Philip Yancey continued in Prayer from a British author, John Baillie in a line from his poem. It states let me use pleasures for the material for temperance. More will be on this tomorrow. something to ponder overnight.
When I was reading Philip Yancey's book, Prayer", I came across John 15 about abiding in Christ., "If you remain in me and my words remain in you. To help the reader more fully understand this, think of the space shuttle approaching the space station. There must be a perfect linking between the two crafts and a full seal has to be established for the two hatches to open. The same applies to God's heart in our heart. To remain in Christ, we must be close to Him. We must trust what He has for us. And to have His words remain in us, we must memorize the scriptures as well. Very difficult to do as well. Yet, He ultimately knows what is best for us.
The essence of abiding is like being connected to the internet and having a strong signal coming through. When we are not tied down by sin, then our effect on God will be much greater. I have found that when I am focused on God through prayer, more can be done as a result.
In another passage of the prayer book, Yancey refers to Hebrews 11 where some men of faith did not attain to what they asked. Moses never got to go to the promised land ;yet, he led his people close to it and left instructions for his successors on how to get there. And Jesus did not get to heal everyone or even personally establish churches in his physical sense of mortars and brick. Yet, Jesus calls us to do what He did in creating churches in which people will create changed lives. In the scriptures, there is the verse of John 14:12: even greater things you will do through me."
And in our lives some of the answers to our prayers or the effects of our testimony may never be known to us. sYet, just as in a tapestry the very markings that were made will make a very beautiful patternl to be commented on. Let it be with our lives that they point to Jesus's work on the cross and in our lives as well.
That we are connected so that we can build not just a space station but the Kingdom of God that is out of this world.
For if this is to happen, we need to spend and prepare time for prayer. It is not always easy to do this since we live in a culture with many distractions. Part of the goal for this sermon series is to have us as individuals to focus on God more and have him be relevant in our very lives.
The very best athletes spend many hours in conditioning to be the very best that they can be. We need to present ourselves with opportunities so that we can have the best quality time for the Lord. As God requires the best in the offering of our gifts, time is a big and valuable gift that we can give the Lord.
We are into the first couple of weeks of spring already and the weather is good. Days start out cooler and then warm up as they go along which feels good.
Emotions are the same way with some people. It can seem like a very long time before the warmth of the day hits. That is when some people lack a general understanding of manners for those like myself who have to take a slower pace going forward. Being careful of operating in unfamiliar territory in the dark. It is hard for some to comprehend the need for a couple of extra seconds to make the journey. May the Lord bless those who need that extra discernment and patience. Help me also with my plank in my own eye at times and thanks for controlling my emotions so that they would not get the better of me for I am sure there are a few planks that I need to deal with. I hate splinters. Help me to understand how to deal with others and help others Lord deal and understand me better.
The phrase photo shoot/portrait got me to thinking of what it might have been like if Michaelangelo has been invited and commissioned to paint a portrait of the Reception of the Magi in Bethlehem. Of how he would have felt sitting beside the cradle of Jesus. Sitting amongst the stars and the heavens and in the close quarters of the inn with the animals inside.
And how He would have felt as he was given the assignment to follow this obscure man Jesus for 30 years who gave small hints of His Greatness. And then to burst onto the scene for 2 climatic years.
To try to capture the imago deo. The image of God. Yet the beauty is that God made that portrait of Us when He made man and woman at creation.
So I celebrate with my friend, Kristen, in her blog of her femininity . May we all take time to celebrate one another's uniqueness. To pause and make life better for them.
I live daily in pain. It is not something that I have invited into my life. It is a gift that God has bestowed upon me. It came unannounced one morning when I was rushing up the stairs to get to work on time. I leaned back to grab a penny and lost my balance and fell onto my rear end. It took me on a tour of pain throughout my body and tingles everywhere. Visits to all the specialists that I could think of. But the bottom line is nothing was found to be causing it except sciatica. Yet, I now take it as a thorn in the flesh that God bestowed upon me. He ornamented me with it and I am thankful that He has tattooed it onto my body. Something that He has treasured for His own sake.
