This Little Light of Mine

quill

***EXTRA EDITION of Not My Poetry***

Obvious, I didn’t write the following song.  (Sunday School teachers the world over are in sore debt to the one who did, as it ranks up there with the one about Zacchaeus and the sycamore…)

Anyway, I play this to make a point.  Plus, the bass vocals and djembe percussion are really cool:

Of course, if you prefer R&B…

And what’s the collection without an uptempo bluegrass version, right?  (Just imagine smoke coming from the banjo…)

Right.  So here’s a song that most people who have grown up in church (and many who have not, for that matter) could sing without much prompting.  A significant comment is found embedded, albeit not deeply, within this simple song.  John Eldredge puts it so clearly in his book, Waking the Dead. (Such a great title for the subject, BTW.)

God has placed within us a “glory”.  Another good teacher, Danny Silk, calls it our “song”. Or as my own pastor, Lawrence Wilson, says, “what did God have in mind when He thought you up?” 

That being the case, then why, WHY!??! do we insist on downplaying that talent/gift/calling/glory or whatever else we can call it in the name of….what?  Humility? That’s hogwash.  It’s not like we can take any credit for it anyway.

Or maybe we hide it because we’re afraid to stand out, as if shining our light will dim someone else’s.  Equal hogwash.  The more light we have, the better we can see.  And if it’s too much, God will provide the sunglasses.

Maybe we’re concerned that what we feel pulled to is really of no value, and if that’s the case, it probably means we’ve been told that somewhere along the line.  More hogwash.  If God put it there, and God doesn’t make mistakes, then He must have a purpose for it, and therefore, it’s needed.  

I love this story from the early church–Jesus has gone back to Heaven, and the Holy Spirit has made His promised installment.  Peter and John “happen” to come upon a man unable to walk, begging for alms at the entrance to the temple.  Now, another Sunday School song that many remember, (and we’ll use traditional church pipe organ this time.)

“Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” Those words were made immortal by this simple song, (second only by the Bible itself, that is), and the first words that most people probably think were said by the apostles to this lame man.

They were not.

The FIRST words Peter and John said upon meeting the man were:

 “Look at us!”

Seriously?  Isn’t that the very thing we are taught to avoid, in the name of “humility” (or humiliation)?  But here’s the rub: many times for us to redirect someone’s focus onto God their Creator, they first have to look at us, His creation!  And the really hilarious part is that God planned it that way!

Jesus even points this out in His prayer right before going to the cross:

“Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you.” 

So, what glory, what gift/talent/passion/song is inside of you?

Why not follow Jesus’ lead, and let it shine!

Acts 3:4; John 17:1  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Wisdom of Harvestores

wood 2I love the story of Joseph, of Technicolor coat fame.  He’s also the one that had the bright idea to build large storehouses to put up the grain for the seven bumper-crop years and then portion it out during the famine (also of seven years.)  And Joseph was in charge of the storehouses, which made him a powerful entity, but without this plan the people would have been goners. 

So it turned out to be a pretty good plan.

Here in the rural Midwest, storehouses are also used.  And you don’t TOUCH the grain until the farmer says it’s time.  Only he wields the authority as to when the grain is supposed to come out and how much and for what use.  One does not question the wisdom of the farmer. 

But, spiritually speaking, I still have this bent in Continue reading “The Wisdom of Harvestores”

PUSH to enter

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Assertiveness has never been one of my innate qualities.  I don’t remember ever getting a spanking in my life, not necessarily because my parents were liberal-minded types against any form of corporate discipline; it may be more like you could look at me and make me cringe in fear.  (I’ve improved with age, but not too much.) ziggy

So when I read the story of Caleb’s daughter, Acsah, I’m a bit intrigued.  Caleb was on Joshua’s side when Moses originally sent in the crew to check out the Promised Land.  Ten of the fellas came back with their tails tucked between their legs, intimidated by the people’s size and strength.  Caleb and Joshua, on the other hand, were ready to go in with both barrels blazing. 

Now, several decades down Continue reading “PUSH to enter”

No excuses this time.

IMG_20150103_172451138When Bob was in grad school at Indiana University, we lived in married-student housing.  He used to call it “the finest in institutional living”…whatever.  With three little kids in tow, I’m thankful we had good playground equipment right outside our door where, from all over the neighborhood (from all over the world, actually) children could congregate. 

