“Full many a glorious morning have I seen
Flatter the mountain-tops with sovereign eye,
Kissing with golden face the meadows green,
Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy…”
From William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 33
Update on Life.
It is a Monday, a glorious, beautiful Monday morning. Heaven Fest is 5 days away. Robbin and Jake’s wedding on Saturday was a delightful and joyful event, going off without a hitch. There will surely be facebook pics posted soon, somewhere?…
My friend Pearl’s dad died Friday. He had been ill for some time, but it is still never easy. I only met him once or twice, but I know him through the big, loving family he raised, through his daughter, who is a woman to be praised. He is whole now, and with the Lord, he has gained life.
The Great Outdoors.
Last week’s late afternoon or nighttime thunder showers have saturated our yard to a new level of green, it being August in the arid-Rocky-Mountain-region, and all. Dave mowed and trimmed yesterday and I have spent the morning enjoying the bird-song, the gentle breeze and my time with the Lover of my soul, pulling a weed or two, harvesting a few tomatoes (leftover quesadilla with thick, juicy slices of red goodness for breakfast) and an armful of beets (to be roasted for dinner…I will try to enjoy them). The upside-down tomato, now in its’ place for about 5 1/2 weeks is boasting 5 little spheres of future deliciousness.
Dwight Schrute on The Office: “First rule in roadside beet sales, put the most attractive beets on top. The ones that make you pull the car over and go “Wow, I need this beet right now.” Those are the money beets.”
I’m reading a provocative and poetic book.
From Eternity to Here – Rediscovering the Ageless Purpose of God by Frank Viola. I started before family reunion and am just entering part two (about halfway through). It is so good. I have so little time, but I am enjoying it thoroughly everytime I open it. Fresh revelation. Resonating reminders. Goooooooood stuff. Join me?
O Happy Day!
Tim Hughes sings it this way:
“O what a glorious day
What a glorious way
That You have saved me!”
Turn it up, sing along. Dance a little.
It IS a glorious morning!…Jeanie
NOTE TO SELF: Praise Him all day long!
The first time I ever remember crying over simple words strung together in a book was as I was reading a selection aloud to Dave from Max Lucado’s God Came Down back in the 80’s. I think I was reading the chapter written as Mary, the mother of Jesus, sort of pondering and praying in her heart about her newborn son, and, being a young mother myself, was impacted deeply.
Parts of “Mary’s Prayer” by Max Lucado
GOD. O infant-God. Heaven’s fairest child. Conceived by the union of divine grace with
our disgrace. Sleep well…
Rest well, tiny hands. For though you belong to a king, you will touch no satin, own no gold. You will grasp no pen, guide no brush. No, your tiny hands are reserved for works more precious:
to touch a leper’s open wound,
to wipe a widow’s weary tear,
to claw the ground of Gethsemane.
Your hands, so tiny, so white-clutched tonight in an infant’s fist. They aren’t destined to hold a scepter nor wave from a palace balcony. They are reserved instead for a Roman spike that will staple them to a Roman cross…
O eyes that will see hell’s darkest pit and witness her ugly prince . . . sleep, please sleep; sleep while you can.
Lie still, tiny mouth. Lie still, mouth from which eternity will speak.
Tiny tongue that will soon summon the dead, that will define grace, that will silence our foolishness.
Rosebud lips-upon which ride a starborn kiss of forgiveness to those who believe you, and of death to those who deny you-lie still…
That Max has a way with words (www.maxlucado.com) and you can access a special, downloadable selection of Christmas writings put together as “It Began in a Manger” right here. It is a 15-page gathering of writings he has done in various books with 6 short, but thought-provoking and inspirational “chapters” including “The Arrival, ” the above-mentioned “Mary’s Prayer” and “Gabriel’s Questions.”
I love to read this every year as I “prepare Him room”…again. Check it out! Enjoy “my” (Max’s) FREE gift to you on this first day of December!
He came as a baby to save me, even me! I’ll be contemplating that and celebrating my deliverance from the law of sin and death for the next 24+ days!…Jeanie
NOTE TO SELF: God loves to see us celebrate and rejoice. Spread the word! JOY! To the whole world! Repeat as needed!
OK-just because he is one of the best-loved and most prolific writers in Christendom, and just because The Journey of Desire was my favorite book read in 2004 and just because I spent 6 months reading and writing and loving The Sacred Romance and experiencing an amazing “summer of love” because of it and my friends and I blogged about it all year this year – don’t think that authomatically makes me some kind of big John Eldredge fan. Because I am not an Eldredge groupie. Or maybe I wasn’t.
But I have just finished reading (2 weeks ago) the BEST book (it WILL be my “book of the year”) and it just happens to be by John Eldredge. And I seriously wish some one else, everyone else, would read it, too, and get it and get into conversation with me about it.
