Thursday, December 8, 2011

prayer is invasion

"Few things have contributed to spiritual barrenness in the church Christ founded as has the idea that prayer is mere quiet, meditational passivism. There is a time to be silent. There is a time to be still. To know the awesomeness of God's person and presence. But prayer is alive. It is aloud with praise, aglow with warmth, attuned with song, aflame with power. We're under instructions to change the world. Once you have been rescued from it, you'll need power to become a threat to it. The world which contained you in its grasp until now, will not release its hold on others without a fight. Power is the key to our victory, and prayer is the pathway to power." ~Jack Hayford in Prayer Is Invading The Impossible

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Good Shepherd

I am just finishing an amazing book by Phillip Keller, who was a shepherd in Africa, and his book is called, A Shepherd Looks At The 23rd Psalm. It only takes a few pages to be brought to your knees, in having your Lord shown in terms of an intimate caretaker and yourself being compared to a sheep. From seeking their own pastures, to petty disagreements within the flock, to falling down and not being able to get up on their own, to being driven to frustration and distraction by the pestilence of insects at the height of summer, one would almost think they are created solely to draw a parallel between mankind and his Savior.

The endless tasks of a good shepherd are staggering. He walks the fields, pastures, valleys and high ground, preparing the land for his sheep, noting poisonous plants, location of watering holes, the threat of dangerous animals and rich meals of grass--never taking his sheep where he had not gone before. He combs the fields day and night for storms and predators and lost sheep…He anoints their noses and heads with oil and sulfur to keep the annoying and destructive flies away, and bring comfort, he keeps them on the move to prevent over-grazing and erosion and parasitic infestation, he guides them with his staff touching their sides so they know he is there…

Despite all this, Isaiah 53:6 says we have turned each one of us to our own way! We blindly, habitually, stupidly cling to the same habits we have seen ruin other lives. Keller says, "Turning to my own way simply means doing what I want to do. It implies that I feel free to assert my own wishes and carry out my own ideas. And this I do in spite of every warning.” Turning to my own way simply means doing what Jayme wants to do?? This isn’t talking about bad people, like cheaters and liars and thieves? Then this is a serious idea that needs my serious consideration!

For me, for most people, this goes on continuously! “I don’t feel like going to the grocery store” “Carrie asked to meet for coffee, but she will talk my ear off” “I’ll just put on another pot of coffee and read one more chapter” “I’m too tired to go to the gym this morning” On it goes! The Good Shepherd says, If any man will follow me, let him deny himself daily and take up his cross and follow me. (Mark 8:34) But most of us simply don’t want to do this in the practical sense. We don’t want to deny ourselves (shut the tv off), we don’t want to give up the right to make our own decisions (Lord, can we take a family vacation to Disney this year?) and we don’t want to follow, which is to say, we don’t want to be led in paths of righteousness! Keller says, “The person who is prepared to put his personal life and personal affairs in the Master’s hands for His management and direction has found the place of rest in fresh fields each day.” That’s what I am after. This means giving him my day, every day. Lord, what would you have me do today? And then listen. Ask pointed questions. Is it okay to curl up with my book this morning? “No, you need to take the dogs to the park and then write that card to Becky.” I don't know if I should take the train into town or drive, you know my time is tight “Don’t take the train, drive and I’ll give you a parking spot” And He speaks without being consulted, “I don’t want you to get that book or that food processor or that iphone or ipad (fill in the blank)” "Yes, give her all of it” "Don't go to Indiana this weekend" These things may sound absurd, but how can we hope to hear from God in the big, life-changing things, if we haven’t practiced seeking and hearing in the little things? "My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me." (John 10:27) Have I gone overboard in my eagerness to follow? Maybe, but I sincerely doubt it. Peter literally threw himself overboard in his rush to greet the risen Lord and Jesus loved him for it. Jesus never exclaimed, “O you of too much faith!” If God is the same yesterday, today and forever, God still speaks. What is He trying to say to you? Ask him. Be specific. Be deliberate. Expect a response.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hope deferred...

I think its time to post. Its been a long five months since we moved from Boston. I didn't mean to be gone and silent. I didn't mean to be away from the thoughts and activities I record here. It hasn't been a matter of discipline, or finding time in my week, because I have had plenty of it, being yet without a job...I just didn't have much to say. Honestly, I've been doing a lot listening. And thank God, my heart has been a sponge. But I've been quiet for long enough, I think. So, I am asking God to put his words and ideas on my heart and in my mouth, so that sharing here would be edifying, which is all I'm interested in anymore, for anyone.

I read a friend's blog tonight that really moved me. She is feeling lost, emptied of the hopes she had 'once upon a time.' Her life isn't working the way she thought it would--doesn't this sound familiar?-- and I don't know the details, but I can certainly relate to this line of thinking. I could write a book on how just about everything in my life is different than I planned. But this is what I wrote to her and I thought it was worth sharing.

