Waiting & Longing

Thomas a Kempis wrote, “Wait a little while, O my soul, wait for the divine promise, and thou shalt have abundance of all good things in heaven.”

Have you noticed?  We’re expanded by longing.  Something grows in us as we focus heart, mind, soul and will Homeward.  Romans 8:24-25 says: “That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother.  We are enlarged in the waiting.  We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us.  But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” (The Message.)

As pastor and author Rick Warren writes, “In order to keep us from becoming too attached to earth, God allows us to feel a significant amount of discontent and dissatisfaction in life – longings that will never be fulfilled on this side of eternity.”

We’re not completely happy here because we’re not supposed to be!   We forget that for believers, earth isn’t our final home.  We were redeemed for something much better!

Waiting and longing.  Neither is easy.  But there can be a “sweet pain” in both if we let them draw our hearts toward Home.

Shared by: Kristine, professional mom, blogger, author, homeschooler, humorist, and chief wrangler at the ‘ole “testosterone farm.”

Exploring the delightful, sometimes dangerous and always mysterious realm of Christian womanhood: http://www.HEvencense.wordpress.com

You’ll Be Home, Part 2 of 2

Curious verb choice, isn’t it?  Was.  Not is.  Past tense.  After all, these men had hoped that Jesus would redeem Israel, deliver her from under the heavy boot of Rome.  But now it’s too late.  Jesus is dead.  Buried in that borrowed crypt.  Sure, some women claimed they’d been to Jesus’ tomb and found it empty, but they were clearly a cup and a saucer short of a place setting.

What was Jesus thinking?  Did he smile?  Suppress a grin?  Nope.  He proclaims this teary twosome “foolish” and “slow of heart to believe.” (verse 25)  Then he gives them a refresher course in Moses and the Prophets 101.

Incredibly, they still don’t get it.  (Ah, the benefit of 2000/2000 hindsight!)  As the trio approaches a village, Jesus acts as if he’s going further.  They urge him to stay the night with them, which he does.  Can you imagine their faces at the table later when Jesus takes the bread, gives thanks, breaks it and gives it to them?

“Hmmmm… this seems a little familiar….Haven’t we seen something like this before… Do you remember that afternoon in Bethsaida, with the loaves and the fishes….?  Remember when Je….. Hey!!!!!”

Do you recognize the risen Lord?  Have you left the “big city” and set out for Emmaus?  Keep walking.  Keep looking.  Remember you’re only a visitor on this earthly sod, and you never know whom you may meet on the journey.  Somewhere up ahead you’ll recline at a table.  Bread will be broken and served by nail-scarred hands.  Soon, perhaps in the twinkling of an eye, the dust of the day and the weariness of the walk will fall away and you’ll be a visitor no more.  You’ll be Home.

By Kristine, author, blogger, humorist, homeschooler, professional mom.

(Part 1 posted on April 14.)

You’ll Be Home – Part 1 of 2

Have you ever wondered about the two guys on the Road to Emmaus in Luke 24? How could they be so close to Jesus and miss Resurrection Sunday?  I mean, this is “later that same day” – as in, the women went to the tomb” early this morning” (verse 22).  But here comes the doleful duo, faces so long they could eat corn out of a Coke bottle.  They’re looking at the afterglow of the Mightiest Moment in History and seeing the headlight of an oncoming train.

You know the story.  Neck-deep in their discussion “about everything that had happened,” who shows up?  The text doesn’t say where He came from, but Jesus “came up and walked along with them” (verse 15).  What did he say?

“Shalom, fellas.  Howzitgoin?” Or maybe, “You look like someone just offered you a pork dinner with a bacon chaser.”  How ‘bout, “Mind if I join you?  I’m due at the Ascension in a coupla days.”  Whatever the initial greeting, Jesus asks, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”  Lowder translation:  What’s up, guys?”

Jaw unhinged in astonishment, Cleopas answers.  Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion and purported Resurrection from the dead were all over Jerusalem.  Emmaus was probably about seven miles northwest of Jerusalem.  Not exactly an ocean away.  These two men couldn’t believe that anyone in the area didn’t know about it!  (After all, the crucifixion, Jesus’ death and burial were all in the last chapter.  See Luke 23.)

