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The Two Objects Needed to Make a Home

 20.2.13


Peasant Family at the Dinner Table by Jozef Israëls
What a great a read is Bed and Board: Plain talk About Marriage by Robert Farrar Capon. I am absolutely loving this book. I posted some quotes from the first four chapters here, and today I want to share with you a few more quotes from chapters 5 and 6.

"I usually say that you need only two things, two pieces of matter, to make a home: a bed and a table. It's an oversimplification, but it's a good one...For Bed and Board are the fundamental geographical divisions of the family; they are the chief places, and it is in them and around them that we dance the parts we are given."

"He who perished by a tree is saved by a tree. He who died by an apple is restored by eating the flesh of his Saviour. Our lust is to be healed by being brought down to one bed, our savagery tamed by the exchanges around a lifelong table. Bed, Board, rooftree and doorway become the choice places of our healing, the delimitations of our freedom. By setting us boundaries, they hold us in; but they trammel the void as well. By confining, they keep track of us -they leave us free to be found, and to find ourselves. The vow of lifelong fidelity to one bed, one woman, becomes the wall at the edge of the cliff that leaves the children free to play a little, rather than be lost at large. Marriage gives us somewhere to be."

"The bed is the heart of the home, the arena of love, the seedbed of life, and the one constant point of meeting. It is the place where, night by night, forgiveness and fair speech return that the sun go not down upon our wrath; where the perfunctory kiss and the entire ceremonial pat on the backside become unction and grace. It is the oldest, friendliest thing, in anybody's marriage, the first used and the last left, and no one can praise it enough."

"We were meant to meet, to sustain and to ease each other, and in the marriage bed we lie down to do just that. It is an island in a sea of troubles, where there is nothing else to do but rest and refresh. Yet how resourceful we are, with our turned backs and stubborns silences, or with our interminable pouts and dreadful debates about What's Wrong With Us."

"People admit is hard to pray. Yet they think it's easy to make love. What nonsense. Neither is worth much when it is only the outcropping of intermittent enthusiasm. Both need to be done without ceasing..."

"The table can make us or break us. It has its own laws and will not change. Food and litter will lie upon it; fair speech and venom will pour across it; it will be the scene of manners and meanness, the place of charity or the wall of division, depending. Depending on what is done with it, at it and about it. But whatever is done, however it enters, it will allow only the possible, not the ideal. No one has ever created the Board by fiat. God himself spread his table, but Judas sat down at it. There is no use in thinking that we all have to do is wish for a certain style of family life, and wait for it to happen. The Board is a union of thing and persons; what it becomes depends on how the thing is dealt with by the persons."

"The Board will always give birth to liturgy."

"[I]t is precisely the absence of visible liturgy that nowadays makes the common life less obvious to common men."

"Few of us have very many great things to care about, but we all have plenty of small ones; and that's enough for the dance. It is precisely through the things we put on the table, and the liturgies we form around it, that the city is built; caring is more than half the work."

Under His sun and by His grace,


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The Promise of God, a Reality

 18.2.13



We are reading a little book: According to Promise by C.H. Spurgeon after breakfast every morning because isn't it exactly what we need as we start a new day? Don't we all need to be reminded of His new mercies and never failing promises?

Today the words I read were mingled with grateful tears.  

"Yes, the Lord means what He says. He never mocks men with barren words and empty sounds. Why should he deceive his creatures, and ask from them a barren confidence? The Lord may go beyond his word in giving more than it might be thought to mean; but he can never fall short of it. we may interpret his promises upon the most liberal scale. He never falls below the largest rendering which expectation can give to promise. Faith never yet outstripped the bounty of the Lord. Let us embrace the promise, and rejoice that it is substance and not shadow. Let us even now rejoice in it as being the reality of that which we are hoping." (p.47)


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Mid-February-Status from the Big City

 14.2.13

@Ana Sofía Pliego Photography

Loving... The picture above. Annie captured perfectly a very common expression of her sister. Seeing them having so much fun together makes me smile and want to hug them both!

Watching... The peach and apple trees in our garden blossoming against a perfect blue sky. I love to see the reminders of life all around us. Isn't this world wonderful? Miracles happen every day in front of our eyes and how I pray that I will have eyes to see them and not take them for granted.

Reading... The Brothers Karamazov and wishing that I was reading it with a group of friends more educated than me. This would be, I am sure, the perfect book to discuss with a friend, or in a class under the instruction of a good teacher (even if that would mean to write a paper about it!).

