Made for another world

"If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in the world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." C. S. Lewis

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Beauty Through my Eyes: Stained Glass, Toledo Museum of Art

"Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Taking time for beauty makes us better; whether observing the beauty of creation, being moved by great music, seeing the world through poetry or being transported by a painting. There is joy to be found in the organic rhythm of beauty all around us. The more we open ourselves to appreciating beauty the more we will see it. Let me share with you a taste of the beautiful, I hope it will touch and enrich your heart.
Stained glass at the TMA Glass Pavilion
My three year old, Maggie, is often my little companion to the Toledo Museum of Art. Look closely, can you see her pigtailed silhouette in the top picture? We love to wander the stately halls filled with treasures. Art through her eyes is intriguing, what she notices and points out reveals a fresh perspective.


We loved this wall of stained glass in the Glass Pavilion. Lingering, we enjoyed color and texture. The variety of the squares, forming a brilliant continuity, pleasing my eye. Is that what Jesus sees when he looks at his church, awash in light, shades of variety, complementing each other? I wonder.


What beauty have you enjoyed this week? Has it helped you see life through a different perspective?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Still

Linking up with Gypsy Mama for Five Minute Friday, today she's over at incourage.me (I don't actually link up because blogger weirds out on me). We write for 5 minutes flat, unedited, for pure joy. Link up and share some encouragement. This week's prompt: Still.

Go:

Raindrops pitter patter rolling down the sides of the house, all blanketed in gray moisture, thunder rolling in the distance. Head laid back on the green chair, snapshots of life fill my mind. Stills in living color.

A fluff of white, flashing smile, heart spilling happy on wedding day. A boy and a girl grin, dressed in joyful splendor.
Baby toes, filling mama's cupped hand with pink, perfected, wonder. Hours of labor fade away as delight sets in, motherhood so fresh and new birthded with this little one.
Mama and daughter, embrace under southern sky. Air hangs thick and bugs dance, lighting the night. Hug to the toes, one more time, before she's off again to who knows where and the love lingers.
Little mans blue eyes proud, twinkle wonder on first day of school. Mama's heart fills, little feet walk away into growth and boyhood.
All gifts, still moments captured by my heart, held there. Markers of grace filed away to remember faithfulness poured out over me, still.

Stop

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Borrowed Bed

{Four months ago my husband and I left our last place of ministry, the move was due to many factors, some positive, some not. We stepped in faith with trust in the One who rescues and provides. We're living in the home of generous friends as we seek and wait. As you can imagine the financial and emotional strain is daily. My heart wrestles and I write.}

All that's left is a borrowed bed. A suitcase shoved full of dreams. Opened to the sun the dreams dissipate like a mist, and I wonder why I packed them in the first place. Maybe the faith that's been growing was plucked too green. It seemed bigger and firmer, ripe and full then, whenever then was.

When all that's left is waiting and wanting, I lay down in a borrowed bed. The ache so deep it feels eternal. The hunger of now bleeds into the hunger that's been. A soreness in the heart that came with every pack-up-and-move, all the what ifs. It's been around long enough, familiar but not like an old friend. Often it hides behind the busy moments of life, forgotten in the midst of living. In this quiet waiting it creeps back in to sit by the bed and keep watch.

For years, gaining experience, adding to a family, buying, learning and doing have felt like progress. But in the end the faith is still too green, the bed is still borrowed, and want is all too familiar. Isn't that what life is like, a borrowed bed? You come in bare and the bed you're laid in isn't one you bought. And the accumulation is an illusion. It's these moments, bereft, that the starkness stands out. Life is good and full of wonder, stars shine bright, hands hold, gifts are given. But when you stand face to face with a borrowed bed it all comes rushing back.

At least I have a bed to borrow, things to shove into a 10x10 unit, car to drive, food to eat, kids to hug, eyes to see. Why do I have this life? Why wasn't I born in the Sudan to usher innocence into pain and spend my days brushing the flies away. And yet I can't swallow the lump of loss down. The shiny dream of a work that mattered, vibrant as a rainbow, has shattered and lays as glass, only a broken jagged edged mirror of what it had been. Hope tries to float up like a bubble and I bat it away, not allowing it to form. I've been through that drill before and I flinch to go there again.

Could it be the pit of hunger I feel is the same soul hunger as the Sudanese mother, at least in origin if not in reality? I would never wish to trade places with her, ever. Yet, when stripped bare, is the ache of every heart not the same. Each soul a gaping hole of want, whether clothed in silk or in mud. And maybe the illusion of physical needs met only postpones the face to face of deep soul cry, “I want more”.

Laying on the borrowed bed I claw my way to obedience. I don't feel like worshiping, don't want to give thanks, but I do. Naming the gifts, reciting promises, asking for forgiveness, calling out in need, I flex spiritual muscles. I know I'll have to do it again and again and again. But obedience makes a way.

