Saturday, July 11, 2020

Don't always insist on my own opinion, even when I'm right!

Though thine own opinion be good, yet if for the love of God thou foregoest it, and followest that of another, thou shalt the more profit thereby.

Good reminder not to always insist on my own opinion, even when my opinion is good.

But if Christ is amongst us, then it is necessary that we sometimes yield up our own opinion for the sake of peace. Who is so wise as to have perfect knowledge of all things? Therefore trust not too much to thine own opinion, but be ready also to hear the opinions of others. Though thine own opinion be good, yet if for the love of God thou foregoest it, and followest that of another, thou shalt the more profit thereby. ~~Thomas a' Kempis, from *The Imitation of Christ*

Thanks, Tom.


Monday, June 29, 2020

Sin = not noticing


Today my morning devotions/meditation (The Ignatian Adventure: Experiencing the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius in Daily Life) had a reading of Matthew 25:31-46. You know the passage: Jesus talks about the final judgment, separating the sheep and the goats. Then he tells them "I was thirsty, I was hungry, I was a stranger, I needed clothes, I was sick, etc." and the people ask, "When did we see you thirsty, hungry, a stranger, etc.?" The Lord answers, "whatever you did / did not do for one of the least of these, you did / did not do for me."

The devotional said, "Consider how Jesus portrays sin as a failure to notice and act." I had never thought of it that way. A failure to notice. Who am I failing to notice??

Sunday, June 28, 2020

love this in particular


A while ago I read this newsletter from Sarah Bessey. She wrote that during this time when she is house-bound with 4 kids, she gets a little time to herself by taking a 30-minute bath every night. On one night:


I got out of the tub ... And the thought came, unbidden, to my mind: I love this in particular. This, the hot water, the smell of the bath salts, the clean towel, the damp paperback on the edge of the tub, the rosiness of my cheeks, the languid heat rising from my limbs, the noise on the other side of the door: love this.…


...I’ve found - entirely by accident - that this practice of loving this in particular a few times a day is actually functioning as both an invocation and a benediction. ... This has been a nice surprise.


A while back I listened to an interview of Ross Gay, the author of a book called The Book of Delights, a book of essays he wrote each day about what delighted him. The practice Sarah Bessey wrote of -- loving this in particular a few times a day -- reminded me of what Ross Gay said. He wrote an “Ode to Buttoning and Unbuttoning My Shirt.” Can’t get much less highfalutin and deep than buttoning your shirt. Yet he delighted in it.


Without thinking too much about it, I started noticing little things I love in particular. It came naturally to me. I have read many times about the practice of gratitude, things like writing every day 3 things you’re grateful for, but I could never keep that up. Somehow trying to list what I’m grateful for was harder. It wasn’t something natural that just occurred to me throughout the day. I tended to be grateful for bigger things like my family, the fact I have shelter, my health, and so on. But with loving something in particular, size and importance did not matter.


Here are some of the things I love in particular that have come to my mind in the last few days.


  • My hat

  • A tree, green leaves, black trunk, its shadow on the green hill.

  • My granddaughter’s profile

  • On a walk around the block, the smell of a rosebush that wafted in the breeze when I was still around 4 feet away.

  • Crawling back into bed after breakfast with my book and my coffee.


I took pictures of some of the things and started a gallery. I keep forgetting to add to it, but it’s a start.


I am glad to have these reminders -- some little, some big -- of God's love in this world that can sometimes seem bleak and full of hate. How about you? What do you notice you love in particular?


Praise God for all the things we love in particular.


What can I pray about for you?

love and blessings,

Mavis

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What is this?? A while back, I had an idea. I was thinking of some friends I wanted to pray for, but I didn't have a specific thing to pray about on their behalf. I decided to pray that they would feel God's love. I decided to send them an email when I prayed, so they'd know and be encouraged. Then I thought about my many other family and friends who I would like to encourage with prayer, and decided to start this email.
    Two things I try to do:
-- Encourage you with a reminder of God's love. My goal is to avoid anything where the response is "I should..." Just a short reflection of God's love.
-- Pray for you. I'll pray with each email, and please reply to me with anything you'd specifically like me to pray for you. I'll keep it confidential, don't worry..

