Thursday, March 31, 2011


A late March snow empties from the sky,  gentle benediction on stilled earth. Benediction breathes beauty, and beauty breathes life into my soul.

And as I walk, I'm struck by how hushed the earth is in its delicate fullness~ flower budding, waters surging, snow falling, animals birthing ~ all life coming to, never questioning, never resisting. As I inhale each breath of  life-swell, I am conscious only of that, only of breathing. And somehow in all this "living" I do, I forget to breathe; I'm feverish with trying to figure it all out. Is that even living? Is living about getting it all straight, putting all the pieces together- every day cramming and flattening life into conformity?

I do this crazy thing when I exercise sometimes: I forget to breathe. It must not be too uncommon, as I have been in many fitness classes where the instructor has to remind everyone to "Keep breathing!" And I know I do that in life sometimes; when obstacles mount, when oppression suffocates, I forget to breathe. Instead of breathing deeper and more fully, I lose my breath.

So I just stand there in all that beauty and breathe deep. Breathe deep the stillness, breathe deep the hush, breathe deep the benediction.

I birthed nine babies into this world, panting hard and anxiously awaiting first life breaths- that sucking in of air, inflating lungs and coursing blood ...and they breathed, and they cried. They Cried! No longer were they in that watery sanctuary where all was done for them, all was effortless. They had to be on their own. They had to learn to breathe, and breathing can hurt.

Breathing hurts. Letting go of control and giving to God, being still in the center of the storm, waiting...just breathing... can throb. Like the runner, cramped with an air bubble, I so desperately need that breath that will cause me to double in pain.

Every moment of our lives we must give birth and be reborn; we birth surrender and are born continuously into God's grace and love, the eternal breath. And with each breath we may have to pant, with each rebirth we may cry out, helpless newborns squalling.

I come to the steep part of my walk, and I am full of breath. I begin to run, just run crazy up that hill so I can get breathless. I want the need to breathe, to empty out so I can let it all in. Because sometimes we actually live life fullest when we're out of breath and breathing hardest.

It is beginning to snow, and I lie on the ground and look up. "You're a nut, Mom," John Paul said when he saw the pictures. Maybe I just don't care what anyone thinks anymore, and maybe I found a way to let go and live deeper and more fully- a way that truly sustains my soul. I look up at those trees all stately gracing, and snowflakes land gently on my face. I open my camera and attempt to get a picture of the snowflakes landing on my pants and jacket. The lens cannot capture the intricacies of the snowflakes, but I see something else.

Each snowflake, every single one, explodes before it melts. Looking through the camera lens,  I am captivated by these miniature explosions, happening over and over! And I'm thinking that that's how I have to be; before I can run free, before I can melt before God in surrender, I must get rid of self. I must explode all preconceived notions of who I am or what I need and just be. Be in His presence, be in His grace, inhaling and exhaling, respiring life. Breathing.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Culture Of The Heart

I turn on the camera to take yet another picture of morning sky blaze, but it's slow..and then makes a beeping noise..and then reads "battery exhausted." (And I think of myself...isn't that what I want to say sometimes..."sorry can't turn on right now, battery exhausted." ?)  Anyway, I will use this as an opportunity to feature Ben's amazing photography. He actually uses his ipod to take all his pictures. Then he has an application, right on the ipod, where he can touch up and enhance the images. I love seeing what captures his eye, the little fragments of beauty and life that have moved him.

Day after day I curve and stretch words over image, hoping to give life to the thoughts of a jumbled mind. So many themes all brewing, like: why old books are best, and why the term "gifted" bothers me, because aren't all children gifted? and How Anna is three and still so much my baby; Will was three and I was wanting him to be 'man of the house' when Travis was away. Running in all directions, the thoughts converge here on this blog, this baring of soul.

