Saturday, August 26, 2006


I am generally reluctant to come out and say things like "God told me this." God gets the blame for so many things that way, someone hears a voice and assumes it is God who has spoken to them, when in reality it is their own desire that speaks to them. However, a few Sundays ago, the "One Who Knows Me Best" gently reminded me of the need to drop my baggage when entering the sanctuary. (Hmm, Ayekah, I wonder what the Hebrew equivalent to the "One Who Knows Me Best" woud be?) . Here is how the dialogue played itself out. . .

“Where are you going, Annie?

I’m going to church, Lord.

And what will you do there, Annie?

I don’t know, Lord. It’s hard for me to go. I am bothered because I don’t feel like I fit in anymore.

But Annie, what will you do there? What do they call this service you are headed to?

Oh, Lord,--you know, I’m going to the worship service.

Oh yes, the worship service. What will you do there, Annie?”

Going to church. It's really not the same as going to worship.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Noticing The Mess

I read about this new way to play with the camera and thought I’d try it since I just happened to have the right style of old Kodak box camera hanging around my house (kudos to my sister for snagging the camera for me at the resale shop she manages). It is one of those cameras that you hold down at your waist and there is a viewfinder on top that you look through. The image is mirror reversed so to get the shot composed you have to move backwards from what you usually do, like you are looking in a mirror. I am no good at that. But I am getting better.

Anyway, in effect, you use your digital camera to take a photo of the view in the lens of the box camera. Now I don’t know what the big thrill is about doing this, but it’s different and when I shared the quote above with a friend, I thought of this weird photo and put the two together.

If you click on the image to make it bigger, you can probably see the toilet plunger sitting in the middle of the picture, just as pretty as you please, like it supposed to be there. It wasn’t! How many times do I miss seeing things that are as plain as the nose on my face? Maybe it is some sort of message from the heavens for me. Who knows? Are there spiritual implications to a toilet plunger?

In other news, it’s been another rough week. He fell again. And now we are working on getting him up and on his feet, again. There are some things working that might be helpful. One never knows for sure. It’s kind of like looking in one of those old box cameras, you aren’t always sure about what you see, because the view is very fuzzy. Sometimes you have to experiment a little bit to get things framed up just right. And even then, you are never quite sure what results you will get. In photography, maybe that is exciting. In life, where my son's future hangs in the balance, it is nerve-wracking. But I can never give up hope that the Light will overcome the darkness. In so many ways, it already has.
And I am grateful.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Vision Expanded

Before I posted this altered photo, I tried very hard to think of something wise to say to go along with this verse.

I kept remembering the four Owens kids, who lived in our neighborhood when I was growing up. The Owens kids had a vision. They used to tell us all about how their parents were going to enclose the carport and make a den and put another carport on the back of the house. They always recited a ton of details and it was all so real to them. They had a vision, and to hear those kids talk, you’d think construction was imminent, that surely it would begin the next morning at 6:00 a.m.

I have no doubt that they heard their parents as they dreamed and talked of what they would do one day. But the talk went on and I never saw any evidence of construction. I heard those kids speak their vision and I thought “yeah, right”. I was a skeptic at an early age. We all grew up, and the carport remained just a carport.

I don’t know when it finally happened but the construction began with me taking no notice. I was an adult when I went to visit with Mrs. Owens, to see the new kitchen cabinets and all the work that had been done. The whole family, which now includes several spouses and a few grandchildren, has room to gather together comfortably. Their vision came to pass, just as the Owens kids said it would.

And here is where I got bogged down. I wanted to write about how my heavenly Father has promised me a better home, about how wonderful that day will be “when the faith shall be made sight”. While I believe this verse is about the future promise of a better home, I also think it is about a present promise of clear eyes and an ongoing revelation of God. But the truth of the matter is, I am more than a little bogged down, and I’m discouraged, and my vision is not all that clear at the moment but I never meant for this blog to expose things like that, so I posted my altered photo and kept my mouth shut, because, isn’t a picture supposed to be worth more than a thousand words anyway?

And I’m no theologian, but I think part of the danger here is that when one feels emotionally that there is no present revelation from God, one does tend to cast off restraint—tends to slack off, and stops doing the very things that would be conducive to hearing from God. In other words, one loses the expectation of vision. I would think this little one who thinks she is in a dark and quiet place needs to remember that feelings are not always trustworthy. As we used to say back in the seventies, she needs to keep on truckin’, needs to remember, “thus far, the Lord has been good to us.” She needs to put her glasses back on and get her head up and look around and see. There is a light somewhere in all this darkness.

Proverbs 29:18 (Amplified Bible) Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish; but he who keeps the law [of God, which includes that of man]--blessed (happy, fortunate, and enviable) is he.

