Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What I've learned from my Waldorf friends...

St. Lucia Day.

So this might be the start of a series....I hope this will be the start of the series, but I make no promises about that.  But I would like to (for my benefit as well as your edification!) acknowledge the fact that my thoughts are largely not my own, but rather a swirled up stew of the very best bits of some of the very best people and experiences that God has blessed me with.  I have so often been surrounded with really brilliant, lovely, thinking people and found myself awed and touched by the many gifts they have brought to my life.  So, I'll start today with my Waldorf friends....

If you don't know what a Waldorf-style education is, you should.  Like anything in life, there are some aspects of it that don't really sit well with me and my understanding of God, creation and children - but that's to be expected....anything made by  man is by necessity flawed.  But here's a little link for you to get some basic understanding: .  One of the best things about Waldorf education is the toys and crafty stuff - check out, (really lovely preschool curriculum written by my brilliant friend, Annette),, and (just to name a few) for some really lovely play and create things.

But it's the gentleness of it that really speaks to me lately - the idea that each child, each person takes time and space and guidance to unfold like a lovely flower opening.  And that each bud and flower is different, thus each child has sincere, individual needs that can only be discovered and met by close, consistent and careful listening.  That learning is a gentle process of first self-discovery (what can I do for myself, what can I accomplish, what beauty can I contribute?) and then a process of understanding how the self  fits into the community (how can my gifts by used to help and serve, how can my accomplishments benefit others, how can my creativity be a gift to others?).  And that children should be surrounded with natural, beautiful things - objects that are close to the way that God made them, that are full of imaginative potential, that have many uses, that stretch the mind, that encourage loving and communitarian play. 

And these thoughts are all such a far cry from the way that our flashy, cartoony, high-pressure American culture would bend and push us to raise our kids....with the mindset that they must excel, they must win, they must achieve, they must fit in, they must meet this standard at this time (obviously, I'm painting this with broad strokes...but, stereotypes are based in fact....).  And if your child fits all that and thrives in that, good for you and for kids don't (we found this out by trying on K12 cyberschool for size this year.....a great program - for someone else!). 

I'll end with an example.....December 13 is St. Lucia's Day which we celebrated this year for the first time (another Waldorf bonus - lots of fun holidays and traditions to celebrate!).  St Lucia was a Sicilian saint (which makes it an interesting question as to why she is so popular in Scandinavia.....but, I digress) who is celebrated, in part, because of her commitment to caring for members of the early Christian church who, under persecution, were hiding in catacombs.  She is traditionally pictured with a wreath of candles on her head as this was the way she lit her path through the underground passages since her hands were full of food that she carried faithfully to her brothers and sisters in Christ. 
On St. Lucia's Day, we talked about the light of Christ that we reflect in a broken and dark world, about how we can be light-bearers to those around us, and about how the light and love of God shines every day and in every circumstance.  Three days later, my father-in-law - my girls' beloved Pap - passed from this life to the next.  And two days after that, my grandmother also passed away.  It was a bleak, terrible, dark week.  But we had the reminder of a festival just passed, the gentle light of hope and joy and faithful provision in our minds and the example of a saint long-gone to provide strength, courage and direction.

So, we are slowing down.  We're watching a lot less TV (a painful transition).  We're knitting and sewing and re-acquainting ourselves with handiwork and watercolor painting.  And we are working on our gentleness. 

So, thanks Annette. And thanks, Heidi. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

weekend plans

So, what's up around here this weekend?  Not much.

Big Sarge is on base for drill.

We're doing mountains of laundry, cleaning bedrooms and with a little luck, I will actually get our cyberschool stuff REALLY packed up and REALLY shipped back.

Also school planning, knitting, and cooking supper for my Mom tonight.

Church tomorrow - both can't wait and dread it....I'm in a tender, discouraged spot these days so good teaching is a little hard to hear (even though I need it)....and I suspect I over-shared at Bible study this week and feel a little foot-in-mouth about it.

Blessed weekend to both my readers out there....whatcha doing these days?

Friday, January 11, 2013

A sigh of relief

Psalm 143

New King James Version (NKJV)

An Earnest Appeal for Guidance and Deliverance

A Psalm of David.