I just finished reading a wonderful book by Bonhoeffer:  Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community. It helped me understand many things that are not always easy to understand in this life under the sun.

With one of my dearest friends I am reading These Strange Ashes, a book by Elisabeth Elliot. We decided to read it slowly and I am sure learning from both, the author and my friend.

My little one and I are two chapters away from finishing reading a fun, fun book: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. We have had a great time reading it aloud. Thanks to Ink who sent it to us a Christmas gift.  :)

The Commentary on Ephesians by Chapell and the book on the Sermon on the Mount by Pink, as well as Spurgeon's commentary on Matthew are being my companions in my morning devotionals. And by the way, have you seen the Journibles? They are a great way to copy the Word of God, jot down study notes, prayers, thoughts, etc. I have been using them for a couple of years now and I love them; right now I am copying Ephesians and the Sermon on the Mount.

Exercising... Yes, I have not quit! :) 

Listening... To this sermon over and over again. And if you are like me, who sometimes agonizes over relationships and don't know if it is really possible to set boundaries and standards in our relationships with other Christians without denying the Christan love and grace, you should also listen to it. 

Learning... That your own sons and daughters can be your greatest teachers.

Meditating... That when we talk about dying to ourselves for the sake of the Kingdom or our family, we normally think of not doing something or renouncing to do something,  but isn't it sometimes that dying to ourselves calls us to do the opposite? Sometimes dying to oneself means doing something. Dying to ourselves is not passive, is not a sentiment that only sounds very spiritual but lacks action. Sometimes we need to speak, to act, to move, to choose, to defend, to contend, to do what we would naturally not be inclined to do for the sake of a greater love. And it is not easy.

Counting... The days until I get to see my sister and some of my dear friends in NC! So very grateful for that opportunity!

Embracing... Each day as it comes knowing that our seasons are in God's hands.
 


Under His Sun and by His grace,



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Life Together by Bonhoeffer -Borrowed Words-

 13.2.13

 


I have read these words over and over again these past days. Lots to think about, to pray, to consider, to discern.

"By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world. He does not abandon us to those rapturous experiences and lofty moods that come over like a dream. God is not a God of the emotions but the God of truth."

"He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial."

"Christian community is like the Christian's sanctification. It is a gift of God which we cannot claim. Only God knows the real state of our fellowship, of our sanctification."

"Where Christ bids me to maintain fellowship for the sake of love, I will maintain it. Where his truth enjoins me to dissolve a fellowship for love's sake, there I will dissolve it, despite all the protests of my human love. Because spiritual love does not desire but rather serves, it loves the enemy as a brother. It originates neither in the brother nor in the enemy but in Christ and His Word."

"Because Christ stands between me and others, I dare not desire direct fellowship with them. As only Christ can speak to me in such a way that I may be saved, so others, too, can be saved only by Christ himself. This means that I must release the other person from every attempt of mine to regulate, coerce, and dominate him with my love. The other person needs to retain his independence of me; to be loved for what he is , as one for whom Christ became man, died and rose again, for whom Christ bought forgiveness of sins and eternal life."

" [Spiritual love] will rather meet the other person with the clear Word of God and be ready to leave him alone with this Word for a long time, willing to release him again in order that Christ may deal with him."

"Thus this spiritual love will speak to Christ about a brother more than to a brother about Christ. It knows that the most direct way to others is always through prayer to Christ and the love of others is wholly dependent upon the truth of Christ."

"Human love lives by uncontrolled and uncontrollable dark desires; spiritual love lives in the clear light of service ordered by the truth. Human love produces human subjection, dependence, constarint; spiritual love creates freedom of the brethren under the Word."

"Therefore, at the beginning of the day let all distraction and empty talk be silenced and let the first thought and the first word belong to him to whom our whole life belongs."

"The Psalter is great school of prayer."

"The more deeply we grow into the psalms and the more often we pray them as our own, the more simple and rich our prayers will become."

"It is not our heart that determines our course, but God's Word."

"Prayer should not be hindered by work, but neither should work be hindered by prayer."

"The prayer of the morning will determine the day. Wasted time, which we are ashamed of, temptations that beset us, weakness and listlessness in our work, disorder and indiscipline in our thinking and in our relations with other people very frequently have their cause in neglect of the morning prayer. The organization and distribution of our time will be better for having been rooted in prayer, The temptations which the working day brings with it will be overcome by this break-through to God..."

