Guilt and Going On

sunset kw

Key West – 2008

…my faith is so frail and flawed that I fall away over and over again from my God. There are times I feel that He has withdrawn from me, and I have often given Him cause…

So I struggle with my theology of failure and the Noes of God.

from The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle

These words resonate with me. But, I have to think that it isn’t that God has withdrawn from me but that I have withdrawn from Him. That’s not to say He doesn’t have reason to withdraw and leave me in the dust. There is no reason to keep pouring into me. But He does. He gives me more grace. And sometimes I don’t even realize it.

Grace comes to us at different stages in our spiritual pilgrimage, and it accomplishes different effects and evokes different responses. But it is all grace. – Steve Harper

I not only struggle with failure but with guilt and doubt. I long to know confidence. That No from God, His holding back of my confidence, must be for my good. I need to use that No to stay humble, but not to doubt. To draw near and to go on.

Word Pictures #2

 

Word Cloud (1)

This is a second installment of Word Pictures – a collection of lovely and descriptive passages.

“Her laughter catches him off guard. As if it’s carbonated and someone has poured it too fast and it’s bubbling over in all directions.” – from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Do you know anyone who laughs like that?

“… at eight o’clock the last of the cool was burning off. The State Farm thermometer out the window over the sink was slowly percolating to the top.” – from Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor

I love the phrase “….slowly percolating to the top.” When I was a kid, I made coffee for my dad using a percolator that went on the stovetop. I loved the smell, but I didn’t drink it until I was way into my thirties – after some of my kids were already coffee drinkers.

“She knew God tore down the old world every evening and built a new one by sun-up.” – from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

sundown

Vilano Beah, FL

 

“… a hardware store was your practical Uncle Walter, wearing bib overalls and carrying a hammer, asking you in a hearty sausage-and-egg voice to point him in the direction of what needed to be done.” – from The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg

In the first few months after we moved to BIrmingham, I noticed several times a man in overalls shopping in Publix. It was a sight I’d never seen in Jacksonville, and it brought to mind the short time we spent in south Georgia. There it was very common to see men in overalls. Sadly, I connect this memory of the overalled man to the racism that was alive and well. It was the late 80s, but it often felt like the 1960s. But, that’s a story for another day.

“…with cornsilk hair and delphinium eyes…” from Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck.

This is a perfect description of my daughter when she was a little girl. But, now I’d have to say “…with Merlot curls…”

“You pierce my soul” – Captain Wentworth to Anne in Persuasion by Jane Austen.

Life and Death

 

gull

I wrote some thoughts on death a few weeks ago, and I wanted this to go hand-in-hand with that post.

We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust. Much smaller. Divide. Multiply. Add and subtract. Matter changes hands, atoms flow in and out, molecules pivot, proteins stitch together, mitochondria send out their oxidative dictates; we begin as microscopic swarm, the lungs the brain the heart. Forty weeks late, six trillion cells get crushed in the vise of our mother’s birth canal and we howl. Then the world starts in on us. -from All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I love this description of the beginning of life. Job knew all about life and death. Oh to be like Job; to learn how to accept when the Lord gives and the Lord takes away.

And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.”            Job 1:21

We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like “if.”

But we are always optimists when it comes to time: we think there will be time to do things with other people. And time to say things to them.

We fear it (death), yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves. For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.” – from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

That last quote about fearing that death will take someone else is so true. I know I will die one day, and I don’t want it to be anytime soon. But, I also don’t like the thought of outliving all my loved ones. I have watched my mother lately as she has lost several longtime friends. I guess when you get to be 80 that is bound to happen. But, it still doesn’t make it any easier. In fact, it probably makes you think about death just a little too much.

