Blogging the Baptist Hymnal....Page 7..."Let All on Earth Their Voices Raise"
Joplin. In my world, the world of the American west of old...Joplin was the famous "jumping off" place for wagon trains full of cowboys, pioneers and home-grown adventurers. If you were from the east...wanted to go west...you went to Joplin come springtime. This springtime the thing that has made Joplin famous went from west to east...a 13-mile reverse order of devastation and grief . It is the jumping-off point for all our compassion and confusion.
When things like this happen....and they've been happening way too often these past few years...we definitely catch a glimpse of our better angels...the best of what is inside of us. For a few days we are them and they need us. We post prayers on Facebook, tweet our support, and text to have a donation to the Red Cross put on our phone bill. In other words...we love our neighbor. But then other things that don't require any compassion on our part, like politics or the Kardashians, take over the airwaves for a few days and we forget. Actually we might even be a little relieved. Anderson Cooper goes home and we are free to not look at the devastated area any longer....free again to focus on the landscape in our own interior lives; insides that perhaps have had the bark stripped right off our dream trees. We tell ourselves we will rebuild better than ever.
But what if we never forgot these desperate times? Think about what we do when things are desperate. We comfort one another, we hear they need diapers and food and we scramble to provide those essentials. Prayers are sent up for the boy whose mother can not find him...for the elderly who are perhaps wandering the rubble alone. In times like these we just can not stand to see our brothers and sisters suffer so. Joplin drove us to our knees, to our wallets, to sort through our extra household goods and for just a few days the focus was not on our problems. I am going to ask you to pretend that things are still desperate...right where you live...because they are.
I know as I write this blog that there are folks here in Longmont, CO that don't know where the next box of diapers are going to come from or would love to have more food in their cupboards for their family. Right now there is a mother who can't find her son and a forgotten senior marks off the days of their life in despair. Yes, there are agencies in place to help, but when we hear of the challenges and needs in our community and we say somebody should really do something about that....well guess what? We are somebody. I read somewhere recently where the writer said he was afraid to ask God why He won't help the suffering people out there, because he was afraid God would ask him the same question.
OK so maybe you need to work your way up to gathering up food or visiting a nursing home, but here's a fact...seed is connected to harvest. Plant a seed everyday of even the smallest gesture of love (or even like) and see what happens. Bless and you will be blessed. Smile at people, hold a door open, be polite. You may be the brightest spot in a mighty bleak day. You may be smiling at the mother whose son has vanished. Treat everyone with gentleness for we are all fighting a battle. We are all desperate. Jesus said whatever we do for the least we are doing for Him. I would smile and hold a door open for him. Just as He opened a door for me.
I challenge you to be aware of being good to someone every day for the next 40 days and watch what comes back to you. Little things, big things, unseen things. I have found one of the things I love to do the most is what I call pray in passing. See a homeless person on the street as you drive by in traffic....say out loud...."Show yourself to Him God. Let him know you are there. Bless him." See someone sitting by themselves at a bus stop...pray for him. Just a quick blessing. You can feel the power of your words putting things in motion for them and the lifting of your spirits...and you in turn are blessed. Get this please. You in turn are blessed.
In my travels across America I pass many prisons. I used to think wow people actually live in there. Now I understand that people actually live in there and as I pass I will raise my hand toward the place and bless the barbed wire asking God to please show His love to someone in there today. I drive away KNOWING I have opened a door for God to work and I totally believe he is touching someone as I speak.
It is time for people who say they love God and especially those who say they are followers of the Christ....to grab hold of the lesson he most often taught. Love. This a new commandment I give to you. Love your neighbor as yourself. And remember the worst thing you can do is feel bad because you are just not there yet...with the whole love walk thing. Be determined that you will try and not condemned if you don't. But I promise you...if you will ever get the hang of it and make it a part of your life...you will want it over and over again. You might even say...you will become desperate for it.
If this blog has meant something to you....please share.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Blogging the Baptist Hymnal…Page 6…”Praise to the Lord the Almighty”
Recently I came across a sheet of paper I hadn’t seen in almost 15 years. My family had gone back to Wisconsin for my grandmother’s funeral and it had been such an eventful few days that my sister and I had made some notes on things we wanted to be sure and remember. I’m glad we did that. And looking at the list all these years later I was taken right back to those sad and interesting days. Raise your hand if you find it to be endlessly interesting anytime you get say, oh, forty members of your extended family all in one place. Grandma would have loved it.
We lived in another state and had missed much of my sweet grandma’s fight with the wretched worm called cancer. The family that had been right there until the end had countless stories praising her desire to live, her strength, and the sacrifices made by the daughters who tried their best to take care of her. We cried together and we laughed through our tears together. They told the story of how Grandma was mostly in a coma-like state toward the end, but when no one could locate her great-grand-daughter, Shenai, in the big hospital and they whispered their concerns in her room…Grandma opened her eyes and spoke in a clear, strong voice…”Shenai is missing?” Always the one concerned for someone else.
And when she left the big hospital in Madison for the quiet of a small hospice setting, my aunt Midge laid down and made snow angels outside her window. She would have loved that too. Then when the time came for her to leave the pain of this world, my cousin Lorri stood in for my mom, who was trying to get there as quickly as she could. She died with 5 girls near here…as she had lived all those early years…with 5 girls near her.
I will never forget all her daughters gathered around her just before the lid was closed that would take her from their sight (in this life). We all stepped into the other room to give them privacy and we held each other with many tears on many shoulders as their voices filled the other room with praise and love for their mother. Then my cousin, Travis, in his desire to share with all the grand-kids his innermost thoughts…told us all with tear-filled eyes and trembling bottom lip…”She was the best Grandma ever! And she was so proud of us! Thirteen grandchildren and not a convict in the bunch!”
