We Can’t Change the World.

When I was a girl, I often read biographies.  Helen Keller, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Teresa stand out the most and I can still remember the shape and smell of those library pages and where I was when the ideas shook my little spirit from side to side, waking me up to the greater world.

biographies

I wanted to live an influential life; one that made an imprint on history, one that affected life after life with help and hope. I wanted to start movements!  It was bright and innocent, those aspirations from this idealist.  It was all-American too.  I was the product of a colonized country, a girl growing up in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s when the idea that people could “change the world” was just beginning to be written about, books on the subject breeding like rabbits into the 21st century until it spewed out all over the world-wide web.  No one has been immune to the seduction.

But the problem with little-girl aspirations and grown-up seductions is that they can turn into driven and delusional ambitions that are really all about me, and my heart that is deceptive above all things.  Trust me, I know, for bit by bit through the years God’s been hammering mine off, the freedom without them feeling so much better than the weight they brought.

You see, we live in an age that I believe particularly feeds an ego,  all these ideas about changing the world– so beautifully disguised in altruistic motives–with food that fuels every sinner’s inherent desire to be worshipped by being noticed.  Don’t we see it all around us?  So much self-promotion in the name of “helping others”, so much daily “show and tell” that easily becomes comparison and competition, so much of all our “promoting and marketing” as if we are back in Jr. High and needing to impress and prove while we compulsively “follow” the lives of others and report about ours, rather than simply live them.  Really, we are the ones in a ll of history whom invented “selfies”!  Need I elaborate on how much we have lost our sense of dignity and the beauty of our daily lives lived under the gaze of God and not the spotlight we project?  What is this really, all this clamoring to be heard, to be noticed, to be desired, to sell, to have an opinion and voice it?  And our compassion, even it can be a good costume for pride, for the burden we take on can make us believe we could be the Savior.

Do we have to give in?  What if we did not?  Is it possible?

When I think on the saints I have known, the saints I have read, it was those who were intentional about living a quiet, faithful and almost hidden life.  I noticed. They had the power, quite oblivious them, to “change my world”. They were, they are, not involved in noisy efforts to draw attention to themselves.  They keep their eyes on Jesus and when they act and how they act is only because the Spirit within them beckons and they obey. They abide.  They have no desire to sit and count their fruit or fertilize themselves.  It is not their prerogative. And they are at peace, for they have not distorted the Gospel and made it about their striving, but rather their grateful and loving obedience.

If you want to get intelligent about all this, then you could look at writer Andy Crouch and his study on culture-making where he states: “My ability to make small changes in my local world is dwarfed by my dependence on the changes other people make at larger scales of culture.”  Yes.  A whole lot of factors we have no control over.  Though we like to think we can and do, it is the Holy Spirit who first must work in the hearts of man.

But are we a generation of Christians who is more attuned to “postings” and “pins” than the voice of God?  It seems we are because we are the ones posting as much as we can on every social network in every form imaginable, it is us marketing to death, it is us “doing our part so He can do His”(where is that in the Bible?), it is us networking — I forgot, networking is dead now, right? It is us reading the life of Jesus with the paradigm of a 21st century CEO and thinking the Mt. of Olives was esentially His “platform”.  It is us offering commentary on everything from cleaning our toilets to our moonlight walks with our spouses so we can all feel we are human and validate our existence.

And it is all too much, more than we were even made to handle.

Is this making any sense?  Am I getting too snarky and cynical?  Of course, I do not dis-credit the good in our world becoming flat, I just feel we have been too much deceived and lulled, no different and in many ways, no better.

You see, I don’t live in the USA anymore and in me it is doing strange wonders.  I am pondering all this through different lenses.  One begins to see in new ways, one begins to breath in new ways.  I live in a country that was not colonized, but conquered.  Therefore, the thinking is different.  I walk among it all…the slowness, the lingering, even the fatalism. But, I see how life is savored.  It still sucks the marrow out of it, but it does not crush the bones.  You start to see that crawling into heaven worn-out is not particularly that admirable, it just says I was shooting at every good target I saw hoping I would hit something, ensuring my own fruitfulness and thinking that a reflective life was a wasted life and rest was in competition with activity.  What kind of “legacy” does that leave?

