November 24, 2010

Breathe Deep

Sometimes it is hard to remember God's goodness:
When Godly, lovely people lose battles with disease,
when evil people seem to not have a care in the world,
when humble go hungry and proud eat their fill. 
This seeming reality can destroy joy like nothing else I know. 
My head knows that God is good, because His Word tells me so, my heart knows that He is good because I have seen Him answer prayer.  But sometimes I just can't seem to bring it all together.  The pain is too real, the look of suffering in another's eyes is too vivid, the cup is too bitter and I lose faith...even if only for a moment. 
How fickle my affections are, how quick to judge and slow to trust. 
He does  not promise that I will know how His goodness will manifest itself or that it will fit my definition of "good,"  He simply promises that all things will work together for the good of those who are called by His name.  As my pastor said in a sermon not too long ago, "be thankful that He has saved you and live your life." 
And so, on this eve of Thanksgiving I will choose an attitude of gratitude.  Because a thankful heart has no room for doubts.
I am grateful for my name written in the book of life and God who loved me enough to pay with blood to write it.  I am grateful for a family who loves me and loves God.  I am grateful for friends who get me and who have my back.  I am grateful for daily bread and joy in my work.  I am grateful for baby kisses and toddler hugs, for sunny mornings and flocking birds.  I am grateful for projects to keep my hands busy and for art to keep my mind in awe.  I am grateful for health and a roof over my head.  I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who listens to my prayers and answers with what is best and not with what I want.  I am grateful for a savior who is teaching me that if I fear Him, I have nothing to fear.  Most of all I am grateful for the breath of life, both in this world and the next.

breathing deep in broken thoughts, linking up with Emily and  others at Imperfect Prose.

November 17, 2010

Mod Podge and Glitter

As I paint and glitter my way up to Christmas (early I know but I do love it so) I wonder what doesthis mess of mod podge and glitter and lace have to do with the incarnation of Jesus Christ?  At first glance I would say nothing, it is an example of how this deep theological truth has become a reason for silliness.  But not being one to settle for first glances and not being quite ready to resign my glittery dreams and schemes  I decide to look a bit deeper in my heart, why do I love Christmas so much?  Why do I get joy and giggles when I smell pine and see ribbons?
Part of it is my love of hospitality, what a great time of year to invite anyone and everyone over for good hearty foods and warm drinks.  This season is custom made for nights running long with music laughter and board games.  I think that part of my love of decorating for Christmas is wanting to display my home at its best and to give others joy when I entertain them.
Another part is my mourning of shorter days, dropping temperatures,  dead-looking trees, and lack of outdoor color.  The line in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe about it being always winter and never Christmas is one of the most tragic lines in children's literature and I believe it to be a pretty accurate description of what my life would be without the love of God.  "Greening" my apartment give me hope for spring...all is not dead in this season of cold and dark.

Finally I believe part of my love of Christmas comes from a (sometimes overly) developed sense of wonder and silliness that I have inherited from my parents.  I believe that Anne of Green Gables calls it "being of the race that knows Joseph,"  this love of beauty and ability to be suddenly captivated by mystery, hope, wonder, and tragedy that surrounds everyday.  Christmas time is custom made for kindred spirits.  The lush green garlands, snappy red ribbons, shiny bulbs, twinkling bells, flashing lights, tiny jolly figures, all give such scope for the imagination.  Christmas is a time for wonder, wondering at God becoming man, angels singing to shepherds, kings following stars.  If these are not reasons to give into temporary captivity of awe I don't know what is.  Celebrating helps enable these awe-struck sighs and contagious giggles. 
"The more we are proud that the Bethlehem story is plain enough to be understood by the shepherds, and almost by the sheep, the more do we let ourselves go, in dark and gorgeous imaginative frescoes or pageants about the mystery and majesty of the Three Magian Kings." GK Chesterton

Linking up with Emily at Imperfect Prose

November 10, 2010

november grayness

November is a gray month. 
The trees are bare and some how appear purple in their nakedness.  Cloudy skies are no longer just dark with passing rain but are a steely almost dirty looking shade that proclaims frost and whispers of snow.  The rain gets thicker and flirts with the firmness of frozen precipitation. Even the wind seems somehow gray in its new ability to bite.
November snow doesn't usually last long, it's just an appetizer, a foretaste, a teaser, never lasting long enough to make all things look new in its whiteness...just long enough to mess up the driving.  
This was true on Monday.   This November snow turned gray as a cold rain set in melting the snow into slush.  Eventually the snow left and now the 50s have returned if only for a week.  But even this little bit of warmth is deceiving with the wind cutting through it.
As you may have guessed November is not necessarily my favorite month.  One would think that being a good new england girl, I would have made peace with the seasons long ago, but some how this transition between fall and winter always seems to surprise me.  
The only thing I like about November is that it means I can begin listening to Christmas music without being judged.  
I am a firm believer that Christmas is what makes the cold worth it!  
The decorations, the family time, the joyous parties, the delicious food, the awe-inspiring hymns and carols that speak such gospel truth.  When else can you wander through Target on your lunch break and hear the words, "Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Son of Righteousness! Light and life to all He brings Ris'n with healing in His wings Mild He lays His glory by Born that man no more may die Born to raise the sons of earth Born to give them second birth Hark! The herald angels sing "Glory to the newborn King!" " playing over the intercom?
As I wander through this world of gray and cold I pray for contentment, I pray for joy, and most of all a pray that this mystery of incarnation...immortal becoming mortal, Creator putting on created skin...that this mystery would sink into my soul.  May I live like this is true!  Somehow I think that in the light of Jesus setting aside all heavenly glory to be born among livestock, with nothing but the cross before Him, this cold seems a little less gray.

joining up with Emily today at Imperfect Prose

November 3, 2010

God is good and I need to vacuum

I  have written and re-written this entry quite a few times, never quite finding the right words to say.  the command of the english language lay before me and yet all I truly want to say is that God is good.
So often I forget this and in worry-sickness watch and wonder when the rug will be pulled out from underneath me when I am feeling blessed.  Or in self-pitying guilt I reason "what right have I to expect good things from God?" when I have been so disobedient.
Yes, life is messy and yes, life hurts....BUT my God is faithful and powerful, able to do immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine.
On messy days when life gets me to the end of myself and I lay my soul before God in wordless prayer of surrender, cheek to carpet on my living room floor (realizing not only my sinfulness and inability to do anything to save myself but also that I have neglected vacuuming for far too long) I am tempted to despair.  Times like this God's truth is more trustworthy than my feelings and so I let God's promises mend my soul.
"My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
   For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
   and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
   from generation to generation.
  He has shown strength with his arm;
 he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
  and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
   and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
   in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
    to Abraham and to his offspring forever."
Luke 1:46-55

joining up with others who see beauty in brokenness at Imperfect Prose