Feet to the Mountains, Splash in the Streams

The drafts are piling up again. A months worth of blog posts that I start and either never finish or decide not to publish. One is a meditation on Mother’s Day and Pentecost. Another about Isaiah 58, and rebuilding ancient ruins and restoring broken dreams. Another about how I am done writing  for a while. Another about the need for foster parents. Another about how the words are all spilled and now is the time to “chop wood and carry water”. Another about being “All In”.

The common thread: it’s time to do the thing, regardless of what anyone thinks. Personally, I’m done doing everything else but the thing. I am tired of trying to measure up to anyone else’s convictions. I am tired of hiding, of pretending, of writing voiceless protagonists carried away by circumstances beyond their control. I am tired of measuring my obedience to Christ by a handful of verses in Titus and Timothy without taking into account the mighty women of the Old and New Testament.

Ain’t nobody got time for all that. There’s been no room for slave women  since the crucifixion, and no time for timidity since Pentecost.  The Kingdom must advance.

What is the thing? It looks a little different for everyone, in how it plays out. But it is the work Christ began and commanded and empowered the church to carry out. It is the only thing that matters, the place of joy in God and bringing Him glory. It is walking in step with the Spirit, and in the heart of the Father, for our families, community, nation and world.

We are given one life. Just one. At the end of it, the only opinion that will matter is the one of the GodMan who said “whatsoever you have done for the least of these, my brethren…”  He who pointed out fields white for the harvest and commanded his followers to go out into all the world has promised the power to carry out the task.

Right now, there is a huge need for foster and adoptive families in our community. Beyond that, we must remedy the circumstances bringing families  to that point. There is a need to bring the gospel into the darkness of addiction, the hopelessness of poverty, physical and mental affliction, and to pierce the veil of illiteracy and ignorance.

I remember when He first called me. I know where He brought me from, and it ain’t pretty. The good news of Christ met me in many of the areas I listed above. That alone should compel me to extravagant worship, untiring labor, faithful dominion, and ceaseless praise.  He has proven His sustaining power again and again.

God  has proven Himself mighty on my behalf and I want to be where He is, doing what He does. This is the place of joy, the place of the Shepherd’s leading.

So today, obedience to that call looks like caring for my family and continuing to get the house ready for an adoption home study.  In a couple of weeks it will look like finalizing lesson plans for our church’s literacy program. Next fall, it might include an online class or two, because I’ve pretty much maxed out what I can do with the tools I already have, and some of my  Samaria and End of the Earth dreams require a bit more learning.

What about you? What is your Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria? What mountains has Christ called you to? When is the last time you played in the streams?  What joy unspeakable, full of glory, waits over that next rise? He is joy unspeakable, full of glory,  and He has called us to come and to follow Him!



Obscure German Folktales (part 1)

I was heading to bed and the title seemed to call to me from the bookshelf. A translation of the Brothers Grimm. I wasn’t sleepy yet, so I thought I’d peruse a few of the lesser known stories. It was fascinating.

First of all, what I encountered, for the most part, were not fairy tales. These were more  morality tales  told around the hearth in the cold, dark nights of winter. There were obvious  religious overtones and a definite moral to each one.

Here is a sampling:

-a story where a cat convinces a mouse to set up housekeeping with him. They buy a pot of fat to hold them through the winter and keep it stored at the church. The cat gets a craving for the fat and lies to the mouse, on three different occasions, saying that he is attending the baptisms of nieces and nephews as a sponsor. Each time he goes to the church and eats some of the fat, until it is all gone. Winter arrives, the fat is gone, and the mouse confronts the cat. The cat eats the mouse. The stated moral is: this is how the world works, be careful!

-a poor child is adopted by the Virgin Mary and raised in heaven. Mary is going on vacation and leaves the child 13 keys. She is allowed to use 12 of them to unlock 12 doors, but not the thirteenth. The child opens all 13 doors. Mary asks her about it and gives her 3 opportunities to tell the truth before kicking her out of heaven. She lies 3 times and is kicked out of heaven.

