Would You Choose Downward Mobility?

I have had a bad week this week and would appreciate your prayers. These are the kind of days I really dread.

I realize that some of you may not be aware of the works of Henri Nouwen. The easiest thing for me to do was to go to Wklipedia and grab a couple of paragraphs to introduce you to him. (He passed away, I believe, in 1996.)

Henri  Nouwen was a Dutch Catholic priest, professor, writer and theologian. His interests were rooted primarily in psychology, pastoral ministry, spirituality, social justice and community.

After nearly two decades of teaching at academic institutions including the University of Notre Dame, Yale Divinity School and Harvard Divinity School, Nouwen went on to work with mentally and physically handicapped people at the L’Arche Daybreak community in Richmond Hill, Ontario.

It seems that I pull as much from others for my blog as I write myself. But, when I run across the meaningful writings  of someone so much brighter and insightful than I am, I feel compelled  to share it. Henri Nouwen was one of those men. Brilliant and humble.

Henri Nouwen on Downward Mobility

“The compassionate life is the life of downward mobility!

In a society in which upward mobility is the norm, downward mobility is not only discouraged but even considered unwise, unhealthy, or downright stupid.

Who will freely choose a low-paying job when a high-paying job is being offered? Who will choose poverty when wealth is within reach? Who will choose the hidden place when there is a place in the limelight? Who will choose to be with one person in great need when many people could be helped during the same time? Who will choose to withdraw to a place of solitude and prayer when there are so many urgent demands from all sides?

My whole life I have been surrounded by well-meaning encouragement to go ‘higher up,’ and the most-used argument was : ‘You can do so much good there, for so many people.’ But these voices calling me to upward mobility are completely absent from the Gospel.

Jesus says: ‘Anyone who loves his life loses it; anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life (John 12:25). He also says: ‘Unless you become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3). Finally he says: “You know that among the gentiles the rulers lord it over them, and great men make their authority felt; among you this is not to happen. No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the Son of Man came, not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:25-28).

This is the way of downward mobility, the descending way of Jesus:

It is the way toward the poor, the suffering, the marginal, the prisoners, the refugees, the lonely, the hungry, the dying, the tortured, the homeless–toward all who ask for compassion. What do they have to offer? Not success, popularity, or power, but the joy and peace of the children of God.”

From Here and Now pp. 138-139

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Why Do Relationships Take Work

This is a question I have asked myself many times. Marriage takes work. Relationships take work. We have to work  on relationships with our co-workers and Lord knows, no matter how much we love them, we have to work on our relationships with our children/parents. Is nothing easy? Is everything oppositional? And worst of all, we are at odds with Christ until we become believers then it still takes the utmost of deliberate attention to maintain a relationship with Him. We live in a fallen sinful world and everything here takes time and work for it to be good.

Why is all this work worth the effort? Is it because we need a soul connection to those we love in order to avoid living in an unsatisfying emotional desert? From the beginning of the world we are told we are designed to be connected. Adam needed a mate, a special one.

Secularly we are told that no man is an island. We are all connected. And, if left alone, everything moves from organization to chaos. Without attention and work, all relationships decrease in intensity and drift toward disunity. In order to deepen these connections, whether with a friend, marriage partner, or with our Creator, spending time together is essential.

 

The deepest part of our nature desperately needs to move closer to those we love. Because we live in a fallen world,  the natural tendency is to move slowly apart.  It takes commitment to make a good thing last.

Ephesians 5 : 25f gives us a picture of marriage as our relationship with Jesus. Both of which can be difficult.

25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansingb her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—30for we are members of his body. 31For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.c 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

That’s a lot of love! And that is also a lot of work.  But notice how it seems to go only one way? Men are to love as Christ loved. . . a heavy challenge! Women are not charged to love, but to respect.  We do know, however, from the rest of Scripture we are all taught to love and respect each other.

My point is found in vs.31-32. Marriage is a picture of Christ and ourselves. We are taught to ignore neither one.