It strips you down, this moving to another country where you are really a nobody and how much you can talk and give, in the beginning stages of assimilation, is limited.  It speaks to you in the quietness of the night and tells you that the call to be a missionary, the call to be one who wants to serve and love, the programmed desire to “change this world” is rather a call to ultimate and grueling humility.  It’s a call to brokeness, to anaminity, to simplicity,  to emptying myself, to plodding, to feeling like a Moses, to dying to self so Jesus might be more alive in you and help Himself to your life whenever and however He pleases.  It was never a call to pose as a demigod; it’s a death blow to any remnant of pride or arrogance.  It is brutal and it is wonderful.  It is an invitation to experience just how little I am and how little I can do, but how much He can.  And how much in spite of me and yes, without me, He has this country, this world in His hands.

Imagine.

So, in light of all this, we can stop raising our hands and begging for Him to pick us! please?  Can stop pleading for the teams of this world to pick us, too as if we are in a non-stop popularity contest?  We can rest and we can know we have already been picked and we have already won.  That the world and all that is within it, belongs to Him.  That He wants us just to be still, to lean in and stick close, to be quiet and mind our own business, to do with joy the work that He has established for us. For He is watching and His records are true.

So, I wonder,  I have this dream that we could all shut-up and shut-down for just a day, the same day.  We could all find a tree firmly rooted for so many years without our help, and sit under it.  We could all bow our heads and our knees and worship Him and acknowledge He is the Ancient of Days, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.  And all the change we want to see, all the goodness we want our lives to be, we could pray it out to Him.  We could pace and cry, hurl and yell and give it all to Him until the bowls in heaven full of the saint’s intercessions are so full they tip.  They come back down on us with answers and hope and change we never could bring, were God not God and we not His quieted and confident children, our energy directed in the one place that ushers forth any good change and that clarifies all our ambitions.

The biographies? I am still a sucker for them. They are still good.  So good, I read them to my children.  But I tell them God is writing their biography and no worry, they do and will serve to do more than inspire, they will declare His praises for the ages to come.

And the older I get, that is becoming my only ambition.

Mothering: True Resolve

Mothers’ Day has sneaked up on me again, almost.  I came to the end of a very intentional week with new friends over for dinner, home schooling (alas, we have found a successful rhythm!), rising early to walk and bike, trying to find the bottom of my laundry basket, fitting in moments for my vocation of writing, clipping coupons and scouring sales to find more ways to save more than I spend. And cooking meals, over and over (fried rice can be served a variety of ways!). By last night I was surprised when utter exhaustion overtook me and I could do no more. 

How often I forget how hard my flesh must be working to host the sacred space where a body housing an eternal soul and spirit is being woven and spun. The glory of such a creative undertaking startles me anew in the quiet moments before I drift to sleep, the little hands stirring the waters and knees lifting up upon my belly.  I remember that their Creator already knows them by name.

As a child and adolescent, I had never given much thought to mothering as it related to me personally.  Now that I swim in it daily, I see my own mother in a new light of great appreciation.  There is a resolve, a fierce determination, a grit of love that overtakes a woman who is loaned real live souls and bodies.  She will crawl and fight and endure for the sake of propelling them forward out into history.  She would lay down her life if needed, in a moment for them. Truly, even for the hands within me I have never held, I would consider forfeiting the rest of my days so they might see the land of the living.  Such sacrifice is utterly beyond me–it comes from elsewhere; it must. And it changes me.

How much deeper must the mothering heart of God pursue, fight, nurture, discipline, lead and train me?  And you? Still at work on our behalf while we sleep so we might rest. Even yes, lay down life. “He tends his flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40:11)

May your Mothers’ Day be one of joy and holy honor, far beyond flowers and dinner and a break from the daily chores.  May it be within you the reception of the charge you have been given–to raise a generation to go forth into the world more different than you can ever imagine it can become, bearing and seizing the kingdom of God by force, our children marching on the front lines to declare with bold power and authority just as they saw it so within the lives of their mothers, that to Him, the King of Kings and Lords of Lords, be all glory, honor and power both now and forevermore. And the forces of darkness will tremble.

