Friday, January 25, 2013

"'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."--The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

"But between them and the foot of the sky there was something so white on the green grass that even with their eagles' eyes they could hardly look at it. They came on and saw that it was a Lamb.
“Come and have breakfast,” said the Lamb in its sweet milky voice.
Then they noticed for the first time that there was a fire lit on the grass and fish roasting on it. They sat down and ate the fish, hungry now for the first time for many days. And it was the most delicious food they had ever tasted.
“Please, Lamb,” said Lucy, “is this the way to Aslan's country?”
“Not for you,” said the Lamb. “For you the door into Aslan's country is from your own world.”
“What!” said Edmund. “Is there a way into Aslan's country from our world too?”
“There is a way into my country from all the worlds,” said the Lamb; but as he spoke his snowy white flushed into tawny gold and his size changed and he was Aslan himself, towering above them and scattering light from his mane.
“Oh, Aslan,” said Lucy. “Will you tell us how to get into your country from our world?”
“I shall be telling you all the time,” said Aslan. “But I will not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the great Bridge Builder…...

...Please, Aslan,” said Lucy. “Before we go, will you tell us when we can come back to Narnia again? Please. And oh, do, do, do make it soon.”
“Dearest,” said Aslan very gently, “you and your brother will never come back to Narnia.”
“Oh, Aslan!!” said Edmund and Lucy both together in despairing voices.
“You are too old, children,” said Aslan, “and you must begin to come close to your own world now.”
“It isn't Narnia, you know,” sobbed Lucy. “It's you. We shan't meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?”
“But you shall meet me, dear one,” said Aslan.
“Are are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.
“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

-The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

This is one of my favorite excerpts form the Chronicles of Narnia.

Having grown up with a distant father and in a legalistic church, my view of God was warped.
I came across this journal entry I wrote several years ago:

I remember hearing all of my life from my pastor and Christian friends that, "God loves me like a father"—that analogy was made countless times. I heard it in prayers, in sermons, in conversations after church…..everywhere. This was so hard for me to understand, because, honestly, in the past 10 years I haven't felt that my dad truly loves me. If God loves me as much as my dad does, then God must not love me much at all.

Something else that I heard for the first thirteen years of my life was about God's wrath. I heard it from the pulpit almost every week. And it was much easier for me to understand than "love" was. "Wrath", and "anger" sounded much more like my dad than "love" or "mercy" did. So, that was my view of God. He was an angry, unloving, unforgiving authority over me, that I had to submit to and obey in every way, or I would spend the rest of eternity burning in Hell. The only way that I would be able to escape from this horrifying end, was if I did everything in my power to please this God. Heaven, I heard, was much like church and seeing how boring church was, I didn't care for the idea of heaven much, but in weighing my options, I opted for heaven where I would spend the rest of eternity praising my "Angry Father in Heaven". Heaven wasn't my first choice, when it comes to where I want to spend the rest of time….but, it was better than Hell.

I look back, and I am so saddened that the over half of my life has been spent terrified of God. I remember laying awake at night, unable to sleep with my mind racing. This happened particularly on stormy nights. I would stare outside my window at the wind blowing the trees, the empty black sky. I'd listen to the wind howling. It was just how I imagined judgment day. At any moment I expected to hear a trumpet, and see the sky turn a brilliant white, and then....I'd be out of time. I would sit in my bed, sobbing my 6 year old heart out, closing my eyes and straining as hard as I could. Straining and try and focus on "being a christian", like somehow that would magically make me one. As my sobs became less and my exhaustion got the better of me I would say to myself in a whisper, "I'm a christian" as if those words would make it so. But I felt just as hopeless and empty inside. And then the storm would blow over, the sun would rise, and it would be a new day. Jesus hadn't come back, I wasn't burning in hell. But this fear still nagged at my heart.
My perception of God was an angry, temperamental greater being who could cast me into an eternity of torment for ever...and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't stop him.
And then, I met Aslan. I immediately grew to love this hero I met in these books. He was the saviour, the protector, the victor. He was just and merciful...The lion and the lamb. He was everything that was missing in my life. He was awe-inspiring and majestic, but at the same time my friend. I wished he could be real. But, this king that I had grown to trust was only a shadow, a whisper of someone much greater. He was Lewis's imperfect reflection of the real, perfect King. Here, Aslan has another name. I needed to learn to know him by that name. This was the very reason why these beautiful stories of Narnia were written, that by knowing Aslan there for a little, I would know Jesus better here.