All relationships are important. Some are baffling. Many are necessary. All take work because we live in a sin infested world where nothing good is easy.  

As you may be able to decipher, I have a relationship that has been rather hard lately. All I know to do is to pray about it and if it is a worthy relationship to keep struggling with it. If it is not maybe I should let it go and create a different connection. Why bother when it is just going to create work? Because that is how we are made: In the image of God in which, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit constantly have communion together. And we are to imitate Him.

 

 

 

 

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Good News!

Please forgive me for bragging so much in these past two blogs. We are so happy! The birth of a baby is such a delightful event it has to be shared. Just as it is remarkable for parents so it is for grandparents.

Little did I know that as I was writing last week’s blog about the imminent birth of our granddaughter,  Emmy Louise was born Saturday evening April 1st . We got the call just after I finished my blog. We were at home waiting, thinking we would go to the hospital on Sunday for the birth.

Mom, Dad, Baby and Brother are all doing well! Emmy came in at 7 lbs. 13 oz. with coal black hair and the cutest bow shaped upper lip!

Her two year old brother was calling her, “that baby,” instead of “sister” as they have practiced. I am wondering how he feels now that he realizes “that baby” has come home to stay!

Eli is a gentle and sensitive child so I know he will teach “that baby” all the ropes.

 

 

Both of Emmy’s parents and her brother are blonde so I was really surprised to see this little mass of black hair! But it is a reminder to me when Emmy’s father, my older son, was born with tow white hair and big blue eyes!  My mother said she could never imagine me having a baby that looked like that and wondered if he had been mixed up in the nursery! I can’t think of a single blonde or light skinned person on either side of my family.

This just goes to show that God fills our quivers with HIS arrows, not copy cats of anyone. I am always so eager to see which parent the baby resembles but always they are simply God’s creation.

 

 

This is Emmy and her Papaw.

 

I want to remind all of you who see the post ad on Facebook and read it from there to click on through to the 4 page website. Subscribe from there to get the blog post in your mail each week. And, no, the full post is not 4 pages. It’s only one of the four!

Until next week! May all of God’s blessings be your own!

Thinking About the Gift of Family

“Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.”

I’m excited! Before you read this blog again next week, I will have met my first granddaughter! She will join her two year old brother.  We are all anxious. Her parents are my son and daughter in law.

I know we are not the only reader who is adding to or have recently added to their families.

Children are a good thing.  All of them should be coming into families in which they are anxiously awaited and welcomed .

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;

Psalm 127:3-5

In our modern world when we have completed our families we don’t refer to our quiver being full. Quivers fill up at different rates and quivers come in different sizes. Each family is unique.

Verse 3 states that children are a gift of God and they are even a reward! But why are they like arrows? I’ve wondered.

Children  are to be counted as blessings, and not burdens:  They are a great support and defense to a family. Children who are young, may be directed  like an arrow right to the target which is God’s glory, and the service of their generation; but when they go into the world, they are arrows out of the hand, it is too late to direct them then. Yet, if trained according to God’s word, they generally prove the best defense in declining years, remembering their obligations to their parents, and taking care of them in old age. All earthly comforts are uncertain, but the Lord will assuredly comfort and bless those who

serve him.                                            .

I want us to meditate on a few verses from the Old Testament that speak of the members of a family.

The Mother and Wife

She watches over the affairs of her household

and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children arise and call her blessed;

her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women do noble things,

but you surpass them all.”

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;

but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Proverbs 31:27-30

A Father’s and Grandfather’s Responsibility to the Family

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,

Proverbs 13:22

For Parents To See Your Grandchildren Is a Blessing

May you see your children’s children.

Proverbs 128:6

Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged; parents are the pride of their children.

Psalm 17:6

It is an honor for older people  to have grandchildren, even after the grandchildren are grown up and settled in the world  this verse remains true, Good parents cause children to take pride in them.

If God is Our Father

A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor?

Malachi 1:6

Is God Honored in your home?

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