Hear my prayer, O Lord,
Give ear to my supplications!
In Your faithfulness answer me,
And in Your righteousness.
2 Do not enter into judgment with Your servant,
For in Your sight no one living is righteous.
3 For the enemy has persecuted my soul;
He has crushed my life to the ground;
He has made me dwell in darkness,
Like those who have long been dead.
4 Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me;
My heart within me is distressed.
5 I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all Your works;
I muse on the work of Your hands.
6 I spread out my hands to You;
My soul longs for You like a thirsty land. Selah
7 Answer me speedily, O Lord;
My spirit fails!
Do not hide Your face from me,
Lest I be like those who go down into the pit.
8 Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For in You do I trust;
Cause me to know the way in which I should walk,
For I lift up my soul to You.
9 Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies;
In You I take shelter.
10 Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Your Spirit is good.
Lead me in the land of uprightness.
11 Revive me, O Lord, for Your name’s sake!
For Your righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.
12 In Your mercy cut off my enemies,
And destroy all those who afflict my soul;
For I am Your servant.
God, I know you are there....I can remember those bright, blessed, unmistakable moments when I saw and knew and felt your amazing presence in me and my circumstance.  I go back to those places and times and bathe in that close, tangible living warmth. 
But, today?  Today?  I am reaching out for you in silence....silence because my heart is so heavy and burdened and angry and discouraged that there is barely room for breath in me.

I am parched.  I can barely move through this day.  This week.  This life.  I am reaching, reaching, reaching for you.  Finally seeing my desperate, unending, life-giving need for You, my Savior.

Answer speedily.  I know that I won't wake up tomorrow and find all in order, all redeemed, all perfect.  But just to wake up in freedom, in joy, without feeling like I'm fighting for each single breath.  For each kind word I share.  For each pasted on smile to celebrate a victory in another's life.

I know what I need is a redeemed heart.  I need to know what I am to do - and the gift of humility to do it.  I need to know your will.  Your truth.  Your mercy. Because at the end of the day, I am YOUR servant.  Not my servant.  Or the world's.  Or even my children's.  But YOUR servant.

Revive me, O Lord, for your name's sake. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I'm not worthy....

There was a post on the Mom's group I'm part of on Facebook about abusive husbands and the long term fall-out around that kind of violence.  And it got me to thinking and remembering and reflecting on an experience from my college days.

The summer between my sophomore and junior years at Earlham, my bestie at the time, Sarah and I went on an adventure in Brazil.  We had planned on spending the whole summer trekking around the mountains and the Amazon.  And then our plans took a sharp left turn. 

We were staying in a house on the side of a mountain outside of a smallish town.  It was lovely - overlooking the ocean, quiet and secluded.  And in our youth and foolishness, I suppose that it never really occurred to us that it was also a dangerous choice.  One night, we were startled by noise in the upstairs bathroom and went to investigate.  And were robbed at knife-point.  It was beyond anything that the word terrifying can convey.  I will never forget certain moments of that night - there are perfectly preserved snapshots in my mind and heart. 

I was thinking about the days and weeks after that night and my struggle to come back into myself and step out of the deep fear that gripped my soul back into normalcy when it struck me that it had literally been years since I had thanked my God for preserving my life and the life of my friend that night. 

We did not live through that by our own strength or wits (we were too scared to even pee our pants).....we were spared from death and injury by nothing other than God's grace and mercy.  It wasn't fate or good luck or anything other than the Lord Jesus' hand staying the Enemy from destroying us. 

And had I not been taking a shower in the world's smallest shower stall, I would have hit my knees in joyful thanksgiving.  Instead I threw my hands to the sky and praised my Jesus for my life. 

Thank you Lord for the gift of my life.
Thank you Lord for the gift of my life.
And again...
Thank you Lord for the gift of my life.

And I wept tears of gratitude, humbled that the King of Heaven remembered me and Sarah in our distress.

And I prayed - Lord, help me be worthy of the gift of my life.
And instantly, I knew.  I knew that that prayer was wrong.  It was a wet blanket thrown over the joy of true gratitude.

What, Lord?  What is wrong? 

And then the voice of my Savior spoken into the deep and sad and angry and fearful places of my heart:  Mary, do you still not understand?  You are worthy.  YOU ARE WORTHY.  I have already made you so.  You are worthy of the gift of not only your life - but you are worthy of the gift of my life.  You have been worthy since I knew you before time began.  Now do you see?  You are worthy.

Crushed.  Humbled.  Hopeful.  Glimpsing God's goodness and mercy.  I wept tears of gratitude that perhaps I understood a little.

And a new prayer.  Lord, help me to truly rejoice in the gift of my life.  Help me to rejoice. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pick Your Poison

We have a neighbor who lost a relative to suicide in the last week.  And while I'm totally not negating the pain that comes with such a loss (a pain I cannot begin to imagine), I've wondered in the last few days about the meaning and nature of despair, about the means by which we combat deep sadness (or don't combat it, as the case may be), about having a living body but a spirit that is dead, about how culturally acceptable it is to slowly murder ourselves, about what it means to LIVE.

I'm not sure I have ever really grasped what the phrase 'abundant life' actually is, actually feels, actually looks like.  I'm much more  at home with the phrase 'ok life,' or 'this day has really sucked life,' or 'woe is me life.'  I'm far more adept at feeling sorry for myself than I am at giving thanks for really much of anything.  And I totally know how to get down and stay down - and in the process drag everybody else down with me.  I don't really mean to despair - but it's JUST SO MUCH EASIER in my flesh than to be joyful and grateful.

