Monday, May 26, 2014

Fight Beside, Read With, Argue With, and Pray With Him

When I spoke of Friends as side by side or shoulder to shoulder I was pointing a necessary contrast between their posture and that of the lovers whom we picture face to face. Beyond that contrast I do not want the image pressed. The common quest or vision which unites Friends does not absorb them in such a way that they remain ignorant or oblivious of one another. On the contrary it is the very medium in which their mutual love and knowledge exist. One knows nobody so well as one's "fellow." Every step of the common journey tests his metal; and the tests are tests we fully understand because we are undergoing them ourselves. Hence, as he rings true time after time, our reliance, our respect and our admiration blossom into an Appreciative love of a singularly robust and well-informed kind. If, at the outset, we had attended more to him and less to the thing our Friendship is "about," we should not have come to know or love him so well. You will not find the warrior, the poet, the philosopher, or the Christian by staring in his eyes as if he were your mistress: better fight beside him, read with him, argue with him, pray with him.

~On Friendship from The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

In Sickness and In Health

     A friend posted this on Facebook this morning and it blew me away.  If you don't feel like watching it (although you should-- it's powerful), the gist is that Ian and Larissa met in college, fell in love, and then he was in a car crash that devastated his brain and left him disabled.  Larissa chose to marry him anyway, and the love she shows for him, and for Jesus is haunting.

   For better or for worse.  In sickness and in health.  For richer or for poorer.

   One of the desires of my heart is to be married.  And yet.  As a Christian, marriage must mean something more than finding a companion to pass your days with.  It paints a picture of Christ's (sacrificial) love for his church.  It's a way that God uses to sanctify his people, to conform us more to Christ, to make us holier.

   I recently listened to a speaker talk about singleness.  In it she said something that shocked me.  She said she'd prayed that if it would glorify God the most to remain single then so be it.  She was giving him her singleness.  I've prayed to God that if it glorifies him the most for me to die tomorrow then, well, take my life, and I've prayed that if it brings Him glory to give me cancer or some debilitating disease then he should do as he will.  But this-- this giving up my hopes of being married and being a mother is totally radical to me.

   I'm encouraged by Ian and Larissa's story.  This isn't the marriage that either of them pictured, and yet they're faithful because of their dependence on Christ and what he has done for them.  I pray that God will continue to strengthen and bless their marriage and that the light of Christ will shine through their marriage so that all may see that he is Lord.

   And I pray that God uses my life to bring Him glory as well-- in singleness, in marriage, in my relationships, and in my lifelong walk towards that celestial city.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

[Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome]

Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome
Has many sonnets: so here now shall be
One sonnet more, a love sonnet, from me
To her whose heart is my heart’s quiet home,
To my first Love, my Mother, on whose knee
I learnt love-lore that is not troublesome;
Whose service is my special dignity,
And she my loadstar while I go and come
And so because you love me, and because
I love you, Mother, I have woven a wreath
Of rhymes wherewith to crown your honored name:
In you not fourscore years can dim the flame
Of love, whose blessed glow transcends the laws
Of time and change and mortal life and death.

~Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894

Happy Mother's Day to my first love!  I love you, Gru!!!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Young May Moon

The young May moon is beaming, love, 
The glow-worm's lamp is gleaming, love;
        How sweet to rove
        Through Morna's grove,
When the drowsy world is dreaming, love!
Then awake!—the heavens look bright, my dear,
'Tis never too late for delight, my dear;
        And the best of all ways
        To lengthen our days
Is to steal a few hours from the night, my dear!

Now all the world is sleeping, love,
But the Sage, his star-watch keeping, love,
        And I, whose star
        More glorious far
Is the eye from that casement peeping, love.
Then awake!—till rise of sun, my dear,
The Sage's glass we'll shun, my dear,
        Or in watching the flight
        Of bodies of light
He might happen to take thee for one, my dear!

~The Young May Moon, Thomas Moore, 1779-1852, Irish poet and hymnist

The full moon this month (May 14) is known at the Full Flower Moon, also as the Mother's Moon, the Milk Moon, and the Corn Planting Moon.  The first quarter is on May 6th and the last quarter will be May 21st.

