Suscipe Me

The Beethoven Akademie 1808 presentation by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Sunday, March 1 was listed as occurring from 2:30-8:30 PM with a dinner break from 5-7 PM. What a surprise when we got tickets and decided to try this Beethoven marathon! The first performance during the first half is one of my favorite pieces, The Pastoral Symphony #6 in F Major. The Awakening (which I always think of as the awakening of Spring), the brook, Jolly Country Folk, THE THUNDERSTORM and the Shepherd’s Hymn are all in my memory bank. I promised my husband and the stranger sitting next to me that I would try to refrain from whistling the tunes!

The original production was the last public performance by Beethoven. One patron from 1808, Johann Reichardt, was quoted in the program as saying that he “found by experience that one might have too much even of a good thing.”

We were not certain we could last through all those hours of music. Thought we would try and agree not to shame each other if one of us wanted to leave. Each selection listed details including approximate duration. I was amazed the Pastoral was only listed for 39 minutes. It transports me in a way that I lose all track of time!

AH! Perfido borders on opera and I have no experience or interest in that. It was 15 minutes of interesting performance, but not as thrilling as my decades long friend, The Pastoral.

Then some sacred music. The Gloria interested me. Though sung in Latin, I am familiar with the words through my attendance at the Episcopal church. The Latin and the English were printed in the booklet side by side. The 11 minutes sent me scurrying to remember the prayer I had read by Ignatius, the concept of suscipe me….

Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. Thou hast given all to me. To Thee, O Lord, I return it. All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will. Give me Thy love and Thy grace, for this is sufficient for me.

Ignatius of Loyola

After the Concerto #4 featuring Inon Barnatan, who seemed to play effortlessly, we were ready to walk around and enjoy the dinner break. It was a lovely spring-like evening though the wind was a bit chilly. Back at the car we relished our homemade supper of favorite foods. After only a tiny discussion decided to return to Music Hall to find out how much more music we could endure in one day! We strolled the new park opposite Music Hall. Watched the city dwellers release their dogs in the dog park while they shared the latest with each other. It was such a delight to see sun in Cincinnati!

The #5 began with the lovely chords of duh duh duh duh https://youtu.be/_4IRMYuE1hI duh duh duh duh! Timed at 31 minutes. We decided we could stay for the Improvised Fantasia and then Fantasia for Piano Chorus and Orchestra (May Festival Chorus was terrific as were soloists!) The stranger next to me told me he would walk 5 miles to hear the last number. That was saying something since he also confided he was 80 years old!

To me, it was a once in a lifetime concert. No, I was not over immersed in Beethoven. Am still playing the 6th on my computer speakers as I write this!

I pray the Lord will Suscipe me into His arms one day with the melody of the Gloria or The Pastoral!

Visiting in Person

Life is too short to experience everything, but the human heart is big enough to resonate with everything that any other human heart has experienced.

BROTHER DAVID STEINDL-RAST

Seeing an old friend face-to-face was fun. We knew we only had a very short time to share, so we both cut to the chase and told what was most important to us. I was surprised when the first thing she shared was about my blog.

She is so inspired by what I write. She said it uplifts her and gives her a new point of view.

I was amazed. This gal is eleven years older than me. I have always thought of her as a better, stronger Christian.  Yet she felt my writing was useful to her walk. Who knew?

Some folks never comment. I see only how many people looked at it, but not who.

One fellow at church asked me recently if I was still writing. I could not remember his name or even having spoken with him before. He did look vaguely familiar. Our church has grown to about 800 people with opportunities to worship three times a week. No wonder I lost track of him. Yikes!

We just never know the impact we will have upon others. These comments help inspire me to keep on publishing this blog.

Please keep reading! Comment when you can. I love the encouragement to continue sharing my journey with the mostly unknown folks out there. May you be blessed with a renewed sense of His Presence with us in every circumstance.

Not Be Overwhelmed

I love the fact that someone finally wrote a song about one of my favorite Scripture verses! I needed to hear that recently when I reviewed my scatteredness and sought to recollect my various members around my roots in Christ.

And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you.

