Aug 31, 2015

Summer's End

School buses are rolling. The mid week fisher-kids on the ponds, have likely reeled in their hooks for the last time. We wont see much of them or their bikes, until next spring.The flag that was unfurled on Memorial Day will be flown until weather closes her down, like the end of a Broadway play. Summer’s nearly done. Though temperatures in our region will rage on through September, the pools will lose customers to football games and summer fruits will give way to pumpkins and gourds. So in these final days of a full moon shining bright in a sky still lit at eight o’clock at night, I’m pondering memories that marked the summer 2015…

Triple digit temps drive folks into theaters. Even with Netflix, its more fun to meet up with friends at the theater to escape the sun’s deep summer glare. A stunning remake of the classic film Far From the Madding Crowd was my favorite this summer. Filmed in the cooler climate of northern Britain, a smart woman, successfully manages her land and agricultural business in an era when few women had legal status to own land. Very British. Very inspiring.

Travel and Family Reunions:
When I fly over the university campus, the capital dome, and the azure blue lakes of my home town all manner of unseen forces pull me into that beloved region. I’m promise, my heart physically responds to the lakes and deep woods oxygen of that familiar place. Mix in the voices of family, the replication of my mother in my nieces, siblings eyes just like mine, same old tales told yet again, nephews with smiles identical to their dad’s and grandfather…summer reunions spent bare foot in the grass make lasting imprints on the heart.

Famous Women of Faith:
Do you, sisters in faith, do you respond deep in your bones when Christian education includes the leadership of Biblical women like Priscilla, Deborah, and Huldah? So blessed this summer by hearing those portions of God’s story that includes my gender. Women, His image bearers, fully valued and called by God to teach, preach, and prophesy. 

Benches and Books: 
...written about over here, because reading has been and always will be part of the tradition of summer. It goes way back to the Summer Reading Log that every kid filled out at the Public Library. You did that right?

Seasonally red,white, and blue will soon give way to orange, red, and yellow. The bold color of Pansies and Gerber Daisies will be memories as we plant Mums for the fall. Its time. Put a ribbon around summer’s memories and turn our faces to the respite and softness that is uniquely autumn.

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Aug 30, 2015

An Empty Vessel

"Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled." Martin Luther

Rounded surfaces and undulating forms, 
glazed in reflecting hues 
or fired to rustic textures reminiscent of earth’s original character.
The aesthetics of pottery captivate the human sou.
We are inspired by the act of creation watching the potter at her wheel, 
hands sliding wet against luminous clay, 
guiding shape out of formless matter. 
The art, the shaping,  
a metaphor for our own creation from  God’s loving hands. 
The shapes and purposes of every vessel as numerous as grains of sand.

"Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled.  My Lord,fill it.  
I am weak in the faith; strengthen me.  I am cold in love; warm me and make me fervent, that my love may go out to my neighbor.  I do not have a strong and firm faith; at times I doubt and I am unable to trust you altogether.  O Lord, help me.  Strengthen my faith and trust in you.  In you I have sealed the treasure of all I have.  I am poor; you are rich and came to be merciful to the poor.  I am a sinner; you are upright.  With me, there is an abundance of sin; in you is the fullness of righteousness.  Therefore I will remain with you, of whom I can receive, but to whom I may not give. Amen”        
Martin Luther


Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

                 Lyrics by Adelaide Pollard, 1907


But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; 
and we all are the work of thy hand.
Isaiah 64:8

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Aug 23, 2015

This is My Story

The sound came from the deepest portions of my soul. Internally I noted to self, how I sang with the full measure of my voice and heart that Sunday. 

Our church is leading a sermon series titled “Heroes of the Bible: Great Women of Faith”.

And I am so deeply affirmed and so profoundly grateful for the Biblical scholarship on the role of women in church leadership across Biblical history. 

Profoundly I say!

Huldah, Deborah, Ester, Priscilla, and Mary Magdalene: all chosen by God to voice God’s teachings and prophecies in times when women were chattel, property. When mere men gave them no voice. God gave us His image and uses our gifts and our voices to influence His church; and has, since earliest Biblical times. 

But back to the music that Sunday.
The hymn was “Blessed Assurance”.
You know it. 

Lyrics so familiar to generations of American Christians of the 20th and 21st centuries. 
Never in my lifetime of church education, in Choir School, in Sunday  School, VBS, Youth Group…never was it mentioned that this was written by Francis Crosby, [a female Francis] …Fanny Crosby, a woman. A blind woman of the 1800’s. A woman who wrote hundreds of hymns. A woman who met with U.S. Presidents. A woman who influenced her church.

Soul bursting recognition by our holy God, affirmed by my home church.
This is why I heard my voice sing with the full measure of its soul praising source.
God’s story includes me. My gender. 
Women, His image bearers, fully valued and called by God to teach, preach, and prophesy.

“This is my story, this is my song. Praising my savior all the day long.”

