Monthly Archives: December 2012

Beauty Abounds

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My favorite time to sit and look out my window is as the sun is setting behind me. I don’t really get to see the sun set, but I see it’s affects as the angle changes. The bridge over the Bay here in Yokohama is white and it seems most of the larger boats (ships?) in the water are also white. So as the sun drops on the horizon behind me to the right, the white of these surfaces shines brightly but there is still enough light in the sky for the water to be a vivid blue. The other day I realized that on most days my floor to ceiling sliding glass door corner view is filled with my two favorite colors: blue and white.

I’ve tried to capture this beauty with a camera. Maybe a better camera or a better photographer can accomplish that. But I am always disappointed. I share my attempts on instagram or facebook and I always want to add ‘But it’s much better in person!’ And isn’t that true of most scenes. Our eyes are amazing. What we can see…even with imperfect vision is better than what we can re-create.

Another random thought as I look out at this amazing view is the old adage ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’ Not too many years back this scene would have depressed me. Oh I might have been able to ‘appreciate’ it when all lit up at night but my first few visits to big cities stirred some sort of deep fear or despair.

I’m sure I was influenced by how my mother and father both hated large cities; crowds, traffic, noise and life in the concrete jungle instead of the countryside or at least suburbia. I think I adopted the idea that living in small spaces with views of other buildings instead of rolling hills or farm land, was depressing. But after living here in Yokohama for just four months it’s been interesting to see how many people live the city life as if it’s just normal. In fact better than normal, preferred.

It’s very much a walking life. Yes there are crowded trains and stations, rushing from buses and taxi but there is something very good about walking in between those modes of transportation. Appreciating the changing seasons in parks and landscaped shopping centers.

A few years ago I heard a song that became a sort of anthem for me. ‘Add To The Beauty’ by Sara Groves. And I realized that in order for me to ADD to the beauty I must first notice the existing beauty around me. So here I am, in an overcrowded, concrete jungle, looking for beauty and finding it all around me.

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If I Am United with Christ….

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From my Tumblr: “This morning I read this article: “The Key to a Purposeful Life. It’s not imitating Christ, but union with him that makes the difference.” by Sarah Lebhar Hall .

It was timed very well for me. I was starting to sink a little. Down into that place of reflecting on my life choices. Wondering again which choices were motivated out of a good heart and which came from a place of fear instead of love.

I wasn’t concerned about sinking so low I couldn’t get back out. But I was weepy, saddened by how my life has adversely affected other’s lives.

At the end of the fourth paragraph I read these words: “Whether because of the limitations of time or circumstances many things we want to do in our lives, and with our lives for God’s kingdom, are often beyond our grasp. Life doesn’t unfold the way we expect.”

The next paragraph ends with this question: “How do we deal with the fear that our lives will be disappointing – to us or to God?”

“The good news from the Scriptures is this: No follower of Jesus is an isolated entity, living out a solitary, potentially tragic plot line. The life story of a disciple is inextricably linked with the life story of Jesus. Each of us connected to Jesus as a branch is connected to the vine,…” The Author goes on to explain how this connection to Christ can and does affect the way we view our life.

I’m going to write more about this on my  www.tjtalks.wordpress.com blog. I want the truths to seep into my brain and melt my heart again. I want to rest in this connection to Christ and resist the striving, anxiety and despair that comes from trying to figure out how to do life ‘right’. ”

And so I begin my wordpress post:

Mrs. Hall, the Author, reminds us how “…the truth gets even more shocking: As the Father is in Jesus, so are we ‘in’ Christ, and he in us (John 17:20-26)….”

“But it is incredibly good news for those of us who wrestle with the uncertainty and disappointment of life on earth. Because we are ‘in Christ,’ because his life is ours, our fundamental life story has already been written.”

Six points are made by Mrs. Hall that begin with “If I am united with Christ,….”

1. “If I am united with Christ, my focus can be on staying connected to Jesus. I don’t have to obsess about the particulars of the decisions before me. Do I take this job? Move to this city? Marry this person?….these are not ultimately the defining questions of my life……..As far as life direction goes, the most important questions sound more like this : Am I feeding myself on Jesus? Am I hearing his words and putting them into practice? Am I loving him with all my heart?….”

2. “If I am united with Christ, then my life will take on not only the direction of Jesus’ life, but it’s quality. We spend a lot of time thinking about the ‘plot’ of our lives. God is apparently much more interested in character development.”

3. “If I am united with Christ, I get to enjoy his victory.” She tells the story of Sarah Hughes who “…skated as though it were a prize to simply be at the Olympics. She skated with an exuberant, reckless abandon. That freedom enabled her to give the best performance of her life. Our lives as disciples, united with Christ, should be a lot like that. Jesus has already won the medal for us. The prize is ours. We get to enjoy the event, to marvel at the privilege of being included in the games.”

Read the rest of this entry

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