Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Waking up on the wrong side of the bed

Okay, I've had one of THOSE days. You know the kind. You wake up and just feel grumpy. After days and days of sunshine in Oregon, it's gone and done it's raining. Now, having lived here for 27 years you'd think I'd be used to spring in Oregon. But I woke up today and was just downright angry at the rain. My son asked me at the breakfast table, "Why are you making the mad face mama?" And I said, "Because of the stinking rain." I told him that I was just joking and in fact, the "mad face" was just because I didn't want to get out of bed this morning. I wasn't mad, just tired. He went back to eating his banana and said, "Cheer up mama. God made us a good day. It's light outside." Oh, he is my joy. Three years old and so wise. At least I don't live in Alaska and have to deal with intense periods of darkness. :)

All that said, today ended up being one of those days that I just have to admit that life is hard. I fail. I can't do it on my own. It's humbling to have to apologize to my son that my attitude is just downright rotten. It's humbling to realize how selfish and self-centered I truly am. But grace is here again. At this point in my life, I'm just sorting through a lot of junk in my life. I'm taking the skeletons out of the closet. I'm becoming vulnerable. I'm taking a deep look at who I am and trying to change the things that need changing. I know that God loves me and I know that He desires my greatest good. I trust in Him with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding (because scriptures commands that I do so). Life wouldn't be worth living without Christ. At the end of my day I can lean on the words of this great hymn. I love it. I love it. I love it. It was written by the great John Newton (1725-1807) and is entitled "Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder".

Let us love and sing and wonder,
Let us praise the Savior’s Name!
He has hushed the law’s loud thunder,
He has quenched Mount Sinai’s flame.
He has washed us with His blood,
He has brought us nigh to God.

Let us love the Lord Who bought us,
Pitied us when enemies,
Called us by His grace, and taught us,
Gave us ears and gave us eyes:
He has washed us with His blood,
He presents our souls to God.

Let us sing, though fierce temptation
Threaten hard to bear us down!
For the Lord, our strong Salvation,
Holds in view the conqueror’s crown:
He Who washed us with His blood
Soon will bring us home to God.

Let us wonder; grace and justice
Join and point to mercy’s store;
When through grace in Christ our trust is,
Justice smiles and asks no more:
He Who washed us with His blood
Has secured our way to God.

Let us praise, and join the chorus
Of the saints enthroned on high;
Here they trusted Him before us,
Now their praises fill the sky:
“Thou hast washed us with Your blood;
Thou art worthy, Lamb of God!”

Hark! the Name of Jesus, sounded
Loud, from golden harps above!
Lord, we blush, and are confounded,
Faint our praises, cold our love!
Wash our souls and songs with blood,
For by Thee we come to God.

Sing out a new song.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Eating for pleasure

Food. An ever-present and precious commodity. Yet, how often do we stop and think about where our food comes from? Do we know the land where our vegetables and fruits were grown? Do we know the farmers who grew them? Do we know where that great steak came from that we enjoyed last week? How were the animals treated before they ended up sliced up and packaged on a plate of styrofoam and wrapped in plastic? Five years ago I wouldn't have asked these questions. But, now I must. Ignorant as I was, I had no excuse. But, now it's hard to turn back. I care about the earth God has given us to live in and I want to do my best to sustain it and to treat it with care. I feel much better about eating foods that come from local farmers. I feel good about buying my meat from friends or local farmers who treat and feed their animals well. I'm not trying to step up on my soap box and preach; merely refer you to a few short pieces that may make you think about what you eat.

The following is a short piece by one of my favorite modern day thinkers, Mr. Wendell Berry. It's entitled "The Pleasures of Eating".

Here's a clever little production that gives an introduction to some of the things that can go on in factory farms (and DO every day).

And here's a link to finding stores and restaurants near you that promote sustainable farming and agriculture.



Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Poem to Ponder

As a Christian who tries to do my best to care for this earth God has given us, I grieve sometimes at how we treat this gift. Myself included, we are too careless with how we treat the land, the animals, the rivers and the rest of creation. Over the past 5 years, my views towards the environment in which we live have changed. I've changed from the "It's all gonna burn anyways" philosophy to a philosophy of concern for the creation. God has, in my humble opinion, charged us as humankind to take care of nature (Genesis 1-2). And he is a God who delights in his handiwork. Throughout the Bible we see examples of His tender feelings towards nature. A friend of mine recently brought to my attention an interesting article entitled "The Four Most Important Biblical Passages for Christian Environmentalism." Here's a link to the article for those intersted:

This poem was included at the end of the article and is one of my favorites. Gerard Manley Hopkins is a favorite poet of mine, whose work is worthy of your time and effort.