Image scanned by Simon Cooke found on the Victorian Web here

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Begin Afresh, Afresh, Afresh

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh."

- Philip Larkin, The Trees

Sunday, April 27, 2014

She Shall Not Find Them

Behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths.  And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then she shall say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now.

~Hosea 2:6-7 (KJV)

Praying this for a friend tonight.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

This is Just to Say

I have eaten 
the plums 
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving for 
Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

~William Carlos Williams, This Is Just To Say, 1962

   Earlier this year I started reading a book on apologizing.  The Five Languages of Apology was written by the same guy (Gary Chapman, with Jennifer Thomas) that wrote The Five Love Languages.  In his intro he proposes that many marriages could have been saved if the partners had learned how to apologize to one another.  It seems to be a common problem that even though the offending partner apologizes, the other partner is unable to hear and therefore accept it.  Chapman suggests couples need to learn to apologize to each other in the other person's language of apology.

   I've had a window open on my desktop for about three weeks now.  It's a blog entry that a school teacher wrote about teaching children how to apologize.  In it she suggests that hardly anyone is teaching children the correct way to say they're sorry.  A parent or teacher will say, "Say sorry to your brother," to which the child replies, "Sorry," and that's it.  It reminds me of another saying I heard as a child, "Well, sorry doesn't fix it."  Which is true.  Sorry doesn't fix it.  The blogger writes,
...inside, however... the offended still feels bitter, because the apology was not sincere. And while it may seem like the offender got off easy– not even having to show proper remorse or use a sincere tone–he is actually the one who loses out the most. He not only learns a poor lesson that he can get away with lies and empty words, but does not have the opportunity to experience true reconciliation and restoration of relationships.
   When I read her article, I knew immediately that I wanted to write about it for my own blog.  After all, I've been on the receiving end of these sorry sorrys, and I did still feel bitter because the apology wasn't sincere.  And in fairness, I'm sure my sorrys have been lackluster at times as well.  I'm sure we would all do well to brush up on our ability to say we've done something wrong.  And who knows, maybe it'll save a few relationships as well.

   Here then are her tips on a better way to say you're sorry (I've taken these from her blog and I recommend you surf over there to read her whole article):

1) I’m sorry for…: Be specific. Show the person you’re apologizing to that you really understand what they are upset about. 
       Wrong: I’m sorry for being mean.       Right: I’m sorry for saying that nobody wants to be your friend.

2) This is wrong because…: This might take some more thinking, but this is one of the most important parts. Until you understand why it was wrong or how it hurt someone’s feelings, it’s unlikely you will change. This is also important to show the person you hurt that you really understand how they feel. I can’t tell you how much of a difference this makes! Sometimes, people want to feel understood more than they want an apology. Sometimes just showing understanding– even without an apology– is enough to make them feel better!

       Wrong: This is wrong because I got in trouble.
       Right: This is wrong because it hurt your feelings and made you feel bad about yourself.

3) In the future, I will…: Use positive language, and tell me what you WILL do, not what you won’t do. 
       Wrong: In the future, I will not say that.
       Right: In the future, I will keep unkind words in my head.

Now let’s practice using positive language. It’s hard at first, but you’ll get better. Can anyone think of a positive way to change these incorrect statements? 
       Wrong: In the future, I won’t cut.
       (Right: In the future, I will go to the back of the line.)

       Wrong: In the future, I won’t push.
       (Right: In the future, I will keep my hands to myself.
       Wrong: In the future, I won’t take your eraser.
       (Right: In the future, I will ask you if I can borrow your eraser.
4) Will you forgive me? This is important to try to restore your friendship. Now, there is no rule that the other person has to forgive you. Sometimes, they won’t. That’s their decision. Hopefully, you will all try to be the kind of friends who will forgive easily, but that’s not something you automatically get just because you apologized. But you should at least ask for it.
So, let's see...

Dear Wife,

I'm sorry
for eating
the plums
in the icebox

that you were
probably most definitely
for breakfast

This is wrong
it was inconsiderate of me
to eat them
without asking you first

In the future
I will ask
before I eat
Will you forgive me

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Blessed is the One Who is Not Offended by Me

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?" And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.  And blessed is the one who is not offended by me."

~Matthew 11:2-6 (ESV)