Tuesday, August 5

Creativity, Art, and Beauty in Auschwitz

Alma Rose, Jewish Violinist and Conductor
of the Women's Orchestra at Auschwitz
"We found ourselves hushed by delicate floating butterflies and cheery watercolor flowers that had no place within the camp's barbed wire walls.  We were moved by the coexistence of evil and sheer beauty, seemingly both allowed to flourish in the same place."

~Kristy Cambron, The Butterfly and the Violin

If you're like I was, you don't realize that after World War II ended, hundreds upon hundreds of Jewish prisoner artwork was found hidden throughout Auschwitz.  There were more than 200 artists of all nationalities as prisoners in Auschwitz, as well as in other concentration camps. 

If you're like I was, you also don't realize there was a women's prisoner orchestra.  Alma Rosé was a beautiful Jewish violinist who was forced to conduct the women's orchestra in the Auschwitz concentration camp.  This women's orchestra played upbeat music as women left to work throughout the camps each day.  Later, they were forced to play as new arrivals, women and children, walked unsuspecting to their deaths.  How could they do that?  How could they play their beautiful music as their fellow Jewish sisters walked to their deaths?  The story of The Butterfly and the Violin grapples that question.  This is a book that touched my heart, and taught me history I had no inkling of before.  I love books that do that!  And this one couldn't be released during a more perfect time!  If you follow the news at all, you know that anti-Semitism isn't dead. It's heartbreakingly alive and real.  It's what made the horrors of WWII possible.  And it's not something we should be ignoring.  God is certainly not ignoring it, and God's people should not take it lightly.

More than anything, this book, fiction though it may be, magnified  the steadfastness of the human spirit and the truth that God will make beauty from ashes.  Even in ashes.  When Jews found themselves in Auschwitz, they actually saw the horror of ashes floating on the breeze.  They endured things no human being should ever have to endure.  And yet, they found and even created beauty there.  My favorite Jewish prisoner artwork is by Mieczyslaw Koscielniak, painted in 1944 and 1945 during his imprisonment at Auschwitz:


To view more Jewish art of the Holocaust, visit Last Expressions.  To read the fictional account of the women's prisoner orchestra, read The Butterfly and the Violin.  Have a blessed day, and pray for Israel!  And if you live near me and want to borrow this book, please let me know!

Wednesday, June 18

I Am So Vain... Ramblings of a Girl With Just the Right Amount of Insomnia

I've never thought of myself as a vain person and Facebook status updates don't usually float around in my mind longer than the seven seconds it takes to read them, but one I read yesterday did. I didn't even click “like” b/c I didn't exactly like it at the time—I didn't admit it to myself then, but it hit a bit too close to home. It was about vanity and selfishness and when I read it I thought, “So true... glad I'm not like that.”  I filed it away in the back of my mind where it stayed until I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't fall back to sleep.

I lay in bed and kept thinking about that status update (those of you who use Facebook, do you think your status updates aren't important? They're probably not, but they might be once in awhile!) I kept thinking about how Facebook can be very narcissistic, making people vain or revealing how vain they already were.  After all, how many of my own  status updates were written simply because I had something I thought was so clever, or because I wanted people to like me or notice me?

A very long time ago, the most inspiring man ever (who also happened to be God) said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, & take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the world and loses himself?” (Luke 9:23-25)

So while I couldn't sleep tonite, I realized why certain people who inspire me do. They inspire me because they gave infinitely more of their lives for other people. They “lost” their own lives, their own wills, and their own simple little pleasures that seemed so important until they realized deep down in their hearts that life did not revolve around them.

Florence Nightingale was beautiful. I portrayed her in a play for our Children's Church last year and read so much about her that I felt I truly knew her. She was witty, charming, and wealthy.  She had numerous suitors.  She went to balls in England's high society and lived a life of pleasure and seeming-contentment. But she was not content. She kept thinking of so many people who were hurting; she didn't even know them, but she was not content to continue living her life for herself when she knew she could do something about it. As for me, I find out a little bit about one person's sadness whom I know and my heart feels like it breaks in half for them.  But Florence Nightingale wanted to give up her life for people she didn't even know!

I realize God gives everyone their own place in the world where they can “lay down their life.” As a wife and homeschooling mother, I can't travel the world and relieve the pain of thousands of people as the lovely Florence Nightingale did, but I can at least look past my own vanity.  After all, the world doesn't revolve around me no matter how much I sometimes, if I'm honest with myself, wish it did.

Sometimes, I wake up with the dawn and I know Jesus wants me to pray. I think, “Yeah, I can pray in my bed where it's nice and cozy. There's nothing  wrong with that.” And then I fall back to sleep in less than a minute. Celena, you are a selfish, vain, lazy bum—people need you to pray for them! Maybe you don't agree, but prayer is more than words. It's a “sweet smelling incense” to God, it's more tangible than so many things you can do, it's a way to touch someone's life who you can't otherwise do anything for.  Crying out to God with passion is something we all need to do, but it is not something that happens when you simply go about your day and give God short tidbits of near-thoughtless prayers, or when you lay in bed half asleep.

