Friday, October 30, 2015

897. Thank you for my little Mac Air that got thrown onto a cement floor yesterday and didn't even flinch. Well, it reminded me that it has been 72 days since it has been backed up.

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful, for I have taken refuge in you; in the shadow of your wings will I take refuge until this time of trouble has gone by. I will call upon the Most High God, the God who maintains my cause. He will send from heaven and save me; he will confound those who trample upon me; God will send forth his love and his faithfulness. Psalm 57:1-3

And He took bread and gave thanks for it, and broke it, and gave it to them. Luke 22:19

And all day long, Dear Lord God, may this be true for me. May I give thanks for the bread, Your gifts to me in abundance, and break it into bite-sized chunks, and give it to them, that clump of confused, distracted, discouraged, whispering doubtfulness to whom I am trying to explain what is important and true.

Dear Lord God.

Giving thanks.

And may I be like Your Son, who made careful preparations. Then spoke with calm grace with full awareness of the suffering that awaited Him. Grace to those who would shortly betray Him and deny Him and run away from Him. And knelt down, a towel slung around his hips, and washed away the grime.

And after He offered them His body and blood, His all, they fussed and squabbled, totally off-task, about future seating arrangements. And it was okay. He prayed for them. Again and again, seeking strength from His Father. Nevertheless, not my will, but Yours, be done.

So yesterday was rough.
So I have totally rewritten today’s lesson plans.
And prayed through the list of names.
Giving thanks for each one.
And for this opportunity to serve the least of these, once again, in His name.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams.

You strengthen me more and more; You enfold and comfort me. Psalm 71:21

Bless our God, you peoples; make the voice of His praise to be heard; Who holds our souls in life, and will not allow our feet to slip. For you, O God, have proved us; you have tried us just as silver is tried. You brought us into the snare; you laid heavy burdens upon our backs. You let enemies ride over our heads; we went through fire and water; but You brought us out into a place of refreshment. Psalm 66:7-12

Last night we talked about how true heart-rending grief somehow drives us into His comforting embrace. And how those Israelites ate What is it? for forty long years. Ann Voskamp calls it eating the mystery.

And the headlines this morning shout the aches “of a broken and battered planet.” In one Afghan city, 12 schoolgirls were crushed to death in a stampede as they tried to evacuate their school.  The escalation in fighting in Syria, along with Russian airstrikes, spurs a huge escalation of civilian flight, just as EU vows tighter border controls in effort to stem flow of migrants. And winter has hit, and temperatures are plummeting. And I had been wondering what role the many prayers offered up had in the no lives lost during Patricia, history’s biggest hurricane. But what about this, God? What about twelve poll workers being ambushed and killed in Colombia yesterday? You, Lord God, who enemies ride over our heads?

Yesterday afternoon during parent conferences I served up Kleenex and a close-by trashcan along with the report cards and teacher comments. Life is hard. Beyond the middle school run-of-the-mill won’t do dishes and only wants to play computer games. Today one kid’s dad is getting out after five years in prison. And the kid is acting up and shrugging a lot. And I am pretty impressed that the uncle and aunt came along to the meeting along with the mother. And there’s the dad who is working both a day job and a night job to put food on the table. So it is really important that his daughter does well in school so that she will have more choices beyond should I take a quick nap on the couch or in the chair. And the hairdresser with pink hair who sobbed and sobbed and I had no words, so we prayed together for wisdom and grace.

Why would Adam and Eve ever want to eat of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil?  Why did we want more than the goodness of the garden?

Ann calls it the serpent’s hissing lie, the repeating refrain of his campaign through the ages: Doubting God’s goodness, distrusting His intent, discontented with what He’s given, we desire. . . I have desired. . . more.

And somehow full moons remind me of the peoples. All the peoples of the world. And of course we peoples all look up at waxing moons and waning moons and new moons as well, except when we don’t because we are tucked in besides our electronics or our sight is blinded by the overhead neon and blinking lights, or I just wanted to curl into bed and try to pull the pillow over my head and sleep it away. But I don’t think we pause so much and marvel at ghostly galleon thin slices. But I am pretty sure that there is a mysterious catch in every peoples breath when we peoples glance up at the full glowing moon whispering, “Consider.”

And there was a full moon when we stepped outside last night into the soft autumn air. After we had gone around the circled couches and lifted up our many prayers for sisters and children and jobs and grandchildren again and again to a good God. And it was waiting for me as well as I crunched across the driveway gravel on my way to the pool this morning.  Thinking about the psalmist who accuses God of bringing us into the snares and laying heavy burdens upon our shoulders and James who speaks of every good and perfect gift from the Father of Lights.

And because I have already read and reread 1000 Gifts, I know the punch line. And I have it dangling around my neck, a gift from my beloved sister: eucharisteo. A place of refreshment.

The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning “grace.” Jesus took the bread, knowing its full implication and weight and whiplash pain and yet saw it as grace and gave thanks. Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis. But it also holds its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning “joy.” Joy. Ah. . . yes. I might be needing me some of that.

Bless our God, you peoples; make the voice of His praise to be heard;
Who holds our souls in life, and will not allow our feet to slip.

Bless the Lord, oh my soul.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Happy are they who call on Your name; Happy are they whose God is You.

