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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Was That The Kingdom?!

     In Luke 19 we see a man 'desperate' to see Jesus - it says he was 'quite rich'.  Do the very rich have a kind of lifestyle that is uncommon? Do they have opportunities and resources to take advantage of the world in extraordinary ways? And yet this man was desperate to see Jesus and couldn't get a glimpse of the King who became flesh, so he had to shimmy up a sycamore tree. It says he ran ahead, which was considered undignified in his culture for adults - a man of importance, to run, but Zacchaeus in his moment of desperation threw aside social code. This kind of tree had inferior pieces of fig that only the poor would eat which really adds to this picture of Deity coming into the presence of humanity. But humanity here was indignant, ignoring the King of all hope and mercy;  flung their words of judgment and shame in the face of Zacchaeus who was a little stunned at their hatred of him. Maybe he felt their stinging indictments before, but Zacchaeus was so caught up in the presence of Jesus - you know the Godhead who became flesh to walk among us, that their harsh words tried to halt him in his rhythm of joy and gladness. So he apologized and said he gives half of his income to the poor. The Message translation uses the present tense, but other translations indicate it was something he would do.  And if I'm caught cheating, he says, I pay four times the damage. Either way, he has encountered the Kingdom of God and it is life altering for him. Jesus confirms all of the activity in the heart of Zacchaeus when He proclaims, "Today is salvation day in this home!"

But it is so sad what I read in the very next verse. The crowd was getting closer to Jerusalem, because that's where Jesus was headed, and their expectancy was building - oh they were excited because there was all this hope that God's Kingdom would appear any minute. They Just saw the Kingdom - The Glorious Kingdom had just appeared in that last minute back there on the road!  Who else can bring salvation? Zacchaeus, this crook as they called him, was so overcome with desperation because He knew there was something extraordinary about this man in sandals walking his beat, breathing his air and crowding into his space. But they despised this glorious interchange of love and sweetness, profound exhilaration at the top of the tree - shouts of love! " Master, I give..!" He called Him Master, which implies that he had become a servant and he was also compelled to give outrageously and right any wrong. The Kingdom called out to Zacchaeus and his heart was pierced and he embraced that love, the audacious love that overcame social constraints to bring eternal life a life of love that never ends to the man Zacchaeus.

Ohhh I don't ever want to miss any time the Kingdom comes and spreads wings of unreasonable love over anything, anyone, anywhere, anytime. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013


As I look at Psalm 4, it reminds me of what I hear in many of the other Psalms - Complaining and Whining. I don't disagree with that sentiment. There are plenty of things that are not right, unbalanced, unfair and  down right awful!

Our Government is whining about their lack of cash flow and they want to borrow more money and add to the trillions of dollars we already owe. What is a trillion dollars anyway?! When I run out of money, I don't buy (most of the time). I can whip out the credit card and delay the pain, but I still have to pay.

It aggravates me that the Government won't live on a budget. I have to live on a budget. Can they try to change their spending habits?! I know that sounds too simple. So I can whine and complain about what happens in our bureaucracy or I can look for another option. We have to be unprecedented. We have to do something that's unprecedented. The we is the Church. The church must be an unprecedented force.

Scripture tells me that 'Pure religion is taking care of orphans and widows' (James 1:27). That's a powerful start - the church taking care of the world's orphans?! And the world's widows?! This would be unprecedented.

A thorough search of the scriptures gives me a recipe for every pain I endure and the suffering I will meet in this world. There is no lack in God and through His Kingdom there is opportunity for me to bring hope to a lost and dying world.  So I'm in for the unprecedented in my corner of the world. I will do my part and learn to believe that God does hear me when I cry out in need of answers.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

You Don't Need a Gym

     You don't need a gym if you have a country road, a dog and a set of free weights. Improvise! My dog gets me up in the morning (if I let her), I don't need a cup of Java or tea. Lili is ready and I've got to get moving before she tears into a possum or worse yet, a skunk! I grab my 5 lb. weights which are laying, waiting, by the front door, and I'm off down a side lane next to a cemetery, surrounded by fields. It's a perfect 'work-out' room- the scenery is incredible and I even have a few inclines, or knolls as they call them here in Southern Indiana. I'll just have to stick with the morning routine and enjoy the benefits!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Breaking Tradition

     I ran my hands over the smooth finish of the Walnut case, it's insides covered in felt to protect the pieces of gold-tipped silverware I've held onto for more than twenty years. I saw my father smile as I held the platter filled to the brim with fresh vegies, cut and placed in a circular pattern, their colors bright and cheerful echoing the sentiment of the afternoon. More memories of family gatherings held together by culinary delights raced through my mind. My mother along with others cousins and aunts and a few from my new family brought them to our home as wedding gifts, and I've only used them on holidays - the times of celebration when the house is full of family and friends.

But the other day I was cooking up a dessert, along with the final prep for dinner and I ran out of serving utensils. It occurred to me that I could use those beautiful pieces of silverware, hidden in that walnut case on the other side of the kitchen in the dining room. So I walked over to the hutch, swung the door wide open and pulled the wooden box away from the linens that were stacked on top. As I lifted open the lid, it was Christmas in July!! It was empowering! I was using my good silverware for an everyday meal!