Hi Sarah...I sort of stumbled across your blog through Facebook tonight and I don't think it was just a coincidence. I'm sorry to hear you're having a tough time. If you don't mind my saying it, if something in your life doesn't feel like something God would do or bring, its probably from the Enemy--he wants to steal whatever he can from us and pawn it off as God's will for us. If something isn't going the way you hoped, do not conclude that God doesn't want it for you, but consider that we are OPPOSED at every turn. Make sure you haven't made any "agreements" with the Father of Lies, like "I'll never have XYZ" or "I just don't have what it takes to blank." If you have had these thoughts, you can break their power, inviting Jesus' healing, and have victory in these wounded places of your heart. Remember the JOY of the Lord is our strength! If you are blue, pray against the spirt of desolation. God loves you so much and does have a specific plan in mind for you...

Isaiah 61:1-4 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has annointed me to bring good news to the poor, he has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengence of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant those who mourn in Zion--to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Summer Daze

I am restless. I go through my days doing what I ought--housework, grocery shopping, laundry are the obvious ones....taking care of myself, drinking lots of water, taking vitamins, taking the dogs for a walk, going to the gym....then there's calling friends, writing letters, reading blogs--all the things I do to nurture important relationships and feel a part of things...there's also singing, reading, gardening, practicing piano, going to auditions, looking for a job. I know how to fill my days, or is it daze, with things that need to get why do I feel such longing? Like a pain too deep to soothe or find the source. What would make this restlessness go away? A home at last to call our own? Little feet running through it? A job in the arts? A lead role on the stage?? Somehow, I just don't think so. Instead my thoughts go to pastel sunsets on the ocean. Majestic snow-capped mountains. Flying with the birds on the heights or swimming with schools in the reef. Watching a squirrel play with his tail in the colorful leaves, sending me into fits of giggles in unguarded delight. These things make me feel like I lost something or someone somewhere along the way--something that only the heart recognizes. C. S. Lewis has this to say about it:

Even in your hobbies, has there not always been some secret attraction which the others are curiously ignorant of--something, not to be identified with, but always on the verge of breaking through, the smell of cut wood in the workshop or the clap-clap of water against the boat's side? Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling (but faint and uncertain even in the best) of that something which you were born desiring, and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in all the momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for? You have never had it. All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been hints of it--tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest--if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself--you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say, "Here at last is the thing I was made for." We cannot tell each other about it. It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we desired before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work. While we are, this is. If we lose this, we lose all.

I weep even as I type Lewis' words. Why am I restless?? Because we all are! Or should be anyway. Should I apologize for this deep desire? Should I be more content? John Eldredge calls it a "haunting," that was designed to draw me closer to my Father, Creator and King. Perhaps the thing we all 'lost somewhere along the way' is our original glory? We long to return to the way things were meant to be...and WILL be again some day. Then, its OK. More than OK, its good. Do you feel this poignant longing? What do you do with it? Maybe you didn't know that you have it...All I can do is keep my heart open and alive to the quest. Its also known as the joy set before us...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Back in the Midwest

Well, after lots of packing and unpacking, lots of exhausted driving and lots of help from friends and family, we have successfully relocated from Boston to Chicago! Although, technically, we are just outside of Chicago, in the Oak Park area. I don't have many pictures of our place because I took these off my phone, but I will load more soon. The yellow brick in the foreground is our place...

The last two weeks have been weird. We caught up on sleep and have tried to make the place feel like home, but I think we're both pining for something more permanent. And we miss Boston. Its funny to experience a little bit of culture shock coming from there to here, when I grew up here. But still. I miss the plants and trees and green EVERYWHERE. I miss the curvy, hilly streets and the crammed packed-ness that you feel in Boston. I miss our park across the street and I miss our backyard. Even Dolly was feeling depressed. Like the picture, she just laid around for days, not understanding and breaking my heart.


Our new neighborhood is nicer and cleaner and our new apartment is bigger and sunnier! And thank goodness, I found a job right away and I am full time babysitting for two little cuties just ten minutes away, named Lucas and Clara. Scott has a bathroom renovation for some good friends of ours next week in Michigan City. Now if I could just find a teaching position for the fall!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Da Capo Al Fine

"Pour yourself out like a fountain.
Flow into the knowledge that what you are seeking
finishes often at the start, and, with ending, begins."

When I first started this blog, summer 2007, it was because we were moving out to Boston for grad school. Da Capo Al Fine is a musical term which means to go back to the beginning, and I felt that I was returning to my music passions, by going to grad school for musical theater. Now we are returning to Chicago and much closer to home for both of us, which also feels like a Da Capo Al Fine...

