31 May 2016

Productive Afternoons

I am almost positive that my idea of a productive afternoon will differ from yours. If I get to spend hours in a book (or several books, to be more accurate), and some time writing hurriedly in my journal, I feel a sense of being productive. Pages turn between my fingers and words mix and co-mingle in my thoughts as I read the author's prose or verse. I feel a stir deep within and hear the words jump out from the pages as if they were being read to me. I cannot stop the words from flowing out onto the page as I begin to write. My hand cannot keep up.

Destined to become my whole afternoon if time allows, I would stay here all day, except usually some duty likely calls upon me. Blast those groceries that cannot buy themselves!

I try to stay diverse and read all kinds of authors and stories so that I can be well-rounded, with mixtures of old and new. I just finished a book on Marie Antoinette and the beginning of the French Revolution. It was fascinating and I learned so much about the meaning behind the revolution and the people of France (especially the king and queen- Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette). I feel the details expand as if they happened a few years ago. Reading about them delivers the reminder of history to our modern day. Are we doomed to repeat such horrible events of history? Learning about the people we can see what mistakes they made and vices they allowed themselves to indulge in, which impacted an entire country (and beyond) because leadership influence is that far-reaching.

Since the book was written by a modern writer, I found myself aching for older, deeper writing as a contrast. So, naturally I turn to C.S. Lewis. His essays compiled in the small book The Grand Miracle are full of practical but though-provoking insights. They are essays I can read over and over, and come out with more wisdom with each reading. That's just how C.S. Lewis is, though.

May this afternoon be productive for you, in your own way. Now I shall go on and continue in my productivity. If you need me, look for the trail of books.

27 May 2016

Give Us This Day

Give us this day, Lord.
And may it be aimed toward You.

My heart yearns for that which I cannot attain, and will not attain. My souls seeks and will not be fully satisfied here, so I look to You, Lord. Creator and Sustainer of all things shallow and deep.

From the distant past, His eternal love reached into the future.  - Romans 8.29

I sit in my tiny home, cosy and cool, with sun shining and fresh flowers cheering up tables. Bird song comes from the entangled trees across the alley. My french press brewed coffee is delicious. The added cosiness of my newly wallpapered wall causes me to stare at it with a smile. 

With a gentle, quiet atmosphere, it is easier to feel relaxed, waking up slowly to the grey light, then rising against the dark night.

As thoughts rise, these morning hours produce the most calm and serene words full of hope and good anticipation. I scratch away in my journal to record these thoughts as soon as possible before they turn. (O! How they can turn so quickly!) As the day moves forward, thoughts can lean toward worry and doubt. I try to squash them before the thought can develop. Worry doesn't help anything. It doesn't make me feel better and it doesn't solve any problems, so I aim to turn it into something better. I think more about things I can do to make things better. Actions need to take place, and it if is something I can do, I jump. I place myself in the scene of worry as a mystery solver. A detective ready to solve the problem.

While each day does hold its challenges and hurdles, it also holds many blessings that I want to pay attention to, more than any of the worries that come to mind through the day. May this be a day you notice the joys of good conversation with your colleague, the way the clouds swirl into beautiful shapes, a cup of coffee with a friend, holding the door for a stranger, chatting with the young person at the grocery store loading your bags, and marvel at how each of these little things draws us closer together to one another, and closer to God. By simply recognizing their beauty and how it is our Lord who provides that in this day.

25 May 2016

Contemplating Grace

May this day capture your attention,
delight, and marvel you into motivation.
To seek the centre of all creation,
with morning birdsong of acclamation
may God be near on this grace-filled day.

On a bright morning I sit with my breakfast and then coffee, finishing reading Romans chapter 5 and feeling like I grasp more of the notion of grace. No matter how deep we can become entrenched in sin, there is always more grace to cover it. God doesn't run out of grace for us, for He is the one who introduced it to the world. Before Jesus died and rose, there was no such concept.

Therefore, since Christ, we are no longer ruled by law, but it is all under grace. As I read through Romans, I get this feeling of being so fortunate to live after Christ rose because we know about prophesy fulfilled. We know what God's love looks like through Christ. We know what is to come thanks to the vision in Revelation. And we have this grace which covers our sins, which would otherwise stain us until some sort of offering was made. We cannot make ourselves clean, but because of Christ and His sacrifice, we are washed clean by this gift of grace, and I am so deeply thankful.

