Wishing Upon A Tree, Embracing the Cross

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I am only left with what is worst in me.
Replete of You,
filled up with me.
Yet I have chosen.
I have chosen crucifixion with You.
No longer alive to the ugly stone heart of me
…but fully alive to the beautiful soft heart of You.

I stumble to the base of the cross.
A sure foundation.
The bedrock on which I build my life.
My arms wrap around coarse wood.
This is what I’ve become.
A hugger of that bloodied tree.

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There is a Celtic cross
where it is said
those who can reach around
fingers touching
will receive their wish.
But my only wish is to know You.
To hear your voice say, “This is the way, now walk in it.”
My wish is to fulfill Your wish.
To love like you love,
whether cradling children or turning tables.

And this is what I’ve become,
a hugger of that bloodied tree.
Emptying me of me.
Until there is nothing left of me,
inside of me.
And I think Your thoughts,
Dream Your dreams.

This is what happens when one wishes upon a tree.
When one wraps their arms around a cross.
Embracing His loss
For gain.
And this is what I’ve become,
a hugger of that bloodied tree.

counting…
5. Peace in my home.
Three things funny…
6. The dog refusing to go out…too wet and windy
7. I dream about Ann inviting e to her place, but I can’t go because I don’t have a passport, and then she posts this.
8. “Everyone has a photographic memory. Some just don’t have film.” FB status.

Three gifts from conversations

9. Colleague telling group that I do “everything.”
10 Best friend called me strong.
11. Reassurance from church leaders.

Three gifts found in Christ

12. Security
13. Peace
14. Wisdom

A gift of peace, hope, love

15. Diamond Studded screen

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16. Few days at moms
17. Misty mornings

18. a balanced budget
19. sons changing plans to protect sister and mom

The Ugly-Beautiful
20. Reckless stairway to nowhere

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21. Well worn Bible

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22. my heart

Three things that make me really smile

23. Sandhill cranes

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24. Coffee with my girl

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25. Devotions on the patio

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A Gift at 8, 12 and 2
26. Safe arrivals
27. Naps at home
28. Sweet sleep

Three gifts painted
29. Knobby desk

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30. Great Granny’s chair

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31. Dresser done duo

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…sharing a playdate with Laura:
and at a new place for writers Unforced Rhythms of Grace.

and with beautiful Jennifer Dukes Lee…{\rtf1\ansi\ansicpg1252
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And with my dearest Emily…

You’ve Been Invited To A Birthday Party

Have you ever noticed the lack of regal pagentry in American Protestant churches?  I understand and agree with the fear of  symbolism becoming empty tradition, but I wish we wouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water.  I’m aware that there are plenty of both Catholic and Protestant churches who use beautiful symbolism to celebrate different holy days.  But this lovely practice has  never been part of the tapestry of my spiritual formation.  In case you have recently joined my journey toward epiphany, I’ve been intrigued by the idea of a liturgical calander.  It’s been interesting as a non-denominational evangelical dare I say Pentacostal, to explore what the church fathers thought as important rembrances throughout our year.  Pentacost is no exception.

Pentacost is generally recognized as the time when the believers in Christ met in the Upper Room, (historically thought to be the same room as the Last Supper), to wait for the promise of the infilling of the Holy Spirit.  After the Ascension, Jesus had promised that He would not leave His followers alone, but would send a Comforter.  The disciples gathered in the Upper Room to wait for the promised Comforter. 

Acts 2

The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost

 1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

This was a very pivotal, and historical moment for the early Church.  After this portion of Scripture, Peter preached to the people in Jerusalem and many came to believe in Jesus as the Son of God that day. 

My quest was to find out how the church has continued to memorialize this date throughout history.

So, for those of you who are like me and didn’t know what Pentacost was beyond Acts 2, here are some facts.

  • To the Western Church, (as opposed to the Eastern Orthodox Church), Pentacost is considered the Birthday of the Church.
  • Western Churches (both the Catholic Church and many Protestant denominations) use the color red to symbolize this holy day.
  • Eastern Churches use the color green.
  • Red flowers are often brought into the church to celebrate a newness of life.
  • The early Church used this date as the most common Baptismal date on the Church calendar.
  • The dove is also used as  a symbol.
  • In Italy rose petals are often tossed over the congregants from the balconies.
  • In some more casual Protestant churches red balloons are dropped as a celebration for the birth of the church.
  • The Scriptures are often read in several languages in order to commemorate the disciples speaking with other tongues.

I find it ironic that most Pentacostal churches do not celebrate Pentacost, seeing that the doctrines which define them as different from others are foundationally based on that first Pentacost.  I would personally love to see a  movement towards implementing some of the ancient and meaningful practices into our services. 

What are your thoughts?  Does your church celebrate Pentacost?  Can you share ways in which they do?

Body Parts

I’ll never forget the day that the children and I were passing by the local Baptist church, and one of my children asked me, “Now, what weird things do they believe?”

