Ever By Our Side

As of old He walked to Emmaus
With them to abide
So through all life’s way He walketh
Ever by our side
Soon again, we shall behold Him
Hasten Lord, the day
But ‘twill still be that same Jesus
As He went away

Yesterday, today, forever, Jesus is the same
All may change, but Jesus never.
Glory to His name

Songs of yesterday from yesteryear singing about one of the more esoteric essentially Easter passages. But it is at the end of the year, during this Advent 2016 season, that Emmaus is brought to mind. Two men on a seven mile journey. Not terribly far in today’s riptide world, but it’s a long walk. Having been in Jerusalem, part of a great movement that had infused hope into a hopeless people. Someone to call their own. Someone to heal. Someone to save. And then, political upheaval, a sudden betrayal, the death of all hope. Jesus has been crucified.

No need to admit defeat. No need to concede. It is obvious to all. You were wrong. And head hung in shame, you go home. Back to the place you came from. Could be from nowhere. Back to being nothing. Back to Emmaus.

As you are walking and venting, thankful for the companionship of fellows in misery, a third joins. After His departure, or vanishing, you realize. It was the Lord. All along. Here He was, walking with us. Taking this same miserable path. And He understood. He took the same steps, walked the same path.

And this is our strength for today, this is our confidence for the future. Our once and coming King. He walks with us and talks with us along life’s narrow way. He shall return. Come quickly, Lord.
#advent2016

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Advent 2016 – Fill My Cup

Fill my cup Lord. I lift it up Lord.
Come and quench this thirsting in my soul.
Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more
Fill my cup. I lift it up
Fill my cup and make me whole.

Advent is a time of waiting. Waiting and watching. In the here and now we have the privilege of knowing that the birth of the Saviour awaits. The four hundred years of dark nights before Jesus’ birth, were just that; dark nights. Not a sign that the God in Heaven was watching. Not a clue that He cared. And yet in a time of political turmoil and spiritual distress, there were some that hung on to the promises and the hope.

Many have likened our present day to the days of Daniel. And we remind ourselves that our God reigns. Why, yes, He does. He does reign. In times of joy as well as time of darkness. He reigns. But I think a more adequate comparison may be the years, months, days (it’s hard to get a good handle on four hundred) before the day when Jesus entered as a newborn babe into this dark world of sin. It is so much more than God in Heaven who reigns. It is God in Heaven who so loved the world and gave His only Son.

And now, as then, the Lord speaks and reveals Himself to individuals. Despite all the comforts, physical, spiritual, and otherwise, that I amy surround myself with, there is a desperate cry in my heart. Lord, I need You. How I need You. Fill my cup. And just as with the Christmas version of the Advent, there is hope. There is confidence. There is also the humility. David, as he fled from from his own son, aptly wrote, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psa. 34:18, NASB)

So I look to the advent of the Lord in my heart. And I look to His return to save a cynical generation and a downtrodden world. Come and quench this thirsting in my soul!

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Monte Mar

Around the time  I was graduating from college and matriculating into real life, a would be mentor suddenly asked me if I preferred oceans or mountains. Without hesitation I chose the ocean. The majesty of raging seas. The rhythm of the water. The mystery of the abyss.

I grew up a 5K from the Pacific. I didn’t go every single day. I didn’t watch sunsets end on end. But I did love the ocean. And I could sit under the hot sun and watch wave upon wave crashing, each in their own way, but the joining again as the water receded. I didn’t really like mountains. It reminded me of dirt, pine needles, musty cabins, and more dirt. Oh, and lots of mediocre camp food from all the camps that were in the mountains.

As I now revisit the ocean mountain choice (why is this even a choice?), I find that my answer may be different. In truth Yosemite changed my mind. There is beauty and grandeur in the mountains. There is running water and rocky outcroppings. And sky to be seen.

As it turns out there is some ancient Chinese proverb regarding the ocean mountain dilemma. People who are drawn to oceans tend to be wise. People who are drawn to mountains tend to be good and kind. I don’t profess to be wise. But I have always been an admirer of the ocean. Yet as we come to understand more and more of the natural world, oceans become a thing of terror. Depth without depth. Strong and out of control. Much like wisdom. It is not a thing to be understood. And more and more, I find myself drawn to the mountains. It is grand. It is strong. But yet there is a gentleness, a welcoming, that the ocean lacks.

And so perhaps in the end, kindness wins out. I would rather be the kind than live in fear of the wise. But wouldn’t it be great if we were both?

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Hazy Wanderings

My father was not a wandering Aramean. Nor was he nearly destroyed by one. Nevertheless, on this first night of the Passover, the trials of my father, and even more so my mother lie before me.

Their lives are much like the lives of my children. Children of the comfortable, and perhaps affluent. Destined to stability and fortune. A life paved by all that education, diligence, and pedigree could offer. And then the war arrived. And so begins the tale of trauma filled journeys, roads lined with the inept and the corrupt; a life of relearning the terrors of human nature. Arameans tried to rob us as well. And through all of this poetical nonsense, stability was once again discovered, roots deepened, families established. And in this, my siblings and I were raised to appreciate all that had gone on before us. And with every iteration of the past, we are reminded that it is a blessing that we did not have to pave these roads that we can now so comfortably walk on. And even in my tiny sibling world of six, some have suffered more, some have lived a life of ease to which other were not privy. And we are the ignorant and the blissful.

