Wednesday, December 31, 2008


I am becoming more and more startlingly aware that I am unable to change myself. Thus, I am increasingly aware that I cannot save myself. I am often stunned by the ease with which I turn my eyes to other places even though I know where Life lives. And unless the Lord God delivers me, I will be a shadow in a vast sea of shadows. My life will be lived utterly blind to His awesome presence always drawn away to various shiny objects that in the end are a lie and an illusion their only glory a momentary flash reflected off a glass wall.

Yes, unless He comes and rescues me, I am without hope. Today, He told me, "I am the good shepherd." Does he not leave the flock to go after the one who has lost her way? My confidence is that He will and that I will once again be swept away.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Guest post from Carol Clarke

Growing older is on my mind, as my 65Th is approaching. I used to wonder would I make it to 60 because my Mother and her Mother both died before they turned 60. That was before I knew the truth.

Psalm 139:16 says, "You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your Book!" I wish someone had told me that when I was younger. This verse gave great comfort after our 22 yr.old son was killed while duck hunting on Dec. 7, 1995. It took a while to accept that a strong, handsome, gentle Christian young man was ordained by the Lord to go live in Heaven after being shot in the back of his head. Then several of his friends reminded me he doesn't remember anything sad or bad when he woke up in Heaven. He is more alive than any ever. His life continues to be remembered by everyone who knew Philip and he will always be in our hearts. His brothers gave him a very loving memorial service sharing how much they all loved him. Also having his three brothers & their wives & five grandchildren gives a lot of joy to my husband & me. And the fact that all of them are Christians & solid citizens who have strong Christian values & Godly integrity brings immense satisfaction.

I may make it to 100 or 80 or less but regardless it is already recorded in "God's Book" and I have great peace that passes understanding that only a relationship with Jesus Christ gives me. So I am ready to live and ready to die the moment Jesus comes for me as Philip was and in the mean time I live with eternity in view. Oct. 30 would be Philip's 35Th birthday and I know he is with Jesus every day and they have joy beyond any we know here. I thank God every day for my adult children and for the way they have grown up so well.

CMC (Craig's mom)

Friday, October 10, 2008


In the haze of the day the mercy and grace of God seeps in and I am once again aware of the massive, and unfathomable presence of Christ in my life.
Here, today in the midst of the material, solid mass of shiny things innumerable ever present to catch my attention each second lives Jesus. Right here, now.
May I have the presence of mind in the moment that exists to turn all my thoughts to Him who has unleashed a wondrous wave of all that has meaning and all that is lasting in my life.

Friday, August 08, 2008

God's thumbnail sketches.....

Driving home from walking a client's dog this morning I was thinking about how fall-like the temperature is for August. The sky was so clear and the colors of the trees so vibrant. Fall is my absolute favorite time of year and I literally count the days to it's arrival. As I was driving and meditating over my love affair with the outdoors, 1 Corinthians 2:9 came to my mind:

"Things which the eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him."

I conjunction with a new painting I have been mulling over Romans 8, particularly verse 22:

"For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now."

I usually think of Jesus' words about mansions when I think of the Corinthians verses, but today these and the Romans verse remind me of a new heaven and a new earth spoken of by Peter and Isaiah.

I am stunned by the reality that as beautiful as the creation is, as wonderful as all that we can see is, there will be a time when God recreates the whole thing in a way that we can never even imagine. And it is true, because I cannot imagine a day more beautiful than this morning and sights more amazing than the Canadian Rockies or the Grand Canyon. Yet the Romans verse reminds me that even in all it's glory, we still see the corruption, the groaning of the created underneath the beauty. I suppose those perfect glimpses as wondrous and momentary a they are may be God's gift of a small thumbnail sketch of what is to come.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The wisdom of Rich Mullins....

I am about to turn 40 in a few weeks...which is totally bizarre. I feel like I am 25. While cooling off from a morning run, I reached for my book of Rich Mullin's writings and this is what I read from 1995.