My friend (from Brazil) a few doors down had noticed that the sand under the monkey bars was needing replaced, and encouraged me to add my call with our other friends, since the U. had been very slow in responding to the request.playground-648903_1920

One day, I was out with our two youngest right before taking one of them to kindergarten.  Robin has always been the climber; I should have put a football helmet on her the day she was born.  So naturally, when she called to me to watch her new stunt on the bars, her landing was not exactly a “10”, and losing her balance, she hit her forehead on some exposed concrete (that should have been covered by new sand!)

On returning home from the ER with 4-5 sutures and a pending medical bill, I made a calculated phone call to the U. that we were still waiting for the sand, and informing them of the current turn of events.

The sand was there the next day (and I think it was even a weekend!)

In my phone conversation, I never used the word “sue”.  I didn’t have to.  Plus, not being litigious, I never intended to do that anyway.  After all, Robin’s safety was primarily my responsibility.  I had been told about the sand, I should have been closer to her to catch her, I should have inspected the area more carefully, etc.  As her mother, I really had no excuse for her injury. 

The information I needed for her care was available to me.  It’s what I did with it (or didn’t do with it) that made the difference.

“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”star-clusters-74052_1920

No excuse!  Ouch.  No claim to victimhood.  No lawsuit again the Almighty.  No declarations of “unfair!”  Someone wrote that, although we cannot know God exhaustively, we can know Him sufficiently.  He has given us proof enough; in fact, in our day, even more proof than what Paul describes in the above passage!  It is our arrogant pride that blinds us, and our slothful distractions that prevent what is eternally important.

BTW, by God’s good grace, all three of my children and I survived their childhood, (as well as their adolescence!) 

Romans 1:20  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Rules

quill

Here is a thought provoking offering by Wayward Spirit.  Not being a poet myself, I asked her what her interpretation is, and so after the poem is her fascinating commentary.

Rules

I wish I knew
The presence of
The muse
Deeper than I feel
The firmness of
What rules

The Kraken (#10)

(Pssst…In case you missed the first part, you can start from HERE)

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From: gizemlervebilinmeyenler.blogspot.com and copied from Alejandro Quijano pintrest (Kinda scary, right?)

X. A Revelation

He next awoke well-blanketed beside a dying fire,

The blackened sky above his head alive with young desire,

And, by and by, the atmosphere grew gray with dawning light

While, out at sea, a bank of clouds obscured the sun from sight.

The scarlet disk rose from the clouds, a Phoenix over hedge,

As Galen’s host stood placidly along the water’s edge.

The prophet watched the wind and waves, beheld the ocean dance,

Looked back at Galen vacantly, and spoke as in a trance.

“In visions or in midnight dreams, I’ve seen it once or twice,

A hiding place, a pool within a fortress made of ice,

A place that finds this cunning creature swimming unaware.

So rather than on open seas, you best had track it there.

“This Kraken troubles northern ports. Its tentacles spread wide,

And many unsuspecting souls are trapped within its tide,

Polluted in its oily wake before they meet their ends

In suctioned arms that scar and drown and awful beak that rends.

“There never was, as I recall, a sailing man or ship

That managed to release itself once in that slimy grip.”

The prophet fell to silent pause, his face in thoughtful frown.

“You see, you’ll need a better plan to take the monster down.

“At first, I think, you’ll wish to know what weapon I bequeath.

A ship is just a dinner bowl attacked from underneath,

A cannon much too slow to move, too heavy, and the ball,

When discharged into murky depths, scarce bothers it at all.

“Since none of newer weaponry can put your mind at rest,

Used properly in well-trained hands, a spear will function best.

You don’t know where to place the point, but presently you’ll see

The Kraken’s weakest spot discerned from its anatomy.

“The giant head is arrow-shaped and armored under skin.

The soft spot in between the eyes will let the spear blade in.

Behavior is predictable. It holds the second key.

This is a clever animal with one weak tendency.

“It uses beak and tentacles to slake its bloody thirst,

But when it moves below the ice, it always swims head first.

While tentacles still trail behind, you first will see its eyes.

At proper station on the flows, you’ll take it by surprise.

“But first we must construct a forge, then once that job is through,

You’ll fashion spears of such design as I shall give to you.

So learn, and make your weaponry. No caution can be spared.

The battle might turn suddenly, and you must be prepared.”

TO BE CONTINUED NEXT THURSDAY…dot…dot…dot!!

