Friday, October 31, 2014

Acorns: A glimpse of our future

Revelation 21-22

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold,the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”


And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which isthe second death.”

Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed— on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. He also measured its wall, 144 cubits byhuman measurement, which is also an angel's measurement. The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the cityhas no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of lifewith its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, andthey will reign forever and ever.

And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”

“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”

And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.


This week I am sharing pieces of my All Saints Scrapbook.

Why not make your own?

It can be as simple as this:



Need help getting started?

For a text file of my favorite Scriptures, quotes and articles click here.

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Who are you remembering this week?
Share a photo and (if you like) some words with me (via facebook or email
and I'll publish them all on Saturday. 
Then, I'll randomly choose one of you to win a free copy of my newest book, 
Between Seasons.

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

If you liked this article, you may enjoy Emily’s newly released book: 

It is available for purchase on Amazon, along with her other books: Tend to Me: Devotions for Mothers, and Weak and Loved: A Mother-Daughter Love Story.




Emily Cook is a tree-climber, child chaser, author and blogger.  She is a woman growing backward, a mother-child, messy with sin, but rejoicing in the constant love of her Heavenly Father. She lives with her husband and their six children in the arms of the church where he is a pastor.  

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Just Come


Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. 
Whoever comes to me will never go hungry,
and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.  
All those the Father gives me will come to me, 
and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 

For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.  
And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me
but raise them up at the last day. 

For my Father’s will is that everyone 
who looks to the Son and believes in him 
shall have eternal life, 
and I will raise them up at the last day.”
John 6:35-40



What does God require of me?
COME.
Not behave, then come.
Not fix my heart, not sort it all out. Not buck up. Not be strong.

Just. Come.

And He says "whoever comes I will never drive away."

Think on this with me today. Read the verse again slowly.

Don't skim.

It is God's will that whoever comes to Him
(Me! You!)
shall NOT be lost,

It is God's will that we come,
and
It is God's will that we are cared-for,
kept safe in him,
redeemed and restored and healed and helped,
and finally, raised up on the last day.

We are in His hands. We only need "come" and He will do the rest.

Let's rest in that today.


Father,
You invite me to come to You, through Your Son. Melt my stubborn heart, and teach me to come to you as your child. Grant me a heart that repents, trusts, and clings to You in all things.  Keep me safe in Your grace, that I may know Your peace. Amen.




(reposted from 9/12)



Saturday, October 25, 2014

Dare: Five minute friday

Five minute friday- the word: Dare

FMF - Dare

My online life is about to change, and it's all because of a dare. I take it as a dare, that is; this challenge to write a novel in November.  I have not started writing, only thinking, and already I feel tremendously stretched.

To write fiction I must dare to live in a world with every possible option, and then choose just one.

I must dare to imagine characters, dare to make them alive even if that makes them familiar.
I must dare to explore topics that scare me,
dare to be daunted by the blank page,
dare to sit in the silence and not give in to the easy (so easy) temptation of internet distration!

I will dare to turn off the wifi entirely until I plunk out so many words;
dare to write junk, so long as it means I am writing.

I must dare to daydream, and to dwell on those dreams long enough to make them feel like real experiences that I can turn into words.

I must dare to take the risk of sounding corny, of attracting eyerolls,
or bored kids afraid to tell me so.

I must dare to write and let it set,
edit later,
share even later,
rather than seeking constant feedback.

I am taking up the challeng of NaNoWriMo in November.
I am accepting the dare.

I am daring to start, knowing that I may fail (or be called to put my attention elsewhere!)

For now, I'm stretching my fingers and my brain, taking deep breaths, and slowly weaning myself away from the mental habit of constant distraction....

Dare you to join me.



NaNoWriMo
-----
STOP
This post is linked to others at katemotaung.com; five minute friday, when we write like we used to run, for the sheer joy of it.

For more info about NaNoWriMo, visit http://nanowrimo.org/

Thursday, October 23, 2014

No Mere Idea

I am not equipped for this-- for this month of marches to the cemetery. I do not have the words to soothe my children when grief and fear strikes in the night. I cannot explain “why,” not to them, and not to myself. I can only hold them close, and it doesn’t seem like enough.

Yes, daddy is with one of the sad families again. Ask me your question. Wait, never mind, don’t ask, because I don't know. Let's crawl under blankets together instead.Life in this broken world often seems like a war of ideas. And circumstances conspire, and speak loud words into our hearts, and we hear “God is not good. He doesn't care. He's not in control.”


We fight back, of course. We soak up God's Word; we breathe in His grace and promises.

A child sings his memory verse: “The Lord your God is with you wherever you go,” and I wonder if the words will inoculate him from all the attacks on his faith. It feels a little bit like feeding him a salad and hoping that it will keep him healthy for the rest of his life.

