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We buy ahead on the life we think we want
Looking into the days ahead
As though our crystal ball was so clear
To show us what will be when the payments are made
The life we imagine is likely too big or too small
For what we need when we take the deed
Certain to be different on the day we arrive
Keys in hand, do we pull into the drive
Or put a sign in the yard
Consult the stars
To know who we will be
Once the seasons roll again
The sports car gives a thrill
Gets there fast
Only room for two
Old couples erect mansions
Fill them full of treasure
Collected in a life so temporary
The passages
No matter how well we think we’ve planned to navigate
Can close in like caves
Or leave us out on display
In a glass house with no shade
Whether we prefer things settled
Leave them open to the end
Our vision is marred by generations
Behind and ahead
Cluttered with dreams unfulfilled
Those yet to live

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We build our houses of brick and steel
Glass and doors with locks as shields
Structures as fortresses to hold us safe
Yet there is a sweetness to sleeping in tents in fields
With the simplest of needs met and fresh air and open space surrounding us
Removed from the drudge of keeping up appearances
Filling our lungs and clearing our minds from the clutter of maintaining
Our home place we fill with possessions and comforts
Then we spend all our time fighting to protect and shuffle them
Position brings security, we climb another level our money keeping us afloat like a battleship
In a minute our neighbors could be the wolves at the door
Be they near, or far, shifting to tip the world in their favor
The pressure of life to compete and change, diversify our portfolios, stay in the game
We fight the fear of having to live in a tent or a small space where life is basic
Yet the minute we can, many run and escape to it

Complex conveniences

Upward mobility

Separated families

National fragility

We look for more

We long for less

The new things existence

Drives constant discontentment

Modern problems

Working so hard to relax

Driven to distraction

Simple living seems hard to capture

Each new object

To set our affections

Places to go

Never ending attractions

Be and do and see and explore

The eyes of man are never satisfied

They lust for more

And more and more

Chasing wind

Pushing ahead

Exploring exploration

Is there anything left?

Taste refines

Expenses rise

Comforts lure can draw compromise

Is the quiet life possible

In the endless big top show

Opting out seems out of reach

The claws of modernity’s seep

Grasp us all, brings us to our knees

If there is one thing I can do with my life. it would be this, to find ways to add to the beauty that God has embedded in the Story, to tell it in a way that people can see  as Paul Coleman says in his song “Pray” –

“The Gospel is not the STORY of Jesus, it’s Jesus Himself.”

As my children are growing older and more defined, as I see my own failures, weaknesses and inadequacies present, sometimes I look at something my children are doing, and I think ArRGh, I am failing here, I have missed the mark in training them, my own flaws are creating some in them. Other days I am awed by the beautiful qualities that emerge, the brilliant ways they see and image truth and grace. I think, oh Lord, please make up the difference here and help us all to LIVE out this story well in spite of ourselves.

We recently attended the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, a venture to encourage followers of Jesus to tell a better story, to take steps forward in speaking into the darkness that has become prevalent in so much of our culture. There were some great projects on display, and the heart of each creator was clear, people want to engage and tell the story, or piece of the story the best they can.

Sometimes  Christians can live in a bubble, and forget how the story needs to be told to people who have never heard it, or who have so many layers of myths laid in, that we must realize  it will take a while of clearing the intellectual and spiritual rubble away before they can even see clearly what can seem to a Believer, so evident.The blinders must be removed, so they can see, and so we, who already believe the basic truths of the story, can have our minds renewed to the deeper truths found in the Kingdom.

I was struck by the thought of a verse in Acts that oft encourages me as I am sharing bits and pieces of what I know of Jesus, He who is Wisdom.

Paul was speaking in Athens, and was talking to a diverse group of people, explaining to them that Jesus is the One and Only God and giving the details of Jesus resurrection from the dead, and the coming resurrection that all will one day experience in order to stand before the Living God to be judged.

This is the description of the conversation from Acts 17:

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.” (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” At that, Paul left the Council. A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.

This encourages me in that when we share, in all of our flawed methods,  God’s Word itself goes forth and produces fruit, sometimes it is 30, 60 and sometimes 100 fold in its return. We are to do our part in “compelling people to come in” to the Kingdom and we should do out very best to know and understand the truths of God’s Word and the principles of the Kingdom….but since God gave us the example of Paul….not always batting 1000….we can rest assured that it is God himself who is “watching over His word to perform it.”  This is a great comfort to me on the days, well, everyday, when I feel my composition may be less than perfect and my delivery may lack.

 So my prayer is this, “Lord help me to tell the part of Your story in the time and place You know it will hit the mark, or soften the target, or lay the groundwork for another reaper who is coming along behind me. Help me to train my children to be part of this Grand Story in beautiful ways that will bring Glory to Your name in the place where they can be most effective, and please, cover my flaws and gaffes and those of the other storytellers who mean well, but may botch it up a bit. Be glorified by your servants Oh Lord, May we -Add To The Beauty.”
Love,

Sherry

Add To The Beauty

  • Songwriters: Matthew Bronleewe, Sara Groves

We come with beautiful secrets
We come with purposes written on our hearts, written on our souls
We come to every new morning
With possibilities only we can hold, that only we can hold

Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out the best of who we are

And I want to add to the beauty
To tell a better story
Shine with the light
That’s burning up inside

It comes in small inspirations
It brings redemption to life and work, to our lives and our work
It comes in loving community
It comes in helping a soul find it’s worth, a soul find it’s worth

Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out the best of who we are

And I want to add to the beauty
To tell a better story
Shine with the light
That’s burning up inside

And this is grace, an invitation to be beautiful
And this is grace, an invitation

Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out our best

And I want to add to the beauty
And I want to shine with the light
That’s burning up inside

Add to the beauty
I want to tell a better story
Shine with the light
That’s burning up inside

After almost 3 years on “The Book”, Facebook, that is. I am taking a self-imposed hiatus to focus myself on hearing from God for vision and direction. Time to be more still, and quiet and to channel some of my energies into other writing projects and to make sure I am getting enough time at the gym and on the track.

Face it, I love Facebook, because Facebook =People and details, both of which I sincerely enjoy.  For me, I can say FB has been almost all positive and I think it will be again, it has opened many portals of relationship and a chance to bounce some thoughts off of a diverse group of people with oftentimes almost immediate feedback.  For someone with my personality profile, FB offers tremendous and unlimited access to people, what is not to love :-)? So, for me, it really will be a “fast” of sorts and I am pretty certain to have some sort of withdrawal symptoms. My family, and a few of my friends will be sure to tease me about it.

We have also unplugged and moved our television set and plan to cancel things like Netflix for a time, so the drain is going to be pretty massive. I think we might actually finish some of our read-aloud books, and play some Scrabble.

If you want to touch base, send me an e-mail,  or if you have my number, a text message, or GASP, call me, or stop by and have a cup of tea, really. Perhaps a game of cards or Scrabble?

In the meantime, I plan to blog, so check in and see what comes of my quiet. I know I will miss you.

Sherry