January 30, 2012

January Swan Song

Last December I took her mother out to the pond with the swans. It was the first time either of us had been there. It was a frigid day and I thought a shock of cold might send my daughter into labor. She was overdue.

We shivered a lot and got really cold noses but no contractions.

Now just over a year later, long after the contractions ended in joy, the birth of a beautiful baby girl, I strapped the little red-haired beauty into the car seat and we made our way toward the mountains. She would see the swans in all their splendor for the first time.

They say the swans were blown off-course by a storm twenty years ago. They landed on a pond in the middle of nowhere and decided they liked it. They come back every year and they have brought their families and friends. The swans winter on the pond until Valentine’s Day and then begin their journey back north just before spring unfurls daffodils.

They are trumpeters with black beaks. When the baby sees them, she says, “quack, quack.” She can’t differentiate between ducks and swans.

As I pack up to fly away to Eastern Europe to share my life with those who don’t know the Jesus who loves them--- who died for them, I wonder if they will see me for what I am---who I am in Christ?

Jesus had no beauty that man would look upon Him. It was His words that turned heads and hearts. And not just His words, it was His way that drew the crowds.

Yet he didn’t come from Glory, take on man-skin because He wanted to draw a big crowd. He came for individuals. Jesus loved people, ordinary people and built relationships with them. He loved the people that made up the multitudes and those with whom He shared a meal.

I have no beauty to pack up. All I have is a heart that longs to fulfill the calling that Jesus gave me. So I go. And I have only days to invest my life in the life of the individuals I pray for now, nameless people. In a a few short days our life paths will cross----and not by accident. To me that is so humbling and incredible---that God would choose to send me.

Will I look like every other person in the world created in the image of God (generically, a duck) or will my life reveal the beauty of the One who has become life to me? Will they see me---a child of God, a sinner saved by grace, a temple of the Holy Spirit? Will they see the heart inside me that beats for Christ?

Will my new friends wonder why I am “this way?”

Will they see what Grace has done to this life? And more importantly will they receive it for themselves?

It’s not quite Valentine’s Day, but I am heading north.

January 26, 2012

The End of My Story {revisited}

I wrote the following in a journal just over ten years ago. The Lord brought it to mind this morning. I was emerging into a new freedom, a fresh understanding of God's unconditional love and grace for me when I wrote about heaven so many years ago. Thinking of the end (that really is a beginning) is where I need to be today.

If I remember correctly, this story was written in response to a journal prompt from the book, The Sacred Romance. Time has blurred the details of just why I wrote this story. I certainly realize that I don't get to choose how life will play out in the end, but still I dream into the future, into eternity. And I remember the One who is preparing my place---a place far beyond my wildest dreams.

When I write stories, I tend to struggle with endings. The story I dreamt of ten years ago is the truly the never ending story. To me that is the most beautiful part...

“The End of My Story”

Even though I know the days of my life were numbered before there was yet one of them, the ending I would choose to the story of my life would be to live with a healthy body and healthy mind into old age. In the mirror I would see wrinkled skin, and mousy hair, but in my heart I would feel as young and hopeful about the future as I did at twenty-five, my favorite year as I recall.

On a beautiful summer evening, I would go to bed after a day of visiting with family and friends, enjoying my grandkids, telling stories about my childhood, my days as a young mother, and my empty-nest years spent with Jeff fishing and traveling, and seeing the world. I would slip into sheets softened by years of wear and washing, and go to sleep. The next morning I would wake up in heaven.

Upon my awakening, I would rub my eyes and pinch myself. Then, from deep within would well up in me the incredible, unstoppable desire to shout with a loud voice, “PRAISE BE TO MY SAVIOR, THE LORD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH.” I would be complete in joy and I would immediately begin to look so that I might see---see His face, this dear Friend who I have sought to know and love.  For all my earthly life, I longed to see His face with my own eyes. 

A Light draws my attention and there He is. Our eyes meet. In those blazing eyes, I behold his joy for me as He welcomes me to the place He prepared for especially for me.

There is no sense of urgency about what to do now that I’m in heaven. The reality of eternity settled upon me gently like an evening dew.

Still, my Savior bids me, “Come.”

