Category Archives: Thoughts

Getting What We Want

I have been haunted by a theme that runs through the Chronicle of Narnia series: that in the end we get what we want. Over and over through the series the characters are confronted with the end result of what they desire.

The self-centered and gutless uncle in The Magician’s Nephew got what he wanted…himself. He was so focused on satisfying his own desires and evil curiosities that by the end of the book, all he could see and understand was himself. The words of the talking animals were incomprehensible. He was cut off from their fellowship, all the while convinced the world was going insane but certainly not himself.

The witch hungered after the eternal youth and power found in the beautiful apples of Aslan’s garden, and succeeded in stealing and tasting the succulent fruit, only to discover the horror of living with the bitterness and hate of her act ever after.

In The Last Battle, the dwarfs tire of being pulled between the battle of good and evil and finally decide to retreat into themselves. They chant “The dwarfs are for the dwarfs” repeatedly until that is all they see…themselves. Like the uncle, they can no longer see or hear anything else around them. Conversely, the characters desiring Truth and Beauty, found in Aslan, are rewarded with the joy of being in his presence forever.

This thought has caused me much introspection. What do I want? I have found myself praying to Jesus to please not give me what I want. Or at least please change my desires. I fear I desire Him too little. I fear that I may end up getting what I want. I can easily turn this fear into a horror movie…I am standing in heaven, there are millions of enraptured worshipers around me and someone comes and places a big mirror in front of me. It is too heavy for me to move and I am sentenced to look at my own reflection instead of gazing upon the beauty of the Lord. Who could stand it?

My source of great comfort is that Jesus knows our nature. He knows that I am not wise or faithful enough to know what I need. I am grateful that Jesus taught us to pray “Thy will be done.” He wouldn’t have left us with that prayer if we were not in need of fine tuning our desires.

I think that I am getting to a new stage where I am starting to sense the dis-harmony between what I want and what the Lord wills. It is sort of like striking two dischordant notes. Let me back up a little and explain. I usually operate on two levels. On one level I am a jumble of mixed up desires…with the prevailing desire to please myself. On another level, I know that the Lord is good and that His will is good, so I earnestly pray for His will. It was easy to leave it at that, being satisfied that in the end, His will would triumph my puny little desires. This isn’t working anymore. It’s becoming increasingly uncomfortable in my soul. I can sense how against His will my desires and actions so often are. I am just realizing as I write this that this should be a praise! He has heard my prayers to not give me what I want and ignorance of my own sinful desires must have been top on my list.

“Fear not,” Jesus had to repeat over and over. I will rest not in my version of a horror film, but in the words found in my favorite Psalm, the 27th:

One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple.

Leave a comment

Filed under Giving Thanks, Great Books, His Banner over Me, Thoughts

Good, but Violent

For those of you who know my second daughter, our 5 y/o thirdborn, you’ll know that she is the “quiet” one of the family. She is mostly content to listen and observe. Like most people who share that trait, when she does choose to talk, it is usually a zinger. Something that makes you think. Or at least it should.

She very casually said to me yesterday, “Mama, you’re good, but you’re violent.” That was it, no further explanation. I paused a moment, and said to her, “Yes, that’s very possibly true.” What made the comment more intriguing was that at that moment, I was sitting on my bed reading a book and she was cozied up in a chair, also subdued.

How much truth was packed in that statement! That very day I had taken part of the Palm Sunday liturgy where Luke’s Passion story is read aloud with assigned parts and the congregation shouts out “Crucify! Crucify!” Oh, yes, my child, I am indeed very violent.

Over the past few weeks of Lent, I have spent some time thinking about my very sins that have caused great violence upon an innocent. I am only beginning to scratch the surface of my very violent nature against my very Holy God. What seemed so timely about her statement was that I have spent much of my Christian life “tidying” up my sins, making them what I thought was more palatable to God. I had confused what it meant to be saved and what Paul meant when he said that we are still being saved. I still have a war going on in my body. I am now trying to name my sins in truth, not what I am more comfortable with.

A few weeks earlier I might have been a little jarred by her words. “What is she saying? Does she even know what the word violent really means?” I would have tried to talk her out of what she said. But yesterday, it just seemed to fit into my thoughts perfectly. While my 5 year old probably had spanking in mind, I was delving a little deeper. Every time I rebel, deny my Lord, ignore His urgings, am cross with my family, argue my point too vociferously, pass by the hungry, or even bludgeon my spouse with silence, I am raging against the demands God makes on my life. I am furious with Him for intruding into my life. To make matters worse, I am furious with Him when He doesn’t appear to be intruding enough in my life. It doesn’t matter how great or small my sin is, the end result is violence.