How could this be my child?  I wondered.  I had, on purpose, signed my kids up for things from different denominations and had repeatedly explained to them how each group has a special part to play in the  Body of Christ.  I encouraged them always to focus on our likenesses, rather than on our differences.  In addition to the many projects they had in our own wonderful non-denominational church, I enrolled them in a Reformed home school group, had them serve meals at the Salvation Army, went to plays and special events at the same local Baptist Church and still they had taken on an, “us four and no more” attitude.

I suppose their response was somewhat normal for someone who has been born and grown up in the same non-denominational church their whole life.  But I had taught them differently, and I expected more of them and from them.

After I picked my jaw up off the floorboard of the car, I answered in the most controlled voice that I could muster that if it weren’t for the Baptists that I wasn’t sure any of us would be Christians at the moment, because one of the Baptist church’s main emphases is evangelism and discipleship.  I also reminded them how thankful we can be that the Baptists have held to the high standard of doctrine in their lives.

It was silent in the car for awhile.  I suppose I was a little fiery in my delivery, but the said child had touched a nerve.

When I consider each denomination I see groups of people who have been given different assignments from God.  Episcopalians have been given a literary assignment bringing forth great authors and theologians like C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle.  Catholics have been given an assignment to remind us of the mystery that is Christ.  Baptists have been given an assignment to go out and to preach the Gospel to everyone.  The Salvation Army has been given the assignment to love the unloved, and to reach out a hand to man and heart to God.  Methodists have been assigned to teach us a methodology by which we can better serve God.  Pentacostals and  Charismatics have been given the assignment to experience God physically and emotionally through signs and wonders.

Do I believe that every believer should experience a portion of each of these strengths?  Absolutely!  But no one could focus on all of them at once.  And thus we have our differences.

The icon becomes idol when any one part of the body wants the rest of the Body to be just like it…How odd it would be if the Body were all knees or teeth! Madeleine L’Engle

Why not celebrate our differences?  After all we would be ineffective without one another, and we’d look pretty ridiculous if all we were is a bunch of teeth.

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.  I Corinthians 12:12

Guest Post Adela Crandell Durkee

I have a wonderful new blogging friend.  Her voice is so genuine, and her posts are pure joy to read!  Below is a prayer she wrote especially for this time of year.  Please visit her fine blog:  Once A Little Girl

Lord,

Grant me Patience:  Forgiveness and healing can take time.

Grant me Wisdom:  Growth is sometimes unseen.

Grant me Love:  That I may give it and, as importantly, that I may receive it.

Help me Trust:  You know me.  You love me.  You wait for me.

What Does The Book of Common Prayer Have In Common With a Hallmark Card?

Surprisingly, I am still finding quite a bit of life while reading the same prayers everyday. This is a new experience for me, and although I know that as I communicate with God that it is more about relationship than it is about ritual, I also believe that there are times in our lives in which we embrace relationship through ritual.

For instance, a wedding is a symbolic ritual which brings forth a new relationship. Two individuals become one. I can see how reading through any book, whether it be the Book of Common Prayer or the Prayers That Avail Much, can either bless or hinder a person. If this is the only form of communication I have with God, it resembles a Hallmark card to which I only sign my name. I let someone else say what I need to or feel like saying. However, if I write a love letter to someone expressing my feelings in my own words, they may not be worthy of a greeting card, but they are treasured as sincere.

So I guess one of the things I’ve found on my journey of liturgy is that liturgy is fine, but I need to add my own personal message before signing off. Otherwise, I’ve handed God a cheap greeting card.

What do C S Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle and Desmond Tutu Have in Common?

In the past few years, it seems everything I’ve read has an Anglican connection.  From C.S.Lewis, famous apologist, author and professor, to Madeleine L’Engle, author of Newberry Award winning A Wrinkle in Time, to the endearing Father Tim character in Jan Karon’s Mitford series.

These authors mention The Book of Common Prayer, and Morning and Evening prayers regularly in their writings.  It made me curious.  Being raised in the Salvation Army (similar to Methodist doctrine), and then moving to a Pentacostal upbringing and now landing in what my pastor likes to call a Bapticostal church, the mysticicism of a “high church” order and liturgy has always intrigued me.  After all, what is the difference between reading the Apostle’s Creed and the Lord’s Prayer everyday and reading the Prayers That Avail Much?

I wondered what style of daily disciplines C S Lewis, George Whitefield and George Washington used to enhance their spiritual growth.  Thus began my journey.  A journey towards epiphany. A journey which I am now including you if you are interested.  Because my determined purpose is that I may know Him…

Our christmas tree

This was my very first post here, and though the methods may have changed, the quest is still the same. This year, I will be adding a new tradition to my celebration of advent. I will be going through the devotional that dear Ann has written. I will be doing this primarily alone, even though it is written as a family devotional..although I will be sharing weekly with my Neighborhood Bible Study. Won’t you join me? The devotional is free and available here.