one thousand gifts – a book review chapter 7

seeing through the glass

Who cares about bringing the beauty in when all the inner rooms reek?

…who can bring peace unless they’ve held their own peace?  Christ incarnated in the parent is the only hope of incarnating Christ in the child

Simple beauty.  I didn’t even realized how I longed for it until we moved here to Colorado.  It was then that we purchased our first home and I wanted to express it to others in and through our home.  I wanted to live in it…to create it.  I wanted beauty!  One can only decorate so much, though, until you realize you’re just hiding yourself in all the stuff.  How many signs of simplicity do you hang up to create a simple life?  Is that how it’s accomplished?  Or are we all white-washed tombs?  Making it all look “together” when we are dead, dry, and crumbling bones on the inside?

My house is all clean and the kids are quiet and I’m sitting and reading, but is it beauty if I yelled and snipped at the kids every time they brought a toy out of their toy box or talked too loud or entered “my space”?  Would that really be a “beautiful home”?  So God took great care to burn up and wipe off the dross of this impure wife and mom.  He had quite a mess on His hands in the beginning!  (And sometimes even now.)  But all the tearing out, throwing out, replacing, “organizing”, resetting, renewing, love, and grace truly made this girl simple.  I became a fresh lump of clay in the Potter’s Hands – a white canvas for the Artist to begin again.  (I always liked a clean, fresh piece of paper!  And I became one!)  Simple beauty doesn’t come from vintage pieces and neatly placed books.  Simplicity can’t be purchased; if anything it’s all that can’t be.  It’s a matter of the heart – a focus of the heart and mind…on Him.  Beauty is Him!  All that is Him and from Him.  The details in the pansies and petunias, the light hitting the surfaces of a kitchen, the laughter of children, the voice of a little girl learning words, you…me… “For in Him (Beauty) all things were created…” (Colossians 1)

…there’s always the descent from the mount.  The meeting of the crowd, the complaining, the cursing…How do I have the holy vision in this mess?  How do I see grace, give thanks, find joy in this sin-stinking place?

I love my “quiet times” in the morning before the kids wake up.  The problem is, those times are few and far between!  With the earlier light, comes the earlier risers.  I’ll admit, I used to cringe when I heard footsteps coming out of their rooms…I just wanted to be alone and quiet for awhile.  So, I would try to quickly get them downstairs in front of Playhouse Disney and run back upstairs to resume my “quiet” posture before God.  Can I be open and honest and just say how very “whitewashed” I was those mornings!  I would be sitting and reading my Bible, memorizing scripture, praying…then the children…and I would scowl, talk gruffly, hurry them out of my eye-sight and ear-shot…then return to be “spiritual”.  In other words, my children equated Mom’s Bible-Prayer time with being pushed away – not invited!

My excuse, I just wanted some quiet until “life” began.  Until noise, needs, crying, arguing, discipline, business, school, meals…  Quite frankly, I just wanted to stay “on the mountain”!  I would leave my joy and graciousness on the couch at 7 am until I returned the next morning.  I just couldn’t see how I could live in “it” in the descent…in the valley…in the day.  God did…

What compels me to name these moments upheavals and annoyances instead of grace and gift?  Why deprive myself of joy’s oxygen?…Do I really smother my own joy because I believe that anger achieves more than love?  That Satan’s way is more powerful, more practical, more fulfilling in my daily life than Jesus’ way?  Why else get angry?  Isn’t it because I think complaining, exasperation, resentment will pound me up into the full life I really want?  When I choose – and it is a choice – to crush joy with bitterness, am I not purposefully choosing to take the way of the Prince of Darkness?…Blasphemer…

I grew up with anger.  Walking on egg-shells was how I learned to get around.  I saw faces distorted and eyes accuse with hate.  I heard words spewed with bitterness.  I saw what Satan looked like…I saw “him” in the mirror as I got older.  I wanted to smash the mirror and run…instead I hit the floor and broke…over and over.  Me, who was supposed to be clothed in righteousness, traded it all for garments of darkness.