C.S. Lewis laid the ground work in my heart to love my real saviour, Jesus. He cleared the confusions I had, the hurts, the distrust, and introduced me to a loving, merciful redeemer.

Thank you, Jack.

Our Culture & Christian Femininity

"Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people."--Titus 3:1-2

"Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13  bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive."--Colossians 3:12-13

In this day and age and in our culture these things are thought to be archaic beliefs. Rebelling is cool, selfishness is condoned, gossip is rampant, being tough and brutally honest is a quality, and being a b**ch is encouraged. I see quotes on Pinterest and Tumblr all the time and see statuses on Facebook and hear people constantly reinforcing the idea that "we need to accept ourselves for who we are and if you can't handle it then you're not worth my time our trouble." This thinking seems to be most prevalent amongst girls, and very often amongst Christians and it makes my heart so very sad. I wish that people saw the value in having a quiet and gentle spirit, "but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious."--1 Peter 3:4 And the importance of putting others before yourself, "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves."--Philippians 2:3 And that building people up with encouragement and kindness is of far greater worth than speaking every thought that comes into your head, "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue"--Proverbs 31:6 That words are powerful. That can sting and wound or they can build up some one's confidence & give them hope, "A gentle statement is a tree of life, but perverted speech shatters the spirit."--Proverbs 15:4 "Death and life are in the power of the tongue."--Proverbs 18:21 I wish that girls saw the virtue in gentility and kindness. I wish that they saw that strength in character is found in thinking of yourself less. That while it is important to acknowledge your individuality and that you are of value, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him"--Genesis 1:27 always know that you can be better. Know your worth while constantly being aware that you can always love more, give more, feel more, become softer, gentler, kinder, humbler.

 Don't settle for yourself as you are. You are doing yourself a disservice by being satisfied with who you are now. Because, “God loves us the way we are, but too much to leave us that way”--Leighton Ford. So, why should you be content to stay that way? Rest in the knowledge that by God's grace he will make us more lovely.We will grow in love, humility, kindness, and gentility.

"I do not understand the mystery of grace--only that it meets us where we are, but does not leave us where it found us."--Anne Lamott

Monday, January 21, 2013

"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. "

I can be covetous, I worry about money, I am self-indulgent, I am often unhappy & discontent. Whenever I begin to feel any of these things, I focus & obsess over it. I dwell on what they have that I haven't got. I start writing out unrealistic budgets & get in a funk when I realize how "poor" I am. I think about how I am "friendless" and my life never goes as planned. I become depressed at my life being the "complete opposite of what I had planned". If I ever feel a twinge of guilt over these selfish and wrong thoughts, I say to myself, "Stop think about that. Get over yourself." and I'll insert some cliche like, "Think about all those starving orphans in Africa" or something. That doesn't help. You can't just snap your fingers and be selfless & satisfied with life. And, a moment of silence in honor of orphans rarely truly changes your perspective in the long run & doesn't do a hill of beans worth of good for them.

I read this expert form a blog post today and I had an "Aha!" moment.

"When you start to feel . . . do. For example – when you start to feel scared because you don’t have enough money….find someone to give a little money to. When you start to feel like you don’t have enough love. . . find someone to offer love. When you feel unappreciated, unacknowledged . . . appreciate and acknowledge someone in your life in a concrete way. When you feel unlucky, order yourself to consider a blessing or two. And then find a tangible way to make today somebody else’s lucky day. This strategy helps me sidestep wallowing every day."

I feel like this is such a beautiful approach to taking the focus of of me, myself, & I. It's putting into action these verses:

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me."

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."

"For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another."

