Tuesday, June 24, 2014

From a Hobbit

The little people of the Shire have some great wisdom.  They grow gardens, enjoy food, and are quite content minding their own business in peasant life.  'Home', they call it.  Peek-a-boo houses with round doors and rustic fences, never meant to keep anyone out, but only to support the trellis of vines and grasses. 

It sounds idealistic.  Yet, their way of life is a basic need of all humanity, a place to call home. 

This is our first week of the summer without tight deadlines or packed responsibilities.  As I am finally motivated to attend to matters of home, the garden shows my negligence.  Dried up spinach, along with beets, struggle to survive.   The peas would be tall if I had strung them up.  Instead they are laying across the ground, but still graciously persistent about producing their pods.   Even my tomatoes are slow. 

It takes time to grow a garden.  You have to be present. 

One of my struggles as a 'stay at home mom', is to stay home.  Establishing a place of routine is important for the sanity and well-being of all members of the family.  But if I am never home, the base becomes ruffled, unkempt, and unsettled.

"Oh, anyone can do that sort of work," we say.  But it is a challenge, because consistency and faithfulness cannot be cooked in a microwave. 

When that little hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, nears the end of his adventure, he is tempted to avoid the struggle and return to the life he knows.  Yet, in remembering the stability of his own home, he realizes a calling beyond himself. 

"You dwarfs have no home, no gardens, no peasant life," Bilbo declares with great sympathy, "and so I will help you reclaim your home."  I recently watched the movie, The Hobbit, (by J.R.R. Tolkien), for the first time, and coming to this part, I almost had to laugh.  It is so simple, yet so profound!   Everyone needs a place built by daily routine that is truly home. 

I know I am late for the season, but I think I will go out and plant my green beans now, because working the soil does something for the soul.  Watching plants grow encourages the heart, and says, "Yes, there is fruit to the settling in of daily life, of consistency and faithfulness."

Most of all, it matters, for when activity rules, home is stolen, often unaware, and we are left empty. 

God requires faithfulness, and this must be one reason why, because He is building for us an eternal home . . . and also building us, one day at a time, to be fit for it.  Looking forward to the day He returns to receive us to Himself!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Wind from Heaven

We prayed for a nice day, and it seemed our prayers were answered.  Not until the bride began her walk down the aisle, did the wind start its rustling through the leaves. 


The imagery fairly took my breath away.  My thoughts were swept away to Christ and His people, the bride of Christ, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the breath of heaven.  It was beautiful. 

Just the week before I was reminded of the same imagery, only in a different form.  My daughter was playing in a band of over one hundred members.  The conductor raised his baton and then all at once, a breath.  The audience was hushed by its expectation and power. 

I'm reminded that without the breath there would be no music.  And that wherever the bride goes, there is this wind of the Holy Spirit.  We are washed in the blood of the Lamb, forgiven, made white as a bride adorned for her husband. 

Who gives this woman in marriage to this man? 

God the Father presents the church to Christ, our Bridegroom, as His own precious one.  This relationship is sacred, personal, and exclusive.  For that reason, I am almost afraid to write about it, for its intimacy. 

Yet, I cannot get over the wonder of relationship with my Savior.  I long for the day when He returns and calls me to Himself where I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Searching the Evidence

I sent three 5th grade girls down the hall and around the corner to see what they could see.  They returned running and breathless, adrenaline running high.  Stumbling over the words, they eagerly told the rest of the group what they saw and experienced.

It was all planned, but they did not know that.  I sought to create a simulation of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 

As the girls in my class saw the wrappings, an 'angel', (my husband), emerged from the closet and spoke these words, "Why do you search for the living among the dead? He is not here, for He is risen, just as He said!  Go, and tell his disciples!"  (Matt. 28:6-7)

It was perfect.  The girls were stunned and when they came back to tell the others, everyone wanted to see for themselves.  But we sent only two, representing Peter and John.  They ran down the hall and saw as well.  Finally, we let the entire group go and examine the evidence. 

As our class continued to reenact the resurrection story, I couldn't help but get goosebumps.  We huddled in our 'locked' room, fearful of suffering the same fate as Jesus.  But then wondered how it would be if Jesus suddenly appeared among us, and showed us the scars in his hands and feet, the wound in his side. 

Yet, some would argue that Jesus never really died, leaving the resurrection pointless.  However, the day before, we held a court of law to determine whether Jesus' death did indeed really happen.  We had a judge, a lawyer, a jury, and a panel of witnesses.

These witnesses were taken not only from his friends and followers, but from his enemies and a soldier standing by.  Even those who held a high position in the Sanhedrin gave witness to His death.  The jury decided, based on the evidence, that Jesus had indeed died. 

I am convinced that those who reject Christ have not really examined the evidence.  Our Vacation Bible School was for the kids, but it did a number on my own heart.  All I can say is, "Wow!  What powerful messages!"

We were secret agents, looking to discover who Jesus really is, then decide how that evidence affects our own lives, and finally to defend it. 

As some 150 kids sang out, I was swept away in the sign language, the commanding hand motions, illustrating these truths so powerfully.  Jesus is risen!  He is alive and coming back again.  Each will give an accounting for their lives and what they did with Jesus of Nazareth. 

It is one thing to know these truths in my head, and yet another to incorporate them onto my heart through experience.   I've known these truths since childhood, but it was a real joy to study them last week in such a fresh way.  The evidence is clear, if we will have eyes to see.  I am so grateful for the opportunity. 


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Courage on Display

Opening my workbook, staring me right down, was this lesson on courage.  Not about a valiant warrior or mighty soldier, but of an everyday woman, releasing her son to a rushing river.   The very place meant for destruction, she accepted as a means of deliverance.

Moses was swept downstream and at last landed in the bathing cove of Pharaoh's daughter, the princess.  Miriam watched breathless, following the courage of her mother, their secret now exposed. There would be no more hiding of this child.

Over the weekend, I also watched in awe, as a young woman displayed great courage.  We were at a wedding, but this was no ordinary wedding, for the bride was eight months pregnant.

I'm sure this was not what her little girl dreams had envisioned. 

Yet as that telltale bulge followed, ever evident, she maintained poise and dignity, grace and glow .  .  .  courage.

I don't know many who would be so brave, allowing their weakness to be placed on display, accepting the results of their choices.  It runs against the grain of reputable reputations, secret sins, and protected images.

While knowing that God established sex to be practiced only within the bounds of marriage, this woman chose to face her mistake, not seeking to shush it under the rug in hidden whispers.   She chose life against abortion, shame against honor, and full against trim.

Every woman wants a beautiful body for her husband, especially at her wedding.  Yet, as this woman began the dance with her husband, he pulled her in tight, not phased by the intrusion of a baby, not afraid to take on the responsibility of his actions.  And in that movement she, and they, were beautiful. 

However, no road is easy which bears the load of consequence.  The path ahead will be difficult, the strength of courage and commitment tested, of this I am certain.  But God, in His mercy, does not always reveal the full weight of what is to come, only one day at a time.  Yet, I have confidence this woman will thrive, for she has already set courage into motion. 

I am so grateful that we have a forgiving God, one who knows our frailties and sympathizes with our weaknesses.  God moves beyond our failures to healing, hope, and restoration.  He gives us strength to tackle what each day holds, no matter the challenge. 

I never cease to be amazed at how God takes our messes and weaves them into art . . . beauty.   Through this woman, a picture of courage has been seared on my heart, because in my book, a hero has stepped up to the plate. 

(Note:  this post was written with permission from the bride)