Thursday, March 1, 2018

To Him Who is Willing and Able, be all honor and praise.

My soul is in deep anguish.
    How long, Lord, how long?
Turn, Lord, and deliver me;
    save me because of Your unfailing love.
The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;
    the Lord accepts my prayer. Psalm 6

Flora Gonzales has been waiting twenty-eight years to tell me a story. She went to the top dresser drawer and pulled out a zip-lock baggie which contained a well-worn napkin and a photo of me.

Earlier in the day Flora had bemoaned her perfect memory, each and every detail of her life is stored on a shelf labeled with time, date, setting, and she never forgets, even those sorts of things that can haunt you.

I, on the other hand, am perfectly capable of forgetting all sorts of things, which can be handy in the world of letting go, but not so much in the world of God Almighty Doing Amazing Works.

It’s important to notice. To pile up rocks of remembrance. Or keep napkins in zip-lock baggies.

Flora worked with me on the ranch, through it all, the cleaning of the beans and putting them on the stove to boil, the rolling out of two kilos of tortillas, the chopping of onions, chiles and tomatoes, the scrubbing, the mopping, and of course, the swirling flies. Later on she became the community social worker and trained women and families into all sorts of wellness, but at the beginning it was she and I against dozens of hungry bellies. Even now she runs a well-oiled (in more ways than one) and delicious taco stand in the plaza that gives employment to seven women in the neighborhood.

Flora had a great sorrow in life, no children after many years of marriage to one of our builders and well diggers, Elfido Granillo. And I do very clearly remember the first part of the story, the vision that I had sitting in my bedroom early one morning that gave me the courage to speak to her about this soul anguish. A vision of God answering prayers for those who wait. I happened to be waiting under a great big tree by the river.

So, anyways. Flora had very dutifully copied my instructions for making a cheesecake, and I was headed out for the double-cab pick-up truck to Navojoa, most likely for yet another trip to the hardware store, the lumberyard, the propane tank warehouse, and of course the grocery store. I did this trip a lot.

But before I left, we talked about prayer to the God who is both Loving and Powerful. The One Who Is Willing and Able. And Flora wrote “L S” on the napkin to verify that “Si, lo sé.”

And then, according to Flora, I explained two types of prayer, the general “Bless me and my family,” sort of prayer, and the specific, detailed prayers that beloved children whisper to their Abba Daddy. That was the sort of prayer we were going to pray this morning before the day dumped down on us.

What do you want, Flora?

I want a child.

No, no. How many children do you want?

I want three children.

Okay. And the first child, a boy or a girl?

A girl. A girl who is smart and beautiful.

And what will you name her?

Jovana. And Flora carefully drew a J to represent this little girl, with swirling flowers to represent her intelligence and beauty.

And the second child?

A boy. A boy named Elfidito. A boy who drives trucks, rides horses, flies planes, and has a motorcycle.

And the third child?

A girl. A girl who is artistic and loves to sew and design clothes. And Flora drew a sewing machine.

And this is Flora’s family, thirty years later. And Jovana earned the second highest score on a highly competitive teacher certification process and is a beautiful and brilliant teacher who celebrated her son’s third birthday two days ago, Flora’s beloved grandchild David.

And Elfidito dropped out of the university to drive trucks and buses for a year, but now he is studying business. And he trains horses to dance and rides a motorcycle, but Flora is sort of hoping that he doesn’t decide to fly airplanes.

And Marlys was going to go to the university to study clothing design, but it was too expensive, so now she is studying nursing, and then she will get a job to pay for design school. But mostly, her life is about something else, and after I left Alamos Sunday, Marlys texted me: I want to serve God just like you and my mother, with children and people in need. Pray for me, that this desire and hope with never go out.

My soul is in deep anguish.
    How long, Lord, how long?
Turn, Lord, and deliver me;
    save me because of Your unfailing love.
The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;
    the Lord accepts my prayer. Psalm 6

Amen and amen.

Less we ever forget.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Velcroed Keens to keep from slipping.

Let them give thanks to the LORD for His mercy and the wonders He does for His children. Psalm 107:21

One who has loved is never quite alone,
though all the hills declare our solitude.
Having known you, I am no more afraid,
the essential singleness of blood and bone
when dispossessed, comes never in return; 
one who has loved is never quite alone. -Jane Tyson Clement

The wonder of it all. These last few days have been filled with pillared stones of the LORD’s marvels piled high around me, a fortressed home no matter my soujourn.

Thank You.

Never quite alone.

So many souls have shoved aside my blood and bone and crowded into my heart, essential singleness forever busted.

Having known you, you all my beloved.

