Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Loft by Any Other Name

loft, noun
a room or space directly under the roof of a house or building, which may be used for accommodations or storage.

This is the first definition in my dictionary widget. 

I named this blog Views from the Loft because I started posting here three years ago when my Honey and I moved to a gorgeous flat in Prague, Czech Republic. We tucked ourselves into the open, top-floor space full of skylights and marveled at the goodness of the Lord. 

The view from the balcony was a feast for our eyes; a panoramic cityscape, red tile roofs, the peak of the tower of St. Vitus Cathedral. The banquet for our ears was like that of a country house; cooing doves, swishing swallows, voices raised heavenward.

For you see, there was an old Hussite church situated in the courtyard, nestled in amongst the towering trees. The music and voices of the practicing choir drifted up over our balcony and blessed our souls. It was as if we were being serenaded by a heavenly throng. 

God set us in that precious place as He allowed us to serve Him in a rich cultural context. It was also the place where I came to the end of myself, staring down death with nothing but my bare, folded hands. My Abba Father met me there.

He [the LORD] reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.  2 Samuel 22:17, Psalm 18:16

My entire world was flooded to the point of drowning. I am only now beginning to sense the lessening of the torrent. My Honey is alive and well and for that I am grateful. My eyes soak themselves in the sights over a different landscape these days. My desire is to secure and expand the divine perspective my Father worked so faithfully to reveal to me during my time in the Prague loft. 

He is the great I AM.

He loves ME.

He cares about what's happening in MY LIFE.

He is all-powerful and all-sufficient.

He is all about rescue, eternal rescue . . . beginning HERE and NOW.

Dear LORD, please continue to grant me Your view from the 'loft' no matter where you set my earthly home. And, according to Your will, allow me to share the glimpses with others that your Name might be cherished and hallowed, praised and exalted throughout the seen and the unseen worlds. Amen 

Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD: 
The LORD looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death.
So the name of the LORD will be declared in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the LORD.  Psalm 102:18-22

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Look of Love

Maybe this has never happened to you.

Then again . . . maybe it has.

You're going about your day fully satisfied with all that God is doing. Everything isn't exactly rosy but there's enough upbeat happening to keep you feeling satisfied. You may even start to whistle or hum with joy.

Then it strikes. 

You see or hear or think of something that you enjoy; ice cream, new clothes, flavored coffee. You recognize the item is simply something you want, definitely not something you need. Yet somehow the passing fancy takes on a mind of its own. You slowly realize you've got your heart set on having it no matter what.

That's what happened to me in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport last week. 

We were making our way from one concourse to another to catch the second of three flights to return home. My eyes caught the headline of a copy of USA Today at a news stand. I was instantly in want.

It's not like I read the news or anything, but they have a great puzzle page that keeps my brain occupied for a while as we're flying. I have all kinds of arguments to keep myself from making spur-of-the-moment purchases and they all came to the forefront. By the time we got to the gate every defense had crumbled. I mentioned my craving to my Honey and he was ready to make the purchase, but it was time to board.

I'm not being dramatic when I tell you that I wanted that puzzle page so bad I could almost taste it. I got on the plane and took my seat with black and white squares sprinkled with word searches and sentence jumbles on my tongue. It was brutal. 

I pulled myself together and thanked the Lord we'd made the connection with such a short layover. I settled in and buckled my seatbelt. 

But Boy-O, it would have been nice to enjoy that USA Today puzzle page, I thought.

I'd already done the crossword puzzle, but I decided to look through the airline magazine. I reached into the seat pocket in front of me and my fingers touched something odd. I pulled out a square of folded paper.

Imagine my shock as I opened it up and realized it was THE puzzle page I'd been picturing in my mind's eye. It was from that day's edition of USA Today AND it was fresh and clean. 


All I could do was sit and stare at the piece of newsprint in my hands. It was as if God had sent an angel to grab that page from somebody's USA Today and tuck it in there for me to find. With all the crazy and demanding things going on in my life, in spite of my major shortcomings and rebellious undercurrents, my Abba Father heard the cry of my heart and intervened to meet my longing.

Just a silly little thing that wouldn't mean much to anybody else.

Right there on an airplane.

With no fanfare.

He met me with the kind of love that binds me to Him over and over and over again.

I'm still overwhelmed as I write about it nearly a week later. 

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:14-19

What intimate expression of love has God shown you? Please let me know.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Free Time: a Common Myth

Perhaps you haven’t figured it out yet.

Maybe you still believe that days unfold and free time appears out of nowhere.