So yesterday, after day upon day of a conviction I ignored, I got out of bed & actually got on my knees and prayed for real for the people on my heart. And after that, God made my day & blessed me in lotsa different little ways, & spoke to my heart. I lost my own will, my own “life” for just about 10 minutes & for that small, tiny (I know it was a very small, almost unmentionable sacrifice) He blessed me abundantly and gave me back whatever of my own “comfort” I might have lost.

If I feel that way because of something so simple, what will my life be, what kind of fulfillment will I have, if I truly follow Florence Nightingale's example and live always (or even half of always) for people who aren't me?

"The most important [commandment]," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."  Mark 12:29-31

Thursday, May 15

Angels in the Entryway

Are they [angels] not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?  Hebrews 1:14

I was laying on the living room couch, facing the wall, hoping to take a nap when I heard two soft, excited voices.

My twin babies were born 6 weeks early and had just come home from the hospital.  At the time, they were about 2 weeks old.  Elisabeth and Milena were so tiny (3 lb 11 oz and 4 lb 3 oz).  They were laying on their backs in their musical swings.  The music had stopped playing and now they were sleeping soundly.  I could hear their soft breathing as I prayed they would sleep long enough for me to get some rest.  It seemed like they ate constantly and never slept at the same time.  I was very overwhelmed, a brand new mother with twins who had never even held a baby before my own little ones were born.

And then I heard those voices.  At first I thought they were friends coming to visit.  I felt them standing in the entryway near the front door but I didn't want to turn around.  Maybe they would think I was asleep so I could finally get some peace and rest.  I didn't want visitors at a time like then.  I had not even gotten dressed that day. I prayed they would go away.

But the visitors continued talking about the babies.  It's been 6 years since that day but I still remember their voices so clearly--one a male and one a female--talking about how the baby girls were so sweet and perfect.  They talked about how peaceful they looked while they were sleeping.  They went on and on and then I began to get a strange feeling.  How did these visitors get into my house?  The doorbell didn't ring, no one knocked at the door, and I didn't hear my husband let them in.  Suddenly, I felt they were angels.  I was frozen with awe.  If I turned around, what would I see?  I couldn't bring myself to peak so I lay there silently looking at the back of the couch until I no longer heard them talking.  I closed my eyes then and took a much longed-for nap.

When I woke up, I asked my husband who came over earlier and why he let them in when I was trying to get some sleep and still had my pjs on.

He said, "No one came over all day."

I asked, "Didn't Sandra and Bradley come by?  I thought I heard Sandra's voice."  Sandra has a very nice, clear voice.  The female voice I heard sounded a little like her's.

"No," my hubby said.  "Sandra and Brad didn't come over, or anyone else."

I told him about the people I heard talking and what they said.  Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I knew I hadn't imagined them.

When Mike convinced me that no one had come over, I knew I had heard angels.  I didn't tell anyone except my husband at the time because people get funny about "angels" sometimes.  Much later, I read the bible verse above and thought, "This is biblical.  Angels are real, they are sent by God to protect and watch over us, and if any of my fair readers don't believe what I know is true, that's okay. I'm going to write it anyway." 

Hearing angels talking about Beth and Milena gave me a sense of peace then and still does now.  I think to myself, if these certain angels were appointed to watch over Beth and Milena, they must be watching over Sammy and Lulu, too.  As a young mother, I felt so overwhelmed and battled depression for a very long time.  But there was a God in Heaven who was watching over me and holding me in His hand.  I didn't often have anyone to help baby-sit or keep me company but, just as God's word says, He had appointed angels to help me watch over my babies when no one else could and He had used them to pull me out of the darkest time in my life.

Because you have made the Lord… your dwelling place... He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.  Psalm 91: 9, 11

Lord, help us to make You our dwelling place, that we'll rest in You and find comfort in You when we can't find it in anyone else.  Help us to never doubt any part of Your word, but to embrace it with everything we are.  In Jesus wonderful name, Amen.

Thursday, May 1

God WILL Give You More Than You Can Handle!

“Wow,” someone said to me as I dropped my twin babies off at the church nursery, “You have twins. God didn't give me twins because He knew I couldn't handle them. God will never give you more than you can handle.”

I didn't say anything. Those days, tears were always stuck in my throat, threatening to spill over as depression constantly clouded my mind. What does “handle” mean, anyway? I thought bitterly.

So many people told me the same thing but I knew it wasn't true. Unless I was “handling it” when I threw vases and broke them against the wall, thanking God I didn't hurt my babies during my fits of rage. Unless “handling it” was screaming (yes, cursing, even) at my husband or babies who cried all night. Unless “handling it” was running outside and slamming the door and wishing I had my own car so I could run away. Unless “handling it” was crying into my pillow every night and wishing I could die.

