"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

A Gas Station Encounter

As I stepped out of my Ford Escape last week to gas up before heading out of town, there was a small car next to me doing the same. But what I noticed most was the young woman in the back seat glued to her phone, filling the entire space with her body. It grieves me so to admit that my mental judgment was swift and severe. 

I made my way around to the gas pump and, thankfully, it only took seconds before I recalled some of my recent readings and certainly the most current prayer of my heart. One doesn’t have to get very far in the Scriptures to come upon that verse that reads, “God created humankind in His image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27). IN HIS IMAGE. As George MacDonald interprets that, “We are created, not out of nothing ... but out of God’s own endless glory.” And according to Philip Newell, if God’s essence was extracted from our life, we would cease to exist. So why would I look at that young woman and see flesh? And worse yet, pass judgment on one who bears the image of God? 

As I finished filling my tank and was walking into the store to retrieve my receipt, I looked at her again, and there she continued to sit looking at her phone waiting for her male companion to return. But this time I saw her as one made in the image of God; one who carried His essence. And my heart shifted. I was also reminded of the prayer that has become my mantra of these last weeks and months: I want to love people. All people.

As I returned to my car, I took one more look. This time she was looking up from her phone and directly at me. And with the grandest smile one could imagine, she raised her hand and gave me a gleeful wave. How could my own heart not be full as I smiled and waved back with the same joy? I pulled away having sensed a holy encounter and sacred moment.

Maybe one day my first reaction will be love. Of early recognition. How I pray that day will come soon. But for now, I rest in His grace of slow transformation.


Just an ordinary moment...

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

My Morning Walk

I wish I could say that I am a faithful gym goer. I try, but any old excuse has the potential to keep me away. My neighbor asked me last week if I enjoyed going to the gym, and my answer was a quick and emphatic, “No!” However, I did commit to walking 50 Miles in March and I succeeded with 10 extra miles to spare. I also committed with Anytime Fitness to 100 Days in 2019, and thus far have completed 83 of them. Surely I can get those 17 in before the New Year. 

Yet there is a walk I take every morning from my Keurig in the kitchen to the sofa in the sunroom. I have been doing it so long now that even if my head hurts or my heart is too heavy to mouth the words, I know the rhythm of it and I believe God sees my prayer even when it is not spoken aloud. It looks like this.

With coffee in hand, I open the squeaky dining room door, walk to the window and twist the blind. Looking toward the east, the sky is beginning to show its hope of a new day. I slip off my flip flops and let my knees and elbows touch the carpet. 

Praise be to the Father,
Praise be to the Son,
Praise be to the Spirit,
The Three in One.

I rise, slip on my shoes, and looking out the window, sing:

I say to this day you are blessed,
And I declare I serve a mighty God
Who today will do exceedingly abundantly more
Than I could ever ask or think.
I say You are a good, good God,
And I eagerly anticipate Your goodness today.

I make my way to the foyer where I turn on the first lamp.

I kindle my lamps this morning 
in the presence of the Holy Trinity.

I open the blinds on each side of the front door.

Without malice, without jealousy, without envy,
Without resentment or anger,

I switch on the lamp on the other side of the door.

Without fear, without terror of any living thing under the sun,
But the Holy Son of God to shield me.

I step into the den and light the lamp on my husband’s grandmother’s secretary.

God, kindle within my heart a flame of love
To my neighbor, to my foe, to my kindred all,
To the brave, to the knave, to the thrall.
From the lowliest thing that liveth,
To the Name that is highest of all,
Kindle within my heart a flame of love.

And then as I walk across the den, there are 9 intentional steps as I bless my house with 

Love
Joy
Peace
Patience
Kindness
Goodness
Gentleness
Faithfulness
Self-control

I step into the sunroom and beseech the Spirit for His

Wisdom, 
Understanding, 
Counsel, 
Might, 
Knowledge

I raise the window just a bit so I can hear creation waking, and I pray:

Open the windows of heaven, O God,
And pour out Your blessing upon us.
                 
It’s my morning walk.  An exercise of the heart.


Just an ordinary moment...

Sunday, February 24, 2019

An Ode to the Wind

It came quickly — the wind behind the weather system that pushed its way through early this morning. I could hear its approach through the neighbors’ trees. I could see its arrival as our own pines and oaks began to dance and bend and bow. Seemingly oblivious to the swing and sway, the birds hung tightly to the feeders. The chimes hanging from the eave played to match the strength of this invisible force. I opened my windows to be nearer to this element called wind. I opened my soul to be nearer to a God I cannot predict — yet Who comes.

The wind died as quickly as it came. All that was left was the slow rise and fall of my own chest — and the quiet sense of God’s abiding presence.


AN ODE TO THE WIND

You are invisible
but make all else come alive
You were at creation
brooding over the waters
You are air in motion
measured only by movement
the bowing of branches
the billowing of sails
the rise and fall of a baby’s chest
You are the medium of sound
of thunder, music, and sweet whispers of love
You are the current
supporting a bird’s flight
You are the metaphor of understanding God —
as life, as breath
as inspiration, as enlivened
as directional guide, as powerful force
Therefore, “come, wind, you that awaken love
and blow upon my garden.”*


Everything You have made will praise You,
fulfilling its purpose.
And all Your godly lovers will be found
bowing before you.
Psalm 145:10 (TPT)

Just an ordinary moment...


