Tuesday, June 28, 2011

:: Chickens & more Chickens ::

Lots of changes and wrap-ups this week.

We have entered into summer vacation a little earlier than expected. Elijah came down with chicken pox. {And he was immunized!} It's baffling. He has been so tough, apart from the one night of deep discomfort which landed him in bed with me. A mother's arms can soothe.

I chopped my hair off and darkened it. I am embracing my new identity as a brunette.

Caelah's year of Drama culminated in a very adorable performance of "Chicken Princess." She played a wizard, while her cast members played anything from a dragon to a mouse. Some strutted about fearless. Others lisped their lines sweetly. I prodded them all out onto the stage at the appropriate time and made a few sound effects. It was priceless.

I remember being the girl who stayed off the stage and painted props. But when opening night came, I would wish myself out there, even if only to be a part of the scenery. So, I am very proud of Caelah. She is a braver girl than I ever was.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

::Fitzroy 2011::

:: The World is a Ball ::

Gabriel: "So, the world is ball?"
Me: "Yes."
Gabriel: "But no one can bounce it."
Me: "No." (In my head: Although God could, I suppose-- if He really wanted to.)
Gabriel: "Right. 'Cause no one is tall enough to reach it."
Me: "Mm. Hmm." (In my head: ?)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


A Grain Gift.

Dough worked with patient hands. Wheat shaken and pounded, crushed and sifted into whitest flour, silk-fine to the touch. Salt for the everlasting. Absence of honey-sweet insincerity and the tell-tale infiltration of yeast: a life bloated by culture-taint. A response-offering: Here I am LORD! I am simple. Unembellished. Washed white by blood. Make of my life what you Will.
8 Bring the grain offering made of these things to the LORD; present it to the priest, who shall take it to the altar. 9 He shall take out the memorial portion from the grain offering and burn it on the altar as a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD. 10 ~Leviticus 2
Offering Grain is to offer ourselves as new things. Unformed things. A canvas upon which He will paint. He asks for a fine, unsweetened white loaf-- A wide-open, willing heart. I am afraid that I have buried my raw availability in layers of false-dependencies and misguided desires. Like a mega-syllabic order at Starbucks, {Grande, low-fat, soy-milk, cappuccino with cocoa-- oh, and extra-hot}, my simplest, most useable form has been cluttered by "needs": Steady income. Good health. Trials that end quickly. Well-rested kids. Well-rested me. Praise and encouragement. . . Strip those things away one by one, and my legs would give out from under me. I would be on the floor.

But, of course, the floor is the place to be. Low. Listening. Available. Useable.
In the burnt offering you have God reaching out and saying, "You're mine. I want you." But in the meal offering you must say in response, "Yes, Lord, I'm yours. I give myself to you." ~Ray Stedman "The Way to Wholeness"
  • " . . . their offering is to be of the finest flour." {Lev. 2:1} Take some flour between your fingers. Each granule is indistinguishable from the next. Edges smoothed to silk. Ground down to purity. I'm yours to refine.
  • "They are to pour olive oil on it . . ." {Lev. 2:1} Oil is Spirit. Spirit resides within our human frames. Mingles. Awakens and empowers. I'm yours to guide.
  • " . . . put incense on it. . ." {Lev. 2:1} The aroma of praise and thanks has ever been pleasing to our God. But not the praise-fruit dripped from unclean lips. Rather, thanks offered up through Spirit. I'm yours in thanks.
What does that teach us but that the best performances of our hands must not appear before His Throne without the merit of Christ mingled with it? There must be that mixture of myrrh, aloes and cassia with which the garments of our Prince are perfumed to make our sacrifice to be a sweet savor to the Most High! Take care in your sacrifices that you bring the sacred frankincense.~Spurgeon
  • " . . . without yeast." {Lev. 2:5} The perfect agent for infiltration: yeast. Tiny grains that work to expand, to alter, to inflate. Like Israelites, shaking the bonds of servitude of their backs, but carrying with them mental-bonds of culture-taint, we are infused with our world. Beware the slow bloat. The seeping in of an identity that finds no resonance with the blood-bought you. Heart low, watch for signs of a false rising. I am yours to humble.
  • " Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings." {Lev. 2:13} Salt for the everlasting. A relationship perfectly preserved-- Spirit-sealed. Rest in eternal-mindedness. He said you are his. He never lies. He never changes his mind. Draw near. I am yours forever.
  • ". . . you are not to burn any yeast or honey in a food offering presented to the LORD." {Lev. 2:11} Authenticity is raw. An unvarnished way of life, uninhibited by the thick coating of falsity. Our God sees hearts-- brushes away the pretty bow we try to tie around it. I am yours, plain and simple.
Ripe fruits were full of honey, full of sweetness—and God does not ask for sweetness, He asks for salt. . . There is a kind of molasses godliness which I can never stomach. It is always, “Dear this,” and, “Dear that,” and, “Dear the other,” and, “This dear man,” and, “That dear woman.” There is also a kind of honey-drop talk in which a person never speaks the plain truth. . . But the salt, which is sharp and when it gets into the wound makes it tingle, nevertheless does sound service. Whenever you come before God with your sacrifices, do not come with the pretense of a love you do not feel, nor with the beautiful nonsense of hypocrites, but come before the Lord in real, sober, earnest truth.

