Thursday, June 25, 2015

a morning with nets

The orange nets from the dollar store wake us early.  The boys hear them calling from the porch, promising bullfrogs, or at least a dragonfly or two.  

With coffee in one hand and a bucket in the other, I follow them to the pond.  It's not likely we will beat the storm, but we are not afraid, not even a little.  We are big and we have nets.

The boy sneaks and lunges, but it is just a stick. We tiptoe on. I gasp, make them pause, then we realize I'm pointing at dried mud. The little shirtless one is cold. He presses up against my leg as the wind increases.

It is getting darker. Perhaps the bullfrogs are afraid of the storm.

We head home, but we are not sad.
"Mom, you have to see this!" he points at the sky. God is playing with a clouds.
We will not go inside.

We watch the art change on the giant canvas.

We see dragons, and whales, and beds for the angels. Before long, we cannot even guess what God is drawing; we sit in silence and watch Him do a new thing, new to our small eyes.

We breathe in cool, wet oxygen, and we watch in awe.
We are standing inside a living painting, watching the work of our living God.

We watch until the drops are fat and the lightning is near.
We are chased inside.
We are small.
We are alive.
We have nets.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord, over many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
(Psalm 29)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Lutheran Labor Singers

Join me over at Sisters of Katie Luther for an onion-style piece, inspired by the women singing and growing babies everywhere I look these days.

"I grew up in the Lutheran church, and my mother plays the organ. I cannot think of my own childhood without hearing the comforting sounds of Lutheran hymns at church, at home, and even in the car. And yet, it seemed odd to me… never once did my mother or grandmother have a choir involved in the childbirth process. I think the faithful of today need to take the next step and make that happen."

Friday, June 12, 2015

Beautiful waiting

She listens from her hospital bed and her smile does not falter.  She fixes her one good eye on the little girl singing at her bedside. Her husband stands beside her, steadying himself with his walker, and mouths the words as she sings. Is it age that makes him tremble, or his proximity to the Savoir of whom she sings?

The fruit of my womb, now ten years old, holds her hymnal and sings with confidence. "Beautiful Savior..."

And I get to watch.

Dear Wilma. Her body is failing; even speech is hard for her, and yet she waits on her Lord.  She accepts the care of others with grace.  Life is not all about doing, producing, and working.  In this, her quiet season, she shows us the grace of waiting.  Without words, she preaches the futility of placing hope in things that are seen: in heath, in bodies, in life as it is today.   The things of this world are crumbling, and yet her spirit is strong. 

Indeed, her Savior is Beautiful.

And my daughter, she sings.  With the strength and confidence of youth she sings-- words of our shared faith that she has only just begun to learn. She is a tender shoot, a vulnerable young plant, but her song gives us hope for the future.  Perhaps the whirlwind of busy living will not whisk all faith from every heart. Perhaps some will slow to hear, to learn, to sing, and to trust.

Oh Lord, open our ears to your Word, and fill our spirits with that which the world cannot give: peace beyond understanding, and a sure and certain hope in Your mercy towards us. Jesus, Savior, pour out your beauty upon us, and give us eyes to see.  Amen.

Beautiful Savior
By: Gesangbuch, Munster

Beautiful Savior, 
King of creation,
Son of God and Son of Man! 
Truly I’d love thee, 
Truly I’d serve thee, 
Light of my soul, my joy, my crown.

Fair are the meadows,
Fair are the woodlands,
Robed in flowers of blooming spring;
Jesus is fairer, 
Jesus is purer,
He makes our sorrowing spirit sing.

Fair is the sunshine,
Fair is the moonlight,
Bright the sparkling stars on high;
Jesus shines brighter,
Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels in the sky.

Beautiful Savior, 
Lord of the nations, 
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration
Now and forevermore be thine!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Important stuff to write when you don't have Important Stuff to Write

A guest post by Rebekah Curtis

I've read a number of books on writing, and somehow the one I liked least has one of the lessons that stuck with me most. The book is The Right To Write by Julia Cameron, and there isn't anything wrong with it, it's just not my style. But I thought the author had a useful perspective on publishing: who cares? If you like writing, write. Go out of your way to do it. 

I have been very blessed to have some of my writing published. But I have also written a whole bunch of things that have only been published on my home printer. Writing for your church is a low pressure way to contribute to the life of your congregation, and homes can also gain some great things from a writing family member.  Here are some of the ways I've gotten my write on in my regular life.

For church

1. Write a Christmas program. I stumbled into this because it was such a pain to try to fit our parish's kid-resources into a pre-fab program. It was easier to write around the kids we have than to try to makeshift and substitute. You can tailor to your congregation, both in terms of what they're able to do and which ideas they'll benefit from hearing more. Your pastor is your doctrinal reviewer; I always learn something from his comments and edits.