When I first became a Christian, 5 years before depression set in and challenged everything I thought was true about God, I argued with a college professor that “God will never give you more than you can handle.” He said, “Well, Celena, there is a verse that says 'God won't tempt you beyond what you're able to endure' but 'enduring' is much different from 'handling.'”

To handle something means you've got it under control. While the world assumed I was handling being a new mother of twins, I was actually flying off the handle just about every other day. Webster's dictionary described me well: “flying off the handle: going into a state of sudden & violent anger.” That was me alright.

For about a year and a half, I struggled with post partum depression. I think it's important to talk about because when I was going through it, I was very ashamed and thought no other Christian ever struggled with it. I didn't tell my doctor because she knew I was a Christian and I wanted to have “a good testimony.” I'd heard countless preachers say Christians shouldn't need medication for depression. Please don't think I'm saying whether I believe that or not: I will never tell someone what to do in that situation. I made it through without killing myself but that was about as close as I came to “handling it.” But that's me, and it's not you... or someone you love who's fighting with all they've got just to make it to the next day.

When I was fighting depression, the only book in the bible that could begin to console me was the book of Job because he questioned God the same way I did. Job said things like,

“I was at ease, but He shattered me.”
“Why do You hide Your face and consider me Your enemy?”
“Though He slay me, yet will I serve Him.”

I would lock myself in the bathroom, the only place I could be alone & cry out to God with a heart like Job's:

“God, why won't you deliver me?”
“Do you hate me? Why do you hate me? What did I do wrong?”

And He spoke to my heart the words He spoke to Peter, “You don't want to go away, also, do you?”

And I cried out, even though everything within me was certain He had something against me for some reason... that He hated me even!, “Lord, where else can I go?! I know that You have the words of eternal life. I believe and know that you're God. There's nowhere else to go!”

So... I endured. I endured. I didn't handle anything. I couldn't handle it on my own. I couldn't even “handle it” as I prayed and sought God. But I realized how much I needed Him more than I ever realized it before. When I first prayed at the altar 5 years before all my real problems began, I was a very happy sinner. Yep, sinners can be happy! I knew something was missing, and when I prayed to ask Jesus to come into my heart, that was just the icing on the cake. I knew He died for my sins but it was so superficial. Jesus was my buddy, my real life genie in a bottle. But when He finally “gave me more than I could handle” and I realized how much I really, truly needed Him, He became my Father and my Savior, the One I could never run away from... no matter how bad it got.

So is God not God because He gave me more than I could handle?

I believe He gave me more than I could handle so I would understand that I'm still a sinner who needs His grace. Before I fought depression and anger, I didn't realize I had that potential for such anger inside me. My faith was superficial. For 5 years, I had a life of ease, just like Job did before calamity struck. I loved God because He was good to me, because He blessed me. I didn't realize that even if He never did anything else for me, dying for me was enough.

I am so thankful that my children will never remember that I used to scream at them, cuss at them, throw things, and slam doors. I'm so thankful that I never hurt them. I'm so thankful that I can smile a sincere smile and can laugh so hard my face hurts. For almost 2 years, I wondered if I would ever laugh a real laugh again! My friends tease me when I laugh so hard I snort, but I love when that happens because every single time I do God reminds me there was a time I thought I'd never be happy enough to laugh that hard again.

I am so glad I'm not there now, but I wouldn't go back and change it for anything. And I think it's worth mentioning that God truly did deliver me from anger and post partum depression. If you've struggled with it one time, you don't have to struggle with it again. When I had Sammy, depression didn't even try to sneak back in. I was truly delivered from it and God blessed me so much by giving me such great joy with my final baby whose name means, “heard by God.” God did hear my prayer, and He didn't answer it the way I thought He would and deliver me right when I asked... but He did a more glorious work in me than I ever would've thought to ask for by making me “endure.”

And so I praise His name and I thank Him so, so much for being a God who sees the end from the beginning and will give someone more than she can handle!

Thursday, October 10

In Remembrance of Joshua Shane

All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:16

A wise man once said, "The mark of true Christianity is not 'I'm perfect' but 'I fight."  My brother died from a prescription overdose almost 11 years ago and sometimes it still seems like it can't be real.  He was my best friend.  I still wish I could pick up the phone to call him so we could hang out, but I can't.  I have comfort, though, in that God has blessed me by giving me his poems, a way to see his heart, feel close to him, and have the hope of seeing him again someday in a place where there will be no more sin and death.  My brother's poems reflect his struggle against drugs & depression.  They show that even though he wasn't perfect, he fought

Well, I got out of bed, stood to my feet
So I could drop to my knees,
Asked for a dose of devotion and humbleness to seize me.

Well, I got back to my apartment 'round noon time
Fell back on my knees, elbows hit the couch cushion
Just to ask him “please.”