Are you with me?  Or am I the only bummer around here?

This down-ness inevitably leads to self-medication.  And there are many forms of slow poison we can choose. 

And then there's the heart issues.  What if our body is physically alive but are hearts are squeezed to death by spiritual immaturities?  What if we are slowly killing ourselves, our relationships and the hearts of our loved ones with things like

My friends, there are all kinds of ways to kill what is beautiful and holy and glorious in ourselves and others.  But there's only one way to live.  And his name is Jesus.  The problem is that we are too prideful, too apathetic and too frightened to let go our crutches and LIVE.  At least I am - because I know how to limp along and keep a bandaid on the really ugly things about myself.  But God's not fooled.  Not one little bit.  And every moment that I resist God's salvation for my dying self, every self-loathing thought and attitude, every breath that wounds another of His children - every barrier, fence, and defense that I raise to my Jesus' desire for my abudant life is choice to DIE.  I pray for the strength and courage to live and love and glorify my Lord.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The root of mercy

January was a long hard month.  Really long and really hard.  We had just over three weeks of really wicked stomach bugs that we just passed around and around (well, they passed...Mama never got sick - I just had to clean up after all of them!). 

Then my Nana was taken to the hospital for a week long stay after a dangerously low blood sugar and now is finishing up a month or so of inpatient rehab. 

And the Big Sarge switched over to third shift. 

And I've been really, really, really tired.  And thus, really, really, really rude.  To everyone.  But mostly my husband.

At some point this month, I made a conscious decision to really pray about my mouth and its destructive power.  And I've been doing pretty well.  Not perfect...but, my name's not Jesus. 
I'll give you an example:  the other day, The Big Sarge said something that really irritated me.  Really.  I just totally thought that what he said was really stupid and immature.  And instead of telling him so, I kept my mouth shut.  I knew that I just needed to pray about this area for him - pray that he would get a little further along in his journey and really just be better...and because he had this little wrinkle in his personality, I really wanted to be merciful towards him...I'm not immature in this particular way so I should be patient and kind to him until he catches up with me.  That's mercy, right?


That's not mercy.  That's pride and self-righteousness.  My Holy Spirit whispered these loud, blaring words into my heart.  Mercy is not born out of seeing the one, microscopic aspect of myself that I have momentarily conquered and then patronizing and patting on the head those who are still struggling there.  Mercy is born out precisely the opposite place.  It is born out of the real, deep and total knowledge of my own shortcomings - when I view myself in light of God's perfect holiness, there is no room for me to be anything but humble....when I view myself in light of God's mercy on me, how can I do anything but show real, true mercy to those around me.

The end result may be the same - I may manage to keep my mouth shut - but Jesus isn't interested just in the end result....He is interested in the heart.

The Heart. 

My Heart.  Your Heart.

And while I do think (hope.  pray) that I get half-credit for at least keeping my mouth shut, dear Jesus isn't satisfied until my motivation is right.

Does this discourage you?  It discourages me.  A lot.  But it shouldn't.  Five years ago, none of this would ever have even occur ed to me. I would have gleefully slayed my man with my mouth and never looked back.  And I would have stomped on and flamed the little bits of him that had dropped off during my attack.  It's a process.  Five years ago, I had no idea my heart wasn't right - at least now I know and can pray for forgiveness. 

And strive.  Strive.  Strive. 

Not striving for right behavior.  But striving for a heart that is like Christ's.

Monday, February 13, 2012

For Finding Peace of Mind Through Forgiveness

Our prayerbook prayer for tonight:
For Finding Peace of Mind Through Forgiveness

     To Your Father-heart I come today, Lord God, seeking peace of mind.  I am distressed and perturbed, irritated and worried.  I am dissatisfied with myself and the world around me.  My sinful heart is rebellious, my day is filled with envy, and my feelings are so easily hurt.  I know, O  Lord, that I am at fault.  I have not opened my heart to You, nor have I given service and consideration to those with whom I live in this home and to those with whom I must work throughout the day.  Everything annoys me, I must confess.  Those with whom I work get on my nerves.  O God, I admit that it is I, my sins, my lovelessness, which create these situations.  Therefore, I come to You, asking You for grace to conquer myself.  Restore to me the desire to walk in Your presence, and let me live in the sunshine of Your love.
      Forgive me all my sins, and fill my soul with peace.  Go with me, Lord, throughout the day, put my mind at ease, and speak peace to my soul through that reconciliation which is found in the Cross of Jesus, my Savior.  Amen

prayer from My Prayer Book, published by Concordia Publishing House, 1980.