Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Kevin's Assignment

I'm having a hard time with Kev's assignment to write about a time when God's grace or helping hand were most evident (see comments under "Play that tape again"), because there's not one big story that stands out right now. I keep hearing Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle saying, "It's just a million little things..."

-the grace to forgive someone I'd held a grudge against for a long time (not a little thing, really, but not a story for telling)

-the chance to make my Pa-Pa laugh one last time before he died (when he was bed-bound and mute from a massive stroke)

-a dead squirrel on the stoop when I had gone through long season of writer's block

-the exact song/sermon I needed to hear being sung/preached at church or played on the radio (how many times has this happened?)

-the time I found a bunch of cheap copies of Wild at Heart to give to my guy friends

-receiving the wrong CD in the mail from GPB (folk songs when I'd ordered classical as my free gift for contributing) and listening to find a song that brought me to my knees with its pleading lyrics ("Lord, Revive Us") and pertinence to my situation

These are just some tidbits of a life that is touched every day by little miracles and stories of grace. I'm ungrateful so often.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Most exotic visitors

Sitemeter is so cool (I know my friends have already discovered this, so Duh, Leah!)! But so far my most interesting visitors have been a person from South Africa who googled "My soul remembers," and a person from Romania looking for that picture of a baby ginger monkey I got from Wikipedia. Foarte interesant!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Play that tape again...

Last night at my ladies' group we were talking about our recent experience at Tres Dias, some of us as workers, some as attendees. It was awesome to do together what Bobbe, leader of the weekend, said she had done individually all week long: replay the weekend in her mind.

When she used that phrase, the Holy Spirit brought
to mind a particular part of our theme verse for the weekend. Psalm 103:2 says, "Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits" (NIV). I got the picture of me and God viewing a tape of my life. Forgetting not His benefits is like rewinding back to all the best parts--the times He's proven his faithfulness so indisputably, the promises He's fulfilled, the healing He's granted, the truths He's illuminated--and dwelling on them. Everyone who knows me well has heard me quote lines (repeatedly!) from You've Got Mail, Pride and Prejudice, and Sabrina. I rewind to those funny or poignant moments I love time and time again. As Christians, we're called to do that with the moments of our lives, offering them back to God in praise, repeating them to others as testimonies of His grace.

I believe the Father loves it when we come to Him, childlike, and say, "Daddy, 'member dat time...?" Of course He remembers, but isn't it fun to tell those old stories? There's no quicker way to build faith than to replay the tape.
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him; How I've proved Him o'er and o'er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Him more!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Good stuff from Oswald Chambers

A portion of today's reading from MUfHH:

When we are born again, the Holy Spirit begins to work His new creation in us, and there will come a time when there is not a bit of the old order left, the old solemnity goes, the old attitude to things goes, and "all things are of God." How are we going to get the life that has no lust, no self-interest, no sensitiveness to pokes, the love that is not provoked, that thinketh no evil, that is always kind? The only way is by allowing not a bit of the old life to be left; but only simple perfect trust in God, such trust that we no longer want God's blessings, but only want Himself. Have we come to the place where God can withdraw His blessings and it does not affect our trust in Him? When once we see God at work, we will never bother our heads about things that happen, because we are actually trusting in our Father in Heaven Whom the world cannot see.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A poem from my thesis that will never get published

I won't share any poems that might make it into a journal someday, but here's a poem from my thesis that was okay at the time but not really publishable. It's one of a series about the Poet, a stereotypical old white male poet type on at least his second marriage; "recovering" from some religion or other and vaguely associated with Buddhism; supremely pompous, though in an Everyman sort of guise; and so well-known in the poetry world that anything he writes will be published, good or not.

The best of my Poet poems will hopefully get picked up by a magazine, so it won't appear here. This one was more something I had to write, a working-out of some issues about Poetry that I was dealing with at the time. Most poets who talk about religion in their work are post-church people, and the dreaded f-word of academe is not that nasty one that rolls regularly of most tongues these days, but fundamentalism. Truth is fluid, art semi-divine--really, it's the only thing safe to believe in.