Romans 8:11 NIV

Reviewing my activities on a recent Saturday morning I realized again why I needed to draw from that “Same Power.” That week I had interaction with someone who had possibly had a TIA and was having brain scans, one who was failing in his job, one had stitches in her back after a freak accident, one suffering from Parkinson’s disease, one recovering from surgery, one serving with many hats in the community and feeling the weight, one who had a bladder scoped (ouch), one having staffing troubles, one broke his finger, one worried about aging and drug injection to build bone density, one getting a divorce, one recovering from knee surgery, one struggling with mental illness, one worried about another person, seemingly crowds of folks in my purview with troubles after troubles!

How to stay compassionate, not burn out, and keep caring for each of them? Left to myself, I do not have that sort of strength within me to sort out where to serve and where to just pray. The Word of God assures me in Romans 8:8-9 NIV  “Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.  You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you.”

In my flesh, I would tend to worry and fret and try to find ways in my own strength to comfort, heal, encourage and come alongside all those folks. I have burned myself out more than once in my life trying to do just that. I hopefully have learned better now. Now I release each one to God as soon as I possibly can, giving the Holy Spirit free access to use me if He wishes in their comfort. Otherwise, I leave those persons at the altar of God and return myself to a position of listening for His voice., walking in the Spirit.

Ann Voskamp wrote, “There’s a lot of happiness in this world that depends on being brave enough to keep working when it’d be easier to quit. Nothing good gets started without getting to work – and nothing great gets finished without staying at the work. It’s not about growing tough enough to take what life throws at you; it’s about staying open enough to all of life to simply receive it.”

Yield a compassionate ear to those around you. Know when to release them to the Spirit of God. Then keep serving as you are shown how and where to serve.

While We are on The Topic of Music

Another new-to-me worship song I can’t stop singing is Hallelujah Here Below by Elevation Music.

We are an altar of broken stones
But You delight in the offering
You have the heavens to call Your home
But You abide in the song we sing

Ten thousand angels surround Your throne
To bring You praise that will never cease
But hallelujah from here below
Is still Your favourite melody We sing
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
We sing
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah And should the fire that once burned bright
Become an ember my eyes can’t see
I will remember Your sacrifice
I will abide in Your love for meOh, we sing
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
We sing
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
We sing
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
We sing
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah!Jesus Christ our King enthroned
All the praise is Yours forevermore
Hallelujah here below
All the praise is Yours… Oh, what a wonderful day to come
When every knee bows before Your name
But we will not wait until it does
For here and now shall Your Kingdom reign We sing
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
We sing
Hallelujah
Hallelujah Oh! Oh, the broken people sing We sing
Hallelujah
Let the Church sing
We sing
Hallelujah

For Your glory we sing
Source: LyricFind

“Can Never Be Torn Away”

I bought the David Crowder CD called I Know A Ghost. When I get new music after listening for a few days one song in particular might jump out at me. I will find myself humming the tune, or a phrase of the lyric will be caught in my brain. Then I go find the CD and study the music to see why it is impacting me. Later, it will happen with a different song.

Recently this one got me. I am not attending a snake handling church nor do I ever want to, but evil is often personified as a snake. So crushing snakes is an expression about giving Christians authority over the authority of our enemy.

Lyrics by Crowder We’re not afraid
Terrors of night, arrows that fly by day
Ten thousand may fall but we
We will remain We’re not afraid
A promise of God can never be torn away
Walking on hands of angels, crushing snakes
Safe under the shadow of His wings
Our fortress and our strength
Our fortress We’re taking back our freedom
Our battle has been won
We have been liberated
Back from the dead we’ve come We’re taking back our freedom
Our battle has been won
We have been liberated
Back from the dead we’ve come We’re not afraid
A promise of God can never be torn away
Walking on hands of angels, crushing snakes
Safe under the shadow of His wings
Our fortress and our strength
Our fortress We’re taking back our freedom
Our battle has been won
We have been liberated
Back from the dead we’ve…

Hit the triangle below to play this great song! And declare it for yourself!!

Back from the dead we’ve come. Walking on hands of angels. We’re not afraid. Amazing, powerful, true lyrics. Oh, how this man minsters to me! Praying you are blessed by this, also!

Grief and Mothers

See the lady in the white dress, white shoes and white gloves? That was my mom!

At my wedding in 1970 I never noticed until now that my mother wore white gloves to our wedding in Live Oak Park, Berkeley, California! As I came toward the groom, trust me when I say, at the time I never saw anyone but him.

My mother died five years later, in her sleep, at our apartment in Lexington, Kentucky. Her death was sudden and somewhat unexpected. Her blood pressure had been high and the doctor was having difficulty controlling it, but there was no indication that she would pass that particular weekend. Today is one day past her birthday.

