The Familiar Glories

Glory is everywhere in these short days of summer.  A walk to the mailbox overloads the senses with unusual bird sightings, progress in the garden, and the frenzied buzzing of bee scouts filling their saddle bags with the makings for a flourishing life.

Clyde Kilby* laments:

“One of the greatest tragedies of the fall is that we get tired of familiar glories.”

YES to this, so in these fleeting days — of summer and of life — I’m putting on the brakes and lingering in a few moments that have already flown by.

Poetry is glue that repairs the split seconds.

Counting syllables; choosing one word and rejecting another; spinning a spider web netting that will capture and hold a memory; I’m pausing for a languid look at the longer realities that live behind the images.

Let’s agree together that we will never lose sight of those “familiar glories.”

The Familiar Glories

He runs from the house, his face aglow.

Expectation shines from every pore

As a gushing stream of welcome runs

Over the rocky bed of toddler-ese.

 

 

E & KWhite lace enhances youthful beauty.

Love and joy collide in radiance,

For without words, bride and groom clasp hands,

And every promise shimmers in their eyes.

Capture

Fragment of bird-life hangs suspended,

Sipping in mid-air her floral fuel

From color and fragrance that drew her

And hold her savoring; slake her wanting.

 

birch tree

White birch; emerald leaves on blue sky:

Were the greens this glorious last year?

The familiar glories press themselves

Against the day insisting, “Wake up.  See.”

 

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Photo credit for lovely picture of the bride and groom:  Carrie Mae Photography 

*Clyde Kilby was a noted C.S. Lewis scholar and professor of English at Wheaton College.  I found this quote in John Piper’s new book, Reading the Bible Supernaturally (Crossway, 2017) Kindle Location 574

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Each Day By Name

After holding babies close,
Holding hands on the walk to the mailbox,
Holding feet to the fire,
Holding loosely to the ones who have left the nest
(Say it and say it until you believe it:
“roots and wings,”
“roots and wings”),
My hands and heart are learning the contours of a new holding:
An upholding,
A gift of words that will not be written down,
But only offered up.

Standing quietly in the sure center of an ever-increasing circumference,
I watch as my family grows.
While 7 in Scripture is the number of perfection
Six — for me —  was always the number of completion —
The number of plates on my table when everyone came home for dinner.

When six swells to nine,
And the highchair is back in the dining room,
And the daughters-in-love help clear,
There’s a thankfulness that bubbles quiet.
Since they are all priceless to me,
My deepest desire is for their greatest good:
Wise decisions
Satisfying relationships
Holiness and helpfulness.

Time-bound and short of sight, do I really know what’s best?
Even with all my good intentions,
My jars of green beans and homemade granola,
My warm thoughts and my heartfelt hopes
Will add nothing to the faithfulness of their following
For this is something that only God can do.

God in heaven,
God of Hannah who prayed for a son,
God of Esther who prayed and influenced a nation,
God of Anna who spent a lifetime serving through prayer,
Will you give me grace to pray by name each day for those closest to my heart?
Will you help me to float their names like an offering,
Giving them back to you anew with every prayer?

Just as there’s a fine line between privilege and responsibility
(I want to see this as a privilege),
There’s also a hair’s breadth between conviction and superstition
(Especially when it comes to prayer).
Jesus says, “Go into your room and shut the door,” and
I go into my room and shout from the rooftop via Facebook.
Jesus says, “Where two or more are gathered in my name . . .”
And when I interpret that to mean that if two is good, then twenty is great,
And two hundred is pretty much a sure thing,
How lightly I have reduced this privilege of moving the hand of God to a referendum —
Or even an entitlement.

In my reading, I see that Paul lifted names in almost every letter.
I wonder . . .
Did the names spring readily to his pen because they had been on his lips in prayer?

“Euodia and Syntyche at loggerheads again”
Prayer like sandpaper to smooth away the relational splinters.

“Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, fellow servant”
Prayer like a spotlight on the beautiful image-bearer and words of thanksgiving for that sweet life.

When my prayers become prescriptive
(“Lord do this thing that I have planned for us . . .”),
As if You were on my staff;

When, with cobbled-together omniscience,
I presume to second guess Your sovereignty;

Set Your cross-shaped correction upon my words
And bring me back to the simple grace,
The lavish mercy,
That comes with unclenched prayer.
Let my words be few
And my listening be large around each whispered name,
With the offering up of my hopes and a commitment to Your will.
For prayer is the hardest work of all
Since it is not my work at all
But Yours
When I cooperate with You
And agree
That You know what is best as,
One by one,
I bring each one
To You
Each day
By name.

 

Photo credit

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Why Read the Lists?

“I’m glad you’re the one reading this,” said the patient husband.

He was referring to the tongue-twisting list of names in I Chronicles 5 with all their adjacent vowels and unexpected consonant blends.

I could see his point, but, to be honest, I was enjoying the effort of decoding the names and then saying them, one by one, out loud to the air inside our min-van.

As we waded through the names in I Chronicles, I couldn’t ignore the repeated evidence that God keeps records of the names of His people.  When we look at an old year book or at the many pictures that scroll their way through our social media minutes, it’s human nature to look for the faces and names of those we recognize and love.  God needs no news feed to keep track of His beloved, and every face, every name has significance to Him.  This truth is prevalent throughout the Old Testament:   remember Moses begging God to wipe his own name out of the book rather than giving up on his people?  And the lists go on throughout the books of history right into Nehemiah and the years of exile.