Thankfully, there is also within my soul His banner, shouting gloriously “Good, Good, Lord of All, you are Good!” His life, His light in me is good. I can taste it, I can feel it, I would die without it. He is winning me over completely to goodness, but the battle is long and the battle is bloody. One day, I will be good, wholly, but for now, alas, my daughter was right.

1 Comment

Filed under Babies & Kids, Giving Thanks, His Banner over Me, Thoughts

More than You Ever Wanted to Know about Vultures

Amazing how you find yourself doing things for your kids you never thought you’d do.

Yesterday, I found myself throwing my laundry basket over a stunned turkey vulture in our yard. Yep. Commonly known as a buzzard. Bald, red head. Big.

I also found myself becoming genuinely concerned for the little guy (or gal) as the day passed. I’ll digress for a moment. My son is bird lover and for the past few months we have immersed ourselves in learning about birds. If you ever get a chance to see The Life of Birds series, a BBC production, do it! It is hosted by the charming, elderly David Attenborough. You will find yourself absolutely stunned by God’s providence for the birds. His careful attention to the tiny but crucial details in a bird’s life will make you realize how big His hand is in ours. Truly, “His eye is on the sparrow…” So, after a few months of study, I too have become hooked on birds.

Now, back to Viking. (So named by my son.) We really didn’t think Viking was going to live. When we found him, his eyes were closed and he alternated between quivering and lying stone still. After placing the basket over him to protect him from any passing cats or dogs, we left the house for a few hours. When we came home, my son excitedly reported he was standing up with his eyes open. “And someone fed him some raw meat!” Huh? I walked over to Viking and thought surely my son was wrong about the health report. Flies were buzzing all around the basket. A vile stench permeated the air. But, sure enough, there was a bright eyeball looking at me through the basket. A little pile of something vaguely raw meatish was at his feet.

Okay, time to check this bird out. No, I did not lift the basket. Instead, I ran to the computer and found this nifty little site: The Vulture Society. Yes, my first thought was “A Vulture Society? I guess there is a society for everything.” But after reading about the lowly vulture, I really appreciate the little guys. They are clean birds. Their digestive juices are so acidic that their excretions are actually sanitizing. They excrete on their own legs to clean off the bacteria picked up from standing on carrion. Their heads, which necessarily have to poke and prod decaying flesh, are featherless, helping to again resist bacteria. They can soar without flapping for 6 hours. And, of course, they clean up the countryside of dead animals.

Why did ours stink so bad? One of their only defenses is to vomit up partially digested meat. This would send just about anybody packing.

When Viking started to move the basket around and stick his beak through the slats, trying to get out, I walked over to him to lift the basket. He hissed. I backed away. Hmmm, do vultures attack when scared? I hadn’t thought about that when I threw the basket over him.

Time to ask an expert. We found the phone number online of a rescuer. She instructed me to lift the basket from his backside and back away quickly. Yes ma’am. I’ll do that. Leaving my kids inside, armed with the cell phone, I feigned nonchalance and walked over to the basket (my kids were watching!), picked up a long stick, lifted the basket, and quickly backed up.

He didn’t move.

My “vicious” vulture sat there quietly and I was afraid that he was sick after all. I walked back inside, feeling quite like the wildlife rescuer in spite of my fear that things were not going to go too well. We watched him and over the hour, he began preening, stretching his wings, and finally, he flew home to the colony perched in the tall palms lining my street. We all cheered.

My son spent the evening watching the vultures soar above our yard. He was sure that Viking was rocking his wings in thanks. I love happy endings.

2 Comments

Filed under Babies & Kids, Giving Thanks, Homeschooling, Thoughts

Wow, this is so much better!

Our family is notoriously slow to acquire the latest technology. It took us YEARS to buy a CD player and we stubbornly held onto our VCR tapes until the movie stores removed that option. It is not that we don’t like change, but I think there is a surprisingly thrifty streak in us. Why throw out perfectly good cassette tapes, or buy repeats of movies we already own? My home phone was perfectly capable of handling calls and my answering machine never failed to take a message, why pay for a cell phone?

Eventually, even techno-grumblers have to give in. We finally succumbed to cell phones and I’ll admit it…I love it. The ultimate in convenience. But that doesn’t mean I have to like paying the bill, though.

