Tuesday, May 30, 2006

more "Scribbles in the Sand"

from chapter one:
"God is beautiful. His beauty demands a response that is shaped by that beauty. And that is art." -- Card, p. 27

"The inspiration of art is a myth...which misreads the fact that art is worship into the fiction that art is humanity acting like God." -- Calvin Seerveld, p. 27

now that is something to chew on!!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Scribbling in the Sand by Michael Card

Have been reading a book the last couple of days that has some fresh and valuable insights about Christ and Creativity. I recommend it for all you artists out there! (and who isn't an artist, I want to know???)

Michael Card has always impressed me with his quiet, poetic and poignant insights into Jesus and Jesus' people. I'm especially moved by chapter 7 (that's how far I've gotten up to this point), "The Character of Creativity".

The author deals with "humility: the gift of hiddenness" (like Christ) and compares that with the cheap imitation of 'false humility'. good stuff, I tell you!

He also dives into the oh-so-popular topics of obedience and servanthood (more ways to be like Christ!). Card uses events like Jesus washing the disciples' feet and making them breakfast on the shore after his resurrection to demonstrate these qualities.

Here's a few of my favorite insights from the chapter:
p. 85 - "Though Jesus is the risen Lord of Glory, though he stands there with scars in his hands and feet and side, he is there to fix breakfast. He knows that they've been out all night, they haven't caught anything and they are hungry. And so he is there, their Servant Savior. He feeds them when they are hungry. He washes their dirty feet when they are tired. It is the shape of his life."

p. 85, a quote from Vincent Van Gogh - "The more I think it over the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people."

p. 86 - "The call to servanthood causes the creative gift to come alive. It gives it color and tone and direction and purpose. The art that naturally flows out of our obedient response to the call of God on our lives, as a result of the imprint of the creative mandate, can, by grace, become water to wash the feet of sisters and brothers, cold water to quench the thirst of an unbelieving world. To become servants of Christ is the highest goal we can aspire to in our creative work."

p. 86 - "To be meaningful, art must serve, must wash feet. Like Jesus, who has been called "the man for others", our art, to have meaning, must exist for others."

I'd love to hear your thoughts...


Thursday, May 25, 2006

do angels celebrate my salvation only once?

i'm just wondering that this morning, because i know the Bible says (my Daddy told me so) they had a party when I was 4 years old and I asked Jesus to come into my heart and let me go to Heaven with him. (my mother tells me i was quite miffed when i found out i had to wait to go, "I wanna go today!")

The reason i ask about the angels' celebration policy and procedure is because i think i got saved again on Tuesday -- in barnes and noble of all places.

here's what i told God in my prayer journal (while eating strawberries and lo-fat string cheese and hot vanilla tea)

"I am so sad about so many things today. I am sad that I have sinned so grievously and so foolishly so many times in my life. I have wasted so much love on other gods. I can barely stand up with the sorrow of it all. My idol shrines still tempt me, though -- they seem to have an audible voice into my mind -- calling me, tempting me with riches of comfort and friendship and numbness from pain and pity for my circumstances and a listening ear and no condemnation.

Intellectually, I realize their promises are all lies -- eventually. At first they do seem to provide what my heart is most longing for -- an instant gratification...comfort, pleasure, acceptance, pity, giddiness.

Intellectually, I realize these are counterfeits for what You, my Creator, has to offer. But many days - even many minutes of those days - You seem so remote, so hard to reach, (is that redundant?), so hard to feel & hear & touch.

I crave feedback, affirmation, acceptance, time and love and I know you offer that to me, but so often I feel like the cost You exact is too high -- too pricey. You seem to demand (i can actually envision a frowning face here) that I love people who are driving me crazy, and to die to my own rights and that I have to deny some of my favorite, familiar pleasures (pasta, even!)

Intellectually, I realize that You designed me and know what will truly bring me the greatest fulfillment and satisfaction but, God, I feel like we're playing a game. It goes like this:
1. I get burned by my other lovers
2. I seek You and Your truth and forgiveness
3. You reveal truth to me about who I really am and how You feel about me
4. I feel loved and strengthened and respond in worship
5. You ask me to step out in obedience in response to the Truth You revealed
6. I obey and get beat up in the battle, and I hate getting beat up!
7. I whine and lick my wounds and You seem quiet.
8. I get mad and go back to my old lovers
9. I get burned by my other lovers....
10. back to step 2

It's too painful.
It hurts too much.
It costs too much.

I have given up my ability to earn anything -- I've burned all of those bridges of self-performance. I am unable to exist by my own might. I am only any good by the power of Your Spirit, but I feel like Your Spirit is so hard to find, to hear, to recognize in the middle of all of the sh#@ around me.
Why can't you make yourself known to me? (can you hear the WHINE in my voice here???)

OOOOHHHH...I know why! Because every time You do I sin and build a golden calf.

I am a hopeless cause, Father. Please don't tease me with Your Glory. I want to KNOW your glory...please!