It was in those “depths” that He met me.  It was there He washed me…all of me…again.

Senses are impaired if they don’t sense the Spirit…If there are wolves in the woods – expect to see wolves; and if there is God in this place – expect to see God.

I can’t leave crowds for mountaintop…but there’s always the possibility of the singular vision…Contemplative simplicity isn’t a matter of circumstances; it’s a matter of focus.

Could I make meals, calm tensions, talk to them…and them…and them, go here and there, meet this need and that one, teach, love, pay attention to, and en-JOY it?  Would I believe He created abundant life for me to live in it?  And would I live in it?  Could I give it a try and allow my heart to be free and joyful in the living?  I would try…I would descend…He would show up…He would bring me higher.

I look for the ugly beautiful, count it as grace, transfigure the mess into joy with thanks and eucharisteo leaves the paper, finds way to the eyes, the lips…There’s a doxology of praise that splits the domestic dark.

If we are willing to see – people, circumstances, situations, relationships – all is transparent.  All of this globe is but glass to God.  And eucharisteo washes the glass…Give thanks to keep the gaze on heaven.

He changes ashes into beauty.  If I go to the darkness or depths He is there.  He is in the least of these.  Do I believe that?  Could I look in the face of transgressors, the enemy, the mess, the hurting, the angry, the callous, and see Him?  Would I gouge out the eyes…go to Him blind…and tell Him I want to see…and I believe, Yes, that He can!?  I cry, “Jesus, the Son of David, have mercy!”

I’m blind to joy’s well every time I choose not to see it.  Don’t I really want joy?…Why do I lunge for control instead of joy?  Is it somehow more perversely satisfying to flex control’s muscle?  Ah – power – like Satan.  Do I think Jesus-grace too impotent to give me the full life?…If I am rejecting the joy…am I not ultimately rejecting God?

In His presence is fullness of joy.  He is in this moment…stay present to His presence, and it is always a practice of the eyes.  We don’t have to change what we see.  Only the way we see.

So, about those morning quiet times.  These moments that I saw as my sacred time…let no one interfere!  Well, He did.  Now, little feet come down the stairs, run to sit on the couch next to Mom, and snuggle while I read.  Sometimes they even asked to be read to.  Sometimes they want a drink or food…and I no longer deny them…for aren’t I reading and praying about living like Him…He loved…He saw the crowds and felt compassion.  He came to serve.  He lived the WORD…because He was the WORD.  He lives in me…may the WORD dwell richly in me!

You can’t positive-think your way out of negative feelings…The only way to fight a feeling is with a feeling…(Rollin McCraty)

“I can feel only one feeling at a time…I choose to feel gratitude.” ~Ann Voskamp

The secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is.

So, could I – would I believe He’s with me as I leave the mountaintop?  Yes.  I believe.  I know He is.  He was with Adam and Eve in the Garden and as they tread hard soil outside of it.  He was with Abraham as he left to go to a place he would never really see in it’s full glory.  He was with the Israelites on that ear-piercing night when the angel of death was visiting the Egyptians and passing over the Jews.  He was with the Jews when there fate hung in the balance, and their only hope was a scared queen named Esther.  He was with Jesus the night He left the mountain to be arrested, crucified, and led to his execution.  He was with our Savior in the darkness of a borrowed tomb…in the stench of death…and He didn’t leave Him there!  Nor will He leave me!


-listening to hymns

-climbing into a warm bed – we have a bed(new-given to us by friends)

-laying beside Nathan

-waking up beside Nathan

-sleeping in on a Sunday morning

-breakfast made by the Guitar Player on a Sunday morning!

-dirty dishes in the sink on Sunday morning

-Nathan cleaning up the “Sabbath mess” in the kitchen – we finished together

-little kids praying for us

-a little girl who knows where her socks and shoes are

-enjoying loving Nathan

-paying off debt

-having friends with kids my kids age!