Thank you to my own Mother, for her intercession and resolve. And to my husband’s Mother.  The world will not be the same…

(Yes, this video has direct implications to women globally. Watch it.  It will give you new awareness and a bigger vision for mothering and intercessory prayer)

In Memory of My Teacher, Pastor Danhof.

Saturday evening the water was calling me.  I packed up the boys and we drove south to a private street lined with gentle waving palms and tropical flowers that fired the air with sweetness.  We followed the scent of salt and found the ocean, surprised by the height of the waves and the calm purple hues of the sky.  The boys dug and laughed, I stood with my toe-tips in.  The sun goes fast here and it dropped down through the cloud layers throwing out beams to dance upon the waves.  Masses of elegant black birds from nowhere took flight on the breeze, effortless and free they were carried higher than I have ever seen such birds fly. The vast expanse before me was so powerful I could only lift my arms in response and twirl around with our three year-old Anders in my arms.  I whispered to him, “Look at all the birds! When I go Home I want to fly up like that and look down on all I held dear and feel the wind in my face and say farewell.”  I put him down and he ran off and in that instant I felt a sense of loss, like a wind blowing through my soul, as if something strong and long-standing had been lifted out from under me.

I would learn the next evening, just hours after telling Larsen, our eight-year old, the memories of one of my greatest teachers, that this very teacher had gone Home the night we stood before the water. The night the birds were carried up by the wind and the beauty. The night I felt the sadness of loss, the poignancy of God’s grandeur and our small lives.

He was always Pastor to me. Like Jesus was probably always teacher and rabbi to his disciples. I first spied Pastor from the top of a fence-post walking up our driveway for dinner at about the age of twelve. I shook his hand and told him I was expecting his preaching to be good, inquiring where he went to school. 

His preaching was good. So good I hated to miss a single message, even though all the girls my age wanted to be down in the nursery helping with the babies.  I still have most of those notes tucked away in my closet and in my mind.  He proved to me what I had always known must be true: the Word of God was rich and exquisite, its truths powerful and endless.  When he broke out in song in the midst of his sermon, it was like an angel. When he told a story to illustrate his point, he became a poet.  When he explained the details of creation or biblical prophecy, a learned scholar was in our midst. When he prayed, God came down among us as natural as the air we were breathing.  We all thought this was normal. We had no idea.   His shared his hunger with me and his thirst had the ability to make me more thirsty.  I was fulfilled in my desperation for sustenance.

I soon grew old enough to be in his class, every Wednesday afternoon for two years. I listened, filled in my notes, asked every question that came to me, choose the hardest topics to write on and did my homework the very next day.  He always wrote at the head of my papers that I had a gift of writing and studying and needed to follow where it might lead. 

Pastor’s teaching was depth in the midst of typical youth ministry at the time.  It was a slice in my life that meant something to me, carrying me through the angst of adolescence.  I often kept him after class and borrowed books from his study, reading them even if I could not grasp their meaning.

I never knew Pastor as a father, a husband, a peer, a man puttering about the yard and or chopping onions in his kitchen.  I knew him only as my teacher, my rabbi, my sage in the element of his greatest passion–the very Word of God and the very Word made flesh.  There is something about the indelible influence made on one whose spirit connects with another, invited to follow in the pilgrimage towards Christ-likeness. I have no recollection of his imperfections and if I saw any of them, they did not matter to me at the time in light of his Great Pursuit.  My discipleship under him was not a lofty thing; just a careful and diligent hand plowing the soil of my open heart and dropping in seed by seed.

It has been almost twenty-two years since I lept off that fence post and placed upon him my hope and question. He married Ben and I nearly eleven years ago.  It was a hot June day and I was barefoot and in a halo of flowers. I insisted that despite the fact of no air-conditioning, he give at least a fourty-minute sermon and exigate Philippians 2.   On a later visit, he held my first-born and there were a few emails, but then life went forward and we each kept moving with it. I imagine in many ways he was not the same man these last days that I knew him to be, for he was never stagnant and certainly must have had many times when the Spirit blessed him with the re-orientation of his mind.  I hear it in his recent sermons–there are things he grasped as of late that I did not hear from him back in those days.  This is the way of a true Christ follower.

