Tuesday, June 2, 2015

on shame

From my journal - contemplating and rejoicing in Psalm 31

Why does shame weave itself into the fleshy fabric of those who are innocent? How can I break the bonds of shame? It has become part of me - interwoven with the cells of my body and soul. I cannot cut it out. Surgery, to remove a mass is possible, but not an interwoven layer of skin. It covers me. It has become part of who I am. A redeemer is no surgeon. He does not cut what should never have been there. He uses it to form something beautiful. He steeps it like tea - adding grace and his own love - to grow compassion. A redeemer never cuts away and replaces - he transforms what is there, making it beautiful.

The shame that should belong to the abuser, the oppressor, attaches itself firmly to the victim. It is part of who she is - even when she doesn't remember why.

Why shame for the victim? Why does the oppressor go free?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

oh kneel me down

I love New Year's Resolutions. Not ones like: "lose 10 lbs" or "give up chocolate." I like to set goals - or hopes - or dreams with a plan. I like to contemplate the last year and make some adjustments in my daily habits for the new, fresh year. January, 2015 was no different. As I reflected back on the year (and years) previous, I was impressed with the level of self-discipline I had learned. However, no amount of trying, depriving, or praying had achieved my one big desire to find a solution to my health problems. I have many digestive issues. I have tried everything (it feels like, anyway) to "fix" these issues - to find a cure - even a diagnosis. I have had limited success. Each new thing I try, gives me a measure of success for a time - each with a promise of full healing that never really happens. Oh, I have learned a lot and surprised myself with my own ability to stick to impossible eating plans. But, more than all of my efforts, I have asked - I have begged God to heal me. He has given me so many amazing gifts in the last 3 years. He told me to ask for big things and then delighted in giving them to me. But not healing. This year, when I brought it up again as part of my New Year Requests, He told me, very clearly: "You have tried everything to make this go away. You have asked me multiple times to heal you. And your pain persists. If you have tried for 3 years and it is still here, then maybe it's a gift from me. For 2015, your goal should be to embrace your pain - not just accept it - embrace it." And so, that is my big year-goal. I am not there yet. The other night, after eating broccoli, my insides felt like they were on fire. I tried to tell myself: "This feeling of pain is love. It is a gift." But I struggle with this. Right now, all I can muster is an acceptance that I will have bad pain days. I am learning to release the stress of trying and trying to fix my problem. It is, however, only May. I'm hoping by December to be honestly thankful for the gift of my pain. The closest I have come yet to embracing this is embodied in the words of this song (God brought these lyrics to my heart again and again over the last few weeks):

Oh kneel me down again
here at your feet
Show me how much you love

Oh Spirit be the star
that leads me to
the humble heart of love
I see in you

(Humble King - Vineyard)

Maybe my struggle is to bring me closer to the Humble King. Maybe the pain is what kneels me down at his feet. How can I not be thankful for anything that leads me to His humble heart of love.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

ode to coffee - and mothers

During a time I gave up coffee for a week (and anything except tap water), I discovered two things. First, I have a caffeine addiction; I had no awareness of this – I just drink it because it’s socially expected and I like the warmth. And second, I love coffee (and tea) way more than I thought I did. As I brewed pots of it to serve in the shop, the aroma nearly knocked me over. I was prompted to pen this poem professing my love of coffee. However, this being the week before Mother’s Day, and the fact that my Mom is away on a trip, I found that my poem was also a declaration of the consistent joy brought to me by my mother.

Ode to Coffee – and Mothers

You wake me up each morning

~ the instinct you have taught me well.

As we converse, I enjoy your sweet presence

~ your aroma calls up feelings of comfort because of your daily presence in my life.

Some days I sit and enjoy your essence without distraction

~ sometimes I need to grab an infusion of your calming goodness as I rush through my day.

The joy and energy I receive from you lingers, fuelling me

~ I do not need to drink it in continually, for your peacefulness has long-lasting effects.