Not me.

I’ve come to the conclusion that having even a few uncommitted minutes pop up by surprise is a rare occurrence. Actually that’s happened in my life about the same number of times as seeing a double rainbow.

A number of examples of this rare phenomenon may crowd into your mind. You suddenly have enough time to relax in the middle of the day, to complete that unfinished project, to ponder an important decision uninterrupted, to commit focused time in prayer, …

Can you remember the last occasion any of that kind of opportunity surfaced for you?

I can't.

Right now I’m on a two-week retreat with my Honey. We’re not supposed to be spending too much time on the computer and internet. Well, I open my laptop just to stay in touch and all kinds of visual messages bombard me, screaming for my attention. It’s difficult to get in and out smoothly.

Besides, I’m supposed to be concentrating on drawing closer to the Lord and thereby closer to my Honey. There needs to be time set aside for reading and meditating on God’s Word, sharing together, taking walks and enjoying talks, generally unwinding. The demands of our every day life aren’t here and it may sound like lazy days, but that’s not the case. Every moment is committed.

Today I remembered my new assignment to write a post once a month for the Fellowship of Christian Bloggers. How am I supposed to do that in the midst of this special getaway? And I’m not mentioning the manuscript I was pulled away from a year ago when my Honey headed into major health issues. And forget about the hectic international move that followed six months later. And please don’t ask me if I’m settled into our home yet.

No matter where I am or how hard I try, it seems impossible to develop a firm writing schedule or to have that somehow ridiculously-expected open block of time materialize. It’s a dilemma.

What’s a writer to do?

One answer came to me as I was resting this afternoon.

I was lying there trying to catch up on the huge sleep deficit I'm carrying. Somehow I remembered my commitment. I quickly thought about the calendar and tried to figure out if I could write the post when I got home. I realized that wouldn’t work so I started asking my Abba Father for help; theme, energy, words, Scripture, TIME.

The One who loves me with endless grace and mercy began to grant me each request. I arose by His power and put my fingers on the keyboard. The walk through reality you’re reading is the fruit of His response.

Yes, setting a schedule is important.
Working diligently is crucial.
Cultivating gifts bestowed is essential.

But when all else fails, and actually as a primary step, I need to commit myself to the Creator who made me and set the path I’m to follow. Pursuing Him first and following His lead with a willing spirit is the surest way to get the words in print. Or make progress in any area.

Go now, write it on a tablet for them,
Inscribe it on a scroll
That for the days to come
It may be an everlasting witness.  Isaiah 30:8
NIV1984 (emphasis mine)

What's your experience of Free Time? 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Puzzle Me This

I'm on retreat, a special time of withdrawing from the world to focus on my deeper self. 

I'm doing battle with the feelings that cause me to identify with Naomi's words at the end of the first chapter of the book of Ruth. 

Don't call me Sandra (strong, intelligent, compassionate). Call me Beylke (weak, troubled, old), because the Almighty has filled my life with overwhelming trials. I went to Prague excited and energized and the LORD has brought me back weary and worn. Why call me Sandra? The LORD has laid me low; the Almighty has stretched me beyond endurance.

I've been running to the Father, pleading for understanding. I want desperately to make sense of what's happening. And if (read that sinceI can't take in every detail and all the purposes behind each one, I at least want some idea of where I'm going. 

In the midst of a particularly difficult patch of struggle the other day I decided to work on a jigsaw puzzle to distract my thoughts. 

HAH, some of you are saying. "You've got to be kidding. I hate puzzles." 

Please bear with me because God used what you might call an added strain to deliver some heart-level insights.

Read more at . . .

I'm moving my current blog work to Views from the Deck
You'll want to be sure to receive notice of future posts by entering your email address there at Subscribe Now to Enjoy the Views

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Time to Move HOME

This post is being written from our house in the USA. It's time to move my active posting back to my former blog address.  

I want every one of you to continue to follow the ongoing glimpses the Lord provides of His glorious work. And see the gorgeous scenery and other pics I share.

Please move with me. Head over to Views from the Deck and enter your e-mail address in the Subscribe to Enjoy the View box. Then confirm your subscription with the Reply message that appears.

Here's a taste of what you'll find there. 

HOME is such a simple word; only four letters, one syllable.

As a concept though, I find it a bit more complex.

Is HOME the place where we live; a structure, a space?
Do we define a HOME by a location or address; Czech Republic, 258 East Shore Drive?
Does the setting tell us more about HOME; co-inhabitants, neighborhood, ambience?