I share with you because you are my friends. Without emotion, without, passion, friendship falls flat. I opened a book the other day, called "Friendship," by Hugh Black, written in 1898! I had bought the book years ago at a book sale and had never read it. Do you ever just pull random books off the shelf and start reading? I love doing that.  Here is the excerpt I read:

Friendship cannot be permanent unless it becomes spiritual. There must be fellowship in the deepest things of the soul, community in the highest thoughts, sympathy with the best endeavors. We are bartering the priceless boon, if we are looking on friendship merely as a luxury, and not as a spiritual opportunity.

It is, or can be, an occasion for growing in grace, for learning love, for training the heart to patience and faith, for knowing the joy of humble service. We are throwing away our chance, if we are not striving to be an inspiring and healthful environment to our friend. We are called to be our best to our friend, that he may be his best to us, bringing out what is highest and deepest in the nature of both.

The culture of friendship is one of the approved instruments of culture of the heart, without which a man has not truly come into his kingdom. it is often only the beginning, but through tender and careful culture it may be an education of the larger life of love. it broadens out in ever-widening circles, from the particular to the general, and from the general to the universal- from the individual to the social, and from the social to God.....

We should be led to God by the joy of our lives as well as by the sorrow, by the light as well as by the darkness, by human intercourse as well as by human loneliness...The more we know of God's fathomless grace, the more will we be convinced that the way to please the Father and to follow the Son is to cultivate the graces of kindliness and gentleness and tenderness, to give ourselves the culture of the heart...To be a true friend, saving his faith in man, and making him believe in the existence of love, is to save His faith in God.

Isn't that beautiful? Thank you dear friends, for giving me the opportunity to express deepest heart stirrings. Truly, I am blessed by you!

Monday, March 28, 2011



I was surprised yesterday morning to wake up to the sight of a Robin on snowy limb, and I was more surprised that the sight of snow- covered ground elicited a response of delight in my soul. Just the night before I had gone to bed in darkness, eyes fixed on the dim glow of a street lamp nestled in fog. I didn't think we would get the snow that was expected, and I was glad of that.

I have been in Spring mode for a couple of weeks now, shedding winter like a stiff coat. When I was young, I was the child who asked on Christmas night, "Mommy, how many days is it until Easter?" Always moving on, always looking forward. And how many gifts have I missed in my life, how many small joys of the present moment have been overlooked by the eyes scanning distant horizons?

God has ways of undoing hearts, and this undoing of Spring left me undone.My soul startled by all this winter beauty that I didn't want-  me always thinking I know what I need, me always doubting. Doubting. And I am ashamed because I scale life's days in this subtle veil of doubt that pervades all. And how can it not? How can a traveler journey thousands of miles and not sag under the burden of  a hundred pound weight on his back?

I think I'm not a doubting person; I know there is a God that governs all and loves me infinitely. How then, does this doubt worm into my heart? This doubt made manifest in the questioning, the unwillingness to accept what God has given me in life?

The last few days I have been praying prayers that place emphasis on the unworthiness and wretchedness of my soul in the presence of God. In an age of saccharine self esteem and feel-good spam run amuck, self-deprecation is seen as a disease to eradicate, wipe out.

I thought about that on my walk yesterday. God loves me, he sees the goodness in me, he died for me-what precious gifts. The unlimited mercy and boundlessness of it all overwhelms. But how can I sincerely comprehend the vastness of what He has done for me, if I am not in need of a Savior?

What is sight to the blind?  Food to the starving? Water to the parched? Balm to the chafed? It's all the unattainable. Nothing has as much value as that which is rare and seemingly out of our grasp.

If I stand before God filled with my own self-worth, thinking I know what's best,  confident in my own goodness...Why do I need Him?

We can only trust as far as we depend. We can  be assured of who God is, what He does, and how He provides only if we acknowledge our own debility and weakness as we stand in his truly awesome presence.

And when I see the infinitesimal of self, I can behold the grandeur of God. When I am dependent upon Him for my very Salvation, not because of anything I have done, only then can I trust Him to shelter me in every storm. Only then will I not doubt who He is.