The in-jokes (among other things) are what make it less a good poem than a good exercise (or exorcising of some stuff), but it's thought-provoking, at least.

The Cult of Art

The Poet, a Buddhist if he’s anything,
says I can’t believe in poetry and capital-G
god, says I’ll have to choose.

I always knew it.

But how to give up poetry, how to
shun her goddesses with an oh-well
shrug? Can’t I just mix spirits
and saints, chants and prayers?
Drink bubbling potions and
communion wine?

No, he warns. We dare not
risk such mixing. Leave experiments
to science—this is Art. Here
is the blank white page. We
write holy writ. Your muse is
jealous, Dearie, jealous as any
O.T. God, and, Vengeance—
well, she saith it’s hers, too.

How can I risk the silence
of the goddess? How dare I
risk the holy wrath of God?
How much longer can I live
in the eye of this Venn, these
intersecting rings of flame?

Other writers circle us, say
the Poet’s full of mumbo-
jumbo, say I’m too dramatic.
What choice? What incompatibility?
Think of Milton, they say,
of King David, of Gerard
Manley Hopkins. Worship
is Art, Art worship. Jesus,
Allah, YHWH, it doesn’t matter.
You might even follow the Poet
as he follows the Buddha. We are
all artists here, followers of
Art—full of love and
questions. Seekers.

From the corner, Art eyes
us, an elephant wild for
peanuts just beyond her
reach. Should the seekers
notice, they would dress her
statuesque in red and gold,
call her shrieks songs, make
obeisance. But they’re not
paying attention, and I don’t
care to see the spectacle.
My reasonable act of worship:
to remember she’d like to devour
me, and to fear that power.



Monday, October 15, 2007

Words I occasionally have trouble spelling

license
exercise
separate
conscious
some -ible word that I can't recall at present

I usually catch myself, but my first instinct is to misspell these words. Also, more often than not, I type to when I mean too and you when I mean your.

That is all.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Two Years Ago...

video
I looked like a hippie and Aubie was a little tiny thing. I missed Mountain Day this past weekend (we're at Berry in the video for that very occasion), so I guess I'm a little sentimental.

But our boy will be able to enjoy it next year. Can you believe how small Aubs was? I love this funny little moment in time.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

I can't believe he's really here.


Until I get new camera batteries, you'll just have to take my word for it on how adorable our new little monkey is. Or Heather's. Or the Douglases', though I believe Little Daniel was a mite disappointed that he wasn't a different color.
"Daniel want wittle owange baby right here" was one of his reactions at their hospital visit yesterday.
Can't wait to see Baby Douglas III--hopefully in a traditional baby hue.

Update: Cue Lavar Burton saying "You don't have to take my word for it." You can just look here.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Lost, lost, lost...

I've lost my marbles.

Well, not quite, but I'm kind of disturbed. Today I met with a career counselor from the Georgia Department of Labor, and we had a nice talk. She's offered to contact Mercer University Press (where her husband, now a prof at Macon State, once worked) to see if they have anything available. She's also going to work with me on making my resume better, something I've needed to do for some time but haven't really known what direction to take.

Why? Simple enough ... because I don't know where I'm going. I have a great Alice in Wonderland quote on my wall that kind of sums things up:
Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.

A: I don't much care where ...

CC: Then it doesn't much matter which way you go.
A: ... so long as I get somewhere.
CC: Oh, you're sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.
Lately the running theme at meetings like this one, informational interviews, and even initial job interviews, has been this question, or one like it:
So, Leah, what do you want to do?
"Heck if I know" sounds flighty and just plain sad for someone pushing 30, and it's not quite accurate. It's more like I have 17 possible directions that won't work right this second, at least not in the Middle Georgia area.

