December 30, 2008

Fish Tacos and Fresh Salsa

I think I've perfected a recipe for Fish Tacos - that we like! Monte's had them in both California and Canada; I've had them at the fast food Wahoo's Fish Taco. I crave them. I've posted before about every time I'm out by the airport I'm wanting a wahoo taco! And I'm starting to see more restaurants around Denver open up (they originated in California).

Though some recipes batter and fry the fish. Traditional Mexican fish tacos are charbroiled. So broil or grill a firm white fish (mahi-mahi, wahoo, swordfish, tilapia ...). I put some hickory sawdust in the grill to provide a smoky flavor, and oil the fish while grilling. Allow about 1/2 lb of fish per person.

Then they are traditionally served with thinly sliced cabbage and a fresh salsa.
Fresh Salsa -
3-4 tomatoes, diced fine
1-2 red onions, diced fine
(I quarter these, leaving the root intact, and grill while the grill is preheating and cooking the fish)
1-2 jalepenos, finely diced (I'm preferring the canned pickled ones now)
1 bunch cilantro, the leaves finely chopped
1 lime juiced
1 tsp freshly grd sea salt and pepper

The corn tortillas are freshly made - 3-4 per person. So refrigerated ones need to be warmed: wrap in foil and keep turning on grill while grilling. (Sometimes I quick fry them soft, in heated oil.)

Monte's going to read this and say, "Why didn't you say what I like to do?!" So I'll write it. He sits at our kitchen table by the toaster. Whether the tortillas are just warmed to soften or quick fried, he likes to fold them and put them in the toaster, watching them (baby-ing them!) till barely browning. Then too, he's going to say, "Why didn't you tell them what I made?" Okay. He was served tacos in Canada in taco holders. So he pounded nails in a little strip of wood to hold two tacos for filling ease.

A recipe suggested sour cream mixed with a chopped chipotle chili in adobo, another suggested Ranch Dressing. Since we love avacado, i mash one, and since the fresh salsa creates juices, I pour some of them into the avacado. I just use plain sour cream, but think the chipotle flavoring sounds good and will try it sometime.

I'm getting hungry writing this. I think I'll eat the leftover's for lunch!

6th Day of Christmas & Thomas Becket

Today is the 6th day of the 12 Days of Christmas - 6 geese a-laying. My version I posted last year suggests it representing six days of creation: God speaking the world into existence and always saying, "It is good."

Yesterday was Thomas Becket of Canterbury's calendar day. In the Canterbury Tales, the pilgrims are on the way to the tomb of the martyred Saint Thomas Becket.

Thomas wasn't especially religious when King Henry II made him the 39th archbishop of Canterbury in the twelfth century. He was a drinking buddy, and companion in arms - but he got religion at this post. This changed everything, and soon Thomas' friends and the King started grumbling, and quarreling over the separation of church and state. Hearing they wanted to be rid of this troublesome priest that stood in their way, overzealous soldiers stormed the cathedral and bashed out Thomas' brains on this day in 1170.

The drama, "Murder in the Cathedral" by TS Eliot is based on these events. And then Richard Burton plays Thomas in the movie "Becket".

December 28, 2008


I just read this quote - 

"I have not lost my mind - it's backed up on disk somewhere."
- unknown

Reminded me of a card I bought for myself more than a year ago and it sits on my desk. I'm posting a picture of the front of the card. When you open it, it says - 
"I think I'm going
through mental pause."

Childermas - Holy Innocents Remembered

This is the day Matthew 2:16-18 is remembered. The wise men came asking about the baby born "King of the Jews". Warned by an angel, they did not return to tell Herod where they had found Jesus. Herod, in jealous fear, slaughtered many male children in his attempt to get rid of Jesus. Thus the beginning of the choice for mankind: for or against Jesus.

Matthew quotes Jeremiah, "...a voice was heard...sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children." Have you ever really thought of this piece of the Christmas story? Many artists have pondered it, so that it's depicted in many paintings and stories. (The pictures here are by Giovanni, Giotto, and Ruebens.)

Joseph was warned in a dream to flee this slaughter and escape to Egypt. I have a book we read every year by Madeline L'Engle called Dance in the Desert. It imagines the Holy Family traveling in a caravan to Egypt, and one night all creation comes to pay homage to their Creator. The pictures are beautiful, of toddler Jesus and various animals. The caravan men have knives ready but Mary always says, "Wait".

All cultures throughout time have the stain of innocent, unwanted children. On this day we can think of children all over the world who suffer innumerable forms of violence which threatens their lives. We can pray for our children and the world.

"Today we celebrate the heavenly birthday of these children whom the world caused to be born unto an eternally blessed life rather than that from their mothers' womb, for they attained the grace of everlasting life before the enjoyment of the present ... For already at the beginning of their lives they pass on. The end of the present life is for them the beginning of glory. These then, whom Herod's cruelty tore as sucklings from their mothers' bosom, are justly hailed as 'infant martyr flowers'; they were the Church's first blossoms, matured by the frost of persecution during the cold winter of unbelief."
-- St Augustine

December 27, 2008

It's Peter Pan Day!

Starting in 1904 in England, everyone would wake up on this day and say "Peter Pan. We get to go see Peter Pan today!" The tradition of the play went on for years.

That's why Peter Pan movies periodically come out in December. The movie "Finding Neverland" came out for the 100th year anniversary in 2004.

I've been a Peter Pan fan for over a decade now. There's a message there that was a part of my pursuit that eventually led to my experiencing of God in a deep way.

I started with recognizing things missing in my life. I had become so rational, so "adultish". I wanted to regain my sense of wonder. So I started down a path of pursuing what it meant to be childlike.

My favorite Peter Pan movie is Spielberg's 1991 "Hook". The setting is Christmas, so he knew of the tradition of Peter Pan at Christmas time when families are gathered together seeking entertainment.

It's an "adultish" Peter in the movie. Grandma Wendy invited the family to England. Peter is forever on his cell phone. His wife is frustrated. His kids are enamoured with Wendy and the nursery window and are full of anticipation.

Grandma Wendy finally has to get in Peter's face and ask, "What do you remember of your story Peter?" Peter had forgotten his story. He didn't know who he was!

The rest of the story, since Captain Hook stole away his children, has Peter relearning how to be childlike to win back the hearts of his children. He had to relearn how to play, how to fly!

That too was my quest. Who was I really?

Watch the movie "Hook".

Watch "Finding Neverland" (with Johnny Depp!). It is so close to the real JM Barrie story in that it tells us why he wrote Peter Pan. Barrie wrote many stories inspired by his mother's Scottish highland tales. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Barrie saying, "I am a capable artist; but it begins to look to me as if you are a man of genius. Take care of yourself for my sake. It's a devilish hard thing for a man who writes so many novels as I do, that I should get so few to read. And I can read yours, and I love them."

