Thursday, October 31, 2013

Frames and Paintings

I like picture frames. I mean I like to hang picture frames on the wall with no pictures in them. My family stares at them and says, Why’d you do that? I got the idea from a magazine, where I get 99% of my ideas. Whether ornate, simple, made of wood, metal, or ceramic – an arrangement of lowly rectangles artfully arranged on a blank wall is impressive to me.

But really, frames are purposed for better things. The goal of a border-surround is to outline a watercolor or oil creation, a portrait or a print. It should be unobtrusive, never calling attention to itself, but drawing interest to its contents! It’s all about the picture.

You know, one’s outward appearance is similar to a picture frame. Our bodies (and the way we dress or don’t), our eyes, hair, smile, speech, body language – all meld together to constitute a “frame” or enclosure for our inward selves, our spirits. Accordingly, in a spiritual sense my inner woman should be the centerpiece of my whole self, not the visible part of me.

Yeah, I like empty picture borders as d├ęcor. But they’re still empty. They surround air; nothing is there.

Spiritually, I can find myself in a similar situation: mostly frame, surrounding quite a bit of air. If I regularly lavish attention on my outward person and accompanying trappings, but ignore that inner woman,then the real me can be obscured, or fade away.

Just as an appropriate frame showcases a particular picture, so my outward personal appearance can and should speak of God’s beauty living within. If I profess to adore Jesus Christ, but belie that declaration by my sexy, scanty clothing, others will scratch their heads in confusion, wondering which to believe. If my expression invariably is joyless and dark, dare anyone think a joyful, vibrant Jesus-follower resides within that “frame”? If my words cannot be trusted or believed, or slanderously afflict others, or if I am indifferent to pain and suffering around me, it could be that a painting exists, but so faded and dim it’s almost impossible to see.

Just something to think about.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Being Open

Did something impulsive the other day. Walked in my kitchen, surveyed the cabinets and asked my long-suffering husband if he’d remove the doors from some of them for me.

Sure, he said. So he did.

At first the effect of all that nakedness was disconcerting. I felt as though I were peeking in someone’s window. So much openness! Too much, I secretly thought at first. I didn’t share my misgivings with Jim. I really wondered if I could deal with it. After calming down a bit, the second thought was just as unsettling: a little more order was in order. Actually a whole lot more order.

I began prettying up the view. Jumbles were separated and either placed side by side, or relegated to another area. Little-used bowls and glasses moved to a different location; paring down the number of objects so one didn’t get jittery just looking up.

Some reworking: propped saucers upright against the cabinet back so everyone can enjoy their pretty faces; ditto, big platters on the shelf below, and situated black dishes at intervals to “anchor” the display. Surrounding the stove, metal mixing bowls, Pyrex measuring cups and miscellaneous stuff stared back at me. Not suitable for confrontation by the public. So I switched out bowls for glass canisters of flours, sugars (brown and white), an old coke bottle with coarse pepper therein, a lovely tall green bottle of sunflower oil and the wonderful rusty-red hue of Old Bay seasoning making a plain bottle special.

It’s kind of like having a limb removed though. You still think it’s there. I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to close cabinet doors, and grabbed air; I even ducked a couple of times so one of those phantoms wouldn’t deck me.

I’m slowly getting used to my “new” kitchen. Now, however, I see what else must be done because the holes left by hinge nails aren't attractive. I’ll have to sneak up on Jim one of these days and broach that little subject. He thinks his job is done and he’s gloriously free to deer hunt to his heart’s content. Poor guy.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Watching God

I bless the Lord for where I am, right now. Each stage of my life has been rich. Of course, nothing can ever measure up to life as it was when our children still lived with Jim and me, growing into adults under our extremely imperfect tutelage. As it seems to happen, Jim and I have become a bit older, and now our house is home only to the two of us. Oh, well, it was great while it lasted, guess we need to gather our rocking chairs and lap robes and …

Not quite yet, the Lord says!

He has not forgotten us! Within the last couple of years, God has led us into a place, once again, of privileged ministry. No, we’re not rearing more children – well, not in the sense of housing-feeding-being responsible-24/7 child-rearing. Rather, we’re smack in the middle of watching the Master work incredible miracles in singularly desperate situations.

We are his cheerleaders in this work; praying and praising as the One who spoke the universe into being touches broken, scarred, and bleeding lives with his healing. He infuses hope into precious ones who have no hope, and, worse, believe they deserve none; he rekindles the light of purity in eyes that for so long have been dark with Satan’s twisted visions. We rejoice as this LORD woos each one to himself, plants the seed of his word, then over time transfigures a wounded woman into wellness and wholeness.

He promises them:
“I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support.
I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless,
nor forsake nor let you down (relax my hold on you.) Assuredly not!” Heb 13:5 Amp. Bible

When the light of that promise breaks forth in each one, she responds with grateful, passionate devotion for this Lover of her soul. They all pour out their adoration in constant singing and praying. They read copious amounts of Scripture daily. This new relationship with God surpasses any attachment they’ve ever, ever known. They are quick to speak his name.

Do some reject this healing? Yes. Some have ears to hear and don’t hear. We grieve with the Lord and press on, praying they will someday really hear.

Among those who do hear and accept Jesus, do conflicts, bad attitudes, pride, anger, meanness and selfishness raise their ugly heads? Yes, about as often as these sins appear in the rest of us Christians. When the inevitable occurs (they are still human), problems are confronted immediately, however uncomfortable, and worked at until they’re worked out.

God is gracious enough to allow Jim and me to be his fellow workers – we get to experience the pleasure and joy the Lord must feel when each of these souls turns from darkness to serve the Living God! I am humbled by the awesome power of the Lord and his Word. I’m seeing before me in living color the mind of Jesus take root in, sprout up in, and transform bitterness, weakness, worthlessness, and skepticism into a love for the Savior that revolutionizes every area of their lives!!

It’s a great time of our lives.