Inquiring minds want to know…sometimes.

wood 2I like that truism from years past: “My mind’s made up; don’t confuse me with facts.”  It really is a great example of truth-seeking versus self-seeking, because let’s face it, truth can be downright painful! 

But then, so is a surgeon’s knife…

At this writing, I’m coming upon the one-year anniversary of my emergency appendectomy.  We were on vacation with Bob’s whole family (and ours!) in a house ten thousand feet up the mountain in another state.  Having “caught” a few of these cases through my office as a school nurse, I was certain that it was not my appendix, and I should know, right?

I have since adapted Tony Bennett’s immortal tune to read I Left My Appendix in Cedar City, Utah. (Doesn’t have quite the same crooner style to it.)

I was dumbfounded, completely Continue reading “Inquiring minds want to know…sometimes.”

Who, me??

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And I quote…

“But please listen to me when I say this: America is worth it.”

“It’s up to each and every one of us to keep working to make America better and stronger and fairer.”

“…stay engaged on every level.”

“We need you.  America needs your energy.”

                  –Hillary Clinton*

That pretty well sums it up, no matter who we did or did not vote for.  So yeah, the truth is that, regardless of the 40+ hour work week or lack thereof, the car in the shop and the dishes in the sink, the kids’ activities, the bills, the aging parents and/or concern about the how to deal with the in-laws…somewhere in there, our country needs our involvement, our voice, our help. 

I love the story of Moses when God first called to him from the burning bush.  The short version goes something like this:

“Who, me!?!”

“Yes, you!!”

About five times, in fact, and answered by some practical strategies that necessitated Moses’ (as Mrs. Clinton puts it) “energy and engagement”.  In other words, it cost him something.

Obviously, there is no disagreement about the American right to disagree, and in that view, the most current presidential election was not unique.  (The Brits have their own version…)

Pugnacious verbal blood-letting is a time honored tradition in all the colors (not merely red and blue) of the political spectrum.   Unfortunately, school children are not the only ones adept at playground bullying; they learn it well from us adults.  What seems to be passion for “our” cause can easily go beyond true activism into irreparable damage.  Advocacy becomes practical, however, when I choose to step in and confront the day-to-day “adult-bullying” which takes many creative forms, some of which can be couched in seeming sophistication, much of it in my own backyard.

There are also other ways to stay engaged, regardless of whether or not your candidate of choice won the election.  Here are a few practical suggestions, and I hope you may add more in the comment section:

  • Maybe your thing is political advocacy. Here’s good comment from the interaction with my oldest daughter:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             “A way to be involved is to not only confront any hateful actions or remarks you personally come across, but also to hold your representatives accountable. Be in contact with your state and federal lawmakers. When I was a lobbyist (for lack of a better term), constituent concerns were the most important thing, hands down. As few as 20 phones calls from constituents could sometimes sway a lawmaker’s vote. If you disagree with them, tell them.”

Here’s the place to start:

http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

  • To find a good match for your skills and time availability, take a look at these sites for help.

http://www.volunteermatch.org/

http://www.createthegood.org/

  • For someone who’s passion is housing, try Habitat for Humanity. It’s kind of hard to stay mad at someone when you’re focusing on hanging sheetrock for a good cause…together.

http://www.habitat.org/

  • Now for a challenging word for us bloggers, tweeters, instagrammers, snapchatters, and otherwise connoisseurs of fine social media. Try reading some writings by those from the opposing side of the argument. True debaters are taught to contend on each side; it causes them to learn the age-old skill of walking a mile in the other guy’s shoes. Another wise quote from my progeny:

“If you want to see a perspective firmly lodged in the liberal camp, look at Shaun King’s Facebook page. I’m not saying I agree with him, but it might be a place to see another side of things, or at least to see why people are worried. My newsfeed has a decidedly liberal slant, so I intentionally continue to follow more conservative folks so I’m not unaware.”

I love her word “intentional”.   I’ve followed Pied Type since I started this blogging thing.  We are obviously divergent in our worldviews, which is good for me.  It’s a beautiful site, so check it out!

And while we’re at it, how many of us are guilty of initiating and/or forwarding unseemly and unsubstantiated emails or posts about “the other side”, hmmmm???

Moses became instrumental in delivering God’s people from tyrannical rule.  Now, you can apply that allegorically however you wish, but the point remains—you are needed, not merely to advance the policies dear to your heart, but also and at the same time (please hear this), to help maintain the “indivisible” part of the pledge most of us grew up with. It is, in fact, the American way.

