27 September 2009

narcissism (is fun!)

This is me with my new red hair! It's even brighter in person, and most people who have "noticed" it (a couple of students and the lady at the music store) have made funny generic comments like this, "Well, looks like you're ready for fall!" Or "Wow! That must open up a whole new color palette for you to wear." (huh? If anything, I can't quite wear red and orange as well as I used to...) Like they think it's horrible, and don't want to actually say so, but don't want to lie either and say it looks good. I really like it!

In person it looks kind of like this, but a little redder.

It took two boxes of hair dye! And then my sweet Steve brought me flowers to match:

25 September 2009

about delight & peacefulness

My dear lamb, Delight, in his picture on my desktop, reminds me that I am a sheep and that I have a good Shepherd.

Such a good Shepherd, who even cares about the details of my life, who gives love and mercy and not what I deserve. It is nice and relaxing to think about, because if you have a shepherd, then all you have to do is follow. You don't have to worry about tomorrow, or yesterday.

"Because the Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need. "

~Psalm 23:1 (The Living Bible)

23 September 2009


Heaven isn't somewhere else. I've been thinking about it. Lately I have been reading the Bible in search of what Heaven will be like. Not reading anywhere specific, just watching for glimpses. I tried to explain my idea of Heaven to someone recently and was asked what I was smoking. But really, I don't think that Heaven is somewhere else. I think Heaven is the Earth, when Christ comes back to take eternal possession of what is already His. When the kingdom of God comes, like it says in Revelation, when the new Jerusalem comes. When the knowledge of the Lord has covered the earth as waters cover the sea.

If we die before this happens, we go to be with the Lord, but is that really a place? Well, He says He is preparing a place for us, (John 14:2) but it seems like the Bible talks more about that place coming to us than us going to it. Sometimes, it even talks about God coming to live with us, and not the other way around. "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man." (From Rev. 21:3)

I don't know all the whens and whys, but I do know that Heaven, as we tend to think of it, a quiet, otherworldly place with angels and harps, is never described in Scripture at all. I wonder why that is the traditional view. Where on earth (hah! no pun intended) did that come from? What is described in the Bible is the new Jerusalem, (Revelation 21:10, Micah 4:1-4) the new heaven and the new earth, (Rev. 21:1-2) God's kingdom, and what that will be like. (Isaiah 11:6-9)

As Christians, we can tell that we already live in a picture and a shadow of what the new heaven and new earth will be like. Because when we see the earth--the trees, the grass, the animals, the people, the moon and stars, any beauty at all, any harmony, any glory---we are seeing a tiny bit of what God intended and intends His world to be. C. S. Lewis puts it far more articulately:

The faint, far-off results of those energies which God's creative rapture implanted in matter when He made the worlds are what now we call physical pleasures; and even thus filtered, they are too much for our present management. What would it be to taste at the fountainhead that stream of which these lower reaches prove so intoxicating?

~The Weight of Glory

I cannot pretend to know what it will be like, but sometimes it strikes me: What if it really is the same, only without all the effects of sin? If God's kingdom comes here to earth, will the same trees and seas and mountains be here, only glorified as they were meant to be? And then what about Paris and London, and all the wonderful cathedrals? But those are man's creation. But if the earth is redeemed, well, I just don't know. But it is so thrilling to look forward to it--the earth being more of the real thing than it is now, like C.S. Lewis said at the end of The Last Battle:

Lucy looked hard at the garden and saw that it was not really a garden at all, but a whole world with its own rivers and woods and sea and mountains. But they were not strange: she knew them all. "I see, she said. "This is still Narnia, and, more real and more beautiful..."

It is as hard to explain how this sunlit land was different from the old Narnia, as it would be to tell you how the fruits of that country taste. Perhaps you will get some idea of it, if you think like this. You may have been in a room in which there was a window that looked out on a lovely bay of the sea or a green valley... And on the wall of that room opposite the window there may have been a looking glass. As you turned away from the window you suddenly caught sight of that sea or that valley, all over again, in the looking glass. And the sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time they were somehow different--deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: in a story you never heard but very much want to know. The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more.

And finally, my favorite thought about the reality of Heaven, because I really believe that in writing this one line, said by Aslan to Lucy, Lewis captured what this life will mean when we first step into the next one:

"The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning."

18 September 2009

1. the letter to the church in Ephesus

I have always had a fascination with the letters to the churches in Revelations, so in my own study of the book, I decided to start with those.

Before Jesus dictates to John the seven letters to the seven churches, we get a physical description of Jesus as he appeared. The beginning of each letter includes one or two aspects from this description, each has something different. I am not sure if I will find out why here and now, but I am just going to focus on each letter and see what I learn in general. Any insights are welcome.

The first letter (chapter 2, verses 1 through 7), to the church in Ephesus, is from "him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, and walks among the seven golden lampstands." Earlier, Jesus explains to John that those stars symbolize the angels of the seven churches, and that the lampstands symbolize the churches themselves. That is the picture in our minds as we read the letter:

I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and have found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. But this I have against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says to the churches. To one who conquers I will grant to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

After reading through the letter the first time, I found it surprising that Jesus had a problem with that church, because they seem so exemplary. Much better than I am. They "have not grown weary." I grow weary all the time and just quit; weary of having faith, weary of praying, weary of reading the Word. Weary of the most basic things, in the easiest of times. I did not go back and research the cultural background of Ephesus at that time, but I'm pretty sure that just being alive then and there, not to mention being a Christian, was way more difficult than it is here and now. So anyway, that's the example I found for my life from this church. I really was convicted about the flabbiness of my faith and my walk.