He hands me a white stone. “Here is your name.” Turning it over, I see it on it a name etched on the stone. I know the name, and more incredible is that I understand why the name was given to me. How gracious is my God! I don’t deserve this gift, this name, this eternal life---but there is no guilt, no shame. I come to full knowledge that apart from Christ I could not be in His Presence. I could not have a place in the glorious home of love completed, the place called Heaven.

Breathing deep, I truly begin abiding there. I look down, notice my clothes. They are royal clothes. I’m clothed for a wedding party and I am the bride beautifully adorned in white.

Suddenly, I am swept away to a wedding unlike any I had known on earth. The celebration had begun long before I arrived. As I enter the Grand Hall, suddenly, I am encircled by people I know---by people I love. They are celebrating the wedding of the Bridegroom and me. What joy we all share! All sorrows we have ever shared have fled; all things are truly new.

The Bridegroom comes for me, grabs me by the hand and takes me to my dwelling place.  He calls me by my new name. His voice is both strong and tender at the same time.

“Settle in,” He says, “the story of your life has really just begun. Now you will live as you were created to live. There is no night, no darkness, so LIVE, LIVE, and LIVE again. What’s mine is yours.  I’ve always wanted you to have it.  So LIVE.”

So I began a journey of living---of tasting the most savory and sweet things from the banquet table, and seeing beauty in the light of Christ in a creation once again subject to mankind, of hearing songs in a tongues different from my earthly language but understanding and singing still the same---with abandon to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I touch the cool water of the River of Life and dip into my hand its sweetness, drink long. The delicious aroma of the prayers of the saints fills the air as incense rises to the throne of God.

I have come to heaven my true home. All the questions I thought I would ask, all the mysteries from the other side, seem trivial. Instead of looking for answers, the deep longing and desires I knew from birth, the desire to be who I was intended to be, overwhelm my heart. Those desires cause heaven and all it holds to stretch out before me as a glorious adventure waiting to unfold.

I am so very grateful. How could it be that Jesus left this place to come to corrupted Earth to die in agony so that I could be here? 

I know the answer. It resonates in all I see, hear, feel, taste, and smell. It is LOVE.

God is love and in Him there is no darkness at all. Love rescued me from myself and from the judgment that would have separated me from God forever. Love was nailed to a cross, buried, and was resurrected. He conquered death so that I could live. I was a sinner, but love did not let me perish.

So I settle in to dreams come true… to happily ever after in my forever home…the place called heaven.
                        
“Behold, (He has made) all things new."

January 23, 2012

Life in the Valley

I think many of us spend some time in the valley.

We’ve been to the mountaintop. We’ve stood with our arms outstretched, felt the wind blowing against our faces, the clouds racing overhead. We have felt alive as we looked to the valley below. We stood tall on the mountain sensing in the depths that we were a little closer to heaven. And for a time, we were thrilled by the anticipation of what is just beyond.

But we live in the valley more than we like to admit. We feel vulnerable and powerless to forces around us. We aren't in Eden anymore and we must deal with----

Disease
Finances
Governments
Injustice
Aging
Lies
Death

We may have fertile places in our valley, but they require tending. Weeds pop up and demand our attention. Often, we can feel like we spend so much time fussing with our plot that we never get to cultivate anything new. Sometimes the whole thing gets away from us. We give up on the hope of a harvest and sit in the shadows of our valley.

But there is help, if you look for it.


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.

Look up.

Life in the valley is hard.

Don’t look down. Set your "face like flint" toward reaching that ridgeline once again. Look up to the One who never sleeps, who shades you.

So much of the time, you and I live in blinding ignorance of the battle that is being waged for our hearts.

He heals blindness.

The God of the mountain is the God of the valley. 

He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; 
 
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you—the LORD is your shade at your right hand; 
 
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm— 
   
he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

If you look to Him, you’ll see He’s watching over you.

I pray the truth of Psalm 121 pierces to you the bone so that you know that you know that you are covered under the Mighty Wings--- the Shadow of the Almighty.

Come and and go. Come and go. Then sit in the shade…and look up.

He's watching over His "word to perform it."


Scripture: Psalm 121 (NIV)
                 Jeremiah 1:12

January 21, 2012

His Radiance


         Let them praise the name of God— 
      it's the only Name worth praising. 
   His radiance exceeds anything in earth and sky; 
      he's built a monument—his very own people!
   Praise from all who love God! 
      Israel's children, intimate friends of God. 
   Hallelujah!