Our efforts would be futile if this were a mere war of ideas. But Jesus is not an idea, He’s a person.

This is the only reason I dare hope for my children, for myself.

We dare not hope in our righteousness, because we have seen it fail time and again. We dare not hope in our circumstances, or our intelligence, because these things are as fragile as our health. I cannot even guarantee that my arms will be there to embrace them in the night when the fears strike. I am not enough.


But Jesus is not an idea, He is a Person, and He is enough. I cannot be their Jesus, but with the help of God I can point them to Him. I carried each of my children to their Baptismal waters, and there, God adopted them, and gave them new life with Him. He nurtures that life through His Word and in His church. Parents and children alike are invited to come and drink and live; to seek and find and be found.


Christianity is not an idea. Christ is a Person, a God-man who has died and risen and overcome death and the grave. The promise is for us and our children.


Let us take the hands of our friends and our children who suffer, and let us go to together to meet Him in His Word and Sacraments. Let us go together to Him, who binds up the brokenhearted, who heals our wounds, and who renews our hope.

Christ holy vine, Christ living tree
be praise for this blessed mystery
that word and water thus revive
and join us to your tree of life.
(LBS 595)




Wednesday, October 22, 2014

waiting, here

And one more makes five.
Five saints from our church called home in the past month. 
One more to rest with the others, here, near the bright fall trees, and under the shadow of the cross.


Please pray for our grieving church family-
that together we may cling tightly to God and His promises, and that we may care for each other in this dark season of grief while we wait together for the day when all darkness is scattered forever.


And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoeverhates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; andwhere I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 



“The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me.And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. ForI have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”





(John 12:23-25, 27-28, 35-36, 44-50)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

recommended reads

Ann and Katie Davis
Doing small things with great love.

See Someone Today 
What a gift we have to give.

A Mother's Day Sermon by Pastor Peterson
One of the most memorable sermons I've ever heard.

I Can't Breathe
on Depression

The three words that saved my son's life.
What a story.

Scattering gifts
you don't have to use them all at once!

Please don't say these six things at my funeral!
please don't!

God doesn't look for the right kind of people to believe
Thank God.

When your child doubts God's love
What would you say? Would you point to something Solid?

Unplugging
and connecting

Teach your child not to interrupt in one simple step 
(And it's not to knee them in the gut when they come running up to you, either.)

To the pain: wake up. repeat
abuse. pain. healing. hope.

Judge me...
please do.

The Good Soil
Tend to me, Jesus, our good gardener.

Reality Check
Good thoughts on hospitality.

"What People Are Craving Isn't Perfection. People Aren't Longing To Be Impressed; They're Longing To Feel Like They're Home. If You Create A Space Full Of Love And Character And Creativity And Soul, They'll Take Off Their Shoes And Curl Up With Gratitude And Rest, No Matter How Small, No Matter How Undone, No Matter How Odd." --- Shauna Niequist

Quit pointing your avocado at me
Do you ever feel like other mothers are doing their mothering AT YOU?

Monday, October 20, 2014

the glorious hugeness of the task

“Babies need not to be taught a trade, but to be introduced to a world. To put the matter shortly, woman is generally shut up in a house with a human being at the time when he asks all the questions that there are, and some that there aren't. It would be odd if she retained any of the narrowness of a specialist. 

Now if anyone says that this duty of general enlightenment (even when freed from modern rules and hours, and exercised more spontaneously by a more protected person) is in itself too exacting and oppressive, I can understand the view. I can only answer that our race has thought it worth while to cast this burden on women in order to keep common-sense in the world. 

But when people begin to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question. For I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination conceive what they mean. When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. 

But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean. To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes. and books, to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. 

How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? 

No; a woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.”

G. K. Chesterton, What's Wrong with the World



http://annailonamussmann.blogspot.com/2014/09/i-will-pity-mrs-jones-for-hugeness-of.html

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The sweetness of coming-home (Bilbo's song)

Nerds we may be, but my husband and I greatly enjoyed listening to the unabridged story of the Hobbit as we drove through the magical mountains and made our way south.  The end of the novel- the beautiful descripting of coming-home- rings in my heart today.

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.

Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.

(Bilbo's song, The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

small in the mountains

After an epic month of sadness and trial, we went on vacation.  As fun as that may sound in theory, as I packed I felt like I was doing one last chore, running up one last hill so that I could finally, finally curl up in the fetal position and just cry.

I'm sure we are not the only ones who have been in that place. 

So we went from that place to this place, a campground in Kentucky.  We camped in tents, and my mother-in-law did the cooking for all of us. 