Mildred Ann was a wonderful cook. When we realized how few of her recipes she had written down, I was furious. To this day I save recipes on my computer and print a card for each of my children (and sometimes for friends, too). Recently I made her chicken and dumplings. It took me several years to find a recipe that approximated hers. Finally found it in James Beard’s American Cookery Book which my sisters-in-law gave me when we were expecting our first child.

This year we celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, so Mom has been gone 45 years. And yes, there are times when I still miss her. I believe she would delight to know I am still trying to capture her essence in the kitchen. When I made the chicken and dumplings recently I did not use a deep enough pan when it came time for the dumplings. Oh my. I should have taken a photograph. They boiled over magnificently on the ceramic stovetop. I also forgot HOW MANY the recipe feeds. With just the two of us at home now, we had dumplings coming out of our ears. And no, we tried it, they are NOT very good warmed as leftovers! The first meal was tasty though. And I made it in memory of Mom, my best role model as a good cook.

Forced Hyacinths by GARDENPHOTO.com

If your Mom is still around cherish her, even if you rarely get along. There are times after she passes when you will miss her terribly. For years I could barely go in the grocery stores that have floral departments. This time of year they sell forced bulbs to remind us of the hope of spring. As a child my mother once made me an Easter corsage with hyacinth blossoms. Shortly after she passed the fragrance of hyacinths would have me weeping in the grocery store. Now I grow them in the front garden and when they bloom in late spring I delight to bring them in the house.

Moms, memories, grief all roll up into delight, pain, and after they go a void that nothing but God can ever even attempt to fill. One meaning for El Shaddai is “many breasted One.” Yes, God can be both father and mother to each of us.

Lenten Light from You

My friend is the major contributor and editor of The Transfiguration Quarterly which comes from the Episcopalian Convent of the Transfiguration where I am an Associate. She is thinking about publishing the next issue reflecting upon Lent as an outward act and involving light.

Here is what I wrote for her.

Lent for the year 2020 starts on Wednesday, February 26th and ends on Thursday, April 9.  The practices of Lent do not end until sundown on Holy Saturday for all Christian denominations. Typically, a time of introspection with fasting, moderation, repentance, self-denial and self-discipline, what if this year, you changed it up?

In her book, My Daily Appointment with God Lucille Sollenberger notes “How interesting that God should give the world light as one of His first gifts!” The Gospel of John says, “Light shone in the darkness and the darkness could not put it out.” Isn’t it fascinating that we can create darkness by removing light; however, we cannot create light. We are made to reflect light. If there are dark corners where you live this Lent, you may be the one to brighten up those corners with the Light of Christ. What if, instead of withdrawing you asked the Lord to help you reflect His light into the world around you? Have you noticed that when you smile more, more people around you begin to smile? Your introspection at the end of the day could be self-examen to review when might you have done better by shining?

Usually we tend to hide our light under a bucket, perhaps fearful of the criticism from others. How about if we took the Light of Christ that shines in our heart and began to share that shining with those around us? It is easy to say we love those whom we barely know. Much more of a challenge to love those whom we live with and see every day. Perhaps instead of not doing some things this Lent, you could make a pact with God to try doing more kindnesses towards those you live in proximity with. Not only smile more, but be gracious even when you do not feel like it.

We are challenged in Romans 12:10b to outdo one another in showing honor. Forty days of practicing that could bring life changes! 1 Peter 2:9 reminds us that Jesus called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. That marvelous light is ours to live in, to reflect, to bring glory to Christ by showing it to others.

“For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.”  2Corinthians 4:6-7

LED bulbs are the brightest source of artificial light known to man right now. The letters stand for Light Emitting Diode.  Well, granted, we do not emit light, we reflect light and the Light we reflect is the grandest known to man! An extraordinary power that belongs to God.

At https://www.learnreligions.com/what-is-lent-700774 Mary Fairchild wrote “The purpose of Lent is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ—his suffering and death, his sacrifice, his life, burial, and resurrection. During the six weeks of self-examination and reflection, Christians who observe Lent typically make a commitment to fast, or to give up something—a habit, such as smoking, watching TV, swearing, or a food or drink, such as sweets, chocolate, or coffee. Some Christians also take on a Lenten discipline, such as reading the Bible and spending more time in prayer to draw nearer to God. The goal of these spiritual disciplines is to strengthen the faith of the observer and develop a closer relationship with God.”