It is possible for love to move in only one direction. Any one of us can- have- poured ourselves out to a turned back. But no one would really call that a relationship. They would call that sad. Relationship begins with a response. Love offered. Love returned. Two people stepping toward one another in action.

Present yourself to Him. He has called. Answer.
God has been seeking us, and he says, "Now it is time for you to begin to seek me. I've been reaching out to you. Now you reach back to me." Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. This is the law of response in human nature. This is why John says, "We love, because he has first loved us," {1 Jn 4:19 RSV}. This is why the meal offering is the second of the offerings.

:: The Cello Song::

This song means a lot to Aidan and I. We played a rendition of this song on our Honeymoon. I will always associate the melody with fresh hope for the things ahead.
{Tim, thanks for finding this gem.}

Monday, June 20, 2011

:: A week of Sunrises::

A few pictures of life this past week. Last weekend we "camped" at Kate and Dave's. They have the loveliest backyard. We ate around a bonfire and watched our little people frolic. Somehow, both families, including my very pregnant sister, ended up in tents, while I slept in the master bedroom (?!)

My brother turned 22. I look him in the eyes, and still have a hard time grasping his imminent entry into fatherhood. So many things I want to say to him, but haven't said. So I buried my lens in mom's lovely garden.

Park play and grilled chicken, growing gardens and mowed grass. A week of sunrises and sunsets. All is a gift.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


A Burnt Gift.

Before all others. A death required. Blood spilled. Hands placed on head. Thanks groaned that it will die instead of you. Full consumption. Every scrap devoured by licking flames. A living thing now ash. While you breathe out gratefulness.

3 “‘If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you are to offer a male without defect. You must present it at the entrance to the tent of meeting so that it will be acceptable to the LORD. 4 You are to lay your hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on your behalf to make atonement for you.
~Leviticus 1~

Offering a Burnt Gift is to rest in the covering. In most Bible translations 'Atonement' stands in for the word copher, which means cover.

Cover. A thick down blanket weighing down warmth against winter chill. Cover. A lightning quick mother-hand covering young eyes from things that should never be seen. Cover. An old prophet tucked safely into wedge of rock as blinding Glory shows it's back. Or. . . a perfect man on a tree whose Holy blood forever stands between us and his Father.

Why, then, do we hide behind the Lord Jesus? . . . With regard to God, when I am a conscious sinner I long to hide away from him, and lo! the Lord Jesus is our shield and hiding-place, the cover, the sacred atonement within which we conceal ourselves from justice. Even the allseeing eye of God sees no sin in a sinner that is hidden in Christ.

We know the dark things are just under the surface. But somehow God's fire took the lamb instead. The wonder of it. . .

  • "At the entrance" to our new lives, there must be a death. {Lev. 1:3}There must be blood. The old must be "covered" over once and for all. Rest in Christ's sacrifice. It pays in a way no other blood can.
  • Hands On. {Lev. 1:4} Place shaking hands on bowed head. Touch the one that will die for you. Keeping a guilty distance from the one who died for you will stem the flow of blessing that could run through you like the life-giving nutrients of an umbilical chord. Come close. Place two hands on the warmth of the Truth. Jesus died to place hands to face and wipe away tears.
Surely this is the very essence and nature of faith, which doth not only bring is into contact with the great Substitute, but teaches us to lean upon him with all the burden of our guilt." ~Spurgeon "Morning and Evening"
  • Be "fully consumed." {Lev. 1:6-9} We are Spirit houses. Be emptied of all the useless bits. Swept clean. Consecrated as Holy. Storm your way through the isles of your inner self and overturn what doesn't belong.
  • Keep burning. ". . .the fire on the altar must be kept burning. . ." {Lev. 6: 12} Don't grow cold. Tend to your inner fire. Feed it.