Next, the rebuke Jesus had for them. They had left their first love, the love they had for God when they first became Christians, I think. And what to do about it? First, it says remember it (the first love) and second, to repent and do what they did before, when their love was still on fire.

Do? But they seemed to be doing all the right things already. And then this passage came to my mind:

If I speak with the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. I Corinthians 13: 1-3

So, Jesus wanted them to go back to the love they had for him in the beginning, because loving the Lord is what makes our obedience real. (If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15) So, loving is obeying. Obeying is loving. But what is love? Then it hit me:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. I Corinthians 13:4-7

I know this passage is in the context of how people should love one another, but if this is God's definition of love, it makes sense that we must also love Him this way! Not that God is human, that he sins and lets us down, or that we would have to be patient with him, and bear with him, and things like that. But when you think about it, we are often impatient with God. We are resentful and arrogant: unwilling to endure, unwilling to believe all things, and bear all things, even unwilling to hope and rejoice with the truth! The letter to the church in Ephesus helped me to see this, and I am so excited because it is a new thought for me--a new perspective on what really loving God is.

I learned from this first letter that I need to have some grit in my spiritual walk and not just give up every time I am tired. I also got that new picture of what loving God looks like.

I still do not quite see why that particular picture of Jesus was given to us at the beginning of the letter, but I still really hope to learn the significance of that someday.


Beth Moore, who has been a particular blessing in my sister-in-law's life, is teaching through the book of Revelation for the next few weeks. Knowing how dear Revelation is to me, this sister invited me to do the study long-distance with her. Two things have happened with that:

We discovered that there was no workbook for the series, so I would not really have a resource to participate in the study. I was really disappointed but decided to see what I could learn from sort of making "workbook" on my own, by studying deeply and asking questions, instead of just reading. I got really excited about that project and started right away.

Then my SIL has started scanning in the worksheets that she gets from the Beth Moore study, so I actually can participate after all!

So now I am doing the Beth Moore study and my own study, and I have decided to blog about the results.

17 September 2009

just a word


firmness of mind or spirit : unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger

How 'bout it, America? What ever happened to such a vital part of our collective national spirit?

Many people these days believe they are entitled to EVERYTHING, except to give life a good try with their own gumption, creativity and yes, grit. The people who once formed this country and it's government had little else.

16 September 2009


I came home from work one day and Steve had made this the background of my little mac:

This picture came from a "most e-mailed pictures" list that Steve was looking at one time. I loved it so much and every time I see it makes me very, very happy. If I had a pet baby lamb, I would name it Delight.

14 September 2009

this says it all...

I'm proud of the 2 million people who went to Washington on 9/12 to show Obama that they hate what he is doing to our country. I would have been there if I had not already had plans to be elsewhere, and if there's another rally like that, I'd love to be there!

09 September 2009

Day by Day

When sad, awful things happen to people, it's hard to understand why. It's hard for me to just get a grip. This hymn makes me feel better sometimes. I pray it's words for the people who are going through sad things, that they will have such peace and trust. I pray that I would be able to say and mean these words when my time comes to go through something like that.

Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in the Father's wise bestowment,
I've no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day as He deems best--
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day, the Lord Himself is near me
With a special blessing for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear and cheer me,
He whose name is Counselor and Power.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
"As your days, your strength shall be in measure,"
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in every tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith's sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E're to take, as from a father's hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

~by Caroline Sandell Berg, 1865

05 September 2009

champagne-bubblebath cocktail circa 1940?

Sometimes a book, and even less often, a movie can portray how you see the world, capture and express things inside that you cannot put into words, or draw in pictures. When this happens, it is often the deep, difficult things that are brought out and expressed.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day,
a novel written in the 1930s and recently made into a movie, is like that for me. In this case though, instead of expressing some sort of mysterious difficulty from my somewhere in my psyche, it brought out the tiny details instead. Things too minute for words, and yet very descriptive of how I think about the world. (This is all very self-analytical.)

Not so much the plot, but the images and colors in the movie, and rooms and glamourousness of it somehow resonated very accurately with what my mind has always looked like on the inside, ever since I can remember being conscious. Not that my mind is glamourous, luxurious, or a comedy; I think it's more clumsy and undisciplined than anything else. (Like body, like mind?) We're working on that. It's just that, if you take all that (the movie images) as one impression, like a painting, then you have my mental sort of "filter" I guess.

I was going to say lots more clever things about all of it, but I'll just put up the rest of the fun pictures and leave it at that.

Doesn't this make you want to drink champagne and sleep in silk sheets all the time for the rest of your life? (and have curly hair?)

04 September 2009

back to normal

After a horrendously busy (but very fun) summer, I am finally recovered enough to have words for some of my thoughts. Most of them are kind of heavy these days though...new opinions on politics, new thoughts about faith, and praying from a broken heart for two young husbands I know of whose wives are gone to be with the Lord. There are many other things on my heart, real and imagined as usual...