My first book will be released this fall. In the writing, after all these years, I saw emerge  out of the words the growth of the seeds he planted.  No one would know that but me, but now that I can more clearly see, I wanted him to know.  Wanted him to hold that book in his hands and know that he was holding a bit of his harvest.  I’ll send a copy to his dear wife when it comes out. 

Pastor and I had many discussions about heaven and he often told me that he was going to visit the stars and the planets in eternity.  That true Home would be a place of continual learning and I might find him in the great library.

Someday I’ll go look for him there.  For now, he is with his teacher, his rabbi, the one true sage and Saviour of humanity, Jesus. I can’t imagine his delight.  And we are still here to carry on the work of making disciples.

James M. Danhof, passed away, Saturday, March 28, 2009.
Jim was born Nov. 20, 1948 in Muskegon, Mich. to Henry and Jean Danhof. He graduated from Mona Shores High School in 1966. Jim went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University, before continuing in post graduate work at Dallas Theological Seminary and earning his doctorate at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. James and Marjorie married May 29, 1970 in Muskegon and enjoyed 39 everlasting years together. Jim served God faithfully at Scofield Memorial Church, Dallas, Texas, First Covenant Church, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Sunrise Chapel, Plymouth, Ind., Olivet Evangelical Free Church, Muskegon, Mich. and First Baptist Church, Sister Bay.
Jim’s greatest passion in life was sharing his joy and love for our Savior, Jesus Christ, a love that he modeled through both his public ministry and in his family life. Jim invited Christ into his life at a young age, and after deciding in the 6th grade to become a pastor served Him faithfully ever since. Throughout his career, he has touched a number of lives by steadfastly listening to and following Christ’s guidance while preparing sermons, giving wise counsel and serving Christ in the community. Supporting his public ministry, Jim always looked to his wife, Marj, as a needed helpmate for encouragement and guidance. Their reliance on each other and in Christ was the foundation of their family life. Jim had many talents including singing, woodworking, playing the garden hose, and a favorite of his granddaughters, the “Donald Duck voice.” The highlight of most family gatherings was Dad’s pizza which he graciously fixed without complaint even on his busiest days; just one small example of his Christ-like servant manner.
His legacy lives on in his wife; sons, Timothy (daughter, Katrina), Stephen (wife, Heather, daughters Cassandra, Jessica, and Alexandra), and Andrew (wife Jenny and expected son). Other family includes his mother, Jean; brothers, Richard (Eloise), Charles (Peggy), and David (Joni).
He was preceded in death by his father, Henry.

True Life Together.

Probably one of the best statements I’ve ever read on the church and Christian community comes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together. In an age where we suffer from the malady of being particularly dissatisfied with the concept of the church, this is refreshing. Not to mention very applicable to the “church” within our own marriage and homes. Well worth stopping what you may be doing and read!

Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream. The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and if we are fortunate, with ourselves.

By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world. He does not abandon us to those rapturous experiences and lofty moods that come over us like a dream. God is not a God of the emotions but the God of truth. Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God’s sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it. The sooner this shock of disillusonment comes to an individual and to a community the better for both. A community which cannot bear and cannot survive such a crisis, which insists upon keeping its illusion when it should be shattered, permanently loses in that moment the promise of Christian community. Sooner or later it will collapse. Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.

God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God Himself accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together. When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself.

