Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas


God stepped out of infinity
into the bonds of infancy--
                  to listen ,
                  to yearn,
                  to weep--

Hollow halls without the light of Heaven--
Angels hushed in bewilderment
When God became a man
                  --For 33 long years.

Years to watch humanity
                  grapple with its sin,
                                                                   buckle under pain,
                                                                  struggle with no hope.

Baby child,
                  who sees what we don’t see
                  who knows what we cannot know
                  who smiles in the face of God,

Now
Illumines Heaven with His glory,
Fulfilling in His Story
the climax of all time--
Waiting the grand resolution
when He’ll wipe away all tears
and sweep away each fear.
•D. Borkert '99

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Bridge


Mel asked me if there are “lots of scribbles” in my journal. I had to laugh because there are so many words and lines crossed out—and, lately, even whole pages marked through with a great big X. Sometimes, when I begin writing, I’m not even sure where I’m headed, not sure the right thing to say. So at times, I just start anyway.


Then, when it comes to living, I guess, I often do the same. No one knows—really—where she’s headed when she throws a leg over the edge of the bed in the morning. There’s usually a plan, but plans just don’t always play out the way we think. Sometimes, that’s good, and sometimes it isn’t.

The snow is blowing this afternoon, not in soft big flakes to fill up a thirsty land with a drink, but in cold swirlly gales pushing dry white stuff all through the air.This kind of weather at this time of year always makes me wonder what it was like that night when Jesus was born—when the Creator became the created.


Was it cold, with wind whipping through the tunnels created by flat roofed abodes butted up against the path of a street? This whole incarnation thing happened so long ago. It happened in a culture and century so incredibly removed from ours. Sometimes it’s hard to bridge it.

Yet, when the sparkle of conception happened in the womb of a virgin—there were no scribbles, no cross outs—not even one wrong word. Then, wonderously, God created His own bridge—one to span heaven’s perfection to human blight—from a lowly stable to the warm house I sit in, right here on another wintery day.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Today

Today I would invite you to click on the link: Waiting to Decorate at The Bishop Family.
http://bishopfun.blogspot.com/2012/12/waiting-to-decorate.html

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Jesus




After twenty-month-old William left, the Fisher Price Nativity Set lay strewn over the living room floor with Baby Jesus nowhere in sight. 


It reminded me of how Christmas often happens—finals to write, the last essays to grade, packages to send, holiday plans finalized—decorating, baking, programs, and on and on. And how often are lives strung out over the month without Jesus in sight?
Then, I question: Do we want it any other way? Do we really?
Or, do we get self-satisfaction from lack of sleep, adrenaline surges, and plastering “super mom” over our faces? Maybe we don’t really want it to stop.
Because—
If I stop long enough to ponder, just where would those reflections take me?
            To my knees?
            To a place of regret and sadness?
            To a cross?
Our house is all decorated. The tree is draped with ornaments special to us. Garland decks the stairs and cabinet tops. Candy canes line the drive. We sure look good.



But, in all that glitz and sparkle, where is that Baby?
I found the Fisher Price Jesus tipped over and under the coffee table? 

Have I left the real Lord there as well?


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Surprise!



I’d missed the shower. So on Sunday, I leaned over the chair in front of me after Tina finished playing the piano. “What’s your new grandbaby going to be?” I whispered near her ear. “We don’t know—it’s a baby.”
“They didn’t find out?” I questioned. Tina shook her head, eyes twinkling. “How fun!” I whispered, leaned back into my seat, and thought: Well, that’s why the nursery’s green and there wasn’t a hint of a gender on the invitation.
And I have to admit: I was amazed.
These days it seems like there are to be no surprises! Seemingly, gone are the days where you had to arrive at the hospital with two names—one for whichever. Our worlds are ones of control, and control means no surprises…we hope.
Some surprises, like a positive pregnancy test, can be joyful—or unsettling. (I’ve experienced both.) Yet, in all our preparation, all our minute planning, there are surprises from the sovereign hand of God that await us. There were very few who were looking for a Savior when God sled into time. And who would have dreamed that He’d arrive as He did and where He did?
Sovereign surprises often come when we least expect them—when we think we’re in control. It’s true that some surprises are painful—far, far from what we desired.
But, many surprises are wonderful. It was such fun in the delivery room to learn what “it” was—this baby we’d waited for—I’d thrown up for—
Is it a girl? Is it a boy?
Does she have my blue eyes or Jay’s deep brown?
Red hair, blonde, or brown?
Does it have hair?
Of course, not.
There are wonderful surprises when God slides into our world. We may not know what they’ll be or when, but we can anticipate them just the same.
It can be fun living in a world painted green, waiting to see what will be.




Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hannah's Prayer


Hannah, in the Bible, prayed for a child. And after being long barren and daily tormented by her enemy, God gave her her heart’s desire, and in turn she gave the child back to God—leaving him as a young child in the hands of Eli the old priest.
Now, Eli had anything except a stellar track record in the parenting category. As a matter of fact, when the child Samuel was left with Eli in verse 10 of 1 Sam. 1, the very next verse tells us that Eli’s sons were wicked. They weren’t just a little naughty; they were down right bad.
Shortly after the birth of each of our children, we publically took them before the church and dedicated them to God—a giving back, so to speak, of the most precious and valued gifts we’d been given. It was a common practice among our circles in those days, and in our youth, we were very serious, presenting a tiny one to God. But, unlike Hannah, when we returned home, we took the child with us. And they grew and grew—and we did what seemed best for each of them. Then there came a day when each departed out from our care—but never—not ever—from the hand of God.
These days, I’m often reminded of those dedications. When fears for them grip my soul, I am reminded that I did not keep them. We returned them to their Creator, and I must trust His sovereign plan for each day they walk—sometimes in joy, sometimes in pain.
I recall the voice of Hannah and it ministers to me: “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” There are many things that I do not understand. But, I do know that come what may, they do not walk alone.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Winter's Warning

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After a long, warm, breathtakingly gorgeous autumn, winter snuck up on me today.




 Winter does that—it kind of sneaks up.
In 2 Timothy 4, Paul—who’d been stoned, shipwrecked, and seized—now lay chained in a cold, dank prison under the Emperor Nero. In his loneliness and anticipation of winter, he beckons Timothy to join him and bring the bare essentials that he knows he’ll need to get through. Though only a few things, they’re worth noting.
“When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas...”
Winter doesn’t always come skulking its way into November. There’s a coldness of heart that can capture the soul in a spiritual dungeon. And in the iciness of the moment, we long for a covering—a covering that’s warm, that will protect us. Paul needed a real, seriously warm garment. For the winters of the spirit, that warmth could be a number of things—but it must be warm; it must protect.
“…and my scrolls, especially the parchments.”
During the warm and playful seasons, we might not hunger for the Word—but not in winter. In the winters of my life, I’ve sucked in the words of the Bible—searching—seeking—desiring wisdom, desiring comfort, desiring the very presence of the Holy Spirit.
Paul was wise; he wanted the scrolls early. He wanted them before winter. But, maybe the one thing he wished for the most was Timothy himself. Twice he beseeches him: “Do your best to come to me quickly.” “Do your best to get here before winter.”
Life can carry us down roads we do not wish to travel. Read 2 Timothy 4 to hear the urgency in Paul’s voice.
Winter—the winters of the soul—
Paul anticipated winter and what he knew he’d need to make it through: a cloak, the Word, a dear friend.
And maybe the smartest thing of all is that he knew he needed them before the deep chill. Perhaps he felt the cold dankness of his cell that warned of the coming freeze.
Good advice from a man, close to death, anticipating winter.
—a cloak, the Word, a friend.
Secure them now—because winter has a way of sneaking up on us.





Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bad Week


It hasn’t been a good week. All Mondays seem a little hectic, but it was an unusually bleak Monday. Then the last two days haven’t gone so well either. It isn’t that it’s been anything big, or even that I’ve not flowed with the tide. It’s mainly been kind of annoying things. The A/C quit working in my room, but tonight’s cold front will solve that. And even Maggie, the smart board, just shut down today. I thought (only to myself), “Maggie, you’re almost brand new. You’re way too young to be going through menopause.”
Often, life just throws stuff at you, but seriously…when I thought about it, I just really wasn’t prepared very well for this week. I have a friend who periodically quotes his teacher mother saying, “If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.” There’s a lot of truth to that. And I could have done a better job at that this week.
Then, sometimes things happen that there’s no preparation for. Never, never—in our craziest imaginations could we have ever guessed. Situations change; people change. And there we are, staring into space and wondering: How in the world did I end of here?
There are common answers for that: “We live in a fallen world.” “People make choices.” But, sometimes those just don’t seem to work for me. So, there we are, dealing with where we are.
When the A/C quits, it’s easy to open the windows and prop the door. When Maggie quits, you can always manipulate the screen with the computer mouse. If only life were so easy—
It’s not.
So, we pray and we keep walking. We lean on friends and we keep walking. We read our Bibles and we pray and we pray and we pray. And we keep walking.
We walk, we pray because we trust in the One who is never caught off guard. God, very God, is always prepared. And that’s how we walk through the mess, through years, and eventually right into eternity—where a place is prepared for us.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

My Moon



“Mah moo?” “mah moo” (my moon).
Between pizza, cars, books, and cookies, little William periodically took my hand and guided me to the kitchen window, raising his arms for me to lift him up to see the sliver of moon in the cold, black autumn sky.
At this point he still shares readily and isn’t too possessive—except that he believes the moon belongs to him. And beyond our reflections in the window, he points and repeats, “mah moo” in his soft, little voice.
According to Genesis God did give us the moon as a light in the night. And isn’t it amazing how it can reflect the sun’s rays from behind the earth, and brighten a shadowy world?
The moon may seem a little thing, but it is not. Though we’ve seen it from our earliest days, it’s a light in the darkness where there is no light; it guides the tides of the seas; it helps keep our world in place, and it piques the wonder of a small child.
The Elizabethans believed that the world was only fallen from the moon to the earth. Beyond the moon lay perfection, the realm of God and angels—as pure as the first breath of Creation’s moment.
But, God does not just reside beyond the moon. His omnipresence enfolds us, indwells us. It is a mystery. And His Spirit brings comfort and light—even if only a sliver—in the dark days—for days, too,  can be as black as a moonless sky.
To see the reflection of God through the wonder and eyes of a child—
Do you see? Do you see Him?
Lift your eyes tonight. Lift them to the night sky and remember, remember it’s a signature of his love in the dark. Look up and behold mah moo.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

When Prayer Doesn't Work


Sometimes, it seems we pray to a deaf ear. In the Old Testament, God often set Himself apart from the false gods of old—gods carved by the hands of man—with eyes that could not see, having ears that could not hear. Yet, I would venture to say we all have felt we’ve knelt before a mute statue—not of gold, but of our imagination. For each life must suffer our dark days if we live long enough. We desire to escape them, but it cannot be.
In my darkest moments, I’ve found myself sucking in the words of Scripture. I’ve walked through the leaves of fall and winter’s blasts—right into spring’s colorful burst. I’ve pondered questions of man’s choice and God’s control. I’ve wept through music and have doubted the very words I’ve spoken forth.
But, in the end I’ve always—eventually—turned my face upward.
I’ve walked a path that felt unsure. I’ve reached for hope in a clouded view.
Pastor Mark said to me one day, “There is always purpose in His sovereignty.” He neither dismissed our choices nor weakened God’s control.
There is purpose in God’s sovereignty, and so it is—that there is purpose in every dark night, in every twisted form. And because there is purpose, there is hope. And when we reach for hope in the darkness, we experience faith. In many ways, I guess, that’s when we experience faith the most.
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68






Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Rose of Hope


The roses this past June were stunning. Sandy—the rose specialist in our small group—said we wouldn’t see roses like this again in maybe 20 years. According to Sandy, it’s the multiple freezes and thaws of our Colorado springs that set roses back. But, this spring brought a nice slow warm up; hence, a once in 20 year show stopper.