.     If you would like to send me specific prayer requests. I will gladly pray with you. Email me at mavis at moonfamily.cc. I'll keep all communication confidential.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Optimistic?


I read an article this week called “Ignatian Optimism,” by Sandy Millar. She writes about “Ignatian optimism,” and I study and practice Ignatian traditions, but I think we could also call it “Christian optimism.” In our current time of a pandemic, with growing joblessness, riots, deaths, screaming matches, and name-calling, it is easy to be pessimistic. We wonder how things can ever get better. But it’s different for us Jesus-followers. We know “the ever-present and ever-active love of God in this world.”

We are called to participate in this movement toward the world as God dreams it to become, to make the realm of God as real here on earth as it is in the farthest reaches of heaven.

Thus, we can see the world plainly and truthfully and acknowledge what is wrong—and still rally with faith, hope, and love. This optimism does not rely on temporary outcomes but on God’s—and our—eternal, bright desire.

I do sometimes get pessimistic. I have days where I feel on the verge of crying all day long. I get discouraged and lose heart. But even when I feel sunk and stuck in the quicksand of hopelessness, underneath there’s hope, a certain hope, a deep knowledge that God is holding me up. As I send this message out, I pray you each have that hope within your hearts.

We are not supposed to ignore the bad things in life. We are not supposed to think, “Oh well, when we get to heaven everything will be okay,” and not care about what’s going on around us. In the Bible, on what we now celebrate as Palm Sunday, while people cheered for him, Jesus looked at Jerusalem and wept, knowing the sadness to come (Luke 19:41-44). When his friend Lazarus’ sisters cried about the death of their brother, Jesus wept with them (John 11:33-35). He didn’t gloss over the terrible things that happened, he entered into the mourning they caused.

We, too, are saddened by injustice and cruelty, and we, too, enter into the mourning. But even while crying we try to remember Jesus’ love, we try to imagine and feel him beside us, helping us to bear it.

I read a poem by Malcolm Guite called “Christian Plummet” that ends:

One who takes Jonah as his only sign
Sinks lower still to hold you in his love,
And though you cannot see, or speak, or breathe,
The everlasting arms are underneath.

Even deep underwater like Jonah in the whale, when we “cannot see, or speak, or breathe,” God’s arms are underneath us.

May we all be Christian optimists. In every moment of every day, may you know the deep, deep love of Jesus.

What can I pray about for you?

love and blessings,

Mavis
---------------------------------------------------------------

c: 408 318 2037

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What is this?? A while back, I had an idea. I was thinking of some friends I wanted to pray for, but I didn't have a specific thing to pray about on their behalf. I decided to pray that they would feel God's love. I decided to send them an email when I prayed, so they'd know and be encouraged. Then I thought about my many other family and friends who I would like to encourage with prayer, and decided to start this email.
    Two things I try to do:
-- Encourage you with a reminder of God's love. My goal is to avoid anything where the response is "I should..." Just a short reflection of God's love.
-- Pray for you. I'll pray with each email, and please reply to me with anything you'd specifically like me to pray for you. I'll keep it confidential, don't worry..
.     If you would like to send me specific prayer requests. I will gladly pray with you. Email me at mavis at moonfamily.cc. I'll keep all communication confidential.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Mother

This painting by Titus Kaphar was on a Time magazine cover this week. In the written piece accompanying the painting, Kaphar says:
I paint a Black mother…
eyes closed,
furrowed brow,
holding the contour of her loss.

In the discussions and conversations about the protests and riots following the death of George Floyd, the ones that evoke the most empathy in me are when black mothers speak of their fears for their sons, having to teach them ways to act in situations, not because they need to mind their manners and be polite, but because they might get killed.

We all have fears about our loved ones, and for us mothers and fathers, fears about our children loom large. Someone said, “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body" (Elizabeth Stone, teacher and author). When something bad happens to my children, it feels like it is happening to me. I cannot think of a greater pain than the suffering you feel when your child suffers.


The painting reminds me of the many images of Madonna and child. I think of the pain for Mary, the mother of Jesus, as she held her baby son. In several Bible stories she heard prophecies about her son and “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Jesus was her “heart...walking around outside [her] body,” and she pondered his life in her own heart.

