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

Monday, August 27, 2012

Anger .. A Fierce and Deadly Passion

I’m not an angry person by nature.  Or at least I didn’t think I was just a mere 24 hours ago.  But having read what Evagrius of Ponticus of the 4th Century wrote about just such a vice, I changed my mind and found myself in a state of needing to repent.  I’m not normally one to “lose my temper” or have “outbursts,” though it does happen on occasion.  However, anger can be much more shrouded and darker than such outward eruptions.  In fact, I believe that whereas such outbursts cause tremendous damage to those around us, the more inwardly dangerous is the seething kind that is allowed to ferment and smolder within the heart.  Add to that the physical implications with elevated blood pressures and you’ve got a disaster on your hands.  In fact, Evagrius goes ahead and calls it “deadly.”
Listen to what this desert father and thinker wrote some 1600 years ago.  “The most fierce passion is anger.  In fact it is defined as a boiling and stirring up of wrath against one who has given injury.  It tends to lead to a preoccupation with the one with whom we are angry.  It ruins our health – both physical and mental.”  The commentator adds, “Anger arises from a sense of violation – a violation of self, of agreements, of principles.  It also arises when we feel a threat to our social status or a desire to control other people’s lives.”
I don’t like it when people, ancient or contemporary, get in my business…. 
So what is the flip side of this coin?  Evagrius says we are to replace anger with mildness.  It’s “the capacity for self-restraint.  Whether a principle has been violated or we simply feel a great frustration with ourselves or our situation, we can respond with mildness because we have confidence in God.  When we center our life on God, our need to gain the world’s acclaim evaporates.  We no longer clamor to be noticed.  We find that God totally satisfies our need to be valued and recognized.”
Anger … it’s ruinous alright.  Deadly, if you will.  But we are not left without hope.  The mind is not a vacuum, and so in order for this detrimental passion and these antagonistic thoughts to be overcome, they MUST be replaced with good ones.  No doubt the Philippians were dealing with something on that order, or why else would Paul have written, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Sounds like a prescription for anger to me.  But like any medicine, in order for it to work, it must be taken daily. 

Just an ordinary moment...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Cup Overflowing, 121-140

This thankfulness thing is starting to really take root in me: the sights, sounds, smells, touches, and even tastes.  Up until now, I’ve never known so much sacredness in the world around me.  God truly speaks through such ordinary things.  How odd, because, really, nothing’s changed … except my recognition of it. 

#121  a deeply knitted friendship – Cathy Cawthon Farabaugh … our lives were sewn together as infants by means of our earthly parents.  Now, our heavenly Father uses His Thread.  So grateful for both.   A cord of three is not easily broken, my friend: you, me, Him …

#122  a sow and her 5 shoats

#123  acres of rolling hills teeming with Holstein dairy cows – I've always loved cows.  Maybe it's because my granddaddy had a dairy farm.  Or maybe it's because they speak "serenity"...

#124  a relief station in the middle of nowhere – 2 cups of tea, a cup of coffee, 16 oz. of water and a 2+ hour road trip … need I say more?  Thank You, Jesus. 

 #125  “Home” – if the Lord can speak to my daughter-in-love through a Bob Marley song, I feel sure He can use American Idol winner Phillip Phillip’s Home to speak to my heart.  And one Sunday morning, He did just that.

Hold on to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

#126  Charlie Brown preludes – after a lively and syncopated rendition of Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee, a parishioner told me it reminded her of Charlie Brown!  I do hope she meant Schroeder…

#127  a Sunday afternoon drive and a Mennonite farmer’s labor -- surely he was "resting" now, too. 

#128  a “Sundae” afternoon spent with friends where all roads lead to Dairy Queen – a true Sabbath

#129  a torrential downpour and a knight in shining armor named Frank

#130  green after a rain

#131  experiencing prayer through art –I’m learning to see with my eyes and listen with my heart

#132  priceless gifts that keep on giving – my oldest son and his wife gave this Dollar Store tissue box to me as a joke.  I use it and it brings me such joy…

#133  learning gracious waiting – “grace” and “waiting” are conflicting terms for me …

#134  for cool springs in the wilderness

#135  the first hint of morning that shows up in the sky

#136  a child’s wonder at the aquarium – I didn’t even see the fish … I was having too much enjoyment watching a certain little man.

