Sing your heart out!

  

 The thermometer said it was 10° outside. I admit it. I was more than a little grumpy and cranky about getting up and getting dressed and going to church. My bed was so warm. The cats so purry…

And then… out in the maple tree, feathers fluffed against the cold, a little Carolina wren sang and sang and sang! (So much so, at first I thought it was an alarm or some kind of alert on one of our electronic devices!)

She sang and I watched little puffs of steam from her breath. The wind bobbled the branches up-and-down. She held on, and sang. 

My crankiness melted away. I smiled and watch this little wren, and my heart was lifted. I started to sing “let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

It seemed to be a bit of a reminder. God got my attention. There will be days it will be hard. There will be mornings when you feel chilled to the depths of your heart. There will be nights when it feels like the dawn is never coming. And still…

No one should be left out;    Let every man and every beast—    every creature that has the breath of the Lord—praise the Eternal! Praise the Eternal!

Psalm 150:6. The Voice

Thanks be to God!

Breathe Deeply

As the tide rolls in and out in the salt marsh
and the egrets dance in the waving grass
Breathe deeply
Know that God is near.

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When the seagulls gather to gossip and feed
and the waves push in, scattering with the foam
Breathe deeply
Rest in the beauty of the Creator.

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As the sea oats rattle in the evening breeze
And we hear the thunder’s rumble across the marsh
Breathe deeply
God holds you in the storm.

sea grass

When sundown comes and you stand with friends
And watch the colors fade into darkness
Breathe deeply
Remember how much you are loved.

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Video blogging

Some slight technical difficulties (my ignorance on converting files!) but I think we are ready to roll. The video blog is actually two videos in one.

The first part uses Jennifer Knapp’s song “Peace” to express how I find a deep sense of joy and peace when I spend time with God at the beach. And the second part takes a piece called “Lotus Blossom” and is an invitation for you — the next time you walk on a beach or some solitary place where God’s Creation out-shouts the noise of the civilized world… sign up for a “Meet-up” with God.

The photography was taken during the last week… the beauty and the artwork is all God’s.

Enjoy… The direct link is here…

Awesome: Getting past hamburgers

I have been abusing a word. A word that deserves to be removed from the vocabulary of advertising media and casual speech. A word that best describes the transcendent Presence of The Holy. And yet I use it all the time to refer to things that are wonderful, or delicious, or surprising.

A W E S O M E

GOD is awesome. GOD.

Not pizza, bacon cheeseburgers, the Nats winning the pennant (hey! I can dream!) Not a bicycle ride, or a sexy new car, or a piece of clothing, or anything of a temporary nature. We delude ourselves and we downgrade the work of The Holy when we exchange the word “awesome” for anything but something that fills us with awe.

Hydrangeas :)

GOD’S CREATION is awesome. Creation reflects the power, the vastness, the limitless beauty of God’s work in the universe. The flutter of a hummingbird at the feeder. The pileated woodpecker and offspring on the oak tree. The young rabbits discovering clover blossoms in the yard. The wind ripping through tree branches during an afternoon storm. The latent power of rumbling thunder. Seeing the Milky Way or the Northern Lights. The kaleidoscope of blossoms in the yard.

The National Cathedral, Washington, DC
The National Cathedral, Washington, DC
Our creative acts (in the arts and sciences) only imitate what God, the Master Builder has already done. They can be awe-inspiring or beautiful or breath-taking. But I’m not sure they are on the same scale of “awesome” as God’s handiwork.

To inspire and move me towards seeing God as truly and only as “awesome” I enjoy watching these videos.  I think they help to more perfectly define the word “awesome” for me.

Thanks be to God.

First, Shawn Reeder’s time-lapse of Yosemite:

Brian Doerkson’s Creation Calls set to movie clips of nature:

And finally, because I love this piece, Haydn’s The Creation:

Palm Sunday 2012

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Palm Sunday is today. I realize by even writing that I’ve either made you think “yeah, I know that” or “so what?” This post is meant for those of us who ask the latter question.

On the surface, the events of Palm Sunday seem more like a pep rally. “Hosanna! Blessings on the One who comes in the Name of the Lord! Blessings on the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:9-10 CEB)

I’ve heard worship leaders who turn this Sunday into a RAH RAH moment and shuddered (and perhaps you have too!) With almost sacrilegious fervor, they yell and shout, and encourage the congregation to respond the same way. There’s nothing wrong with shouts of praise, or dancing with joy. Really. But when it’s done in a moment of engineered emotion instead of spiritual passion, I am uncomfortable.

Why? Because I see how quickly the human heart turns from “Hosanna” on Sunday to “what the hell?” on Monday! How quickly the Scripture narrative turns from celebration to indifference, from commitment to rationalization. And this is a change that happens to all of us too quickly, and on a regular basis.

I think of my own spiritual journey. When I have come home from a retreat, flush with the joys of being in the Presence of God, it was far to easy to have an argument or respond selfishly instead of selflessly to someone. When I had a decision to make, I picked the option that caused me the least personal pain. Or when I was faced with the opportunity to make a public stand for Christ… I would weasel out of it.

My story is much like the disciples of Jesus’ time. Humanity hasn’t changed very much. But perhaps my response is because I am short-sighted. Like the Jesus’ followers, I have forgotten what the big picture is, or will be. One day we will ALL worship the King of kings and Lord of lords. One day we will see the reign of God in all its gloriousness.

Until then, this imperfect vessel will raise her hands and her voice and sing words of honest praise, imperfect though they may be:

Glorious over us You will reign glorious…

A Summer Morning

This morning is one of those lovely, breath-catching mornings. The humidity is low. The air is thick with birdsong. The trees and grass are still fresh and green. And my morning devotions ended up being a photoshoot instead of a Bible study. Time to do that later when the sun is higher in the sky.

So here’s some images from our back yard, as well as a shot of a pileated woodpecker who put in a brief appearance on the aging crabapple in the front yard.

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Glorying in this fine morning…

A Summer Morning
by Robert Fuller Murray
(1863-1894)

Never was sun so bright before,
No matin of the lark so sweet,
No grass so green beneath my feet,
Nor with such dewdrops jewelled o’er.

I stand with thee outside the door,
The air not yet is close with heat,
And far across the yellowing wheat
The waves are breaking on the shore.

A lovely day! Yet many such,
Each like to each, this month have passed,
And none did so supremely shine.
One thing they lacked: the perfect touch
Of thee–and thou art come at last,
And half this loveliness is thine.