Because God has already laid the only foundation of our fellowship, because God has bound us together in one body with other Christians in Jesus Christ, long before we entered into common life with them, we enter into that common life not as demanders but as thankful recipients. We thank God for what He has done for us. We thank God for giving us brethren who live by His call, by His forgiveness, and His promise. We do not complain of what God does not give us; we rather thank God for what He does give us daily. And is not what has been given us enough: brothers, who will go on living with us through sin and need under the blessing of His grace? Is the divine gift of Christian fellowship anything less than this, any day, even the most difficult and distressing day? Even when sin and misunderstanding burden the communal life, is not the sinning brother still a brother, with whom I, too, stand under the Word of Christ? Will not his sin be a constant occasion for me to give thanks that both of us may live in the forgiving love of God in Jesus Christ? Thus the very hour of disillusionment with my brother becomes incomparably salutary, because it so thoroughly teaches me that neither of us can ever live by our own words and deeds, but only by that one Word and Deed which really binds us together – the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. When the morning mists of dreams vanish, then dawns the bright day of Christian fellowship. “

Another Cake.

100_0503

We like cakes for things–birthdays and end-of-the year grade graduations and getting a cabinet maker/installer licence and wearing underwear and losing teeth and writing a book and even when the month has been so hard we can do nothing else but celebrate that God is still good. I want to teach my boys that.

This cake was a short good-bye cake. I wanted to use up two organic lemons before they went bad, so Lars and I came up with a lemon poppy-seed pound cake. Did I say pound? Perhaps ton is a better word.  Anyhow, he was pleased to surprise Daddy the night before he flew out. Anders is happy anytime there is a lick of sugar, anywhere. I am certain he would fearlessly fight an alligator for a sugar cube.

So, we sang “We will miss you” and packed his suitcase.  Work dried up about a month ago. This is not a new thing for us, but the cycle of it is wearing us down in a new way. There are times when we so identify with the lament of “how long oh Lord?” and wait, patiently wait for the time and place to do with our hands and minds all he has put within them.  Waiting is also that common theme with God.  There is something holy about it as it forces you, if you relinquish all, to simply walk with him and find that that walking is more than enough.

 Ben has flown to work elsewhere for a couple weeks and see what God might be communicating.  There is plenty of life to attend to here on the home front and even quiet evenings to turn my gaze elsewhere.

The Pottery Class Ends, the Applications Don’t…

100_0502

Lars has had a long-standing dream of learning pottery. We were at an arts center several months ago for a space exhibit family day and he won a scholarship for a six-week class.  Oh how he raved about the feel of the clay in his hands, the spinning of the wheel by his foot pedal,  how everything begins with a cylinder and must be centered and the wonders of the glaze and heat. 

We looked up all the scriptures in the bible about pottery and they came to life for all of us.  Clay is nothing without a potter and a potter’s greatest tool is water.  Dry clay is hard and cracks–completely unworkable and will never evolve into something more beautiful.  But, when the water, the Spirit, is allowed and welcomed to wash over us, we can become in his hands, more than we can even begin to envision.  I have been meditating on this much this week.  It is stunning.  How I love our Artist King!

100_0501

Serve the Poor…Just Never Mind the Cross?

Just some rambling thoughts of mine while folding laundry and making soup today… thank God for minds that rise us above what can be mundane!

I do not profess to be a theologian, but I enjoy becoming more theologically literate.  I have noticed what people believe about God determines everything about their lives.  AW Tozer called this man’s “gravest belief”.  In following the recent elections and now preparing for the changing of the guards with Obama, it seems to me, the issue of theology is greater than ever.  

What troubles me is the greater theme, the theology if you will, behind Obama, a man whom on many fronts elecits my deep respect.  First, because he is made in the image of God and secondly because as a follower of Christ I am commanded to honor, submit to and pray for those in authority. I am also very moved by Obama’s genuine compassion for people and the issues that keep them down.  And no one can doubt his charisma and eloquence.

However, I do disagree with what seems to be his adherence to liberation theology.  In my understanding, this stream of theology emphasizes the Christian mission to bring justice to the poor and oppressed, done with power through political activism.  Those who fall in line with this consider societal sin as being the root cause of poverty, and often see capitalism as a class war in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  They focus on the marginalized, specifically liberating minorities against generations of oppression. 

