to do? We spend more time pacing the floors, wringing our hands, giving more mental energy to worry and concern over things than we do to praying. When I think of how many hours I spend talking about a problem and trying to figure out a solution I am ashamed. Even now as I write this blog entry, I should be praying and not writing. Maybe this is my form of prayer? I don't know.

I think we justify conversations with others, even mental deliberations about our problems as a way to free ourselves from the problem for awhile. I think we even convince ourselves that we may find a solution if we talk things out with others. Sometimes we do find a solution that is agreeable to us and go with it. But, is it the right solution? Is it what God would choose?

Do we seek the counel of others because we simply don't trust God to pay attention to our issues? Do we think God won't answer us in time? Do we think God won't provide for all our needs? Are we skirting around discipline? Are we refusing to hear God name our sin? It's all of that sometimes. But, for the most part, I think we're lazy. I think we'd rather yap and complain about the injustice, unfairness, ill timing of our problems than to take the time to bring it all before the One who can give us the right perspective on it all.

It takes effort, discipline to get alone with God. The conversation seems pointless, one-way (at least that's what we assume) so we convince ourselves it's useless to even begin. But, once we shut out the distractions, close the door to the world around us and begin the conversation with God, we learn He does listen. We learn that God does "talk back" to us when we stop long enough to be silent and peaceful before Him. When we humble our hearts and give Him a chance to say something, He does.

Luke 18:1-8 is the story of a widow who kept going to the judge in town to complain about her injustice. The judge was not a godly man nor did he care for people very much (sounds like some bosses I've had)! Anyway, this judge gets so annoyed with the widow's daily visits that he grants her justice just to stop her from visiting. Jesus then says, "Listen to what this unjust judge says. And will not god bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and QUICKLY."

Luke introduces the purpose of this story in verse 1 saying, "...Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them they should ALWAYS PRAY AND NOT GIVE UP." We could save ourselves so much time and usher in God's power and glory into our lives more quickly if we would just go to him first all the time and never give up in asking for justice.