2. Write press releases or articles about things going on at your church for your local newspaper/media source.

3. If your church has a secretary, ask politely if she would like some of the church's stock letters updated. A lot of churches have been ker-chunking out the same cradle roll letter or fundraiser notification for the last 40 years, and sometimes they get a little mildewy. (But some are too funny to change, so use discretion. Our church's Dinner Auction letter is gold, and includes such formulations as: "Callers will be in contact to find out what your donation is by April 7. THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE ITEM READY ON APRIL 7. NO!")

4. Write notes to shut-ins, college students, snowbirds, deployed members of the military or people in the congregation who are working away from home. Sometimes I think this sounds trite until somebody sends a note to me and I remember again how nice it is to get one. This also helps if you're an awkward person and better on paper than in conversation.

5. Write silly songs* for Rally Day, the church picnic, the last day of school or Sunday school, your pastor's ordination anniversary, and for something to do that isn't unloading the dishwasher. Add a ukulele, and you can live in a house of squalor and beautiful homemade music indefinitely.

For home

1. Use a dry erase maker to write very menacing notes about basic courtesies on the bathroom mirror.

2. Make memorable events in your life into a story or poem. If you're a lot less lazy than I am, you could even have it printed up at Walgreen's or something and make a historical document out of it. Make sure you pick something significant, like the time the kids caught a leech in a creek and you had to treat it like a cherished family pet for four days.

3. Write a Christmas letter people will like reading, or one you like writing.

4. More songs, more ukulele. I'm pretty sure if you write songs for kids, you don't have to do puzzles with them EVER.

5. Blogging, duh. Our kids love to gather round ye olde family blog and reminisce about the months of yore.

Displaying IMG_0829.JPG6. Write down the family stories from your grandmas and grandpas. Ask them to edit your drafts, and do your best to preserve their voice.

7. Teach the kids in your life to write. I love it that when my kids have writing assignments for any class, I feel like I am really able to help them think about and improve their work. Every grownup has to write sometimes, and the practices you show little writerlings along the way will shape them as writers in whatever writing work life gives them. Help a little poet with his meter; help a narrator never use the words "awesome" or "amazing"; help a reporter economize.

*There is also hymnwriting. I think it's best to wait to be asked for the use of one of your hymns so as to avoid becoming That Hymnwriter. There are several good hymns out there, so demand isn't huge, plus it's really hard to tell if your own hymn is good.

Writers gotta write. Who better to write for than the people you love most?

Displaying Rebekah Curtis headshot.jpgRebekah Curtis and her sister Rose Adle are co-authors of LadyLike, a collection of essays from Concordia Publishing House.

Book link: 

Social media:

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

This short, powerful video is worth your time.
(sorry, you do have to be on facebook to see it.)

Posted by Kerlene Rogers on Wednesday, June 4, 2014

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels (Isaiah 61:10) 

Friday, June 5, 2015

O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come.
Your righteousness, O God,
reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things,
O God, who is like you?
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
you will bring me up again.

Psalm 71

(Thanking God today for faithful saints of many years.
What a joy it is to praise God with them!)

Need some soul rest?
Listen to Thy Strong Word at KFUO!

Friday, May 29, 2015

In Summer (mom version)

Bees'll buzz
Kids'll blow dandelion fuzz
And I'll be doing whatever MOM does in summer

First aid kit in my hand
Bikes and children crammed in the van
It's not a vacation- you don't understand- it's summer!

One thinks flies are bees and one's afraid of storms
Another won't go into the water till it gets warm

And I can't wait to see
If my body holds up for me
Just imagine how much more work they'll be in summer!

Dah-dah, da-doo, a-bah-bah-bah bah-bah-boo

Each of my kids are just so intense
Put 'em together, it just makes sense!

Rrr-raht da-daht dah-dah-dah dah-dah-dah dah dah doo

Winter's a good time to stay in and sit
But summer is coming and I say Oh... happy summer!

When days get rough and somebody's being mean
Just think of the laps that they will run, the things they'll clean...

Oh, the sky will be blue
And the mowers will eat their shooooes!
And we'll finally do what moms get to do in summer!

Thanks for the inspiration, Olaf :)

Summer Peptalk (for moms with school kids)

How are we going to survive this summer?

When I read about wide open summertime, with no plans or scheduled activities, nature bursting to life and kids everywhere just free to be kids, I get as excited as the next mama.

But then I have a Saturday home with my children, ONE Saturday, with little structure, and plenty of family togetherness, and rain.

Each one wants to do this or that, and I try to say yes to it all, bending and twisting to keep each one entertained, and meanwhile, nobody is looking after the housework, and how do they go through all our bath towels and pool towels in just one Saturday? Yes to this and yes to that and still they fight about the little things, and if I hear one more potty joke or one more yell about who DIDN'T flush the potty I am going to lose it. After ONE Saturday.

Once again, head in my hands, I am wondering “how are we going to make it through this so-called vacation?”