Imagining Mary standing beneath the cross where her son Jesus was hanging is unbearably, achingly heartbreaking. Jesus embodied their love when he told the disciple standing beside Mary, “here is your mother.”
When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother” (John 19:26-27).
Even as he was being tortured to death Jesus cared for his mother. How must Mary have felt -- hearing his words of love, watching her beloved son suffering and dying.


Titus Kaphar’s painting reminds me of Michelangelo’s Pietà. Here, too, a mother is “holding the contour of her loss,” her beloved son, dead. 

It is hard to bear the sadness in this world. As we hold the contour of our loss, God holds us. May we rest in the healing of his love.



Saturday, June 6, 2020

The tree says...


My strength is trust.
I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.
                               -- Herman Hesse
Recently I happened upon this video.



I was enchanted by the repeating phrase, “A tree says…” I read it right before going on a walk and started wondering what the other things around us say. In Herman Hesse’s passage, many of the phrases are true of God, of us, and our relationship with God. In my reflections, it turned out that was true of other elements of nature, too. We see -- and hear and feel -- God in everything.

Here are some of my thoughts. How about yours? What do you imagine God’s creations are saying?
The cloud says: I am white, I am gray, I am a wisp, I am fluffy, I am heavy.
        I blow in the wind and disappear,
        I release the rain, snow, hail, and sleet to water the earth.
        I quench your thirst.
The sky says: I am blue, I am gray, I am white, I am midnight, I am starry, I am hidden, I am brilliant.
        I am above you, I am below you, I am around you.
        I am the portal to outer space, to billions and billions, to infinity.
        I protect you. 
The grass says: I am green, I am brown, I am smooth, I am rough, I am pristine, I am weedy.
        I spread far and rest your eyes.
        I cushion you. 
The stone says: I am hard, I am sharp, I am round, I am gray, I am white, I am big, I am small.
        I skip on the water.
        I support your steps. 
The rose says: I am red, I am all colors, I am curvilinear, I am blowsy, I am petals, I am thorns.
        I am the flower your nose wants to smell.
        I bring you joy. 
The wind says: I am soft, I am hard, I am mischievous, I am sad, I am gentle, I am rough.
        I make the trees beautiful and I tear the trees down.
        I breathe peace.
In the book of Isaiah, it says:
You will go out in joy
        and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
        will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
        will clap their hands.
The tree says:
A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life.
I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.
My strength is trust.
I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.
                -- Herman Hesse
The tree says “I trust that God is in me...Out of this trust I live.” Amen, may it be so for us all.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Help

How can I write about something else when all this is going on -- the murder of George Floyd, the riots and destruction, the virus, the quarantine, the angry, hurtful words, the chaos, the fear?


I turn to my favorite Psalm, Psalm 46.


God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.


There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.


The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.


Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.


He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”


The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.


When I hear the words, “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God” my shoulders drop, I breathe more deeply. I feel a stream is flowing through my heart. Today I had a new thought about that river. I read people saying there cannot be peace without justice and it reminded me of the verse, “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24, famously quoted by Martin Luther King.) That river whose streams make glad the city of God contains justice.


In a passage by Anne Lamott imagining a discussion with her Sunday School class, she writes:


I hate this. It would be so much skin off God’s nose to give us a map?
Well, I would tell my kids, God actually does, and I would have one of the big kids read Psalm 61 from the Hebrew Bible: “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”


And in Psalm 121:


I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.


In Psalm 146:


The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.


I lift up my eyes to the mountains, to the rock that is higher than I, to the fortress, and find my help. I see the river whose streams make God glad, filled with justice, peace, and love. I pray I may be a drop of water in that river. I pray that you, too, find the peace and love of God flowing into your heart. He loves you.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Imagination


Recently I listened to "The Habit" podcast where Jonathan Rogers talks with Leif Enger. I love Leif Enger's books -- Peace Like A River, Virgil Wander, and So Brave, Young, and Handsome. In the interview, Leif describes seeing a fox near a creek in a park he and his wife walk to (starts at 10:47). He says the creek has a muddy section where you can see tracks of different animals who come to the creek, but the fox never leaves any footprints. He says, after seeing the fox, he walks down to the muddy spot to look for fox prints and there are none. Then he imagines the fox floating to that part of the shore, just a few inches above the ground. And that delights him.