Sandy likes old roses. As we sauntered through her gardens, she pointed out the rose from a stock that’s so old it probably came out west in a covered wagon and another found somewhere in Denver that’s estimated it’s original stock is from the 1700s. However Sandy procured her treasures, I never thought to ask.

Unlike Sandy, I like hybrid teas, some of the tried and true varieties—putting out like I’d never seen before.








But, though the roses bloomed in glorious array, all was and is not right in the world. Little could we have guessed that the profusion of blossoms would hale forth a summer hot and parching. We’ve had droughts before; who could have ever dreamed of what awaited?

Sometimes, heat can burn right through the soul, and ash can settle into every crack of the heart, unrelenting—searing an already broken frame. “Why?” we question. “But this isn’t what I planned, what I expected, what should have been.” But, somehow it simply is.

Nathaniel Hawthorne used the rose as a symbol of hope in his Scarlet Letter, a story of “human frailty and sorrow.” As the juniors and I wove through Hawthorne’s pages this fall, I couldn’t help thinking of the wonderful roses at the beginning of summer, at the beginning of the novel and alluded to throughout. I couldn’t help thinking how differently life will turn out for many of them sitting there, reading…unsuspecting.

“Human frailty—sorrow.” Does it not await us all in this journey?

Perhaps we should all do as Hawthorne suggests and pluck a rose from the bush outside the prison door—of the human heart. 

A rose that will bring some sweet fragrance as we step into fall and the wintry season beyond.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Welcome, Fall!

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Chili for supper and a cake in the oven…. Welcome, Fall! And just for the record, I don’t ever welcome fall…for can winter be far behind?
But after the driest, hottest summer I’ve ever experienced and the horribleness of the fires, even I could look out my classroom window all day and give thanks for the drizzly rain, as I passed out online instruction logins in hopes for many snowy days ahead of doing class work by the fireplace. 



Sometimes it’s just a relief to finally leave one thing behind and move on to another. It doesn’t seem to me that we should get complacent and stagnant in this world, living each day the same as the past—weary, hot, depressed.
New has a way of rejuvenating people.
Now, some things can’t and shouldn’t be changed, but even in our sameness, we could usually jazz it up a little.
Along with logins and passwords, we also went over essay writing today. Every year I hear myself say, “Look at your essay and ask, ‘Could any smart junior have written this?’ Give it some pizzazz!”
Often it’s the smallest changes that turn into big possibilities.
Sometimes, we just need a little change in perspective, like coming off a scorching summer.
So, maybe it will rain into the night and tomorrow morning—whichever—shortly,
I shall eat cake!


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Of Kitchen Floors and Dirty Hearts


I love my wood floor in the kitchen. It suits me well. It can be mighty dirty, but with a quick once over or just a swipe here and there—it disguises a lot of crud.
But, there comes a day when I just have to get up close—on hands and knees—and give it a good scrub.
Today was that day.
Two thoughts always run through my mind when I’m knelt here—
1.     This floor is a lot dirtier than I thought.
2.     I really should have done this sooner.
I guess this old floor really isn’t much different from the spiritual floor of my heart. When I’m just a foot or so from the floor, instead of the typical 5-foot distance, I can clearly see and feel the grease caked around the corners—the nicks and dings this old floor has taken by being the most used room in the house.
Perhaps, that’s when we need to tend to the dirt in our heart most—when we’ve been walked upon by dirty feet, smeared with sticky hands— Having been banged and dented, it’s good to be washed right down to the shine.



But, it’s sometimes hard to kneel.
No matter how good we look from a distance, we all could use a thorough scrubbing. And I wonder if when I think myself best, I’m really most dirty. Then sometimes, I know I’m dirty; I just don’t do anything about it.
And I know that I cannot clean myself anymore than this kitchen floor could wash itself.
I need the Word and the Holy Spirit to pour fresh water over me.
Today’s a good day to get cleaned.
And, I sure do love walking barefoot across a clean wood floor.