You may find the discipline of reflecting the Light of Christ far more difficult than fasting from chocolate. I am praying that this spiritual discipline of shining forth the Light of Christ may indeed “strengthen your faith” and help you “develop a closer relationship with God.”

A typical Episcopalian response is taken from the Baptismal vows: “I will with God’s help.”

Rarely A Day Goes as One Plans

Yiddish Humor

Not certain my image of God includes dentures, but I know He certainly has a sense of humor. Last Tuesday when I might have been writing, instead I took my Darling Husband to have his knee repaired again. He was stopped on his bicycle last summer and forgot to take his foot out of his toe clip. Taking a photo for his one photo a day project, he fell and tore the meniscus again. He made me have my toe surgery before he would get his knee repaired. So I did not write the usual second day last week. BTW: He is doing well now, though not without swelling and some discomfort.

I had an appointment with the dermatologist to see about getting a small growth taken off the back of my hand this Monday morning. So I had already set my mind to another project, assuming I could not write this day either. Early this morning they called to reschedule the appointment as doc had a family emergency. So my morning spun out in household projects (toasted coconut in the oven, took a walk with hubby, planned dinner and thawed it, etc.) and I started re-writing what I had begun on that other project.

The Grammarist at https://grammarist.com/proverb/best-laid-plans/ states that “The best-laid plans refers to something that has gone awry, something that has not turned out as well as one had hoped. The expression the best-laid plans carries the connotation that one should not expect for things to always turn out to plan. Like many proverbs, the best-laid plans is usually quoted by itself, though it is not the full proverb. The full proverb is, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. This is a passage from the poem To a Mouse, written by the Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1786.”

So I will publish tomorrow what I wrote for my friend. Perhaps it will inspire a different Lenten discipline for you?

While Waiting for Healing

Have you ever read Hinds Feet on High Places?

If not, get a copy today and begin an adventure! I read this many, many years ago. I gave away so many paperback copies I eventually bought myself the hardback copy so I would NOT give it away. At one time there were no notes for teaching this book, so I wrote my own and lead a group through the book as a Scripture study. This allegory is still teaching me about life with Christ my Lord.

While recovering from this surgery, during a prayer time one morning, I was led again to a scene at the end of the book when Much-Afraid, a timid girl with crippled feet, was led to a ‘desolate altar in this valley of shadows’ to make a burnt offering as commanded by the Shepherd.’

It was not until my retreat January 10 that I re-read and listened to an audible version (free from the library through Hoopla) to review what happened in that sacrifice. I had forgotten that at every altar Much-Afraid built throughout the journey she offered the Lord a portion of her will. This time was no different.

Romans 12:1-2 (NRSV) I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

What if this living sacrifice of our bodies intentionally included our will, too? Could you do it for Christ? Would you be willing for the Father? Might you ask the Holy Spirit to enable you to conform to God’s will that you might be transformed?

Much-Afraid, like us, was asked to offer a portion of her will at various places in her journey. We are not asked to do that all at once at the outset of our journey. I do not believe we would be able to accomplish it all, psychologically or otherwise. I do not even recognize all the strongholds of my will until I begin to stumble over new ones that are revealed to me as I follow my Lord through this life journey. Thus, there is no way I could consciously offer them as a living sacrifice all at once. Salvation and transformation are on-going processes.

So I have had to sit and wait for healing to come. I am still finding three months later that, no, the foot healing is not yet complete. I was reminded once again that healing, like transformation is a process. My will trips me more than my feet these days.

When I build an altar and sacrifice a portion of my will that is causing me to stumble, the Father has promised to accept that offering and transfigure that portion of me. 1 John reads that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins AND cleanse us from all unrighteousness. So how does that become transformation? Not an easy question. In my experience, transformation comes as I continue and continue to yield to the highest and best that God offers me. No one and done here.

Altar_1

 

Here is a tiny sketch I made to illustrate the Hinds Feet study. I pray you will examine your heart after you read this, build your altar, fan the flames, offer your will a living sacrifice to the One Who loves us best!