Later in the assembly, gathered to obey together, worship pours out. From pure lips, from scarred hearts, from dirty feet, from desperate hands, from joyful souls, all mingling together as perfume. It washes over me, that faithful sacrifice, and lifts up where my faith has faltered. Obedience has led me to a place where my ears can hear, the sound is sweet, it's life.

Light, a single ray, penetrates. Dispelling lies and sorrow and bitterness and self-pity. The cross is not for once, it's for every day. Eyes must see the gift, ears hear the call, heart know the words, again. The light of eternity falls across my borrowed bed dispelling self-pitying gloom. I come like the priests of old, into the Holy of Holy's, right up to the Mercy Seat, in the shadow of angel wings I bow.

In reality all beds are borrowed. All belongs to Him. I'm learning to grab hold of the golden moments, gifts every one, knowing one day all will be golden. A borrowed bed pushes me on to grab hold of more, more than what's seen. No golden moment is ever only that, nor the gray ones. Beauty and ugly, joy and pain mingle in this life. Only eternity justifies either. I'm living the hard worship, in the dark trust, until looking at his face faith becomes my sight.
Maybe you've had moments when nothing is enough. I think we were made that way, to be satisfied by nothing but Jesus. Even the satisfaction of good things in life is temporary. This world is not enough, because we were made for another one. Does your heart long for it's eternal home? How do you cling to hope in the hard times?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Women who Inspire: The Sisterhood

Sister (from dictionary.com)
adjective

12. being or considered a sister; related by or as if by sisterhood: sister ships.
13. having a close relationship with another because of shared interests, problems, or the like.

I have been undeniably blessed by precious women in my life. Some close family, some that lived before my time, some have rubbed me hard smoothing away jagged edges, some young, some old,
some who know my heart deeply and still love me, some I've never met. But all sharing a common relation, fellowship birthed from the blood of Jesus. Sweet family, a gift. These women have so energized my Christian walk I just had to introduce some of them to you. (I hope you will post a comment and tell me about the women who have blessed your life.)
This week's sister:
Once upon a time there was a girl, living in the deep south, walking barefoot in the summer. She lived with her parents, brother and sister in an old farmhouse the color of fresh churned butter. The girl loved people and animals, especially her calico cat, but was awkward and at times graceless. Her mother said she was like a "bull in a china shop" and she was. Home-schooled, her friendships were limited. Life was good but at times lonely.


God gives good gifts and just as he had given a kitty to comfort, he gave a friend to love. Erin was a confident and kind girl, privileged and generous. A southern girl, with roots as deep as a live oak, in compassion she spread the branches of her friendship to include. I was the awkward girl and my heart will never forget Erin's tenderness to me. Her family had a beautiful barn with show horses, a family pony, and a big red horse that was a child's pet. Happy hours were spent in that barn, confidence instilled, acceptance poured out. The horses did as much good as the friend.


Erin's family embraced me, an adolescent girl with few social graces, as part of their clan. I joined them for family dinners and family vacation. Their graciousness and generosity have marked my life. I can't think about Erin or her family without deep emotion. I've long since moved, many times, but oh how I wish I could thank them. I wish I could tell Erin the impact her sister love has had, instead I pray God's richest blessing overshadows her life.


Did you have a childhood friend that encouraged, offered you love? How did that shape your life?

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Basket Full of Thanks {Mondays}

Worship, the antidote to fear and loss, self-pity and pride. Worship, a necessary privilege. Counting gifts when it's hard to count is worship, eyes that chose to see. Pleasing to God, healing my heart. So, I keep worshiping. His glory my prize, my satisfaction.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

101. Gathering of hearts needing, obeying, worshiping together; combined faith is powerful.
102. Stories of heroes, long ago walks echoing obedience down through the years, giving hope to my heart.
103. Skies so golden they ring
 104. Sparkle of 7 year old humor and joy.
105. Gracious gift of a partner for the joys and pain of life, always by my side.
106. Creamy blossoms rising from the water, rich and full.
 107. Friends that care, love, uplift. 
108. A practical joke of ducks filling a pool, delighting small hearts.
109. Grills cooking delicious summer food.
110. Decades of love from a Mama. Happy Birthday.

I'm linking up with other thankful hearts today.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Full

I love linking up with Gypsy Mama on Fridays. We write for 5 minutes flat, unedited, for pure enjoyment. Link up and share encouragement. This week's prompt: Full.

Go:

I was born hungry. Deep cavernous soul, longing to be filled. Conversations, purchases, experiences. Looking for filling. Unsatisfied. I come.

Breaking open cover, stroking pages, words spill. The light of men shines beacon like on my soul. Forgiveness drips down the walls of my heart. Mercy running wild. Words flowing from Father's heart, his gift to man. My soul begins to fill. Hunger satisfied, thirst slaked. Deep exhale shudders through my frame. A banquet for a pauper, full.