True enough, the New Testament instructs the Church to care for the poor.  Even in the Old Testament God demands this sort of justice. Some of the greatest institutions for charitable work such orphanages and hospitals, are fruits of obedience to this. Notice God mandated the Church, not the government to do this work. When Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church asked Obama what he thought the greatest moral failure of America was, he cited Scripture and replied that he thought the neglect of the poor was America’s greatest failure.  Obama desires to tax the rich to distribute to the poor and less privileged, spreading the wealth.  He sees political means and power as the deliverer to all those caught in poverty and oppression.  Bottom line in this sort of thinking: Salvation comes in setting up a utopia on earth. It is the belief that if we work hard enough, this can and will happen.

We can expect that under Obama, minorities of all kinds, such as the poor, homosexuals, women denied of their “reproductive freedoms” any minority interest group, and racial minority group will be elevated to an equal sense of treatment and unity, no matter the cost, the ethical or the societal considerations.  Any one opposing the beliefs and values behind these groups and their behavior will be silenced, labeled as racist or intolerant. Wow.

The troubling thing is the Church’s first mandate, before caring for the poor was to preach the gospel. Actually, these were to go hand in hand. The gospel is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the story that tells us that God became one of us to show us how to live, provide the payment for our individual sin and raise us to a new life of our identity being rooted in all he is, not all we can create ourselves to be.  

A theology without personal sin, is one that provides a false way to grace. (Mark McMinn writes about this surprising correlation between our sin and God’s grace in his phenomenal book, “Why Sin Matters”)  It allows philanthropic goodness and government to be our salvation. It allows the attempt to set up a kingdom of justice void of the cross of Christ.  It is false as it believes that deliverance can be found in humanity.  It deals with the externals to appease the conscience, it does nothing to plunge the depth of the human soul still in desperate need of divine deliverance. 

Our greatest moral failure as a nation may be that we are seeking to address the results of sin without getting to the cause of sin, making the cross of Christ insignificant. Indeed, it is to make a holy God small and personal sin insignificant. Satan is delighted to keep us from the cross; he is thrilled with a society that seeks to do creature-centered good with a veiled sense of pride, motivated not out of love for Jesus and all he has done for us, but out of all we can do for each other.  We must continue to preach, not pervert and mininize the gospel and serve the poor because we are spreading the movement of the reign of Jesus Christ, not ourselves. 

Laundry is done, soups in the crock pot…I’ve left the pulpit, for now…

A Tangible Grace.

I am fortunate to be able to work from home, though I have yet to see much of the actual payoff.  I am working furiously to meet a writing deadline, this week being the toughest.  I have never written and revised so much, so fast, so intensely in my life.  My boys are my background music. I gave them a pep talk this morning on how they are not apart from my vocation of words, it is their work and their ministry too and I cannot do it without them.  We talked of ways we could encourage each other today and serve one another. We read the words of Jesus and came up with examples. And I prayed fervently for a spirit of peace to descend upon our home and a perseverance this is beyond my human ability.

I set Lars up with a list of schoolwork in his room and set Anders up with his list at the dining room table. Then I set myself up in the living room and we worked all day. Sure, there were interuptions of hamsters, vocabulary questions, spilling crayons and an incident of poop on the floor, but all in all I am on schedule with my work and they felt loved and valued all day.  We ended with a pizza picnic outside under their tree, the dusky sky poking up through the palms. The weather here is perfect. Now, Ben is home and I am off all other duty, back to work.

All that to say that I am grateful for my little team. I am learning that as a woman and a mother my work is only enhanced by their presence, my children’s spiritual leadership in my life powerful as I submit to service and a gentle word here and there. It is the growing of a redemptive community, a little section of the church, a small corner where sometimes the grace of God is so tangible you could bite into it.

PS. IN everything give thanks…not for, but in.

We Adopted Three Brothers.

We had only set off with the intention of a simple family walk through our new neighborhood. Leave it to us to make even an evening stroll more complex then need be: this is after all, the hallmark of the Blycker Family, I do admit.  I have given myself over to its power as I cannot overcome it.  We came upon a pet store, which proved to be the destination of our exploration.  Larsen had been grieving all week over the death of his fish, Blue Fin.  My tender and dramatic child wept in his tree in the evenings. The life and death of a 3-inch beta is large enough to open the mind of an eight year old to the realities of life and death.  I walked to the back of the pet store in search of another Blue Fin.

