He Finds Us in the “Unawares”…

 

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Have you noticed or were you unaware?

That God seems to find us, show us, give us small gifts in unexpected ways?

He did it today when singing in an impromptu trio…“thou didst leave thy throne and thy kingly crown when thou camest to earth for me…”

Suddenly, transformed to 45 years ago and the old Bev Shea Album my Dad played at Christmas with all the old hymns….

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but in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room for thy holy nativity…”

No room, I find there’s no room for His touch when I am filled with the distractions of

self-pity, expectations, business that can wait and lost priorities.

It’s when I’m not looking that He appears again to me, touches my face so softly, allows me to feel both joy and pain and even embrace a tear.

Am I better than He?

The foxes found rest and the birds their nest in the shade of the forest tree

But the couch was the sod, Oh thou Son of God in the deserts of Galilee”

Do I escape earth’s pain?

Dare I trust a homeless god,  such a humble and humiliating saviour?

He caught them unaware as well, it seems

thou camest Lord with the living Word that would set thy people free;

But with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn 

They bore thee to Calvary”

Do I escape lowly titles, humiliation and even scorn like Him?

Would I count it an honor for the King?

The last stanza rings the ultimate moment

When heavens arches shall ring and her choirs shall sing

At thy coming to victory

Let thy voice call me up saying yet there is room, there is room at my side for thee,

O Come to my heart Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for thee”

So leave the crowd behind and find Him in the unawares…

The moments He bids you and you answer the call

they are subtle but they abound this Advent season

He will not disappoint you.

Amen.

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How to not Press the Snooze Button and Other Musings on Chemo…

image I consider myself a “Morning Person” but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get out of bed. I’m not one of those who jumps up on the exercise bike and then runs 2 miles before meeting a 6am networking group or prays for 3 hours on her knees for missionaries.  I’m somewhere in between.  I do get up after 2 snooze pushes at 5 am, I do exercise and I do have a “quiet time” with God before leaving the house for the day’s adventure. But it’s not easy, and it takes lots of makeup.

These days, I use my daughter’s vanity as my makeup table- one of the advantages of being an empty nester is that we can spread out and use all of our 4 bedrooms for our various purposes.  I thought buying a lot of expensive makeup would help me get up easier so I treated myself to the Estee Lauder Counter at Macy’s for Mother’s day-( P.S. it didn’t help so I’m back to the CVS counter).

Then I was given a gift (by my son)- a shirt that said “crunch before lunch” from Victoria’s Secret no less and I thought that would do the trick (by the way-what ever happened to pretty frilly nightgowns-everyone thinks wearing sweats to bed  will drop weight and their husband won’t bother them?) I’m a believer in pretty lingerie, but that’s my generation.

I watched an old Seinfeld episode where Jerry talks about getting up in the morning- “It’s like you have to learn to walk again”, I couldn’t agree more. And to talk again, don’t talk to me in the morning-at least not before quiet time. And yes, that’s become legalistic- like something you do instead of being with Him.

I spent a weekend in Chicago recently and also visited the suburbs where I entered “Hobby Lobby” for the first time. Wow, it was like my first time at Christmas Tree Shops in Maine before they came to the Island!  Well, ya’ gotta love those stores owned by Christians, Christian music playing, lot of Jesus stuff and lots of good prices on everything for the home and crafty types (I tried to be one of those but my NY accent is too thick). In fact my Home Ec teacher told me to throw away the dress I made in Jr High and my knitting squares at our church group were used sparingly in the blankets we gave to the sick-( those poor souls have suffered enough without being exposed to my squares).

But to tell you the truth the sign I bought in Hobby Lobby just about sums it up- In the Morning, Just give Me Jesus”.  That is what it all comes down to for me. Yes, I like my pumpkin coffee, yes; I can’t leave the house without a lot of make up (I used to wear false eyelashes in High School) and yes, I am weak, frail and sometimes broken but He remains the same. He meets me in my weakness, my failures and speaks hope and life to me. He tells me that He loves me and will never leave me and that I have a bright future. He knows how I felt  when I  had a bad hair day (that’s putting it mildly) ,it fell out during chemo. Now this is a hard pic for someone who won’t leave the house without lots of prep to post but I know some friends going through this now and I want you to know that He is there for you when you feel like you can’t get up or want to push the eternal snooze button.

