Monday, November 29, 2010

Rate of Exchange

When we brought our daughters home, we tried to think ahead as much as possible.  Prior to bringing them to church, M and I discussed how certain things would go.  Who knows why some things come to your mind, while others never enter into discussion until they present themselves in the course of our days and then we must decide ‘what to do now?’  One of those things we considered prior-to was whether or not we would have the girls join in communion.  We’d let our boys participate as soon as they were able.  But like many things, upon reflection, we realized we simply did so because “everybody” seemed to.  We didn’t have quite the understanding of it as we came to later on – like a good many things.  So we decided that in order to be clear about what communion is, we would hold on allowing the girls to take it until the day when they understood it and had accepted Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.  We were a bit taken aback when those in our small church dedicated the sacrament of communion to our girls that first Sunday we brought them with us.  It was a dear act meant in love, and we allowed them to join in, of course.  However, since that time we have not.

Such a decision leads to so many other considerations and clarifications for us to redefine and crystallize what we understand these things to mean to us.   Salvation became one of those items  - when and how does this come about exactly?  We needed to be able to put it in a very clear way for our girls so that they could best grasp what goes on in a person’s life with respect to Jesus.  The way I came to explain it is that it is an exchange.  Jesus has given His life for me, and when I came to this realization, in gratitude and love I responded by accepting that gift of sacrifice; in turn I gave him my little life to change, transform, and use as He wills from that day foreward. 

This morning I considered this question – how much do we want of Jesus?  I was always an introspective child, and I knew from early on and for many years that I had two particular battles that needed to be fought regarding Jesus.  The first’s focus was, just who was He?  Was I really going to buy into the claims made about Him?  Could I truly believe with all my heart?  ‘Cause I knew, of course, that He would know if I were faking it.  The second came to this issue, how much was I willing to give Him?  This duo played King of the Mountain in my heart and mind for years. 

At times trust and doubt vied for supremacy when it came to the matter of faith; many other moments were spent wrestling with the fact that I knew I just wasn’t ready to cash in my ALL.  There was simply too much I still wanted to do without someone else meddling with it by giving me any confining boundaries of which I should not pass.  I knew Jesus had plenty of those waiting for me, and I also knew full well I wasn’t ready to submit to them – or Him either. 

As often  seems to have to happen, life-shaking crisis came into my life.  I did not turn to the Lord with uncertain hope.  In all my muddlings, I knew that it was me who was having to do the sorting and figuring out of things.  God was not confused.  He knew exactly who He was.  I turned to Him and asked for the filling in of faith where my swiss cheese belief fell short, trusting that He could and would do it – and He did.  The first battle was over and done.  The Ruler of Creation loved me and took me in, and I was all amazement and thanks giving.

The remaining challenge, how much of myself I brought to this exchange, was less clearly decided.  I can honestly say I thought I gave everything to Him that day.  But as one day rolled into another, it became clear that I was amazingly deceitful.  Little bits of this and that were tucked away here and there, and I would find a snatch of the Old Me now and then.  Years of intimacy had established a nonchalance among my sins so that they’d just stroll on up and swing an arm over my shoulders like an old boyfriend, giving me a familiar squeeze and a wink.  However, with my life given over to the rule of my King now, I found He would not so easily allow ‘gluttony, lust, gossip, spitefulness, etc.’ (you know the gang), to play with me and my life anymore.   “Who is this?” he would ask with all the fullness of His love and truth.  Sometimes I tried to avoid His gaze, but eventually our eyes would lock, and one way or another my sin would be sent on his way post-haste.

Ultimately, it can be no other way in The Great Exchange.  With the passing years there have been a mounting number of times that my Savior has had to respond to the unannounced arrival of the unwelcome, uninvited, and unwanted imposters that try to lay claim to my heart, mind, and character.  With each skirmish, more of this little life is brought out in humbling fiery sacrifice.  Changed, transformed, and used.  What I didn’t know before The Exchange was this.  All that I held onto in comfort and self-gratifying love that I now lay before him and see go up in flames, it is never what is best, or for my good, or of any lasting value.  And what He does with those sacrifices is beyond what I could ever do or create or experience on my own.   This is real living.