This thought brings me to when Jesus appeared before Thomas after his resurrection and assumption. He reached out His hand and side to show to doubting Thomas to show him His wounds incurred during Holy Week. So even Gods own perfect son had this flaw that He blamelessly shared with others.
This tattoo will be there and it may get lasered off at the Wedding Banquet of the Lamb of God. Even if a remnant is there, it will tell a story of God's infinite grace in my life. Yet, I am thankful to God for allowing me to get this gift from Him.
May you, the reader, be blessed as you look at the pains in your life and in your family as well. For we all have them. It is how we handle them and where we look to for our comfort as well.
Thanks to the faithfulness of my friends, I am able to continue through life and embark on journeys of studies into God's word. Even when being 40 minutes late from when originally stated. And for the ability to limp through life sometimes on two bum feet. But they get me from place to place. But it would not be possible without the love and support of my friends. May you be blessed as you read this and I ask that you reflect on how you are blessed even with the thorns and trials that surround you.
you see, Christ had many struggles before Him; yet, each day he faced his Father in heaven and took the challenges for that very day and then slept at the end of the day to get ready for another day ahead. With his faithful three of Peter , James and John who traveled with Him throughout his travails and journeys.
When I went off to attend my memoir workshop for the joy Luck Club in Bridgeport, I had no idea that I would run across a very familiar name that I grew up with while as a child. When I was born, I was handicapped physically and emotionally and cognitively as well. It was in the early 1960's and programs were a dime a dozen. Very few existed and those that did were oases for my parents and myself. When I was born, one of doctors attending to us told my parents, "just stick him in an institution. : I am glad that my parents never followed that doctor's advice.
This little spark that was then needed to be plugged in. What was great was that there was this handicapped man, Henry Viscardi, Jr. who had the foresight and vision to prepare a place where handicapped youngsters and adults could grow and adjust to society at their own pace. It was not a perfect environment as we were to find out. In that, with so many cases of handicaps far worse than mine, I was left out of the loop sometimes and drifted. Staying at the same level after three years in an open classroom setting. It is not to blame the system since I was only 9 to 12 years old in the open classroom. There must have been a lot of sensory images going on at the time and that can at times be very hard to process and comprehend when there is an assault of them coming at a pre-teen who is just struggling to make sense of a big and scary world.
Yet, a great benefit that The School, as Dr. Viscardi called it was that it provided the novices in life like me and my parents a place to spend one's time in acceptance. IN looking at the world of disability in a new way. In a corporate sense of cooperation. Looking back now, I see the images in my head of malformations , of worlds turned upside down. Yet, each individual that was part of that scene is becoming whole again. It may take time. These years that I was at the Henry Viscardi School were times when I would learn to form relationships and to emerge during my teenage years in a very different environment of the public school system. A time when my parents and I had to advocate to those in authority that we could make it on our own. And not behind the closed doors of an institution.
My longing now is to go back and give an inspirational talk to the school and let them know that hope does exist. And I am glad that Dr.Viscardi has three children who are helping the youth of the world go further in the bettering of our society!!!!
After I wrote this , I read a verse in John 1:10-12 that summed up how my life went as well. In the very beginning as I mentioned I was not accepted by some. Then as I went through life, I began to be accepted. Those verses state that even though Jesus was integral in the creation of the world, the world did not accept him. And so I was at the School which helped to make me to who I am today. I am recognized as a functioning member of a society, even if on a lower rung than that which some of my peers are on now. But I am okay with that. God must have me there for a reason; just like God placed Jesus in our world the way He did it.
You see, the way I see it, is God's ways are not our ways!!!!! I let Him be the CEO for that very reason!!!!
Waves of memory wash over me leaving a faint yet visible impression upon my skin dancing upon the glimmering rocks of shale.
Someone grant me an immigrant who I can see-one that has his or her look etched into my face and within my mind's eye. One that I can touch with my hand and embrace with my spirit. Dancing in between that good old generational gap.
The bloodlines that celebrate with the sea's gurgling of delight. Harbor seals resting upon the rocks basking in the sun.