Grandma would have loved it.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Blogging the Baptist Hymnal….Page 5…”God Our Father We Adore Thee”
If you’ve been wondering where I am…well I have been in my car since May 8th, driving all over this beautiful country known as The American West. From Colorado to Montana to Oregon an now in Nevada on a beautiful horse ranch. Along the way I have spent days on a farm in Oregon, visited Facebook friends all over Montana, and on Thursday will head to Northern California for a workshop in San Jose and a visit with some amazing women I met while teaching my Collage Camp. I am hoping to see Utah on my way home.
What an amazing country we have in the Rockies and in the Sierras. America is indeed a wonderous place. So picture this…me and God driving thousands of miles together. I talk to Him…He talks to me…and in the lush green mountains of Oregon I stand on the edge of cliff atop a high mountain pass…and I spend a few minutes adoring God in a place where I can feel Him adoring me...my voice bouncing off the mountainsides...the sweet song of a lone high country bird joining mine. I can feel the joy God must have felt in creating a spot such as this and I feel the joy He has in calling me His Beloved. If there was ever a moment to adore Him…this is it. An isolated mountain road where I truly feel alone with Him and a moment to cast my cares on him and thank Him for loving me. I forget to do that sometimes…actually I forget to do that a whole bunch. But in this moment of telling Him he rocks my world and I adore Him…he reminds me that I can adore Him no matter where I am…in my kitchen, in my studio, in the lonliness of my midnight hour and the fresh promise of my time spent with Him in the morning. The Bible says that He WILL be adored and honored and praised. If we don’t do it the rocks will cry out. I have decided to give the rocks a permanent holiday. Adore Him? I got this one covered.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
I know there are angels worshipping God 24/7 and that their knees bend and tongues praise at the mere mention of His Son's name. I am privy to this info because of this very cool book I read every day. But I also know as surely as I am sitting in front of my fireplace writing this (yes, it's May but it's also Colorado) that angels bless us here on earth all the time. I believe they are dispensed to be the many fingers on the hands of God, doing what he needs them to do to show Himself to us regularly.
Personally I have seen them do some pretty cool stuff in just the past few months. Big things. Little things. Winged things. I have been wrapped in their arms driving down a snow packed isolated road in the middle of New Mexico after dark, their angelic GPS (God Positioning System) saw to it that I accidentally headed down the wrong country road in Colorado and drove in the opposite direction I wanted to go...which also turned out to be the opposite direction of a severe storm. Oh and then there's my McAngel.
When you are on the road as much as I have been this past year you learn to depend on a few things. Like small town diners with lots of pick up trucks parked out front will have excellent biscuits and gravy...that trash barrels at rest stops will have rusted bottle caps scattered about (important in my world)....that a Winnebago with Texas tags will house really friendly folks and that McDonald's will have clean rest rooms and lattes with enough caffeine to keep you going 600 miles a day.
So several times a day I look for the Golden Arches and have been known to say "Ah ha!" out loud when spotting them. So on a day that had seen lattes appear whenever I needed one (and no that is not because of angels blessing me...but now that I think about it...) I found myself really needing one, wanting one, jonesing for one and ultimately praying for one. At last....in lovely Raton, New Mexico my McHabit was about to be taken care of. But as soon as I pulled into the parking lot I saw a super long line in the drive-thru mostly because no one wanted to get out of their car and brave the inside of the place. I swear there were 200 teenagers in there. Probably occupants of the eight million yellow buses in the lot. It's OK, KC, I said to myself...Trinidad is only twenty minutes away.
In Trinidad, there were no buses, no teenagers and no long lines. There were no lattes either. They were cleaning the machines. It would be 20 minutes. KC no happy.
So what's a girl to do, but say thank you (which came right after "What the heck!") and head the many miles to the next spot voted most likely to succeed in making me a latte...Pueblo, Colorado...which was a long way off, but I was headed that way anyway. So here I am, smile on my face as I saw the tell-tale McCafe sign on the window and I pulled up to the faceless voice box. "Hi! I would love the biggest, iced vanilla latte you have." To which they responded..."I'm sorry we are cleaning the machines. It'll be 15 minutes."
Now here is where all the Joyce Meyer Cd's I had been listening to on my trip...paid off. Instead of really getting myself in a tizzy, I felt a weird peace come over me (Joyce is big on peace and resting in God) and said "I'm going to come in and wait."
OK here's where an angel comes in....
When I entered the McDonald's I walked up to the counter. There was no one in line...as a matter of fact there wasn't another person in the place but me. A McDonald's...on a busy street in a busy town...empty. Behind the counter this big, beautiful, black woman approached, smiled the kind of smile that lights up the room and makes you think you wouldn't need lattes if you could plug into it and said..."Hello, baby. What can I get for you?" I felt instantly energized and the weariness of the road faded away.
So while the young man who didn't light up finished cleaning the machine...and since not another soul came up to the counter in the 15 minutes it took me to get my latte....Virginia and I chatted. She told me she was an out-of-work preacher. I told her I wanted to be one. We talked of God's love, his mercies, his grace and his goodness. By the time they handed me my latte...I didn't even want it. I saw then that it wasn't the real reason I was there. Did the encounter change my life? No. Was it a blessing. Yes. Was it God showing me his goodness can be seen anywhere if we are seeing with spirit eyes? Yes. Was I thankful. Most definitely.
Virginia told me that day that angels blessed her everywhere she went. I am smiling right now as I think of her. Me too, Virginia...me too.