Walking with God – Talk to Him. Hear from Him. Really. That is the name of the book. I picked it up from the library on a whim, thinking I’d browse through quickly because there was no time to read it. But the day I got started, I was in all the way. I spent a week reading it (was the bronchitis a gift??), took 27 pages of handwritten notes and have now requested it for Christmas, because, I plan to read it again and write in it and underline and highlight and learn some more.
Here is how it is described on the jacket:
“This is a series of stories of what it looks like to walk with God, over the course of about a year.”
“So begins a remarkable narrative of one man’s journey learning to hear the voice of God. In Walking wtih God by John Eldredge, the details are intimate and personal. The invitation is for us all. What if we could hear from God . . . often? What difference would it make?
All day long we are making choices. It adds up to an enormous amount of decisions in a lifetime. How do we know what to do? We have two options. We can trudge through on our own, doing our best to figure it all out.
Or, we can walk with God. As in, learn to hear his voice. Really. We can live life with God. He offers to speak to us and guide us. Every day. It is an incredible offer. To accept that offer is to enter into an adventure filled with joy and risk, transformation and breakthrough. And more clarity than we ever thought possible.”
John Eldredge basically shares his personal journaling with us, the things he faces and considers and learns throughout the course of a year. Thus, no chapters or formulaic divisions. What he learns about intimacy with God or joy and how essential it is, the spiritual warfare in which he engages, the agreements he breaks with the enemy and the growth in prayer and understanding of the power of the completed work of Jesus on the cross and the deliverance available through the blood of Jesus – these are not segregated, sectioned off revelations, but the interweaving of them throughout the course of the year. Here a little, there a little, as God taught Him, interacted with him, talked to him. Really.
This is the kind of book every parent should leave behind for their children: the record of the faithfulness of the hand of God in our lives in the day in and the day out. Here is what I learned, no-am still learning. Here is what God did on this day. Here is the battle I repeatedly face. Here is how I am overcoming. John Eldredge opened the pages of his journal and shared these things in this book. And even told how he is instilling them in his sons, even now.
The book: It’s conversational. It’s powerful. I felt like I was sitting there talking to the author directly. For me, it was timely and insightful on being whole and holy, and the importance of joy. It reminded me to recognize the enemy’s work against me and how I have made subtle agreements with the enemy that have given him a foothold in my life, but also gave me the courage, the prayers and the understanding to break those things, resist the devil and watch him flee! It exposed busyness again, a recurring struggle for me, and awakened me to ways the enemy has kept me in bondage, but how I do not have to stay there. Period.
Really good read. Really can’t wait to tear into my own copy again. Really loving what I learned about prayer and the new power in my personal prayer life. See http://www.walkingwithgod.net/pdf/DailyPrayer.pdf to get you started.
Hearing from Him so much more…Jeanie
NOTE TO SELF: Increase the conversation with the God of the universe who does actually involve Himself in what concerns me.
We are nearing the end of the book, The Sacred Romance~Drawing Closer to the Heart of God by John Elderidge and Brent Curtis. We have all been reading the book and jotting down our reactions and thoughts to share with you. I am glad to know some of you have read the book along with us and even though you didn’t necessarily wish to “tell all” via the blog, it has been good to hear how God has reaffirmed His love to you through the reading. If you want to re-cap where we started and see how far we have come during our “summer romance”, just click on the “Sacred Romance” category link on the left, or here to get you started.
Candi picks up at Chapter 10: I’ve been away from The Sacred Romance for awhile. Not THE Sacred Romance, but the book. In fact, although I’ve been out of the book I have completely had THE Sacred Romance on my mind the whole time. As I reread Chapter 10 (I’ve read it about 4 times now) I’m realizing that I AM starting to view things differently, from a different perspective. It is all about “wondering what God is up to in all of this.” Pg 145.
I’m ready for the Journey. From Pg. 149, “So much of the journey forward involves a letting go of all that once brought us life. We turn away from the familiar abiding places of the heart, the false selves we have lived out, the strengths we have used to make a place for ourselves and all our false loves, and we venture forth in our hearts to trace the steps of the One who said, ‘Follow me.’ In a way, it means that we stop pretending: that life is better than it is, that we are happier than we are, that the false selves we present to the world are really us.”As I prepare for the journey (finally!) I’m looking back at the many times I’ve desired to go on it but for various reasons have not completely surrendered to it. I’m starting to analyze past situations, relationships, thoughts, “Nits”, and my roles in them for what many of them really were, but I’m also asking what God’s real purpose is in all of this. It’s really been a path to discovery more than a hard road. And it’s all leading me to Jesus!
About 3 years ago I started realizing that my focus for salvation was for what I could get (the streets of gold!) rather than really desiring and fostering a relationship with God. A dear spiritual teacher (MaryJean!) gave me this and I pass it along because it really was the beginning to my Sacred Romance with Jesus:
It’s not help I need – It’s the helper.
It’s not comfort I need – It’s the comforter.
It’s not teaching I need – It’s the teacher.
