Monday, August 20, 2012

Without Fail


"Without fail." Quietly, fiercely, almost to himself, he answered her question.

It was only two words, just one soft-spoken answer delivered by Denzell Washington's character in the movie The Book of Eli, but it has echoed in my heart ever since.

A young woman, who knew nothing of such things, had asked him whether he read the book every day . . . the book he treasured above all else, including his life. [Spoiler Alert] I don't want to give too much away if you haven't seen the movie, but this very special book was none other than the last remaining copy of the Bible in a post-apocalyptic world.

This scene, and maybe the whole movie, put a fine point on thoughts my Father had been laying before me all week. First, last Sunday when our pastor spoke of using his phone and a Bible app to listen to the Bible being read out loud, and how important it is to personally eat this daily bread even for pastors who study it as their vocation. That made me think of things I learned in a recent psychology class about how much more effectively we learn when we involve more than one of our senses in the intake of information. Then God tapped me on the shoulder as I listened to Hero Husband's excitement as he was sharing with me the things that struck him as he read the wonderful novel by William P. Young, The Shack, for the first time--". . . it's all about relationship!" he said. And finally came those words of conviction and reliant devotion to God, in a Hollywood movie of all places, "Without fail."

They burrowed in deep and stung hot like fire. Had I been asked at that moment, I could not have answered with those passionate words. God gently connected the dots for me. I had been feeling dry and dusty, empty of words to share here, weary with school writing that had to follow the strict constraints of academic standards, and feeling a little adrift--now I could see why. It wasn't the routine of daily Bible reading I needed. As a lifelong Christian I know perfectly well its importance in my life, but not because I get spiritual brownie points for checking off chapters in my reading plan. What was missing, what I was missing, was consistent time in the beautiful presence of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the gracious and glorious triune God who lives and breathes life into me through those precious Words.

It isn't the words that save, but the Logos Himself who meets me in them. There is no magic in the daily routine, except that I need HIM every day! When I saturate my heart with the wonder of the heart of God shared with me through His words, I find myself wrapped in the arms of the love that never fails!

1 Corinthians 13:8a NIV

I know I fail my Father too often, but I want to be able to say that spending time on His lap every day is something I do without fail! You too?

Do you ever find inspiration in unlikely places?


Joining Ann Voskamp in counting His graces for her Multitudes on Monday
I hope you'll join in if you haven't already!
In the counting of the endless gifts I say with C. S. Lewis,
"This also is Thou!"

Counting my next 1000 Gifts, joining Ann in The Joy Dare--like a scavenger hunt for graces, gifts and glory!! Wanna come along?  I dare ya!!

The continuing JOY DARE: 
#1675-1695 (August 12th-18th)

12. 3 gifts half-hidden
Deer resting in tall grass
The dining room table I am determined to have un-buried by Wednesday afternoon!
Clean cabinets above my desk--half-hidden because I keep opening the doors to see how clean they are!
13. 3 gifts in green
Petite peas
Tiny, perfect oranges that are growing on my tree
The promise of a new football season approaching on green grass all over North America
14. A gift in a ring, curve, sphere
The return of bull-riding!
The perfect arc across the sky of sun, moon, and stars that show God's handiwork
The glass globe where I can display fresh flowers in water
15. 3 gifts ugly-beautiful
Hot, sweaty evidence of me having a productive morning
Stack of mail that still needs my attention, but that held a new picture of our World Vision child in India, beautiful Gudiya!!
Laundry that goes in dirty and comes out clean
16. 3 gifts of family
Hero Husband and She So Sweet home from their adventures!
Our Wednesday afternoon gathering at Peet's/Daphne's with the four of us
Counting the days until my brother's wedding and the family who will gather to celebrate with him!
17. 3 gifts in the morning
Ironing while morning air keeps me cool 
Scrambled eggs with mustard
Good morning hugs and kisses--first things first
18. A gift red, read, written
Ruby red cranberry juice with light shining through it
The final chapter of Wedded to War (Heroines Behind the Lines) by Jocelyn Green
Discussion questions for class, another day checked off as complete

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A heartfelt thank you to these generous bloggers
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Monday, August 13, 2012

For When Time Moves Too Fast


Great philosopher, Ferris Bueller once quipped, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Blurring . . . whirring . . . jumbled colors . . . sight and sound . . .

Does life ever feel to you like a scene in the old Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie? You know, the one where Willie Wonka puts them on his whimsical boat and they sail off into a tunnel filled with disjointed and terrifying images projected all around them while he screams bizarre and disturbing poetry into the strange glow? Everyone is so relieved when he yells, "Stop the boat!"

Life does move fast. Life is filled with change and challenge, the unexpected, the unwanted and the uncalled-for. But life is also filled with joy and laughter, dreams and fulfillments, pursuits and triumphs, the tried and true, the glorious, the counted-upon. It IS a bit of a jumble, priceless treasures thrown in the same blender with hideous gargoyles and almost worse, meaningless junk. It's hard to make sense of what is going by so fast.

I have seen this so often as a mom. It is all too easy to get caught up in the daily demands and details of raising children whether it's diapers or caps and gowns, kindergarten enrollment or college applications, broken toys or broken hearts, "Mom, we lost the game," or "Mom, I've lost my way," trips to the store or trips to the emergency room . . .