When I let God undo who I am to the very core, when I let Him take that vulnerable mess and restore, I can see who I am meant to be- called to righteousness, recreated and fashioned in his very being.. It's only when I find my reflection in God that self is not distorted.

If I look to the world to find myself, the reflection is depravity. How can lies mirror truth? How can looking into shattered glass reveal honest proportions? The only way to find myself , to find truth, to quell the doubts, is to become undone and find myself in Him.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Who Is In Control?

I woke up up this morning, sweating from a nightmare. You will probably laugh at what this "nightmare" was, but it was very symbolic to me. I have been successfully sticking to a new lifestyle, of sorts, for over two months now: waking early, watching what I eat, exercising. I have never felt more empowered about making constructive decisions in my life.I thank God that he is giving me the grace to do this!

So back to my nightmare. I dreamed I was sitting in the kitchen with a huge pan of cherry cobbler with a crisp, buttery, cinnamon-oatmeal topping. I was eating and eating and eating, thinking in my head the whole time that it was so wrong, and thinking that I would get fat, and thinking that I was right back where I had started. It really was a terrible dream.

When I woke up, I was shaken. And then, coming to my senses, I found it a bit comical. My worst nightmare now is one where I consume inordinate amounts of food. I thought about it more and realized: it's not about the food. It's not about gaining weight back or giving up on a lifestyle. It's about fear.

The fear of losing control. And in this world gone crazy and tremulous, I think fear is a natural response. When we are young, we think of fears as something concrete: fear of the dark, fear of thunder, fear of dogs, bees, water..etc.. As we get older, we realize that our deepest fears are intangible: fear of rejection, fear of pain, loss, being alone, dying, emptiness...But the mother fear, the mother of all fears is the fear of losing control.

At some level we feel at the mercy of whatever befalls. I can't imagine living my life without belief in a God who is ultimately in control of all. Maybe that's why the father in the Bible says to Jesus :

 "I do believe; help my unbelief." (Mark 9:24)

Maybe before we can root out fear, we have to ask for faith. And if we go even deeper, if we want to conquer fear, we must pray to be able to love deeper:

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love." (1John4:18)

If I want to live in freedom, and out of fear's bondage, I must love God and trust him .TRUST him. ENTRUST to him all my fears and anxieties.

"Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken."

No, We are not in control. But He is.

The Cure For Anxiety~

25“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28“And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32“For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Letting Him Find You

Roy walks beside me on the first warm day and he knows delight. He runs through the pond, mouth open, drinking up, tossing head, wallowing joyous.

All these treasures strewn under leaf and studding sky await discovery. They fill me with such happiness. But why? How can moth delight and flower startle to the point of overflowing? And wouldn't you think I should get tired of blogging about this day after day, week after week?

But how can the freshness of God ever be exhausted? His creation made new every moment speaks a language that rivets soul and does not weary.

There are places so deep, so tremulous within -that beauty speaks what words can't. It's why eyes and heart flood when sky unfolds at dawn, pouring out His glory. My eyes well with joy tears and the recesses of my soul are made bare before God. He has probed the depths in creation all spilled out and raw.

I stand so small before God, so painfully aware of the lack and depravity....and yet, yet..

He doesn't hold back. He gives all.

And the longing for wholeness, needing Him, being loved by Him and all made good in His grace and
Why?!! Why does he love me? Why does He love us? What would make a God, infinitely good and merciful choose to love such wretched creatures who can do so little for Him?

But that's the beauty. He in his greatness, wants our smallness. We can do nothing for Him, but he longs for us, seeks for every soul like the shepherd looking for His lost sheep. And won't I let Him find me?

Will you allow God to find you today?  Will you bask in His presence and be awed by His being empty and Him filling up,  you being still and not trying to figure it all out, you trusting and letting your weakness being perfected in Him?

He is waiting...He is waiting for You.

God's Grandeur  by Gerard Manley Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; 
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; 
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.