That is why I was thrilled when our cable company offered us digital internet at the same price as our old dial-up. Ha! It paid to hold out! I can hear my family rejoice now (“Yea, no more busy signals!”) And, really, this is so much better. I feel so efficient now…I can listen to great music for free, watch videos, catch up on you-tube wonders, and best of all blog in half the time!

At installation, the cable tech could not believe that I was still using a Windows 98 computer. “What?? But we just bought this in, what was it now? 2000? Wasn’t that just yesterday? It cost a whole bunch…. ” Grumble, grumble. I know I’ll have to give again soon. I currently can’t hook up my printer and my mouse at the same time. And I’m getting a little tired of reaching around the dusty box in the dark, stabbing at little holes that are almost out of reach, knowing if I pull the box out just a little too much…POOF…there goes the power cord. Gee whiz…what I’ll do to save a buck.

5 Comments

Filed under Thoughts, Words and Writing

Blogging, Quicksand, and a Bubble Bath

I think that I must have subconsciously chosen a fast from blogging for Lent, because since it has begun, I’ve logged on once to post. Once. And I haven’t even lurked around on my favorite sites, either.

Being away nine days plus another out-of-town soccer tournament weekend in March has made for one busy mama. How do you recover from all those extra husband-rich days (i.e. weekend) away from laundry catch-up, grocery shopping, and lesson planning? They say that women are better multi-taskers than men, but I think that my multi-tasking neurons never connected. I am one of those who deeply concentrates on one thing at a time, and it’s usually my own thoughts, so I can be pretty unproductive outside my noggin. Add disorder and playing catch-up to my one track mind and I can easily feel like I am trying to climb out of quicksand.

All of these days away from my computer has made me think about how I use my time. Spring sports have begun and I have less free time now than when I first began blogging in the lull between fall and spring sports. I know that there are busier moms than me who find time to blog, lesson plan, clean, cook, etc. If I can discipline myself to schedule a thirty minute time block to blog, and stick to it, I would still be able to write and read other blogs a little. I like to think of blogging as my mental organization time, akin to untangling colored thread in a well-used sewing box. But it’s not all verbal housekeeping. It is also a little like taking a mental bubble bath as well.

Like busy mamas everywhere, I just hope that I can squeeze in a relaxing ‘soak in the tub’ from time to time.

1 Comment

Filed under Thoughts, Words and Writing

“We’re baa-aack!”

Whew!  I’ve been gone nine whole days!  First, we left town for my daughter’s soccer tournament last weekend, took advantage of the San Antonio Zoo on Monday, the McNay Art Museum on Tuesday, and my husband and I (with the baby) just HAD to spend 3 nights in Corpus Christi for a church council meeting (very rough, I’ll admit.)  We finished off yesterday celebrating my grandfather’s 93rd birthday.   It was a great week (plus) but, as the saying goes:

There’s no place like home.

 Must go unpack and deal with my mountain of laundry.

1 Comment

Filed under Thoughts

Some really great music

For years, my friends have had to listen to me complain about contemporary Christian music. Much of the time, it’s SO CHEESY. I can’t stand about 95% of it. This gets me some raised eyebrowns from time to time, as if to say “Is she really a Christian? How can she say that?”

But, really, have you listened to it closely? Why do Christians have to dumb down our music? To hear singers re-create a Brittney Spears sound and somehow “sanctify” it by the lyrics just doesn’t work for me. Quality and beauty should be a major goal of any artist, and as Christians, we should never forget it.

Last year, a musician, Nathan Clark George, appeared in town for a couple of small church concerts and I bought a few CDs. I loved his music. He categorizes himself as an acoustic/folk artist. The thing I love about his music is that it is real. He writes about all of life from a Christian worldview and let’s it be that. He doesn’t try for a “Christian” song…they just are because that is who he is.

The guitar, mandolin, violin, fiddle, and cello playing on his Slam the Door CD are phenomenal. My favorite song is “Feels so Foreign.” Besides the soulful violin playing, I like how the lyrics are an honest struggle with Scripture. He knows that the Word is true but the thought of not being married still to his wife in heaven makes heaven “feel so foreign” to him. I love the authenticity.

Check out his website and listen to a few of his songs. You can also listen and rate one of his Scripture songs on the indieheaven site. If you’re like me and cringe from Christian radio , or even if you love Christian radio but appreciate an acoustic/folk sound, you won’t be disappointed.

6 Comments

Filed under Music, Thoughts, Uncategorized