Oh, God, Oh my God, help me please.
I need some will power to treat my disease.

Well, I made it through the day now,
But night crawls on me like fleas.
I pray comfortably,
'Cause I'm not like the monks in the trees.

Oh, devotion has flooded me
But I can still swim in the deepest of oceans
'Cause I'm with Him.

Powerful as love will let you be,
Beautiful as your eyes will let you see,
Humble your ego, let fate be.
You're just a person who needs God-almighty.
Some folks are scared to take a second glance.
Some folks don't understand about a second chance.

He's right, pure, and true.
Our Lord Jesus died for me and you.
Two choices: hop on or off the train.
Search all over the world... it'll all be in vain.
Go ahead and take your time.
I did and nearly lost my mind.
Well today, my friend, you can decide,
On or off the train... on that cross for you He died.

Jesus the Fate-Ruler
Buzzed as you think you are, leave the drugs behind.
You don't have to push rewind.
Rehab didn't save me from fire-waters grip,
Out of control and I slip.
Only one way and it's washing my soul with Christ
'Cause His blood paid the ultimate price.

The pain I feel is nothing, but it hurts the ones who love me.
I wish I knew why I do these things that continually disgust me.
Mom, Dad, Sister, and Bro, they do everything they know.
It hurts worse than cuts to see their tears,
My future crumbles 'cause I run from my fears.
Praying for Jesus for me to be sane
Praying for the chance to use my brain.
I can't apologize enough because they're all empty,
All I can do is have them kneel and pray with me.

Linger on dawn, just stay where you are,
Everything's perfect and the sun's not far.
Linger on dawn, the owls begin their hunt,
I hear a pack of javelinas starting to grunt.
Sing a song wind, and drift away the pain.
Bring a mist of consciousness to ease my weary brain.
My heart begins to beat like a tribal drum,
It's all I can feel right now, waiting for what's begun.
No more deep thoughts for me, I just can't waste the time.
I'd rather sit and execute another wandering rhyme.
Uneasy thunder, white lightning plunder, and animals get their drink.
Embracing is the mud I lay in and the rain is all I think.
Complacent and comfortable in a puddle in my car,
Complacent and comfortable in a puddle in my car.
Everything's perfect and the sun's not far.
Linger on dawn, just stay where you are.

Being called a follower of man hurts when it's true.
But now I know what I've gotta do.
We can all fall into a well of despair
But I know of a ladder that's forever there.
Cleaning my backyard, rooting up all the weeds,
Taking out a couple good books that help plant seeds
Not in the soil but in the depths of my soul.
One row left untilled can be the end of my garden.
To sow is my treasure and parasites are pardoned.
Come on now, don't you know? You reap what you sow.
It's gonna take a little pain for you to grow.

It's hard to breathe a sigh of relief
When drovers of memories are bringing me grief.
But just for this moment I will set them sail,
Bringing it to God via prayer mail.

I've been neglecting Him lately
when I should be on my knees.
He's my great Creator, curer of disease.
Around me all the time, His love will never cease.

Some people chase Him all their life
But they never look to their heart in their strife.
He's not some statue, not a tangible idol.
He is King of Kings, even more than that righteous title.
He's more than legend, not just a thought.
He's not just a cross around your neck your mother bought.

The Lord is my savior, that's all I know of Him now
For if it wasn't for Jesus I would be lost somehow.
God loves us all, even those who ignore Him.
My God is a race-less one--
I believe He sees a 'lil bit of all of us in His eternal son.

My God,
My God is beyond worth.

Ever wonder why things don't go your way?
I have and came up with a conclusion today.

Sometimes you gotta pray for what you need.
Sometimes you have to wait for favor to proceed.

The Man upstairs who really cares will listen to the first cry,
It may take awhile but never fear, for Jesus will reply.

Nailed on the cross so we could live,
God gave us His son, the most precious thing to give.

Two roads to be traveled, but at one end lies
A most beautiful God we cannot deny.

For more of my brother's poetry, click here.


Tuesday, October 23


When I was 7, I believed in my parents. They knew everything there was to know and I thought they were perfect. I kissed and hugged them every night when they tucked me in with my musical lamb.

When I was 9, I believed in fairies. I looked for them in the woods under moss and aroun
d streams. My brother and I climbed trees and made forts out of planks and torn sheets. We cried when the storms came and blew down our castles.

When I was 12, I believed in my imagination. I read a book in my room from morning til night. My best friends were Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield and I wished that I went to Sweet Valley High. I wrote stories about the fairies I once believed in and about girls who were nerds but became super models.

When I was 15, I believed in magic. I put love spells on my crush with feathers and candles and stole grass from his yard to carry around in my pocket each day for a year. I sewed butterflies all over my bell bottoms and dressed up to go to basketball games just for the dance afterward, but the spells only worked on all the wrong people.