But you, O LORD my God, oh, deal with me according to Your Name; for Your tender mercy’s sake, deliver me. For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me. Psalm 109:20–21

Of Jesus, it is written: “In the morning, long before dawn, He got up and left the house and went off to a lonely place and prayed there.” Mark 1:35

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith--that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

So I trip over wounded hearts all day long. And one would hope that those raw and aching slashes would make everyone just a little more kindhearted, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. And the wounded heart sorts, myself included, have a propensity to react, versus to act with intentionality, with the LORD God’s tender mercies.

And every morning I bow my knees before the Father, with my list of names, that we might each know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. And yesterday morning, I bolded a bunch of words and tried to tattoo them into my brain so I would remember.

Because seventh grade is full of high-pitched drama. And one of those on center stage is a refugee girl from Rwanda not named Emily. And I talked to someone who did a home visit to her one-bedroom apartment, and after the long ten-hour school day, she is expected to take care of her six younger siblings while her parents do a night shift. And um, I cannot even imagine what chaos reigns there. Because a very silly question to ask any seventh-grade student is “What were you thinking?” when they make their myriad of bad choices because the only answer you will ever get is the wild-eyed deer-in-the-headlights look. Seventh graders never know how to answer that question, and yet I find it popping out of my mouth again and again when dealing with this girl, because bad choices swirl around her like horseflies.

And all of these bad choices include name-calling and pinching and grabbing and finger-pointing accusations, and when she filled out her Science Fair form as with whom she would like to work with on a team, she wrote “No one. Everyone hates me. No one likes me. I want to work by myself.”

And I had a brief brainstorm of maybe pairing her up with an eighth grader because she hadn’t had a chance to burn all of those bridges yet, but the eighth-grade science teacher balked big-time, even after I got permission from the SARSF lady. Like I said, bad choices swirl around this little girl.

And as I stared out sadly across the lunchroom, I noticed a tender heart, the girl who is worried about Trump getting elected and her parents being arrested and she somehow wants to do a science project on how to change people’s minds. And I knelt down beside Ruby and just asked. And her eyes got big and she said, “Miss, she hates Mexicans.” But I tried it again and talked about maybe changing a life forever and how cool would that be, and she agreed to at least talk it over with her partner.

And during study hall there was a big fat blow-up in a bunch of languages with name-calling and shoving and meanness all around. But this time, when Emily went to her desk and put her head down and cried, Ruby stood up and went over and wrapped her arms around her and held her. For a long time. And the stormy waves around them calmed. And everyone looked down at his books or desktops in shame. And just this Wednesday in-service we talked about how oddly enough shame is one of the concepts we have to learn, like forgiveness and gentleness.

And as the students lined up in the hallway with their backpacks ready to go home, the girls had their arms around each other and showed me their notebook paper plan of rotating team leadership and how they were going to start a club of kindness. And just before she walked out the door to catch her bus, Emily gave me the biggest hug ever and I couldn’t even peel her off from around my waist.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Listen to me and you shall hear, news hath not been this thousand year: Since Herod, Caesar, and many more, you never heard the like before. Holy-dayes are despis'd, new fashions are devis'd.

But let the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; let them also be merry and joyful. Sing to God, sing praises to His Name; exalt Him who rides upon the heavens; YAHWEH is His Name, rejoice before Him! Father of orphans, defender of widows, God in His holy habitation! Psalm 68:3–5

Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn'd upside down.

So after work yesterday I had to stop at the downtown post office to mail a registered letter for Manuel. And I was sort of in the middle of the conversation among the rather older people around me. The woman behind me was explaining how a coffee shop had free newspapers, so now she was reading the Wall Street Journal every single morning and discovering what a horrible mess everything was, in fact the world was turned upside down. And the older gentleman in front of me looked surprised, and explained in a decidedly British accent that was the title of a song from the Revolutionary War, an English song, lamenting the disgraceful and ungodly ways of this upstart and greedy Congress that was bringing blood and pain and death to all that was wholesome and good.


The world turn’d upside down.

So yesterday I pulled a young lady aside for a little chat. And admittedly the candle-lit responsive reading chapel service is pretty different from her foster family’s seven-days-a-week Hallelujah hand-clapping church service expectations. But I reminded her that her seat-kicking back-poking squiggle squirming and loud burping takes away from the main point, to worship God and give Him the glory.

And the Spirit pulled me aside this morning, for a little chat as well. And admittedly the world is turn’d upside down ever since that first fruit bite back in the garden. But without a doubt I am letting the metaphorical uncomfortable folding chairs of life take away from the main point, to worship God and give Him the glory.

And one of the blogging folk in my life, Phil Drysdale, let loose a battle cry this morning, to war against negativity. A forty-day fast of intentionality, choosing for merry and joyful and a rejection of murmuring and complaining. A fast from reacting and giving voice to pessimism and criticism and unbelief and for determining to focus more on promises and hope. Because that is what that original hissing accusation of the Enemy was all about, questioning God and His love and power.

And Sunday when I sat and stared at that question that Mary Anne passed out with her sermon, What is it that you really long for?, the cry of my heart was for a renewed spirit and restored joy, Thus let me be glad and rejoice before God.

With a big Sharpie reminder, lest I forget.

YAHWEH is His Name.