Frederick, [Handling Giftedness]

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Frederick, the ‘prophetic’ mouse

I have always loved to read. I was given books by my mother, and these books were like gold. I had been a avid patron of the library, but terrible at returning books. I had pretty much been branded as “persona non grata” by the librarians of my hometown library at the ripe old age of 12.

I have fond memories of some fine books. But perhaps the most influential of them all was a title called, “Frederick” by Leo Lionni.  It won the ’68 Caldecott ‘back in the olden days.’ It very well could be one of best children’s books ever written. ( I realize now that many of these books that shaped me were prophetic in their own way.)

We see Frederick, who is a young field mouse, off on excursion to find food with his four brothers. They must fill their pantry for the cold winter that’s coming. They are quite successful (it appears) and all seems well.

However, there is a bit of a problem with Frederick. While the other mice are ‘busting their mouse-butts’ he sits quietly thinking. They question him repeatedly, trying to motivate him (or shame him perhaps?)  There seems to be a general consensus against him, which is verging on open warfare.

But Frederick insists that he is needed to do this. He says that he is ‘working’. He is collecting sunlight, absorbing it until it’s needed.  He takes in colors, and then words. He just seems soak up these really wonderful experiences, and he seems a bit “clueless” (that’s not the right word), maybe a bit “preoccupied.”

FrederickFinally in the dead of winter, sheltered deep underground, their supplies are running low. One of the mice turns to Frederick, and asks him to share what he has collected. And he does precisely that. They sit in a circle and Frederick shares the sunlight, and the rich colors and the beautiful words he has stored up for them. Their little ‘mouse-hearts’ are deeply touched by Frederick’s contribution.

In so many ways, this has become a parable, or metaphor of my life. As a eight year old, I could hardly have foreseen how my life would unfold. I do however had a deep sense of being different, even then. My mental illness, mixed with being “gifted”, and then combined with being isolated and dirt-poor, worked in me.

Essentially, we all are products of our personal history.  What we have experienced good or bad develops us.  It did me.  I think what “Frederick” wants to do for us is to process uniqueness, gifting and steadfastness.  One of the things that the Holy Spirit has been speaking to me for the last few years is this, “Bryan, can you receive from the giftedness of other believers?”

We really must make room for “Fredericks” and what they can bring to us.  We will be drastically weakened if we won’t– or can’t.  Jesus faced a ton of resistance as He began to minister.  There is nothing new about that.  But it didn’t touch His spirit.

“Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more.”

Genesis 37:5

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Rembrandt’s Meditation on the Younger Son

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Painting by Renbrandt, 1606-1669
“And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to  one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.”
Luke 15:11-24, ESV

Three hundred and twenty-nine words– these describe the life of every man, woman, and child who has ever lived. These 329 words reveal to us a God who forgives much, and loves easily; the Father loves far too much, way too easy— and far too extravagantly for human beings to understand. Perhaps we sort of expect that he will ‘appropriately’ punish his son— at least put him on probation at least. It only makes sense.

“Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.” Many of us have lived in prodigality, some  of us for a very long time. We have spent our inheritance like ‘drunken sailors’ and have nothing at all to show for it. The prodigal, completely destitute, takes the only work he can find. (Imagine a good Jewish boy feeding hogs.) He is so far gone that he starts inspecting the slop pails for something to eat.

Many of us will understand his despair. But there comes this crystalline moment of amazing clarity. The prodigal—filthy and impoverished, has  a memory of the Father’s house. The servants there had far more than him. Sometimes in our captivity we instinctively want to go home, if only to be a slave.

The Father has dreamed of this moment. The parable says, “He saw him–felt compassion–ran out to him–embraced him–and kissed him.” In moments we see a swirl of servants who completely overwhelm an already overwhelmed son. I’ve read the Parable of the Prodigal Son a hundred times or more . It never loses its punch. I simply want to bring you for just a few moments back into its light. I expect that the Holy Spirit may have business with you. rembrandt-prodigal3 (1)

We see that his father receives him with a tender gesture. His hands seem to suggest mothering and fathering at once; the left appears larger and more masculine, set on the son’s shoulder, while the right is softer and more receptive in gesture. His head is downy, almost like a newborn’s. Standing at the right is the prodigal son’s older brother, who crosses his hands in stoic judgment; we read in the parable that he objects to the father’s compassion for the sinful son.