I pray for a day of The Great Exchange in my girls’ lives.  But for those of us who have already had that momentous day, I just have to ask, “So, how much of Jesus do you really want?”   I think it’s a good question to greet the moment with, don’t you?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Picture This

This is a little something for me.  It's only $20, so its certainly something I could actually get for myself in real life.  I put it into my empty box of pretties because of what it represents to me, more than for the exact contents - which are still unknown to me at this point.  Creativity and time and a unique representation of yourself drawn from within, exiting my means of your hand, onto paper, in words and pictures without overbearing self-consciousness.  This book is Lynda.  What would the cover of my book look like?  And what would fill its pages?

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Arose around 8:30.  Made some french press coffee and drank it from handle-less tea cups.  I've found that I really prefer coffee in that smaller "dosage".  Checked e-mails and responded with rejoicing to a few fellow homeschoolers - one with a father who received a leukemia free biopsy, still needs prayer for an infection, but is feeling well; another whose brother-in-law was the victim of a near fatal car accident about three weeks ago - and was released to come home yesterday.  This is a miracle.  He has a lot of work ahead, but he is alive and home, and that was all extremely uncertain for a while.

9:00AM  Watched a bit of the Macy's parade with my kids before heading for the kitchen and leaving them to it.  I'm making a persimmon cheesecake that needs to get baked so it has the time to cool.  Just got as far as pressing the crust into the springform pan before Q took the oven over for roasting chestnuts for the stuffing.  Ah well, cleaned up the kitchen a bit while listening to part of a wonderful series Chip Ingram is doing on knowing if you are in love prior to marriage.  Michael popped out to the deck to check on his turkey brining in a cooler out there, then back to join the kids.

In our family, we all participate in the Thanksgiving dinner preparations.  Once the parade is over, people will be drifting in and out of the kitchen all day, contributing to the feast.  This year my husband (who staunchly has guarded our traditions over the years) surprised us by suggesting we come up with new recipes across the board.  Once Q challenged the sacred cow, Jiffy corn bread stuffing, and our leader didn't cave on this new direction - we knew this was for real.  So we scoured the internet and our cookbooks, and presented our recipe proposals for approval at a family meeting this past Sunday.  Everything is the same, but different.

The line-up is as follows:
M - the Turkey - using a new brine recipe containing honey, salt, vegetable broth grilled over smoky hickory chips outside
Q - will be doing two stuffings, of course.  One utilizing sourdough bread and sausage, the second one will be based on homemade cornbread and containing chestnuts.
D - mashed potatoes will be replaced by potato crashers
A - assigned the pumpkin pie replacement, she came through with pumpkin creme brulee!  I can't wait!  She also is giving corn pudding a go.  A southern staple which has never graced our table to date will be having it's debute today.
R - ok, we had to go get him from college a day ago, and he is sleeping until noon today.  Anticipating this, we gave him the assignment of the green dish - so he will be tutored in making a simple salad.
L and Mom - we will be bringing oatmeal sweet potatoes to the table, the aforementioned cheesecake, and a ginger-pineapple punch.

The day is interspersed with small delightful bites of life.  Sweet - my sister Tania and I play a game of chat tag, never quite connecting in actual time, but speaking to and listening to one another anyway.  Nourishing - I whip up a pineapple blueberry smoothie to sustain me and share a few cups with others.  Savory - Little L rubs the sweet potatoes with oil and wraps them, placing her packages to bake for our recipe to be finished later in the afternoon.  Peppery - some nudges to the less cooking-inclined members of my brood to pitch in as befits the day and occasion.  Saucy - my sister-in-law responds to my family wide invitation for all to come to our house this year.  They won't be able to make it, understandably.  Goat farming isn't the sort of deal you can just call in a neighbor for.  I am disappointed, but simply loved hearing from her.  Cleansing - around 2:00 I take a shower, dress, and then settle for a bit of respite on my bedroom loveseat, reading The Book Thief and tearing up with tenderness.  Rich - as R urges a spontaneous gathering of hands, so happy to be home.

Later on, we gather around the table.  It is full with food, fuller still with my family.  R finds our dinner music - always a big thing for the guys, D reads from the bible, Papa prays, and then we eat to satisfaction and contentment.  (Some of us to a bit beyond that.)  We all share at least one thing for which we are thankful.  Although this is a tradition, I always think that some my kids would usually rather we not do this.  I have to keep my list to just a few things.  I am so, so thankful.  M and I leave our children giggling and messing around at the table in the afterglow of the meal.  I wash some dishes, he carves the turkey and says to me, "I think we just see things differently than they do."

