Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Category

Sudden

Winter was dragging on.  More out of defiance than comfort, I’d been outside without my coat.  The nights still dipped well below freezing.  Dreary clouds came from the east, shading the still-brown grass and smooth-branched trees.

Overnight and into the morning snow fell.  Big flakes layered across the ground, mounting to over half a foot – for the third time in ten days.  I pulled on my clunky shearling boots and plodded out into my day, bereft of sunshine, pining for summer.

When I got off work the snow was only asserting its memory in patches of well-shaded remnants and dirty piles on parking lot edges.  The sunset gleamed on the wet runoff skimming the pavement on my weary drive home.

And then the next morning I woke up.  I got out of bed and went upstairs.  Blew my nose, suffering the symptoms of my annual spring virus.  Washed my hands at the kitchen sink, ignoring the running water while I watched the back yard.  It needed watching.

When I hadn’t been watching, even while I slept, the world had transformed.  Green struggled through the old year’s lawn growth.  Tiny buds swelled on twigs of bushes and trees.  Birds were singing!

All sudden and without warning.  When a snowstorm had driven back expectation of spring anytime soon, beating me down with the power of winter to persevere past decent dates.  Last time I looked, no sign of renewed life.  Now, everywhere.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

She used to love to catch fireflies, chasing around the yard on a summer evening.  Those were the best days, the sun up so long, and even after dark you could stay outside because it was warm, buzzing with humidity.  And she would laugh to be alive, regular brown hair bobbing as she ran, transformed by the dusk into elven innocent beauty.  What could be more fetching than a girl cupping living light between her hands? 
 
But she moved away and started growing up.  She didn’t play in the mud anymore, or hold summer bugs in her palms.  Butterflies were safe to land on a nearby flower and she would only watch.  Dandelions were enemies to uproot, not fairies to set flying on the wind.  Sitting behind a desk with a computer and a cell phone now, weeks and months went by without remembering those days of childhood glory. 
 
A few quirks remained, nothing to hint to a judging world that anything of her elven self truly remained.  As the clock displayed numbers corresponding to the month and day of her birth, she celebrated.  Her clothes demonstrated an independent taste: dark earth tones punctuated every so often by a royal blue or coral.  She always had something to say for a dessert that layered chocolate.  And mythical monsters like Bigfoot and Nessie never lost their interest. 
 
Then it happened.  Enough of her stable, grown-up life fell away; just as she was ready to take a leap into a real responsibility the freedom of childhood reentered her life.  She fled to the country, to the remnants of summer twilights under the stars.  Seeds, formerly inserted in precisely dug holes round a circumscribed flower bed, flew from her hands into the fallow ground.  Rain fell and she learned to dance, not shivering from the night breeze, but turning her face towards it. 
Had she grown out of the child she had been, or had her world trapped her in a box of expectations and limited possibilities, a prison from which she had finally escaped? 
 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

Read Full Post »

Chirp

My brother told me a story about his life the last month.  Several times he has walked somewhere, or stopped at a stoplight, gone to unlock the door to his condo, and heard a single chirp from a cricket.  Just once, that familiar echo of nature, but only once, cut short by the move to the next thing, next time, next place.

Outside my living room window is the sunset of the hottest day of the summer in Denver this year.  My gray long-hair kitty is sitting at my shoulder, and I am on my couch at an odd angle that has my back tucked into the corner.  This morning for church I put on my navy blue linen dress that is so cute, and a white crochet jacket with three-quarter sleeves.  Sunday school was out on the grass, half in the shade, and I kicked off my little white sandal-heels to cross my legs beneath me.  Clouds have gathered and opened back up today, taunting me with the prospect of a storm I know won’t come.  All afternoon my eyes have wanted to close on themselves, but between this and that phone call or vacuuming or chopping ice in the kitchen, real sleep has been beyond me. 