"Real silence, real stillness, really holding one's tongue comes only as the sober consequence of spiritual stillness... If we have learned to be silenced before the Word, we shall also learn to manage our silence and our speech during the day."

"The Scripture meditation leads to prayer."

"Intercessory prayer is the purifying bath into which the individual and the fellowship must enter every day."

"We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the Word of God."

"We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God."

"Our brother's ways are not in our hands; we cannot hold together what is breaking; we cannot keep life in what is determined to die. But God binds elements together in the breaking, creates community in the separation, grants grace through judgment. He has put his Word in our mouth. He wants it to be spoken through us..."

"Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light. In the darkness of the unexpressed it poisons the whole being of a person. This can happen even in the midst of a pious community. In confession the light of the Gospel breaks into the darkness and seclusion of the heart."

"The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is..."


In need of His Grace,



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Praying the Sermon on the Mount -On Giving-

 3.2.13


©Katie Lloyd Photography -used with permission-
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Matthew 6: 1-4 







Father, thank you for your Word that enlightens our path and teaches us how to live the Christian life. Thank you, because you give to us, you fill our cup so that we can give to others. Thank you, because if we give it is because you have put in our hearts the desire and the will to do so. Thank you because through giving is that we can understand the joy of living an abundant life in the Kingdom of God.

Lord, thank you for the opportunities that you give us to bless others. Thank you, because when we give, we love like you love: Giving, and giving deliberately.

Forgive us, Oh Lord, for the many times that we have chosen not to give. Forgive us when we try to find ways not to be generous. Forgive us, when we have not given to the one who begs from us and when we have refused to the one who would borrow from us. Help us to give, and give and give with open hands. Not withholding anything, but remembering that You are the owner of all that we have been entrusted with.

Forgive us also when we give to be seen by others to find their favor or their praise. Work in us so that we may learn to give quietly, secretly; not even expecting a "thank you."  Remind us that when we do a good deed we are doing it unto you and not unto men.

Thank you, Father, for the joy that accompanies giving. Thank you because that is a beautiful thing that we can treasure in the quiet of our soul.

Fill us, we pray,  with more of the joy of the Kingdom by giving us wide open eyes to see all the opportunities you put before us so that we stretch our hands to give to others.

Father, it is my prayer also that you will teach us to receive with a grateful heart, understanding that all good things come from you. Help us receive from the hands of others knowing that those gifts, those blessings come directly from your heart to us. Give us a grateful heart, a humble heart. Lord,  a heart that is always willing to give, and a heart that is always ready to embrace your gifts with gratitude.


Amen





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A Prayer for the Days in Which We Don't Know How to Pray

 1.2.13

Praying Hands, Dürer


There are days when I just don't know how to pray.
Days when the right words won't seem to come.
When the right words in my mind, 
doesn't sound right in my mouth.

There are days when I just don't know how to pray.
In days like that,
I found myself murmuring
Quietly,
Whispering,
Over and over again,
From the depths of my soul,
With all my strength,
With faith the size of a mustard seed,
Little, but enough to move mountains.
A short prayer,
A prayer that reaches Heaven
And changes Earth...

"Father, let thy will be done on earth 
                                     as it is in Heaven."

And amen, and amen.
I can rest assured that my prayer will be answered.
That my voice has reached my Father's heart,
That I shall not be anxious about anything,
Because His will will be done. 
And His will for His children is good,
Always good,
And I whisper again
This time three words...
 
"Thank you, Lord."


And amen, and amen.
 




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Who is Becky?

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Becky
If I am happy it is because of God! God, in His sovereign grace, has called me out of darkness into His Admirable light. He has opened my eyes and has shown me the way to Eternal Life. He has set my feet on a journey, and now I am walking Daily on My Way to Heaven. I did not find Jesus, He found me. I did not seek Him, yet He called me. I did not love Him, yet He loved me. I deserved death and He gave me Life. This is the place where I keep a journal of my life under His sun and by His grace!
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Borrowed Words

"It becomes us to spend this life only as a journey toward heaven... to which we should subordinate all other concerns of life. Why should we labor for or set our hearts on anything else, but that which is our proper end and true happiness?"

Jonathan Edwards

"I am still pondering God's greatness in His creation. I have so many questions that I would like to ask the Lord about the universe, creation, the fall of man... But when I'm in heaven, I wonder if I will even remember them. At that time, being in the presence of God will be enough. I'm thankful that I can look forward to that day."

-Persis

“Heaven is not here, it’s There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.”

- Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart



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