Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Never Givin' Up - by 98 Degrees

After a few weeks of intense parenting I've been evaluating what kind of a parent I am.  Believe me I come up short to my hopes and expectations especially in comparison to the perfect parent God.
God has called Himself a Father.  "Daddy" (Abba) actually.  But what kind of a Father is He?
He is the kind of Father who puts a GPS on all of His children.  "I always feel like someone is watching me" (by Michael Jackson)  is true.  He is. 
Maybe I was pretty good at wearing my parents down until they finally threw up their hands and said; "OK you can go to the Mall on Friday night!"  But you can't wear God down.  He has all of the time and patience in the world.
He "Ain't nothin' but a Hound Dog" (Elvis) and when He promised to "Never, never, never leave you or forsake you" (Jesus) that was a promise that might feel like a threat sometimes.
He is the Hound of Heaven.
The Hound of Heaven
My Paraphrase of The Hound of Heaven Sister Monica

I ran away from God. He followed me peacefully and swiftly, yet unhurriedly. He told me, "all people who betray you, betray Me."
I kept trying to get away from God. Though I knew of His love for me, I feared that if I had Him, I would have to give up everything else. I kept running across the ends of the universe. I wanted to hide from this tremendous Lover. I even tried to hide in the sky. I tried to tempt the God's servants to help me hide from God, but they were on His side. I realized my own sinfulness next to their faithfulness. So I tried to find another fast way to flee from God. I clung to the wind. But no matter where the wind took me, God continued to follow, peacefully and swiftly, yet unhurriedly. He said, "Nothing shelters you that will not shelter me."

So then I turned to the beauty of nature to find my happiness. I enjoyed sharing my experiences of happiness and sadness and all the other emotions with nature. But even this experience of nature could not ease my human pain. I cried to Heaven but there was a language barrier. I speak through sound. Heaven speaks through silence. Nature cannot satisfy my thirst. I am thirsty still. God continues to follow, peacefully and swiftly, yet unhurriedly. He said, "Nothing contents you that doesn't content me."

I have nothing left that will allow me to exist without God in my life, and I have been driven to my knees. I am at rock bottom. I tried everything. I wait for the love of God. Everything else, all other dreams, have failed. The earth is overloaded with heavy sadness. God, must you break me down before you can use me for Your glory? My heart is broken. What is to happen?

Everything is bitter, yet now and then a trumpet sounds. The trumpet sounds from Heaven, but not before the death and resurrection of Christ. God, must Your glory come from this rotten death? Now from this long pursuit of happiness comes God. God says, "You keep running from Me. This is strange. Why do you run from Me? I love you. You didn't do anything to merit My love. Human love is different from My love. For human love you need merit. I love you no matter what you do because I Am Love. I have prepared a place for you with all of the desires of your heart. I am what you have been seeking this whole time.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Just the TKTS

Everybody knows about the half price Broadway tickets booth in Times Square and sure the idea of seeing a show at half price is alluring but the lines there will eat up the best part of your day in the Big Apple.
What many tourists don't know is there is another booth -  in Brooklyn with practically no lines.  Here's what you do:

Take the "A" subway towards Brooklyn.  It is an express and you won't have to stop at every station along the way.

Get off at the "Jay Street" station.  When you get up on the street ask anyone where the Marriott Hotel is (it's only a block away)

And the ""TKTS Booth" is right behind the hotel.

It is open from 11:00 am - 5:00 pm Monday - Saturday.
You can purchase Matinee tickets for the next day on Fridays and Tuesdays.  It is better to go after 2:00 to get up front seats.
Just this last trip alone I saw:
Gazillion Bubble Show (Tooooooooooooooo much fun!)

Jersey Boys (dancin' in the aisles)

Nice Work if You Can Get It (with Matthew Broderick not an inch over 5'4", married to Sarah Jessica Parker and Gweneth Paltrow's mom Blythe Danner)

If you are patient everything goes half price eventually. 
I've been afforded the opportunity to see twice as many big shows at less cost than the traveling shows in my home town.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Rapt Up

While I'm in NYC I've had the opportunity to join a weekly
women's Bible study.
The teacher is the wife of a very famous and influential pastor.
She has many years of an astonishing Christian journey under her belt.
So, there I sit in rapt attention, leaning forward to hear the wisdom and stories she shares.
Her words have inspired and encouraged me in a powerful way.
But I wonder -- what if I tuned in this intently to each person I cross? 
Each person I encounter has a story and life's experiences that could build up my arsenal of lessons.
What if I begin to treat each person I cross like they read

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Around Every Corner

There is a Matisse exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum so I took the 6 train up there and evidently I wasn't the only person in NYC with the same idea. 
So I decided to "eat" the museum one bite at a time and explored the European Decorative Arts wing.  
Tucked in amongst the bones and plates and jewelry were beautiful testimonies that brought to mind God's words of comfort.
How beautiful are the feet of she/he who bring good news. 
 Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind and strength.