"For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you. "

"And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ "

I love it because because when the devil tempts me to give into self pity I can throw it back in his face and use his temptation to sin as a prompt for me to go and bless others. I love it because it gets me pumped about fighting my sins. I love it because it gives me hope & reminds me that His strength is made perfect when I am weak. I love the idea of hacking my sin to death with defiant action. I. Just. Love. It.

Also, it made me think of one of my favorite quotes by Anne Frank:

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True dat, Anne.

I'm feeling a couple of these things today and I'm going to go & do something about it.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

"To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume."

I watched Les Miserables last weekend. The singing & filming were breathtaking, but it was the story that was my total undoing. It was drenched in grace, sacrifice, love, forgiveness, mercy, repentance, victory....all that epic, goose bumpy, glorious stuff.
I could easily go on and on and on about each and every perfect detail but I'll merely mention the one part that I especially loved. If you are familiar with the story, you will know that it shows the contrast of law & of grace.
     Both Jean Valjean & Javert are sinners. Both are freely given undeserved, unrequested, complete forgiveness of their trespasses. Grace is extended to both, and both have such completely opposite responses.

Jean Valjean is a thief. He stole bread to feed his starving family and was then sentenced to 20 years in prison and was forever branded with the label: thief. He would never be able to find work or shelter again and would never be trusted. One night a priest offers him a place to stay. He gives him food, a bed, and calls him brother. Jean Val Jean repays his kindness by stealing his silver and running off into the night. He is caught and brought back to the Priests home. The constable says that Valjean argued that the priest had given him the silver as a gift. To which the priest responded:

That is right.
But my friend you left so early
Surely something slipped your mind

[The bishop gives Valjean two silver candlesticks]

You forgot I gave these also;
Would you leave the best behind?
So, Messieurs, you may release him
For this man has spoken true.
I commend you for your duty
And God's blessing go with you.

[The constables leave.]

And remember this, my brother,
See in this some high plan.
You must use this precious silver
To become an honest man.
By the witness of the martyrs,
By the passion and the blood,
God has raised you out of darkness:
I have bought your soul for God.

The next scene is of Jean Val Jean kneeling in prayer in the church.

What have I done?
Sweet Jesus, what have I done?
Become a thief in the night,
Become a dog on the run
And have I fallen so far,
And is the hour so late
That nothing remains but the cry of my hate,
The cries in the dark that nobody hears,
Here where I stand at the turning of the years?

If there's another way to go
I missed it twenty long years ago
My life was a war that could never be won
They gave me a number and murdered Valjean
When they chained me and left me for dead
Just for stealing a mouthful of bread

Yet why did I allow that man
To touch my soul and teach me love?
He treated me like any other
He gave me his trust
He called me brother
My life he claims for God above
Can such things be?
For I had come to hate the world
This world that always hated me

Take an eye for an eye!
Turn your heart into stone!
This is all I have lived for!
This is all I have known!

One word from him and I'd be back
Beneath the lash, upon the rack
Instead he offers me my freedom
I feel my shame inside me like a knife
He told me that I have a soul,
How does he know?
What spirit comes to move my life?
Is there another way to go?

I am reaching, but I fall
And the night is closing in
And I stare into the void
To the whirlpool of my sin
I'll escape now from the world
From the world of Jean Valjean
Jean Valjean is nothing now
Another story must begin!

Oh! I love it! As he sings the end of this song he tears apart the his parole papers and casts them into the wind. "He is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God." Grace.....freely given & gladly accepted.  It was poured into Jean Val Jean's life and spilled over into the lives of everyone that Val Jean met.

In comparison we have Javert. He is a task master, a dictator of the law. He has spent years searching for Jean Valjean to bring him to justice. Time after time Javert is at the mercy of Jean Valjean. Valjean could have been free of him & killed, but each time he gives to him the forgiveness & grace that he was shown years ago by the priest. Javert doesn't know what to do with it, he cannot accept it & is baffled by it....

Who is this man?
What sort of devil is he
To have me caught in a trap
And choose to let me go free?
It was his hour at last
To put a seal on my fate
Wipe out the past
And wash me clean off the slate!
All it would take
Was a flick of his knife.
Vengeance was his
And he gave me back my life!