My grandpa is in the hospital again, and facing once again the possibility of moving away from his home, the most peaceful little retreat I’ve ever known, in a small Kansas town dominated by wind and the hum of grain elevators just a block from the old city park.  Mourning doves coo at dawn there, and cicadas chant the dusk on its way to night.  My grandparents have a clock that chimes the quarter hour, and so you know that time is passing even as you know just as surely that it doesn’t matter, because that place outside of everywhere is eternal.  Except I know that someday it won’t be there, not for me.  Not the old house with the dull tile and the bugs and endless shelves of pack-rat treasures or the bright garden now boasting a mere crop of weeds.  I can visit the park, and walk the streets, even drop in to the post office, but someday, closer every hospital visit, the summer spot, the holiday feasting hall of my grandparents’ stained-glass and curio decorated living room will be locked, sold, inhabited by others.  History really lives there, in Bird City, Kansas, in a way that it cannot in the suburbs that have been my lifelong residence. 

And a friend’s aunt died, losing her battle with cancer.  It’s a passing day, nothing happening in it but the slow observation of the changes you dared not believe would come.  Maybe it’s a hoping day, for as the birds fly across the rays of sun outside my window, the scarce breeze ensuring each glance is just a touch different than the last, I know that all these old things under the sun are endlessly changing.  Some other August day I will sit again and wonder at the life that laps about me, tides ebbing and flowing, forever eroding the shoreline into shapes that have never been. 

My daddy, who had gone to be with his dad and mom, is back now, the deliberate slide of our van up the slope of the driveway into the garage, with the elegant steadiness of practice and weary routine.  He meows at the cat, now stalking in the kitchen, retrieving suitcase.  Soon he’ll pick up the television remote.  I know, because somethings are the same. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Read Full Post »

“Set back to wind,” she wrote. The Spirit fills us, pushes us along, just the next gust or the ever-present breath. No sinking, no long-range course for us. Like the wind.

John 3:8 – “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

I love the wind. Strong or gentle, wrapping me or rattling my window, my eyes light like Galadriel’s going to sea. Calling, like I’m supposed to be there, in it. Hard to only watch. And what am I watching? Not really the wind itself. Family is careful to remind me that I am not seeing wind, but its impact. Transfer of energy. But the wind takes a long time to get tired.

Rain in the wind. Hair in the wind. Eowyn’s flag atop Edoras in the wind. Trees in the wind. Windy City. Windmills. Wind on my face. A sail-ship powered by the wind.

Romance of Sail by Frank Vining Smith
Romance of Sail

All my life I’ve wanted a picture of a ship. I’m picky. It has to be a beautiful ship on a beautiful sea. And the ship can’t bee too modern, or a pirate ship either. Ships in bottles excite me. I love anchors and the white and blue of a sailor, white ropes and wooden floors and round windows.

Comprehend my delight at finding the perfect substitute for my ship picture or ship-in-a-bottle: a model of a ship, about a foot long, unpainted. As soon as it’s made I will place it in prominence in my room, to inspire like wind in my room every day of the year. Such are all my decorations, bits of memory pointing me to love others, worship God, walk in the spirit, quest for the truth.

 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

Read Full Post »

We got Prince Caspian for Christmas at our house.  Some movies offer what no books can: moments of sight and sound and emotion woven together.  My favorite in this movie is Peter, High King, sitting back against the table of Aslan’s sacrifice staring at a carving of Aslan’s face and realizing that in his humanness, Peter is insufficient.  Peter fails.  And Aslan is always faithful.  Perhaps he imagines the look on Aslan’s face when Edmund returned, forgiven.  Now Peter knows too.  And has to go on. 

 

At the beginning of Prince Caspian is another moment.  If you’re not watching closely, you’ll miss it.  For just a second the view that had been following Lucy and Susan beneath the rail-station arch pauses to focus on the lion statue beside it.  The sight is full of memory, as though the roar from Narnia is trapped in that lion.  For a while I ignore the scene’s progression and I think of the year between leaving the Wardrobe and now.  