The myriad you who embrace with both strong arms wrapped all the way around who laugh looking downward who send yet another silly meme who have eyes that crinkle in the corners or whose soft white hair tumbles over shoulders.

The beloved.

Having known You.

The Belover.

I am not afraid. The trail leading out the front door towards the tumbled eastern Rincon hills may look long and alone.

Fear not, for I AM Here, Yahweh-Shammah.

The name of the LORD God is a promise. A promise made in the wilderness of despair with but a stone for a pillow, a stone that became a pillar of promise.

And reading the crazy antics of Jacob and Rachel and Laban and what, suddenly Esau is the good guy? reminds me that we are but foolish spotted and speckled and banded sheep. Each and every one of us.

But Your mercy endures forever.

Blessed be the name of the LORD.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The physical manifestation of The LORD Who Sees.

My friend Meg Newberg has some of the most open eyes I know. With her paintbrush she can capture every nuance of desert sunlight, and yes, every corresponding desert shadow. And just this week she reminded me of her favorite name of God, El Roi, The One Who Sees.

And yet again, it is the heathen outcast, this time Hagar, the Egyptian slave, who encounters God.

Then Hagar called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, "You are God Who Sees"; for she said, "Have I not even here in the wilderness remained alive after seeing Him who sees me with understanding and compassion?" Genesis 16:13

The God Who Sees sent Hagar back home, to live in humility and service, but in the confidence of His promise that her blessings would be too many to count.

And literally, it was the Angel of the LORD who found her by a spring of water. Many Bible scholars believe that this Angel may be a theophany, that is, a physical manifestation of God, in which case the word Angel is capitalized. The Angel of the LORD may, based on context, be the pre-incarnate Christ, the Son of God.

And "literally" is the big go to word these days, and falls out of lips carelessly and without consideration all day long.

But here the term is weighted and potent.

Literally the Christ, who leaves the ninety and nine and pursues the lost and lonely sheep. And reaches down and binds her wounds and lifts her up and carries her home in His gentle embrace.

And yesterday I read about Hagar and this being seen. And literally once again Hagar's empty water skin was empty, drained and crusty. And literally the heat of the desert sun pelted down around her, once again. And literally Hagar had abandoned her joy and her dreams and her hope of a future once again, under a bush to die.

She lifted her broken cry up to YHWH Jireh, and once again The Angel of the LORD responded, "What troubles you? Do not be afraid."

Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water; and she went and filled the empty skin with water. Genesis 21:19

Literally, Hebrew YHWH jireh. Literally the LORD will see (in the sense of "see to it").

Not only does YHWH Jireh see. Not only will YHWH Jireh see to it.

YHWH Jireh also opens eyes to see His provision. 

His daily water, splashing and bountiful, enough for yet another day.


Monday, January 15, 2018

He split rocks in the wilderness.

He split rocks in the wilderness
And gave them abundant water to drink like the ocean depths.

Yet He commanded the skies above
    and opened the doors of heaven,
 and He rained down on them manna to eat
    and gave them the grain of heaven. Psalm 78


Enough echoed throughout my thoughts yesterday: on the steep before-breakfast walk-a-round with momma, on the straight forward drive across dry plains to Bisbee, and here again this morning, at the The Rooming House watching yet one more sunrise climb up the surrounding slopes, just before I head up Cross Hill with the workaway volunteer, Amy.

Actually, what I heard was the Spanish or Italian translation, ¡Basta! with a much stronger exclamation: to implore someone to stop their train of thought or dialogue. I'm not hearing anymore of this! I'm not listening anymore! That's enough. Stop!

Another example of when you may use the word basta is when someone is filling your plate and there is enough food on it. One thing about traveling with Rachel is that we pretty much eat tasty food nonstop. Especially chocolate. A sweet reminder of what filled up and overflowing really feels like.

And the LORD God Almighty is very, very weary of His beloved Israelite children in Psalm 78. Of their moping and mumbling instead of rejoicing in the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, instead of telling of His great might and power and the wonderful works that He has done; forgetting His incredible works And His miraculous wonders that He had shown them. And in their hearts they put God to the test By asking for food according to their selfish appetite.

Therefore, when the Lord heard, He was full of wrath;
A fire was kindled against them,
And His anger mounted up,
Because they did not believe in God; they did not rely on Him, they did not adhere to Him,
And they did not trust in His salvation, His power to save.


Dear, dear child Christy.
Cannot you not understand?


Lay down your lists and expectations, your longings for leeks, and open wide your mouth and I will fill it.

Listen, O my people, to my teaching;
Incline your ears to the words of my mouth and be willing to learn.

I am the plate of deliciousness.
I am Enough.