The Rock

Psalm 91:1
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow
of the Almighty.


If I am the immobile mountain, move me.
If your love is the mountain, then I shall be the one to climb.
If your summit is unknowable, then let me dangle from your shadows and shelter.
Let me live at the foot of your love.

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Wild

from 2013:

when Brain and Heart are not in agreement, the stress is immense.

worry and fear take over. completely.

God and his word tell us not to worry. let tomorrow worry for itself.

how do you make the heart run like the mind? or mind like heart?

or make either run after/for God?

my answer would be, for myself, to myself, pray.

pray for the desire of God’s will. always. until his will is my desire automatically.

Buddhism-4 noble truths-suffering is universal, desire is suffering, stop wanting things, suffering will end

stop putting things in the place where God should go.

train your brain, Martha. and your heart.

the heart is wild, but so can our desire be for God.

Jesus is a Beaver

Hear me out. Er, read me out, I guess.

Jesus is a beaver.

If u wanna know what I’m talking about, you should watch “Leave It To Beavers” on Netflix. Great documentary. If you like animals.

Beavers come into really dry areas and restore the landscape. They bring water. Well, they don’t bring it, they save it.

Little by little, over time, they build their dams. Higher and higher, they build to keep the water in and make the beaver pond deeper and deeper. They churn up the bottom and drag the dirt, silt and sludge from the bottom and seal up the dam to make it tighter and tighter. Waterproof. So no water gets out. This also makes the pond deeper by scooping up the bottom. The deeper the pond, the less evaporation, so the water stays. More water brings more life. More vegetation, more fish, more food, more neighbors…MORE! The bigger the pond, the more neighbors, human and animal alike, can enjoy the benefits and fruits of the pond.

This is what Jesus does.

Doesn’t he?

He brings us more.

Piece by piece, we can build a strong place with Jesus. We can keep his life-giving water in (he says he is the eternal spring) and keep from running dry. He can scoop up the bottom of our lives and use it for good. All the muck and dirt that we accumulate over time, he can churn that up and use it.

And the deeper we go in Jesus? The greener our valley for others. Other people may benefit from the deep pond we have built with Jesus. We can share the fruits of our labor with our neighbors. We can share what we have built in Christ. We can save the landscape.

Beavers don’t even know they are helping. This is just what they are born to do. Build, build, build.

We can be beavers. We can engineer our lives so that we help others. We can be born to do that or become beavers over time. Little by little.

I wanna be a beaver.

manna

i prayed that God put in my mind those things that he wants me to write about and every morning, like manna, the words are waiting to find me or be found.

it is my job to gather. sometimes, i don’t have enough hours in the day or a basket big enough for his providence. my hands, fingers, pens, keys, screens, pages runneth over.

thoughts float down like sweet sticky buns from heaven. proficiency and abundance are divine.

Fragility of Choice

Beautiful weakness.

Question: If God created us, why didn’t he make us stronger, better, less susceptible to weakness and evil?

Answer (in the form of a question lol): If we can’t be tempted, how can we choose? If everything is easy, is that really a choice?

I think it’s beautiful to be weak. To struggle. To choose good, even though it’s hard. To fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12). Even to fall. Because there is grace.

Question: If God created us, why did He have to save us?

Answer (maybe): God gave us a choice so that we may love Him freely and honor Him of our own choosing. Come to Him with freedom. Love Him because we want to. He knew that to give us choice, He would have to make us fragile. Capable of falling. But He gave us Christ because:
1. He loved us
2. He knew we would need help

So. We can stand on Christ alone if we fall. That’s gorgeous.

We are fragile. We are weak. We are beautiful.
We are wonderfully and fearfully made.
We are free. We are loved. We are saved.

Thoughts? Opinions? Insight?

Am Found

Thrown down
Lost my crown

Body broken
Shame unspoken

Face in the dirt
Badly hurt

I’m wrong
I failed
Mercy, please
Grace unveiled

Foot of the cross
Feet of the Christ

Unworthy to touch
Owe too much

Can’t even stand
Quivering hand

Reach out for charity
Bittersweet disparity

Hard to swallow
Hard to follow

Honey for the healing
Grace feels like stealing

I stumbled
Am humbled

Belly on the ground
Forgiveness is found

And I stand on the power of Christ alone.

good stuff

I wrote this for church several years ago. I still agree with the sentiment. And I’m better now.

