Make Me Aware

Today, make me aware of your Glory, O God. Today, make me aware of the smallest measure of your magnificence. Today, help me to understand that I am in need of you in every thing. Today, help me to trust in your ways, in your plans, in your goodness and in your lovingkindness. Today, remove one falsehood I have believed about you so that I may worship you more truthfully. Today remove my blinders so that I may understand truths from your Word. Today, grant me mercy. Today, help me to see myself the way that you see me, in your great love. Today, help me to see others through your loving eyes. Today, help me to understand the greatness of your mercy, already poured out upon me, so that I might be merciful to others. Today, LORD, I believe, help me in my unbelief.

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Gratitude: Week 3

5. For grace that allows me to pick up when I falter, and picks me up when I fall.
6. For the humbling reminder that though my community may consider me poor, I am, in fact, one of the wealthiest people on the planet with shoes (multiple pairs, even!) for my feet, a solid, dry roof above my head, a comfortable bed to lay my head and food on my table.
7. For antibiotics that help when my body is failing to fight off infections.
8. For long talks with good friends.
9. For reminders of how much I truly love my family.
10. For fall colors against a pale sky.
11. For a world that contains….NARWHALS!!!!!
12. For music…and for the music of silence.
13. For the sweetly merciful love of a Savior and the gentle conviction me of my own sin.

Paint the World

Paint the world with color,

against a pale, frail sky.

Blackened ruby, amber gold,

with silver trunks of brown-tipped lye.

Paint the fading grasses

in greens and rust and yellow,

then wash the colors ‘til they’re

rendered softly, warmly mellow.

Paint the world

Calm the heart, the mind and spirit with a fall drive.

Soft and Muted Grasses

Of Anger and Mercy

I am filled with anger today and I can find all kinds of reasons why it is justified, and if I were to explain them, most would agree and might even chime in on my behalf, bolstering me in my cause and encouraging me to send the email I have drafted.

For the moment though, despite wanting to call one friend or another, to vent and to be heard and understood, I recognize that I must pray over this. I do not want to, for I may be asked to give up my anger, to set it aside, to forgive and to accept the slight, the wrong, the misdeed. I have already been too loose lipped, speaking out against this injustice to a few people who have no part in it, except to commiserate with me.

Even as I begin to pray, “Lord have mercy…” my heart stops, I take in a quick startled breath, realizing in that quick second, that moment that I am asking mercy where I am unwilling to give any. I want to plead my cause, to shout out the injustice to the one who was treated–willingly–most injustly. I envision His hands, splayed out on a rough hewn cross, blood dripping from the spikes, cruelly nailed through flesh. I see His thorn-pierced brow, and my slight, the one I did not want to give up, is fading. I was so very angry just a moment ago, but now, that anger is like a whisp of smoke, fading into the air, soon to be no more.

I look down at my hands, now stained with the soot of my anger. Oh, cleanse me, my God. Forgive me my anger, my burning, fiery temper that takes offense so easily.

O, Lord, have mercy on me. I am in desperate need of you. O, Spirit of God, that convicts me, that comforts my soul, how I need comfort now in the sight of my wretchedness. I wanted to be angry. I wanted to plead my case. I have none. Oh, Father, forgive them. They do not mean to do harm, or if they do, forgive them anyway. And me, Father…I need forgiveness most of all, I who have known your mercy, who have supped of your lovingkindness. I need your healing forgiveness. I need to be cleansed of every sin, of every stain. Teach me to walk in your ways. How I long to be a person who takes no offense, but has a heart that loves and forgives in the moment.

Have mercy.

WWII Internment Barracks

Internment. For some reason this is one of those words that always looks like it is spelled wrong.  Is it a subconscious or semi-conscious rejection of the imprisoning of fellow Americans for no fault other than their ancestry?  I consciously reject that as well. Below is a satellite image from google maps that shows WWII Internment Barracks, for the housing of families of Japanese ancestry. These, in particular, are of interest to me because I lived there.