Thy word is a lamp unto me feet and a light unto my path.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Heart Beat

If we saw each other today I would see your face but unless I got real quiet I could not hear your heart beat.
That is the way a big city operates.  It is in the still quiet moments that I've heard God's heart beat in New York.
Yesterday as I descended the stairs to the subway on 53rd at Lexington I heard the faint sound of a flute.  What was that melody?  It was one of my favorite hymns - How Great is Our God?"
Yesterday in my temporary mail box were two packages.  One for me and one for my son.  Inside was a note attached to a hand embroidered blanket from a friend who is struggling with MS .  My friend outlined her story of salvation through the grace of Jesus and His faithfulness to her. 
The message was - if she can trust then we can too. 

At a Bible study I was graciously invited to yesterday we were discussing how hard life can be and how sometimes darkness seems to be prevailing.
"But the symbol of Yin and Yang is false" the leader reminded us.
John 1:5
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
That unmovable truth from God's mouth to my ears was an invitation to align my heart to His beat -  here in this place. 
And as my mother taught me to reply...........
"It is with pleasure that I accept Your kind invitation"

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Every Day Graces

A Synagogue on Lexington Avenue
A week ago I flew to NYC after my son suffered a very serious heart attack.  I shot out a prayer as I slung things in my suitcase.  "Lord please go with me and use me as you see best."  He has been with us each step of this life threatening journey.
The morning after I arrived as I rode in a taxi to the hospital -- my driver prayed for John out loud all the way to Presbyterian Hospital. 
An administrator at the hospital came along side of me to find out some unanswered questions about John's status.  "I am a mother with a son too" she assured me. 
In intensive care this was the view from his window


Who gets a view like this?
In the next few anxious days we could see the handiwork of our creator and rest assured He is with us and for us.
The next few days I want to report on the everyday graces we witness as God leads us through this uncertain time.
Would you pray for John?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Found Out

Have you ever been "found out"?  I have and not in a good way. 
But, you know what?  Carrying around my big bad secret made me sullen and sad.  Can I hear an "Amen" Lance?
My son sent me a story told by Robert Fulham and it rang so true I had to post it.............

In the early dry dark of an October's Saturday evening, the neighborhood
children are playing hide-and-seek. How long since I played hide-and-seek?

Thirty years; maybe more. I remember how. I could become part of the game in a
moment, if invited. Adults don't play hide-and-seek. Not for fun, anyway. Too bad. Did you have a kid in your neighborhood who always hid so good, nobody could find him? We did. After a while we would give up on him and go off, leaving him to rot wherever he was. Sooner or later he would show up, all mad because we didn't keep looking for him. And we would get mad back because he wasn't playing the game the way it was supposed to be played. There's hiding and there's finding, we'd say. And he'd say it was hide-and-seek, not hide-and-give-UP, and we'd all yell about who made the rules and who cared about who, anyway, and how we wouldn't play with him anymore if he didn't get it
straight and who needed him anyhow, and things like that.

Hide-and-seek-and-yell. No matter what, though, the next time he would hide too good again. He's probably still hidden somewhere, for all I know. As I write this, the neighborhood game goes on, and there is a kid under a pile of leaves in the yard just under my window. He has been there a long time now, and everybody else is found and they are about to give up on him over at the base. I
considered going out to the base and telling them where he is hiding. And I thought about setting the leaves on fire to drive him out. Finally, I just yelled, "GET FOUND, KID!" out the window. And scared him so bad he probably wet his pants and started crying and ran home to tell his mother. It's real hard to know how to be helpful sometimes. A man I know found out last year he had terminal cancer. He was a doctor. And knew about dying, and he didn't want to make his family and friends suffer through that with him. So he kept his secret.

And died. Everybody said how brave he was to bear his suffering in silence and not tell everybody, and so on and so forth. But privately his family and friends said how angry they were that he didn't need them, didn't trust their strength.

And it hurt that he didn't say good-bye. He hid too well. Getting found would have kept him in the game. Hide-and-seek, grown-up style. Wanting to hide.

Needing to be sought. Confused about being found. "I don't want anyone to know."

"What will people think?" "I don't want to bother anyone." Better than hide-and-seek, I like the game called Sardines. In Sardines the person who is It goes and hides, and everybody goes looking for him. When you find him, you get
in with him and hide there with him. Pretty soon everybody is hiding together, all stacked in a small space like puppies in a pile. And pretty soon somebody giggles and somebody laughs and everybody gets found. Medieval theologians even described God in hide-and-seek terms, calling him. But me, I think old God is a Sardine player. And will be found the same way everybody gets found in Sardines - by the sound of laughter of those heaped together at the end. "Olly-olly-oxen-free." The kids out in the street are hollering the cry that says "Come on in, wherever you are. It's a new game." And so say I. To all those who have hid too good. Get found, kid!