Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Oregon Shakespeare Festival And Porch Reflections

Oregon Shakespeare Festival, originally uploaded by carolfoasia.

I spent the weekend at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. It was a celebration for Laura's (second row on the left) 40th birthday which will be in December. She invited ten friends from different eras of her life. I am the most recent "era" in that, while I have known her (and admired her from afar) for about three or four years, we just started really getting to know each other since last July when we started meeting for accountability. Laura is a deep and kind woman. So, of course, she has attracted deeply spiritual friends over the years. The weekend was overwhelming for me in that I would have loved to connect more deeply with each person, but there was no prior history other than with Laura and Cathi (standing at the top), and I probably won't see any of the rest of them again.

I was a bit lonely and depressed on Saturday night until I realized I could revel in the solitude of my own room even as I listened to the hushed murmurs of midnight conversations in all the rooms around the house. I realized that I have this healthy desire to connect deeply that always seems to be frustrated in large groups of women stuck in the same place for a limited amount of time (women's retreats, Trapdoor/Lamppost getaways, etc). That desire can easily become a demand if I am not careful.

I woke up very early Sunday morning really THANKFUL that I didn't have a roommate that I would disturb! I stole away to the deserted porch and had a long and wonderful time with God where I started out with this verse from Face to Face by Kenneth Boa:

"Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed,
Save me, and I will be saved,
For You are the One I praise" (Jeremiah 17:14).

So funny that this has been my healing verse since 2006, yet I never realized it is in the context of a teaching about a deceitful heart - something that God has been speaking to me about all summer!

"Cursed is the [woman] who trusts in mankind
And makes flesh her strength,
And whose heart turns away from the LORD" (17:5).

I wrote:

Oh Lord - my deceitful heart has turned away from you this
morning. Yesterday, I was making FLESH my strength. Deceitful heart - when will
you learn!?

What is my end if I am like that?

"For [s]he will be like a bush in the desert
And will not see when prosperity comes,
But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness
A land of salt without inhabitant"(17:6).

Lord, a heart set on people will always be a heart dry and
longing for water because people were never meant to be my
lifespring even though my deceitful heart longs for it to be

"Blessed is the [woman] who trusts in the LORD
And whose trust is the LORD" (17:7).

Lord, help me to trust in You. Become my trust. Wretched woman.
When will I learn to not make flesh my strength?

What is the biproduct of this blessed life?

"For she will be like a tree (then I drew a picture with my meditations)planted by the water,
that extends its roots by a stream.
And will not fear when the heat comes.
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought.
Nor cease to yield fruit"(17:8).

"The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desparately sick;
Who can understand it?" (17:9)

Lord, I am only beginning to really understand my deceitful heart.

"Lord, you search my heart
You test my mind" (17:10).

Lord, don't give to me according to my ways,
According to the results of my deeds
but remember mercy and Jesus,
and Holy Spirit, transform me.

LORD, our sanctuary is a glorious throne.
LORD, my hope.
LORD, help me not to forsake you, the fountain of living water.

Hope. Now the verse I started with:

"Heal me, O LORD, And I will be healed;
Save me and I will be saved
For, You are my praise."

Lord, you have commanded Your lovingkindness
this morning. THANK YOU. You ALONE do wonderful things. Fill today with your
glory, LORD.

It ended up being a very glorious end to a wonderful weekend. I ended up loving it. My perspective was right once again. Praise God for course corrections in midstream.

I am a little down today, but again, I am having to learn the longing I have to connect is not always met in some friendships, and that was quite clear to me as I went out with two friends last night. So, today I am a bit empty again, but it has been good to be rereminded of what God taught me one Sunday morning on a porch in Ashland. Another course correction for my deceitful heart.

There is more to say about the plays, but I will stop for now.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Double Pass

234 - Brother Bill, originally uploaded by carolfoasia.

This is the last picture of my brother Bill. He died last Monday at the age of 63. What a lovely time of sitting on the lawn outside of Balboa Park near San Diego last August. We talked of him moving to Oregon. I wanted to help him. Here is my post from last August 22.