It’s not provision I need – It’s the provider.
It’s not protection I need – It’s the defender.
It’s not strength I need – It’s the strong one.
I don’t need to get a life; I need life, HIMSELF.
On Chapter 11: Now I find myself at a time of desert communion. I understand this as the path that I’ve been on from reading this. Had I written on this a month ago I wouldn’t have had much application. Just this past month my husband and I have completely stepped out of ministry at our church. A couple years ago our church faced a “perfect storm” scenario that if it wasn’t for God’s will and power I know it may not have survived. At times like this God calls you to help man the ship although you may not be the best sailor. You do the best you can through obedience knowing that He will provide the sails. Well, through God’s glory there has been much healing and the church is sailing on much more secure waters.
My husband and I were still a part of the crew. However, we were still feeling caught up in the “doing” of it all. I was trying to seek God in the aftermath, but too busy to really hear Him. Isn’t it funny we were “doing” church things? And so, for our various reasons we have stopped everything. In this break, I’m asking myself, “Is my identity synonymous with activity?” Pg. 163. “Am I experiencing my spiritual life not as a love affair, but as burdensome, heavy, exhausting and alien?” Pg. 165.
Jesus’ answer is this:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30)
“Only Christ can carry us to rest. The kinds of ‘doing’s’ we have learned are not weighty enough to allow us to walk in the spiritual fields of the kingdom of God.” Pg. 169.
My next destination on my journey, I now know, is to “give up everything else but Him. We experience the freedom of knowing that he simply loves us where we are. We begin to just be, having our identity anchored in him. We begin to experience our spiritual life as the ‘easy yoke and light burden’ Jesus tells us is his experience.” Pg. 175.
Lord, I pray that I am always “hearing” your soft whisper and in turn whispering back to you. Forgive me for not always making our desert communion the focus of my spiritual walk, and instill in me a repentant attitude. Bring healing, rest, focus, and peace at this time, so I can serve once again with my whole heart to glorify your Name.
My turn on Chapter 11 (Jeanie): This chapter is about learning to rest in God and His unbridled love for us as we follow Christ’s own tradition (as well as early church “Desert Fathers”) to pull away from the restlessness and activity of life into the “spiritual disciplines of silence, solitude, meditation (heart prayer), fasting and simplicity” (Mark Buchanan includes these in his “holy habits” in the book, Your God is too Safe).
The author talks about that place when you really stop for just a minute, when you have pulled your heart away from your adrenalin-addicted, activity captivity and your heart tells you how truly tired and burdened and worn down you are. He said, “…it is of no use to ask God to give us energy to make our way back up the cliff over which we have fallen.” I had to laugh at that because I have tried. Lord knows I have prayed and prayed (God, heal me, give me energy to do kingdom work, yada yada yada) and made all my friends pray it, too!
But I love the prayer in the book, “Jesus, help me. All my lovers have failed me. Forgive me. I cannot quench my thirst. Give me the water of life.” It is prayer God can answer in the deep places of our hearts. And He’ll tell us, “Go, and sin no more.”
I’ve most recently been overwhelmed in the tiniest beginning of understanding about the Father-Heart of God towards me. And in that, God is practically leading me through verdant woodlands of his love, green lush life and babbling brooks of refreshment, a recognition that all He has is mine because, and simply because, I am His child. He is a few steps ahead and spreading the branches so I can navigate this place of purity and life. I keep getting glimpses, as He is calling me toward Himself, right over here, Jeanie, come on, and I can see my true homeland just beyond in fleeting moments. Just a few more steps and I may actually get this thing…
But I backslide. I slide back into thinking I need to impress Him with my righteousness or my work for Him or by “paying my own way.” Wait – the branches just moved. He keeps wooing me. My Father loves me. It is OK for me to go into the desert with Him. It is OK not to have an answer when some one wonders what all I have been “doing” for Him. He calls us to the Secret Place.
I so enjoyed the author’s word pictures describing the intimate and wild-love of the Song of Solomon in direct contrast to the imaginary couple at a sidewalk cafe, where as the bride-to-be is talking about her excitement for the upcoming wedding and how she can’t wait to get to know her lover better and be with him more and experience true intimacy, he, a cad, tells her, “I’ll send you a book that describes more about my life. I’m sure you’ll get a lot out of it,” and “…I’d like to send you to a weekend seminar [about intimacy with me] and that should be very helpful.” The writers pointed out that that is the way we very often carry on our love affair with God. When in reality, the conversation would be more like that in The Song of Songs, which everybody knows is some pretty hot talk! But on page 161 when the writer is explaining that God isn’t giving us this glimpse through the bedroom window at the love affair between Solomon and the Queen of Sheba just to be voyeuristic (but rather to realize that “this is the kind of passion He feels for us and desires from us in return”), I had to laugh!
It turns out I am, indeed, the Queen of Sheba! Spiritually speaking, of course, and you are, too!