Wednesday, October 30, 2013

This Time Last Year

"I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. 
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD."
Psalm 27:13-14

Waiting is a learned discipline.

And it rarely looks pretty on my countenance. 
I want to be calm and peaceful and quietly restful in all my waiting seasons.
But.
Instead.
I can be profuse in my grimaces, and my worry and my sweaty, red-faced clamor.
(Is N.O.W. really too much to ask?!)

The clash of my longing and God’s timing keeps me wrestling with Him through details.

I acknowledge that Mastery of the Patience Thing would effectively end this wrangle. 
And I recognize that the wrangle has value (dang it).

All the wrestling locks me in his grasp.
It keeps me in the game.
We stay connected in a way that strengthens and trains.
It builds muscle.
And necessary skill.
It shapes a warrior.

Remembering the provisions of God nourishes the faith muscles required to sustain a hopeful waiting posture in my current circumstances.
Retelling His benefits, feeds the very muscles that sustain all the wrestling.

Pictures of our furlough travels have prompted needful recollection this week.
The myriad interruptions (waiting) of last year did not hinder the blessings God had designed for us.
 These images and the memories they represent are soothing and strengthening and reminding me of God's good plans and purposes:


Pontevecchio Dates with Jeff-- completely delightful


Thanksgiving Prayer


Enjoying the winter weather in Durango, CO

Home to Oregon

Football with the Family (GO ROYALS!!!)

Meals and memories at Grammy and Granddad's table
Sweet memories with Uncle S'More

Joy :)

Celebrating, all together in one place

The gorgeous Oregon Coast 

A Merry Thanksgiving Meal 

One of our VERY favorite places in the world--Multnomah Falls

Snow!

The Grand Canyon
Surprise Time with treasured friends!
Every moment with THIS girl!
Silly Selfies
Games!

Sisters. Starbucks. Sanctuary.

Offspring in the halls of our junior high--so many memories in these corridors

This. 

Token tree decorating pose--HAPPINESS!

Beautiful Glenwood

Enjoying time with the Goodes!

Home away from Home--We love you Bill and Virginia!

A birthday supper at Mercado's. Perfection!
The Cashlings meet the Funnel Cake. Love at first bite!

Rockets and stars--a fun day at NASA

Dearest friends

Cheering for Bryson at a swim meet!

The Great Wolf Lodge with lots of Cousins

Sweetest sustaining connections--the Vaughn family

Refreshing Hope in the home of the Parsons--a perfect and very blessed ending to our furlough

And so, reminded, I remain.
Locked in His grip.
Holding out for a bestowing.
Limping and blessed.

"And Jacob was left alone, and a Man wrestled with him until daybreak.
And when [the Man] saw that He did not prevail against [Jacob], He touched the hollow of his thigh; and Jacob’s thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with Him.
Then He said, Let Me go, for day is breaking. But [Jacob] said, I will not let You go unless You declare a blessing upon me.
[The Man] asked him, What is your name? And [in shock of realization, whispering] he said, Jacob [supplanter, schemer, trickster, swindler]!
And He said, Your name shall be called no more Jacob [supplanter], but Israel [contender with God]; for you have contended and have power with God and with men and have prevailed.
Then Jacob asked Him, Tell me, I pray You, what [in contrast] is Your name? But He said, Why is it that you ask My name? And [the Angel of God declared] a blessing on [Jacob] there.
And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel [the face of God], saying, For I have seen God face to face, and my life is spared and not snatched away.
And as he passed Penuel [Peniel], the sun rose upon him, and he was limping because of his thigh."
Genesis 32:24-31 
The Amplified Bible









Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Then They Will Know


“Hey, it’s me…”
There are voices we recognize immediately.
On the phone. Or from a distance.
In the space of days and many words, we practice discerning a tone, an accent and a lilt.
Until we know.
Jeff’s is one such voice for me.
I hear him and perceive both his identity and (often) exactly how he is feeling.
I adore this kind of knowing. This depth of awareness.
It feels very big. Very sustaining and full.
Very connected.
And yet.
That big, meaningful awareness is born from many very common conversations.
In the midst of all the Regular, I have learned his voice.


“…the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest…” Ezekiel 1:3

We find Ezekiel in our Old Testament. Right between the Lamenting and Daniel.

God found Ezekiel by a river in the midst of exiles.

But they already knew each other because Ezekiel was a priest.

Ezekiel’s priesthood indicates, among other things, that he had spent time and energy maintaining daily religious practices in honor and worship of Jehovah God.

He had invested regular days to systematic discipline in obedience to Yahweh.

Ezekiel lived in a time when God’s Word was not compiled into one Holy book.

There was no Bible as we have today.

No concordances or dictionaries.

No bookstores with a zillion versions of His Words decorating the shelves.

When God had something to say, He sent angels.

And prophets.

And sometimes heart stopping visions.

“In my thirtieth year…the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.” Ezekiel 1:1

“…This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.” Ezekiel 1:28

Ezekiel writes of his commissioning by the very voice of God. He was chosen to be a Prophet.

Propheting (let’s just go with it) wasn’t so much a fun job for Zeke. 

Not very many chapters into Ezekiel’s story, one gets the strong feeling that Ezekiel has not been chosen for a ministry of Joy and Abundance. 

“The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn….Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions…. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen for they are rebellious.” Ezekiel 2:4-7

Ezekiel was not so very cheery about his calling.
(To this, I might possibly, sometimes relate.)

“The Spirit then lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness and in the anger of my spirit, with the strong hand of the Lord on me. I came to the exiles who lived at Tel Aviv near the Kebar River. And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days—deeply distressed.” Ezekiel 3:14-15

But.