* Quote from St John of the Cross

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Taking My Cue from a Brewmaster

As has become the custom on the 2nd Friday night of each month, my husband and I went downtown this past weekend to Food Truck Friday. As one would guess, food trucks line Carroll and Washington Streets as a local band plays and residents engage in a fair-like atmosphere of standing in lines and/or visiting with family and friends. There’s even snow cones and a bouncy house for the kids. 

On this particular evening, Eagle Creek out of Statesboro was having a tap takeover at our local Bodega Brew — a hot spot for coffee, wine and beer along with a short list of menu items. Ever since our oldest son Charles became a brewmaster a couple of years ago, we have tried to support the local industry of craft brewers. We met the young brewmaster named Zack and tried his Tea Party Red Amber. It smelled of herbal sweet tea, but with a medium feel, it tasted of rich, malty caramel, finishing dry with a subtle tea note. And I liked it. [I know my son is quite pleased that I actually know what all that meant. He has taught me well.] 

We also made the connection that Zack and our son had met earlier this year at the Macon Beer Festival. But before we left, he said, “Tell Charles if he’s interested, let’s do a collaborative.” Now a collaborative is when two breweries meet and “collaborate” on a new beer. In other words, they create a recipe, get together and brew. Makes sense, huh.

My husband and I moved back out into the street, leaving the air-conditioning for what had become a very pleasant 88 degrees, thanks to the earlier rain, and found our way to the Piedmont Brewery “food” truck. There we met the owner/brewer Brian Whitley, a friend of our son. What a treat to engage with him and hear again the camaraderie that exists between brewers. They had already collaborated on a delicious hibiscus and mango Belgium Wit, appropriately called, “Syncopated Strangers.” Great for a hot summer afternoon. As we parted company, Brian headed to Bodega to greet Zack ... and to buy one of his beers.

But even before all of this, I had already begun to notice the fellowship between brewers. When one has a tap takeover at a particular brew pub or taproom, the others show up in support — and often help out. Or when one brewer runs into a problem with a particular brewing process, he will call another for advice, and it is given liberally.

Yes, I walked back to my vehicle Friday night marveling again at this fraternity — this sodality. When I was able, I texted Charles and told him I had just met Zack and Brian, and his response was, “Awesome guys! It still amazes me how much community there is in this industry.” 

You might be interested to know that before our son became a brewmaster, he was a youth pastor — for 13 years. When he tells people that, their eyes often get wide. But he follows it with, “I do the same thing I used to do ... just in a different arena: I still try to create an experience of oneness.”

Maybe these guys have discovered something that the church is still trying to figure out.

“And I ask not only for these disciples, 
but also for all those who will one day believe in Me through their message.
I pray for them all to be joined together as one
even as you and I, Father, are joined together as one.
I pray for them to become one with Us
so that the world will recognize that You sent Me.
For the very glory You have given to Me I have given them
so that they will be joined together as one
and experience the same unity that We enjoy.
John 17:20-22


Just an ordinary moment... 

Cheers!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

What Does Your Joyometer Read?

Part of my husband’s early morning routine is to walk out and greet our 10 year old red heeler named Rusti. Her little nub of a tail shakes so hard, you would think it’s 3 feet long — and in her mind, it probably is. She follows him inside, staying close to his heels, because that’s what heelers do, and she proceeds to greet me with the largest smile a canine can produce. She’s a happy dog. It shows in her face, her body, and her ... “tail”. 

She exhibits joy.

In one of the last sessions with my Tuesday morning Bible study ladies, I posed the question, “On a scale of 1-10, what does your joy-ometer read?” Most said about a 7 or 8, but without a blink of an eye, one of the women said, “Over the top!” And she was right. If there is anyone who exudes joy, it’s Liz. Even with the history of being abandoned as an infant, of having several bouts with cancer and of losing a husband, she bubbles joy. You can see it in her eyes, you can hear it in her voice, you can read it in her writings. Even her body language, the way she uses her hands, the way she worships, shouts, “Joy!”

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. It is a product of any one who has God’s Spirit resident within them. It is not something we should have to “conjure up” or force ourselves to be. Joy is a natural outflow of abiding in Him.

Then what’s the problem? 

Bill Johnson says, “How we see God defines how we think and how we live. The way we understand Him is the way we will represent Him.” Could it be that we have an inaccurate view of God? Or maybe that we have forgotten (or maybe never even been told) the truth that God is a joyful God? Who taught us that the Holy Spirit gives to us a spirit of sadness, sour attitude or woe? Heaven forbid. The Spirit does not war against the Father. He is an exact representation. He is the “another” that Jesus said would come. He reveals the Son and the Father beautifully. Among other things, His fruit and His expression is joy.

But I guess we still have a choice to make. We can choose to bow to and emit the chaos of life that surrounds us, or we can commit ourselves to living from the place of joy within and cast the glory of God to a world who needs a fresh revelation of hope. The latter just might be the greatest gift you give to someone today.

So what does your joyometer read? The first place we might want to look is in the mirror. 

Moses came down from Mount Sinai ... 
the Israelites would see the FACE of Moses, 
that it was radiant ...
See Exodus 34:29-35

And as my precious daughter would say, “Don’t pout. It doesn’t look good on you.”


Just an ordinary moment...