When I was 17, I believed in myself. I thought I could do anything and joined the Air Force to "see the world." My brother told me he couldn't wait for me to leave. I told him he would be sorry when I was gone. I read "Gone With the Wind" and wished I lived in another time. I fell in love with a new boy every few weeks as I searched for the prince who lived in my mind.

When I was 18, I believed in beauty. I thought I loved my new life as I spent hours each evening in front of the mirror just to impress the guys I'd meet at Club Gotham or at John's weekly Friday night party. The next morning I'd wake with a headache to wonder, as I hugged the toilet, "Is this all there is to life?" The nights I didn't party, I leaned over the balcony outside my room, searching the stars for an answer, praying to a god I didn't know.

When I was 19, I believed in Jesus. Old things in my life passed away and all became new as I prayed for my brother, wrote about God, and felt peace in my future. I began to live for someone other than myself and found out that Christianity was the farthest thing from boring, after all.

Searching the world for something to believe in finally ended when I found my true Prince. That emptiness was never in my heart again, and the person of the past seems someone from a dream.

Thursday, February 16

Passion, Joy, & Wisdom, & Why it's a Good Thing to Be a Little on the Selfish Side

My favorite people inspire me because they are selfless.  I'm reading "Atlas Shrugged" at the moment and was shocked to discover that Ayn Rand also inspires me in certain ways for different reasons.  Gasp! Inspired by an atheist, Celena!?  Yes, well, even an atheist can have a brilliant mind and can achieve great things in the eyes of the world.  She was an amazing writer who overcame great odds, she weaves a captivating story (too captivating, perhaps) and she paints a picture of humanity and the world that can't simply be brushed over. Atlas Shrugged makes me think more than I have since I graduated from NAU with a minor in Anthropology 3 years ago.  Minoring in Anthropology and being bombarded with relative truth and Darwinian evolution taught by the most amazing professor this side of the Universe will make a Christian think a great deal, I assure you.  But I've missed being so challenged.  I've missed having to actually think about things.

One thing I've begun to ponder is how selfishness invades everything I do and realizing that it's alright to be that way.  Maybe that doesn't sound like anything a Christian should consider, but bear with me!  Ayn Rand advocated nothing short of selfishness.  I began to think things like, "Maybe the only reason I really make my husband coffee in the morning is for what I'll get out of it."  Truly, it is a part of the reason. But that reason and my doing anything good is all wrapped around the reality that I love God and try my best to live for Him.  Think about why you do anything good.  You do it because of the feeling of gratification it gives you, or because of pride and the way people will see you, or because of what you'll get out of it, and, hopefully, because God wants you to.  Most of those things are selfish but the last thing wraps it all together and makes it good.  Ayn Rand leaves out that last part and so her ideal, "perfect" characters fall short of anything close to perfection because of it.

According to her, "rational self-interest (i.e. selfishness) is every individual's highest moral obligation."  My favorite Christian apologist, John Piper, said what sounds on the surface like the same thing: "some dimension of joy is a moral duty in all virtuous acts."  Joy is for ourselves, is it not?   Both John Piper and Ayn Rand believed that pursuing joy is selfish.  Rand wrote about 2 of her characters, "They were both incapable of the conception that joy is sin."  Truly, what rational person would want to be a Christian if joy is sin?!  Perhaps seeking joy is selfish, but joy in itself is not sin.

That idea that all joy is sin is totally anti-god, which any average person will discover if they read His Word.  According to the bible, God gives us "all things richly to enjoy."  When we "delight in Him, He gives us the desires of our hearts."  Mr. Piper said, "Pursuing maximum joy is essential to glorifying God.  All-surpassing, soul-satisfying treasure.  People actually don't seek pleasure with nearly the resolve and passion they should."

The greatest pleasure anyone can have is in living for God every day of their lives.  I'm not saying that I never question or doubt Him.  I'm not saying that I read my bible from dawn to dusk.  I'm not saying that I'm even close to perfect.  I know who I am and so does God, and I am not quite as "good" as I may seem on the outside; no one is.  But God made me a person who would want to seek joy and who wouldn't give up until she found it.  He made me someone who would long for passion and richness in life because He is the author of real passion and real richness.  He made me that way so that I would want to love Him and want to know Him.

Ayn Rand obviously sought passion and joy, too, but I pity her because she didn't realize that God is the author of the greatest pleasures and the greatest passions, and the author of complete wisdom.  I haven't touched on wisdom much but I want to be wise as much as I want the other things.  When King Solomon asked, God blessed him with the greatest wisdom any man ever had before or since.  As amazing as Ayn Rand was, as much wisdom as she had in certain things, as much as I like this book, it falls so short of what it could have been had she acknowledged the One who bestowed so lavishly a gift upon her.  Complete wisdom can only be found in God; no matter how brilliant a mind may be, there are certain things a person will never understand without the wisdom that only comes from asking the One who created our minds in the first place.