     (Psalm 148:13-14 MSG)

          Sunset, the sky on fire this past week as I trekked out to get the mail.


January 19, 2012

Simply Unorganized



I saw on the side bar of A Holy Experience that the e-book Organized Simplicity by
Tsh Oxenreider was free at an online bookstore. I downloaded it into my reader but I haven’t opened it yet---if opening is what you do with an e-book.

You know I should really study more about technology. I have to admit that I had to think a second before I could think about what the “e” stood for in the newly hyphenated word “e-book.”

And this blog…I know, I know. But the problem is I don’t know. I wrote my 100th blog post last week and it is a miracle that I haven't lost the whole thing messing with settings about which I know nothing. I thought I would never figure out how to resize a picture the first time I put one on a page. There I go getting off subject...

I am really drawn to the word "simple" but I am suspicious about it. It seems to me that nothing really is simple. To me the words “organized” and “simplicity” in a book title creates an oxymoron. 

I do love oxymorons, especially when I can get everyone involved digging them from our memory banks on a road trip. I have to catch my travel companions in the right mood so it rarely happens.


Now this is not a book review because, like I said, I haven’t opened it yet. Life has been busy for me, running at a pace just beyond where I function well. That translates to stress and a meltdown on my husband. Bless his heart, why does he always ask just as we turn out the light?!

It is frustrating to be unorganized. I showed up for my Bible study class on Monday night without my Bible! And what’s worse is----I am the teacher. I had to go to the pile of "left Bibles" at the church and look for a translation and text size I could read.

Today, I gathered things for my next journey into the world. I leave in two weeks to travel to Eastern Europe to teach conversational English and to build new friendships with those who are studying my language. They have words and grammar but many will never have had the opportunity to practice with someone with English as their first language. For most of them, it will be their third or fourth language.

So this grandmother, mom, and somewhat unorganized person is trying to get it together so I can be the best teacher possible for the people I will spend two weeks teaching. One good note is this teacher is from the South, where naturally, we talk a little slower. I hope the students will appreciate that, but maybe they would rather have someone with a Australian accent. I wouldn’t blame them. I will try to leave out the "fixn' to" verb form.

Seriously, my plan is to have all those lessons ready and organized so that every minute I am there will matter. There is something very simple about that truth-wanting what we do to matter. 

Isn’t that what we want when we finish this race, to have made a difference, to have lived a life that matters?

I have until the middle of February to pray about opening that e-book and taking seriously getting organized and finding simplicity in my life. I want those things, but that challenge is going to have to wait until I can get a few things in order.

Just to let you know, I wrote this quite unorganized blog entry sitting in front of a fire out on the back porch. It’s the first time I have sat down today since early this morning when I sat with the Savior---and it has been simply divine.

 For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God...
(2 Corinthians 1:12)
Just a note: I did consider the word "disorganized" but opted with the prefix "un." I just couldn't bring myself to "dis" myself until I get this straightened out.

January 15, 2012

The Sweet Spot

The high chair is thick with paint. The topcoat is white but yellowing. I see her watching the baby, noticing the chair.

“I believe that high chair was made by my Daddy.”

“Momma, you always said that you sat in that chair.”

“I believe he made it,” she says pulling hard from the depths.

She knows and she doesn’t.

My grandbaby sits in the chair. Momma tied her in with a sash of red and white striped cotton.

There used to be a tray on the chair. There are grooves on the arms. I’ve never seen the tray. But it had one more than eighty years ago. My great-great grandfather made it by hand for his babies to eat in.

Five generations sit at the table----the baby the evening entertainment. (Except when my teen boy pours tea over his salad instead of dressing. Why? He’s unsure. His cheeks pink up and we laugh. He drained the tea off in the sink, came back and reached for the ranch dressing.)

After the coconut pie, she says she can stand at the sink and wash the dishes. She comes pushing her walker. We know she can’t help, and it hurts to know it's true. We encourage her to go watch the baby play.

Mom takes her place at the sink washing the dishes before washing the dishes. I pick up stacks of Corelle waiting by the sink; line the plates up in the dishwasher. We could have eaten on paper, but we didn't, and for some reason I am thankful.

I need Mom to hem some pants for me. She gave me her short stature but she didn’t give me sewing lessons.

