Sunday, April 29, 2012

Living Real Life Above the Clouds


"When one consistently chooses cyberspace over holy space, life becomes a hollow place."
~Ann Voskamp

We need community so deeply that any substitute for meaningful relationships that offers even virtual (translated here: pretend) friends, becomes a success. Social media's promised friendship and  open platform for our opinions never asks any accountability of us. No risk; no obligation. We might come to believe that life is really like that....until one day we come to rely on our friends and inner circle loved ones.

When that day comes to us, no virtual friends need apply.

No simple 'likes' will suffice.

No big red easy button.

We need a friend like Jesus, who sometimes calms the storm and sometimes calms his child. But he never withholds his Presence from us, comforting us in all our afflictions so that we may be able to comfort others.

The question arises: are we protecting holy space in our lives, or have we caved under the tsunami of technology engulfing even our own spirituality that yearns to breathe on its own?

Breaking up is hard to do.

We get into comfortable, even dependent, relationships with our phones/computers and before we know it, we're united; the two have become one. It is hard to unplug from the thing that connects us to the larger world all day and night. We live tethered to our various 'life supports' and may not even realize it, because everyone else is too. Mea culpa.

Wireless access just presents an invisible tether, but a needed connection just the same, can I get a witness?

What sphere is it where actually we live and move and have our being? Are we living with  the awareness of spiritual truths or are we tied to virtual connections? The skeptics who challenge the reality of knowing God can be the very ones who bow before the altar of cyberspace and put their confidence -- and documents -- in the cloud. Try explaining why the cloud is real but heaven is not, for those who are not believers.

I believe we are not human beings on a spiritual journey; we are spiritual beings on a human journey. That changes our perspective. May this remind me to tune into the still, small voice
and turn off the phone for increasing periods of the day. What are we afraid of -- that we'll miss something, you say? 

Miss something indeed. 

Millions trade a date with the Divine and time together in stillness for a facebook update in a heartbeat....Until it's our last heartbeat. Let us live intentionally, reflecting our devotion and faithfulness fully, and not only in desperation.

For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. 2 Timothy 1:12

Thursday, April 26, 2012

12 Essential Reasons to Yawn

Two Ironing Women, Edgar Degas

The yawn is a reflex of deep inhalation and exhalation.The act of yawning and mental alertness seem to occupy opposite ends of a spectrum, but they are more closely related than I ever imagined. Rather than merely being an indicator of boredom and fatigue, I came to see some beneficial products our yawning offers.  Sharing  a thought here I learned at Duke while I was staying with Cindy in January...

A book I want to read further, How God Changes Your Brain by Newberg and Waldman, presents research that underpins their conviction that yawning:

1. Stimulates alertness and concentration
2. Optimizes brain activity and metabolism
3. Improves cognitive function
4. Increases memory recall
5. Enhances consciousness and introspection
6. Lowers stress
7. Relaxes every part of your body
8. Improves voluntary muscle control
9. Enhances athletic skills
10. Fine-tunes your sense of time
11. Increases empathy and social awareness
12. Enhances pleasure and sensitivity

(p. 158, 159)

Just a thought for the day when we are tempted to stifle a yawn. Let it rip, instead. Yawn deeply and often! Yawn for good health and alertness! We can do it anywhere, anytime. What a little gift we may never have appreciated.

Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Giving thanks: How do I count the ways?

I didn't jump on the list-making bandwagon last year with the popularity of Ann Voskamp's lovely book, One Thousand Gifts. I read Ann's work every chance I get, and I have given several copies of this book to friends, but I did not take the list plunge with pen in hand.
 I am just not a list-maker. I can make a list. I sometimes make a list. But I do not typically live off a list. I prefer to write about one thing at a time. To contemplate a thing, to swaddle it in words like wrapping a newborn, rather than to list it. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.
Counting blessings would be the easy part; letting our blessings change our countenance -- now that's tougher. 
I get the exercise. It helps us to begin to notice small joys and blessings we might otherwise pass by and not regard as a gift from God. I can see that it is a valuable step, but there's more. If we are truly grateful, a list of gifts serves as a counterweight to the burdens we carry day to day. Gratitude changes us. Gratitude lightens the heart, lifts the spirit, and even reveals joy and life in the eyes. It softens a facial expression. Deep creases and furrows morph into curves, and I've seen corners of the mouth lift visibly.  Thankful people are simply more pleasant to be around than constant complainers.
There is an elementary writer's tip high school students learn: Show it, don't tell it. So if 'the Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy,' let it show in our countenance! Thanks be to God.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

How Are Our Vital Signs?

I am near to a family experiencing life in God's waiting room. The waiting room, figuratively, is that place where we feel our lives on hold as we seek to know what comes next. Healing and wholeness? Release? Disability? What comes next is not clear.

We do not like to wait. We'd rather know the plan and execute it. Yet we must wait.

At the heart of recovery from Cindy's extensive brain surgery is the fundamental need to establish stable vital signs. Heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, oxygen saturation and so forth are key indicators of health. This is monitored from a distance to give nurses a read on the patient even when out of sight. Breathing has been a frequent challenge and is difficult to maintain on her own right now. We pray for breathing daily.

Reposted here from my thoughts written earlier tonight on Cindy's Caring Bridge:

Breathing is essential to life. We cannot live without it. Prayer, likewise, is essential to vitality in our spiritual lives. If we stop praying, or pray only sporadically and shallowly, we do not maintain healthy spiritual respiration. Short bursts of our pleas and gasps of requests will not long sustain a relationship with the One who desires more than our frantic 911 calls. Sometimes we let our words get in the way. We can be our own worst enemy and feel paralyzed that we cannot 'get it right.' We settle for too little. We become content with a diet of mere prayer tweets.

God sees us as we really are, no posing needed. Let us come in humility, giving thanks and praise, laying our deepest desires before the Lord, and trust God to act. Even in our broken, disease-ridden world, God is still in the business of redeeming suffering and restoring losses.

God breathes life into dying relationships and inspires a new way of seeing others in this miracle of life we share together.

After posting to the Caring Bridge this morning, I drove downtown. Stopped behind a car, I was still preoccupied with Cindy's respiratory challenges. My eyes fell on the license plate immediately in front of me:


Just another state-issued stamped plate? I suspected it was code for something deeper. Immediately, I looked it up:

Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord; nor are there any works like Your works. Psalm 86:8

and I kept reading...

I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name forevermore. v. 12

What a powerful Word on the way!

This is the way Cindy prays. With a heart full of praise, she gives glory to God as she seeks to be salt and light to all around her. Salt and a waiting world. Cindy's prayers are unfettered; words do not weigh them down. We pray for her and with her, joining in one accord that God will continue to provide comfort and healing throughout each day.

Thanks be to God.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!

Easter dawns!

All around the world, this day calls us to remember. And be thankful!

Thank you for asking about Cindy. You may read more here. Please pray for wisdom and healing -- both sought from the Lord.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Maundy Thursday

Thunder rolls overhead on this blustery morning. Heaven's churning, it seems. Holy Week is like that to me through the years. Labor pains that give birth to something beautiful and altogether lovely. New life doesn't slip into our laps effortlessly; it always comes at a price. We remember the costly sacrifice with fresh understanding when we take the time.

My writing has been prayerfully invested in another place recently. I share a word with you and invite you to join me there if you will.

We bear one another's burdens.

I invite my friends in Moscow, in Belgrade, Serbia, in Portugal, and other far-flung homes join in unity of the Spirit for praising God and seeking His face in the case of one who would ask if she could.

with thanksgiving,