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Aug 15, 2015

Letters: Cherished Chronicles of Life

Letters were once thought to be precious and essential, even a gracious art form and a chronicle of history. Whole portions of a person’s day was devoted to composing letters following specific structures and social standards of the era; solicitous greetings, dutiful reports, careful revelations of opinion or sentiment, closing with respectful sincerity, highest regard, and the flourish of one’s name. For centuries, the world wide wrote letters.  

My parent’s were letter writers, cherished pages handwritten in unique, yet so familiar scripts. Ink fading. Thin paper in envelopes, both aging. Words received that are more valuable today than when they were initially retrieved from a mailbox so many years ago.

As our preschool grandsons began those earliest literacy routines of recognizing and writing their own names, I began to send them mail. As I had hoped, they soon anticipate mail delivery, asking if there was “any mail for me?”. I know their interest won’t last long. All manner of phones and tablets already have a place on their menu of communication tools and land mail will one day disappear from our lives. For now, they experience the pleasure of seeing their name on an envelope, breaking the seal to discover what news might be within, knowing this was lovingly prepared just for them.

Grateful today for…

~ parents who modeled literacy and valued the joy of story in every form.
~ long distance relationships nurtured by the tradition of letters.
~ the circumstances that provided literacy and education across our generations.
~ the bundles of ribbon tied letters, dated decades ago.
~ my nation’s provision of vast systems of communication.
~ the letters in the mail, for messages of greeting, news, and affection.
~ for Epistles signed, “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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Aug 8, 2015

Distant Summer Memories

Far northwest beaches are reached after walking through verdant Pacific rain forests of towering aged trees. Occasionally mottled light splinters through the dense shade; that, and the sound of the surf, hints at the coastal splendor at the forest’s edge. 

Emerging from dense green foliage, stepping out onto the wide expanse of beach, floods the mind with the grander of the shifting boundary between land and sea. In that place beaches are wide, as the tide recedes with distant expanses of shallow water. 

The ocean polished remains of fallen, nearly whole, tree trunks are beached along the shoreline. Grey, splintered, and pock marked after untold time adrift at the sea. Smaller remnants of driftwood cluster with grey-blue indigo shells at the tide line. Sea tinged winds against one’s face, beach combing in bare feet, navigating the rivulets of sand and salt water; the soul ’s delight.

I unwrapped the collection of driftwood and shells that we had gathered that summer so many years ago and began to arrange it in a way that we could enjoy it’s beauty once again. Holding each piece, lifted an abundance of memories of that time and place. The extravagant beauty of that region; the old, old forests along an expansive coastline; the cool, moisture rich air; and the milestone in our life that the place marked. Through the years we have spoken of that time, recalled the deep serenity of those days, counted the years since we were there. It is a prominent marker on our timeline of living. A treasure in the midsts of numbering our days. 

"Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."

Psalm 90:12

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Aug 2, 2015

July Smolders into August

July heat, an open oven door, with the scent of over toasted bread. 
Air meandering heavy and slow, dense with crackled dryness. 
The flag barely able to rustle itself from a limp fold of cloth on the pole. 
A full compliment of summer’s winged critters swarm, skim, and hum above the pond’s undisturbed surface, the sole opposite of lazy in the heat of mid-day.

Shuttered in the shade, slates angled to reflect rays elsewhere;
pondering what remnants of deep summer shine most in my memory…

~ Blueberries
Mounds of Michigan blueberries. Folded into pancakes topped with maple syrup, covered with milk and sugar, or nibbled dark-blue-fresh straight from the bowl. Summer’s orbs of berry-liciousness!

~ Huldah, holy woman of great reputation, chosen by God to be a prophet, teacher, and adviser to Kings! Listen up folks, she taught men! She was selected above Jeremiah, to inform the King about God’s will {2 Kings 22:1-20}. Take heart sisters in Christ, God does indeed call women to proclaim His word.

~ Reading Anthony Doer’s novel, All the Light We Can Not See
in contrast to its title, SHINES big time on my recommendations to read. It’s multiple themes, creative intricacies, historical depth, wondrous characters, and sweeping plot enthralled me for a marathon four day reading binge. Go now. Download today.

~ Seriously now, what shines brilliantly among July’s memories 
would be a fervent message on Christian compassion
In the 4th video of Andy Stanley’s boldly honest video series Your Move, Stanley says even though Christians are told in John 13:34-35 to “Love one another”, he honestly admits, “Church people are some of the meanest people you know.” “(We) mistreat people in the name of Jesus.” In response, he expertly expounds on Colossians 3:12, “Clothe yourself with compassion…” reminding us that Christ means, “I want this (love and compassion) to mark you!” Yes indeed, that message burned deep in my heart in the midst of this July.       

~ And, the frivolous is not to be left out, loving the new series, “Giada in Italy”. 
Really, my cooking interest (and talent) is modest. However filming of the Mediterranean gem that is Positano, captures my visual senses. Local markets, stucco architecture in contrast to brilliant flowers, melded with gorgeous food preparation…I’m in.

It’s the season to ice that tea, seek the shade, relish bone deep warmth, and ponder what memories shine bright for you this summer.

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