Bread From Heaven

Like the Hebrews in the desert,
I look at the bread You provide
And ask “What is it?”
So often (like the disciples of old)
I do not recognize You…
In spite of your provision
Your presence
Your goodness
I think I am alone
Abandoned.
I remain blinded by my unbelief,
My hardened heart, afraid.

Help me see who You are-
The living bread
That came down from heaven
Help me see You-
Your body broken for me.
Help me see You
In Your body,
Many members,
Though broken and scattered
Bound together as one loaf in You.

You have fed me in my wilderness
Open my eyes
to see those who are also hungry
Abandoned, alone, afraid
Bread of heaven-
You’ve given me loaves and fishes
They are not much in this world of need
It’s all I have, Lord.
But I offer it to You.

Assailed By Words

(I wrote this one during college but stumbled across it this morning cleaning files…this was the days before computers were everywhere, there was 24/7 news and STILL it seemed we were being accosted by words at every turn…)

The world is full of many words, their voices crying to be heard

Sometimes they laugh, sometimes they moan –

It makes you want to be left alone!

It’s hard to think and understand

:neath the constant input that’s at hand.

You wonder why it must all be aid –

Does it really matter or just clutter your head?

There’s words to read, to sing or prayer.

There’s words that will not go away.

You type them, CRUSH them, SHOUT them or mail them-

You try to deny that you feel assailed by them…

It takes so much energy to let them in –

To sort then, respond to them or comprehend.

Why won’t the words just go away

or at least slow down-is there THAT much to say?

Teresa Norman 1977

The Wet Butterfly

The wings unfurled slowly

As the chrysalis fell away

(or she struggled her way out)

Cautious fluttering….

As a whisper of wind

Lifting her to a new place…

What I really am is a wet butterfly

Still unfolding her recently found wings

And learning to fly…

I have only begun!

Act One

As the scene unfolds…..

We’re like so many actors in a play, roles to struggle through each day…

Wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend, child of God –

(Oops….train wreck again….)

Tentatively tiptoeing into each new scene as the curtain opens wondering what it will bring…

A Roman candle with sparks that fly or a purring kitten on your lap to lie…

Hurricane winds or a beach with palms, raging waves or soft breezes that calm….

We try to live without doing harm but when focus drifts it can raise alarms

Then God redirects, and we reconnect with the script He’s written to worship Him with the lives we’ve been given.

Jan 2019

Who Is He?

Who is He who calms the wind and sea?

Yet gently calms raging storms in me?

Who is He who opens eyes once blind?

Yet made birds and animals of every kind?

Who is He who walks on the water?

Yet calls us friends, sons and daughters?

Who is He who wept for His friend?

Then with a word, gave Him life again.

Though He existed before time began

He saw me, loved me as my life began

Who is this one who redeemed my life?

My Savior, my Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

May 2021

Undivided (an Easter poem)

Seer of all things, even the small-

You knew my heart was divided.

My sins were forgiven by your mercy and grace

(But I still tried to hide my disgrace).

I wondered why, (with my heart made of stone)

So often I felt isolated, dead and alone…

But landmines buried in a small child’s soul

Can lay hidden for years and shape how her life goes…

Still, your grace comes in so many ways….

With a step of faith, a journey began,

To examine with Scripture what was really God’s plan.

Instead of a weapon to further my shame,

Your Word brought new life-a new heart, a new name.

I always knew you had carried my sins

But you let me see that my sorrows and shame

Were also banished when you rose from that grave.

They weren’t mine to carry – you paid the price.

Today my heart is undivided. 

By new life in you, this grateful child is so excited!

April 4, 2021

A Refuge in Times of Trouble

Psalms 46:1 says “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.”

I’ve been thinking about that this morning, because tomorrow, I may be in trouble. There have been several instances of medical mistakes and total screw ups and some life threatening incompetence on an intubation that almost made me a statistic and could have made my husband a widow. Because of that event, I have done my best to avoid surgery. Tomorrow, I’m not avoiding. I’m going for a repeat of the surgery they failed at the first time.

Fifteen years ago, they tried to remove 1/2 of my thyroid due to a massive goiter. We thought it wasn’t going to be that big of a deal, but our pastor, God bless him!, wanted us to come in to be prayed for before I went in. Ok. That was kind. I believed in prayer, but really, no big deal. BUT, things went radically wrong – obstructed airway, I hemorraghed and ended up with a trach for a five day hospital stay instead of out the next morning. Scary event. Really scary! (The hidden blessing – some of the amazing people from our church took the time to come to the hospital and visit (since in those days you could) and I got to know them better, even though we had to communicate by taking notes, since I couldn’t talk).