I have nothing to offer of any worth to anyone -- especially You, Father.

I ruin everything I touch with my arrogance
and unrealistic expectations
and inability to follow through on anything.
I am a plant with no roots
an ocean with no floor
an eagle with no nest
a girl with no lap to sit on.

(crank up the party mix -- here's where the salvation part starts)
Help me, God.
If You don't show up in my life soon and give me some legs to stand on I'm going to give up.
But I've got nothing to pay You back with, nothing to barter with, no assurances that I won't desert You again.
I can't seem to keep any promises or love anything more than my own sin or do anything of any lasting value without You.
God, I've got nothing.
God, are You there?? What do You think about this??

God: Tell me the sin you are feeling so guilty over

Tami: lack of love, lack of ability to discern good from evil, and, ummmm....my inability to lose weight or keep my house clean, or to stay in shape, or to spend quality time with my kids, or to provide refuge for my husband, or to earn money, or do anything of lasting value, or to take care of any details, or to be a good friend or to get over PMS, my inability to be a type "A" woman.

(the whining begins again) Why can't you fix that, God?? God?? (translation: Why can't you make an exception to Your rule and let me feel so good about myself that I don't feel like I need You for anything?!?!)

Oh, God, I'm sorry. Please have the last word.

God: No, Tami. The way this works is that you have to have the last word.
Do you trust me??

Tami: do I have a choice? (picture a sarcastic 16-year-old here)

God, the infinately patient: yes

Tami: alright, then, what's it going to cost me?

God, the not-swayed by my impunity: everything (you don't get specifics)

Tami, the whiner: That's so unfair!

God: Fair? May I remind you of Peter, Stephen, Paul, Mary, the nation of Israel, my own Son, Jesus? (now, gently) It's not about you, Tami -- it's about Me and My Name.

Tami, the trumped: I agree with you, God. I just stink at remembering that.

God: You're getting off point. Do you trust me?

Tami: (several hours later, driving home from B&N and other places, the answer comes in the form of a song I used to know years ago)
I will trust You, Lord, when I don't know why.
I will trust You, Lord, till the day I die.
You can see my heart, You can read my mind
and You've got to know that I'd rather die
than to lose the faith in the one I love.
I will trust You, Lord.

So I didn't walk an aisle or kneel at an altar or anything, but all of the ingredients seem to be in place:
*misery over (from?) my sin
*agreement that I can't heal myself and have nothing to offer
*agreement (though somewhat reluctant) that God is in charge and the only one able to bring wholeness
*repentance of trying to save myself (admittedly a little pouty, but still...)
*surrender of control from me to God no matter what...

Whaddya think? Celestial party or not??
anyway, it doesn't matter -- the peace of God restored in my heart is priceless.

Love to you!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

happy, happy, joy, joy for david

My friend David told me today that he was concerned about me because my blog posts sounded kind of sad and low. The truth is that it is kind of a victory for me to say things that are real even if they sound a little bit down. Since I used to believe that it was my responsibility to hold up the emotional state of every person I ever came in contact with (a really good case of the Messiah complex!) it is a big step for me to just be real and say things other people might not understand or even agree with.

And, David, this victory in my life makes me very, very happy and full, full of joy.

Thanks for your prayers for me, though, friend. I'll take those any time for any reason.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

lyrics for A New Law

here's the lyrics from Webb's site:

A New Law
(vs. 1)don’t teach me about politics and government
just tell me who to vote for
don’t teach me about truth and beauty
just label my music
don’t teach me how to live like a free man
just give me a new law
i don’t wanna know if the answers aren’t easy
so just bring it down from the mountain to me
i want a new law
i want a new law
gimme that new law
(vs. 2)
don’t teach me about moderation and liberty
i prefer a shot of grape juice
don’t teach me about loving my enemies
don’t teach me how to listen to the Spirit
just give me a new law
what’s the use in trading a law you can never keep
for one you can that cannot get you anything
do not be afraid
do not be afraid
do not be afraid

Monday, May 15, 2006

soap boxes and missed exits

Don't you hate it when you get trapped in small spaces with people who go on and on about some topic that you don't feel too passionate about but they seem intent on convincing you that said topic is the most important issue in the whole world?(i.e., people who discuss the evils of carbs over a dinner at Olive Garden)

True confessions here...I was that overzealous person to my sister this past weekend. We were in the closed quarters of my Montana mini-van coming home from Liberty U in Virginia (brother Ryan's graduation weekend). We were almost home and so, in my defense, I was experiencing some driver's fatigue, otherwise I would never behaved so obnoxiously, I'm sure. Kaley had been reading my copy of "Searching for God Knows What" by Don Miller since near Mechanicsburg, PA. Somehow we never actually started discussing the book until about New Milford. It's her fault, really, but she made a few harmless comments about the danger of relativism in his book and I never stopped replying until I had driven past not one, but both of the possible exits I could have taken to get home.

