Friday, January 29, 2010

Earthquakes, Part II


We continue to see the devastation the earthquake and its aftershocks have caused in Haiti. My heart is still hurting, and as I said, it is simply not enough. Even now, when I pull up news web pages—the earthquake is old news.

Earlier this week, I read about a 31 year old man who was rescued after two weeks under the rubble. Alive because he had access to water.

The human body is resilient and tough. It can be pushed to incredible depths and lengths and still survive.

As you continue to read, please understand that the physical and emotional suffering in Haiti continues to break my heart. I am still in the middle of deciding what I need to do to help. What can I do that will truly benefit the Haitian people? What can I do to come to their aid and truly make a difference?

I can open my eyes.

Earthquakes are the result of major shifts in the earth’s geological structures.

Earthquakes do not just occur in the geological realm of this world.

I have always thought of our emotional, mental, and spiritual lives in terms of geology. Our inner terrain. This idea came from someone else, and I can’t remember who, but this makes sense to me.

On a daily basis I am quite sure I come in contact with someone who is experiencing or is about to experience an earthquake.

And there is a great chance I am missing the signs.

We often ignore the signs of an earthquake in others and in ourselves. (Just like we ignore the gentle tug at our hearts when we see the images from Haiti) We try to avoid the responsibility we will assume if we acknowledge the potential danger. Our mercy is curbed by our fear of getting too deeply involved. We are concerned of the danger we might experience. We are wary of the power of association.

Sometimes we don’t see the signs because the person has become incredibly adept at camouflaging their pain and circumstances. They don’t want us to see the cracks and fissures in their spiritual and emotional terrain. But if we look into our brothers’ and sisters’ faces, if we peer long enough and deep enough, we can see the fault lines. We can detect the unstable ground.

Who and where?

The lovely couple at church who seems to have it all together. Great kids. Great house. Great jobs. But their marriage is sitting on a fault line. The foundation is cracked and the gap is ever-widening.

The young adult who is weary of the peer pressure. He is tired of trying to make right choices. All his friends are drinking. A lot. This young man is so frustrated. In his attempt to do what is right there doesn’t seem to be much reward. Why continue to walk such a hard road?

The minister who knows that the relationship is not appropriate. It has crossed acceptable lines, but he is weary from the fight. And he is about to let his guard down.

The little boy who is constantly bullied at school. Being teased and ridiculed. He becomes like a timid dog backed into a corner. But in his attempts to fight back he just gains more ridicule.

The young girl who has been told she is too fat or too skinny. She is weary of being told she is simply not beautiful enough to have value. She is exhausted from the attempts to try and meet the standards and so she resorts to things she can control: her eating habits and cutting.

The middle-aged wife who has a husband who doesn’t seem to see or hear her anymore. She feels invisible. And someone pays her a compliment and her heart reawakens, but in the wrong direction.

The beautiful young woman who is told she has cancer. She has a family. An incredible career. An encouraging, faithful husband. And she loves Jesus.

The family who is living from paycheck to paycheck. Scraping to just barely get by. And the last paycheck has been issued. They have been laid off.

The once-thriving business is about to end. There is not enough clientele to keep the doors open. The owners now face bankruptcy or lose everything.


And after the earthquake there are usually multiple aftershocks, and they often leave their victims paralyzed.

Incapacitated in some way—handicapped.

We need to see that the Body is often severely wounded. It is hurting and suffering.

Sometimes it will break our hearts. But that will simply not be enough.

We must decide what we can do to help. What can we do that will truly benefit these earthquake victims? What can we do to come to their aid and truly make a difference?

We need to open our eyes.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Earthquakes, Part I

Strokes are known as the silent killers. Doctors can often see the predictors of a stroke: genetics and lifestyle, but we are still never sure when and where they will attack. And when they do they often leave their victims paralyzed. Incapacitated in some way—handicapped.

Earthquakes could also be known as silent killers. Scientists can often see the predictors of an earthquake: fault lines, unstable layers of the mantle beneath the earth’s crust and volcanic activity. To a certain degree they can predict where one might happen, but never with absolute accuracy. And when the earthquakes do happen they leave their victims paralyzed. Incapacitated in some way—handicapped.

For all our knowledge, advancements and predictions we did not see this silent killer coming when it did. Nor has our world’s technological advancements and sophistication immediately alleviated the suffering in Haiti.

The ground ruptured and broke open. Buildings shifted and collapsed. Roads were displaced. And people were/are caught, pinned and buried in the destruction. And the aftershocks cause panic and fear and chaos.

Silent killers.

We have all seen the photos on the internet or the television. We have been bombarded with images that capture the agony and misery and suffering of the Haitian people. We have heard the pleas of father not wanting the search to stop for his daughter—a daughter who was on a mission of service. She was there to feed the poor and take care of the needy. And now she is nowhere to be found. Her birthday was this week. She turned 20.

I have a twenty year old year old daughter.

One video followed a rescue team digging in the rubble, cement slabs collapsed at odd angles, to uncover a small child. The baby couldn’t have been more than fifteen or sixteen months old—dressed in a onesie and a diaper swelled from the six or seven days she had been under the debris. One of her rescue workers held her close and gave her water, doused her head, loved on her, and then handed her to a Haitian man next to him.

We have heard the nightmare tales from the make-shift surgery centers resorting to using vodka being used to sterilize the surgery tools, hacksaws to amputate limbs and giving only Motrin to alleviate the pain. And we are reminded of our own days during the Civil War.

Catastrophe often causes us to revert to primitive and horrifying ways.

Haiti will feel the devastation of this earthquake for years and years to come.