Rembrandt had painted the Prodigal once before, when he was considerable younger. And it is a very good painting. The prodigal is happy and gay; there is absolutely no indication of the consequences of sin. He is charming young man at a happy party. But Rembrandt chooses at the end of his life to re-paint it to reflect reality. This is one of the last paintings he will do, and it is the Prodigal Son–destitute and repenting. I can only imagine; the years have taken a toll and he doesn’t really feel his first painting is enough. He wants to paint what is true. He is painting us.

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Jesus Is Light in My Darkness

LightinMyDarknessI have been so blessed to have Bryan Lowe allow me to share my thoughts and poetry here at Broken Believers. It’s a blessing I never would have known if not for the many years I spent suffering from major clinical depression. I love how God uses our suffering to shower us with blessings.

But I know that when in the midst of suffering that truth is difficult, if not impossible, to see. I believe that is why He has inspired me to write the poetry I have written and to publish it in a book called Light in My Darkness: Poems of Hope for the Brokenhearted. This book is now available at Amazon.com and you can even “Look Inside”

I am especially excited about this book because my son created the cover for me with original art. I shared with him my idea for the cover, read him a few of the poems, and he took it from there.

I also want to take a moment to thank Bryan for writing the foreword and to share here what he wrote:

“Never underestimate the sheer power of poetry. It is formidable. Linda knows this, and she has compiled this book from direct experience. And that is remarkable. I hope you’ll read this with an inquisitive heart and an eager mind. Good poetry should carry a weight of truth wherever it might lead. All that it requires is all of you. Poetry requires your full attention, at least to appreciate it fully.

Linda honors God in what she has written. I know her intention is to bring Him glory, and she does it fearlessly. What you read here comes from life’s furnace— things will be imparted through these poems. I pray the Lord’s blessing on this little book.

Read this book. Squeeze out the truth each poem has. I know that the author would appreciate it immensely.”

And he’s right—I would appreciate it. But even more importantly, I would love to know that those who read my poetry are blessed to find God’s Light in their darkness.

 

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You can find Linda’s website at http://lindakruschke.wordpress.com/

 

 

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God’s Authentic Artisans

photo: aalmarkllc.com

Sculpture is 3-D art. It can be made with marble, glass, metal, wood, plastics. It can be carved or cast, welded or painted. There can be sculpture using light, sound, water, kinetic (moving), land art, and environmental enhancements. It’s just one way to be creative, with many applications.

Sometimes we can define and confine sculpture far too simply or narrowly, but there are so many ways to communicate visual art. There are so many ‘cutting edge’ efforts, showing the creativity of people who are themselves created in the image of God. When we create, we emulate the Creator. It’s something worth pondering: God creates beautiful snowflakes, and we make ‘Styrofoam’ cups. (Hardly creative.)

There are over thirty uses of “skillful” people in the Old Testament alone. The Hebrew word used is carries with it the idea of “excelling at a task– an artisan.” When both the tabernacle and the temple were constructed, the Holy Spirit directly commanded the selection of artists and artisans to design beauty right into their work. There was nothing that was prefab or shoddy. The work done was meticulous and took patience.

13 And King Solomon sent and brought Hiram from Tyre. 14 He was the son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in bronze. And he was full of wisdom, understanding, and skill for making any work in bronze. He came to King Solomon and did all his work.

1 Kings 7:13-14, ESV

I’ve come to the place where I see talented people, with enhanced skills in many places: they are mothers, fathers, mechanics, plumbers. They are teachers and nurses, lawyers and accountants. They all excel at what they do, and it’s great when they are acknowledged and honored. They are creative in their work, “and full of understanding.”

When they go to work, they will carry out their duties with a flair. Some will have an awareness of God’s presence– some may not be aware. I was hospitalized a few years ago, I remember quite clearly a lady who came in and mopped my floor. She was skilled at her task, thorough and even artful. Tears came as I thought about her working. I felt humbled by her kindness. She was truly a minister of God’s grace on that day.