Damned if I'll live in the debt of a thief!
Damned if I'll yield at the end of the chase.
I am the Law and the Law is not mocked
I'll spit his pity right back in his face
There is nothing on earth that we share
It is either Valjean or Javert!

How can I now allow this man
To hold dominion over me?
This desperate man whom I have hunted
He gave me my life. He gave me freedom.
I should have perished by his hand
It was his right.
It was my right to die as well
Instead I live... but live in hell.

And my thoughts fly apart
Can this man be believed?
Shall his sins be forgiven?
Shall his crimes be reprieved?

And must I now begin to doubt,
Who never doubted all these years?
My heart is stone and still it trembles
The world I have known is lost in shadow.
Is he from heaven or from hell?
And does he know
That granting me my life today
This man has killed me even so?

I am reaching, but I fall
And the stars are black and cold
As I stare into the void
Of a world that cannot hold
I'll escape now from the world
From the world of Jean Valjean.
There is nowhere I can turn
There is no way to go on....

 The power of mercy and forgiveness is too much to bear. Javert throws himself to his death into a rushing river.

This was on of the most powerful movies I have ever seen. I am so excited that such a blatantly christian movie that so clearly tells of grace & the gospel is being shown in theaters across the world. Watch it, love it, watch it again.

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life." 2 Corinthians 2:14-16

****note: this movie is most emphatically not family friendly. There is one segment/song that icky, yucky,nasty, and perverse. You may just want to look away as soon as you see Helena Bonham Carter. Also, Fontine is a prostitute and  there is one very graphic scene. So, just be aware. Don't bring your 5 year old.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Pinned Image
I like this. I like it so much that I pinned it.....and I do not take pinning lightly.
These are words to live by. Gossip is unavoidable, especially when in the workplace. You can refuse to partake in it, but you can't keep others from doing so. All you can do is "live in such a way that if anyone should speak badly of you no one would believe it."

Three Months

It’s been three months and 2 days since Grandpa went home to be with Jesus. He died on Columbus Day, 2012. Martin said that just like Christopher Columbus explored the new world, Lenny was also exploring a new world: His new home; His heavenly home.

I wrote this journal entry I wrote 3 days after he passed:

“He had seemed like he was going to be okay only a week before. He had been sitting in his hospital bed, his eyes were bright and he was in a feisty mood. We all we surrounding him: Martin, Maria, Mom, Natalie, Maggie, Carley, Jenna, Jordi, Jordan, Marian, and myself. Lenny said that as soon as he was well enough to walk again, he would take us all out to a Chinese buffet for dinner. And that next summer he would rent a “12 vehicle van” and drive us all to the beach house they vacationed in a few years before. I felt my stomach drop when a week later I walked into the hospital room to find his body so frail, his hair so thin, his breathing so labored, and his skin so yellowed. He could barely speak; barely lift the crackers to his mouth. The room was uneasy. We knew that this was one of his final days. Maria had called the night before crying, telling us to come quickly if we wanted to hear his voice again and say goodbye while he was still conscious. Mom had called me after her conversation with Maria to tell me that we would be spending the next day with him. I was babysitting. I held my composure long enough to say my goodbyes, and as soon as I got into the car a wave of nausea, fear, and panic drowned me. I couldn’t catch my breath; I was hyperventilating; my heart was racing. How could this happen? He looked so healthy last I saw him; I had let myself believe that it was all going to be alright. My body became so wracked with sobs that I nearly lost the control of my car as I swerved on the highway.

 I couldn’t even hold his hand. The slightest draft made him too cold, so the nurses kept him swaddled like a baby.  We sat with him. We told him that we loved him. He was easily tired out, so we mostly talked with one another: trying to keep the mood of the room light. We wanted his last few days to be filled with the soothing voices of his children and grandchildren. We all tried to stay strong and hold it together. I didn’t want him to see me cry. As we left Grandma, who had went for a walk to be by herself, turned the corner and began to cry. My mom held her. I heard Grandma say between sobs, “I wish it was me. I hate seeing him suffer like this. I wish I could take his place.” It was hitting her: the realization that Grandpa was dying. That she only had maybe a few days left with her love of 57 years.