Yes, Just give me Jesus- Sometimes His presence is so real-sometimes not.

A Very Bad Hair Day Indeed!

dscn0782 That’s when He fills it in with friends and God’s people and laughter and support. HE DID NOT LET ME DOWN AND HE WON’T LET YOU DOWN.

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God sent me awesome fun people, we ate breakfast at Se-port and did some political door to door campaigning that day pictured above.  He gave me an awesome small group to share this time with and have made life-long friends!

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He gave me laughter in many forms and I love Him for that-That’s our God…So go to Chemo and smile-Thank you Bunty! Show the world you have hope because you do….046

(By the way, that’s the bell for the nurse) And remember, don’t isolate yourself in your time of trouble, we all need each other not only during cancer treatment but always…And Yes in the morning especially-just give me Jesus before the phone starts ringing.  And P.S. I kinda had fun with all the different wigs too!

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Another Jesus?

There are times when I need to rest my head and heart totally on Christ’s breast and there are times when He says to me, “Lauren, take up your bed and walk”. And…guess what? I’m glad my Father knows the when, where and how of enabling the mastery of that walk when I am still so lame.

That to me is the mystery of His marvelous grace, His kingdom of dichotomies and His upside down economy. What does that have to do with “another Jesus, another gospel”? Paul spoke to the Corinthian church about this danger of the pure and simple message of Jesus being tainted by “another spirit”, today that could be trends in the society or blatant heresy, but it takes us away from the simplicity that is in Christ. It’s as if He isn’t enough so we have to add on other more interesting teachings. This in turn causes us to believe we are “deep” and everyone else a simpleton. Once again pride has deceived us and peer pressure bids us come one more time to eat the forbidden fruit.

I’ve noticed that two dangerous gospels have been around for a long time, one being “the Prosperity Gospel” the other being the “Social Justice Gospel”. Both seem to raise their ugly heads luring the vulnerable in the most vulnerable of times.

What do they have in common? Why is the Social Justice gospel gaining new ground in our thinking an churches? Satan has no new lies, he just changes the packaging.

First of all, both “gospels” take an element of truth and runs with it to the extreme. Prosperity gospel takes the law of sowing and reaping to a whole new level of a pyramid scheme and the Social Justice gospel takes the truth that all are equal in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28) and sells us out to a new world political order. Those who adhere to this deception also buy in on many other cultural idols and look down on others in the guise of equality.

Secondly, both gospel appeal to the flesh and are achievable through human means and systems. The first appeals to a method in which we can actually manipulate the Most High God an the second allows us to build our own Tower of Babel and New World Order while luxuriating in an ivory tower of our own creation.

This is just an introduction and as God gives insight and time to study and if there is an interest in this blog entry I will expand this thesis.

Running to the Battle

Dear Father,

How will they see You if I run from the battle from that which breaks the heart of your Son? Prepare our hearts from what we want to run from, ignore, hide…give me wisdom to choose the armor You provide and not my own.

Your trumpet call makes all the difference between failure and sweet victory, your comfort when the rations run dry prepares me for the days of plenty.

When I doubt that You have called me and I look at others hiding in foxholes made of tarnished gold I flinch that I could have easily laid my head there as well.

Keep me safe from the enemies of my journey, critics and naysayers which vex me in the midnight hour, until the Bridegroom comes and sweeps me away. Give me the steadfastness I need until that day.

Amen

Simplicity- It’s Complicated on Long Island…

I thought I had developed a new mindset since the pandemic, I imagined myself living in the country, I had to travel 20 miles to the nearest store. So today I will make some homemade Iced Tea instead of running to Walmart for Diet Coke. Or so I thought…

It seems that now that things (stores) have opened up a bit more, it’s getting easier to fall back into my old ways of convenience and recreation. Just yesterday, I bought two clothing items I really didn’t need from Marshalls and I have eaten out in an actual indoor restaurant three times! My goodness, the things we took for granted.

My question is, will this new appreciation and somewhat modified lifestyle last? I question myself, “why am I buying this, or eating this, is it boredom, what am I really hungry for?”