But neither of these men recognizes Jesus. Where has this guy been?  “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” (verse 17)

Well yes, Jesus could have answered, now that you mention it, I am “only a visitor” to Jerusalem.  I stopped there en route to paying the sin penalty for all mankind.

But Jesus doesn’t say that.  What He doesn’t say is significant.  He doesn’t lecture, nag, or chide.  He doesn’t wave a red flag or dispatch a bolt out of the blue.  Jesus doesn’t even declare, “Fellas, it’s me!”  He simply asks, “What things?”  (verse 19)

The reply is interesting: “About Jesus of Nazareth.  He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people…”

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming on April 21.

By Kristine, author, blogger, professional mom, humorist, homeschooler.

Book Review: “cold tangerines”

Front Cover

Cold Tangerines

By Shauna Niequist

I needed this book.  I didn’t realize it until about halfway through, but “better late than never.”

Painted with a “Faberge egg” brush – stunning, exquisite and slightly outrageous – cold tangerines (lower-cased) is divided into four parts.  Stand-alone, first-person stories in each section include: spark, french class, carrying my own weight, lent and television, broken bottles, writing in pencil, island, and my favorite: old house.

Profound and Whimsical

Cold tangerines is spunky.  Profound one moment and whimsical the next.  At times you feel like you’re seated in the front row at the Improv; at others you’re sniffling and reaching for Kleenex.  In each section the author sweeps us into her everyday life with pitchy observations about family, unexpecteds, writing, Africa, vacations, friends: “True friendship is a sacred, important thing, and it happens when we drop down into that deeper level of who we are, when we cross over into the broke, fragile parts of ourselves… Friendship is acting out God’s love for people in tangible ways…, an opportunity to act on God’s behalf inn the lives of the people we’re close to.<

Like when her calendar is crammed with to-dos, events and activities and she sees a tall tree in the park, “twice as high as a two-story house,” that’s “the brightest, most insane, lit-from-within red I have ever seen.”  Along with weddings and adoption celebrations and dinner parties, baby showers and fall colors, Niequist comments, “This is a masterpiece just here for the week, our very own wonder of the world, and I just about missed it.”

Don’t we all?

Humorous and Hearty

Maybe what I like best about cold tangerines is that the author is Real.  Genuine.  Humorous, hearty.  Disarmingly candid.  She’s flawed and knows it.  Niequist asks the tough questions and avoids the canned answers: “What if I’ve missed the cosmic bus to my best future because I was watching E!?”  The author has an “eyes open” storytelling style about babies, loss, vulnerability, disappointment, being overweight, motherhood, heart attacks, “the healing effects of a barbecue” and jealousy “like a house fire.”  The slice-of-life vignettes are Christian themed without being preachy or pompous.  They reflect an author who’s cracked and chipped.  Human and hopeful.  Daring.  Kinda kooky.  Someone I can relate to.

This book is crunchy and quirky.  As succulent as a cold tangerine on a sizzling August afternoon.  Reading this book is like walking into a dark living room on your birthday, bummed that no one remembered, and having people in party hats jump out and yell, “Surprise!”

I’m keeping my eye out for another serving.

***

Reviewed by: Kristine Lowder

Roads Diverged * A Little Lowder * Twitter * Facebook

“It’s About the Cross”

An all-time favorite from GoFish. Enjoy and Merry CHRISTmas!

Shared by: Kristine, author, blogger, humorist, homeschooler, professional mom.

Still Nacht

Time to take a break from politics to celebrate the season.  Pour yourself a steaming mug of hot chocolate or apple cider.  Grab some fudge or a slice of pumpkin pie.  Sit down and slow down.  Put your feet up and treat yourself  to this beautiful rendition of Still Nacht (Silent Night) from Manheim Steamroller.  Celebrate the season and soak up some Son:

Shared by Kristine Lowder, author, blogger, humorist, homeschooler and professional mom.