In the movie you meet the family of boys who inspired the lost boys (the movie shows these boys' father as already dead, though in real life, Barrie nursed him through his illness.) When the Davies boys met Barrie, they said they'd found a childlike adult in the midst of stodgy Victorian England.

There's a line in the book that's central to Barrie's vision. Over the years his vision had been watered down, thinking it too dark for families. It's - "To die will be an awfully big adventure." This line is the heart of the story (as too in many stories, including the Gospel).

It's a looking for something good out of something tragic. Tolkein calls this 'eucatastrophy' - a victory of good over evil, but with a price to be paid - a redemptive sacrifice. So when faced with the possibility of drowning in Mermaid's Lagoon, Peter is going to make it an adventure.

Hmmm ... "to die will be an adventure"... Doesn't Jesus ask me to come to him as a child? and to die to self? and that in dying there's true life/living?!

December 26, 2008

Live Nativity, Boxing and Feast of Stephen Day

Three things are on my iCal Calendar for today. No, 4. Today is the 6th candle of Chanukah. I posted on all of these last year. There's even a recipe for Latkes early in December 2007 (Chanukah/Hanukkah was early last year - that lunar calender). Hanukkah gives us eight days of fitting in a meal of Latkes (I like eating history) and remembering the story - basically remembering that a miracle happened. Miracles still happen. Do we live with hearts and eyes to see miracles in our everyday ordinaries?

Boxing Day? In Britain, boxes are out today - in work places, or people carrying them - for donations for needy. The first Live Nativity is attributed to Francis of Assisi on this day in 1223. There's a carol we don't sing as much, about Good King Wenceslaus and "... on the feast of Stephen", is a line of the song.

It's the church calendar day to remember the story of Stephen, the first martyr for Christ. He was given the church job of caring for the orphans and widows, which fits with the theme of Boxing Day.


So, do you think Christmas is over? No, Advent is over. It's now the season of the 12 Days of Christmas. You can think of the song if you want to, and there are interpretations of it floating around on the internet. I gave an interpretation last year if you click on December 2007.

But we are now building to Epiphany, January 6 - recognizing the coming of the Magi, Middle Easterners following a star, or a sign in the sky - do you know your sky? There has been a phenomena this month at sunset in the SW sky with three planets close together: Jupiter and Venus, and now Mercury (Mars was there earlier). It's made me think of the traveling Magi.

But Christmas is really all year. Christmas is all about Incarnation. "Be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." This is incarnational living, day-to-day, moment-by-moment, abiding in God. Not cautious, but extravagant living!

December 25, 2008

On A Night Like This

After last night's Christmas Eve service, I wanted to post the words to a song written by our Minister of Worship, Kerry Conner. I was only going to post some phrases, but love it in its entirety - 

On A Night Like This
A Baby shivered
When first he felt the evening's cool caress
The creator of the cosmos clothed in flesh
But he must have warmed at the tender touch of a mother's kiss
As the young girl held the Savior in her arms
On a night like this.

The shepherds shuddered
When they heard the host proclaim that peace had come
They left their flocks to seek the virgin's son
They heard the angels sing
In the sparkling midnight mist
And their hearts leaped as they gazed upon the child
On a night like this.

On a night like this
Everything was changed
The Father sent his son to pay our debt
On a night like this
Our ransom was arranged
Because the hand of God became a baby's fist
On a night like this.

The darkness shattered
As the brilliance of a new star split the night
To announce the bold invasion of the light
And there must have been a groan
From the heart of the abyss
Because the chilly hand of death would lose it's grip
On a night like this

The Spirit quickens
And a spark of faith can fan into a fire
A lonely soul can find its true desire
Because Immanuel has come
And he offers us the gift
A restless heart need never stay the same 
On a night like this.

On a night like this 
Everything can change
There's no wound too deep and dark for race to heal
On a night like this
Love can break the cruellest chains
Because the hand of God became a baby's fist
On a night like this
Everything can change
On a night like this
Our ransom was arranged
On a night like this
Everything can change
On a night like this
Love can break the cruellest chains 
On a night like this.

Though written and produced in 1992 by Kerry, it's recorded by his friend Debbie Milligan on her album "Teach Me to Dance in the Rain". Her website is

Art The Nativity by Salvador Dali
Adoration of the Shepherds, unknown, and then El Greco

Advent Ending

I've not posted for a few days! Monte got home from Norway at 2am Monday. We went to Travis and Sarah's Tuesday, bearing gifts: Christmas presents and tons of food. We spent the night there and had a wonderful fun family time together - new memories: Las Posadas food. The hit? Yes tamales were good, as was the green mole pork stew, churros ... ha ... we have to perfect ... But the stuffed jalepenos wrapped in bacon and baked, were our first bite, and everyone was lifted into another place. "Oh, man", said Travis. "They are luscious!!!!!!!!!!!" said me. We ate the leftovers, looking forward to them, for lunch the next day (after playing the game "SET".

This is going to post as AM, but I'm finishing writing now in the PM. Dawson woke earlier than I thought, and I put our "Pankaka" (Swedish oven pancake) in the oven, and we spent some time together before he left to carry on celebrating with his girlfriend, Splarah (Sarah's), extended family. So it's just Monte and me, and he's feeling the effects of his long trip without sleep for 24 hrs, so napping. Dawson and me set him up on Facebook, and I'm downloading some pictures for him. So I'm going back and forth.

My emotions have gotten stirred up as the day progresses ... Heather & Bill called this morning to talk Christmas, but also that his date for redeployment could be before their baby is born. Their first baby, and married a year ... I'm bummed ...

So, I was going to give the remainders of my Advent Basket. Maybe as I start typing and sitting with scripture ... I'll feel a little better.

Advent day 22's miniature was a dove. And the paper insert reads, "We learned what a cross stands for; what does a dove stand for? Read Matthew 3:13-17." Jesus insisted that John baptize Him. This is a setting where the fullness of God is there: God Incarnate coming out of the water, God's Spirit - looking like a dove, and God's voice. And John the Baptist saying, "Here is the Lamb of God, come to take away the sins of the world".

Day 23 has a little skein of wool. "Where does wool come from? In John 10:1-18 Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Who are His sheep?" When I rededicated my life to God I wore a necklace, till I lost it, of Jesus carrying a sheep in his arms - that was me!

