Tag Archives: Ann Voskamp

ADVENT 2017: LOVE #2

“Why is it easier to make Christmas cookies than to make our hearts ready for Christ?”~Ann Voskamp
 
Even being retired, I find I still set myself up to be way too busy before Christmas. Decorating. Christmas crafts. Present seeking. Writing Christmas cards (cards that I started right after Thanksgiving and still am not finished – mostly because I am such a procrastinator) Stockings to finish. Stories to read. Traditions to uphold.
 
And yet – – –
 
These are not the things that prepare my heart to love. In fact – they are the furthest thing from it. These traditions. These crazy things we love to do in this life – have nothing to do with the tiny baby we claim to honor with them. They are things. Things that have nothing to do with the tiny baby that was born in a stinky, dirty stable.
 
It is in our nature to want to be the “wise kings” in life. We want to ride in on our camels or donkeys or fancy horses and chariots. Our embroidered robes flashing our importance. Our jeweled crowns reflecting our wisdom’s rich rewards.
 
And yet – – –
 
I think I am yearning to be something more this year. More than a flask’s aroma of earthly wisdom. A chest filled with rich foods or embroidered cloth. A writ of fancy words. A tree covered in beautiful lights and delicate memories. Or – well crafted stables with perfectly molded people.
 
This year – I just want to be a shepherdess. His shepherdess. A shepherdess out in His field. A shepherdess watching over His sheep. A shepherdess who hopes deep in my heart that I might find that one lost sheep who always seems to wonder off on the darkest, stormiest of nights. A shepherdess alone in His field with His sheep singing His songs.
 
This year – I want to be a shepherdess. A shepherd girl who has ears to hear and eyes to see the impossible. Angels singing songs. Angels bringing messages. Messages that prepare a heart for love. Love beyond all understanding.
 
I want to be that kind of shepherdess. One who brings my dirty, smelly self from long days and nights willingly spent in the field that my Father created. Fields that I – mostly – muddied up by my own vain, foolish attempts to change them or where I lost lambs that He had given to my keeping.
 
That’s who I want to be. A shepherdess whose heart is full of love.
 
Shepherds brought nothing but their hearts to that small, stinking stable. Shepherds believed beyond the power of reason. Shepherds who couldn’t leave their flocks, so they drove them to that same stable where they will bring their pure lambs for the Passover festival. Shepherds who had prepared their hearts long before the angels came.
 
A place where they saw a perfect Lamb.  A Lamb to be judged. A Lamb to be separated out. A Lamb to be sacrificed.
 
That is who I am striving to be as I walk in my Father’s field of life this night A shepherdess in the field of the Lamb who shed His blood for His Father’s people – for His Father’s world. A simple shepherdess who is preparing her heart.
 
“Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.” Voltaire [google images]shepherdess

21 DAYS

It is 21 days till Easter. 21 days of a journey left. 21 days to follow a path. 21 days till the stone exploded, breaking the binds that tethered it to an earthly kingdom and releasing the radiant light of Grace from the spiritual kingdom.

For the past few weeks, I have not written much. Instead, everyday I have been reading, walking, observing, writing, praying, and drawing a small inked cross on the inside of my wrist. I didn’t think of this idea myself. One of my favorite authors has been doing this on a regular basis for a while now, Ann Voskamp. She talks about it in her book, The Broken Way.

At first, I wondered why she would do this. What possible difference in a spiritual walk could a tiny, inked cross on a wrist do for anyone? Yet, during this Lenten walk, I have noticed a difference. A difference that – perhaps – is more on the inside of me than the physical ink on the inside of a wrist. However, true to my silly Gemini self, that ink is often different colors. One color layered on top of another on some days. Other days, completely washed away by the blessed business of the day.

There is a path just down from our house that our neighbors have given me permission to walk. The dogs and I love it. There are no cars or even so much of the sound of cars, lots of smells, lots of deer prints, and I’m sure a few snakes in the grass that I hope I never see. (Lucky for me, the dogs always run ahead of me.)