What a good story, and image, isn't it? It reminds me of a scene in his book Peace Like a River where one of the characters walks off the end of a truck bed, if I remember correctly. When I read that scene, I pictured the cartoons where someone like Wile E. Coyote would run off a cliff, first continuing to run straight in the air, then suddenly, usually with a look of surprise and desperation directly to the camera, whooshes down to the ground. But the scene in the book was much more gentle. There was no sudden fall.

Leif Enger spoke at one of the Faith & Writing Festivals I attended. I remember him talking about his process of writing Peace Like a River. He said he started the book planning to tell the story of a dad and his two sons. Then at one point in the story the family was getting into their station wagon, one of the boys opened a door, and there was a little sister. She just showed up! Enger and Rogers talked about that a bit in this interview, too. Both of them said that they write outlines and invariably the plot turns out very different from what they had planned.

This is one of the reasons I like to listen to and read about writers and their process -- the way imagination works. And imagination also is the main thing that attracted me to the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. Ignatian contemplation is all about the imagination.

It's amazing to me that this ethereal thing, our imagination, produces, seemingly independent of our own will, new stories, characters, images, and more. Some writers' imaginations produce a whole world, even new languages the people in that world speak, like Tolkien's Elvish.

Imagine God's imagination! I can't even.

I am so glad we can tap into the gift of imagination. One way we all tap into it is we live in a world, a universe, a cosmos created by God's imagination. There is no end to what we can learn from this creation -- from the tiniest, invisible atoms and parts of atoms to the huge expanse of space, from infrared to ultraviolet and rays beyond both ends of that spectrum, the sounds we hear and the "un-hear-able" sounds below and above that range, and on and on and on.

And we tap into "our own" imagination -- in quotes because somehow our imagination is from outside us, although it's inside us. Writers tap into it, and all of us do as we read and picture what is written. In our prayers we use our imagination to connect with God. Even if we're not practicing Ignatian contemplation, where we imagine ourselves in a Biblical story or with Biblical people, even with memorized prayers like the Lord's Prayer we are using our imagination. We imagine God is listening as we ask for our daily bread, and for his kingdom to come. That's not to say God is a figment of imagination, it's that we use our imagination to picture him, and sometimes even to hear him.

Praise God for our imagination.

Where is God in a Pandemic?


Tim Keller and Francis Collins (the scientist who completed the genomic code) talk about where God is in the pandemic. I encourage everyone to listen to this! If you want to skip some introductory stuff, you can start at about 14:29.

https://biologos.org/resources/where-is-god-in-a-pandemic

Some notes I took with places in the video:

14:29 - The start of a discussion about the current situation and what the church can do in response, the scientific work going on, including a vaccine currently in development, and how the big pharma companies are actually working together - 18 companies working together and actually not worrying "about who gets credit and who makes money."

26:39 - Vaccines and conspiracies question, how do we get along with people who disagree with us.

29:01 - Keller: Suspicion about scientific expertise, particularly acute amongst Christians. Response must be both critiquing and affirming.

29:40 - Keller: Christians have got some reason to be wary, not so much of scientists, but of people who come trying to make a case of something and invoking science, when actually they're making moral decisions or philosophical arguments and they're cloaking it in science.

For example, there really are a fair number of scientists who will take their cultural capital -- science has a lot of cultural capital because of all the accomplishments -- and they'll say -- not too many but some -- "Science proves that there's no God, that there's no soul, that there's nothing beyond this." Some scientists tell us these things, many making money right now with books and things are saying these things.

Christians look at this and say, "Sorry, science does not tell you these things." That's what you might call scientism, a philosophy that says there's nothing real that cannot be empirically proven, there's no reality outside of the natural and material.

With that history, you can see why Christians become wary when people come and say we have this agenda and it's totally scientific.

German philosopher Jurgen Habermaster:
Science can tell you what you can do and what you can't do but science cannot tell you whether or not you should do it.

I can understand that wariness.

On the other hand, Christians should know better, and here's where I would push back.

Herbert Butterfield's book: The Origins of Modern Science. Buddhism and Hinduism didn't believe nature was real. Other religions have nature as power poles battling against each other.