Memaw comes down the hall, stops. She thinks we only need to turn up the hem on the khakis. Thirty years ago this would have been her job---hemming, taking in a waistline, making me a party dress for a school function. Mom deferred to her expertise back then.

I slip on the gray flannel pants that tie at the bottom. I want a regular hem. My grandmother asks for help finding the bathroom. She is just steps from it. I feel the meal heavy in my stomach.

Mom tells my grandmother where to go like she doesn’t know.

She knows and she doesn’t.

Where did the knowing go? Forty-five years that bathroom has been right there.

We sit and watch Tebow before we go. 

She asks my husband how his mom and dad are doing. His sweet mother left this earth in 1993. Jeff tells her his dad is between churches. She doesn’t ask about his mom.

She knows and she doesn’t.

As we leave she quipped that we are all related somehow. A faint laugh floated into the air, a whisper of the sound of her laughter---the laugh I remember.

The baby, the great-great grandmother, and the contrasts lay heavy on me.

The baby is soaking in the world, taking it all in, the power of words spoken. I see her awakening to place and to the people she will call her family. I wonder at her life as it is being shaped, celebrate every new awakening.

My grandmother who sat in that very high chair where the baby now sits is losing her words, her place, the skills that shaped her into the beautiful, strong woman I knew. And I wonder that she might be losing us.

I stand in the sweet spot--- in the middle of these generations, torn between joy and grief---the beautiful and the beauty fading. I see the blessing, but I feel the pain. I struggle to live in the moment---to take the dare to be thankful in this.

She knows and she doesn’t.

(My knowing. It comes and it goes. I remind myself, “This isn’t all there is---only what earth eyes see.” I think maybe the hardest thing I will ever do is to live the joys of the beginnings of life all the way to the end. I know this is true and I need grace. Grace and truth.) 
… God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.  And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.  (Ecc. 3:11-13)

January 14, 2012

"Hallelujah"


  Let this be written for a future generation, 
   that a people not yet created may praise the LORD:

 “The LORD looked down from his sanctuary on high, 
   from heaven he viewed the earth, 
 to hear the groans of the prisoners 
   and release those condemned to death.”
(Psalm 102:18-20)

Words
Living
Ancient
Powerful
Written
before I was
Created
Seen
Heard
Released

"Hallelujah"

Copyright Cheryl Weaver 2011 used by permission

Celebrating my Savior and my 100th blog post

January 11, 2012

The Price of Unity

I got off the airplane and two men in military garb stood just outside the plane’s door in the jet way. Reality hit me. I wasn’t in America anymore.

It was way back in the last century (in the late 1900s), but I will never forget traveling to a communist country to share the gospel.

I don’t know the exact number of people I traveled with---somewhere around fifteen. We went to teach conversational English. The government had changed their mind about allowing us to conduct a school in the church that had invited us to join them in ministering to their city. We would improvise with the Spirit’s leading.

We scattered to live across the city in different homes. I was just up the street from the church, a straight shot. Everyday I walked past the police station and the German shepherd on the roof of a house on my trek to the church and back.

I have never had a good sense of direction so when I stepped out of the gates of the church’s courtyard, I looked for the single royal palm shooting into the sky. It signaled to me, “Walk this way.”

I had studied the door of Sylvia's house. Butting up against one another, from sidewalk perspective, the houses all looked the same, except for the doors. 

I loved the door to Sylvia's house.

And I came to love the ladies who lived behind it. They welcomed me into their home and allowed me to have daily “conversation time” in the living room with young people who lived in the area. It was an attempt to accomplish what we came to do---build relationships and share the gospel.

Our team was under the authority of a mighty man of God. He spoke little English but understood our words very well. (At least, that is what I came to believe.) Loved and respected, the shepherd of a church, and literally hundreds of house churches, he served under the authority of Christ and he placed high value on the unity of the body under his care.

One afternoon, I received a call to go to the church for a team meeting. I wasn’t that surprised. We knew that things could change day by day as the church battled in prayer, and with the government, hoping to get the school going.

Chairs had been pulled into a circle in the meeting room. We chatted among ourselves until everyone arrived. I noticed our team leader placing his hand to his forehead, rubbing out tension gathered there between his temples.

The meeting began with prayer. Then our leader began to tell us about the heart of the man who sat beside him, the pastor who we had come to serve.