I'm so thankful that I learned from my own mother how to savor a moment, how to just enjoy the moment that IS, how to collect moments like jewels to be prized and admired and passed down as heirlooms. I am too often aware of how fast it's going, how quickly my kids have grown, how soon they'll be out and on their own, and I want to yell, "Stop the boat!" But in life, as in motherhood, I can't stop the boat any more than I could stop the process of labor in the delivery room when I hit that inevitable moment when I wanted to say, "I changed my mind, I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS!" Too late honey, the only way out is through!

That's right. The only way out is through. And the only way to keep up with time as it speeds relentlessly at its own breakneck pace, is to make a point to stop and notice. Collect the heirloom of the twinkle in her eye when she makes the whole family laugh with her dry wit, freeze frame the passion he wears when he performs on stage like the showman he is, capture and save the crazy, scary-deep love that gets you through an argument that tests your connectedness.

Time speeds by completely beyond our control, but it still has to happen one moment at a time. Choose to notice the eternal in the split second, the everlasting in the fleeting. Never spend time, always redeem it. Collect, compile, concentrate and catalog each glimmer of always in the speeding droplets of this vanishing-vapor life.

"Teach us to number our days aright,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom."

An edited post from the archives--I needed to remind myself of this--maybe you needed it too??

Joining Ann Voskamp in counting His graces for her Multitudes on Monday
I hope you'll join in if you haven't already!
In the counting of the endless gifts I say with C. S. Lewis,
"This also is Thou!"

Counting my next 1000 Gifts, joining Ann in The Joy Dare--like a scavenger hunt for graces, gifts and glory!! Wanna come along?  I dare ya!!

The continuing JOY DARE: 
#1632-1674 (July 29th through August 11th)

29. 3 Gifts Together
Fun spur-of-the-moment meal with Drummer Boy at Der Weinerschnitzel!
Bone-crunching hug from She So Sweet's friend, Paulina, just back after a month in Russia!!
The way She So Sweet and I laugh at our combined weirdness and how we understand each other!
30. 3 Gifts Heard
"I love my brother!"
Mockingbirds showing off their astounding repertoire of sounds
New Rascal Flatts album--thank you, Drummer Boy!!
31. 3 Gifts Difficult
Getting up early after too many night owl nights
The prospect of a class on personal finance--a subject I really don't enjoy
Temperature over 90°
1. 3 gifts white
The background of the free drink coupon at Peet's
The feta cheese in the fire feta spread at Daphne's
The soft glow of the full moon
2. 3 gifts eaten
Really yummy leftover pork chops & homemade macaroni & cheese
Dark chocolate
3. A gift at 10AM, 1 PM, 10PM
A late breakfast in the middle of an already busy morning
Picking up She So Sweet from her final day of being a 3rd Grade guide for VBS
Finally some extended time to myself to concentrate on school work without interruption.
4. 3 gifts sitting
Breakfast watching the Olympics
Surprisingly DELICIOUS dinner at Taco Bell (Steak Cantina Bowl!!) with Hero Husband and Drummer Boy (She So Sweet was at work).
Peet's Coffee & my iPhone Kindle app with a good book in it!
5. A gift outside, inside, upside down
Crystal clear air in Diablo Valley
"Relaxing" over a mind-bending movie together--hey, and I didn't fall asleep for once!
The way a butterfly hangs from a flower
6. 3 gifts in water
Quenched thirst
Clean things
The fountain in front of my University
7. 3 gifts in His Word
Promises--1 Thessalonians 5:23-24: "May the God of peace make you holy through and through. May you be kept in soul and mind and body in spotless integrity until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is utterly faithful and he will finish what he has set out to do." PHILLIPS
God's heart--Isaiah 49:15-16: "'Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands . . .'" NIV1984
The way the story ends in victory!--Revelation 21:3-7:  "Then I heard a mighty voice from the throne and I perceived its distinct words, saying, See! The abode of God is with men, and He will live (encamp, tent) among them; and they shall be His people, and God shall personally be with them and be their God. God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more, neither shall there be anguish (sorrow and mourning) nor grief nor pain any more, for the old conditions and the former order of things have passed away.  And He Who is seated on the throne said, See! I make all things new. Also He said, Record this, for these sayings are faithful (accurate, incorruptible, and trustworthy) and true (genuine).  And He [further] said to me, It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I [Myself] will give water without price from the fountain (springs) of the water of Life. He who is victorious shall inherit all these things, and I will be God to him and he shall be My son." AMP
8. 3 gifts in summer
The fresh coolness of morning air
Air Conditioning
Pleasantly warm evenings
9. A gift hole, whole, half
The hole of a faucet that brings clean water right to me where I need it
A whole evening of family fun at the movie (The Dark Knight Rises) followed by a late dinner at Chipotle
My current class that is half as much work as most of my other classes--a nice break!
10. 3 hard eucharisteo
That I will be missing Hero Husband and She So Sweet when they go on their father-daughter trip next week
For my own weakness that makes progress come so slowly--it also keeps me on my knees
An honest mistake made by someone else that created a big inconvenience for me--thankful that it will be resolved eventually
11. 3 gifts of metal
My cast iron skillet
The fan (the one that could double as a jet engine in a pinch) that cools my garage when I'm doing laundry out there on these triple-digit summer days
Best-ever coffee cup that keeps drinks hot or cold FOR HOURS!!

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A heartfelt thank you to these generous bloggers
who make these communities available!


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