These words are SO very true, so all of you teen and twenty somethings read it TWICE.

"By the time you get this issue of RELEASE and read (if you do read) this little essay of mine, I will have celebrated my fortieth birthday. In my mid to late twenties I had some romantic, highly exaggerated notions about an early death - taking off at 33 - joining the company of Mozart, Foster, Jesus and other immortals who checked out in their early thirties. But this was a party I didn't get an invitation to - a gang I didn't belong in (me not being a genius and all). So, in Chicago I had my own party - celebrating the fun of being alive as opposed to the mystique of having an untimely death.

Because it's better to be alive than to be dead - that's for sure. And believe it or not - there are certain advantages in being 40 over being 18. Of course, there are certain disadvantages too, but - in keeping with the spirit of the 90's, I don't mind viewing those "disadvantages" as "challenges." Paul, I think had the perfect take on the pluses and minuses of life and death - "to live is Christ, to die is gain," so, that having been settled, I have made out a list of credits and debits about being younger and older - an issue that didn't seem as large or confused in the first century as it does at the end of the 20th:

At 18, if you have oversized aspirations, the whole world sees you as a dreamer. At 40, you get a reputation for being a visionary. (this is absolutely the truth in my life....TC)

At 18, if you've thrown in the towel, you're called a loser. At 40, you're called down-to-earth, a realist.

At 18, if you play in the rain or howl at the moon, if you paint or invent or compose songs or poems, you're accused of being childish. At 40, you are praised for being childlike.

At 18, time fits you like a pair of pants big enough to swim in. At 40, time fits so tight you can't button it's collar.

At 18, your sails are full. At 40, your rudder runs deep.

At 18, people misjudge your character flaws as being mere bad habits that they might change. At 40, people misjudge every bad habit as being the mark of weak character and they either dismiss you as being a lesson in reprobation or just accept you as a friend. Anyway, you graduate from being a missionary project into being either a lost cause or one of the gang.

At 18, no one knows as much as you. At 40, you begin to understand the wisdom of Solomon in his saying:
"Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise - why destroy yourself? Do not be overwicked and do not be a fool - why die before your time? It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all extremes." - Ecclesiastes 7:16-18.

So, stay alive. "A living dog is better than a dead lion" - and HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ALL OF YOU FROM ME."

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Pressure Washers meant it for Evil but God meant it for Good

For the last several weeks, a pair of barn swallows have been tirelessly building a mud nest on one of the fire sprinklers in the breezeway outside my door. Over the days Craig and I have watched that nest build a little at a time as these tiny birds bring tiny bits of mud and twigs and make their nest. Last week for several days the female was nesting, resting quietly in her work and I suppose waiting for the next step.
Last Friday the building was pressure washed and the nest was cruelly sprayed away in a matter of seconds. I watched the pair fly around the site and through the breezeway for a few days searching desperately for their nest. They seemed confused and I was certain that in a few days they would be gone. I wondered whether they missed the window of opportunity to mate and lay eggs. After all, this all seems to be a delicate process easily thrown out of balance.
Within a day those two little birds began again. From the first little blob of mud, they started over doing what they were made to do. The Lord put in them the desire to build a nest and the ability to do it, yet when all their hard work literally turned to a mud puddle, they began again.
I often feel confused after a seeming failure and I am tempted to give up completely. Even to doubt my call. But I know what the Lord has made me to do, what He has taught me to do and what He has called me to do. And when it appears to my eyes like all has been for nothing, I must start again, and again. I know this lesson is for me....God help me to remember it when the pressure washers show up.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

For now we see through a glass darkly....

That glass can be so very dark at times. Even in the day to the place of waiting, not just in the times of trial. I wear those glasses well, and it seems a rare thing when I get a momentary glimpse of God's glory, a flash of Him as He really is without my distorted vision and it as gone. I return to my limited sight which can be disheartening. As long as I am in this flesh will I always debase Him? Will I allow the wounds of the past to define Him? Can I not for one moment as the Message puts it "stick it out with Him for one hour?"