They have a new home now, outside of their walnut box, laying in the drawer, mixed in with all of my everyday silverware, making every meal a real treat! 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Help From The Divine

As I turn the final page of Letters From My Friend Teilhard De Chardin, 1948 - 1955, I found myself mourning the loss of a friend I just found inside his essays written with passion, convinced that the evolutionary movement that presses us forward, just as surely drives us upward can only be truly understood in terms of a reach of union with the Divine. I found a beautifully convincing correlation between God and evolution. A Jesuit Priest and French philosopher, Teilhard was a trained paleontologist and geologist who took part in the discovery of Peking Man and Piltdown Man. In his final months before his death, he said to his biographer, friend and colleague as they traveled down familiar streets in NYC back to his residence after lunch, " I can tell you, that I am constantly living in the presence of God!"

Here was a man of science and theology, a lecturer, missionary, author and a decorated military man who traveled to Africa, China and Asia as a celebrated geologist and scientist. And yet, Rome forbade him to write or teach on philosophical subjects. In 1925, Teilhard was ordered by the Jesuit Superior General Wlodimir Ledochowski to leave his teaching position in France and to sign a statement withdrawing his controversial statements regarding the doctrine of original sin. Rather than leave the Jesuit order, Teilhard signed the statement and left for China.This was the first of a series of condemnations by certain ecclesiastical officials that would continue until long after Teilhard's death. The climax of these condemnations came in 1962, seven years after his death, a monitum (reprimand) of the Holy Office denouncing his works.

 Even though he was unrecognized, cast down and abandoned, Teilhard never lost his love for God. It appears only to have enriched his supreme devotion to God and the mystery of the Divine. I take courage from this blessed life. I can't even remember what brought me to his name. He is a mystery to me and yet I believe it would be helpful to try and understand his unreasonable attraction to the Divine that kept him focused. I may need a revelation! 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Just Say No To a New Year's Resolution!

     I used to cave under all the hype around New Years resolutions - not any more!! Why expose myself to all those feelings of guilt when I break that resolve the second day into the year, because it was sooo depressing the first day when I couldn't stay in my 'resolve' for 24 hours!!
     A couple of weeks ago I was reading Colossians 3:12-17, and it occurred to me that these few, but powerful verses could be a 'way of living' for me. A goal I would endeavor to live by for the rest of my life as I am able, and as I learn to live in the joy of Jesus' presence. It's one thing to live happily ever after in my own home surrounded by friends and family, but the 'happily ever after' gets  a real beating in life when I engage in life with others in the culture around me.
     Petterson writes in Colossians 3 to 'dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you:  Compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense.' These evoke such beautiful pictures of harmony and understanding, especially, dressing in quiet strength - I love that!
     My husband has gone into a store and picked out the most perect outfit for me to wear - something I would never have tried on.  I'm not sure that happens often with other couples.  And he also has missed it completely, pulling out something he likes, but it's not really my style. I want to be in style - in sync - with the creator of the universe, who holds the world in the palm of His hands and has the number of hairs on my head numbered.
     I believe quiet strength, kindness, compassion, even-tempered and humility look good on everyone, in any culture, any age at any time of any day of the week. It's not a New Year's resolution, but a new way of life. And when I don't make the mark in every situation, I know that I can start all over again tomorrow, livng in the joy and forgiveness of the One who made me whole and complete.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Past

  'Whose woods these are I think I know

His house is in the village though

He will not see me stopping here

  To watch his woods fill up with snow'

I was admiring the snow glistening in the sunlight this morning, laying a thin white blanket over the frozen ground when I saw these words hanging on the walls of my memories like pictures framed up in my young days of childhood.  Robert Frost was one of the first poems my father and I memorized together.  I can see him sitting on the couch and me leaning in close toward his lap, careful not to crowd him - we three kids clamoring for his attention.  Dad opened the world of poetry to me, and considered it important to bring the joy of writing words that carried strong emotion or simple thoughts clinging together in stories and adventures.  We traveled on roads filled with characters cajoling one another, or enjoyed beauty lingering as a backdrop to Mother Nature’s symphony of colorful sunsets, cascading waterfalls, or winter on mountains tops before spring flowers peeked out from snowcapped crests. After a while, my imagination knew no limits and wandered down the streets of possibility.

     I remember riding the train downtown with dad and visiting his studio where he worked as a commercial artist.  I can still see the trail of his cigar smoke as he puffed and drew a line, or dabbed a stroke of color on his painting.  Mom worked as a secretary at the studio when they met.  She made him a very happy man, because the only thing I noticed in the photos on their wedding day was a smile that filled half his face – nothing but smiles in every picture that day. 

     Presents from dad were special, because he worked many days past dinner and brought work home too.  So when he took time to shop, well, it was a real treasure.  He shared his art with us, and that’s when my modeling career began while posing for a Louis Lamoure book cover, or holding up my cardboard box of laundry detergent with a look of cleaning determination.  Modeling began and ended at 2933 West 183rd street which was home for more than 50 Christmas’ for me!  One year we had the most perfect Christmas tree when we chopped down a pretty little evergreen from our front yard to make room for a turn-a-round in the drive way.  It was just the right height for our living room and full of beautiful branches.  Maybe that was the year we began using garland instead of tinsel.