Along comes Christianity which says there's one God, a personal God, who creates the world as an artist, a rational God, and it's in that soil that science can grow. There's nature, a uniformity to nature, orderliness to nature, and the reality is that it was in Christianity where the whole idea of science grew up.

Quotes Bible stories where Jesus showed he knew the difference between demon possession and sick people. He doesn't see everything as a demonic thing. Paul tells Timothy to take wine as medicine to help his stomach, God tells Hezekiah to put some figs on the boil. The Bible is filled with reasons to trust science - not scientism, but science. But I am sympathetic to the use of science to attack Christianity.

36:39 - Prayer or science? What's God doing? Where is God in a pandemic?

38:23  - Keller: Somebody might say, sure he was here, but he isn't anymore.

38:33 - Keller: When he meets Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), he says, Paul, Paul, why are you persecuting *me*? Jesus is present in this world, particularly his people. He is still in the midst of this people and their suffering.

39:27  - Keller: Why did he allow this to happen? Lazarus has died and Mary and Martha ask why did Jesus allow this to happen? Jesus does not give an explanation. He prays, he weeps, he helps, and he does so sacrificially. He doesn't give an explanation and he's there. He prays,, he weeps, he helps, and he does so sacrificially.

We don't know why he's allowing the pandemic right now, we just know it's not because he doesn't love us.

We should follow Jesus. We shouldn't try to explain why is God allowing this to happen. No Christian ought to give an answer. They should pray, help, weep, sacrifice, and be where everybody else is suffering.

Innocent sufferers like Job and Jesus. They remained faithful and that is how they defeat Satan. In both cases, Satan is defeated. If you're faithful you're defeating Satan and getting closer to God, besides helping people.

45  - Keller: Disproportional suffering. Churches need to help each other, churches with more resources help other churches with less.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Désolé


Have you heard of the French word “désolé” (pronounced dess-oh-lay)? I keep thinking about it. Sometimes I get kind of entranced by a word; does that ever happen to you? I am re-reading the mystery series by Louise Penny which is set in Quebec so the characters often use French words, désolé being one of them. It means “sorry.” I also happen to be watching a French detective series on Amazon Prime, with English subtitles. Those characters, too, say “désolé” from time to time, with the caption of “Sorry” or “I’m sorry.” It’s a pretty word, I think, but the meaning is kind of sad. 


Related to it is the word “desolation,” which is used in my Ignatian studies. One of the Jesuit spiritual exercises is the Examen, in which you review your day as part of a prayer. In that examination, one question you ask yourself is whether your actions or thoughts were a consolation or desolation. The shorthand explanation for that is, Were you moving closer to God with that action (consolation), or away from God (desolation)?


As I googled désolé, desolation, desolate, and desolated, I found another meaning is abandoned, forsaken, alone. I wonder if that sense of the word is part of the reason it is fascinating me right now. We are isolating ourselves, sheltering in place, quarantining ourselves. Those are lonely words, too.


I have been thinking a lot about the concept of being sorry. Sometimes it is hard to say the words, “I am sorry.” Saying those words sometimes seems lame. I tell myself I don’t need to apologize or justify myself to someone else. But while that is true sometimes, it is also true that there are times I do need to apologize. Times I have hurt someone, or said something offensive, or made someone angry, or belittled them, or gossiped about them, or ignored them, or one of many other things we do when we mess up in our relationships. Saying those words, “I am sorry,” and really meaning them, is often the only hope of saving a relationship.


There are times, too, when I tell Jesus I am sorry. When I review my day and remember things I have said or done that take me further from God -- desolation -- I tell him I am sorry. He forgives me. Always. Thank God that when we tell God, “Désolé,” he always forgives and consoles us. He even forgives before we say we are sorry, as when he said on the cross about the people who were killing him, “Forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”


Maybe this seems like a kind of depressing thing to think and write about. Désolé. There is a sadness about it. But somehow it is beautiful, too.


What do you think?


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


What is this?? A while back, I had an idea. I was thinking of some friends I wanted to pray for, but I didn't have a specific thing to pray about on their behalf. I decided to pray that they would feel God's love. I decided to send them an email when I prayed, so they'd know and be encouraged. Then I thought about my many other family and friends who I would like to encourage with prayer, and decided to start this email.
    Two things I try to do:
-- Encourage you with a reminder of God's love. My goal is to avoid anything where the response is "I should..." Just a short reflection of God's love.
-- Pray for you. I'll pray with each email, and please reply to me with anything you'd specifically like me to pray for you. I'll keep it confidential, don't worry..