My mom's parents came from the outer banks of Newfoundland. They worked hard to make their living. They fought the elements working amongst the slimy cod fish that they farmed. The environment that they worked in was summed up well when I watched the movie, The Shipping News. In it, there were scenes of gale-forced winds and fog and very rough waters. The weather dominated their lives both physically and emotionally. In the film, there were scenes with bar brawls and deep emotional angst. My grandparents decided to leave that kind of environment and move to Boston to create a better opportunity for themselves. One that would give them a chance to be employed in industry and to make more money.
Yet, on my dad's relatives stayed pretty close to where they lived and worked in the small town of Boothbay Harbor,Maine. Sitting in the living room rocking chair of Aunt Ella. In her simple white house next to the A&F store once run by her family. We made the visit several times a summer to Aunt Ella. She spoke of her childhood in the state of Maine. When I made the visits to Aunt Ella and to other distant relatives on my dad's side of the family, I found it hard to connect to them. I heard stories of people whom I had never met. Yet, they were somehow loosely embedded into my family fabric. And it was fascinating to see how they lived back then. Along the tables in her living room, there were pictures of her family that she would share with us. She served us tea and some biscuits as she talked during our visit. Aunt Ella was fond of my dad and it was good to see how he interacted with her with a smile and attentive ear. As Dad listened to the stories and made several comments of several boyhood friends that he used to play with near Taylor Pond, I saw the furrows in his brow rise leaving behind rivulets briefly. Showing a brief path of journeys taken. My dad also shared times that he would play in the yards with other friends of his.
Every summer, Aunt Marion, my dad's sister, visited from Florida and stayed in a cabin with her dog, Ringo. He was always jumping up and down in a lively way. She always made sure that she had a dog biscuit to give to her boy, Ringo, and engaged him in a little conversation. Aunt Marion wore glasses that she perched on top of her head of white hair. During one of our visits at Boothbay Harbor, she was on a picnic bench eating a hot dog and down swooped a sea gull to grab the hot dog she was eating. She said, "my nerve, how could he do that, I was eating my hot dog. "
Another of my dad's relatives was Aunt Cora who ran a bed and breakfast house on top of McCown Hill in town. Her house was a multi storied green house that had shingles that looked like gingerbread icing. It was on the highest point in town; so, it was always easy to pick out her house as we traveled through the town. We never stayed overnight in her establishment, but her relations to the townsfolk entered into our conversations as well.
Another relative was Cousin Jimmy Savory who we would see over at the Fisherman's wharf hotel in his white uniform as he valet parked the cars. When he saw us, he said, "How are you doing today. Hope that you enjoy your visit to Boothbay, you hear."
When my parents met sixty years ago on the campus of Bates College in Maine, they decided that they wanted to create better opportunities for their family. So we immigrated from city to city as dad worked as a traveling auditor for General Electric.
When these visits occurred, I was a teen who was slowly maturing and emerging into the world with my interactions. One thing that I could identify with them is the universal theme of acceptance and the uncertainty of what would lay ahead of their journey. The same thing pertained to me when I immigrated from the private school world and into the public school world. It was a world that would not promise me anything, but it would provide me with opportunities on a much broader scale.
When I first left the Henry Viscardi School in Albertson, it felt good to leave behind the daily association with handicapped youngsters and adults who struggled everyday in their handicaps and infirmities. This transition into that world produced for me many trials and tests. Probably much like the ancestors of my mom and my dad. Those who had to rely on the fruit of their labors on the land. In order to get ahead and make progress along the way.
I appreciate my ancestry since both sides of my family came from the sea and lived amongst it. They appreciated its depth and mystery. And as I gaze into the waters of the ocean, I am drawn to those same feelings as well.
Off to read and learn of China in the Joy Luck Club for our annual 2008 campaign of the Big Read.
Life is like a mountain climb. Going to the highest mountain peak. And also is like standing at a pass at the precipice of a cliff and a chance to look out over the vast expanse that lays suspended below.