“This man has served time in a prison cell for the cause of Christ. Under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, he is leading this church to reach this city and beyond, spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ into a world that desperately needs hope. He places great value on one thing that this team is jeopardizing. We are here to make things right.”

I felt like I had swallowed a lead weight. What had I done?

“Search me, oh God.”

He continued, “We are beginning to my left, and then I want every person in this room to tell the exact amount of money that they have given to the person or persons who are providing a home for you while you are here.”

The silence really was deafening, until finally, the person to the left spoke. My fellow team members began to cough up dollar amounts: twenty dollars, then five dollars, the next forty dollars, fifteen. My turn was coming and the amounts being spoken drifted away from me as I prepared my response.

“I didn’t give any money but it wasn’t because I didn’t want to. It’s taken every bit of willpower I have to keep from it.”

Our leadership had told us before we arrived that our host families would be provided with everything they needed to be able to meet their needs, and ours, while we were in their homes. The cost of our trip included enough to provide our hosts with a measure of flexibility, so that they could show their hospitality, which is an inherent desire of those who have a guest in their home.

It had been quite clear: Don’t give them money.

But we did it.

(I know I didn’t give, but I did give in my heart. Is it not the same as doing it, when in your heart you are guilty?)

Everything would be made even among the households that hosted us. The lack of equity was a threat to the unity of the body. The pastor had already heard they were comparing gifts.

More than conducting an English school, more than reaching out to the city with a group of Americans, the pastor’s priority was the unity of the church under his care.

In the name of compassion, or maybe out of guilt for having so much in our pockets, we risked the unity of a healthy, vibrant church with a five-dollar bill. But because of a godly pastor's diligence in protecting the unity of that great church, we left it intact.

It occurs to me that unity in the body of Christ is both powerful and fragile. How much value do we place on it?

Could we in our abundance take away what cannot be bought--- and is cherished--- and vital--- and is not ours to take?

We could. And in ignorance, we could leave a five on the table, and walk away thinking we had been a blessing.
"Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8 (NASB)

January 8, 2012

Keep Away

The boys came to us carrying a basketball that had lost its bounce. They were hoping that we had brought an air pump. Gail knew that we had and she ran up the stairs to fetch it.

The boys squirmed around and stood on anxious toes watching her get the hand pump out of the plastic packaging. Their impatience was evident as she fiddled with the needle, finally fastening it onto the pump’s nose.

Then they swapped. One of the boys took the pump and Gail took the ball. Screwing up his face as he pushed the lever, the ten-year-old forced air into the ball until it was taut. Success. The boy's faces brightened. This was a good day.

Gail tossed the ball over to one of the boys and I tried to intercept. It bounced on a concrete walk and they took out after it. One shouted over his shoulder to me, “You’re in the middle.”

Copyright Cheryl Weaver 2011 used by permission.

I have to say, it had been awhile since I had played keep away, and at first I was pretty good. I think they may have underestimated my ability and my competitive nature. But soon they were on to me, and their honed skills at the game overtook my drive. I caught the ball once and got to move to the outside, but once they got me back to the middle, the game was over. I was stuck.

I thought later how many times in my life I have lost at the game of keep away. Not the game I played with the boys in Haiti, but the game I have played in relationships with people.

For years, I thought I had done an adequate job of masking the guarded me. But looking back, I was in denial. My attitude, my independence, and my lack of vulnerability signaled to those around me that it was better to just keep away.

I played the keep away game with my friends, with my family and even my husband. Worst of all, I attempted to play the game with God. 

When I was younger, my game face manifested itself in always needing to have the last word---to always be right, win every argument---no matter the cost. Later in life, my message became less confrontational. I became more aloof, detached, and non-committal.

I have made progress over the past few years, but old habits are hard to break. By the grace of God, I won't be playing keep away anymore.

As I wrote last week, while I was in Haiti just before Christmas, God revealed that I don't need a plan for my life, I need a vision. As I pray for the revelation, undoubtedly, the vision will include me living life with people in community. 

The boys called me into their game that day at Canaan and I didn’t hesitate to join them. I loved playing even though I lost. Could I learn to jump in, to not be hesitant, when it comes to living out my life in Christ? 

In order to fulfill God’s will for me concerning community, I can’t be hanging back calculating the cost, considering if I am willing to risk staying in the middle for a day, a week, or maybe for the rest of my life. 