Knowledge of God without knowledge of man's wretchedness leads to pride.  Knowledge of man's wretchedness without knowledge of God leads to despair.  Knowledge of Jesus Christ is the middle course, because by it we discover both God and our wretched state. ~Blaise Pascal, 17th c. Scientist

As for you, dear reader, may God show you all passion, joy, wisdom, and truth; and may you understand the height, and depth, and width of His love for you! I'm just barely skimming the surface of something that's pretty deep. I hope you'll investigate it for yourself by getting to know Him better.

Sunday, January 15

Thor, Cap, Wolverine, & This Girl's Eternal Perspective

I'm quite smitten with Cap (Captain America, I mean) & Thor, too… oh, and Wolverine!  Maybe you don't stay up late and read comic books in bed, but I challenge any girl to watch Thor, Captain America, or X-men and not fall for the hero during the next 2 hours and 17 minutes.

The end of the Thor movie was especially poignant for me when our dashing, charming, extremely heroic superhero gave his leading lady Jane a quite romantic kiss. There was the perfect bit of romance the movie needed to end with.  Then Thor was lifted up into the sky and a cloud received him out of Jane's sight.  Jane stood there looking at the sky, and I sat there looking at the TV feeling bittersweet and wondering, "How in the world's she ever going to marry anyone now that she's been loved by a super hero?!"

So these Cap-Thor-Wolverine thoughts have been rushing around in my mind for a month or so, along with thoughts of Jesus and God's word and wishing I were a superhero and wanting to put an eternal spin on it all.  A wise man once said, "All heroes are shadows of Christ."*

Here I am, fascinated by the stories of these incredibly awesome super heroes who really are just shadows of Christ.  They're cool, sure, and they have really interesting stories, sure, and they're likeable and attractive… but Jesus is infinitely more amazing than all of them put together.  I'm doing my best to write about super heroes & Jesus all in one breath without sounding cheesy, but honestly, look at all these super powers He has:

Like Storm, He has power over nature. (Matt 8:23)

Like Nightcrawler, He can teleport. (Acts 1:9; Luke 24:31)

Like Wolverine, He's got an immortal, incorruptible body. (Luke 24:39-43)

Like Mystique, He can disguise Himself. (Luke 24:16-31)

Like Thor, He can fly into the Heavens.  (Acts 1:9)

Like Professor X, He can read minds.

Plus, He knows the future, He can heal the sick and raise the dead, He walked on water, turned water to wine, multiplied a little bit of bread into a lot, withered a fig tree with just a glance, and the list goes on.

After Jesus rose from the dead, He was no longer bound by the laws of matter and time.  And it doesn't stop there.  Paul wrote to the church at Corinth:

"There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another.  There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.  So also is the resurrection of the dead.  It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory… In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality." (1 Cor 15:40-43; 52-53)

And so, we're going to live in eternity with an immortal, imperishable body just like Jesus.  Hm… does that sound like a super hero to you?  Maybe it's just my own girlish, vain ambition but being a super hero someday gives me just another thing to look forward to.  I think it's pretty awesome that I'm going to spend all eternity not only with the only One truly worthy of my awe but with a bunch of other super heroes who aren't bound by time or matter--who can walk through doors without opening them,  live forever, never get old, swim without holding their breath, fly, teleport, and do all kinds of other things I'm sure neither Marvel nor DC has even begun to dream up yet.  Comic book super heroes are awesome… but I think they only just scratch the surface.  They're just shadows of Christ.

*John Piper, Don't Waste Your Life, 35.

Wednesday, January 11

The Way Things Ought to Be

I'm not a poet but every once in awhile when God inspires him, my husband is.  This poem touched my heart!  I hope you enjoy it.

In this world which we live
there's a sense of what ought,
an intangible feeling,
a perception, a thought

of the way things once were
or someday will be.
If only we could
through the darkened glass see;

the pane has been clouded
by the sin in our hearts,
from the lust and vain pride
that has torn us apart

from the Father above
by whom we were created
but we spurned His great love
and became separated.

What then must be done
for the ache deep inside
for the longing of home
where our dreams do abide?

Take heart, precious one,
turn the pages and look
at the Father & Son,
at the Author & Book

All began with a word:
"One day!" He would write,
"I will give to them vision
and restore them to sight."

Then the dark glass will clear
day by day, by and by
revelation and truth
will displace the great why.

The light dwelt among us
and is here to behold
if we will comprehend
and believe what we're told;

all shadows of Christ
were the things of past ages,
the substance is Jesus
thread throughout all the pages.

*Inspired by Pastor Fred Rubi's Christmas sermon a few years ago, and the many truths about time and the faith by which we occupy it, found in God's word.

"Faith is meant to occupy time." -Pastor Fred Rubi
"God is not bound by time." -Dave Fish

Habakkuk 2:3
Col 2:17
2 Cor 5
1 Cor 15
John 1

Monday, October 10

More of my Brother's Poetry

I step out the door and into the sky
Heading for Arizona where I'll probably die

Another fork in the road,
Another tattoo on my soul.