Here are a few other quotes from another famous American who had his share of personal and political vilification, and eventual made the ultimate sacrifice.

While we must, by all available means, prevent the overthrow of the government, we should avoid planting and cultivating too many thorns in the bosom of society.
–March 18, 1864 Letter to Edwin M. Stanton

I have desired as sincerely as any man — I sometimes think more than any other man — that our present difficulties might be settled without the shedding of blood.
–April 26, 1861 Address to the Frontier Guard

I appeal to you again to constantly bear in mind that with you, and not with politicians, not with Presidents, not with office-seekers, but with you, is the question, “Shall the Union and shall the liberties of this country be preserved to the latest generation?” 
–February 11, 1861 Speech to Gov. Morton in Indianapolis

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds…”
–March 4, 1865 Inaugural Address

Thank you, Mr. Lincoln.

http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/quotes.htm

*Quoted from FoxNews online

Chasms are optional; instructions are not

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I have to admit, I’m a real Chronicles of Narnia fan.  I never read them until doing so with my children.  The movies don’t do justice to the books, with the possible exception of the first one.  The special effects are, well,… effective, to say the least, but something is lost on the silver screen as the series progresses.  But then, I’m not an industry professional so who cares?

There is one scene, however, in Movie #2 or #3 that comes to mind; it’s the one where the kids are futilely wandering lost through a forested area when Lucy sees King Aslan across a chasm and bids her to follow.  Naturally, no one else sees him and neither do they believe Lucy’s “vision”.  To make matters more definite, there is no discernible way to get across the chasm, even if Aslan were there.

Lucy gives in the others’ opinions of the situation, which causes problems and a later (gentle but definite) rebuke from the lion, i.e., if he bids her come, she is to come regardless of what the others may think, and regardless of there not being an immediate and obvious path.  Lessons, lessons…

Close that book and open another:

Israel’s rebellious king has recently set up new gods with all the trappings.  In keeping with historic trend, the Lord Yahweh sends His notice of displeasure through a “man of God” who arrives on the scene with some pretty miraculous confirmation.  The king, a bit shaken, asks the man to come dine with him; however, the invitation is thus declined:

“For the LORD gave me this command: ‘You must not eat or drink anything while you are there, and do not return to Judah by the same way you came.’”

Pretty clear instructions, and so far everything God told this man has panned out. No need to doubt the message’s veracity on this point either.

Until another so-called prophet lies to him, saying “an angel” appeared instructing the man of God was to return with him and eat at his house.

Why did this convince the man of God??  I’m sure he was probably temptingly hungry, and that didn’t help, but does God change His mind?  What evidence did this liar have for Plan B?  Spoiler alert—it didn’t end well for the man of God.

Not that I would have done any better, left to my own accord.  And certainly the Lord also says there is wisdom “in a multitude of counselors.”  I readily admit I need the help of others to sometimes discern God’s will in a situation (it’s part of that koinonia thing).  But on the other hand, there are some commands that God gets through pretty clearly even to me; nevertheless, Satan will try to bring his own pack of lies into the muddle, sometimes through those whom we love and trust.

Like Lucy’s family, for example.  “Did you REALLY see him?”

Sounds suspiciously like an old serpent in a Garden long ago, “Hath God REALLY said…?”

1 Kings 13:9  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Think Globally, Act Locally…if ever that were true, it’s now.

wood 2Middle school—what images and emotions just came up when you read that?  Right! 

Math class, an African-American substitute in a lily white suburban school in the 1970’s.  Female, with a class endowed with a fair number of typical jack-ass adolescent males, and she was probably old enough to be their grandmother. 

Before class started, one of said jack-asses thought it might be entertaining to put a sign on her desk that read something like “the KKK welcomes you.” 

Fortunately, one of the girls in the class found out about it, and, standing up in front of her peers, walked boldly up to the desk where the teacher had just found the note.  The girl took it from the desk and, tossing it into the waste can, apologized for the indiscretion and disrespect on the part of the class.  Then she sat back down.  And the math class began.

To this day, I am still amazed.  Not merely at the stupidity and ignorance of the ones responsible.  Not just at the teacher’s gracious response and steady demeanor.  Not only that there were no repercussions for Continue reading “Think Globally, Act Locally…if ever that were true, it’s now.”