Proverbs 29:18 (NIV Bible) Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


There are days when all I can see are tangled threads and a jumble of serged stitches designed to keep edges from fraying.

On those days, I like to read again this passage from the book Finding God by Larry Crabb. He wrote the book after losing a brother to a plane crash. I read it nearly ten years ago, shortly after I had lost my own brother to cancer. I want to read it again if I can find my copy (and I will find it, eventually), in light of the current issues in my life. I really don't remember that the rest of this book had an impact on me, but the passage that follows never fails to move me every time I read it.

From the book, Finding God, by Larry Crabb:

"As we remain prostrate, without scrambling for a new way to revive our spirits enough to stand up and carry on with life, we hear a new voice, faint at first, but clearer and more real than any we have we’ve ever before heard. It calls us to pray, to feed on God’s word, to imagine that our wildest dreams will soon be reality.

That morning a few months ago brought something close to revival. I awoke from my troubles sleep, still feeling immobilized. I had no energy. Like a puppet pulled by strings, I managed to crawl out of bed and stumble to the shower stall.

I knew one thing. Without a deeper revelation of God, I would have no energy and no reason to do anything. I was trapped by him.

And then, as I showered, the thought struck me: others go through trials similar to mine, some far worse. Many have already endured and remained faithful. Others have much more to face. Perhaps, I thought, I can draw strength from those ahead of me and become a source of strength for those still behind.

I remember smiling at that point. If that’s true, I thought, then there’s reason to sing. So, with respect for great tradition, I burst into song while hot water pounded on my back. God had spoken to me. I had been immobilized by terror into a state of alertness that allowed me to hear God’s voice.

That’s how it sometimes happens. We begin to sense a truth that we formerly could only explain, that God does not despise a broken and contrite spirit. Without noticing the movement, certainly without conscious effort, we rise to our feet, slowly, somehow beckoned and then irresistibly empowered to do so, and we become alert to a dimension of living that feels strangely familiar. A series of impending reunion with someone we’ve never met but have always known makes us tingle with undendurably passionate anticipation.

For a few moments, we become alive with a consuming passion to know Christ, to taste him as we would a nourishing meal, and to enjoy him as a cherished bride enjoys the wedding night with her bridegroom.

Our prayer life is changed. Now we actually talk with someone we know as a Father in the very best sense of that word. We read the Bible with new delight. Statements we heard as children about the Bible being a love letter finally begin to make sense. Our hearts burn within us because we see Christ in every story and epistle. We know the Holy Spirit in new ways that feel personal and unmistakably present, and we sense the loving, mighty hand of God on our lives and in our hearts.

Then, as it always does, the glow fades. We look around us and realize we’re still out of the garden. The car breaks down, and we call the people with the tow truck, who arrive two hours late and overcharge us for our services. A plane crashes, and we mourn the death of a husband, a father, son, brother, friend. Our bodies grow weary more quickly, and new aches and pains appear almost daily. Gas tanks run empty. Power companies want to be paid. Depression recurs. Sexual struggles that seemed to disappear come back.

Employers ignore good performance, and good work goes unrewarded. Someone snubs us and we’re flooded with self-hatred. A good friend gets caught in an affair. An unmarried daughter tells her parents she’s pregnant, and a son is arrested for drug possession.

Was that moment of knowing God real? Was it fantasy? Is he really there? Do I want to know him, or do I just want a way out, a way to feel better? Is there any joy in Christ apart from the blessings of godly kids, good friends, health, and money? Could I make it with just him?

And then our attention returns, in no particular order, to that inconsolable longing, the enticement of godly people, our wretched self-centeredness, the reality of God’s spirit, the inevitability of suffering, and our hope for a better day—and again we are immobilized. The frantic pressure to handle everything is relieved and we fall down, stilled by the overwhelming awareness of our souls, life, and the eternal: reduced to wanting God—and nothing more. The tingle of anticipation returns, and we realize that the hope within us has not died. Then he speaks. Once again, our hearts are lifted along with our bodies, and we sing, we dance, we shout for joy.

Then life continues. Another day, another disappointment, another pleasure. But now, as we walk along the path of everyday living, something is different. Our focus is drawn more easily to Christ. And slowly we change. Some even report a glow, an enticing fragrance.

Then one day we move from this world to the next. And our Lord greets us with a bear hug. We collapse before him in reverence and wonder, but his embrace keeps us close. He laughs and says, “look behind you!” And there is our brother who died years ago, happier than we’ve ever seen him, and our parents, and our miscarried baby, and Dr. Luke, and Elijah, and Enoch. Now we’re laughing. We can’t stop. And the sweetest voice in all creation says, “Welcome. You’re finally home!”
Larry Crabb, Finding God