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Being an integrated person, meaning a genuine bond between body and mind, I struggle a lot with thoughts of a rift in my spiritual life if I don't feel great physically or emotionally.
I am there this week. The depression, my old friend who has been calling on and off since I can remember, visits again this week and seemingly in a new and "improved" force. It is a battle to remember that all is well in the unseen even though it is rocky in the seen and felt. I wonder if I will EVER learn this truth. It takes a very conscious effort to stay on the truth in this place. When the apathy sets in like concrete every arrow imaginable lets loose.

I was supposed to meet my mom in Atlanta today to spend few days with my sister and her kids. Mom is sick, so the trip is postponed. I think was are all sad about it, particularly the kids. They have experienced a lot of disappointment in the last few years, so it is painful for me to think of more disappointment for them.

I woke up with Ayiesha Woods' song "Big Enough" in my head, turned on the radio and it was playing......ended up at 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 somehow through a rather frustrating prayer time.
These wondrous ways that God speaks to me.....reminding me again, and again, and again with such patience.

"You turned water into wine - how extraordinary
Gave sight to the blind - and still I carry My own load
when you told me To take your yoke ‘cause yours is easy
And even though my issues seem trivial
You alone are never too imperial
It's just the way that you love me
It's enough to convince me

And I don't wanna box you in
You've been doing big things since the world began
Sometimes I just don't wanna believe
That you're big enough - but you're big enough yeah!
I don't wanna box you in
You've been doing big things since the world began
Sometimes I just don't understand that you're big enough
But you're big enough Jesus!

You turned darkness into light - keep my lamp burning
And you are my everything
There's no denying, your love is so amazing
And even though my problems seem typical
Nothing for you is ever too difficult
You never have reservations - love without limitations

And I don't wanna box you in
You've been doing big things since the world began
Sometimes I just don't wanna believe
That you're big enough - but you're big enough yeah!
And I don't wanna box you in
You've been doing big things since the world began
Sometimes I just don't understand
That you're big enough - but you're big enough

Oh, no matter how I try to get around it - I'm reminded
Wherever I go I'm totally surrounded
It's all about you - I can never doubt you
Even if I wanted to…..."

Friday, April 11, 2008

I don't think this organized religion thing is working out...........

I am meditating a lot on the essential mix of grace and truth in these weeks. I see a serious lack of one or the other in the church, in myself........

In our quest to be correct, to be right, to mark off our checklist we become the very pharisees we claim to hate.

I have been praying to see the gospel and understand it in its pristine form.

Friday, February 01, 2008

"Be God's......"

We like to be needed. Some of us need to be needed. Many of us believe that God needs us.

I like to be productive. I come by it naturally. Yet in this first month of 2008 I have found my productivity to be driven by guilt. Most of you are familiar with this low grade guilt when you haven't done enough, said enough, produced enough, learned enough. I understand that we were created to do work, serve and learn and that these are good things in balance, yet we were also created to eat, to sleep, to have fun and have reltionships. These are all wonderful yet I have a bent to go to the extreme with all of them. Some is not enough until I find I am swinging way to the left or right on any one of these good things. Extremes come naturally to all of us in our quest to fill ourselves up with anything other than the Lord.

God came to me in the attic of an old rental house in Decatur Georga. It was there that I was saved. I went to the nearest church and told the pastor and for the next few years attended that little church. And though there were wonderful things about it I still struggle with the echos of the "main theme" of that denomination: getting busy for God. I moved on to another denomination whose main them is having God all figured out. Both of these themes are like a feast to the my flesh and they all serve to distract me from our relationship with Jesus on subtle ways. Notice how much more spiritual we think people are who do a lot for God and know a lot about God. It is an illusion. In our over extended, over informed western church our relationships with God are quite shallow. I am not saying that service and theology are not important, yet I should ask myself if these are quietly replacing intimacy with God.