Day 24 has a marble. "This is the world. Read John 3:16. What did God do for the world?" God, so loves the world, He incarnates Himself, taking on human flesh, from the beginnings in a womb, birthed and laid in a wooden feed trough for a bed ... to a death for us, the world; hanging to death on a wooden cross. God asks us to believe IN this, IN Him, so that we might not have to die our deserved deaths, but live incarnately with Him, on into eternity!

Day 25, today, has a miniature baby. "What do we celebrate this day? Read Luke 2:1-20." Remember Linus, his voice was refreshed in my memory, not only from church last night but a radio program we listened to - Linus tells Charlie Brown what the true meaning of Christmas is - reciting this Luke passage from memory. We lit the center Christ child candle in the Advent wreath.

The John 10 passage I so love and have often meditated and journaled on. My favorite phrases? "He calls his own sheep by name ... he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice ... I know my sheep and my own sheep know me ... I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary ... I need to gather and bring them all in ..."

Which reminds me of a story I read -
"One cold night years ago in North Carolina I went outside to check on some animals then housed in my father's small barn. There was a full moon shining down in bright, brittle light above the pines. It was so cold that the water in the horses' trough had frozen over, unusual for the coastal counties. As I went to get an axe to chop through the ice, I noticed a yard chicken, a hen, perched near the trough, with several biddies tucked under her wings. I was impressed with how she had turned her face and frail body of fluff into the icy wind, her wings outstretched and, it seemed to me, surely tired, for the sake of her children. And I was uplifted by what I took to be a gift and encouragement to my faith, this visual depiction of Jesus' care for me.

"But it struck me that those chicks had come to the hen. I don't know if she chased them around the yard first, if some came more willingly than others, or if some were still out there half-frozen. (There were a few late arrivals perched on top of her wings.) I only know the chicks I could see had allowed themselves to be gathered up and protected. They had quit fighting what they had no control over in the first place and said, 'You do it, Mom.'"

Jesus did stand, looking over Jerusalem and wept saying, "
how often I have longed to gather you children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings".

December 21, 2008

The Longest Night of the Year!

Winter solstice is very hopeful to me - cuz from here on out ... THE DAYS ARE LENGTHENING!!!!!

It's going to be a very long night for Monte. Don't know if he slept on his 10 hour flight from Copenhagen. But the plane was late getting into O'Hare. He'd have missed his flight if it weren't for his flight to Denver being delayed too. Why? no bad weather here, but Chicago is such a bottleneck ... and then Denver flights were messed up today too, due to a plane going off the runway last night and catching fire. No one was killed, but they all had to slide out the emergency exit doors and people were injured.

Dawson is picking him up and they probably won't get home till after midnight. Let's see ... midnight here would be 8 in the morning in Norway, which Monte's time-clock has been on for more than a week. We'll see ...

Monte just called ... from the plane ... that's just sitting there in Chicago ...

Advent Sunday 4 & Avent Basket Day 21

The 4th advent candle is the angel candle. Angels throughout scripture announce things. And give hope, support, and strength.

But they don't assure that the world at large and our own individual places of life go on unchanged. Angel visits usually mean detours are ahead, major changes are impending, and lives and destinies will soon be impacted. In fact, there's not one place in scripture where they start their words without "Fear not...". Is it their looks?

When angels appear, something of the divine breaks in upon our human history. Something beyond our understanding and definitely out of our control. Something that shows us there's more to life than what meets the eye - another realm beyond - another story larger than the small one we live in and tend to think we write.

What fears prevent or distract me from receiving a message wholeheartedly? My hearing it does not depend on how cute or striking the messenger might be. Do I have faith? Can I trust the God-graced words, seemingly in the dark and I can't see everything around me? even in the light?

"Hey, unto YOU a Savior is born," announced the angel Gladys Herdman. Just writing this makes me smile, thinking of the book it's out of. Every year since it came out we've read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (which there's only used copies of now, starting at $49!). It's such a fun and great book for a fresh look at the Christmas story. It was a healing story for me the first year I read it!

"I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all peoples." The Savior, Christ, is God's gift. In giving His Son, He gave Himself. He loved us first before we loved Him.

In today's Advent Basket bag is a miniature jar of mustard seeds. "A small seed. Read Matthew 17:20. These grow into a very large plant."

December 20, 2008

Candy Cane Legend & Happenings

Monte just called me from Norway. He's been there for a full week now and will be flying home tomorrow. All week I've been imagining 8hours ahead ... he's in geology meetings ... he's sleeping ... he's out eating supper. He typically calls me just before going to supper.

I've been planning our Christmas foods. With Heather not here, the sentimental one for tradition ... Our typical meal is Scandinavian. Monte said he's had ENOUGH Scandinavian Christmas foods, including several meals with lutkefish! So after remembering that Travis and Dawson don't even love some of our meal's foods, we're going to do Mexican! After writing my Las Posadas post on Dec 16, I got hungry for tamales.

So I'm currently cooking up field corn kernels with lime and water - for fresh masa. If you've ever had fresh made corn tortillas from fresh masa ... :-P !!!! And in my post I had mentioned churros, so I found a recipe. I've eaten them before, but not made them. Rather than typical doughnut shape, it's strips of dough dropped into some hot oil from a star shaped piping tip, then sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar.

Chanukah begins tomorrow and oil is an ingredient in their menu. Besides latkes, doughnuts are a more current food you can get in Israel today. So churros is good. We can remember the miracle of the oil as we make them and eat history!

Watch this for a well done presentation on the history of candy canes.

Advent Basket Day 20 & Jesse Tree

Not many bags left to open in my Advent Basket! 5 days to Christmas. Bag number 20 has a crumpled piece of foil in it. I'm trying to remember comments the kids would make with these miniatures and readings. Written on the parchment paper: "Can you try and smooth this and see yourself? Read I Corinthians 13:12. It may be fuzzy and hard to understand, but one day it will be made clear."

If you do the Jesse Tree Advent readings you're about to leave the Old Testament stories and prophets. Today's reading is about Nehemiah returning to rebuild the Jerusalem walls. 

Just thinking of this brings the memories of the returned Jews cleaning out the temple and finding the scrolls. Because the stories had not been told for generations, festivals had not been celebrated - where the retelling and re-living their story happens, the people did not know. They stood the entire time of the reading of their story - standing, listening, and weeping.

The coming of a Messiah is what the prophets foretold. Jesus comes, and yet there's still a lot of unknowing, non-understanding. I can imaging weeping in the seeing and understanding of the whole Larger Story - some sadness, but I bet, primarily love and joy!

December 19, 2008

Advent Basket Day 19

A miniature shamrock is in today's Advent bag. "This is a symbol of good luck. With Jesus we don't need good luck." Read Romans 8:28. (Do you remember this Heather? You used to always say you "hate the word luck!")