Most of the time, it’s a lack of intellectual stimulation and that spiritual wasteland feeling from watching too much Netflix but and I am taking the time to go on that inward journey and examine my habits.

Its a great gift to have unlimited morning time to read, meditate and audibly pray while the house is empty and the day lilies open. I am in awe and consciousness of small gifts and “free” delights. How long will this last? I do not know but I am learning new ways of thinking and being, day dreaming and arresting anxiety when it sneaks in like a thief or unwanted houseguest.

I am more content than I was previously, but there is still that Long Island girl who wants a choice of ten stores within a five miles radius. I really don’t know if I would survive in the country, maybe with a lot of really good books and friends that create comfy community but I’m not convinced.

So for this girl, high taxes, lots of stimulation and endless choices bid for my attention. It’s yet to be determined if my mind and habits reap the “country” benefits from pandemic living. Today I’m going to the library for the first time since March, let’s see if I stop by Wal Mart on the way home. Hmmm, any bets?

When Paths Cross

Three Village Arts 4 All

IMG_5540.JPGIt was one of those rare moments in time when community, transitions of seasons and unadorned lives blended together on the same path.

After the meal we took a walk in the woods, the sound of water dancing in the stream to meet tidal marches leveled my spirit. Many travelers crossed the familiar path that day with cheerful smiles and knowing nods. We waited and let a group cross the narrow passage. They smiled and thanked us.

This path was unlike others. We were all on foot where lives truly crossed, no highway to hinder the human contact.

And so began a meaningful season—transition, repositioning of thought, intent and purpose.

Putting down the need to answer all the unknowns, the question marks that sprint over the pages of our future.

That day I savored the narrow path, I let someone else go ahead of me not worrying about my place…

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Punctuation-There’s Power in the Pause

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It’s a word we came to hate in Grammar school. Punctuation, annoying, seemingly unnecessary  yet as we grew the realization came one day…

It does serve a purpose.

The punctuated pause known as the comma.

Punctuation. So much like life , that question mark, that changes the whole meaning of the sentence to wonder, the finality of  period, the joy of exclamation, the mystery of a semicolon and the waiting of a comma.

Waiting can be frustrating but pausing can be life giving.  Like the rest in the musicians score it provides respite, relief and counterintuitive ways of thinking.

Problems become opportunity, challenges become manageable even invigorating.

The power of pause, sabbath, retreat- a place we meet ourselves and our God,

Who promised only good if we wait on Him, learn His ways and become accustomed to His patterns and whimsy.

So take that comma, treasure it, study it, use it as you speak, live, consume and declutter.

You will find the old fears never really held much power in the pause,…

 

 

Really?

 

Ellis River NH

It’s late at night during the pandemic, the pelts of rain and howling winds remind me that I have shelter and safety, even now in this storm.

Really I always have…

What seemed like dishonor was really honor

What was held back really released a floodgate

What was sacrifice and loss really prepared me for abundance

And now I stand, Ready…Really, I do.

You meant it to harm me “but God meant it for good”.

To preserve a posterity of words and grace and comfort

I promise not to waste them

words, time or suffering.

I promise where I am not appreciated to close doors and walk through new ones,

give up old associations for better companions knowing that all promotion comes from

God not man.

Human flesh may thwart, push back and deny but they really hold no power. Pilate held no real power over Jesus and they hold no real power over you.

Father, forgive them, They didn’t know that when they slighted me, they slighted you. When they sought to crush me, You were offended and took notice. The accounts are all balanced in your books and I am wealthy indeed.

They didn’t know that when they tried to silence my words they only became stronger, more meaningful and filled with power.

True power comes from You not from them, really it does.

I didn’t realize it when I spoke in those venues that you really promoted me beyond measure and that all the powers of hell and earthly nepotism are nothings in your kingdom. Really, it’s true dear one.

You think your a victim  but your champion rose within you. Nothing and no one could keep you down for the count.

Really?

Neither loss nor gain, humbling circumstances and rejections…they all gave you your unique and powerful voice…..Really, they did. Better yet,  I did, now go and open your mouth wide with the words I provide for you. My utterance speaks life and gives the poor a landing pad, your season of weeping is gone, I have prepared you, open wide your mouth and smile at your enemies.

Really, I will.