I cannot imagine my life without the spirit of beauty you wrap around my being

~ if I had to give you up for a week, it would only be bearable because of our anticipated reunion.

I love you because you make me a better person 

~ I'm addicted to you.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

give me boldness

Peter and the other apostles had been warned, with many threatenings, not to teach in Jesus' name. Immediately they got together with their companions to pray. I would think they would pray for God to overthrow this evil political system and grant them freedom to teach about Jesus. God is a God of justice and freedom. They could have prayed for fairness and peace - for their path of public ministry to be smooth and glorious. They carried a glorious message about the lovely Son of God! Their prayers shock me and accuse me. I am far too obsessed with the easy life. They prayed for boldness. They remembered how the rulers were gathered together against Jesus - and yet it was "to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done." They fully accepted their current circumstances as part of God's plan. Were they more valuable than Jesus, whom God allowed to suffer as part of His plan? No, they did not even consider that. They reminded themselves of God's ways, of His power over all things, and committed themselves to His plan. And prayed for boldness to speak in Jesus' name in the face of danger, suffering, and death. That's the faith I want. The faith to accept negative circumstances as part of God's plan and trust that He will not require me to suffer more than is necessary to accomplish His plan. I want to be so committed to His plan in my life that avoiding pain or suffering is not my first prayer - instead praying for boldness and strength and endurance - trusting that God has the other details sorted out.

Monday, February 9, 2015

a Nova Scotian Psalm

O God, your love for me is higher than the Bay of Fundy tides;
It stretches out before me and endures like a Nova Scotia Summer evening.
Your mercies are fir trees - green and alive in every season;
Growing together, thick - my days a forest of your love.
Your ways are the crashing ocean waves on the rocks of Peggy's Cove;
Beautiful and dangerous; peaceful and powerful - spraying my face.
Your steadfastness is as certain as the changing seasons;
You provide for me as surely as you paint the leaves each September.
Your love for me runs pure and sweet like the sap of the maple tree;
In the Spring, after a frosty night, I am certain of it's flowing goodness.
Your goodness to me is exquisite and varied, as the evening sky;
When I notice, it takes my breath away with its expanse and detail.
You, O God, are the soul-stirring view from the Cabot Trail;
One glimpse of you leaves me changed forever.

Monday, January 19, 2015

more to be desired

I plot and I save
I scrimp and I plan
I anticipate
I long.
I fly hundreds of miles
To enjoy Your creation
To relax
To spend quality time
To soak up some rays
To de-stress

I enjoy and relish
I linger and exhale
My muscles lose their tension
And toes wiggle in the sand
Sun shining bright
Bathing my soul in peace and tranquility
I experience all I've been missing out on
It is enjoyable
It ends
I return to my life

I realize
A light shines in my awareness
This tangible is all peripheral
You give true joy
Lasting joy
One glimpse of You is more peaceful
More powerful
More to be desired
Than a week of sun in the dead of winter
And glimpses of You can happen anywhere

King David said it best:
"Whom have I in heaven but You?
And earth has nothing I desire besides You"
Psalm 73:25

Sunday, December 21, 2014

to my teenage daughter

Oh tender heart, aching longing heart
Strings drawn taut
Full to overflowing, spilling up past
Throat pulled tight and flowing salty down cheeks
Love hurts
Heart strings, like apron strings, tied tightly round our babies
No longer babies
Long arms and legs dangling, exploring
Finding difficult things
Come back to the cradle
Let me wrap you in flannelette
Keep you warm and safe forever
It cannot be
The tearing sounds like blasting away rock
Like the birthing pains that first ushered you in to change my world forever
This heaving, aching labour feels as if it will break my heart in two
The glimpses of the beauty ahead
Unique and amazing adult
Daughter and friend more lovely than even baby-you
Give strength to persevere, perspire through
To gird up the muscles of my heart
And anticipate this birthing