Some things don't seem to work out as 'good', but what do I know! And do I see and know it all? And so often I get so tired in the waiting.

The context from verse 18 with the "pregnant creation" is so pertinent to this season. "Waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting ... joyful anticipation/expectancy."

As I write this ... I'm thinking I wrote something like this before. Yes, I did a Birth Post last year, read it. It has my "Transformation" felted piece, which I'm posting again here.

The new birth in me is that I can now anticipate. A defense mechanism I developed growing up has been transformed by God, Who began a good work in me, calling me by name, and is completing what He began. 

Advent season always seems to bring me back to this aspect of my growing faith as it relates to birth pangs and new birth. God knows me better than I know myself, knows my pregnant condition, and keeps me present before Him. Thus every detail of life works into something good.

Trusting ... as I gaze at my Bean Bag Nativity with the empty manger

December 18, 2008

Wedding Anniversary Reminiscing

Today, one year ago, our Heather married Bill Lavender II in Texas, just a few days after his coming home from Iraq. So, it's been picture day today. I almost never post pictures on my photoblog, but am going back through certain things I want to save on specific days for remembering. It's the same photoblog Dawson has posted on daily for more than a year and I've made mentions of and links to occasionally.

Well go to my photoblog and look back at Heather's shower and then wedding pictures a years ago. Thanksgiving this year with the whole family together is there. My day with my family together in Tucson is there.

Going to the Thanksgiving pictures, you can see Heather pregnant. Their baby, William Lavender III, is due January 18. My birthday is the 13th ... we'll see. Since we were all together on that day, we captured a family picture! not easy these days.

Monte's been in Norway this week. The ocean buffers the temps where he is, so it's been colder here - record breaking!! They do say if the temps stay below freezing a couple weeks it'll kill the pine beetle that's killing our woods - ugly mountain sides of brown! He calls me everyday around late morning - 8 hours ahead, he's finishing up at meetings and back at the hotel readying for supper. So right now ... he's sleeping!

Advent Basket Day 18 & Jesse Tree

Little stones are in today's Advent bag. The reading is Matthew 4:1-4. The parchment paper says, "Can you change these into bread? Jesus could". This scripture reading through verse 11 is a good yearly visit for children (and us adults!) to remember Jesus was tempted, and that the devil can quote scripture. Jesus answered back with scripture. I think I'd add Hebrews 2:18 and 4:14 into the reading as well.

I have mentioned that if you were doing the Jesse Tree Advent readings, by now you've read through the Bible's beginnings and the patriarchs of Israel's story up to king David. This week's readings are of prophets. Isaiah is called the Advent Prophet.

Yesterday's Advent reading quoted Isaiah, referring to the ears not hearing and hardened hearts. "Why do you tell stories?" "I tell stories to create readiness of hearts, to nudge the people toward receptive insight," said Jesus. And further on said, "A lot of people, prophets and humble believers among them, would have given anything to see what you are seeing, to hear what you are hearing, but never had the chance". That said to the disciples. Think of all we've seen and know!

Are our times today that different from Isaiah's? Their lives, homes, nation, families, wealth, and positions in society were threatened by an impending political disaster that would throw them all into ruin. They were in no spiritual condition to go through it all. Repent, turn to God in true conversion, proclaimed Isaiah. Put your hope in God.

Isaiah lived in the presence of God. Isaiah was asking for a restoration of true worship that results in justice and compassion. He saw that we can't simply decide to repent and be done with it. He asked God, "Why do You make us wander and our hearts hard, so that we don't fear You?" Repentance comes from God.

We can turn from wrong living and prepare for a breakthrough from God. We're not ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus in a manger - that's Christmas. We're Adventing - a preparation time to long for the coming of the Savior, a longing for redemption. We should use this time to soul search. Advent is a time to yearly review where our faith is placed and how our lives are lived. What powers might hold me: bad habits, undesirable relationships, vices - anything a blockage to my living by the spirit of joy and generosity. Advent calls us to meditate on the re/birthing of Christ in our hearts.

Jesus left us examples to follow, like even his desert temptation, that paschal mystery power is there for us. Prior to Jesus' desert trial, He'd been baptized by John the Baptist. So as John and Isaiah said, "Repent and prepare for God's arrival!"

December 17, 2008

Advent Basket Day 17

Today's Advent basket miniature is a very cute little jar of seeds. I'm guessing they're carrot seeds or a black lettuce seed. (I just planted lettuce, spinach, and kale seeds a couple days ago - hoping to have some salad stuff growing in the greenhouse. Should have started them awhile back.)

Read Matthew 13:3-8, 20-23 (these readings are for kids, but the context is all of chapter 13 for a day full of Jesus telling stories). "These are seeds. Jesus tells of deeper meanings."

The context? Hearing that leads to productive living. Hearing with a receptivity, a readiness of heart - then the insights and understandings flow freely. Jesus tells of ears and eyes that are open and awake yet not hearing or seeing, cuz of hardened hearts. "They don't want to have to deal with me face-to-face."

There's people hearing in the parable - even with joy. People who think they can look like giant oaks without putting down deep roots. When they realize how much effort it takes to put down deep roots, they too often settle for being bramble bushes.

Matthew's kingdom coming involves: separating of the just and the unjust, that it may seem small but will have overwhelming impact, and that the kingdom is valuable; hearing and focusing on the message in such a way that one is defined by it.

Oh God, that I listen and hear, see, and receive and live out, what you desire me to know and do; that we connect heart to heart.

December 16, 2008

Las Posadas

Today, December 16, begins Mexico's Las Posadas, which means "the inns". It's nine evenings of peregrinos (pilgrims) wandering. Statues of Mary and Joseph are carried from house to house, seeking shelter, where they are told there is "no room". There's usually a planned destination each night for Mary and Joseph to stay overnight and people party. Then to be done again the next night.

Lots of pinatas to be broken with their goodies inside. Lots of tamales, churros (cinnamon fritters), hot chocolate and margaritas (or spiked "ponche"). Carols are sung as people carry candles. And it's usually a neighborhood thing.

Growing up in Tucson, tamales could be bought everywhere this time of year, the freshly made being sold in store parking lots. I've made paper mache pinatas. And I've made tamales. I LOVE tamales!

On Noche Buena (the beautiful night, Holy Night, of Christmas Eve) the festivities culminate with Mary and Joseph brought to rest with baby Jesus in the manger. The Nativity scene is the focal point for Mexican homes. Christmas trees are a newer decor that some people might have. Santa does not figure in the Navidad festivities.

The Flor de Noche Buena, the Poinsettia, has it's story. In Tucson we could plant poinsettias in a south facing planter and it would grow year round, it's leaf bracts changing color. The story is of a poor girl wanting to bring a gift to the Christ child and she picks weeds that turn red when she presents her gift from her heart.