If you want to solve any other problem of life you have to begin there. "I belong to the Father, I am one of his family. I'm a child of God. I know him as my heavenly Father. I have been accepted by him. He loves me." If you do start there you have a basis upon which all the other relationships of life can all be worked out, for there, you see, this deep cry of the human heart is met. Jesus Christ meets us in that place. This is the burnt offering -- the need to belong. ~Ray Stedman "The Way to Wholeness"

Friday, June 10, 2011

::Jamaican Patties::

Every now and I think of something I have culinarily taken for granted, and I make it my own.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

::F is for Foreign Fruits::

Caelah and I visited the new Sobey's on our way to take her little sister to the doctor's for shots-- gulp! What a Gourmet heaven! Cheeses and meats of every description. And the fruit were too pretty to pass up: Starfruit, Grenadilla, Tomatillo, Lychee & Asian Brown Pear. With some at $3.oo each, this will not be a regular expenditure. Having played around with all of these new fruit, I have concluded that the most fun comes from seeing what the insides hold. The Lychee had white flesh with an olive-like pit. The Passionfruit was packed with slimy seeds. The persimmon had an orange outer flesh, but a blood red center. . .

A few of the ways we ate these beautiful things:

{::Starfruit Chips::}
Verdict: Tangy and interesting. The reminded me of dried apricot.

{::Charred Tomatillo Quacamole::}
Verdict: I really like tomatillos. They are a tangier, sweeter, prettier version of a tomato.

{::Asian Pears with Ginger-Maple Syrup::}
Verdict: What a disappointing pear! Grainy, with almost no flavour! Kind of like water chestnuts.

{::Persimmon Salsa::}
Verdict: Strangely muted. It had a hint of mango-like sweetness to it, but was far less interesting.

The Passionfruit a.k.a Grenadilla was our favourite: All it needed was a bit of whipped cream.

The Lychee? We ate it just as it is. A cross between a white grape and grapefruit. I love them.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

::Five Sacrifices::

A word I have yet to warm up to. Blood. Fire. Grim bowing of the body.
Sacrifice. A word that confronts me as I march through Leviticus. It must be reckoned with.

"That religion which costs a man nothing is usually worth nothing."

A current of submission and sacrifice stirs inside me. Inside us all, who are housing Spirit. But how often do we wrestle our stiff, unyielding Selves aside to bow low to the dust? To give up the hardest things-- the things that make these mortal bodies tingle with pleasure? And then, should our bodies bend, how long do our hearts stay low too? Without the slow seeping-in of pride? Private self-ovations given for the outward cost. Bodies bent over smug smiles.

"Either you suffer temporarily and in a redemptive way, or [others are] going to suffer tragically, in a wasteful and destructive way."

Sacrifice. Temporary. Redemptive. . . A window opens onto the landscape of meaning. Jesus, the giver of eternity gave his perfect life-- and got it back. Along with every lost brother and sister his heart yearned for. The giving of his everything had an end and a reward: Life and lives gained.

Like him, and because of him, our sacrifices are the same: temporary and redemptive. The pain of the low-bend lasts for a time, but the posture holds because of the good and strong thing we are standing on, and the shining strands of purpose we see unfurling behind, before and beside us. Like a strong green shoot winding its way out of good soil, the things I rip free and hand over in this life will strip me back, even as I continue to grow, my roots dig deeper, and new green things sprout up beside me.

The Levitical Sacrifices are stunning portraits of bending. They are Five: Burnt. Grain. Peace. Sin. Guilt. Five names. Five needs addressed. Five gifts given. Slowly, I am unpacking them and studying them like Renoirs. Textures, techniques, meaning.

As I go I will share. And I pray I will bend ever lower as I go.

Sunday, June 05, 2011