 

“Prayer is sitting in silence until it silences us,

choosing gratitude until we are grateful”

-Richard Rohr

 

 

 

 

Yield and Breathe and Listen

Other lessons learned while recovering from foot surgery: Determined to not be taking much pain medication, I broke the cardinal rule of recovery and took too little. Saturday, October 26 was a 7PM melt down. I felt as if my foot was swelling, then pushing against the padding and ace bandage and then the THROB began. It was the worst pain I had experienced thus far. Put myself to bed and loving husband brought me ice packs and iced water to sip. I listened to meditations, especially from “Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Cabat-Zinn. Husband rubbed my back. I read until drowsy then slept, and tried to draw what I saw at the apex of pain. Of course, I did not capture it as I saw it at the time. We decided I likely took too little medication that day. Tried to stick to 6 hour schedule the next day. I am exhausted and wary of THAT much pain. Pain I could NOT ignore. I was able with the meditation recording to breathe into it, exhale it, but it was serious WORK. Yes, I have a plate in my toe.

Prior to surgery I tried to prepare myself psychologically for the long recovery sitting. I planned crochet projects, things to read, and recorded TV shows to entertain and distract me. I cooked foods we liked and froze them. Taking my iPhone to the basement I photographed every storage shelf in the pantry area and shelves in the freezer so that when people asked me where something was, I might be able to direct them to the correct area. Even the upstairs kitchen pantry was photographed. I planned clothing that was easy to get on over huge bandage and cast. What I did not realize was just how difficult it can be to sit idle for a long time after a fairly active life! My step count had dropped to around 3,000 steps per day prior to surgery due to pain in my foot. Taking that to near zero and letting go of all household responsibility was something I had not done in several years. I think that like childbirth, we tend to forget the miserable times in life, or at least, to gloss over them. Sitting still and staying cheerful for weeks on end is work! I sometimes found myself fantasizing about just getting up and walking.

October 28, 2 weeks after the surgery, I had a major emotional meltdown. I did not see it coming. I was exploring crochet patterns online for a small turtle to remind me like Aesop’s fable that “slow and steady wins the race.” Was having difficulty signing on to my favorite site.

Suddenly and rapidly the anxiety was upon me. The surgeon had wrapped my foot in thick layers of cotton batting, then gauze, then a bent splint to hold it in place and then ace bandages. It was quite a thick contraption. About 3:45 PM I had a terrible dry skin/hurt combination on my lower calf that undid me. I could not reach far enough inside the cotton-batting of the bandage to get cream on the spot. Even using a plastic knife handle and then a chopstick I could not reach it. And then I became desperate. {Now where were the ears to hear that admonition to trust in the Lord?}

Desperate for relief, frantic and wanting to throw off the bandage and walk away, I began to cry. I cried in fruitless frustration and helplessness, knowing I had to sit still for the bones to heal and anchor this metal plate and 6 screws to my toe.

I texted a dear, faithful friend for prayer. I called out to Bob to come help me.  I told Alexa to turn on meditation music. I sat and cried and tried to breathe as Bob got me a fresh ice pack to apply on the misery location on my calf. Focused on my breath. Over a period of time I took it all down a notch, and then another notch, and then another. Went back to find the correct online screen to sign in to Ravelry. Purchased the turtle pattern, printed it and relaxed even more. Eventually, I had to put ace bandages back on so I could roll to the bathroom. I was exhausted.

Psalm 37:5 (HCSB)  Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV2011)  Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

What is the purpose of telling you these struggles? The journal entries above describe what I did outwardly. Inwardly, I fell into God’s arms. I yielded my heart to Him. He touched me in my weakness. If you have not traveled to that point of helplessness (or one like it) you likely have no idea what I am writing about. If you have been there, you might remember the sweet relief that comes from throwing yourself on the mercy of Christ. My feelings had escalated out of control. There was not much warning that I can recall now. When I hit the wall and realized only the touch of the Holy Spirit could return me to my right mind, I knew it was time to yield. If the ice had not relieved the dry skin/hurt, I had bandage scissors at the ready to open that one spot for some cream! I did not have to use them. The idea to have Bob find the scissors came to me only when I chose to breathe and be led through that valley. No one can make you decide in those frantic moments  to yield and breathe and listen. I believe we are each given the opportunity to choose in those types of situations. Repeated practice has helped me begin to choose Proverbs 3:6 more quickly. Other translations read “in all your ways ACKNOWLEDGE Him.”

Isaiah 55 still holds true in my life: Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV2011)  “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Oh Lord, continue to lead and guide me, I pray.

Slow and steady, Molly Lin. Slow and steady progress towards healing.