#137  the way the world stops when met with glory – As we entered the tunnel at the aquarium, not only children, but even more so the adults stopped and exclaimed with wonder and awe as the great white shark and manta ray passed over.  Do they even know the point of their wonder?

#138  back pain and what it teaches me about the body – we’re all connected

#139  prayerfulness vs. praying

#140  a Saturday morning rest spent sitting on the floor with a 17 month old

My cup overflows with mercies that never cease.

Just an ordinary moment...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

He Delights in Delighting!

The drive to Greensboro was uneventful.  Beautiful, yes, with all the rolling hills and green pastures teeming with Holstein dairy cows.  But like I said, uneventful.  My husband had to attend a mass property sale out in the middle of nowhere and I was tagging along … relying on “Sexy Mary” to get us there.  She eventually turned us down a road that seemed a little strange, but then again, we didn’t know exactly where we going; so we followed her lead – for several miles.  During this time, I heard a faint Voice say, “Get out your camera.”  For a moment, I didn’t respond … and then I heard it again.  “Get out your camera.”  So I dug around until I found it in the bottom of my purse and placed it in the cup holder next to me.  As we rounded a bend, my husband pointed up in front and said, “Look at the wild hog.”  And as quickly as he had called attention to the sow, he hit the brakes and said, “I had a feeling this would happen.”  We had hit a dead end – a gate was stretching across the road allowing no further access.  He threw the truck in reverse and began backing up looking for a place to turn around when he heard me yell, “STOP!”  Right there out my window were these little fellows.  FIVE of them! 

Their mother had ventured off into the woods when she saw us, and they were just left standing there all alone, the spackled one chewing  on a pine branch and looking at me with such curiosity.  I began jumping up and down as much as one could do with a seat belt and shoulder strap on, breathless, snapping pictures as fast as the shutter would allow. 

The shoats finally wandered on after their mother but not before I had come completely undone at the sight and close proximity of them.  I began beating my legs and laughing while exclaiming, “God is so cool!  God is so cool!”  And it is so true.  God not only delights IN us, He delights in DELIGHTING us! 

We finally turned around and continued under the new directions of Sexy Mary, but the joy continued to bubble up in me.  As we neared out destination, I turned to my husband and said, “Hey, if Dan wants to know why we’re late, tell him God needed to show your wife some pigs.”

Found yourself on a strange road lately?  Best get out your camera.  God might be getting ready to delight you.  He is so incredibly awesome that way.

Just an ordinary moment…

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Cup Overflowing, 101-120

Life is happening all around us.  The sun rises, the sun sets.  Children play, adults hurry.  Dogs bark, crickets chirp.  Grass grows, leaves fall.  As the character in Peaceful Warrier says, “There’s never nothing going on.”  Question is, do we notice?  And if we do, are we surprised by it?  Do we see it as gift?  Brother Steidle-Rast writes, “Our eyes are opened to that surprise character of the world around us the moment we wake up from taking things for granted.  … Bored and boring adults become excited children.”  I’m waking up and therefore counting.  What about you?

#101  infant lizards on window screens
He's literally only about 3 inches long from head to tail.

#102  lunch with my parents complete with peach milkshakes

#103  a red cedar trunk stretching heavenward in praise -- only now have I noticed its sacred dance

#104  a new haircut

#105  a lone female cardinal – we are one

#106  a week’s worth of laundry – it means my man is home and I am no longer alone

#107  musty antique shops and treasures found

#108  impromptu serenades – given by the watch repairman and his wife to just the two of us: “In the Sweet By and By”

#109  self-evaluation

#110  local honey and the way it feels in the mouth ... smooth

#111  early morning sirens signifying help is on the way

#112  unexpected encouragement ... doubled

#113  a fresh teaching about new wine

#114  front row parking at Wal-Mart

#115  little girl in Mama's heals

#116  a dappled morning sky

#117  mysteries beyond my comprehension

#118  curls on a little boy -- always too focused on the hair in his eyes; today I saw the beautiful ringlets

#119  turning the calendar with an Edwardian Lady -- one more way I count

#120  the scent of a lavender sachet infused into lingerie

Just an ordinary moment teeming with pure gift ....