The sun grows brighter with each step to the west
Desert is glorious and mountains a success

Beauty surrounds me with her peaceful mountains
And through this desert there are plenty of fountains

The freedom of the desert's warmth
And the vision that I walk towards

Breeze on the naked trees, whisper to me
'Cause nature's its own reward in a desert sea.

Reclining on a bed with a pen in my hand
I hear the thunder beat.
I'm listening to nature's percussion band.
I hear the ocean falling around me,
But I'm under a roof with conditioned air
On a dry mattress with pillows to spare.
This is God bringing back to the tree,
This is God providing for me,
This is God ever forgiving me.

SISTER (that's me)
Bless my sister, the gal who shared her soul
Sacred is the loving embracement no one can owe
From Christmas mornings to slumber parties
to mischievous stories of school sneak-ins before tardies
Viewing your art in astonishment
like a message to me, creativity's sent.
My deserving hero,
I feel the love of her grace and courage to my apprenticeship.
Seeing your tears draws in fears
because of the burn, scare, and sears
I'm a lucky man with God's love sent
With the love of the Lord I must repent.

Life's not all about Chinese food and kickin' back.
Used to think it was 'til I ran into reality slack

Slip into another portrait of how things should be
Break the mold of economy souls fishing liberally
Shake the views of the cement personality

Destiny is not for the frozen ones
You gotta decide to make yourself a chosen one

So go ahead and do the math
You can't wait for others to choose your path.

A fool without a prayer and he's all out of breath
He tried to put his hands together but was twitching bad from meth
The sun shined down beside him and leaned on his neck
He looked up to be blinded but only for a sec
Breathing in and out deeply, he confessed with his tongue
20-something years old and he felt so young
Lifted is the burden that drenched his heart
Ready now for a new way, a brand new start.

Sometimes I write a line and then scratch it out
Sometimes I begin to debate then start to pout
I continuously question my consistency
Wonder who or what I really wanna be
It's even hard to look in the mirror
'Cause the image behind my eyelids looks clearer
Can I come to terms with my external temple,
Or is it my soul I hold lamental?

I can feel myself get lower
I can feel the pain in the power
I can see the lights in the mirror
I can see the hands on the hour.

First step, swallow my pride.
Second step, just take the ride.
Third step, stop shruggin' my shoulders.
Fourth step, realize that I'm older.

Many more steps, too many to mention.
Can't gain it all in a single session.
But I should always try to hold my head high.
Gotta know it's okay for my soul to cry.

I'm a man looking for his place in this world,
Crawling out of the smoke that left my mind swirled.

A tear drop hits the page
A wrinkle hits my age
A twinkle burns in the skies
An indescribable warmth dies
As the love unties.

Thinking about all the times I moan...
It makes me sick.

'Cause I'm not abandoned and alone
Love and family's thick.

We can be so ungrateful,
Taking luxuries for granted.

So when you can't afford the new fad
remember food's in your belly, ain't got it too bad.

I'm not starving and I got love,
family, friends, and God above.

Tangibles and throw-aways are overrated
It's all smoke from a green flame, quickly dissipated.

Getting my high in a dream,
waking up to a grace gleam.

Thanking God smoke was only in my sub-conscience
like the lost soul who has hope in his responses.

Scared as hell as I feel my soaking back.
It was just a fantasy. Now I come back.

Like a looking glass of my past,
it's not in the urinary tract, at last.

Smelling, feeling, dealing,
Then I fall from the ceiling.

What a forgiving crash--
Waking up with no stash.

The time has come for me to change
Flip my life and rearrange
Give my soul to Someone else
And let God's angels ring their bells
All I need is an American dream
No picket fence 'cause that's not what I mean
Paying taxes to old folk
Collecting possessions instead of being broke
Adopt a dog and name it something true
Raise that pup and do what I gotta do
Keep a routine, sleep, work, and play
Wake up again to do it the next day.
Somehow I can't believe this is coming from my heart
but I know it is true 'cause my pen begins where the beat starts.

For years, the freaks shed their tears
While their master sits and waits.
The show's all over and who gets the cheers?
The ring master and his two dates.

The deformed grow old and fed up faster
and the strong man bends the bars.
The rebels tie up the ring master,
all laugh near and far.
He was the caster
of their humiliation
They sought peace by sitting him in their situation,
But it brought no consolation.

Money is success
or so it is told.
People, they always be chasing that gold.
Catch it, want more, and they're sold.

When danger isn't adventure,
then I don't know what story you are in.
When adventures get stranger,
You need not match the Cheshire's grin.

The touch of the glass
felt like the thickness of mist.
The entrance through which she passed,
the terror of bliss.
More than what she used to be,
But lesser, too, at times.
Taking the distortion and awkward things she sees,
As natural as, in a windless sky, the singing of blown chimes.

