Thursday, March 29, 2012


Psalm 91:4

He will cover you with his feathers,
   and under his wings you will find refuge;
   his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 

This is the second year that a webcam has been set up at an eagles' nest in Decorah, Iowa.  

I have to admit that I often check in to see what the eagles are doing.  One night as the female was sitting on the nest incubating her three eggs, something startled her.
She went into a protective pose, spreading her wings to protect her young.

When I saw this photo I couldn't help but think about Psalm 91 and being covered by His feathers.  It was a great visual for me. 

Right now G and I are being covered by His feathers as we seek refuge under his wings...  As we seek refuge in a place where we stay close to him and each other, waiting for a definitive diagnosis...  As we stay in a place of hope and courage about the future... As we stay seeking comfort from our family and from our community of faith.  We stay knowing that we are not alone, that we are safe, that we are in God's hands.

Stay isn't easy, but the knowledge that we have refuge under his wings gives us peace.  And with peace comes the ability to stay. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What is Mankind?

3 When I consider your heavens,
   the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
   which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
   human beings that you care for them?
(Psalm 8:3-4)

A magnificent spring sky...the moon, Jupiter, and Venus lined up in a glorious array.  In this breathtaking beauty, I am reminded of Psalm 8.   The One who made the moon and the stars cares for us.  

When I started this blog, my intent was to declare the sacred that is imbedded in the ordinary.  But it wasn't going to be about my ordinary.  But I have been immersed into living something very ordinary and likely very with another who is ill.   
Today our journey a place where we pray for benign but realize it probably is not.  We pray for the best of two evils.  How in the world does one wish for one form of disease over another?  Last spring was supposed to be a "one and done"...diagnosis...treatment...cure.  But it is not to be.

And yet the sacred is there...right in the middle of the ordinary.  

The doctor who says, "We are praying for you"...

The congeniality among the hospital staff... 

The care assistant who brings me coffee as I wait for my loved one to be brought back...

The nurse who cracks jokes and then tenderly packs us into the car leaving us with the words, "I am praying for you"... 

The crucifix hanging on the wall in the hospital room as a reminder that Christ is watching over us.   

Ah Lord...what is mankind that you are mindful of us?  We are your magnificent creation! We are your beloved. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wounds or Scars?

The tree in this picture has a magnificent scar.  Today it is part of the character of that tree but at one time it was likely a gaping wound. 

Many of us rise each morning and face a life that marks us with scars as well. We may hear the words, "you have cancer" and battle its accompanying fears.  We might wrestle with discouragement created by the loss of purpose or financial struggles.  We may have worry and concern over children who have made poor choices or choose their own way.

Each of these events leaves a scar.  Sometimes we've been in this so long that we begin to see this life as "normal" and just the way it is.  Our scars just seem to be a part of who we are.  We become grizzled veterans, relying on our faith to carry us through.

Every once in awhile though, we make new friends who are sometimes appalled by the wounds we have...they see our earthly struggle in a fresh and raw way....we see it as simply wearing the evidence of battle.  For to us they are just scars marked by grace, courage, and the resolute faith reminding us that we are not alone. 

Soon it will be Good Friday and we will be reminded of how Jesus carries scars...of how he was wounded by life, for us.  

He was flogged. (Matthew 27:26)
Then he pardoned Barabbas. But he had Jesus whipped, and then handed over for crucifixion.
He wore a crown of thorns.  (Matthew 27:29)
They plaited a crown from branches of a thorn bush and set it on his head. 

He was nailed to a cross. (Matthew 27:35)
After they had finished nailing him to the cross...
He was pierced in the side. (John 19:34)
Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.

He too carries the scars that are evidence of a battle.  Scars that are marked by grace, by courage, by resolute faith in his Father.  Scars that are evidence that he is the victor. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Please Don't Help!

A recent surprise storm loaded the rhododendrons.  The branches were visibly weighed down with snow and ice.  Just one day prior, buds were beginning to peek through the foliage...a sign of things to come.  

I knew better than to go out and brush the snow from the foliage. The leaves would crack and groan under the  pressure of my well meaning hand.  Even armed with good intentions, a touch would cause more harm than good.  

Gradually the snow laden rhodies gave up their burdens as the warmth of the winter sun crept across their branches.  All they needed was a little encouragement from the breeze.  
Isn't that how many of us are when we are laden with worry and care? Rather than wait for the Son, we look for the help of another even though the help may cause damage and hurt.    We are impatient and want to give up our burdens the easy way rather than seeking his warmth that calls to us and beckons us to turn towards him.