Book Review: “The Christmas List”

Question: What kind of man serves divorce papers on his wife the day she arrives home from her first chemo treatment?  Or swindles an old friend on a property deal, netting millions for his own pocket while costing his “friend” his shirt?  What kind of guy has a son who refuses to invite him to his wedding and dubs Christmas décor “idiot glitter”?

Answer: James Kier, ruthless Salt Lake City real estate mogul and main character of Richard Paul Evans’ newest title, The Christmas List. Kier makes Ebenezer Scrooge look like a cupcake.

Loosely following A Christmas Carol, Evans’ List takes off running when Kier’s long-lost consciences kicks in after a snowstorm at the Snowed Inn where he’s booked for a weekend getaway with his new girlfriend.  The “ethically impaired” cut-throat gets more than he bargained for when Kier chances upon his obituary and reads on-line comments revealing what people really think of him.

“Ghost of Christmas Past”

Galvanized into action, Kier has a “Ghost of Christmas Past”-type turn-around and tries to make amends to the people whose lives his greed and avarice have ruined.  Armed with a list of five “top contenders” he’s wronged compiled by his secretary, Linda, Kier sets out to make things right three weeks before Christmas.

“Too Little, Too Late”?

The story gathers momentum and takes off running as we find out what a pre-obit jerk Kier really was through the reactions to his “saintly” endeavor: shock, denial, disbelief, rage.  Everyone keeps asking if he’s dying.  Kier winds up with a broken nose after one visit to a wrong-ee while other recipients of his newly found repentance respond with the warmth of a polar bear convention stuck in an igloo during an Arctic white-out.  One man whom Kier swindled out of his restaurant and life savings has committed suicide.  All five on Kier’s “Christmas list” are casualties of his Scroogish wheeling and dealing.  Disbelief, disgust and defeat dog Kier’s every attempt to make amends.  When nobody wants what he’s offering, Kier’s noble cause seems a primo case of “too little, too late.”

Or is it?  Resisting the temptation to tie up the story with a trite little bow of “Happily Ever After” or a contrived “God bless us, everyone” ending, Evans offers plenty of surprises.

“What a fool I am” Kier tells his secretary after yet another failed attempt.  “When I started all this I actually thought I was being some kind of saint.  … But I’m just a hypocrite.  I didn’t do it for them, I did it for me and my legacy.  And I’ve failed.  I’ve failed everyone.  I couldn’t’ make restitution.  Not even with myself. …”

“But the thing is that now that I really do want to make things better, there’s nothing I can do.  Maybe this is hell, seeing the truth.  Knowing fully the pain and hurt you’ve caused others and knowing there’s no way you can make it better.  I’ve stolen their lives and dreams” he continued, “I have blood on my hands.  … How could I ever be forgiven?”

Linda replies, “Isn’t that the point of Christmas?”  It’s the point of The Christmas List:

“It had been years since he’d opened the book.  Its worn, onion paper pages were marked with red pencil.  Even after all the years he still remembered the passage he was looking for.

Isaiah 1:18: Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

And Then Some

A delightful read crafted with care and precision, The Christmas List is longer than the average Evans novel.  I know.  I’ve read them all.  Frankly, I was a little skeptical when I picked up List at the library the other day.  How can anyone come up with a new twist on that well-worn Dickensian classic of Christmas lore? But Evans has.  And then some.

A consummate storyteller with a unique ability to make his plots stand up and walk, Evans peppers his pages with believable, three-dimensional characters, evocative dialogue and delicious descriptions like jalapenos in hot salsa.  Reiterating the theme, page 351 is titled My Christmas List. It’s a nudge, followed by numerals and five blank spaces for the reader to make his/her own entries.  And take off running.

Faith, Forgiveness and Second Chances

The Christmas List is an inspiring, hopeful story of faith, forgiveness and second chances,  a luminous holiday read that’s sure to warm you heart and soul year ‘round.  Don’t wait to get your own copy.  Better yet, get two.  Share one with a friend or relative  on your own “Christmas list.”

The Christmas List

By Richard Paul Evans

Simon & Schuster, 2009

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