I'm not sick of think'n 'bout destinations,
but I want to be there.
I'm waiting for the occasion.
I'm gonna get there.
Tomorrow is today before you know,
I will someday reap what I sow.
Things will be the same and different. I know.
Yeah, jah know I'll be harvesting a dream.
Yes, I know I'll be harvesting my dream.

Seems like whenever the time comes to test myself
I always seem to fail.
Living hour for hour, leaving my soul on the shelf,
but who's gonna post my bail?
Chasing a tangible dream that wasn't on any map,
floating on a raft with no sail.
Ocean and sand on just another beach,
All along I'm like a puppet on a string,
grasping for something I can't reach.
But now it's gotta give, cause I'm tired of taking.
It's time to live, now that my soul's awakened.

They say you should stay
on this afternoon
But I just want to play
Music's infinite tune
It's easy, the song today
'Cause “now” is what I'm gonna play
Can't let today take away from tomorrow
Don't want to let happiness sour to sorrow.

I never had such an urge to sing as I do today.
I never had such a rush in my ring as I do today.

Thinkin' 'bout how it came from a sprout
It got watered by a heavenly spout
Seeds unfertilized can still shout
Raw material is all you need
Remember this when you plant the seed
It takes more than supplies to succeed
Just remember “love is all you need.”

Trying to help myself when all it does is hurt
Trying to redeem myself when they think I'm dirt
Always under someone's watchful eye
Hiding away so they don't throw tissues when I cry
I like the tears to just fall down my face
Drop after drop, like a destiny race
Things so simple are just tearing me limb from limb
I don't think I'll ever have a chance to win
On the other hand, I'll just fight expectation's odds
And just pass on the side of the man who sits by and nods.
My destiny is between my fate and my God's.

I'm at war with my own temple
Some say it's cause I'm a little mental
My body is scarred but my heart is pure
Sick of this and ready to move on
Today is another opportunistic dawn

Diving drops of rain come here to saturate me
Been scorched in a desert,
Now I'm swimming in a sea.
Invisible clouds seem to shade my skin.
How did it all begin?

I'm sick of writing 'bout despair
all this negative and how I don't care.
But deep inside, I really do want something better.
Living the dream, receiving a golden letter.
A dog and I woman and I would feel like a king.
Don't need a platinum or a lexus for my soul to bling-bling.
I wanna feel happy about the things I do
I wanna be a man that lives true.

A picture of confusion is me.
Scared of the unknown and what I'm to be.
All I want is an American Dream
But somehow I feel that's not what it seems.
Alone again like that guy from Kung-fu
Gonna head on a journey I don't know I can do.

I was buzzin' one day and I started coughing
I noticed I wanted (“needed”) another nail in the coffin
I don't like this feeling of being controlled
Money towards paper and tobacco, all packaged and rolled
It never makes me feel great, just satisfied
Might as well end it before I've died
Too many times my exception borrowed,
All burnt away, conscience led to sorrow.
Check my heart's inventory, yeah I know it's not empty..
'Cause love is glory and compassion is sympathy.
Life my voice to a full extent
It's never too later for a devil to repent.

I'll pass on another status symbol
'Cause I don't want a house on a hill
Refreshing is life if you keep it simple
So I don't want a house on a hill
I won't crave a jealous intention
You can keep your house on a hill
I don't seek a social intervention
You can have your house on a hill.

Anger can get out of control
For advice, feel inside of your soul
Breathe in, breathe out,
Ignore the demons who shout.
Don't end the pointless encounter in violence,
Pull out two fingers, walk away in peaceful silence.
A fist for a fist...
Whatever happened to “a kiss for a kiss”?

I'm not sick of think'n 'bout destinations,
but I want to be there.
I'm waiting for the occasion.
I'm gonna get there.
Tomorrow is today before you know,
I will someday reap what I sow.
Things will be the same and different. I know.
Yeah, jah know I'll be harvesting a dream.
Yes, I know I'll be harvesting my dream.

Seems like whenever the time comes to test myself
I always seem to fail.
Living hour for hour, leaving my soul on the shelf,
but who's gonna post my bail?
Chasing a tangible dream that wasn't on any map,
floating on a raft with no sail.
Ocean and sand on just another beach,
All along I'm like a puppet on a string,
grasping for something I can't reach.
But now it's gotta give, cause I'm tired of taking.
It's time to live, now that my soul's awakened.

As silence breaks the day of my heart
I listen for the music begin to start.

I love hearing and feeling the power of His song.

It's a pounding weapon of love given by our Creator.
It always seems to stump the anti-peace propigator.

I can't dance to the ill-rythmed beat of gunfire
'cause glory mixed with blood is one thing I'll never desire.

Skyward it flies,
The momentum—will it die?
More amazing with each play,
It's over—on the ground it lays.
Flashbacks of the event immediately occur and soon decay.
Nothin' like hack'n on a sunny day.