Saturday, January 28, 2012

Missing the Moment's Masterpiece

We love the rain in San Diego. 

We cherish the anomaly of clouds and dark skies in this else wise sun-saturated terrain.  

We relish the promise of parched creek beds awakening, and desert blooms, greedy, drinking their fill.
We love the rain in San Diego for the respite it offers from Southern California living--running, going, doing, traveling on freeways that take us across the world and back in a day.

Finally, we can stop.  We have to, we tell ourselves.  After all, it is raining.

Time to curl up under a blanket and read, snuggle with hot chocolate culled from dried out packages tucked away for such a time as this. 

We love the rain in San Diego, because we know it will not last.
Most likely, it will not yet have soaked our flower beds before that gold orb flashes bright and warm, beckoning us to get up, get busy, stop wasting valuable time.
So we rise, plans aplenty, tasks on our to-do lists that can no longer wait.

I read a newspaper story yesterday about Wilson Bentley a Vermont farmer in the 20th century, who spent his entire life fascinated with snowflakes.  Attaching a microscope to a large camera, he snapped pictures by the dozens, discovering and diagramming the icy crystals' intricate details.   His friends and family thought Bentley a dreamer, his hobby of no practical use.  Just before he died, he published his book of pictures and little known facts, eager to share what he called the miracles of beauty that had enveloped his life.

Wilson Bentley, the dreamer, is the one who discovered that there really are no two snowflakes alike, each one a masterpiece...and that when one melts, that particular work of art is gone forever.

Maslow said that the ability to live in the present moment is a sign of mental wholeness... and I wonder at the insanity that drives me always to live for what is to come, rather than the now.

How many masterpieces have I missed today?

This is the day the Lord has made.  

The word for day comes from the root word, "hot."

Get it while it's hot...strike while the iron's off the topic...

In other words...the now.

Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

The word for rejoice is akin to tremble.  To be glad akin to jumping for joy.

Because of who He is...every breath we take is eternity in the making.

Every glance of my eye...quickening of my heart...taste on my tongue...sound in my ears...touch of my fingers...scent in the air...

All works of art, fashioned by the One who holds the world together by His power and calls into being that which was not.

The rain that so quickly flees from us here in San Diego reminds us that we can, indeed that we must stop everything at times and embrace what is right here, right now...

And when we do, perhaps tremble...or jump for joy--

...before the sun returns, and the masterpiece of the moment has eluded us once again.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sixteen days in...

Six hours into the sixteenth day of 2012…

and Joe had foot surgery and has to keep it propped up so I’m trying to be a merciful nurse and Sara’s esophagus turned inside out sending her straight to the hospital for three days leaving four little faces behind needing lots of love and care and I backed my car into theirs in the driveway and we still haven’t been able to celebrate Roman’s second birthday and I got the stomach flu during a three-day class that I’d spent our savings to take…

and it’s only six hours into the sixteenth day of 2012.

I’m beginning to feel like Alexander with his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day…

Or in this case, year.  I'm going to outer Mongolia.

Or find a rock to crawl under…

And I won't come out until I can start all over again--like rebooting the computer.

But then… morning devotions in Psalm 19…

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my ROCK and my Redeemer.
There is a Rock...Breathe deeply. 

A Rock I can crawl under, lean on, hide behind and rest within its shady expanse.  

Thank You Lord…now grant me thoughts and words that match the wonder that whatever onslaught this year may bring, grace will plant me face forward to the wind, joy lapping at my heels… because of who You are.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Abandoned Roses--Neglected Souls

Sunset, a rare respite at day’s end…and this profusion of roses outside my living room window.  

When did these beauties begin to bloom, looking for all the world as if it is Spring instead of if some loving gardener has been tenderly caring for them all along? 

I‘ve done nothing to those persnickety bushes for months.  Head buried in books, I barely remember Joe asking me what to do with their spindly branches spread out in awkward array.  Lop them off, I said, never noticing if he did or not.

But here --this feast for the senses in an otherwise barren landscape.

So I try to capture their glory, but the camera cannot lie...

Signs of neglect sideline me...beetle-infested leaves, the yellow of blight, powdery mold, and the ubiquitous aphids, staking their claim. 

But still...roses bloom.

Goldenrod and cranberry, buttercup and bridal white...ivory tinged with the barest blush of pink.

I cannot help but think of my own soul...of the signs of neglect that have plagued my waking moments this week, these first days of a new year...

Embarrassed at my lack, I've perused the perils of emptiness, tasted the angst of aridity and absorbed the shame of a seemingly unfruitful season.

I remember the word You spoke to me so long ago.  I always work in spite of you...and I always will.

Because of who He is...

This is the lesson, isn't it Lord?

What do you have that you did not receive?

...power is perfected in weakness.

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus...

For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things.  To Him be the glory forever! Amen.

(1 Corinthians 4:7, 12:9, 1:30, Romans 11:36) 
Not because of who I am, or what I do, or how spiritual I can be, or how hard I try, or how much fruit there is to be measured, or how impressed anyone else may or may not be...

But because of who You are.

Because of who You are...abandoned roses bloom, and treasures emerge from the soil of neglected souls, testaments to Your sovereign power and ineffable grace.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Because of who HE is...

The decorations are down, the house is clean, and the New Year has dawned bright and crisp with the hope of a fresh start. 

I always love this first day of the new year for the promise it holds, for the expectation it portends.

This morning I am returning to the one thing that settles and soothes my soul regarding the angst of previous resolutions  not kept...

I am remembering the one thing that frees me from disappointment in my failings, and from fear that in the challenges the future holds, I will falter, yet again.

I am renewing my vision with the one thing that is so simple, and profound all at once. 

This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.  The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  The Lord is my portion, says my soul.  Therefore I have hope in Him.  Lamentations 3:21-24
Because of who He is...

Because of who You are, Lord...

In 2012, I can...

hope for the restoration of the ones I love, who still dwell in dark places...

believe I will at last conquer these lusts of my flesh...

rest in who You've made me to be...and stop striving to be someone I'm not.

Because of who You are, Lord...

In 2012, I will...

swim in a sea of grace, carried by a current that You alone control.

cry out for revival again and again, watching expectantly for the breakers of Spirit-life to come crashing in...

Because of who You are Lord...

In 2012, I will...

trust that these dried up, crusty corners of my heart can be softened by the oil of Your love, and made pliable one more time.

remember that this world, this unfolding drama of war and want, of chaos and crisis, of terror and trouble and trials on every only a breath in eternity, less than a heartbeat pulsing under the power of Sovereign grace.

Because of who You are...

Because of who HE is...

The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I have hope in Him.

My Journey:  I am calling my focus this year "a return to God-centeredness,"  which means a return to the one thing that sets everything aright, that guarantees my good and His glory.  It truly is because of who He is that I start afresh today, January 1, 2012. 

Practically, I am engaging in lectio divina through the Psalms, each day asking the question:  What does this tell me about You, Lord? 

Some tools for embracing God's Word:

Reflective reading--click here
Meditation--click here
Scripture study using the online program Studylight--click here

I am also going to try to memorize 1 Peter.  If you'd like to join me, I will be providing memory cards each month.  Click here for the first set--It's about 9-10 verses a month! For tips on how to memorize Scripture, click here.