As the temperatures warmed, the grass began to appear until it has become a green carpet that pulls us forward every time we walk. Trees and tall grasses from a not too distant past line its edges. Occasionally, a fallen branch from a recent storm also lie beneath our feet waiting to trip us up. Further up the way, there are other vestiges of an older life as well. Man-made reminders of that which was: large trees around a yard of a small deserted cabin, a log shed, horse-pulled tools now covered by weeds, a small, empty water trough.

As always, I wonder about the people who walked these lands before me. Indians, slave, indentured servants, landowner. I wonder and in some weird strange way, find myself praying for them as they walked these lands.

The cross on my wrist catches my eyes as I switch the button on the camera in my phone. For a minute my breath catches, “Baruch Hashem Adonai,” I whisper, “Blessed Be the Name of the LORD.” Koey sniffs the scent of something and is off running. Ryndi rolls in the leaves and tall grass for the umpteenth time. All, just reminders that this world is temporary, and all our education, ownership, accomplishments are -eventually – just “dust in the wind”.

Baruch is the Hebrew word that means “to bless”. It also means “to kneel”. When God sent His Son to walk a footpath on this earth, He knelt in front of all humanity. He squeezed the limitless into a limited body. He folded His greatest sacrifice into His greatest blessing and laid it on the path for all to find.

Easter. Grace. Salvation.

“Therefore strengthen your hands and set your shaky knees firmly. Make straight paths for your feet, that the lame member may not fail, but that it may be healed.”~Heb 12:12-13

My knees don’t bend so well anymore, but there are times when I force them because I can’t imagine not kneeling when His presence is so close. Tonight, it is warm in our house. The cross on the inside of my wrist is faded and fuzzy. My eyes are hurting as I try to hold them open for a few more minutes. It was a warm day in NC and when you have a bit of a fever, the house feels even warmer. But – it has been a blessed day. A day to sacrifice a little. A day to sleep a lot more than usual. A day to whisper a few more times, in thankfulness for these 21 days, “Baruch Hashem Adonai.”

PROMISES REMEMBERED

“The seed breaks to give us the wheat. The soil breaks to give us the crop. The sky breaks to give us the rain. The wheat breaks to give us the bread. And the bread breaks to give us the feast. There was once even an alabaster jar that broke to give Him all the glory…Never be afraid of being a broken thing.”~The Farmer, Ann Voskamp’s husband in The Broken Way, p25

Our families are broken.

Our country is broken.

Our world is broken.

I am broken.

This world and all its people have been broken since two humans stood beneath two trees in a Garden.

One thing I love about being retired is I can be a total learner again. Journals, paper and four books litter the table and floors around my chair in the living room. Two books sit on my desk with stashes of writing in various stages for decoration. Note cards have suddenly returned to my life, Not as something to be graded as when I taught research skills to grumpy junior high students, but note cards full of things that are still roughened gems waiting to be polished by my grasping mind that runs a little slower these days.

“B’RESHEET BARA ELOHIM…”~Gen 1:1

The Jewish words circled back around for the second day in a row in my devotions today. “In the beginning, God created…”

Three simple words. A plural noun. A singular verb. A mystery.calling out. Three words that began the story of a beloved group people – one broken man – one broken family – one broken people traveling in a broken world.

Broken people who walked away from that perfect Garden with a promise – found a path – strayed off the path – over and over – time after time – and yet – – – YHVH, LORD, loves them – calls to them – became them. He was. He is. He will be. Promises of infinite Love and Grace made in the past, remembered in the present, fulfilled in the future.

YHVH. Broken. Mashiach.

As I walked around the house, running the roomba, dusting the bookshelves, the Hebrew words continued to turn in my mind. And and when, after several days of clouds, the sun broke through, I was not surprised. God has been winking at us from the beginning. Trying to catch our attention. Trying to remind us of the very first promise He made. Sending the Annointed One when we needed Him most and is sending Him again when we need Him even more.

Promises made. Promises remembered. Promises fulfilled.

I AM.

More than we can imagine. More dreams. More hope. More treasure. More Love. More blessings. More Grace. More possibilities than could ever be learn in a lifetime. We may be broken now, but not forever.

“For a seed to come fully into its own, it must become wholly undone. The shell must break open, its insides must come out, and everything must change. If you didn’t understand what life looks like, you might mistake it for complete destruction.”~Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way, p.26. [google images]