 

One of my dear friends had the opportunity to spend a semester at Oxford, England.  Surrounded by faith-friends and the sites of our favorite literature, my friend whose strength is imagination was four months in legendary England.  Now she is home, just in time for Christmas.  She grew while she was away, I know.  And maybe we all could have predicted how her return would affect her: “It’s like stepping back out of the wardrobe,” she says.  I see four children tumble onto the wood floor of a clean old attic. 

 

And I want to ask her, “Do you look for Aslan everywhere you go?”  I mean, you might hear a tune and think of fauns, or see some architecture like Cair Paravel’s.  A turn of phrase might bring back the voice of an old friend.  Just looking at the face of one who was with you there could bring it all back.  But mostly I think that those who have returned from Narnia would have learned to watch for Aslan. 

 

Of course Aslan is only a type of the true Lion, my King forever and Redeemer coming-back.  Jesus is the ever-present, always active One whom I can always seek.  Do I look for Him everywhere? 

 

It always reminds me of John, the disciple Jesus loved.  After three years of a close relationship – three years walking and talking and eating, crying and laughing, with God Himself! – this man says good-bye to his Friend.  Buoyed by the hope translated to the gospel he would write decades later, the hope of presence and return and friendship and comfort, he marched on through life.  But I wonder if sometimes he didn’t sit in the darkness and miss his Savior with all that he was.  Imagine his excitement to literally be a part of Revelation, to be in those visions, to see again One – hesitantly, as though John had pictured this moment so many times that he might only be dreaming again – like the Son of Man.  Familiar face, glorified, more like the few moments on the mountain than the months in the dust.  And John is back, Jesus speaking to him, comforting him, rewarding his hope.  But there is more to do.  John’s work on earth is not finished.  He is sent back to write the last words of the hope of new testament. 

 

Sent back.  Held back.  Cannot follow.  Kept waiting.  Watching.  Can’t sleep because you’re standing on the walls, straining eyes to see.  Can’t despair because the words are true, Jesus is coming back.  Must follow, because readiness is imperative for the return of the Bridegroom.  Readiness that glows with anticipation and faith-full faithfulness. 

 

Do you look for Him everywhere? 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Read Full Post »

This week I’ve been thinking about my focus at Christmastime. I love Christmas. The atmosphere intoxicates me. Silver bells, lights, carols, music, parties, sweets, friends, gifts, giving, cards, crafts, kids, memory, and history all bundle up and go dancing through the frosty nights as the year winds to its shortest day. Without the celebration, we might go mad within the shortened boundaries of daylight and warmth.

But I don’t like Christmas Eve service at church, or Christmas pageants. I recall a conversation from the movie Shadowlands, in which Jack Lewis observes that people are out of spirits at Christmas because they’ve “lost the magic.” If we make Christmas about rituals and charity, he says, of course no one is going to be having fun. I believe in living life to the fullest, in frolicing when there is joy so huge that I can’t keep it in. The joy and “magic” are my favorite part of Christmas.

Sermons seem so utterly out of place at Christmas. Jesus spent the interim of His life speaking. But on Christmas and Easter, He acted. He lived. He was Immanuel, the God-with-us. So I guess that’s what I want, is to jump into these days with Jesus, feeling vividly the wonder of the story. There are implications, but not today. For this week I’m not doing theology or studying orthopraxy. I’m living on the edge, ready to float away with the current of truth so real that I’m too busy knowing it to think about it.

That’s what I want. But somewhere in the midst of the magical, atmosphere of awe and merriness, I get lost. My mind forgets that the joy is Jesus’, that He is sharing it with me, and that I only get it through Him. Awareness drops off that the gatherings and giving is to honor my Jesus. The balance goes away, leaving this stressful anti-peace business.