Life sure has its risks and rewards. We can be criticized for what we say and feel sometimes. In the last post, I was challenged as to whether the thorn in the flesh means we are dead. I disagreed with my reader in that the thorn is a sign of life that is present in the soul. Interacting with our enemy that is out to destroy us. And it is that battle that will bring our roots much deeper so we can survive during the times of drought.
So I will enjoy the moments when I pull over from the ride and take a glance at the vast horizon of possibilities that God has given us and to ponder what being alive in Christ really means. I welcome others to comment on what their thorns and life in Christ mean for them as well.
I remember being in music class and the teacher used a tuning fork to set the instruments at the same level. And that is like a first violinist getting the orchestra ready to play.
When it comes to matters of the soul, it is the same way. These matters of the soul can have a piercing pain. One that has been sensitized by something that we have done. Especially in areas of egregrious sin and times when we know we have done wrong in the pursuit of pleasure instead of God. Yet when this happens, the good that comes out of it is to know that our souls are alive and well. This thorn which I inherited when in the midst of a sin never has gone away. Yet, when it does pierce my insides, I know I am alive. And I can in turn bless others as I listen to their grief. So, I encourage those who are hurting with aches that can not be described. We long to be clothed in the heavenly dwelling; yet, we are stuck here in our bodies with groans that the Holy Spirit will undoubtedly interpret for us. Praise be to God.
Today is the start to the final 4 in women's college hoops. I had hoped that UCONN made it through that final hurdle yet Candice Wiggins of Stanford answered all with the points and UCONN could not the answers that were needed. It was fun to watch; yet also agonizing with some of the fast baskets that were indeed taken by UCONN but not everyone can have a great A game every night though.
Around the breakfast table at the diner this morning, one of our men mentioned that he once worked for a lady whose home was a mess. He explained that this lady had newspapers piled everywhere and unopened mail. He said that some might call that a maze, but in reality it was a mess. I could not help thinking that he was describing me to a tee even though he had never actually been in my apartment. The same qualities pertain to me. I do tame things down every 28 days as I prepare for my monthly merry maid visit, yet it can be difficult to keep up with the tsunami of information that I let come flooding through my door. Thinking that it will provide comfort when it may be actually doing the opposite-making things worse. It is not that information is bad; it is just how I handle it.
Mazes are a puzzle that are very difficult to solve since it is very difficult to move and one's steps keep getting retraced, and it can be hard to tell which lines one needs to be on if the previous routes have been failures.
On a related note, I almost won the package to be organized at an auction for autism last weekend, but I was afraid of what I might be told that I needed to do in order to be more organized. When I last had organizers come in , I was glad that time ran out in that given area of work that should have been done. Now I just must go and tackle some of that unpleasant stuff so I can understand and know what I have and what I need to get rid of.
To see it from above, from a different perspective. Maybe through the eyes of some who care for me and my God. Not eyes of judgement but eyes of Love . and an accountability to actually get it done and make progress on the same front.
At work today, my manager commented with all the stress that has been going on, that she felt like a chicken with her head cut off. to that, I replied, "yet, you don't look like a chicken." "to that, she chuckled. At least I was able to diffuse her tension. And I even managed to have a good day finally resolving one of our older accounts when I obtained documentation from one of our vendors.
On another note, yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King's assassination. A lot of changes were happening during that five year plan of the late 1960's with the space race, with the unsettled political climate of shootings and with the challenges that i even faced growing . Just to get out of the starting gates into life itself.
The life that we live began as a tiny seed seeking another seed at the time of birth. A marathon up a strong flow. It began with a big crescendo that increased cells at an incremental manner. It is a fascinating process to watch as women bear children. It is a process that grows. Then after the birth of the child, it is a downward process of decay that takes 70 to 90 years. Yet as men and women unite to the soul of God, we receive the eternal blessing of the Father. Ås in agriculture, for a plant to form, its seed must die. As we grow in our lives and become more like Christ, we will have an eternal throne to receive His blessings.
I added another contribution to chicken soup for the soul for an upcoming title, for the basketball lover's soul. if anyone wants a copy of this piece, email me your info and I will be glad to give it to you. Just don't want to violate any rules of the contest by posting it before it gets accepted. you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org