My heart sings songs of this love to God. Like the birdsongs that enchant these recent mornings when I wake up and get ready, my hearts sings sweetly, and constantly. I know God's love covers the whole earth, and even into deep heaven, of space and time. There is no place that God cannot be, and that makes me feel tiny, yes, but it also brings great comfort because that means God oversees all, and nothing is too big for Him. He can choose to step in anywhere in human history, and He chose the time when Jesus came down. That wasn't chance, so what makes you ever disbelieve His plans and timing for your own life?

God's timing is perfect. Since God is outside time, He can see the whole of human history at once, and select when things will happen. Our timing isn't based on the whole picture, but on our present desire, emotion, and circumstance. Trust in the One who can see all beginnings, and all ends.

23 May 2016

Reaching Further Back

I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light

Are we spending our days comparing our faith and being a follower of Christ based on what we see in social media? With all the avenues of comparison that we can use, this is a potential replacement of what we could be measuring our lives by. It might make us feel inadequate because others look so put together in their crafty ways and perfect bbq picnics, always (seemingly) doing the right things along the way.  Or we can choose to be deeply rooted in the past followers of Christ who pursued their faith in the most dangerous and tumultuous times in history.

What is our measuring rod for keeping our faith? What do we compare our own lives to?
Are we holding ourselves to the highest standards, or becoming lukewarm in our comfortable spots?

This is an issue that really hits home with this generation and all future generations as we become so enamoured with people's lives that we lose sight of the truth we should always pursue with unflinching and unyielding focus. The character we pursue should have deep roots in history, through those who have come before us. There is much wisdom to be gained.

We should be reaching further back into history for inspiration of how to live our lives more than from the Pinterest boards. We should not apologize when we choose to do the right thing according to Scriptures, or to not take part in something that draws us away from that focus. A Christ-centered life is always going to be presented with worldly temptations that are much easier to select, and God (and the world) is watching how we act.

What if we showed grace and love when someone didn't deserve it? What is we confronted idleness with meaningful action? What if we chose, deep down, to always express joy and not jealousy? To promote good instead of gossip?

These musings and questions have been floating around in my mind for a few weeks as I try to look at the world as a place to give away more love, not restrain it and try to keep it within me. To let it drip from all the words I use each day and all the deeds I do.

These musings in action would help shape the world around us, with each person we came into contact with. It starts with each of us, which (of course) is the hardest part. To crack the ice we have formed around ourselves, of comparison, jealousy, fear, dependence on people is to acknowledge our mess and change ourselves. 

18 May 2016

God's Creative Action

We are the product of Your creative action,
shaped and formed into something of worth.
- Isaiah 64.8

I am not who I was made to be unless God's hands have touched my heart and life, molding me into a much better version. Without God, I am pursuing selfishness with eager feet as the way of the world burns those desires into me. We all are in constant danger of this.

But when God is in my heart, working His wonders, I am formed. I am slowly shaped. My rough edges made smooth. Love then flourishes in my heart. It is a tougher life, because being formed and shaped according to someone other than yourself can be difficult. It requires much of us, in letting go of ourselves and also going against the grain of the world. Everything around us tries to persuade us to give in to the ease of this world. Around every corner, Satan waits and lingers for your downcast spirit, so he can jump in with the whispers to take the easy road.

Resist it, and you will be much better off in every way. 

Apart from God, you can make your way in this world, perhaps, but what about the next world? The present world is not what we were made for, and our unrequited desires that hang onto us here can only be satisfied in another world. Alas, in New Creation.

What happens next is beyond what our imaginations can perceive. In fact, it's far better than we could ever create for ourselves. Yet with our imaginations we can wander and wonder to the joy that will be ingrained in every fiber of God's creative action displayed to its full.

12 May 2016

Love Acts of Substitution

We are to love each other, that is, by acts of substitution. We are to be substituted and to bear substitution. All life is o be vicarious - at least, all life in the kingdom of heaven is to be vicarious.
 - Charles Williams

I was listening to a lecture online last night about Charles Williams (the Inkling friend of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien) and his thought provoking writings about how Christ came down through love, as a substitution for us. Then, I had to pull my copy of He Came Down From Heaven off my shelf (that I bought in Oxford and read in Oxford last year) to read through some underlines I had marked through the chapters. Remembering the chapter specific to the practice of substituted love. How Christ gave His life for us, so He lives in us, and us in Him. This back and forth coherence formulates a thought process that surpasses all our earthly views. Since we formulate more selfish inward views in our daily lives, this thinking sort of bellows loudly the bigger cosmic frame if you really pay attention.