In terms of serving other people, I do what I can, for whom I can. I try to respond to the call of need of those immediately around me. Not just those who attend my church. I try to pay attention. And I do it because I want to. Because it brings me joy.

And if it doesn’t? Working on it.

We can start there. That’s a good start to good stuff. If everyone did that? We’d have a better world.


Altruism /æltru●ĭzǝm/ n. a concern for the welfare of others without any benefit to one’s self.

AKA-doing good stuff for other people and you don’t get nothin’ for it.

Many cultures and religions prioritize this concept of altruism. It is certainly a key tenet of Christ’s teachings (the words that came out of Christ’s mouth), even if some Christians don’t follow.

Interestingly though, many people are skeptical of completely selfless service. True altruism can in no way satisfy the giver. It must be an act of sacrifice in which the giver receives nothing. Educated opinions differ as to whether pure altruism even exists.

I believe that we are created with an innate sense of concern for others. I do. We are built for doing good. We are, after all, made in the image of God. But as with all divine design, we can pervert, mangle, void and totally destroy God’s gift with our own skewed perspective. We’re not perfect.

PLUS! We are imprinted with tons of distorted viewpoints by the age of reason. We are taught to be cautious, self-protecting, guarded, skeptical, closed. Instead of running naked (emotionally!), open, arms stretched out to total strangers embracing each other in love. Get outta here, Hippie!

Your life should bring you J-O-Y!


I was taught, from a very young age, that one could live life in an extremely simple, specific way and espouse this value above all others, JOY.
It’s easy, your priorities will fall into these categories:
1. Jesus
2. Others
3. You

I learned this lesson early and for the most part, I have lived my life this way. Sometimes, the letters got jumbled along the way. And sometimes the letters were missing, altogether.

Even so, I have usually put others’ feelings and welfare above my own, but the reasons were borne of fear and selfishness. There was no J-O-Y in it. My thoughts were these:
If I don’t put God first, He will be angry with me and punish me.
If I don’t put my family and friends first, they won’t love me.
If I don’t put myself last, I am selfish and lazy.

I didn’t do good for goodness sake, I was wrapped in negative motivations. I was simply trying to avoid the bad. Over the past decade, however, I have tried to put others first out of an idealistic will, to take the selfishness out of serving, to do good for God. I wanted that desire to fill me up and bring me joy. That desire has landed me in an unexpected place. I am still struggling with the same negative motivations.

Whenever I am asked to do something, I complain, out loud or in my heart. I am still wrapped in fear. My thoughts have developed to these:
If I don’t put God first, I’m not truly a Christian.
If I don’t put my family and friends first, I do not love or I’m not truly a friend.
If I don’t put myself last, I have failed.

In the past few months, I have come crashing down. I have staked my value in service and it has failed. I have tried to do more, serve more, give more than ever before and it has not brought me any closer to God. My marriage is suffering, my child is neglected, my heart is grumbling and dark. When you get to the root of it, I am an incredibly broken, screwed-up failure. My strategies for life are just as twisted as someone who only looks out for number 1. I am fooled and tricked by my own misunderstanding. I wish I truly cared for people the way Christ did. I wish that I could wrap my arms around the whole hurting world. I wish that my actions reflected a pure love for God.

I’ve been trying to define altruism for myself or letting others define it for me when I should look to God’s definition for my life and look at myself through His eyes.


For several years, my husband and I served at our local church, we were on the drama team, served in children’s church, wrote stories, scripts, essays and lesson plans. We unloaded fireworks, made movies, cooked, cleaned, listened, directed and an endless list of tasks. And others did even more than we did.

But. Our salvation. We were just as much in need of salvation on the last day of our time there as our first.

Salvation. It’s not a game. You try to put points up on that board, but somehow it never measures up to Jesus’ sacrifice, does it? I need to stop keeping score. Jesus zeros the board every single day. And that’s always in our favor. How many times do I screw up in a day? Let’s just say, I keep the statisticians busy.

Salvation is not about earning points on our way to heaven. It’s about letting heaven come down to take over the game, our will and desire: our heart, mind, body and soul. When we do that, the definition for altruism will simply read:
/æltru●ĭzǝm/ n. see God.