Aunt Betsy flew in that night to be with him. I went to pick her up with Mom. We drove her through the pouring rain to her mom’s home.  The next morning her facebook status said how grateful she was that she was able to cry late into the night with her mom and know more fully how and why she was so in love with Len.

We spent most of Sunday at the hospital as well. Jeremy’s flight was changed to that evening. We didn’t know how much time was left. Lenny lay there in the hospital bed. We walked in and out of the room crying, weeping, hugging, and holding one another. Jenna broke my heart. She was like a deer in headlights; her eyes were brimming with tears.  Hours were spent comforting each other and watching him sleep. As we left to go to lunch, Grandpa looked around at us. His voice was weak, but he spoke as loudly as he could, “I love you. I love you. I love you.” Those were the last words I heard him speak. And, oh, what precious words they were. I keep replaying that moment over and over and over in my head. I didn’t know then that it was the last time I would hear his deep voice or see his big, deep set eyes open. And I don’t ever want to forget it.

Remember him. I need to remember every detail. Remember the way that he moved his hands as he spoke: cupped and rotating forward in front of him as he would give me advice about life. Remember his deep voice: rumbling, soothing, full of care and kindness. Remember the touch of his hands on my cheeks as he would tell me how proud he is of me and how pretty and smart he thinks I am. Remember how much he cared: He more than anyone I have ever known wanted me to be happy. That was the question he would ask every time he saw me, “What have you been doing lately, how is your job. Are you happy?” And it wasn’t just an empty question. It was full of earnest love and care and desire to know me more and to see me at my best.  Remember the way he danced. Remember his thick hair. Remember the way he spoke so highly and lovingly of his family. Remember how he always put the needs and wants of his family before his own. Remember how I never once heard him say a discouraging thing about anyone. Every word spoken was purposeful and meant to build people up. Remember how he supported his wife through everything. Remember how after 57 years, he loved her more and more. Remember how every kind thing did, every kind word he spoke was drenched with a Christ-like, God-honoring love. I looked at him and I saw Jesus in the way he lived his life. I have never respected anyone more than the way that I respected my Grandfather.

On Monday, I tried to go to work but I was unable to maintain my composure. Mom called and said that he was getting worse. He had been taken home the night before and hospice was there. At 11:30 I went over to his home and we all sat and waited. He was asleep, but I think he could hear us still. I hope that he could hear us tell him that we loved him, feel us stroke his face, listen to us as we relived our favorite memories….All I wanted is to know that he knew in his last few minutes beyond a doubt how deeply and completely we loved him. At 12:08 I sat down next to his bed and held and kissed his hand. At 12:13, October 8th 2012, Lenny Rosenthal’s hand went cold in mine and he went home to be with Jesus.

As I’m typing this, the tears are streaming down my face. They won’t stop. My heart has never felt so raw, so broken as it does now.  Oh, Grandpa, I miss you. I miss you so very much. I hurt. All the time my heart aches. I miss you and it’s not even been a week. How could I bear this loss, this missing, this big gaping hole without the hope and confident knowledge of seeing you again? I do not say it lightly as a cliché that what a comfort it is to rest in the beauty of Jesus’s grace, the understanding of his sacrifice for us so that yes, our bodies will die. But are souls are forever. Grandpop is forever. He is forever with his King, his Creator, His Father… praising him. And, Grandpa is healed. He is no longer suffering.”

Grandma has said many times since his death that she does not have one single negative memory of him. He never said and unkind thing in his life and he never once did a selfish thing. Aunt Betsy said that that her father’s love for her was so deep and vast that she could not even begin to fathom the perfect love that her heavenly Father had for her.

 Grandpa made every friend feel like family and every stranger feel like a friend. He loved his Savior and that love saturated every part of his life. Everything he did was done in love. Everything he said was full of kindness.

I miss you, Grandpa. Today the wound feels as raw as it did on October 8th. I can’t wait to see you again.