Plus a few directions I would have taken years ago if I'd been brave. I'll spare you the YGM quote that comes to mind.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Commendation


At the various Sovereign Grace conferences I've been privileged to attend, one truth has emerged for me: the leadership of this ministry is comprised of readers, and it is their expectation that growing Christians should be purposeful readers as well. To that end, they're always "commending" resources--seems like everyone uses that word. I guess it makes sense: if I've never heard of the book before, it's a commendation, not a re-commendation. Anyway, one of the books I heard commended long ago was Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, by Donald S. Whitney. I finally picked it up at this year's New Attitude conference, and I finally got around to reading it over the past few months (with long breaks along the way to read other things).

The foremost hindrance to my growth as a Christian, a writer, and anything else I've tried to be in my life is a lack of discipline. Though I know a lot about the Bible, I've been undisciplined in my study. Though I believe in the benefits of prayer, my prayer life has been iffy at best. And though I had heard of the various elements of Christian practice being called disciplines, it wasn't until I read this book that I gave much serious thought to the connection between my lack of discipline and my lack of victorious living. I mean, I did--I've been talking about my need to be more regular with "quiet times" since middle school--but I guess I never really allowed myself to envision growth as a process I could choose to get better at. Like disciplining myself in eating will not fail to effect changes in my body, disciplining myself in the spiritual disciplines "for the purpose of godliness" (1 Tim. 4:7) will not fail to change me inside ... I will be more godly as a result.

The book opens with an invitation to be disciplined with an end in mind, which shouldn't be a new idea to me, but somehow was:

Discipline without direction is drudgery.

Imagine six-year-old Kevin, whose parents have enrolled him in music lessons. After school every afternoon, he sits in the living room and reluctantly strums "Home on the Range" while watching his buddies play baseball in the park across the street. That's discipline without direction. It's drudgery.


Now suppose Kevin is visited by an angel one afternoon during guitar practice. In a vision he's taken to Carnegie Hall. He's shown a guitar virtuoso giving a concert. Usually bored by classical music, Kevin is astonished by what he sees and hears. The musician's fingers dance excitedly on the strings with fluidity and grace. Kevin thinks of how stupid and clunky his hands feel when they halt and stumble over the chords. The virtuoso blends clean, soaring notes into a musical aroma that wafts from his guitar. Kevin remembers the toneless, irritating discord that comes stumbling out of his.

But Kevin is enchanted. His head tilts slightly to one side as he listens. He drinks in everything. He never imagined that anyone could play the guitar like this.

"What do you think, Kevin?" asks the angel.

The answer is a soft, slow, six-year-old's "W-o-w!"

The vision vanishes, and the angel is again standing in front of Kevin in his living room. "Kevin," says the angel, "the wonderful musician you saw is you in a few years." Then pointing at the guitar, the angel declares, "But you must practice!"

Suddenly the angel disappears and Kevin finds himself alone with his guitar. Do you think his attitude toward practice will be different now? As long as he remembers what he's going to become, Kevin's discipline will have a direction, a goal that will pull him into the future. Yes, effort will be involved, but you could hardly call it drudgery.

Though this little story may have been a bit over the top, it got to me, because it reminded me that I've never had much spiritual discipline at all. And the reasons for that are on two extremes. Sometimes, like little Kevin, I have failed to visualize an end result to my practice, and my Christianity has instead be a list of shoulds. Worse still, I have sometimes seen myself as the virtuoso when I'm actually still plunking along on "Home on the Range."

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life includes chapters on Bible intake, prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling, and learning, and I found myself greatly challenged by each. Though the writing is occasionally dry, Whitney peppers the material with enough personal stories and imaginative little analogies like this one to keep this reader interested. My desire to grow in godliness through the spiritual disciplines has greatly increased with the reading of this book. I commend and recommend it.



Well, it's 70 dollars more than we had.


I am saddened to announce that I am finally over it. My love for yard sales (on the hosting end, that is) is over. Though I'm sure I will continue to frequent them throughout my life--even if I marry into money or get rich in some other fortuitous fashion--I don't feel tempted to have another one. Ever.

Or at least not until next spring, when we'll have free advertising again with the biannual Beaver Glen Homeowners Association Community Yard Sale. But only if I'm really, really broke.