God’s Grandeur

THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; 5
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; 10
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Hopkins was obviously a lover of nature and one who saw the hand of God as the author of all creation. In contrast to the grandeur he sees in creation, Hopkins sees as well how generations of humans have treated the earth carelessly. And yet, ultimately, he is optimistic. Now, Hopkins lived and wrote in the 19th century and times have certainly changed since then. This world has been populated and tread upon even more since then. Yet, the sun keeps rising and setting day after day. As the wise author of Ecclesiastes would say, "there is nothing new under the sun" (paraphrased). Times haven't changed that much. I might be a little bold to say this, but what I believe Hopkins is trying to get across is that we are not fully worshipping God if we don't see his hand in creation and take care of what He has given us. We neglect God by neglecting his creation. And yet, He is still gracious--"nature is never spent;" He blesses us beyond what we could ever deserve and continues to bring sunshine and rain down upon us. Even those who don't acknowledge him are creatures who enjoy his workmanship. The sun on one's face is a gift from God. The beauty of a sunset is a gift from God. The whole world has been given to mankind. We must do all that we can to acknowledge Creator and Sustainer of the World.

That's enough for now.


Saturday, May 13, 2006

"What we play is life."

As a lover of coffee (and one labeled a coffee snob by some), I occasionally enjoy a good cup of tea. Now, I know I'm not a tea snob, because I like the kind that involves tearing open the bag. I don't do the loose-leaf route. And I even put my water in the microwave to heat it. That said, one of my favorite teas is called Good Earth Originals. It's sweet and spicy, full of all-natural goodness. One of my favorite things about this particular tea is the short sayings attached to the end of the strings. I open up the bag looking forward to what I might read. Tonight I opened the bag and read, "What we play is life." It's a quote by Louis Armstrong. I started to think about this and smiled. May you play life in a way that's beautiful today and always.

Here are the lyrics to one of my favorite Louis Armstrong songs, which I'm sure most people would recognize.

"What a Wonderful World"

I see trees of green........ red roses too
I see em bloom..... for me and for you
And I think to myself.... what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue..... clouds of white
Bright blessed days....dark sacred nights
And I think to myself .....what a wonderful world.

The colors of a pretty the sky
Are also on the faces.....of people ..going by
I see friends shaking hands.....sayin.. how do you do
Theyre really sayin......i love you.

I hear babies cry...... I watch them grow
Theyll learn much more.....than Ill never know
And I think to myself .....what a wonderful world

(instrumental break)

The colors of a pretty the sky
Are there on the faces.....of people ..going by
I see friends shaking hands.....sayin.. how do you do
Theyre really sayin...*spoken*(I

I hear babies cry...... I watch them grow
*spoken*(you know their gonna learn
A whole lot more than Ill never know)
And I think to myself .....what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself .......what a wonderful world.

As I raise my babies and enjoy this world as much as I can, I thank God for the grace He has given me to live another day. On the dark days, sometimes I lose focus, but God keeps me going. He has created a beautiful world and placed us in it. Look around and renew your sense of wonder today.

Back to playing,

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

When the sunshine doesn't feel warm deep down

When the sunshine doesn't feel warm deep down......

Do you ever have those days when you feel like you just can't face the world? When you feel like you're all alone even though you know deep, deep down that you're not? Do you ever want to give up? Give in? Surrender? Throw in the towel? Admit defeat? Admit you're helpless? Hopeless? Scared? Lost? Guilty?

I guess I've had one too many of those days lately, but I have to keep turning to my Savior, the only true hope in the world. I wrote this poem on a dark day. A day when the interval between life and death was seeming impossible to enjoy. But God.

Looking out.
I see the sun.
But I can't feel it.

What is hope?
Who brings the warmth?
I know only ONE.

Lost in thought.
Dangerous thoughts.
Why can't I stop?

Help me Lord.
Look down on me.
And smile today please.

The flowers
Praise your name now.
Why can't I too?

Help me Lord.
Look down on me.
And give me Jesus.

Today I can't
I just can't act.
I'm lost in it all.

I'm tired now.
I need your strength.
I'm just a girl.

Fix my gaze
Upon the heavens.
Your strength is there.

Your strength alone
Can pick me up.
Save me again