Advent Basket Day 16

This Advent bag for today is easy for us to remember what it is. It's bigger than the other miniatures and a definite box. It's a box of raisins. "Fruit is good for snacks. Jesus taught how we could produce fruit." Read John 15:1-5.

I felted a picture of a grape-vine. We have a grapevine in our greenhouse and for years I read about pruning vines for producing fruit. The center framed picture is how austere grapes are to be pruned. Remind you of something?

Jesus said, "You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken. Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you ... you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me."

There is differing varieties of grapes I've now discovered. Mine is not a wine grape, but a table grape. It is not supposed to be pruned austerely. Once I stopped pruning it, we got tons of grape clusters hanging down in the greenhouse. But I still nurture it: watering and fertilizing it, ridding it of dead leaves or diseased branches.

In my art work, some grape clusters are hidden under the leaves. My friend Ellen once drew a grape vine with many leaves and said her picture was a reminder of community. We need community. The covenant of community is a primary theme of the Bible. Community can help us see our fruit.

The John 15 context carries on with "Love one another as I have loved you".

December 15, 2008

John of the Cross

December 14 is John of the Cross's calendar day. If you want to read what I wrote a year ago click here.

And if you want to listen to my favorite artist who's put John of the Cross's "Dark Night of the Soul" to music, click here.

Advent Basket Day 15

I went to the musical/play The Christmas Carol with friends last night. It was really well done and very meaningful. It's message fits with the context of scripture for today's Advent Basket bag for day 15.

The scripture is Matthew 6:28-34, and the miniature is fake flowers. The message reads, "Jesus taught a lesson using pretty flowers". 

Reading it in context from verse 19, why do we want to hoard treasure down here? Sure the basics of food and clothing are needs, but we tend to worry about it and want more. I like the phrases: "Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light ... relax, and not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving."

Oh God, that I trust you, with wonder and belief. I have seen the care You give to the beautiful birds and wildflowers, with eyes of wonder. Help me with my unbelief and lack of trust.

December 14, 2008

Advent Basket Day 14 & Jesse Tree & Advent Sunday Week 3

Today's miniature is a rock from Jesus' words in Matthew 7:24-29. "Jesus knows about building. Jesus builds lives." Jesus admonishes us to not just listen to great preaching and do great Bible studying as incidental additions to our life. The difference between building on sand vs a rock foundation is what we do with these words. Jesus' words are to build a life on, working his words into our life - obedience - a being vs doing.

When our hearts are open and we let love enter, we can know joy! The shepherd's knew the joy (after their initial fear!) as the angel of the Lord appeared to them, glorifying and praising God, "We have news of great joy" to share. Today's Sunday Advent wreath candle is the Shepherd candle.

Why did God choose shepherds to be the first to hear and worship and share the news with all? Shepherds were the lowest of society, like outcasts!

If you do the Jesse Tree Advent readings, by now you've read from God and creation and the highlights of the story; from the introduction of man's shunning listening to and obeying God, to wanting to do it our own way, and on through the story of a covenant community and what that looks like (or doesn't!), in the story of a people that leads to a new covenant in Jesus. Through Jesus we can return to a oneness with the creator God. Oh .... I'm getting ahead of where we'd be in the Jesse Tree readings ... from Noah to Abraham to Moses to Samuel ... today you'd be reading about shepherd to king, David.

Shepherds were not accepted, were dirty, and not welcome in the local synagogues or Temple. Who would believe a shepherd? Yet, "all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them".

The shepherds listened to the angels and believed; and obeying, went and saw the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. Jesus belongs to all.

December 13, 2008



Advent Basket Day 13 & St Lucia Day

I'm off again early this morning for a women's breakfast at church. The coffee machine is broken and I figured it out last night at a MOPS Christmas event at church. So I'm feeling the need to be there early to help with the coffee. I typically help with the decorating at these women's events, but today, women volunteered to decorate a table with their own china and stuff. Then this afternoon some artist friends are coming over and we're felting!

Today's Advent reading is Matthew 5:13 and Colossains 4:6. The miniature is a little salt shaker. The paper reads: "What is this used for? We are to be salt?"

Because of our Swedish heritage, we've celebrated St Lucia day for years. I have a Lucia doll that's 30 years old. Tradition has the oldest daughter wear a candle wreath on her head and serve breakfast treats in bed.

Lucia, or Lucy, means "light." Lucia was born in the third century in Sicily of Greek parentage. She was brought up Christian by her mother in times of great persecution. Lucia had been betrothed to a pagan. With her mother's permission she gave her dowry away to persons in need. Her betrothed was furious and denounced her as a Christian. She was martyred in 304, still clinging to her faith in Christ. Lucia held the Light of Christ for all to see in the cultural darkness.

The Scandinavians really celebrate her day. At this time of year the sun barely makes it over the horizon (Monte is there now, and will be able to tell me about it, and I just video chatted with Kimberley. WOW, technology is amazing - across the ocean, seeing and talking to one another for free! She held her computer up scanning the hotel lobby for me to see the setting and the decor.), so they hold great festivals of lights. It is believed her story reached them through missionary Vikings, and was strengthened by a legend:

In the Middle Ages there was a famine in Sweden, "Varmland." Just when the starving people were giving up hope, a huge ship appeared. The boat contained food, and clothes. They saw a maiden in white with a glowing crown and long golden hair at the ship's helm. Once the cargo was unloaded the ship vanished. They believe the maiden to be Santa Lucia.

Years ago, I used to always make something ahead, like lucia buns or muffins, and had the coffee pot ready to push the on-button (but I'm home alone and drinking tea and heated a rhubarb, blueberry scone from Great Harvest Bread). We also talked of possibilities the kids could do for themselves like hot cocoa. Then Heather (and Travis) could "surprise" us in the morning.

After reading Matt 5:14-16, sing "This Little Light of Mine." You could read Matt 10:26-33 to connect with Lucia standing in her faith even to the point of death. It killed her body but not her soul. I also think of Jesus' parable of the 10 bridesmaids who took their lamps to meet the bridegroom. Five were prepared, awake, and aware to see the bridegroom.

If we're turned in on ourselves, we cannot reflect the light of God's likeness. But if we're awake and aware in Jesus, we can see God in our midst in our daily lives and reflect His image to those we come in contact with.

December 11, 2008

Advent Basket Day 12 & Happenings

I'm going to be leaving tomorrow morning early to take Monte and Kimberley to the airport. They are flying to Norway. Kimberley and her husband Paul are from Calgary, Canada, and have been here before, and on geology field trips with Monte and Stan. Paul is a professor, and Kimberley returned to college and just graduated in geology, and the Norwegians want her to come over to Norway cuz she's being hired to help in their Calgary office. Kimberley is delightful, and I'm thinking they just want to have her bubbly personality as a part of the team, not to mention her brilliant brain!