.     If you would like to send me specific prayer requests. I will gladly pray with you. Email me at mavis at moonfamily.cc. I'll keep all communication confidential.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Incline your ear.

It strikes me as so tender when I see someone tilting their head to one side to hear someone else.. I shot this picture as I watched some women entering a building in front of me. The younger woman leaning over to listen as she held the older woman’s arm was so touching. I wondered if they were mother and daughter, and in that phase of life where, as the mother had cared for her baby daughter, now the daughter was caring for her elderly mother.

When a mother or father gets on their knees to pay close attention to their little child it melts my heart. Even when I hear a tinge of impatience as a mom says, “Mmhmm,” to their child going on and on with their seemingly never-ending story, it’s a testament to their love. And don’t you love that move where the child reaches over to their parent, puts a hand on each cheek and physically turns their face to look at me, pay attention to me?

I think of the verse about God inclining his ear, an old-fashioned way of describing the movement.

Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.~~Psalm 116:2, King James Version

It used to be a common part of our church liturgy to sing, after our prayer, this simple little hymn.

Hear our prayer, O Lord,
Hear our prayer, O Lord.
Incline Thine ear to us,
And grant us Thy peace.
Amen.

I am tall and often have to lean over to hear others walking beside me. I like to imagine Jesus walking with me, doing the same, tilting his head to catch every word I say -- inclining his ear to me.

God wants to hear our every word. He wants to catch each word we say. There may be times when you feel like no one is listening, when you might feel alone, when you physically are alone, like now as we shelter in place. Often our faith is remembering. Even when you cannot feel God with you listening, remember that he is. Perhaps you can remember a time in the past where you were confident God was listening, even if it does not seem like it at the moment.

Try imagining it -- that helps me. Imagine you are sitting on a park bench by Jesus and he’s hearing your every word. Imagine you are walking down the sidewalk and he’s beside you, tilting his head to listen. Imagine he is sitting beside you in the car, encouraging you to trust him with your thoughts. Imagine you are hiking together and your steps are in synch as you tell him what is going on. 

Thank God he is always beside you, inclining his ear to you.

What can I pray about for you?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What is this?? A while back, I had an idea. I was thinking of some friends I wanted to pray for, but I didn't have a specific thing to pray about on their behalf. I decided to pray that they would feel God's love. I decided to send them an email when I prayed, so they'd know and be encouraged. Then I thought about my many other family and friends who I would like to encourage with prayer, and decided to start this email.
    Two things I try to do:
-- Encourage you with a reminder of God's love. My goal is to avoid anything where the response is "I should..." Just a short reflection of God's love.
-- Pray for you. I'll pray with each email, and please reply to me with anything you'd specifically like me to pray for you. I'll keep it confidential, don't worry.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

A Terrifying Chart

I read this article today. It's about the way this author conquered procrastination, but what caught my interest was the "Lifetime Chart" he posted. Here is a picture of an 88-year lifespan -- one box = one week. There are a lot of boxes, yes, but look, it fits on a page! And look how many he's already filled in. (Click here to see a full-size empty lifespan chart.)

Several quotes came to mind.

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." ~~Annie Dillard.

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~~Mary Oliver.

"Carpe Diem." ~~Latin meaning "seize the day."

"My biological clock is ticking." ~~from the movie "My Cousin Vinny," spoken by Marisa Tomei.

"Time flies," or my dad's version, "Time do fly."

And speaking of my dad, this chart and, even more, the other one he links to, with one box per day, reminds me of the chart we used when my dad went to Vietnam. Each of us kids, my mom, and my grandma all had a chart posted on our walls with 365 boxes so we could cross off one per day as we counted down the days of the year he would be in Vietnam. 

The author called his chart terrifying. I don't know if I would call it terrifying, but maybe shocking? Maybe scary? Maybe too real? It makes the shortness of life so concrete.