In the New Testament,  Jesus told The Seventy (when they returned from their short-term missions trip), “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”  His message to them was that God’s cherishing and recording of their name is more reason for them to rejoice than their ability to “trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy,” (Luke 10:17-20).

Just as God sees all time at once, exists outside of time, and yet is available to you in your moment, so He also sees all of humanity at once — and yet He cherishes uniqueness.  He knows you by name.

Multi-syllabic,
Mostly unpronounceable,
They march across the pages.

Trailing their fathers,
Embedded in community,
Their names inscribe the ages.

There are no nameless —
There are no faceless
Followers of God Most High.
Although we read them
With hearts too numb to marvel
At the grace that’s between the lines;

For these are the people promised to Abraham,
The ones for whom God split the sea,
Who sold themselves cheaply
And squandered their chosen-ness —

Just like me.

Seventy servants
Returned from a mission
With tales of demons falling.

Sharing their conquests,
‘Til Jesus gave perspective:
“Your joy is not your calling,

“But you have names
And you have faces
You’re followers of God Most High.
And so your names,
‘Enrolled among the righteous,’
Are written in My Book of Life.”

For they are the people promised to Abraham,
Outnumbering the stars they can see.
When the Lamb’s Book is opened
They’ll hold their breaths, listening.
On their faces, they’ll be listening —

Just like me.

//

Photo credit

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Christmas Eve on the Hill

Not in the curl of smoke from cozy fire;
Not in the fir trees, cloaked in snowy white;
Nor chickadees in formal dark attire;
Not in the wintry stars’ pinpricks of light;

Neither in the window candles, spilling
Their golden rays across the powdered ground;
Nor in the crimson berries’ vivid contrast
To holly’s green may Christmas Eve be found,

If not seen first with angel-startled shepherds
Through eyes and ears awakened by God-Light
To baby squalls and cattle stench alongside
The Truth of poured-out deity tonight.

Since we here on this quiet, country hill
Stand to our knees in fresh Bethlehem straw,
Soon all will be redeemed by His appearing —
Creation waits and holds its breath in awe.

Merry Christmas!

May your celebration of Christmas be
enhanced by truth,
enjoyed with beloved friends and family,
and enlivened by your anticipation of another advent
in which all creation will be redeemed.

 

 

 

 

Recipe for a Whoopee Pie Day

Wait until the sun is summer high,
On an orange day after someone has said,
“Tomorrow,
Let’s go to the beach!”

Then, whir the mixer
And scrape the bowl.
Alternate wet and dry.
Breathe cocoa dust and fire up the oven.
Grease every pan you own —
Every one, because you will need them.

When warm chocolate air is pouring
Out your open kitchen window;

When every horizontal surface is hidden
Under cooling pans;

It is time to make the filling,
To pile it with mathematical precision
In a ratio of one to three:
Brown
on White
on Brown,
And everybody smiles.

“We need one now,” they say,
And I know
As surely as I know that there are
A finite number of summer beach days
That these smiles are the sweetest thing of all.

Capture

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Preserved

The prompt at #livefreeThursday this week is “more than we can ask for.”  In Ephesians 3, Paul bends over backwards and strains his amazing mental thesaurus to communicate to his readers that God is the very essence of abundance.  Given this, what do we do when our hearts need truth in the moment?  When all that our eyes can see feels like “not enough”?

In days of abundance, we preserve,
Whether it’s green beans in a jar,
Or a meal,
Made in advance for a busy day.

When the soul-famine gnaws,
And the silence of God echoes abandonment,
The Truth —
Vacuum sealed in this jar of clay —
Sustains.
Unlike last Tuesday’s meatloaf
Or the manna
(with its one-day shelf life),
God’s mercies are new every morning,
Preserved,
Ever new.


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I link up with these communities on a regular basis:  Soli Deo Gloria Connections, Inspire Me Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Soul Survival, Testimony Tuesday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Tell His Story, Coffee for Your Heart, Live Free Thursdays, Faith-Filled Fridays, Grace and Truth, Fellowship Friday, Still Saturday, The Weekend Brew, Sunday Stillness, Faith and Fellowship, Blessing Counters, Women with Intention, Sharing His Beauty, Monday Musings, Motivate and Rejuvenate Monday, Thought Provoking Thursday, Small Wonder, A Little R & R, Beloved Brews, SusanBMead, Faith Along the Way

“Resurrection”

“As for man, his days are as grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And the place thereof remembers it no more.”   Psalm 103:15, 16

Every day there are fewer shingles — and more bare roof.
Every day there is less barn and more sky
Until,
It becomes clear to us that walls are also passing away,
A melancholy nod to the flowers of the field
Who spend their winters in barn-storage,
The wind having already passed over their flourishing.
There is merit,
Apparently,
(wisdom at least)
In the contemplation of
A barn-less field,
A me-less world:
“Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
But Old Testament poets notwithstanding,
There will be a Second Wind,
Who will tease mortal hay back into clover, timothy, succulent greens;
Stir the dry bones;
Reconstitute my known frame, while that Living Wind whispers,
“Resurrection.”

Subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews from Living Our Days delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.