So I'll be (almost - today is Dawson's last day of college and he'll be around off and on) home alone for awhile. I always enjoy these times of aloneness. I do the hermit, contemplative thing quite well.
Heather called from Texas today to ask me about making gingerbread houses. She's about to do it with a friend. We did it when they were growing up, always on the lookout for candy and things that would be cool for decorating. Like Triscit or Wheat Thin crackers for roof shingles, or straight pretzels for log cabin look or fencing. Great memories.

Advent day 12's scripture read is Philippians 2:1-11. The miniature is a cross. The paper says, "This reminds us of Jesus' love."

Advent Basket Day 11

Today's Advent bag miniature is a heart - "This is a symbol of love. Jesus speaks of love." Read Matthew 22:37-40.

I like sitting and imagining, often putting myself in other's shoes. Well in Jesus' sandals I've already posted during Advent about Jesus growing up knowing his genealogy. Jesus heard, probably asking Mary to tell him the stories over and over, of Tamar or Rahab or Ruth or Bathsheba ... And women weren't usually listed in genealogies, but throughout the Gospels you see Jesus living out the results of those stories.

And I visualize Jesus growing up watching his mother every Friday evening lighting the Sabbath candles just before sundown, saying a blessing, as did every woman of every Jewish household every Friday evening. And too, like every other good Jew, Jesus probably said the Shema two times a day.

When asked by an expert in the law the most important commandment Jesus shaped his own version of the Shema. Typically Jews quoted Deuteronomy 6:4-9 two times a day. Jesus summarized it and added a verse from Leviticus 19:18. So instead of a Love-God Shema, Jesus made it a Love-God-and-Others Shema. Making loving others a part of his own version of the Jewish creed shows that he sees loving others as central to our spiritual formation.

So, a daily mantra or Shema we might say is the Jesus Creed:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.

So as I sit, walk by the way, lie down, and especially when I rise, I will say to myself Jesus' Shema. As Jesus said, "There is no commandment greater than this".

December 10, 2008

Advent Basket Day 10

Today's Advent read is John 9:1-7. The miniature is a small bar of soap. And the paper reads, "Do you like to wash? Happy time when met Jesus."

Yes, Jesus can bring healing and happiness. The disciples were asking questions of "Why?" which I've heard is not a good question to ask. They were looking for someone, something, to blame. Jesus said, "You're asking the wrong question ... Look instead for what God can do".

Read the whole chapter - not so happy a time! His simple story of mud and washing was not accepted. "All I know is, I once was blind ... but now I see." 

Who is blind here?!

December 9, 2008

Advent Basket Day 9

Focusing on Jesus' ministry daily advent, the bag for December 9 has a piece of a road map in it. I had ripped a piece from a Colorado map that shows Evergreen and then folded it up.

Read John 14: 1-6. "We use a map when we travel. Jesus can be our guide."

The word Trinity may not actually be in scripture, but what it means is there, and this chapter 14 of John spells it out beautifully. Though to the disciples it's still all a riddle, to us, it takes us past the "We ... Us ... Our" we've been given prior to this passage.

Jesus is soon to leave the disciples. They've lived with Him for three years. While they're hoping for their physical place in time to change for the better, with Jesus as ruler, they've missed the deeper meanings of Kingdom that Jesus keeps talking about. They'll put it all together as they wait in the upper room after Jesus leaves them ...

Sit with John 14. Jesus tells the disciples, "it's to your advantage that I go away ..." 

The world seems a mess. "Let not your hearts be troubled ... Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives ... I am the way (the road), and the truth, and the life ... I will not leave you as orphans ... Because I live, you will live ... I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you ... Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."

December 8, 2008

Ambrose / Immaculate Conception

Yesterday, Dec 7, was Ambrose's calendar day. He was trained in rhetoric and the law, was a governor, and became Bishop of Milan in 374. He was a great preacher and lecturer. It was he who converted Augustine, showing him that a person of intelligence could find the Christian faith totally satisfying. When baptizing people, he first washed their feet, which was not customary.

The one thing that sticks out to me is that Augustine was amazed at Ambrose reading silently to himself. The history of the written language is fascinating. We just think it's been forever as currently is, but originally, everything had been oral. Homer and Plato were the first persons to have things written (prior to that only history of kings and kingdoms and laws were written - like on papyrus and in clay). They were uncomfortable with their writing. And still it was not read silently. It boggles my mind. They say we're returning to a more oral society with the media today. I think we've got a good mix.

Ambrose lived at the time Arianism was strong. In his locality he set up separation of church and state since the state was made up of many Arian/pagan people. Ambrose is one of the Fathers of the church. He wrote many commentaries on scripture, and books on the Trinity. Since Arianism did not believe in the deity of Jesus, Ambrose was a strong contender for the Nicene Creed and it's wording - even promoting devotion to Mary as Jesus' virgin mother. Ambrose also championed congregational singing and composed a number of hymns. The singing in his church was written about by people.

Ambrose also introduced allegorical interpratation of scripture to the west. He admitted a literal sense, but sought everywhere a deeper mystical meaning that he converted into practical instruction for Christian life. Ambrose also broke away from a strong legalism, and Augustine, his pupil carried on writing about grace.

Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. You'd think of Jesus and the Incarnation, but no, it's what's believed of Mary's conception. It seems that Mary's parents did not 'couple' in 'human mire' - taking no pleasure in the act and not conceived with the taint of original sin. Thus a fit vessel for God's son to be hatched in. It's been a hotly debated thing for years.

We've come a long way baby! I don't know how many people still think of sex in marriage as dirty and evil. If God did not like our humanness, why did he choose to enter history as a seed in a womb and go through the birth process and be laid in an animal feed trough, needing to be nursed and burped and diapers changed, and announce his birth first to the lowest of society, dirty shepherds! There's such joy in sex as the Sacrament of Marriage!

My thoughts remember the picture on the Sistine Chapel where God stretches out his hand to Adam, calling him out of the dirt of the earth, kissing into him his breath of Life. How beautifully humanity is created. And God stretches out his arms to those who wait for his touch.

Advent Basket Day 8

As we feel our Advent bags, trying to guess what's inside, most of the items have a hardness to them. Today's bag is squishy soft (other than the slip of paper). Day 8 has two cotton balls in it. Maybe you're starting to catch on, but my Advent Basket days, as we're waiting for the coming of the Messiah, remembering His entering our history, our chronos time, are focused on Jesus' Ministry.