So I'm out of the closet now... my current soap box is the fine line between postmodern relativist thinking and the old-school, suffocating, GARBC, longskirt and short hair, anti-Catholic/Methodist/Lutheran/Pentecostal, pro-KJVONLY legalism I was exposed to during my growing up years.

Now I realize there is a big ditch on either side of these issues, but I can't help but believe that the church has a really, really, really (did I say really?) long way to go before we even get close to erring on the side of relativism, know what I'm sayin???

Unfortunately (especially for Kaley), I am more skilled at this point at climbing onto the soap box than I am in making any sense while I'm up there and for that, my sister has my continued apologies. However, as has been a major theme in my life, I have found a work of art that says exactly what I was trying to say while speeding past the Conklin/Kirkwood exit on Sunday.

I encourage you to check it out...and feel free to enjoy some pasta while watching! http://www.twotp.com/index.php5?ct=store.details&pid=V00044 (it's my new friend Derek Webb again...click on the play button on the video and turn up the volume so you don't miss a single lyric)

Gotta get back to Jack Bauer (go Aaron Pierce!)
Much love to you all,

Thursday, May 11, 2006

frustrated with Gomer

To put it bluntly -- I could do without church.

Ya know what I mean? I mean most of the biggest, most painful wounds in my entire life have come from trying to function in a church. I wish that everyone could just all get along and turn into the infamous Acts 2 congregation without all of the discussion and prayer and work and failing. You've gotta know what I mean. (please tell me you do!)

But somehow I keep coming back. Every Monday I quit church and by every Wednesday or so I can't wait to go back. (I don't mean the building neccessarily...I mean the community). Recently God has put His finger on the areas in my heart that are still angry and hard and critical and untrusting when it comes to church -- specifically church people -- (especially those leader-types).

God used a group of women in my Cross Current group to kindly speak truth to me and for me in prayer on this issue. I know God has brought freedom already. I feel lighter. And I liked church by Tuesday this week!

Still, I'm a word-picture person. I was needing a way to settle this feeling into words. I was reading "Searching for God Knows What" by Donald Miller (great, great author, by the way!) and found this paragraph on the very bottom of page 212:

"Religion is a big, beautiful, ugly thing. I read recently where Augustine said, 'The church is a whore and it is my mother.' And for reasons I don't understand, Jesus loves the church. And I suppose He loves the church with the same strength of character He displays in His love for me. Sometimes it is difficult to know which is the greater miracle."

And the light turns on.... If I have been Gomer and I am part of the Bride of Christ then we all fail like Gomer and God wants to teach me how to love His Bride as Hosea loved Gomer, as Christ loves the Church. I have known this mostly in an intellectual, good-girl kind of way. I am asking God to rekindle a pure, wild-woman kind of love for His Bride.

In the words of another Derek Webb song, "If you love Me, you will love my church." Let it be so, Father.

Much love to you,
ps. when I read the book of Hosea, I can almost hear God pacing back and forth and throwing His hands up in the air in anger and hurt from His Lover. But, because He is God, He can't resist going back and loving His Bride again and again. Amazing love....

lessons from Hosea the lover

I have always been facinated by the prophet Hosea. What woman wouldn't be facinated by a man who loved so selflessly and relentlessly...makes my heart beat faster just thinking about it! A few years ago, God made the story of Hosea and Gomer very personal and real to me. I could see how many times I had behaved the whore toward God and He had fiercely pursued me with his love -- making me loveable because of His holiness. Amazing love...

My sister Alicia introduced me to an album by Derek Webb about a year ago. The lyrics from one song took me back immediately to Hosea:
"If you could love me as a wife
And for my wedding gift, your life
Should that be all I'll ever need?
Or is there more I'm looking for
And should I read between the lines
And look for blessings in disguise
To make me handsome, rich and wise
Is that really what you want?
'Cause I am a whore I do confess
But I put you on just like a wedding dress
And I run down the aisle, I run down the aisle
I'm a prodigal with no way home
but I put you on just like a ring of gold
And I run down the aisle
I run down the aisle to you.....

So, God gave me grace to confess my Gomer ways and accept His Hosea love.
Now, He's taking that story and asking me to see it from a new perspective. He's asking me to become a Hosea lover. And the whore? His bride, the church.

Have to go to work...will post again to finish this thought....

Saturday, May 06, 2006

I'm joining the blogosphere!

I realize that this may be the most narcissistic thing I have ever done in my life, but I can't stay away...I HAVE TO BLOG!! : )

My title? The name my parents gave me, "Tamara", is Hebrew for palm branch. Naming me and reminding me of my name was a gift from my parents that I am most grateful for. They called me their 'palm branch raised to Jesus'. I love that picture.

My tagline? A quote from a woman whom I admire and respect for her joyful abandon in worship, Darlene Zschech. She put words to the feeling in my heart and my desire is to live those words out loud in my pursuit of God.

My love to you,
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