As the story goes, the military wanted to clear these out and sold them. It would have to have been for next to nothing, for they were then moved out to the middle of a horrid little place called El Mirage, California, whose claim to fame (if it has one) is that it is, or has been, a spot used for filming movies, TV shows and commercials. That scene in Lethal Weapon out on the dry lake bed? El Mirage. There was an old show with Dabney Coleman that was often shot out there. None of that matters, except to tell you that if you’ve seen those movies, you never once thought about moving to such a spot. This is a spot for those who end up there, and for those who desperately want to get away. My father-in-law called it God’s Country, with the kind of reverence that others use for Santa Barbara or San Diego. It was no paradise. It was hot, ugly, dusty, desolate. The kind of place that winds up with places that if they aren’t actually WWII internment barracks (and how would I really know that?) certainly are so awful that they give great credence to the story.

Internment is also the word sometimes used for burial. The word is for forced confinement, imprisonment, incarceration.

I can tell you that this place had two small bedrooms, a tiny living room, a very small kitchen (supposedly eat-in) and a 3/4 bath. No one would live there who had a choice, and we had none. We were poor. I sometimes watched kids for the ladies Bible study because they offered to pay me. I am almost the last person on earth who should be watching kids, especially at that time. What I needed was the Bible study and the fellowship with adults, but I was not given that opportunity. I’m sure they thought they were doing me a favor. I was going crazy in my own internment. With no car, I was stuck. It was 10 miles to the nearest little town, and quite a bit further to any place with an actual grocery store, or a job. So, someone would come to pick me up to watch little kids, the thing I did every moment of my waking life. For a brief, oh so brief, time I was out of the little apartment only to be imprisoned in the nursery.

Winters in the desert are cold and desolate, with winds whipping the sands, beating you with their fierce grains. Often, coyotes would line the fence, staring in at my dog, or my children as they played. It was a daily fight to stay cool or to keep warm. The swamp cooler didn’t work right, so I would have to climb up a rickety ladder onto the roof to hose down the pads manually, or to hook up the hose to the system, only to have to climb back up to unhook everything or to wet the pads again. In the winter the propane furnace blew nasty black particles which coated everything, requiring constant cleaning, and propane was a luxury we could ill afford.

Some of the neighbors were very nice, but some were frightening, to the point that I willingly took on a Husky mix named Babe, with one blue eye and one brown, a sweet but scary looking dog that made me feel a bit safer living so far out, and without a phone.

Looking at the satellite image, it makes me sad to think that people still live in these tiny little places. They should be part of a museum or demolished. I have no fond memories of this place, the place of my internment.

Gratitude

This is my Monday post. Somehow I did not hit “Publish”, so this is a day late.

1) Today I am grateful for relief.  Relief from the headache that has plagued me for the past two weeks and for a clear mind and the ability to accomplish a lot at work.  I’m told I should be thankful in sickness, in pain, and I struggle with that.  Pain has been my teacher, and for that, for the lessons, I am grateful.  Often, God has been my comfort in the pain, and for that I am grateful.  The pain itself?  Is it stubbornness, selfishness, disobedience that makes me ungrateful for the illness–for the pain itself?  I don’t know.

2) I’m grateful for answers, but I’m grateful for questions as well, for I find myself and I find God in the questions at least as much as in the answers.

3) I’m grateful for the struggle, as uncomfortable as it is.  The struggle lets me know that there is value in the striving in a way I can’t find the words to express.

4) I am also grateful that although I live in one of the wealthiest areas in the country with some of the highest average income of anywhere in the country, and my own income is waaaaaaay down toward the bottom of the scale, I have a nice place to live, with adequate winter heat and summer cooling, and I am not suffering financially. I cannot do what many do, or go where many go, nor spend what others spend, but I have enough to help when I see a need. And I am grateful that God has taught me to live on less so that I have the absolute LUXURY of giving.