I have been praying about what God wants me to do in 2008. Agonizing over it, really. I realized I have been responding to the two messages planted in me by well meaning organizations, even traditions of man. How much is enough? How much prayer and bible study is enough? How many good works are enough? How much service is enough? How much theology is enough?When am I so bloated from the information and activities that I have gained and checked off that I have forgotten what it means to love God. To love others. I heard someone say that looking like the world used to be about drinking, dancing and swearing. These days the way the church looks like the world is by being busy. I absolutely agree.

I am once again looking very closely at 1 corinthinans 13, as it God brings it to my attention repeatedly. Once again looking at the greatest commandment and seeing again my lack of love for God and for others. Back to the beginning I return to start over. And the words of Rich Mullins speak so clearly to me: "Be God's."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

God's snowstorm

taken after I got in from my run.....

I have heard many times God's grace described as infinite and abounding and His love as vast and immeasurable. Today I got a concrete real time image of those truth.

When I started my run today is was partly cloudy, cold and we were expecting some snow flurries sometime this afternoon. About ten minutes into my run the wind began to whip and I saw in the distance this massive cluster of dark clouds. I have run in all sorts of weather so I wasn't alarmed nor did it deter me and send me running home. Then I began to see like snowflakes, then more and still more until is was running in a snowstorm. It occurred to me that THIS is like the grace and love of God. A million tiny pieces of light, of grace and love surrounding me from every direction. It seemed the Lord was saying "This is how many times I have loved you. This is the abundance of my grace to you. " It was such a powerful image and lesson.

Though I came home covered in snow and wet and I am certain people thought I was out of my mind I am so glad I stuck it out. It is amazing where God will meet us and I am learning it is everywhere......

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Did I forget tell you that He loved lilies?

As an artist I often struggle with the validity of my work. In the grand scheme of the Kingdom and in this present world the work seems so inconsequential and impractical. I wonder how God can be even remotely interested in what I create. People are starving, suffering greatly the world over. And even in our comfortable and abundant western lives we only have to turn on the news or even just look at the people we know to see the immensity of what it means to live in a fallen world. I am overwhelmed by that reality today.

So I wonder......and then I read something by Rich Mullins this afternoon. He was reflecting on the Sermon on the Mount specifically the lilies of the field, the sparrows and God's provision. My usual way of reading this passage is of course from the lens of just that: God's provision. Yet, Rich begins his writing with "Did I forget to tell you that He loved lilies?" This is an unusual way to think about his passage, but the word is alive.....

God is not practical (remember the vial of perfume?)It is not practical to so clothe the grasses which are here today and gone tomorrow. If fact I might consider it a waste of God's energy. Yet, He has taken the time to do such a thing to reveal to us just how vast His interest is in ALL things concerning creation. And how many sparrows are there in the world? He feeds them and as a matter of fact He knows when the life of one is over.

I am so aware today just how dim the glass is and how distorted my vision is when I see Him. He gives us these fleeting glimpses like a sparkle in our peripheral vision that is gone in an instant. Who is this God?!!! How is it possible that He can show such care for such things??!! The grasses and sparrows are not practical yet they are a grand display of the Lord's beautifully extravagant, intimate care.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

You are not alone

I am always in awe every moment that I suddenly become aware of the presence of the Lord here and now even in my mundane work. As soon as my eyes open in the morning I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit like another person in the room though unseen. It is hard to put into words......
Of course this is the truth of John 14:16 - 21 in real concrete life.

16"I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;

17that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

18"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

19"After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.

20"In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.

21"He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him."

How amazing it is that he Lord of Glory chooses to live with and in me at every moment in every task. Because of this precious gift we live always before Him. Our day to day lives are a miraculous intimate communion with the Lord who made all thing and holds all things together by the power of His being. I am completely in awe of that truth today and it shakes me out of my complacency and gives me great comfort....even while vacuuming.