Two cotton balls? Well, we already encountered one account of Jesus healing a deaf person's ears. That would be my first guess. What else might cotton balls be for? I may not have cotton balls on hand, but I've wadded up Kleenex to put in my ears if there's a cold wind ...

Matthew 8:23-27 is the suggested scripture read for the day and the paper says, "Cotton can muffle loud noises when in our ears. Some one controls the weather."

I sat with the three gospel accounts. John has the time Jesus walked on water. The phrases that popped out at me were: "Do not be afraid ... Have you no faith? ... Why can't you trust Me?"

December 7, 2008

Advent Sunday 2

This second week's candle in the Advent wreath is the Bethlehem candle. The bedraggled Joseph and Mary searched for a place to sleep.

"Love" was born in Bethlehem and Love asks us to be open.

I love the song "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" written around 1868 by Phillip Brooks. During a sabbatical he traveled from Jerusalem to Bethlehem by horseback on Dec 24, imagining Mary and Joseph on their journey and a field of the shepherds. He was overcome by the beauty and felt the peace. Then he attended a five hour service at the Church of the Nativity. This experience never left Brooks and he wrote the song for his church's children's choir to sing.

"How proper it is that Christmas should follow Advent. For him who looks toward the future, the manger is situated on Golgotha, and the cross has already been raised in Bethlehem."

- Dag Hammarskjold

This reminds me of a drawing a friend's son drew while doodling in church.

Advent Basket Day 7

Day 7 miniature in my Advent Basket bag? A tiny loaf of bread. I can't remember if I bought it, but I'm guessing I baked it - taking a tiny piece of dough off one of my 6 loaves of bread I grind flour for and bake to freeze regularly. After letting it dry, I probably varnished it.

The suggested scripture to read is Matthew 14:13-21, and the writing says, "We eat bread. Jesus made a lot out of little." All four Gospels tell this story, and pretty similarly too, except John in chapter six.

In the first three Gospels the story follows the beheading of John the Baptist. Last year I did a post titled "Yes". Our church was going through an emotional upheaval and I spent a lot of the Advent season sitting with the nativity setting, putting myself in their shoes (sandals), starting with the genealogy, listening the stories
Jesus grew up with, including those of the four women. In the "Yes" post I walked with Mary to Elizabeth's home, and the baby John leapt in her womb, the first to recognize the Incarnate God, in Mary's womb. And now I'm wondering what Jesus felt when he heard of his cousin John's death?

We see a 'moved to compassion' Jesus when seeing the large crowd of people following Him. He knows they want to see more miracles. It sounds like they, the disciples and Jesus, are exhausted. Jesus feeds the crowd. Now beyond just seeing miracles, they're going to want to follow Him for full bellies. I'm imagining this miracle was more for the disciples than for the people.

I posted on Andrew's calendar day about his noticing a boy with fish and loaves of bread. Buy food for all those people? Were there stores around? Did homes always have a lot of bread on hand for someone to buy? Having seen Jesus do all sorts of miracles would my mind immediately turn to the possibilities of all Jesus could do? Do I today, knowing the whole story - that resurrection power - think first of letting go and letting Jesus do?

John 6 carries the story further: Jesus tells the people, who he knows want to make him king so he can meet all their physical needs, that He's talking about a spiritual realm, an eternal kingdom. Beyond manna in the wilderness to the Bread of Life. "My flesh is true food ... whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life" WAIT! That's weird! I'd probably walk away grumbling too, and hungry.

I'm sure glad God drew me! romanced me, wooed me to Him!

December 6, 2008

Advent Basket Day 6

Once upon a time ... Who doesn't love a great story?! Some tell us about familiar things and some are from long ago and far away. Some stories are told as truth, some are believed only by children. Stories appeal to our imagination. They lift us out of the day-to-day and take us to a different, more fantastic place.

I just posted about the value of story, like the St Nicholas story. Jesus' birth sounds like many popular stories. We read of singing mice, fairy godmothers, talking animals; and we read about singing angels, wise men guided by stars, a birth in a stable ... God becoming human. We read of charming princes, pumpkins becoming carriages; and of a virgin birth, fulfilled prophecy, a humble child who grew up and healed the blind and sick.

Bag 6 of my Advent Basket has a bell in it. The paper says, "This makes noise. Read Mark 7:31-37. This man could not hear this until he met Jesus."

This is one of those fantastical and miraculous stories: Jesus put his fingers in a deaf man's ears and some spit on his tongue. He looked up in the sky and said, "Ephphatha!" And it happened. The man's hearing was clear and his speech plain - just like that.

Jesus' story is different. His story offers unmerited grace, not what we deserve. Because of His love, we get way more than we deserve. Jesus is real and it matters what we do with Jesus. There's very little at stake if we don't believe in Santa or Cinderella. What if we don't believe in Jesus' claims and accept the whole story of Jesus - His birth, death, and resurrection. Jesus said, "I am come that you might have life and have it in abundance."

Once upon a time ... Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Those who believe in Him ... will live happily ever after. Everyone loves a good story. But this is a story like no other.

Santa lives at the North Pole - Jesus is everywhere.
Santa comes but once a year - Jesus is an ever present help.
Jesus is as close as the mention of His name.
Santa lets you sit on his lap - Jesus lets you rest in His arms.
Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly -
Jesus has a heart full of love.
All Santa can offer is goodies and "Ho, ho, ho" -
Jesus meets our needs, offering healing, help, and hope.
Santa says, "You better not cry" -
Jesus says, "Cast all your cares on Me for I care for you."
Santa's little helpers make toys -
Jesus makes new life, mends wounded hearts ...
Santa may make you chuckle - Jesus gives joy.
While Santa puts gifts under your tree -
Jesus became our gift and died on a tree.

St Nicholas

Last night driving, Monte and me saw Mr and Mrs Santa Claus on a motorcycle in busy downtown Evergreen. I remembered reading that this was the night children could come see Santa. And then the other day at the Post Office, the postal worker was directing a mom and her kids to a box in the foyer for letters to Santa that went directly to the North Pole.

I've talked on my "Cycle of Celebrations" stuff across the country for quite some years now. I take a filled Christmas stocking along as a visual aid. I talk about the value of story and that the Bible mentions remembering the stories ... "tell the children ... that the grandchildren will know ... pass it on" ... over 300+ times. I researched Christian holidays, Jewish festivals, and then on to Saint Days.

I did not grow up with much of this and thought saint stuff was just Catholic. But it's all a part of church history. We have the Old and the New Testaments with their stories, and then what I call the Third Testament, carries on the stories. The apostle Paul refers to all of us believers as saints.