The girl grows up as a wild woman incapable of speech. A king sees her in the wilderness and falls in love, taking her home to become his wife. The night her firstborn son enters the world, Mary comes to her and gives her an opportunity to tell the truth. She refuses and Mary takes her firstborn son into heaven. The villages accuse her of being an ogre who ate her baby, but the king will not hear of it.

Another son is born, and again Mary comes to the girl, giving her an opportunity to repent. Again the girl lies, and again the villagers are upset when the child disappears

The last time a daughter is born, and by now the villagers are so up in arms that the woman is to be burned at the stake.  As the fires lick her ankles, she finally repents. The Virgin Mary comes down from heaven, puts out the fire, and returns the three children with the admonition: :There is always forgiveness for those who will repent

Stay tuned tomorrow for the story of a naughty child whose mother is punished and a boy who wanted to know fear.

Gramma, the Mischief Maker, and the Gingerbread House

“Tell me a saaad Gramma story,” my sleepy two year old insists with a pout. One more story, pleeeeaaase!”

Here it goes:

The Gramma continued to love the children of the village. They came to her house every day for stories and treats. Gramma kept loving the children, but the grown ups in the village forgot. They were busy, and  forgot to keep bringing food to the Gramma so that she would have treats for the children and something to eat for herself.

The piles of food on the stoop and the stool were soon gone. Only crumbs were left on the table, and nothing on the chair. One day, even the cupboard was empty. Gramma still told stories, but there were no treats.

When the Gramma sent the last child home that night, she was sad. “I have nothing to eat,” she cried. “What use is it to even be alive if I have nothing to eat and no treats for the children!”

Wandering Man was just happening by when he heard the Gramma’s cry. Now, Wandering Man had many names, and one of these was Mischief Maker. He decided to work some mischief that night. He turned the Gramma’s house to gingerbread and candy.

The next morning, the Gramma woke up to the sound of children laughing. They had discovered her Oh-so-sweet house and were eating it all gone! The Gramma went out to try and stop them, but then she remembered how hungry she was and couldn’t help but take just one little bite.

One little bite led to another and soon the Gramma’s house was ALL GONE.

Gramma looked around a little shame facedly at where her little house used to be. The children had gone to care for  their flocks. Her belly was full, but now she had no place to live. She shrugged. “Now what?”

Now what indeed!

A Folktale for my 2 year old: The First Gramma Story

Once upon a time, in a valley between two great mountains, there was a little village filled with people. The Gramma lived there. The Gramma wasn’t actually anyone’s grandmother, but a kind  older woman who was the special friend of every village child. They would come to her with their bruised feelings and hurt knees, and she would gather then on her lap and kiss their boo-boos and bandage their hearts. She always had a happy story and a special treat to share. The children grew and had children of their own. Those children also spent many hours in the Gramma’s home

The Gramma was never married, but earned her wages repairing worn out clothes. Over time, her hands got old and could no longer do their work. The children still came. She still told them stories and offered them treats, but one day there were no treats. The cupboard was empty, and there was no food for either the Gramma or the children. The children went home sad. The Gramma went hungry.

It was around that time that the Wandering Man with a strange staff wandered back through the village. The Wandering Man had been a shepherd once, the story goes, but fell asleep one day and the sheep were scattered. He spent his time traveling from village to village and sleeping mostly in the fields. Some people said he was looking for his lost sheep. Some just said he was crazy. Everyone admired his ancient staff with its old magic Word scrawled and gouged in vines about it.

The Gramma was hungry when Wandering Man came through. He noticed it, and the sad children, though no other of the grown folks did. As he left the village gate ,Wanderer struck it with his staff. Suddenly the people noticed the Gramma, and the sad children, and the empty cupboard. They remembered the Gramma’s kindness to them when they were small. They came in little trickles, then a great flood. They came with goat cheese and joints of meat. They came with loaves of bread, and cakes and biscuits and turnips and eggs. Soon the Gramma’s cupboard was filled to overflowing.

There was food on the table. And the bed. And the chair, and the little stool. There was food piled in the corners, and on the front stoop There was food for Gramma and plenty to share. The Gramma cried happy tears, and the children laughed. The Wandering Man still wandered.