There is nothing new under the sun. As I sit pecking away on my nice laptop in the comforts of my bed, under my silk blankets, it is my children’s future that terrifies me. Because once again, as perhaps ancestors of the past did, I look and see war upon us. My kids will be torn from their life of stability. Their days of nerf battles, music lessons, fighting over the iPad, and all that restrains them from reality, will come to a bitter end.

And as my parents did, they may very well have to hit the reboot. They will determine for themselves what vision is. They will forge paths we did not know and are not comfortable with. They will be taunted for what they believe. They will be outcast for the visions of their parents. Will they stand? Will faith continue?

How do we prepare for that which we are unaware of? What I fear even more is the reality that we are aware. I am aware. But I’ve drunk the KoolAid. And there is a weird ennui, a lackadaisical quality to all of my anxiety. Any strategy or action is cut off at the knees.

Did my grandparents walk down this same road? I can’t help but wonder. Did they look and not see? Or seeing did they grieve? As they took another toke on their opium pipes, what did they understand through the haze?

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From Wii To Mii

So the other day I read a young person post on Facebook that said something to the effect of “every time I hang out with my friends we end up on Miitomo.”Along with a picture of young persons staring at their phones. Thanks to the world wide webs and the deluge of information available to me, I was instantly gratified in my quest of “what is Miitomo?”

Remember when Wii was a thing? Everyone lined up to get one. Costco was sold out. Prices were jacked up way high. I still have odd mental images of old people, young people, all people, just doing Wii type things. People holding little controllers in their hands and making odd motions while screaming at screens. Interestingly enough, it turned out to be a social thing. We could get together in groups of 4,3,2,1 and play together. We could drink our drinks and eat our snacks and chat our chats. It was a thing.

I don’t  know how much stock Gamestop or BestBuy keeps of the Wii. But it doesn’t seem to be getting much air time nowadays. But oh the places the Mii has gone. You probably already know this, but it’s an app. You create a Mii, an avatar, or really, a little cartoon picture of yourself. And your Mii sits in a room and answers questions that Nintendo will put to you. Others, friends perhaps, will come into your room, and they can read the responses you have posted. You will earn “coins.” Somehow.

Have you ever sat next to someone, say like, your husband, and texted him? Or maybe online chat? It’s funny. Or weird. Or death. I’m not sure which. But with the advent of Miitomo, you can now sit at a table with all your friends, and not say a word! Just wait for Nintendo to ask them questions, which, they shall answer. And you shall read. Just imagine the things you could learn about your friends. So many possibilities.

BUT WAIT!! Is this what we want? I take a certain pride in stating the obvious or being the last to notice, and really. Is this a thing? The death of social interaction? Or the advent of social interaction for the socially inactive?

Will these young folks be responsible for building the senior citizen home where I shall all too soon be carted off to? Will we never know the value of touch other than what is taught in furtive porn sessions or through plasticky keyboards? (I know, silicon is also available…)

Lord have mercy.

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Mellow Ramblings

When first we were married, the invisible lines of pecuniary boundaries led us to furnishing our house from Craigslist. That was some time ago and Craigslist wasn’t then what it is now. Nevertheless, we came home one day with a brand new used burgundy velvet couch.

It was my first purchase of second hand furniture. My mom responded to my enthusiasm with, “I hope the owners didn’t have skin disease.” Friends who visited commented on the unique choice of color. I loved it.

It’s one of those perfectly nap worthy couches with huge cushions that you sink into. The velvety upholstery does not leave rude impressions on your face.

But here’s the question. At some point, furniture gets old. And I’m not saying my beautiful burgundy velvet couch is old. Or getting too old. But as with all things, the furnishings that we have chosen to surround ourselves with comes to an end. (I feel like there is something perhaps deep buried in here.) What do we do with a couch if it can no longer serve it’s purpose of ultimate comfort? What about all the memories that are attached?

I sound like a bleeding heart liberal hell bent on saving and restoring furniture, and really I’m not. I spend hours on Houzz trying to figure out what might be a better match for my new Quietude wall, but I do kind of wonder. How does our mind store, catalogue, and sift through all the memories that are constantly being created, and constantly attaching themselves to everything around us?

Amazing isn’t it?

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Tuna + Corn.

There was a very short few days in my life spent eating canned tuna and canned corn for lunch. It was by choice. Kind of. Not really. I was new on a staff at a small Chinese church. The elder had two rambunctious twins. The church had a large pantry full of canned food. This, apparently was not quite a wonderful blend. As it turned out, the pantry was the scene of many an adventure. The one that I am remembering is that one time when they ripped all the labels off the cans.

Now we had a lot of nondescript cans. What was in them? Food was the obvious answer. The tuna cans were a bit more readily idenitifiable. Flat and small. Everything else looked kind of the same.

I didn’t want to throw them all out. I didn’t want to open them all at once. And so, there I was, little by little discovering the innards of things that looked more or less the same from the outside.

I wonder if people labels work the same way. If we took all the labels off would life be just a bit more interesting and adventurous? We would have to take the time to open up each and every person to find out just what was in there. We wouldn’t be able to make judgements based on our limited experiences in life. The periscope that we usually view the world through may just be no longer needed.

But then again, you have these labels, and then you know exactly what is inside. No guesswork need be involved. Don’t have to think to hard or spend to much time. Or do you?

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