By His Wounds

Jesus is the Physician that came to heal the sick,
Not the well.

Jesus is the Lover that came to embrace the hateful/hated,
Not the pretenders.

Jesus is the Savior that came to rescue the sinners,
Not the saints.

Jesus is the Redeemer that came to raise the dead.
To sound the alarm and resurrect the lost.

He left the 99
To find the 1.

Get found.


Psalm 147:3
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Amen.

Rich with Lovers

Katharine Clifton (played by Kristin Scott Thomas, from The English Patient):
My darling. I’m waiting for you. How long is the day in the dark? Or a week? The fire is gone, and I’m horribly cold. I really should drag myself outside but then there’d be the sun. I’m afraid I waste the light on the paintings, not writing these words. We die. We die rich with lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we’ve entered and swum up like rivers. Fears we’ve hidden in-like this wretched cave. I want all this marked on my body. Where the real countries are. Not boundaries drawn on maps with the names of powerful men. I know you’ll come carry me out to the Palace of Winds. That’s what I’ve wanted: to walk in such a place with you. With friends, on an earth without maps. The lamp has gone out and I’m writing in the darkness.


Rich with lovers. I love that line. It is so full in one’s mouth and mind. It plays on the tongue and exercises all manner of lip movement and physical speech. I hope you have tried to say it. Out loud. You pretend kiss when forming the word rich. And the word with. It is a line for all time.

Rich with lovers. I think we all die rich with lovers. You may have only known your husband or wife, intimately. But we have all fashion of lovers. My family loves me. My friends love me. Strangers love me. And we love many. Sexually or not.

I have never been closer to another human being as I have been to my husband. I am so thankful for that. He knows everything about me and still loves me unconditionally. Even when he’s mad at me. He may not admit it. Or realize it. But if pressed, he loves me still. That–is nothing short of a miracle and nothing to take for granted.

My husband with all his faults and flaws is the most generous, kind and passionate lover I have ever known. And I have had my share. But I would trade my share for this one love. I count myself lucky to have found the one person who could fulfill my every desire and do it so well. He is smart, funny and oh-so lavish in his physical love for me. Some might look at my husband and wonder what I see in him, but he is a world-class lover. He’s Italian. Whatta ya gonna do? You can’t fight city hall.

I say all this, not to boast, but to demonstrate. Even with a rich, lavish love life? A love life beyond earthly compare? It cannot come close to my growing addiction to Christ.

If my love life with my husband was compared to the Earth-to-Moon distance (I love you to the moon and back), then my relationship with Christ would be the distance from the Earth to the Sun (Son). I love my husband with everything I have. And I truly believe after 17 years of marriage, he loves me the same way. But it doesn’t even touch how Christ and God feel for me. Not even my relationship with my daughter can come close to how God feels for me.

The Bible compares our relationship to Christ as a marriage and sometimes our relationship to God as parent and child. And those are wonderful examples of how He loves. But I don’t think we can perceive with our small minds how big God’s love is.

I hear people often scoff. (Scofften? LOL) Why would God create the universe, as vast as it is, for just our world? Why would a great God in heaven care about me? Why would God create man and play this simulation of Love?

Quite simply, God is love.

Not that He simply loves, but that He is the Love-being. We are built in His image. He is relationship. We are love as well. Love is not just a word or an act. It is a continuous chosen action, verb, noun, state of mind. Sacrifice.

He built us for love. To have relationship and fellowship with Him. We do life with the intention of being loved. We are born with a burning desire to be seen, to be loved, to be lavished. I see it in my daughter. I see her burning desire to be noticed and praised. But she has never known a day without love. We have heaped praise and love on her head and she still yearns to be known so intimately. She raises her voice, speaking her opinions into existence and wants so much to be heard. I pray that she learns at some point, God is listening. And if we listen back? He will reveal such profound love and understanding. If we can just quiet our minds enough to know, we are being loved so completely. So lavishly. So richly. So permanently.

The question in my mind is this: if God did create the universe and we do not acknowledge him in this, how can he feel loved? Even God wants praise for all that He has given, created, sacrificed. And he deserves it. What has Man ever done to compare with what God has done? Aren’t we born wanting praise?