Meanwhile, the boys listened in awe as a little girl brought in a blue Tupperware tub filled with 5-week old hamsters, which she had personally bred and raised.  I joined the excited little crowd.  Ben held the little puffs of fur with their perfectly formed miniature hands and feet, showing me their tiny aliveness.  There were three boys; a jolly little band of fur that scurried through the cage to entertain their eager crowd.

              We bought the three brothers, right there on the spot. As well as a 20-gallon tank, the water dropper, the bag of food, a silent running wheel, shavings and a replacement fish.  The boys jumped around the store like people on a sweepstakes commercial. We paid for our crazy splurge and pushed our cart outside. It was then we remembered we had been on a walk, not a drive.  Now dark, we were not quite sure which way our new house was, exactly.  No matter, Ben hoisted the 20-gallon tank on his shoulders, I held the bag of food and shavings in one arm with Anders on my hip and Larsen held onto the hamster brothers, and we walked through the night.  Just a family walk, just a strange band walking on the edge of the road, with a nearly three –year old crooning Patsy Cline, “I go out walking, after midnight with my mousies, holding them so tight. I’m always walking, after midnight looking for my home!

You should have seen the excitement when we finally arrived home and set up the “mousies” tank on the boy’s dresser and then sat down to open the three boxes and name the creatures while they ran over our legs and between our hands.  Pickles (Anders’, of course.  He is a small grey personable and sweet fellow), Whiskers (Ben’s. He is a plump, lazy and accommodating fur ball) and Travis (Larsen’s. An adventurous, restless and easily annoyed little bugger) became in that night a symbol of our celebration of having a new place to live where we can paint the walls and make a real room for our boys, the first sense of home in a very long time for all of us.  We giggled and shouted and when the lights finally went out and we slipped out of the room, our boys whispered how wonderful it was that now there were four more creatures in their room and how it would be a night to always, always remember.

Yes, it will be, Ben and I whispered back. Yes, indeed.

 

**PHOTOS TO FOLLOW WHEN I FIGURE OUT HOW TO USE OUR NEW CAMERA! **  Yes, I am writing on a deadline, but sometimes need to take a break…

Arise!

Election Night: I stayed up until the wee hours of the night, huddled in the corner of our bedroom with ethernet internet and headphones, covering the screen with a blanket and watching MSNBC Live while Benjamin slept on and I witnessed history being formed.  I have never seen such biased media coverage in my lifetime for a Super Tuesday.  True enough, Obama’s win was a historic moment. Be sure to read Joel Rosenburg’s comments on his win:  http://flashtrafficblog.wordpress.com/2008/11/05/epicenter-reacts-to-obama-victory/, it is very good in regards to the Middle East.  We must not be so consumed with our own desperate economy that we take our focus off the place where it all began and it all will end. Everything that can be shaken, will. Be wise. Very wise. Pray. God’s sovereignty is no excuse for lazy followers of Christ. Learn to pray with power for Obama, the nation and the world. And lean hard and heavy into God. This is no time for complacency. The next year will hold more than we can imagine. Yes, I get passionate about such things…

No Extra Legs Here.

Our room looks like a bomb went off in it, as well as the garage. I don’t have great chunks of time for unpacking and organizing.  It will come.  Ben is working through a temp agency at a cabinet shop and taking side jobs of remodel/carpentry work.  We are praying for just one year of a constant 9-5er vs. sub-contracting.  Imagine not having to track down work for one whole year…

Anders is talking by leaps and bounds. He’ll be three on 12.4. “How are fingers made? What does Jesus do all day? Where is He?  How do dogs sleep? How do bees make honey? Where does milk come from? From cows-how is that?  I was in your tummy and then I came out your mouth, right Mama?”  Lars has a table in their room for a desk. I asked him to go get the legs in the garage so we could set it up. Anders overheard and inspected all our legs and said, “Nope, all our leggies are just fine. What, we have more leggies in the garage? Let me see them! Are they walking around?”