Words of life tucked into DNA. A man. The Son, radiance of Father's glory. Full of truth and grace, come to satisfy with very presence.
Stop.

It's never enough, those five minutes. I could write for an hour on my poverty and His great heart's corresponding fullness, poured out over me!

Give it a try, visit Gypsy Mama and jump in. Linking up disrupts the format of my blog, you can visit her here: http://thegypsymama.com/

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Invitation

Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me."  And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
Psalm 27:7-8

Open invitation. Can you imagine? Have you heard? Divine voice whispers, stroking human heart, come. Know me, hear me, be with. Do you have time today, do I? In this world the fast grapple to be known spins wild. He knows and sees. Hand out, ears open, "talk with me."

Settle in. Front door swung wide, grand porch waiting, always. Sit a while. Know and be known. Pleasure fulfilled, satisfaction runs deep, this is what we were made for.

I pray that around every corner of your day your life is kissed by the goodness of God.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Beauty Through my Eyes: The Day is Done by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I believe making time for beauty makes us better; whether it's observing the beauty of creation, being moved by great music, seeing the world through poetry or being transported by a painting. There is joy to be found in the organic rhythm of beauty all around us. The more we open ourselves to appreciating beauty the more we will see it. So, let me share with you what I find beautiful, I hope it will touch and enrich your heart.
The poetry of of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is my favorite. He sees life and human nature with quick eyes of discernment and sympathy. His eloquent words, framing the simplest of moments, touch my heart. Tonight my thoughts turn to one of his most cherished poems. Rich in beauty, and for me sentiment, I can hear my mother's voice quoting it's lines.

The Day is Done

The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.

I see the lights of the village
Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me
That my soul cannot resist:

A feeling of sadness and longing,
That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles the rain.

Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
And banish the thoughts of day.

Not from the grand old masters,
Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
Through the corridors of Time.

For, like strains of martial music,
Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life's endless toil and endeavor;
And to-night I long for rest.

Read from some humbler poet,
Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
Or tears from the eyelids start;

Who, through long days of labor,
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.

Then read from the treasured volume
The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of thy voice.

And the night shall be filled with music
And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.

I hope your night is filled with music and your cares melt away.








Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Women who Inspire: The Sisterhood

Sister -  (from dictionary.com)
adjective
12. being or considered a sister; related by or as if by sisterhood: sister ships.
13. having a close relationship with another because of shared interests, problems, or the like.

I have been undeniably blessed by precious women in my life. Some close family, some that lived before my time, some have rubbed me hard smoothing away jagged edges, some young, some old, some who know my heart deeply and still love me, some I've never met. But all sharing a common relation, fellowship birthed from the blood of Jesus. Sweet family, a gift. These women have so energized my Christian walk I just had to introduce some of them to you. (I hope you will post a comment and tell me about the women who have blessed your life.)

This week's sister: 
She was coated in a caramel, black, soft brown and creamy white coat. A good mouser, loud purrer, nap taker. Phern, for years, was my best friend. The little calico, along with her tuxedoed companion, wandered up the day before our move. For two days we searched the neighborhood for their owners, finding none, we claimed them. For eleven years she stayed with me.

I realize Phern doesn't fit the above description of sister in the strictest sense. However, she certainly was a gift, she accompanied my quiet time with Jesus and I was blessed by her love. Actually, Phern was better than many people I've known and taught me a great deal. She lived out fully what she was made to be. Tender and gentle, she was the best cat I've ever known, and I've known some. Phern was the picture of compassion. Hearing me cry during my adolescent and teen years she would come down the hall, calling me, jump on the bed, nuzzle my face, lick my tears and settle down in my lap purring loudly. She offered me herself. Less like a stand-offish independent cat, she was more like a mother. If I was out of her sight for too long she would call me, chortling as a mother cat would for her baby's. 


There are moments in my life, looking back, that clearly are accented by a God gift. My dear Phern girl was one of them. I've always been touched that God saw a girl needing extra love and sent a friend. I met Phern when I was eleven. Loving me until I was raised and gone, she died a month after I was married. Heart sick, I grieved her for a long time. Even now tears rise, unbidden. 

Interestingly, for years I've had dreams about Phern at important, painful, distressing times of my life. When my children were born I had dreams about her, during some moves, in my most lonely times, she's sashayed into my dreams. I don't know if deep in my mind I'm looking for comfort, casting back to those vulnerable years when she soothed my young soul. Or, if God is reminding me, he's the one who sees my hurts and gives good gifts. Either way, I'm always glad to see her again, a sweet ache all at once.


Her familiar, furry memory visited me last night. I hold to the knowledge that God has seen me before and he sees me now. He knows my need. He's the God who is here with me, giving good gifts. Phern reminds me once again.

istock photo
Have you had a pet that provided comfort during a particularly hard time? Or perhaps God has given you a specific gift, reminding you of his love? I'd love to hear about it.