The Church for years started putting these stories on the Calendar. The dates are the people's death days - thus thought to be their Heaven birth dates. When Protestantism took off they threw out the calendar, as they did with so much (you know, the 'baby out with the bathwater' phrase).

As a result, since the St Nicholas story was not told for many generations, we end up with Santa Claus along with Jesus on Christmas. Instead, on December 6, we put up socks and fill them with stuff that reminds us of the real St Nicholas story and celebrate. We don't have to fear all the Santa stuff, just feel sad about the missing pieces of the whole story.

St Nicholas was a real person from present-day Turkey (288-354). He had lived through much persecution as a Christian and lived to see Christianity become the empire religion under Constantine. It's rumored he was at the Council of Nicea, where he was condemning the heresy of Arianism (not believing in the deity of Jesus). It's also said he slapped the heretic Arius.

There's SO many stories surrounding St Nicholas. The one he's most noted for is him throwing coins in a window, landing in socks hanging to dry, of a family who lost everything and the girls were going to give themselves to prostitution to make money. Nicholas employed people to make wooden toys to give away, and food - like ginger cookies, and even gave gifts of clothing. So these are things we put in the stockings: chocolate candy coins, ginger cookies, fruit, mittens or socks, and something wooden. So I'm always on the lookout for wooden toys and the candy coins. As Heather got older, I gave her wooden kitchen tools.

There's lots of silly stories (hagiography) ... but who knows. In those days people had eyes to see miracles. Do we look for miracles in our everyday - like God 'winks'? People used to wake up and say, "This is so-and-so's day" and remember their stories. If God was there for them, then he's here for us too. We wake up and it's just another Monday, or Friday, or Sunday. Our calendar days could be rich with stories - a Story Calendar.

Many saint stories are wild. Like maybe close to being heretics walking the edge over a precipice. But they are humans who hear the Gospel and walk it uniquely for their place and time. If not for them we'd not have much learning and healing institutions and inner city care. We'd not have kings, rulers, and church leadership hearing the Truth.

So use this day to celebrate and tell the real story of Santa Claus (who the Dutch brought to our country and it grew from there). Then the rest of December when people ask, "did you tell Santa what you want?" we can say, "his name is St Nicholas, and he's already been to our house". Then he's separated from Jesus.

Some have said, "I'm not going to tell my kids about Santa, cuz then they'll think Jesus is a myth too." Well I heard of a 10 year old telling college kids that he knew about Santa Claus, like he knew about elves, the easter bunny, and other pretend things. "I never got him mixed up with Jesus because I could tell from the way my parents talked and acted all year long that Jesus was true."

One year when we lived in Tucson, Monte took ashes from the fireplace and drew ash footprints coming out into the living room. We had left milk and cookies for Santa. At 31 and 29, I don't think Heather and Travis are psychologically crippled. Actually their sense of wonder (next to worship) is alive and well. Memories are the library of the soul.

Enjoy the cute books. I found that JRR Tolkien had written Father Christmas letters to his kids, and all his illustrations along with the 20 some years of letters are all in a fun book: Father Christmas Letters.

Sing the song "You better watch out ..." and then talk about the message of 'naughty or nice'. Because in Jesus, God gives salvation and adoption into the trinity family as a gift. We do not earn it.

"The giver of every good and perfect gift has called upon us to mimic His giving, by grace, through faith, and this not of ourselves," said Nicholas.

"We who still enjoy fairy tales have less reason to wish actual childhood back. We have kept its pleasures and added some grown-up ones as well." - CSLewis

"Come to me as a child," says Jesus.

December 5, 2008

Advent Basket Day 5

You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope.
With less of you there is more of God ...
You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you.
Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
You're blessed when you're content with just who you are - no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.
You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God.
He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.
You're blessed when you care.
At the moment of being 'care-full,' 
you find yourselves cared for.
You're blessed when you get your inside world - your mind and heart - put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperated instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.
You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom ... you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble. 

My Advent Basket Day 5 bag has a Smiley Face in it, and says to "read Matthew 5:1-12. Jesus told us how to be happy."

Do you hunger and thirst after God, His righteousness? which is in the middle of The Beatitudes? The first three: poor in spirit, grief (those who mourn), constraint (those who are meek), I see as life experiences that can recycle throughout life. But how many people work up an appetite for God?

Children are poor - totally dependent. As adults it's hard to ask for help or admit our neediness and depend on God. Today, we tend to dull or sedate grief, working hard to avoid it, and not processing it and dealing with it. As a child, meekness is having to brush my teeth and make my bed, growing into accountability in the workplace, marriage vows, disciplines - all helping to shape who we are.

Jesus didn't just preach at us, but acted it out himself, and gave himself. Jesus said, "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full". "Follow Me."

December 4, 2008

Tapestry of Life

I was going to go to FoodNetwork and look at broccoli recipes since I have lots of broccoli from our farm share to use, and I got sidetracked ... I was remembering a tapestry poem I read years ago, that I probably have filed away, but I've not organized my files yet since I've moved everything around. I ended up Googling "tapestry poem" instead.

I also downloaded the pictures off my camera from a recent felting picture I did and hung at church last night. So I'll post the picture's stages: from the layering colors of sheep wool which I cover and pour hot soapy water over and agitate, to felt ... to the finished framed picture.

Here's the Tapestry poem I was remembering. Apparently Corrie Ten Boom (my Grandmother got to talk to her - and in Dutch!) used to say this poem as she spoke around the world. (And why am I thinking of tapestry? Cuz that's the textile art I'm returning to, having sold my large weaving loom and found the tapestry loom I want posted on Craigslist on Thanksgiving Day.)

My life is but a weaving between my God and me,
I do not choose the colors; He works so steadily.
Oft times He weaves in sorrow, and I in foolish pride,

Forget He sees the upper, and me the underside.
Not till the loom is silent, and the shuttles cease to fly,

Will God unroll the canvas, and explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful in the weavers skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.

The poem was read at my weaving mentor's funeral after her sudden death when scuba-diving (she was in her 80's) on vacation with her husband. One story told of her: during the war (and she continued for other needs too) she'd unravel knit things and reknit sweaters and socks.

And another poem I found when searching by a Debbie Milam -
When we embrace the many parts of our experience we discover a magnificent creation.

Every moment is but a thread, a thread of consciousness embracing the very essence of life.

Some threads are brilliant and dazzling while others are tattered and torn.

When looked upon in isolation the tattered threads look inferior.

Yet when woven together by the wondrous hands of the creator the light magically blends with the dark.

As joy coalesces with pain God creates the magnificent tapestry that is life.

Monte came in from his office and just whipped up something for our supper using the broccoli! And is saying, "Time to eat".
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