Larsen made up a song last night called “My World” and it goes like this, “My world, ya gotta come to my world, oh yea. Sticks and trees, pirates and knights, books and legos, balls and bikes. A mama, a dad, a brother I prayed for and praise God no sister, yea, no sister! Ya gotta come to my world.”  He is quite taken with reading and his new reading light and is zooming through simple chapter books and howling over Calvin and Hobbs. 

We are settling in more and meeting more people here. Moving to another part of the country while processing where you came from has taken longer than we all thought. Much longer. We are at a good point in the journey.  

 I’ve a writing deadline to meet and every word and ounce of listening must be focused on that race.  You can pray I finish well.

Crucial Times.

The elections. We are all thinking about them and it seems like every blogger and their mother and grandmother is venting their opinion. I am torn again between being a critic and attempting to exercise discernment.  In vague terms,  I am not overly impressed with either party’s nominations in the least bit.  I had expected much more for such a time as this from a crop that is so vast of potential leaders of the free world. I have not been swayed in the least by the eloquent arobics of Obama nor the pretty-faced Alaskan. 

You might think my bar is too high, but I am not much compelled. I detest the jr. high mudslinging and the savvy but downright disrespectful comparisions.  Sarcasim, emotionalism, nor the proud belief in the idolatrious American Dream which we near equate with godliness does not move my soul. None of us can earn our deliverence, our salvation. It’s the kingdom of man again believing they are the kingdom of God when the two are very seperate. 

Mind you, I am not a seperatist, but again I expected more. I am fasinated by the world of politics and the ability of man, given by God, to govern the lands.  But honestly now, dignified, honorable, educated, experienced, uncompromising, integrity and seriousness would be my personal order. One who trembles at such an office and knows their True Accountability in serving in such a fuction. These are crucial times, too crucial to be about a popularity contest or a show. 

 Only God holds the truth of all the agendas presented.  It is my prayer we can see how He sees. And then rise up to intercede for our nation, that HIS desires be carried forth and HIS fame spread from sea to shining sea.

A Vision of Heaven.

I love the nations and long for the day when every knee will bow and tongue will confess…These words are that great sum. In a time and nation of flabergasting elections on either side, these words are the end of all the stories of all humanity:

Bring us, O Lord God, at the last awakening into the house and gate of Heaven, to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but one equal music; no fears nor hopes, but an equal possession; no ends and beginnings, but one equal eternity, in the habitations of your majesty and your glory, world without end.

A prayer by John Donne

The Gravity of Location.

 

The posting below was on the blog SoulGardeners. I have thought along these lines many times, especially when I see or hear about churches trying to move out from a neighborhood that has become “run-down”. Living here in an area that has the extremes of multi-million dollar houses and immigrant apartments within miles of each other, I wonder where Jesus might dwell, as both classes are spiritually needy.  Currently, we are looking for more permanent housing for the year. We have been touring our options and crunching the budget. We also are praying that we would choose a place in which Jesus just might want to show up in a new way in our lives and use us to show Him up in the lives of others in that particular community. Your location and the sub-culture within it has a way of forming you over time and even your image of God and your understanding of how He operates. In all of our moves and travels I have noticed that one becomes more and more like the attitudes, expectations, expressions and even climate of where one lives.  There is great gravity in location.  In this truth, let us stay alert and never be so comfortable and molded that we keep Him and ourselves, caged. 

“I wonder what would happen to our Christology if we form it in the desolate and dangerous places. It’s a pity that most of our middle-class theology happens in the safe confines of suburbia. It would be naive to think that our coffee shops, malls and technology have no effect on how we see Jesus. The invitation of Matthew 16.13-20 is to answer the ‘who is Jesus?’ question in different locations. Christ took his followers to the pagan city rebuilt by Philip (Herod’s son) – a place notorious for its Baal worship, veneration of the Emperor and for the cave of Pan (a place thought to be the gate(s) of Hades.

One of my friends have a wonderful habit. Whenever he speaks in a city for the first time he asks the hosts to take him to the most desolate place in town. Then he immerses himself in the people and the place. Soaked with this, he then proceeds to talk about Jesus. So I wonder where these placed would be for me and for you? For us it has become the squatter camps on the edge of Johannesburg and the dangers of suburbia.”

Where is it for you?