I agree, and I'm glad of it.  We talk about what that says about us, and it is deep and meaningful, and we savor the knowledge that we can understand these things together.  We are grateful to be here and now.  It is not perfect, but it is a gift of deep importance and consequence, and as such we treasure it all dearly.

Gratefully indebted to His unmerited favor, this is a day of thanks-giving.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I am currently reading the organic God by Margaret Feinberg.  For some reason I can't quite put into words, each time I pick it up, I feel a thrill of anticipation.  The reasons remain inexplicable because I have been a fractured reader, I must confess.  Honestly, I will have to re-read this book in order to do it justice.  However, today I read a chapter to my girls for our time of devotion.  Earlier in the week I'd shared an excerpt with them from the previous chapter.  It was during an evening of winding down on our recent Science Trip to Tybee Island and dove-tailed delightfully into our experiences in exploring His creation.  They had sighed in appreciation.  That's always good.

Today's chapter was equally inspirational.  This chapter literally breathed.  I felt connected and drawn along by the words as I walked through it with my daughters, glancing up to make eye contact, like holding hands as we ventured into a forest of thoughts.  They scribbled notes as I spoke, and I reveled in the joy of seeing this.  Each chapter focuses on a quality of God, and those who know all three of the fairer sex within our home might find it humorous that this particular one was titled: unbelievably stubborn.

It's ok to smile.

The author, Margaret, speaks of a book she has read and then passed along to her husband titled The Burning Word. In it, she learns of a rich Jewish tradition called midrash which invites deep exploration - including study, reflection, and debate - of the Scriptures.  From the book:
"Midrash reads the Hebrew Bible not for what is familiar but for what is unfamiliar, not for what's clear but for what's unclear, and then wrestles with the text, passionately, playfully, and reverently.  Midrash views the Bible as one side of a conversation, started by God, containing an implicit invitation, even command, to keep the conversation - argument, story, poem - going.
In Hebrew, Midrash means to search out.  Midrash asks the reader to find those quirky, oddball Scriptures and inconsistencies and try to make sense of them before God.  It challenges us to explore that which we do not know in order to better understand the One we want to know.

Midrash invites us to have a little chutzpah with the Bible....  I am invited into the depth of Scripture - to trade in a surface understanding for a deeper grasp of a passage's meaning.  Sometimes when I finish midrash, I discover that I know less than I thought I did, but even in that, I actually know more than I did when I started."

Yes, yes, yes!  I feel like I have found the word I didn't know was out there for this particular aspect of a living, vital thing called relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit God.  He wants us to interact with Him.  The fact is, when we are really honest we have to admit that we come with lots of questions, with loads of hang-ups and baggage, and we're not quite sure that He would really want to get into certain things with us.  And when we are really totally honest, we admit all of that and wonder if He is really up to all we could bring to Him.

I know that there have been times when I have wondered if He can really handle me and all my stuff.  But what I've found when I have finally gotten myself to that place where my desire for Him outpaces the fears and doubts of my own heart - is that He can.  In point of fact, He really is able.  When I have stepped out, sometimes in faith, at other times more in hope, He has caught me, been enough, seen me through, given me answers, and provided richly. The last line in the old hymn Great Is Thy Faithfulness comes to mind, "Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside." He is more than able.

And He invites all my midrash.  All I can say is, thanks be to God.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Brushstrokes on the Sky

Driving around my county today, the skies were absolutely breathtaking.  I was having my own private showing of the grandeur of the heavens with every twist and turn of the North Carolina roads.  While a few sprinkles came my way, most were far off and I gazed at the wash of rainfall over the cloudy visage.  Every time I see distant rain I remember the first time I ever noticed the sight.  It was in one of my Mother's paintings.  The land of enchantment's wide open space met with a gorgeous red mesa, classic Southwest beauty.  Near the tabletop of earth, the grey brooding thunderclouds drifted into sweeping downward lines of the paintbrush.

I asked Mom what was happening in that change of shadow and mist; she answered with the simplicity of the little word, rain.  Even today, the sight always reminds me of a painting where I learned to recognize this particular stroke of God.