The world and God conspired to give us a space to rest, to heal. 

The mountains are good for the soul. My little adventurers trudged along for mile after mile of hiking trails, panting but not complaining.  Our eyes were too full of wonder to worry about our tired legs. 

"Mommy, I feel so small here," said one.

Grammy and Peter, age 4, who is NOT a baby.

Yes, child, we are small, so small. 

We can climb and explore and stand beside waterfalls, but here we are cured of the notion that we are in charge of any of this. We are freed from the burden of believing our shoulders were meant to bear the weight of it all.  These mountains have been here for ages; these trees have grown since before any of us were born, and they continued their stretch heavenward even while we were at home near the cornfields, burying our dead. 


Psalm 90 English Standard Version (ESV)

Prayer of Moses, the man of God.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place

    in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
You return man to dust
    and say, “Return, O children of man!”
For a thousand years in your sight
    are but as yesterday when it is past,
    or as a watch in the night.
You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
    like grass that is renewed in the morning:
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
    in the evening it fades and withers.
For we are brought to an end by your anger;
    by your wrath we are dismayed.
You have set our iniquities before you,
    our secret sins in the light of your presence.
For all our days pass away under your wrath;
    we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
The years of our life are seventy,
    or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
    they are soon gone, and we fly away.
Who considers the power of your anger,
    and your wrath according to the fear of you?
So teach us to number our days
    that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Return, O LordHow long?
    Have pity on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
    that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
    and for as many years as we have seen evil.
Let your work be shown to your servants,
    and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
    and establish the work of our hands upon us;
    yes, establish the work of our hands!

He is our dwelling place, and we are his small-but dearly loved- children. 

As we travel through valleys of sorrow and up moutains of joy, again and again, 
He will prove to us His faithfulness, and He will give us rest.

Confirm the work of your hands, Lord.
Amen.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

rest

Thou that hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, a grateful heart...




Not thankful, when it pleaseth me;
As if thy blessings had spare days:
But such a heart, whose pulse may be
Thy praise.

from George Herbert's "Gratefulness"


I'm taking a break from blogging,
to breathe in, 
look up,
and rest in green pastures.





May you too find rest in God alone.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A beef with God: The dance.

This is a dance I have done before, so at least I know how the steps go.
But I still hate it.
Perhaps you have done this dance before, too.

Step 1- Hear of a tragedy or some other sadness.

Step 2- Take it to heart. Stare into it deeply, and take on the burden of the sadness myself.

Step 3- Wonder where God is. Wonder if He really is good. Wonder how in the world can He allow such things if He really is good.

Step 4- Let a crust form on my heart towards God.  Perhaps give Him the silent treatment.  Look away from Him, and nurse my secret grudge.

(This is the kind of thing that can go on for days, weeks, or years. Sometimes this is the kind of thing that keeps people away from church for the rest of their lives. If you are one of those people- I get it.)

Step 5- Fall on my face in some way or another. Realize this is not a good long term strategy.

(aside: sometimes the above steps combine with medical problems or hormones or whatever and depression follows. Depression can cause you to feel stuck right here, forever, no matter what you do. If this is you, say it out loud to someone, please.)

Step 6- Write and pray and think. Realize that my bad day wasn't just about naughty kids or the stupid dog, but about the beef I have with God.

Step 7- Start talking to Him again.

God I've been pouting.
I have something to say. I know I shouldn't say it, but if I if I talk to you I can't not think it, so I might as well say it...

What the hell, God? 
(forgive me but ... what is going on here?)

Why? Where are you? You really love us? I believe- kind of- help my unbelief, Lord!
How can I possibly let my light shine when everything around me and inside me is so dark?

Step 8- Fess up

My heart is overflowing with anger, mistrust, and doubt. Forgive me, Jesus.

You have proven to me a million times that You are good and trustworthy. But God I am weak.. I need You to do it again...  show me where to look so that I can again believe that you are good!

Step 8- He helps.

I ought to know this already, but He mercifully repeats Himself.

He swaddles my flailing soul in the comforts of His Unchanging Word.

He gently turns my eyes back to the cross of Christ.


Here I find forgiveness for my sins. How quickly I forget His poured out life for me!

Here I realize there is so much I do not understand.  How can I scream angry questions at Him?

Here I find evidence of His goodness.  Overwhelming evidence. Evidence that bled out of His heart and flowed down on to the rebellious earth. onto me.

jesus-cross Pictures, Images and Photos

My questions do not disappear, but they are quieted for a moment while I rest in His love--
while I am weak and loved.

I look up to Him. I open my hands to receive help.
Faith.
Hope.

I look forward to the day when I will see Him fully and my questions will be silenced forever.


And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.

1 Cor 6:14


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