The middle can be a daunting place. It is a place where there is so little control. In order to step into life, I have to be willing to risk that I may never get my hands on the ball.

I want to be all right with that. Someone will always have the ball. And it doesn't have to be me.

Let me play----even if it is in the middle.

January 7, 2012

In His Hand

Copyright Cheryl Weaver 2011 used by permission

“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.

Behold, 
I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;..."

                                       ---God

(Isaiah 49:15-16 ESV)

(Handprints, palms placed down, sharpie traced---touch points for remembering to pray for those who feel forgotten. He does not forget. His hand holds all.)

January 6, 2012

Holy Roar



Suspended over a mountain creek, the water rolls relentlessly, cold and fast over rocks and downed trees. Its swift movement crashes against everything that stands in its way. The sound echos in the valley, the score a persistent roar. The air fills with negative ions damp and heavy in the lungs. The water rushes downstream. In just minutes it will meet its glorious destiny, a wondrous art exhibition by the Most Creative---a work of art---a waterfall.


"Lord, let me run hard like that clear water. Let nothing hinder my way. Move me over every obstacle to accomplish your will. Give me courage that I may leap from the summit to fall into the deep pool of your grace, a work of beauty that meets destiny in a holy roar!"


‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.
(Zech. 4:6 NASB)

Writing five minutes on the prompt: Roar.



January 4, 2012

United in Christ - A Renewed Vision of Community

Copyright Cheryl Weaver 2011 used by permission
"We are United in Christ"
I wouldn’t call my recent trip to Haiti a mission trip. We did have a mission of sorts when we collected Christmas in backpacks for the kids who live and go to school at the community called Canaan. Other than the Christmas party, we had no real plan for what we do there for five days.

Truthfully, this concerned me before we left. I asked our team leader, “What are the expectations for our team from the leadership at Canaan?”

His answer came quickly, “They see Canaan as a community and it is their desire for us to feel at home there. They want us to join them in what God is doing during the days we live and work with them.”

We pulled into Canaan in the dark. The next morning it took me less than an hour to realize that I was about to experience community like I never had. And that feeling of fellowship, of working together to accomplish God’s purposes day by day would teach me more than I could have dreamed.

There are times we don’t need a plan; we need a vision. When we can see God's hand working, then in our gifting, we know how and where to join him.

Ann Voskamp shared on her blog that her word for this year is “koinonia,” the Greek word for community.

Ann has lots of community inside her house homeschooling her kids. But after reading her blog and her book, One Thousand Gifts, I know that learning to live in community may not be as comfortable for her as taking a photo of “slips of cheese.”

I first discovered communities in the blogging world when I stumbled upon “The High Calling” website (but not actually through StumbleUpon. I was stumbling before I knew what I had done had become a proper noun.) I hadn’t seen anything like it on the web. Intrigued by the community’s writers and those who commented, I loved their intellect, their artistic nature, and the encouragement they expressed to one another. I bookmarked the site on the header my browser. Whoever thought of this type of community was brilliant. And I had another good reason to give up reading magazines.

But I can’t say I totally understand community in the blogging world as I have linked my blogs and commented. I really connect to the words and pictures of the blogs I most often drop by. Many times I have thought that maybe I am a better at leaving a comment than writing a blog.

What I do understand is that behind the words of the blogs are people. People who are in some ways probably a lot like me. Others are very different. All made in the image of God, reflecting something of His nature in their stories and photographs. I am inspired by them, learn from them, and often think that their life expressions have pushed me to allow God to be bigger in His world.

If you are one of the people I write about today (you have seen me hanging out at around your blog) I want you to know that even though I still question my place at the table, I love the places you have set. They bless me and I am thankful that the people of God have found a voice in this place. But not just a voice, many voices that together share his light in such varied and beautiful ways.

God has challenged me to consider again the importance of community when I was at Canaan. What does it really mean? And how best can I live out community to the glory of God?

God has already redeemed so much time I wasted when I lived not trusting him, my heart at arm’s length from everyone around me. He punctuated the end of 2011 with this word upon my heart: restored.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:10-11)
Restored. Now what?

I don’t have a plan. I need a vision.

My heart cry is do “this one life well.” And I want to do it well and in the company of others, in community.