Six years ago, when I was diagnosed with Stage III Inflammatory Breast Cancer, I was more scared of surgery than I was the cancer. I know quite a few people who have made it through breast cancer. Surgery, the way my goiter has misshaped, obstructed and narrowed my airway, not so much good news there. The surgeons/anesthesiologist who did the cancer surgery were amazing. When I woke up in my room and saw my family there and could TALK to them (no trach), I was ecstatic. It didn’t matter I was missing a breast and a whole bunch of lymph nodes. (As I told my girls, they had already served their purpose).

But having had a medical situation recently where surgery was recommended sooner rather than later, but the hospital I was taken to was unable to deal with the risks my airway presented, it was time to make some new choices. I need to get the goiter out so the airway is not so lethal, so they can safely do the other surgery I need. Since I’ve been working at home and not taking patient calls all day, my voice wearing out really fast hasn’t been an issue, but it may also be something that gets solved by this surgery (if it goes well). I’d put this off partly because I didn’t know what I would do for work if I lost my voice completely….

I was thinking about God being our refuge this morning. I am afraid. But there are people praying, and so many times in my life, I have felt those prayers like wings holding me up. It’s hard to explain. But He is with us. Grateful for praying friends.

The Man of Excuses

In the dream last night, I saw the disabled man in John 5 sitting by the pool-the place where he had lain for 38 years (an invalid, some translations say). When Jesus saw him there, he asked if he “wanted to be well.” (What a question! Only Jesus can get away with that.) Of course he wanted to be well, didn’t he? Wouldn’t we? But the man explained to Jesus that “other people” had someone to put them in the water so they could be healed. That meant “other people” got help and he didn’t. Other people had opportunities but he was stuck, paralyzed in his circumstances.

I thought, at first, that this dream was about a woman I’d talked to recently who so SO angry….angry because, like this man, other people got all the opportunities, other people kept her from getting the job she wanted, other people took all her opportunities. They made her dreams invalid. All she saw was what she didn’t have and thought she could do, and it was all because of those other people.

God is so loving and kind (and firm). He gently pointed out the beam in my eye while I was focusing on the speck in those of my friend. When I awoke, I immediately knew the dream wasn’t about my angry friend – it was about me.

God had graciously reminded me of the healing and deliverance He had brought to my life in the last year and the many victories His presence (and the time and prayers of patient people) had brought. But even though He broke the chains of my past, I have to make sure not to put them back on. I have to keep making the choice to live the change.

God gave me an opportunity, spiritually, to get up and walk. He said my live is not in valid (I am not a spiritual invalid!). I need to keep choosing to walk, even if sometimes it takes me to places I’m not familiar with and gives me opportunities to do things I’m not comfortable with. I was reminded I am only an invalid if I accept that my life is invalid and let the enemy rob me of the ability to speak of the good things God has done.

Invalid and invalid are spelled alike, but you’re not an invalid until you think your life is invalid.

New Year’s Reflection

New Year’s Reflection…

When we moved to our lovely little town four years ago, we started attending a small but loving church a block from our house. One of the first sermons I heard Pastor Mac preach was one I still have not forgotten…

He has a beautiful view of the mountains from their house…stunning, really. And, as a good photographer, he had taken pictures of the mountains in various weather and times of day and used them as a sermon illustration about the unchanging faithfulness of God (or at least that’s how my heart remembers it).

On the shores of loneliness, in the fog of depression, God’s loving-kindness is unfailingly with us.

When the mountains crumble (and what we thought was stable is shaken), God’s loving-kindness is unfailing with us.
Psalm 121
1 I lift my eyes toward the mountains.
Where will my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not allow your foot to slip;
your Protector will not slumber.
4 Indeed, the Protector of Israel
does not slumber or sleep.
5 The LORD protects you;
the LORD is a shelter right by your side.[a]
6 The sun will not strike you by day
or the moon by night.
7 The LORD will protect you from all harm;
he will protect your life.
8 The LORD will protect your coming and going
both now and forever.

(from the Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

and from Lamentations 3: 22-24 (CSB)

Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for his mercies never end.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness!
24 I say, “The Lord is my portion,
therefore I will put my hope in him.”

So this year, once again, I will think about the mountains in Mac’s sermon, in all kinds of circumstances and weather, and hope to remember with the song writer, Great is your faithfulness, oh God, my Father.

From the Ashes

There is brokenness-frail humanness
In relationships entangled
By biting, angry bitter words
Screamed from a heart that’s wounded

But Your presence, Lord, brings clarity,
Dispels the fog of dark delusions
The oil of joy gently given
Poured out onto the hurting
Soothes the soul in mourning

And the heaviness is lifted
You give beauty for ashes,
But first we go through fire
As by Your hand our lives
Are delivered from the Liar.

Spirit of the living God,
So gratefully I praise you.
You do for us what only You can do-
You call us from the ashes
And make us new.