Today, it all caught up with me, and I need to breath and grieve. I went for a walk/hike with Rosemary and enjoyed the view from up above toward Chip Ross hill. I need a higher view right now in everything.

I made a mistake in a rendezvous point for lunch with friends today. It meant Jean driving all the way to Corvallis only to to drive all the way back to Salem when she couldn't find LeAnne and me. I realized I had topped out in trying to prepare to go overseas, doing a writing class with my kids, meeting with friends, discipling women, having Bible study. Jean (who had two hours of driving) was so gracious when I told her I was an idiot. She said . . .

"Carol, you get a pass on this one. You have so much going on right now. In fact, you get a double pass. I enjoyed my drive down and trip to Jamocha Jo's (friend Nancy's coffee shop) and Bed, Bath, and Beyond. It was a great drive back up. Double pass, Carol."

So, I am NOT going berry picking tomorrow. I am slowing down in the writing class. I canceled something someone wanted me to do right after I get back from Southeast Asia. I canceled a time meeting with someone close to the time that I was leaving. I am going to give myself a double pass and grieve.

Carol out

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th of July

I am so happy this 4th.

The Cowdens cancelled their annual party, and the Stews had to back out of a get-together tonight because Jake has a game.

So, we didn't know what we would do. Felt sort of lonely, but NOT for long.

I took a walk and told George that I needed a hammock! So, we went to five different stores and found one at RiteAid. We set it up. I read Plato. George watched Wimbledon and baked an apple pie. I took a nap. We went to Applebees. We took a bike ride to the river and watched the band. We came back, invited Eva for a apple pie and fireworks. We also asked Marg who said, "Do you like cherries?"

Do I like cherries!?

We picked a whole bag! Now, we are starting the fireworks in our driveway and will bring pie to Eva and Marg.

Life is grand. I love my life more than anyone will ever know.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Peaceful Middle of the Night Reflections

I just finished Thucydides, and I am too excited to sleep. This was a huge hurdle, but "little by little gets the job done." What a bear! I liked Herodotus much better because he had more observations about the peoples throughout Persia and their social customs; some things were even hilariously funny! But Herodutus was just called Histories while Thucydides was called The History of the Peloponnesian War. So, there was very little commentary and 21 years worth of battles! UGH! Susan Wise-Bauer suggested we just skim the battle scenes, and I took her up on her advice.