Christmastime is sometimes called Advent. Ann Voskamp, a blogger I recently discovered to my delight and encouragement, has pointed me to the idea of Advent. We remember and celebrate the first coming of God in the flesh. We dance the dailiness of His presence, His moment-by-moment coming to us with more grace. And we watch, on edge, doing the waiting that is not impatient but eager, looking for the ‘blessed hope and glorious appearing’ of our Bridegroom. He’s coming back.

So I challenge myself, and you with me, to let the waiting inherent in the crazy Christmas world remind me that I’m waiting for my Savior, the Great King, to come for me. I am pursuing the balance that refuses to have any joy apart from Jesus. But I will have joy, because I cannot be with Him and not rejoice.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Read Full Post »

Excellence is something that has been part of me for at least 15 years.  Of course, it came easy to me to be excellent in academics, or in Bible memorization.  In Awana as a third grader I joined my first Bible Quiz team.  At the time I was completely naïve, unaware of the competition or the tension or even of the possibility of winning.  The thought never crossed my mind.  After finishing both segments of the quiz, speed (like Jeopardy) and multiple choice (with paddles we raise into the air), my team sat clenching each others’ hands in nervous anticipation.  To our utter astonishment they called our team for first place.  The group of us screamed our way to the front to receive our medals and trophy.  And excellence in Bible quiz was my goal from then on.  

 

In a history of grace, God granted that I be on a winning Bible Quiz team for six years straight, unprecedented.  Everyone wanted either to be on my team or to finally beat me.  I didn’t stop working hard, because each year I desperately wanted to win.  There were no assumptions that I would win no matter what.  But I did think that if I kept giving it my all, I would be rewarded.  There was no second place, no third, no fourth – and certainly there was no place between fifth and fifteenth.  So when as a freshman I suffered my first defeat, it felt as though I had crashed into a lightless chasm.  It didn’t matter in the slightest that we had placed third.  The fact was I went to win, and I had failed. 

 

There’s more to the story, of the journey God continued leading me on through Bible Quiz until my senior year – and how I got to share the lessons as a coach.  But today I want to write about that concept of no place but first.  No success without the best.  This is a definition of excellence. 

 

I’m reading a book called Godcast (review coming soon of course), a collection of single-page devotionals written by an Assemblies of God pastor and radio/tv host.  In chapter 196, Dan Betzer writes about mediocrity in the house of God.  Now I’m no advocate of demanding perfection in the worship performance each Sunday, or of dazzling buildings on which no expense was spared.  Nor do I think that God always wants us to have a well-polished speech to deliver as Sunday school lessons, Bible studies, or sermons.  Sometimes He wants us to be the humble vessels through whom His message can be spoken.  And whether you know the words you’re going to say or not, every teacher should have properly studied, meditated, and prayed for what he is going to say. 

 

Yet the message is inspiring.  As a teacher, do I say, “Well, I read over the passage a couple times, and I have an illustration, so I’m all set”?    How many times have I as a blogger decided I didn’t feel like revising my post?  And what about as a Christian?  Do I consider myself good enough as long as I’m not really bad? 

 

Every Monday night I attend a Bible study.  Presently we are going through Galatians, and I’m wrestling with the implications of grace and Christian liberty.  What is legalism, and how should we reconcile Christian holiness with Christ-given grace?  One answer that seems clear at this point in my life is that legalism says “If I follow the rules, I am good.”  But isn’t that what Judaism proved impossible?  Grace is the other side, the side that so delights in the life bought through Jesus’ death and given through His resurrection that it delights to please God, not flirting with the line of trespass, but safe and free well inside the bounds of God’s righteousness. 

 

I can’t help but mention that this doctrine of Galatians meets a complementary parallel in Romans, wherein is found the association between faith, grace, life, and righteousness. 

 

God calls us to excellence, to the extraordinary experience of walking in the Spirit, turning aside neither to the right or to the left, each action born of faith and love and Christ alive in me. 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

 

 

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »