Sunday, December 18, 2011
Have a blessed, merry Christmas!
Jake's wife would have been fifty-eight
The day that Jesus passed the gate
Of Bethlehem, and slowly walked
Toward Jacob's Inn. The people talked
With friends, and children played along
The paths, and Jesus hummed a song,
And smiled at every child he saw.
He paused with one small lass to draw
A camel in the dirt, then said,
"What's this?" The girl bent down her head
To study what the Lord had made,
Then smiled, "A camel, sir!" and laid
Her finger on the bulging back,
"It's got a hump." "Indeed it does,
And who do you believe it was
Who made this camel with his hump?"
Without a thought that this would stump
The rabbi guild and be reviled,
She said, "God did." And Jesus smiled,
"Good eyes, my child. And would that all
Jerusalem within that wall
Of yonder stone could see the signs
Of peace!" He left the lass with lines
Of simple wonder in her face,
And slowly went to find the place
Where he was born.
Folks said the inn
Had never been a place for sin,
For Jacob was a holy man.
And he and Rachel had a plan
To marry, have a child or two,
And serve the folk who traveled through,
Especially the poor who brought
Their meal and turtle-doves, and sought
A place to stay near Zion's gate.
They'd rise up early, stay up late,
To help the pilgrims go and come,
And when the place was full, to some
Especially the poorest, they would say,
"We're sorry there's no room, but stay
Now if you like out back. There's lots
Of hay and we have extra cots
That you can use. There'll be no charge.
The stable isn't very large
But Noah keeps it safe." He was
A wedding gift to Jake because
The shepherds knew he loved the dog.
"There's nothing in the decalogue,"
He used to joke, "that says a man
Can't love a dog!"
The children ran
Ahead of Jesus as he strode
Toward Jacob's Inn. The stony road
That led up to the inn was deep
With centuries of wear, and steep
At one point just before the door.
The Lord knocked once then twice before
He heard an old man's voice, "‘Round back!"
It called. So Jesus took the track
That led around the inn. The old
Man leaned back in his chair and told
The dog to never mind. "Ain't had
No one to tend the door, my lad,
For thirty years. I'm sorry for
The inconvenience to your sore
Feet. The road to Jerusalem
Is hard ain't it? Don't mind old Shem.
He's harmless like his dad. Won't bite
A Roman soldier in the night.
Sit down." And Jacob waved the stump
Of his right arm. "We're in a slump
Right now. Got lots of time to think
And talk. Come, sit and have a drink.
From Jacob's well!" he laughed. "You own
The inn?" The Lord inquired. "On loan,
You'd better say. God owns the inn."
At that the Lord knew they were kin,
And ventured on: "Do you recall
The tax when Caesar said to all
The world that each must be enrolled?"
Old Jacob winced, "Are north winds cold?
Are deserts dry? Do fishes swim
And ravens fly? I do. A grim
And awful year it was for me.
Why do you ask?" "I have a debt
To pay, and I must see how much.
Why do you say that it was such
A grim and awful year?" He raised
The stump of his right arm, "So dazed,
Young man, I didn't know I'd lost
My arm. Do you know what it cost
For me to house the Son of God?"
The old man took his cedar rod
And swept it ‘round the place: "Empty.
For thirty years alone, you see?
Old Jacob, poor old Jacob runs
It with one arm, a dog and no sons.
But I had sons . . . once. Joseph was
My firstborn. He was small because
His mother was so sick. When he
Turned three the Lord was good to me
And Rachel, and our baby Ben
Was born, the very fortnight when
The blessed family arrived.
And Rachel's gracious heart contrived
A way for them to stay—there in
That very stall. The man was thin
And tired. You look a lot like him."
But Jesus said, "Why was it grim?"
"We got a reputation here
That night. Nothing at all to fear
In that we thought. It was of God.
But in one year the slaughter squad
From Herod came. And where do you
Suppose they started? Not a clue!
We didn't have a clue what they
Had come to do. No time to pray,
No time to run, no time to get
Poor Joseph off the street and let
Him say good-bye to Ben or me
Or Rachel. Only time to see
A lifted spear smash through his spine
And chest. He stumbled to the sign
That welcomed strangers to the place,
And looked with panic at my face,
As if to ask what he had done.
Young man, you ever lost a son?"
The tears streamed down the Savior's cheek,
He shook his head, but couldn't speak.
"Before I found the breath to scream
I heard the words, a horrid dream:
‘Kill every child who's two or less.
Spare not for aught, nor make excess.
Let this one be the oldest here
And if you count your own life dear,
Let none escape.' I had no sword
No weapon in my house, but Lord,
I had my hands, and I would save
The son of my right hand . . . So brave,
O Rachel was so brave! Her hands
Were like a thousand iron bands
Around the boy. She wouldn't let
Him go and so her own back met
With every thrust and blow. I lost
My arm, my wife, my sons—the cost
For housing the Messiah here.
Why would he simply disappear
And never come to help?"
In silence. Jacob wondered at
The stranger's tears.
"I am the boy
That Herod wanted to destroy.
You gave my parents room to give
Me life, and then God let me live,
And took your wife. Ask me not why
The one should live, another die.
God's ways are high, and you will know
In time. But I have come to show
You what the Lord prepared the night
You made a place for heaven's light.
In two weeks they will crucify
My flesh. But mark this, Jacob, I
Will rise in three days from the dead,
And place my foot upon the head
Of him who has the power of death,
And I will raise with life and breath
Your wife and Ben and Joseph too
And give them, Jacob, back to you
With everything the world can store,
And you will reign for evermore."
This is the gift of candle three:
A Christ with tears in tragedy
And life for all eternity.
© Desiring God
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org
Friday, December 16, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
My mother sent me this e-mail and it really put my thoughts in perspective, particularly amid the chaos of this Christmas season. Enjoy!
Friday, December 9, 2011
Monday, December 5, 2011
During the sixteenth century, British Catholics were forbidden to practice their faith. Those who broke this law were put into prison, or, if the crime proved severe enough, they would be hung or drawn and quartered. Still, millions refused to abandon their faith and went underground. The Twelve Days of Christmas was a song teaching Catholic children the doctrine of the church. So what do golden rings or a partridge in a pear tree have to do with things of spiritual importance? Keep reading and you may never think of this song the same again.
The children were taught that only pure and true love came from God, so this song was about a heavenly love, not about a boy’s crush on a girl.
Single partridge in a pear tree—A mother partridge lures enemies away from her defenseless chicks in order to protect them. As she sacrifices her own life for her children, so did Christ for us. The pear tree is a symbol of the cross on which Jesus died.
Two turtle doves—symbols of truth and peace, representing the Old and New Testaments.
Three French hens—in the sixteenth century, these were expensive food items reserved for the wealthy. These represent the gold, frankincense, and myrrh brought to the newborn king by the wise men.
Four calling birds—the four authors who told the story of Jesus: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Five golden rings—stood for the five Old Testament books known as the “law of Moses.” These were to remind the singer of man’s fall from grace, and the awesome fact that a Savior would indeed come to offer salvation.
Six geese a-laying—eggs are a symbol for new life. These six represents how God made the world in six days.
Seven swans a-swimming—the gifts of the Holy Spirit—prophesy, service, teaching, encouraging, giving, leadership, and mercy.
Eight maids a-milking—represents the common man (or woman) whom Christ had come to serve and save. The number eight also represents the beatitudes listed in Matthew: blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, the hungry, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemaker, and the righteous.
Nine ladies dancing—the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Ten lords a-leaping—the Ten Commandments, represented by lords, who were honorable men and the voice of law in their domain.
Eleven pipers piping—Jesus’ eleven true apostles who took the message of his life and resurrection to the world.
Twelve drummers drumming—symbolizes “The Apostles’ Creed,” taught to all Catholics, containing a dozen different elements.
There you have it—so much more than a silly holiday song, after all. If this song comes dancing across your radio this week, may it be yet another reminder of the true meaning of Christmas!
Monday, November 28, 2011
Okay, I did it. I wrote that dreaded second draft. I went through my notes and addressed all the issues (that I could see--I'm sure there are more). I made my characters stronger. I've checked to make sure I don't have a sagging middle. I showed instead of told. I've tried to incorporate a bit of foreshadowing, I've fixed those questionable sentences. I reread all 110 pages of research to check my facts. I've even gone through the manuscript and attempted to take out unnecessary truly's, well's, just's, and so's, cutting almost 100 words in the process.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
The TODAY show is celebrating its 60th Anniversary. A couple days ago the hosts were talking about the beginnings of the morning show in 1952. In 1952 people didn't have televisions all over the house, if they had them at all. And there were no programs on before 11:30 in the morning. So when Dave Garroway first introduced the TODAY show as an early morning program, some were skeptical. It was said that morning was a sacred time, that Americans wouldn't let just anyone into their households so early in the morning. But Garroway proved a hit. He had a special way of coming across the camera, of speaking to people at this sacred time of day.
Monday, November 14, 2011
I had the awesome privilege to attend a Women of Faith conference this weekend for the first time. I laughed, I cried, I reveled in God's love for me. I long to share all I experienced with my blog readers, but by the end of the conference my head was so full with all I'd heard that I felt overwhelmed. And so, in my still sleep-deprived state, I wish to share two things with you that were a blessing to me. In turn, I hope to bless you.
Monday, November 7, 2011
As I sit to write this, my house is in shambles. This weekend, my living room had no wall. I could sit on the couch and wave to the passerby on the street. Fun. Nevertheless, I've plunged ahead with my rewrites. Ignoring the dust and the total disorganization of my house, I focused on organizing my work-in-progress.
Monday, October 31, 2011
I've finished the first draft of my next novel and I'm ready to dive into revisions. Almost. I'm in that "letting it cool" phase. I'm distancing myself from my manuscript for a couple of weeks. Putting it from my mind.
Friday, October 21, 2011
As I neared the end of my four-mile run the other morning, I was feeling good. Feeling fast. Feeling the burn. Feeling like I had not only enjoyed the run, but that I had worked hard the last three and a half miles. One last hill and then around the corner to my street.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Some time back, I found myself stuck in a spiritual slump. I didn't want to be bothered with anyone, or have anyone bother me. I'm ashamed to admit this, but honestly all I wanted to do was fly to a deserted island--just me and my computer and the story ideas floating in my head. Why was God setting up so many roadblocks? Didn't He want me to write for Him?
Thankfully, through multiple circumstances, God lighted my path. No, He isn't looking for more works I can throw at His mighty feet. He wants me, all of me, and if writing is a part of that, it will only be worthy of Him if I put Him first. This prayer hit home for me during that time, and it still does. I especially love the last paragraph. God bless and have a wonderful, blessed week!
I don’t really worship these day
I don’t really stand up to praise you with songs
Or prayers or actions
or with anything
I am full of all the right moves
I am full of all the right words
I am full of all the right religion
But it is all just illusion
I am really
and well really just too lazy
to worship you anymore
I have lost my first love
I have lost the joy of your presence
But most of all I have lost the fear of your glory
Father I need to see you again
Like Isaiah I want to stand in awe of your glory
To fall down at your feet
To come face to face with your
I want to stand before you and see you for who you are
and me for who I am
I want to be undone
I want to know me for who I really am
I want to see the depths of my heart
And know that you are the only way
You are the only truth
You are the only life
I want to see me and understand
What it really must have taken for you to
Care for me
Speak to me
Communicate with me
Die for me
Die for me
Die for me
Lord, I want to stand in that place where all I can see is your glory
And my sin
Because in that place I can’t help but worship you.
Lord let me come undone
Undo my heart
Lord, undo my heart
break down these walls that I love so much
No, wait don’t,
I’m scared I don’t know if I can handle this
But I can’t live this way anymore
I can’t stand here in this half-life
this going through the motions life
this not really alive life
Father, I need you so come in and do what you must
Cut out the tumor on my heart
Break down the walls that I love
Lord let me come undone
Undo my heart
let me worship you again
Monday, October 10, 2011
As I near the end of the first draft of my second novel, I was suddenly seized by one of those annoying, niggling feelings that something wasn't quite right. It didn't take long for me to figure it out--the problem was my hero. He's not very nice at the start of the story. In fact, except for his good looks, if I met him on the street I probably wouldn't like him very much. I seem to have this problem--I struggle creating likable characters. I don't think I'm alone.