Rainier Maria Rilke puts my feelings nicely...

Want the change. Be inspired by the flame
where everything shines as it disappears.
The artist, when sketching, loves nothing so much
as the curve of a body as it turns away.

What locks itself in sameness has congealed.
Is it safer to be gray and numb?
What turns hard becomes rigid
and is easily shattered.

Pour yourself out like a fountain.
Flow into the knowledge that what you are seeking
finishes often at the start, and, with ending, begins.

Every happiness is the child of a separation
it did not think it could survive. And Daphne, becoming a laurel,
dares you to become the wind.

Good bye Boston! We did a lot of growing here...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Red Sox at last

Two weeks ago, on the same day, one of our friends offered us Red Sox tickets for a huge discount and my former employer got me Red Sox tickets for my birthday! After not having seen a Red Sox game the whole four years we were out here, suddenly we had two games to attend! The latter tickets were for this last Friday night against the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs haven't played at Fenway since 1918, so it was an exciting game. Not to mention the fact that we got to watch Boston play Chicago! I told Scott, if the Cubs win, we'll move back to Chicago and if the Red Sox win, we'll stay in Boston. The Sox won 15-5. So I'm going to have to cancel the moving truck for this next weekend...

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Boston Bucket

Hello, at long last. My good friend called me today, and among other things, gave me a swift kick in the pants about needing a new post from me, as the 12th day of Christmas is nice, but not in May. And I really have been wanting to post for a long time, but as I explained to her, two things have been preventing me: my camera broke a while back and I don't like to do posts without pictures and secondly, I have simply been lacking inspiration. That's how prideful I am, folks. If I don't have something really terrific to report or express, then I'd like to forget the whole thing. But there are also two reasons why I have been needing to get back to posting: WE ARE MOVING BACK TO CHICAGO IN ONE MONTH and secondly, I need to be actively working on our Boston Bucket List. I really hate admitting this, but we have not been to one Red Sox game in the entire four years we've lived here (yes, four.) So, that is number 1. Here's the list off the top of my head...

1. Go to a Red Sox game
2. Go to New York one more time
3. Hike Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, ME (again)
4. Go to Montreal, Canada
5. Go to one of Harvard or MIT's awesome museums

Well. I have to keep it short, with only four weeks to go...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

On the Twelvth Day of Christmas...

...My True Love gave to me.

Ever wonder where the words to this song came from? I thought I'd provide a little history lesson for you today, as I try to get back to my blogging this year.

Today is Epiphany. The twelve days of Christmas are the twelve days between Christmas Day, Dec. 25th, the birth of Jesus, and the Epiphany, Jan. 6th, the day Christians celebrate the arrival of the Magi and the revelation of Christ as the light of the world.

The song dates from a time of religious persecution and was written as a kind of secret catechism that could be sung in public without fear of arrest - a learning or memory aid to Christians, in fact. Each element is code for a religious truth.
1. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus.
2. The two turtledoves are the Old and New Testaments.
3. Three French hens stand for faith, hope and love.
4. The four calling birds are the four Gospels.
5. The five gold rings recall the Hebrew Torah (Law), or the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament.
6. The six geese a-laying stand for the six days of creation.
7. The seven swans a-swimming represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
8. The eight maids a-milking are the eight Beatitudes.
9. Nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.
10. The ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.
11. Eleven pipers piping represent the eleven faithful Apostles.
12. Twelve drummers drumming symbolize the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles Creed.

If you think Jesus being symbolized as a partridge in a pear tree sounds blasphemous, remember:
"Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but thou wouldst not have it so." (Luke 13:34 and Matthew 23:34)
The "true love" in the song refers to God Himself.
The "me" receiving the gifts is every Christian.
So that "silly" song we sing at Christmas time has more meaning than we thought.

Monday, November 8, 2010

All the world is looking fine to me...

My final graduate performance has come and gone...My whole year was tumbling and racing towards the end of October, as I told my sister, and now, as suddenly as it came, it is FINALLY all over. Three years in Boston for this degree and I really finished. I'm still in denial!
I had the best actors to help make it happen. Bart and John were unbelieveably kind, sweet and talented! They portrayed Jimmy Warburg and George Gershwin perfectly. They brought my play to life, as well as my indispensable stage manager, Margaret...

I also had the joy of meeting Kay Swift's granddaughter, Katharine Weber and her conductor colleague, Aaron Gandy at my Saturday night performance. Katharine being the namesake' and trustee of Kay's estate and Aaron being a vintage Broadway musical specialist, they both loved my script and musical choices! What a shot in the arm!!

Thank you to all who had me in your thoughts and prayers. I will try to post more pictures and go into more details of the performance on another post.