December 27, 2020

The Thing About Angels…

Yesterday, I got a call from an angel…

(it’s almost Christmas, a busy time for angels, I guess.)

She was about God’s business-visiting the sick,

the lonely, and the forgotten.

(I confess her active creativity put my lethargic heart to shame). 

Angels nowadays can use Facetime –

(Who knew!) I got the message too late this time,

But she said she would call again in two weeks –

Then we can visit a very old friend in a nursing home

And she will take the risks and connect us behind a glass wall

With this modern convenience God must have inspired.

But angels are infinitely resourceful! 

While there at the nursing home,

Reading Facebook encouragement to our mutual friend,

She called someone else we both love,

(Knowing this person was struggling in turbulent waters,

sometimes overwhelmed and isolated)

She gave her a Facetime opportunity

to love and encourage our friend and to see her beautiful kiddos. 

As I thanked the angel for all she had done,

She reminded me of a past we had shared…a time she was overwhelmed…

Of lessons learned- sometimes you give grace and sometimes you receive it

And how we comfort others with the same comfort we have received from the God who loves us.

So grateful for the infinite creativity of God and for this angel who absolutely sparkles with His grace.

(II Cor. 1:3-4)

The Absence of Your Presence

If it wasn’t for Your love,

I would have nowhere to go

There’d be no reason to get out of bed

Fight to open my eyes or try

If I didn’t know Your love

Life would be a living hell

The absence of Your presence – unspeakable!

Darkness too deep – incomprehensible!

If I didn’t know Your love

It would prove I’m already dead

Because You said You’d be with me always-

You love me-that’s what you said.

So I wait here in the darkness

Of this long night of the soul

Knowing only with Your Presence

Can my heart again be whole…

My hope may be bruised and broken

At times I feel so alone

But I’ve known Your love

It has carried me

And I know it will carry me home.

Dec 20, 2020

Thanksgiving Lament

(Ya, I know, that’s a contradiction, but…..)

Today, for many people, is hard.

Today, as you can tell, I am sad.

Today I am grateful for still being alive -five years past a nasty cancer diagnosis.  Grateful for a good doctor and a clinic trial that saved my life.

Today I am grateful for a husband who still loves me – even after 42 years.

Today (and every day!) I am grateful for children and grandchildren who like to hang out with us. 

I am grateful that there is a Creator who put the world in place -I don’t know how, but I don’t need to.  It is obviously too complex to have just happened.  

I am grateful I live where I have trails to wander, rivers and mountains to look at and gardens of hope to plant with flowers and beauty in my little part of the world.

I am grateful for a house to live in that is warm and dry and safe.

I am grateful for the possibility that elected officials may choose to act like servant leaders in the near future instead of shape-shifting, blame-throwing, self-obsessed infants.

I am grateful for the diversity of our country, and for the refugees, immigrants and Native Americans that make it so.

I am grateful that gratitude is an attitude that can become a habit that can make you buoyant even when the waves seem high and the storm looks overwhelming.

I am grateful for today.

A Lament for Our Time

We have made an idol out of our rights and forgotten our privileges and responsibilities.

We have made an idol out of our sufficiency and forgotten our need of You

We have assumed we know all knowledge that matters and

forgotten that respect for You is the beginning of wisdom.

We have neglected widows, orphans, strangers, the homeless, refugees, prisoners, those in poverty, the unemployed and disabled and communities of color. 

We have made whiteness “rightness” and congratulated ourselves on what we have done, not acknowledging it took Your help, Your strength and Your mercy to get this far.

(Your mercies are made new every morning – ours too quickly run out!)

We elected a “king” who mocked everyone else but felt he had never done wrong. 

Oh God, now, perhaps, our path has changed. 

We acknowledge that black lives matter.

We acknowledge that we belong to each other.

Some of us acknowledge that pro-life means pro everyone’s life.

We acknowledge that power is corrupted without humility

We acknowledge that America is not the only country with humans You love beyond measure.

God help us.

We are in need of Your mercy.

Help us to do justice, love mercy and learn to walk humbly, remembering we do not deserve Your mercy, but that we desperately need it anyway.

November 2020

(Reading “A Sacred Sorrow” – an experience guide to reaching out to God in the lost language lament, by Michael Card. This book goes through the life of Job, David, Jeremiah, and Jesus.)

Psalm of the Slug

Sitting around , heart on the ground

Feeling like kind of a slug

Wondering if life would have been better

If I had been born as a bug…

No choices to make-just chances to take

And runnning the risk of being a lunch

For something to munch

And not really having much say.

It’s not that much different-this being a human

It’s all just a matter of size.

So this human slug with the hope of a bug

Sure doesn’t feel very wise…..