Thanks for stopping by, whether you got here by a link or hitting "next blog" -- I am glad you are here. I've also done some writing on homeschooling, and what I learned thinking I was teaching.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Life After Pruning

Where man sees but withered leaves,
God sees sweet flowers growing.
~Albert Laighton (19th century America lawyer & poet)

One lone iris (iris reticulata) waved shyly this morning from the corner of our yard. Its genteel purple and yellow flower cheered me, hopefully, portending no more snow?

Why only one? Last fall, I wanted the beds cleaned out – but it was hard to tell in September the difference between neglected plants mixed with dying vestiges of ornamental grasses – and the man who was just doing what I asked: "clean out the beds, please," did yeoman's service. So its solitary appearance reminded me that loveliness can survive even a thorough pruning and reappear at just the right time!

My life is like an overgrown flower bed – Many blooms past; the tangle of unfinished works, inept jobs and non-starters look like so much overgrown ornamental grasses!  My comfort is that God is a smarter gardener than I – and He knows what to prune and why. He wants me to keep growing stronger, even as my body rebels. And this is what that lonesome iris reminded me, and it is the hope  over which the psalmist rejoices: 

“. . . They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing,
To declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. (Psalm 92:14-15 NKJV)

As a transplant  from the world into God’s garden, (Colossians 1:13-13) I will prosper, though old, like palm trees, grow tall like Lebanon cedars; . . . I’ll  grow tall in the presence of God, lithe and green, virile still in old age . . . " even as age bends my bones.  (Psalm 92:14-15 from THE MESSAGE )

In one translation of  Psalm 92:14-15 I see a reason for my bulges! I

“. . . shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;
To shew that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
(Psalm 92:14-15 from the KJV)

So, creation shows me again the faithfulness of God who answers my cry: “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength fails.” (Ps 71:19) That iris gives me an answer:  “And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Thy strength to this generation, Thy power to all who are to come.”(Ps 71:18)

May we all keep our eyes open to see His answers to our heart’s desires in His creation and His word.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Who Would Want My Faith?

She said, “I wish I had your faith,” in the midst of a conversation about what keeps me from flipping out in any given news cycle. I have faith nothing that is going on is a surprise to God;  nothing that seems to me to be careening out of control – is moving even a nanometer out of His boundaries.

Am I just whistling past a graveyard? 

No and yes.

An infinite omnipotent, yet personal Creator God makes sense to me; a causeless confluence of energy doesn’t. However, current events frighten me; so do some of my fellow humans’ education, values and goals. I don’t think fear itself is the only scary thing flowing freely around today. Millions times millions of people suffered and died in the last century, many never fully understanding how their fellow men could do what they did to them. Believing in God, even the One of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as many did, did not spare them. Reading history and the news makes me fear my fellow man, and myself.

Fear also wrecks any chance of a civil conversation with others, as well as an edifying chat with myself.  Fear, wrote Samuel Butler, is static that prevents me from hearing myself.

My faith in Christ, faltering as it often is, should create – increasing peace within me and with others – no matter the circumstances. (Isaiah 54:4; Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 5:9) My faith in Christ may not change my circumstances – or remove me from them; but with Him, I can get through them. (Psalm18:28-29) And my faith in Christ bids me ask you to come along with us – If we stumble, we won’t be down long; God’s got a firm grasp on our hands! (Psalm 37:23-24) Perhaps the waters around us will rise – literally or figuratively – they will not overflow us.  (Isaiah 43:2) 

Faith worth sharing is faith that is well-fed. Talk-radio and the news nourish fear, not faith. A wise counselor said once, “Remember the tea kettle - it is always up to its neck in hot water, yet it still sings!” So, I sing – for I cannot be silent; His love is the theme of my song. (Fanny Crosby, a woman blinded by a doctor’s mistake, deserted by her husband, impoverished and mother to an infant taken too soon to heaven) 

I have heard that courage is faith that has said her prayers – O God! I believe; Help Thou my unbelief!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On the Job Training

Today was the first of my O.J.T. at a local crises pregnancy center, having completed my first formal training session on Saturday – with another formal day a week hence. In several ways the focus of the training was completely different than what I expected. Yes, the trainer presented troubling information. However the major portion of the training thus far examines what do I believe about God, and how am I living according to what I am learning? The training is anchored in  Scripture and tests accordingly what I believe about God, and His gift of life to me – so that I might freely – and wholeheartedly –  give to the woman God brings, love and compassion in her time of trouble. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Back Spasms and other Lessons

Returning to Texas, Doug spotted a treasure: the Bradford pear trees – the ones that had shaded my desk in the hot summer – and later, exposed me to winter sun – are flowering again! These  trees, however,  are a mixed blessing. They probably were not the kind of tree that the psalmist or the prophet had in mind when they commended the steadfast faith by which we live. (Psalm 1:3-4; Jeremiah 17:7-8) Yes, they proffer a lush canopy of green in hot weather from early spring to right through to late autumn. But, they are prone to collapse, especially after hard winters – which we surely had this year! So, months from now, with only a burst of wind, they could split apart, changing a shady spot to an oh so sunny spot.

I had an unexpected collapse in Maryland: my lower back rebelled. Bending lifting and turning  stressed my back muscles into rebellion. OTC’s  reduced or masked the pain – but  the pain often broke through, taking my breath away; spasms stopped even the simplest movements. It surely felt like something at my core snapped and I had to surrender completely to the couch and the care of others.

For a recovering control freak, this was not my idea of a good cure. But pain breaks the grip of even the most determined controllers. Rest and heat, though, reined in the rebellious muscles.
And I discovered that prayer can break pain’s grasp. From my granddaughter’s prayers, to a former pastor’s prayers, my husband’s prayers – and my daughter’s, mercifully, the pain subsided. (James 5:17-20)

That bout also showed me again how unproductive self-absorption is. Just when I settled down to enjoy a pity party, God brought to mind others coping with extraordinary afflictions; recalling their battles was a great short-circuit to my pain!  What is a muscle spasm compared to the convulsions people in Haiti and Chile endure? Or, what has been my limited discomfort compared to my friends’ battles  against cancer and terminal MS?

If it is true, as the Latin proverb declared, “In time of sickness the soul collects itself anew,"  I am renewed, and relieved;  I am again upright and moving – enjoying the breezes that may yet do in those pear trees.

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”  (C S Lewis - The Problem of Pain