First, a peptalk.

Summer is coming, and you are no longer twelve. You cannot expect endless unstructured days, free of demands on your time and your patience. You will not read twenty books this summer. You will not have endless hours to work on your tan. Instead, you will have. . . kids.

What will you do when they fight? Tattle? Refuse to obey? Have bad attitudes? Complain about being bored? Get hungry? Want to play video games? These things will happen mama! Think through your reaction now, and tell the kids what they should expect!

What do you want to accomplish this summer?

The short mandatory list
I want them to have lots of unstructured time, but we also have a few goals: daily devotions, reading, basic chores, and piano practice.

We're going to brainstorm about things we can do this summer. I have the poster board ready, and I plan to have three categories: Things we can do at home; things we can do away; things we can do for others. Lists! C'mon children, let's list ALL THE THINGS!

This seems backwards, and I'm sure I'm going to be kicking myself for this idea later, but we are starting out the summer with one week SCREEN FREE. After the initial twitchy withdrawl period, my hope is that they will begin to make a habit of entertaining themselves. (And yes, I'm doing it too, with brief exceptions for “family management” purposes.)

What else?
I'm sitting here with my coffee, mere hours before the last day of school is out. I do not feel ready.

I still wish I were twelve.

Thank you for the gift and the challenge of summer. Please help me and all parents who will be adjusting to the changed summer schedule. Please provide good weather and safety and wonderful childhood experiences for our children. Please provide us with the energy and strength to facilitate those things. As we enjoy Your Creation, may we see it as a gift from Your hand.  As we watch our garden flourish, we pray that Your Word also my flourish and bear much fruit in us.  Most of all, grant that this summer may be one of growth in faith towards You and fervent love towards one another. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Isn't it time yet?

Right during service, she had another seizure. After a terrible weekend, after our prayers for relief from this very thing, the seizure still came. There, in the presence of God and His people, the seizure grabbed hold of her, again.  
Suffering, again. 
Waiting, again. 
Questioning, again.

As I prayed for this family, I remembered when my daughter had a seizure right after she had been up at the communion rail, seconds after she had received the blessing of God on her forehead. It seemed more insulting, somehow, that her suffering not only should continue, but continue violently, right there in God's presence. 

"Lord, help us," we pray,

and then again the suffering comes, and it seems as if His "No" is loud,
like a punch in the face. 

What good is a religion that can't fix this, now?
Isn't it time, yet?

Isn't it time yet?

The apostles asked this question of Jesus after His resurrection. They knew His power.  They had seen Him destroy sickness, stop storms, and even defeat death. They'd seen, and they were ready to see nothing but His power and goodness and healing for eternity, starting right that minute. 

Isn't it time yet?

Jesus said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:7-8)

Not yet, 
The glorious end of all things is near, but it is not yet.
Gather together and receive the Holy Spirit.
Gather together and wait.

Here we gather Lord, and we look to You, and we wait. We gather with our seizures, our arthritis, our cancer.  We gather with our depression, our longings, our questions.  We have been punched in the face, the gut.  We limp into your presence, and you do not heal us, not yet.

It is not for us to know the reason.

Isn't it time yet?

We ache with our question, and yet we know we are not alone.  He has sent us a comforter, the Spirit who reveals Christ's continued presence with us here, even in this place of suffering. 

It is this Spirit within us that cries out Abba, Father! (Romans 8:15)
Thy kingdom come! (Luke 11:12)
How long, Lord?  (Psalm 6, 13, 35, 79, 80, 89, 90, 94, Habakkuk 1:2, Rev 6:10)
Is it time yet?

Like the apostles, we are ready to see nothing but His power and His goodness and His promises fulfilled. But it's not time yet.  
Not quite.  
May God uphold His aching people. 
Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

We wait in hope for the Lord;

    he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
    even as we put our hope in you.

Psalm 33:20-22

Friday, May 15, 2015

Depression: Lookign up from the stubborn darkness

Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn DarknessDepression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness by Edward T. Welch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"God sometimes puts his children to bed in the dark."

True enough. But how do we wrap our minds around that? How do we move forward, still in pain, and trust? How is it possible to keep living even in the dark?

This book is an honest, yet gentle help for the depressed spirit. While admitting that there are biological components to depression and encouraging medical treatment for them, this author addresses the spiritual questions and struggles that are often intertwined.

"What depressed people need—what we all need—are daily reminders of spiritual reality. As the truth of Christ is impressed on our hearts, we must offer that to others, and they to us. The target is always Christ and him crucified."

"Etch this in stone: if depression gives you an early warning—and it usually does—bring everything you have to the fight. Take your soul to task. Ask for help. Force feed yourself Scripture and words of hope. Be on guard against self-pity, grumbling, and complaining. And keep the cross close at hand."

This book is a great resource for those who strive to do that very thing.

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