Haiti is severely wounded. She is hurting and suffering. And it breaks my heart. But my heart breaking is just simply not enough.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Winter Seed

My kitchen window has an incredible view. I can look through the long panes of glass, six feet or more, out into our yard. We have a tree stump in clear view of the kitchen window. It is what remains of a very, very large maple tree. The tree had to be cut down because it was dead—hollow and leaning precariously toward our house.

Some of it has been cut into scraps and firewood, but a stump, almost six feet long and two and a half feet in diameter, remains. There have been times I found the stump an eyesore and a nuisance. Many times I have said I want it gone.

But right now, I am so glad that it is here. We have been scattering birdseed on the top of the toppled trunk. Just plain birdseed, nothing fancy. During our last snow, I covered the trunk thickly with seeds and nuts and even a few cranberries left over from Christmas.

The birds have found the seed. And they must have told their neighbors—woodpeckers, cardinals, blue jays, chickadees, and starlings have made appearances. Squirrels too—sitting on their haunches and furiously nibbling the food in their tiny paws. Watching them all has been a delight.

They came because there was food. They came because I took the time, effort and the little funds to scatter seed to feed them.

Just a simple act, nothing elaborate, produced, performed, or choreographed. I just wanted to provide a little nourishment for the birds in the yard.

Today as I watched the flock, I felt my heart swell and begin to hurt. I know when this happens, the Holy Spirit is trying to get my attention; He wants me to see something—to be aware. My eyes brimmed and my nostrils burned.

Come eat.
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
I will feed you the richest of fare.
I will set a table in the wilderness for you.
Manna will never taste so good as what I offer you now.

I want to feed God’s people in whatever capacity that means.

I want to find a rotten, useless stump and turn it into a banquet table.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Come, Holy Spirit.

I invite you. I welcome you. I bid you—Come.

Be near me. Be in the vision of my limited sight. Be Immanuel to me now. Abide with me.

You are not an apparition. Help me not to quench you, and please forgive me when I cause you to grieve. Remind me to fear not.

Give birth to spirit in me. Bring me out of the confining womb of this world. Let me born again—daily. Moment by moment.

Holy Spirit, show me Jesus. Remind me of what he said, and so guide me into the truth. Share with me the whispers of the throne room.

Testify to who I am—I am the adopted child of the Father. Remind me of the name to which I belong. Enable me to cry Abba.

Oh, Holy Spirit, you are my deposit. You are my engagement ring—the promise guaranteeing I am a part of the Bride of Christ. Guide me as I dress and prepare for His Second coming.

You are my intercessor. When words fail, moan for me. Groan for me—according to the Father’s will.

Purify me. Sanctify me—set me apart. Earmark me for use in the Father’s kingdom.
Equip me to bless the saints.

You have determined my giftings—according to your measure. Enable me to use these in proportion to my faith and the limitlessness of your grace.

Prepare me. Tell me what is yet to come. Train me. Manifest yourself in me for the common good of your Body.

John 3:5-8; John 14:15-21, 25-26; John 16:5-16;
I Corinthians 12:1-11; Romans 8:15-16; Romans 8:26-27

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Marked Differences

This time of year always prompts resolutions. Many are set with what we hope is diligent resolve. This time we are going to follow through. This time we are going to finish the list. So, we buy a new journal, adopt a new diet plan, set plans to finish long-overdue projects and sundry other abstract goals.

Our own experience and statistics, however, tell us that most of these resolutions fizzle and fade and are forgotten by February.

How depressing. And the thought of making another list that I would fail to finish or fulfill seemed quite futile.

My daughter and I were discussing this the other day. Last year she really didn’t make a list, she just simply said she wanted to do better—she just wanted there to be a marked difference in the things that mattered to her.

I found my 2008 New Year’s Resolution List. I don’t know where my 2009 list is. I am not sure I even made one. The 2008 list showed up in a box of my important papers—things I don’t want to lose or misplace.

22 things were on the list.


Here are some of the goals I had then:

1. In-depth bible study with Terri. We studied the book of Romans. My view and perception of Paul was forever changed.

2. More art. I produced very little art that year. Lots of ideas and plans and good intentions, but little fruition.

3. Keep up this blogspot. I have kept it up, but not with the consistency I have wanted.

4. Be in a better financial place. I had someone do my taxes for me for the first time that year. I learned how to operate on a better budget.

5. Keep my relationship with my Dad and Step-mom strong and real. What a delight and thrill this one has been and is. They ate New Year’s Eve lunch with us and stopped by again today.

6. Work on loving myself…and loving others more as a result. 2008 was a remarkable year for this one.

7. I wanted a year of deep, deep prayer about where God was taking me and what he wanted me to do. Be assured when you pray this one from your heart, God will answer (you may be stunned at the answer, but he will answer).

8. I wanted more laughter. I got it.

9. I wanted to give intentionally. My goal was to give one gift per month. It didn’t happen. Again, good intentions…

10. Better school calendar. More creative and tougher. This has happened partially this year, but not to the extent I desire.

11. I wanted to have deeper involvement in a spiritual and friendship community. The roots of this goal began in 2008, but not where or what I expected—it was much deeper and far more extraordinary.

Now it is 2010.

Not only a new year, but a new decade.

Will I make a list this year?

No. Not the traditional kind.

I seem to be pretty fond of No Particular Order lists. So here are some of the goals and aspirations I have for 2010 in no particular order.

Spend less.
Envy less.
Fail less.
Complain less.
Dawdle less.
Judge less.
Worry less.
Compare less.
Exasperate less.
Critique less.
Waste less.
Afraid less.
Talk less.
Conform less.
Argue less.

Worship more.
Learn more.
Give more.
Laugh more.
Create more.
Study more.
Rest more.
Pray more.
Confess more.
Listen more.
Play more.
Encourage more.
Write more.
Care more.
Read more.

Love more.
Yes, love more.

The Thrill of Hope--Jeremiah, Part 1

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