I did like his observations of human nature; that we are basically bent toward our own gain, that human nature is always rebelling against the law, that the Athenians didn't respond to initiations of peace because they were always grasping for MORE. That was interesting.
It got me thinking about peace. As I was reading that the Athenians refused Sparta's offer of peace and alliance, and instead "grasped for something more," I had an epiphany. I realized that I love peace! It made me grateful for a culture of peace at my church, in my immediate and extended family, in all relationships. It is cultivated everywhere I go, and I LOVE the peace that I now enjoy in every area of my life. Why wouldn't Athens want that? Well, Thucydides answered that by explaining the essence of human nature: we are bent toward always "grasping for more."
James 4:1 says:
"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Aren't they caused by the selfish desires that fight to control you?" GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)
Selfish desires always get in the way of true peace.
It grieves me. Once, I was in a culture that didn't allow for that. The culture said, "We will make you the bad guy." That is how that culture has always dealt with conflict. I saw employee after employee be forced to resign, and it was always the employees problem, never the cultures. After about the sixth "forced resignation," you start to wonder if it isn't always the employees fault.
There were no fair negotations of a peace treaty where both parties came to the table and discussed terms of peace because the culture doesn't really want to have peace: they want to be right. They hold out until, years later, the other party says they are sorry. Then, they graciously "forgive" and never admit their part in the conflict. In the middle of the apology is character assasination, gossip, slander. (All attack responses even though they aren't directly to the person's face). I saw it over and over again throughout the 28 years of being in that culture until one day I woke up and smelled the coffee (and I don't even like coffee). Before that, I heard the rumors and chose to keep my head in the sand because I didn't want to gossip. Others tried to convince me in hushed whispers of the "just cause" for the "war" with that person who had now become the "enemy." Of course, the former employees weren't called the "enemy" because we are all Christians, right?
It is also interesting to note the same person was the person trying to convince me of the "just cause." In fact, they were behind almost every forced resignation when they "shared their concerns" with those who "needed to know." This person never had an official role either, but they had the leaders' ears. My experience with that person was that they look at situations through their own lens, and it is often a very distorted picture of what really has happened, but the culture doesn't allow for the other person to come and tell their story. That distortion become reality, and the employees goose is cooked.
It still grieves me to know how many wonderful people have been hurt by that culture. They are wonderful because they go on to other places and do great and wonderful things! It grieves me that my former culture is so arrogant that they can't take a long, hard, objective look at their culture and change it. People who have tried become labeled "the problem." Most people in the culture don't stand up and say "That is wrong!" for fear of judgment and character assasination being directed at them because of what has happened in the past.
Some of the Athenian people did not stand up to the murderous oligarchy when they started murdering those who oppossed them:
"The People remained motionless, being so thoroughly cowed that men thought themselves lucky to escape violence, even when they held their tongues" (p. 518)
No, there is no physical murder in the culture; but there ARE attack responses in their gossip and slander. Yet, the people in the culture all breath a sigh of relief and say, "I'm glad it is not me." It made me think of a friend who sat on my couch and told me she was forbidden from talking to another friend who had expertise in a certain ministry because that friend had "left." That person regrets not speaking up and defending. She was afraid. What right do the leaders of that culture have to stand in the way of a friendship and helping make a ministry better by picking the former members brain? It seems like a no brainer to me, but that is where the whole jelousy and selfish ambition thing comes in.
I had the same thing happen to me when I was there. I had a friend whom I knew to be an expert in team-building exercises who used to be an employee there. I was going to do some of those with a group I was leading, and I want her to come and run the games. That was very much FROWNED upon. Fraternizing with the enemy, you know?
It really makes me sad. It grieves my heart. So sad to think that people would control other people in such a way, but I was controlled by it at one time too.
But I am free now! Just people "always grasping for more" for a multitude of unhealthy reasons. It honestly doesn't make me mad, but it makes me very sad. I grieve because the war still rages in muffled tones, and I feel guilty that I am free, and they are not.
I am grateful for the culture of peace in which I reside now that has mechanisms to negotiate "terms of peace" in case of hostilities (that are normal and natural when you have selfish people trying to work together). There is no fear of standing up when people need to be accountable for their actions there either. There is no fear to stand up and disagree. Everyone has a story - no one is the "enemy" there. We all know we have that basic human natural bent of selfishness that causes fights and quarrels, but there is a mechanism of grace in place. I love it. The only thing that is not allowed is to not forgive. I love that too.
It make me glad that my 28 year (got you beat by 7 years, Athens and Sparta!) war is over. AWWWWWW

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Summer Reading Goals Update


H=History, D=Drama, P=Poetry, A=Autobiography

H - Peloponnesian War by Thucydides (Done 7/2 - I will shout this from the rooftops!)
H - Plato's Republic (Done 7/22)

H - Plutarch's Lives (2 Volumes: Roman and Greek )
H - City of God by Augustine
H - Ecclesiastical History of the English People by Bede
D - Everyman (Done 6/19 - contrast with Dr. Faustus - loved this play!)
H - Prince by Machiavelli (Done 6/24 - Richard III blew it)
H - Utopia by Sir Thomas More
P - Sonnets of Shakespeare (Done 6/26)
A - Essays of Montaigne
A - Life of Teresa of Avila
D - Doctor Faustus by Marlowe (Done 6/21 - Heavy and great for discussion!)
D - Richard III by Shakespeare (Done 6/21 - Shakespeare ROCKS!)
D - Midsummer Nights Dream by Shakespeare (Done 6/24)
D- Hamlet by Shakespeare (Done 6/28)

Beyond Goals:

D - Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Done June 29)
D - Tartuffe by Moliere (Done July 2)
D - A Doll's House (Done July 14)
D - The Cherry Orchard (Done July 14)

Amazing Grace: Stories of Newton, Wilberforce, and Equiano (audio)


Here I go for fifteen minutes. I did not do the fifteen-minute freewrite Friday as I thought. And I totally missed this last Friday. So, I a...