To be honest, I don't know where I'm going with this. I could end with praising God that he gives me life, that he is with me through all of life, that I will be with him for eternity after this short life. All true, but they don't feel like a great insight from the impact this lifespan chart had on me. But there it is.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

A hen

from The Poultry Pages

Are you feeling anxious? Scared? Weighed down by dread? With all the sad, scary stuff going on with the Covid-19 virus and the uncertainty about what the future holds, these feelings are universal.

I read a sermon by Nadia Bolz-Weber (a Lutheran pastor and author) recently where she spoke about “Be not afraid,” which we read often in the Bible (it’s in there over 100 times). In one way, it’s reassuring to know God tells us not to be afraid, but on the other hand, as Nadia says, just being told “Don’t be afraid” does not actually make us stop being afraid.

So what do we do? How do we deal with this fear? Nadia uses a passage from Luke 13:

At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”
He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”
~~Luke 13:31-34

First, I kind of love to think of Jesus saying, “Go and tell that fox…” As Nadia reminded us, Herod had killed Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist and here Jesus is showing how unafraid he is. Then he says, “How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.” Isn’t that a beautiful image? The hen spreading her wings over her chicks, providing shelter, warmth, and love.

First a fox, then a hen. Nadia writes (emphasis mine):

    A mother hen cannot actually keep a determined fox from killing her chicks.  So where does that leave us? I mean, if danger is real, and a hen can’t actually keep their chicks out of danger, then what good is this image of God as Mother Hen if faith in her can’t make us safe?
    Well, today I started to think that maybe it’s not safety that keeps us from being afraid. 
Maybe it’s love.
    Which means that a Mother Hen of a God doesn’t keep foxes from being dangerous…a Mother Hen of a God keeps foxes from being what determines how we experience the unbelievably beautiful gift of being alive.
    God the Mother Hen gathers all of her downy feathered, vulnerable little ones under God’s protective wings so that we know where we belong, because it is there that we find warmth and shelter. 
    But faith in God does not bring you safety
    The fox still exists. 
    Danger still exists. 
    And by that I mean, danger is not optional, but fear is.  
    Because maybe the opposite of fear isn’t bravery.  Maybe the opposite of fear is love. Paul tells us that perfect love casts out fear. So in the response to our own Herods, in response to the very real dangers of this world we have an invitation as people of faith: which is to respond by loving. 

“Faith in God does not bring you safety.” That sentence was kind of a shock to my system. When I think about it now, I realize of course it is true, but my first reaction was, “Wait, God doesn’t keep me safe?!” It reminded me of the part in the Narnia chronicles where the beaver tells Lucy that Aslan “is not safe, but he is good.” And I remembered a song Anne Murray sings called “The Other Side” where the refrain says:

The journey may seem endless
When you know the road is rough
But on the other side of fear... is love

So, we are not safe from this virus. AND. We are loved. 

Sometimes I wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning with my mind full of worry, dread, and sadness. I try to remember that I can decide what to think about. I will pray for you and ask your prayers for me that when we are afraid, we will remember and focus not on our fear, but on God’s love. God gathers us under his wings. He is sheltering us in his love, giving us the warmth of his love. He is with us, loving us through whatever happens.

On my blog, I have an entry called “Help in the time of coronavirus.” It has links to and reflections on a list of things that have helped me during this time. I invite you to read and listen to any of these things that might help you, but more than that, I invite you to send me links or quotes or information about things that have helped you! I’ll add those to this page if you are okay with that.

Blessings to you.

What can I pray about for you?

love and blessings,

Mavis


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What is this?? A while back, I had an idea. I was thinking of some friends I wanted to pray for, but I didn't have a specific thing to pray about on their behalf. I decided to pray that they would feel God's love. I decided to send them an email when I prayed, so they'd know and be encouraged. Then I thought about my many other family and friends who I would like to encourage with prayer, and decided to start this email.
    Two things I try to do:
-- Encourage you with a reminder of God's love. My goal is to avoid anything where the response is "I should..." Just a short reflection of God's love.
-- Pray for you. I'll pray with each email, and please reply to me with anything you'd specifically like me to pray for you. I'll keep it confidential, don't worry..

.     If you would like to send me specific prayer requests. I will gladly pray with you. Email me at mavis at moonfamily.cc. I'll keep all communication confidential