Ezekiel obeyed.

He did his job.

He listened. He spoke.

He wrote stuff down.

He did what he was called to do.

There are 48 chapters of all that Ezekiel heard and faithfully repeated.

In the majority of the first 40 chapters Ezekiel is given heaps of bad news to deliver and often, experience himself.

He is asked to do some pretty weird things in order to make a point to a rebellious people.

He was called to be both a watchman and an example; to tell them and SHOW them.

His calling was sometimes harsh. 

“Son of man with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes….So I spoke to the people in the morning and in the evening my wife died.” Ezekiel 24: 16&18

So devastating. And yet we read of Ezekiel’s obedience and perseverance.

We see his faithful proclaiming.

“Again the word of the LORD came to me.” Ezekiel 36:16

Ezekiel was listening, but God’s people were not.

It seems many folks, had fallen out of the “It’s me…” connection with Jehovah.

They weren’t recognizing His Voice anymore.

They had fallen into a whole lot of leaning on (listening to) other things.

“…I have been grieved by their adulterous hearts, which have turned away from me, and by their eyes, which have lusted after their idols.” Ezekiel 6:9b

“He said to me, ‘Son of man, have you seen what the elders of Israel are doing in the darkness; each at the shrine of his own idol?” Ezekiel 8:12

“… for you have not followed my decrees or kept my laws but have conformed to the standards of the nations around you.” Ezekiel 11:12

The ears of God’s people were tuned to the soundtrack of their own pursuits. Images and shrines that had become their Regular.

“… your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign Lord.
But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favors on anyone who pass├ęd by and your beauty became his.” Ezekiel 16:14-15

Furthermore.

“…Was your prostitution not enough? You slaughtered my children and sacrificed them to the idols. In all your detestable practices and your prostitution you did not remember the days of your youth…” Ezekiel 16:20-22

God’s people did not remember.

They forgot: Who saved them; and Who made them beautiful; and Who they belonged to.

They chose Other Things.

(SO glad we have all moved way past THAT kind of living.)

(Right?)

(deep, deep sigh)

Ezekiel challenges and proclaims and reveals the grim despair of God’s people and the unfaithful nations surrounding God’s people.

At the exact same time.  (this is the BEST part!)

A point emerges repetitively from all of the warnings. And the punishments. And the losses. And the catastrophes. And the condemnations. And the silences. And the banishments.

“And then they will know that I am the LORD.”  Ezekiel 7:27b

Repeated more than 60 times, (63 times!!!) a refrain that crescendos and remarkably echoes Promise and Presence.

“And then they will know that I am the LORD.” Ezekiel 7:27b

God was still showing up.

While the reckoning was resounding and the wrath was pouring.

His love wasn’t going anywhere.

No matter what.

He wanted His Children to come Home.

“For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people and I will be your God.” Ezekiel 36: 24-28

With the same precision and purpose that He describes, warns and dispenses punishment for their conduct, He plans and purposes their Homecoming too.

The final eight chapters specifically and definitively measure and design glorious.

A City. And a restored temple.

“… the name of the city from that time on will be: ‘THE LORD IS THERE.’” Ezekiel 48:35b

Honesty resolves fastest. God never sugar coats Who We Are and What We Have Done.

Or Who He Is.

He keeps it all True.

Which means (because of us) it can get pretty ugly.

But (because of Him) can always be Redeemed.

According to Ezekiel’s testimony, God will go to extraordinary lengths to get our preoccupied attentions.

He is Jealous for our obsessions with other images, with other things that we depend on to sustain or help us.

He sees the Deception we wallow in and He is not okay with our wayward conduct.

He persists in reminding us of how He sounds. Of the Better Way.  Of the pain inherent in sin.

His Tone of Voice holds steady as Reconciling Hope. 

(Even when He Shouts.)

“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:19-20


Repentance.

Hearing His Voice. (“Hey, it’s me…)

Opening the Door.

A feast.

And then we will know.
















Friday, October 04, 2013

Reality. Rest. Reset. Repeat.


We daily mark the steps in this dance of the realities and resets. We move through sorrow and celebration accompanied by the crooning Regular that comforts or drags, depending on the day.

Needing rest, so kneading rest. Somehow.

Finding our Faithful One, Faithful.


Reality
The rats have been many. The internet has been sparse. Rain pelts our land, our laundry and our lives. We spend many hours cooped up all together in one space. Many. Hours. The dark chocolate M&M’s are long finished and the thieves continue to pester and push.
A Kenyan Mall is invaded and we are wrapped up in mourning with a land we love. The Fun New Math has grown dull and the movies have all been recycled. Books are all read and batteries are dead. We. Are. Tired.


Rest
Weary, we pull towards an elusive rest finding respite in nibbles and drips.
(But finding it all the same.)
The Veranda. The Cool Air. Laughter. A Stolen Nap. Prayer.

“Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.” Psalm 116:7

Reset

Thankful For a Life:
Where we go barefoot to school
Where bread is homemade and tortillas are fresh
Where the sun heats deep to our bones
Where activity Full-Stops when rains pour
Where my children learn to cope with Bored
Where conversations can meander long
Where my husband can have breakfast with me on the veranda
Where my children have learned to cook
Where fresh apples are celebratory treats
Where growing gardens and talking in the kitchen and reading books out loud together are main ingredients of our days
Where rhythm is established
Where there is always someone to teach
Where we have found time and space to heal and to hope
Where we can actively Believe
Yes, Thankful for a Life

Repeat

Honestly facing. Trusting. Listening. Proclaiming.

Again.

All day long.

“My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long.” Psalm 70:8

“Give thanks in all circumstances…”I Thess 5:18