Just as it is best for the rhododendrons to remain snow covered snow until it is melted by the sun, it is often best to allow our burdens to be melted by the Son, Jesus, to seek the relief that he offers.  

Jesus put it this way,  “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  (Matt 11;23-8-30 NASB)

Peace to all of you who are burdened by troubles.  May you find the patience and courage to wait and turn towards the Son.        

Friday, March 9, 2012

Life Gets Up Ended!

The cupcakes looked amazing as the baker lovingly placed them into a custom fitted box.  Each cupcake had it's own little seat. How clever and how cute I thought! The lid was carefully taped shut, the box placed level in a bag and away I to finish my shopping at our local farmer's market.  

The cupcakes remained upright for perhaps five minutes at the most as I unknowingly sacrificed them to give a good friend a hug.  You see my friend was going through rough times and a hug was the best I could offer at that moment.  

So how do we handle being "tossed around" in life like those cupcakes?

We have choices...we can shake our fists in anger.  We can retreat to lick our wounds.  We can lash out at loved ones.  Or we can look at life with the attitude and say "it is what it is" and move forward by the grace of God.  We do get to choose our attitude even though we have no say in the circumstance.

Paul's letter to James puts it this way. 

 "Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought." (James 1:2-5 MSG) 

A friend  says that in life's hard times we must put on our "big girl faith panties" because suffering and difficulty will force our faith right out into the open for the world to see.    

Somehow in my journeying through the farmer's market, I finally remembered my lovely cupcakes.  Sure enough it was a full fledged cupcake disaster!  Even though I lovingly tried to upright them, there was no repairing what had happened, no going back in time, no do-overs.   So when I got home, I simply got out a fork.  It is what it is.  And they were delicious.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Length of Our Days

Sometimes the length of our days is measured by simple things.  For many of us when the time comes that we need a pill container, it is a sign that we are aging. It can help us keep track of what day it is or to remember if we even took our medications or not!  It is not a tool though that most of us welcome.  It is a reminder that we are finite, that our bodies are breaking down, that this is not forever. 

I am always encouraged that God has used people of all ages to accomplish his purpose here on earth.  Noah was eighty when he built the ark.  Sarah was over a hundred when she gave birth to Isaac.  Moses was eighty when he saw the burning bush.  

We are never too old to accomplish God's purposes in our lives.  His promises are not only for the young.  They endure throughout our lifetime.  They offer hope and a future for each of us.

 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 29:11-14 NIV)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Consider the Lilies or Crocus

This is the time of year when new life begins to spring forth.  The beauty of something fresh and green is a welcome sight this time of year.  But often it seems too early for the snow crocus to bloom...too early for their flowers to peek through the cold, damp soil.  And yet, their timing is always perfect.  Despite cold temperatures and random spring snows, they don't just exist, they thrive...throwing their brilliant colors towards the sky.

Just as the hint of spring shoots forth new growth from the earth, so the seasons of life provide opportunities something new.  Often the timing seems less than optimum.  There never seems to be a good time for sickness to strike, job loss to make itself known, or hardship to be experienced.  

Matthew chapter 6 beginning in verse 33 offers us some words of comfort declaring that if God cares for the ways of the wildflowers (think snow crocus) surely he cares for us in an even greater fashion.

  30-33"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
 34"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.  (The Message)

We trust that each spring the snow crocus will burst forth.  Can we trust that as God cares for them, he will care for our needs?  Indeed we can...just consider the snow crocus.  

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Different Yet the Same

When I recently saw these rocks I thought about these things: they were rocks serving the same purpose, no rock was greater or better than another rock, and each rock was dramatically different from the other.  

Consider this parable from Jesus found in Luke 14: 7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (The Message Version)

These rocks served a common purpose by protecting the soil from erosion by rain.  Yet not one of them despite how they looked, was greater than the other.  They are equally important, serving a common function.  Not one called out seeking special attention or claiming a greater status than the other.  In some ways God's people are not so different... great in diversity, serving a common purpose, each one equal.  I would do well to consider the lesson that comes from these rocks. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

What exactly is a "Quotidian"?

quo·tid·i·an  [kwoh-tid-ee-uhn] an adjective

The every day...the ordinary...  

There is value in seeing the sacred in our everyday lives.  Often missed, small and ordinary things of our life contain rich treasures...but only if we are willing to slow down long enough to notice them.  It is the small things that reveal the greatest truth.  Jesus often noticed the small and marginalized people and things of the world and used them as a portal to help us understand the larger truths.   I hope to share the sacred that is imbedded in our everyday ordinary, walking around life.