This whole thought of substitution means that our wounds and cracks cannot be healed by ourselves. Out of His love for us, He came into the world. He was operative in us before we even knew it was in us. He does for us what we cannot ever do for ourselves - dies and rises. This is the grand example whereby the daily example is to take over the burden or cares of others, and we can do the same as we offer ourselves for people in our lives.

To take over the grief or the fear or the anxiety of another is precisely that; and precisely that is less practised than praised....We are supposed to be content to "cast our burdens on the Lord". The Lord indicated that the best way to do so was to hand these over to someone else to cast, or even to cast them on him in someone else. There will still be work enough for the self, carrying the burdens of others, and becoming the point at which those burdens are taken over by the Divine Thing which is the kingdom: "as he is, even so are we in this world." (He Came Down From Heaven, pg.123)

Our earthly cares are called to be cast onto others, and upward they are released when they can actually be let go by one who does not feel the need to hold onto them so closely. There is a freedom in the release, but a weight added to the one who takes on the burden, yet more willing to release to God than the original bearer.

Christ lets us exchange places - to be in us so we can be in Him. We have to let go of our pride and accept that it is a gift we do not deserve. We are plagued with a split way of thinking in our western culture. We think that the spiritual is separate from the known of the flesh (the tangible and proven). We have a lazy imagination that believes in this and accepts it in our everyday.

The beauty of this realization of substitution is that the spacial macro cosmic of deep heaven is both within our inner being as well as out there in the grand place of the cosmos. 

09 May 2016

Sweet Weekend

Sometimes you need to visit a place in your own hometown that you've never visited (don't ask me why). Nokomis Groves serves ice cream and also has a shop with local produce (oranges and grapefruit) and other local honey and sweets. It is always busy with locals and tourists alike. Ice cream, though, is the treat! You must get orange or lime because obviously they are known for their citrus. I had orange and vanilla twist, which was refreshing and tasty. 

We were a little distracted the whole time, by the blooming cottonwood tree there in the parking lot, which was raining down fuzzy cotton (seeds). Literally, it was snowing the white fuzz. It was all over the ground, and constantly falling out of the tree,and it was quite breezy. While very interesting, the cotton snow would get stuck on us, or try to land on our ice cream cones. We all did our best to deflect the cotton snow.

What a sweet weekend it was, with low humidity! It was nice to step outside and enjoy it before the heat of the summer moves in for ages (and ages). My niece enjoyed it, for sure. The pure expression of joy and laughter says it all.

Hopefully, all the mum's out there had a sweet mother's day weekend. 

05 May 2016

Feelings Not Overlooked

I do not want this feeling to fade into nothingness by morning. To evaporate into the air before words are written on a page. I do not want to undermine the momentary impulse to let the words out. To say it is thankfulness would be trite, but true. To say it is a contented knowing that all shall be well, would be a more accurate selection of verbiage.

There is something in me that knows all shall be well. In the midst of all the myriad of craziness that is going on in my life, it is the underlining that draws me back to the core of all that matters. Or, rather, the source of all that matters, which allows all that I care about to matter.

I am just dwelling here in the mode of thought, perhaps as a sequence of all this week's happenings, last several month's happenings, mixed with prayers for feeling content with what I am given. I am caught in a place where I desire simple, caring moments of thought that surpass the discarded tendency, and embrace a lasting tendency. I am interested in things that last. Whether it be job, friends, family, home items, memories, travel. The things that could stick around for ages to come. The best of all those things. These are what I would prefer to invest my time and efforts in.

These are some things that have graced my days, and in many ways they offer inspiration.

These are the feelings not overlooked.

02 May 2016

Always Thinking

My mind is in a hundred places sometimes, trying to wonder, wander, sort, and figure out all that is before me. Often I want to figure it all out, but the possibilities are so broad and far reaching that I don't know where to lead, and cannot see that far ahead. I reel in my mind and try to implement camera features, to focus instead on the loving grace of God and the words that keep me deeply rooted in Him. It is okay to wonder and wander, but it is essential that the roots stay firm, and growing deeper all the while.

Without knowing it, I look upon this upcoming month with an eager anticipation. With changes always ahead, sometimes we know what to expect, and sometimes we don't know. I pray for a clear vision of myself, and how I may need to change for the better. To be more loving when it is the hardest thing to do. To do the best thing when nobody is paying attention. To take on a heavier load to ease someone else's burden. To smile when you feel like frowning. To look upon each day as a grace and not as a huge to-do list. 

As I am always thinking, let my thinking draw me closer to You, Lord.