 

John (the author’s husband) shrugs his shoulders… “Farmers, we think we control so much, do so much right to make a crop…You control so little. Really. It’s God who decides it all. Not us. It’s all good.” – from One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

Simple Bounty

m&m

 

Bounty is good things that are given or provided freely and in large amounts, according to Merriam-Webster. When I think of the word bounty, I think of bountiful, a word often heard around Thanksgiving. Sometimes I think we forget what a bountiful amount of possessions we have. And what an abundance of blessings.

I don’t want to go all Green Acres or anything, but I really have felt the need for simplicity lately. Kim John Payne , author of Simplicity Parenting, describes the four pillars of excess as having too much stuff, too many choices, too much information and too much speed.

I experience at least three of the four pillars of excess on a weekly basis. Just one trip to Target puts me face-to-face with too much stuff and too many choices.

I can’t seem to totally transform my closet into a model of a capsule wardrobe, so I still battle with too many choices there, also. I love the idea of narrowing down my apparel to a selection of 37 fabulous pieces. But there are problems. Like, when you plan to wear the white top but your only clean undergarment is dark blue. Then there are all your sleeveless dresses that require a little sweater – for protection when the indoors feels like winter and to hide your flapping upper arms. I know it’s doable, it just takes time to get simplified.

Too much information is a sneaky excess. It assaults me every time I open my laptop. Ten Ways to….How to Do Whatever in Six Easy Steps… The Best…Wait Until You See What They Look Like Now… If I google a word, I will get a definition, the book, the movie, and the urban slang option.

One pillar of excess that I don’t really have to deal with is speed, except when I’m running really late. I do not jog. I love my slow cooker. I slowly savor my peanut M & Ms.

What I think I’m learning is that to really appreciate the bounty of blessings, I need to sort through the abundance of excesses in my life. The busyness of life can be like blinders, keeping us from seeing what is really around us. It may sound like a paradox, but paring down can actually increase the bounty of your life.

Worldview

by Jonathan Pie

By Jonathan Pie

 

“It is our way of looking at life, our interpretation of the universe, our orientation to reality. “ – from Christian Worldview – A Student’s Guide by Philip Graham Ryken

Whenever we bump into the world, our worldview has a way of spilling out. It comes out in what we think and love, say and do, praise and choose. – from Christian Worldview – A Student’s Guide by Philip Graham Ryken

Read that again and let it sink in. … what we think and love….praise and choose… . Much of what I think no one will ever know. But I will, and I must live with it. What I love? I’m afraid what I really love shows in what I write about and talk about. My love for Christ often fades into the background, and that is truly telling. And shaming. My worldview shows in what I choose to do with my time.

I’m beginning to think my worldview needs a little adjustment.

Ray Bradbury Was Spot-On

451

“More sports for everyone, group spirit, fun, and you don’t have to think, eh? Organize and organize and superorganize super-super sports. .. With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be. “ – Beatty in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

What insight Bradbury had here! I am still amazed at his spot-on look into the future. Now, I love a good baseball game, as long as I don’t think about it too deeply. I like to hike and swim, and I used to like to ride a bike and skate. But, I am so not a huge fan of pro sports, or even college sports around here ( sorry Alabama). I think it’s because I see what Bradbury saw – that sports has been given a much higher priority than education in many arenas. And if a kid can run or throw or win, he is often allowed special privileges and not held to the same standard as those who would rather read than race.

Oh, yes, the pursuit of happiness in full swing.

“Ask yourself, What do we want in this country, above all? People want to be happy, isn’t that right? Haven’t you heard it all your life? I want people want to be happy, people say. Well, aren’t they? Don’t we keep them moving, don’t we give them fun? That’s all we live for, isn’t it? For pleasure, for titillation? And you must admit our culture provides plenty of these.” – Beatty

Oh, Ray, do you know we even have a restaurant now called TGIF? If you listen to the radio (another entity that’s becoming extinct) it’s all about the weekend. What are you doing this weekend? How was your weekend? I have fallen into that trap, too.

But, really…….

That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.
Ecc. 1:19

Click HERE for a review of Fahrenheit 451 by Linda’s Book Bag