I have chased all forms of pleasure my entire life. Food, love, sex, comfort, pain-relief. And it does not satisfy. It does not sustain. It does not last. In a moment, the satisfying fullness of achievement is lost in the pulses of light from the universe. No fullness lasts when relying on worldly things. But when I achieve some level of understanding or testament of love, or ability to withstand temptation, or fulfillment of biblical beatitude, it lasts. It is a taste rich with loving. A meal that brings wholeness, fullness.

All of my life’s true happiness and peace has come from obedience. Understanding and accepting those gifts that are set aside just for me. We must embrace what we are given, not envy what we can never have.

Fantastic

My family and I just went on vacation to Florida. On our way back to KC, we decided to stop at Fantastic Caverns, near Springfield, MO. I took many photos in the caves, beautiful colors and high contrast. I was pretty snap-happy. I was surprised that I could get any images though, honestly, because the light was so low. Thankfully, my digital Nikon knows more about photography than I do. 🙂 Sure, there’s light in the cave from well-placed, man-made spots, but it’s still a cave.

I only know the most fundamental aspects of manual photography. The camera still focuses for me, but I can set the aperture and speed myself. I’m still working on knowing the different settings, but I do several test shots until I see what I like. It’s like poking around in the dark until hitting on something. Like being in a cave. Hopefully, I don’t fall into a hole.

Coming out of the cave, my camera didn’t adjust because I had set it manually and I snapped this photo.

overexposed.jpg

Obviously, overexposed.

If you look closely, you can see the water pouring off the edge and streaming down. It had just rained heavily the day before and the vegetation above the cave entrance was drenched and dripping. Once we came out of that dark square, we had to adjust. We were immediately baptized by the unexpected downpour and blinking to accommodate the new conditions. It was a fast change from dark to light. And it took a minute to get your bearings.

Such is life, no?

The women who first explored the cave (yes, women) were said to have only a candle in a can. It probably only illuminated a few feet in front of them. THAT is scary. They were surely brave ladies. They could have fallen into a deep hole and been fatally injured in the matter of a few steps.

When we were in the cave, the ride was bumpy, dark and at times frightening. You had to keep your head down or lose it on a stalactite. We stopped at the edge of a sinkhole that looked like the mouth to hell. Everyone stood and rushed to our side of the trailer and I felt as if I might go tumbling over the side. I was very nervous and I simply faced forward and breathed, mouthing the words to my husband, “I don’t like this.” I have anxiety about heights and open spaces. I almost-spoke my fear to him mainly so he wouldn’t encourage me to look around and gawk at the gaping hole threatening to swallow our entire caravan. So he knew, at least, “I’m freaking out!”

I patiently focused on myself, not others around me, and I made it through. I focused on the things I could control. And I made it through. I looked forward. To making it through.

Sometimes, when you can’t handle life, all you can do is care for yourself. And breathe. You can’t worry about anyone else. You can’t change anyone else. You can’t make others sit down. You can’t save anyone if you all go tumbling over. You can only save yourself.

You can’t make the driver go faster. You can’t make the driver go at all if she wishes to park you on the edge of hell. You have to control yourself, focus on what you have been given dominion over and pray that it will be over soon. Pray that the driver will stop talking after she’s made her point and quickly drive you to safety. She knows the way, she’s been down here before. Just hold on. Focus on what’s right in front of you.

This picture (above) sucks. It is a terrible failure of my manual photography skills. You can’t see the lush green of the hanging branches above. You can’t see the beautiful drops of light that spilled over our heads and sparkled in the cool morning sunshine. But, it is a beautiful captured reflection of the human condition of adjustment and transformation.

We don’t just start being good after seeing the light. It takes a minute. So grace is important for the cave dweller. Soon we will see the world in the way it was intended. We will emerge with new eyes. And some days, we may still long for the darkness of our old world. It’s beautiful mystery, silence and danger. But no one is meant to live in a cave. We are meant to live out in the light.

I know.

I don’t like living inside of my cave of anxiety and fear. It hurts everyone around me. But living above ground with normal people sucks. Triggers abound. I’m used to anxiety and fear, I can live with those. I know what to expect. But that means living alone because no one else can stand the darkness.

So, I choose light. Because living in darkness, while quiet and predictable, is a pretty miserable half-existence not intended for human habitation.