There is a line from Bernandos novel, “A Diary of a Country Priest.” It’s at the very end of the book, and the protagonist is dying. His attendant was disturbed by his inability to get a priest to come and minister the Sacrament of Last Rites. The dying man, looked at his friend, “What does it matter? Grace is everywhere.” Looking at the housekeeper, that same line came to my mind– grace is everywhere!


The man who carved the flourish above is a master carver. He is also a pastor and lives in Florida. His website is at http://www.aalmarkllc.com/ and he has posted a short video on YouTube,  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTIuxKz5joc&w=640&h=360. He is a true example of a great woodworker.

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Horses and Chariots, [Seeing the Invisible]

Photo: Therrol Andrews, Homer Alaska

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.”

― Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Just beyond our earthly vision there exists the world of the invisible. There are things happening all around us. Things that are of a spiritual essence but no less real because we can’t see them.

 “When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha.

16 “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” 17 Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.”

2 Kings 6:15-17, NLT

Elisha’s servant saw the physical presence of the enemy. It was a fearful sight to see and the servant was afraid. They were surrounded. There was no escape–no way out. All seemed lost.

Elisha’s concern for his servant is touching. He didn’t rebuke or harshly correct the young man. He simply prayed and then it was done. The servant would see what actually existed. You might say that he would really see for the first time.

The Bible is the best way to perceive the imperceptible. It frames and then guides us into what is really real. It is God’s of introducing us to what is really real. The Holy Spirit delights in revealing truth to our incredulous souls.

We have severe limitations as men and women. We have to be instructed in these things. We’re not equipped to perceive the supernatural. It is not a part of our lives. I find when God shows me what is really out there I get a bit freaked out. I need the firm hand of the Father in those times.

And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Isaiah 6:5, ESV

Consider the prophet Isaiah when he came in contact with the “real” world. He was completely undone. I can’t imagine acting any differently. I probably would become unglued.

A thought on this subject for you to consider:

“It is not the objective proof of God’s existence that we want but the experience of God’s presence. That is the miracle we are really after, and that is also, I think, the miracle that we really get.”

–Frederick Buechner

Creativity– Coloring Outside the Lines

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“So God created human beings in his own image.
    In the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.”

Genesis 1:27

“Christianity is not about learning how to live within the lines; Christianity is about the joy of coloring.”

— Mike Yaconelli (Dangerous Wonder)

I know that this is not Bible, I have thought a lot about this and I can see no direct biblical correlation.  But my topical Bible lists dozens of occupations requiring giftedness.  And I know deep down that our Father is full of creativity.  He has done things that are exceptionally innovative, he reveals imagination in everything he has created.  Think about a butterfly, or the color purple, or, wonder about a giraffe.  And your house cat is a work of intense beauty and motion that rivals anything found in the Louvre.

When we first begin to color with crayons, we are told that we must color in the boundaries.  Our picture will get taped up on the classroom wall if we can manage this feat.  We become aware that this ability is extrapolated into the different areas of living life.  The desire to be accepted and appreciated squashes anything creative we might do.

Perhaps, these issues that involve us being creative, do need to be stifled or shut down.  I suppose we could make a case out of this.  We definitely as believers should avoid these theatrics, and conform into a homogeneous place of acceptability.  The Japanese have a phrase, “The nail that sticks up will be hammered down.”  But I wonder, why then do we desire to create and imagine things? Why do I want to write, paint, dance, sculpt, sing, and play the guitar?

Each of us carries a deep sense of aesthetics  or what is beautiful.  We instantly understand beauty when we see it.  We stand in front of a Van Gogh in a museum, or before Michelangelo’s’ statue of David.  They collectively undo us.  We step back and take a deep breath.  One becomes gentle in the face of such wonder and beauty. And after all, we create really for “an audience of One.”

Dance of the Joyful Bride
Dance of the Joyful Bride

We were built for creativity and beauty.  It is part of our DNA.  It also means that we have been created in God’s image.  When we pick up our crayons, we are revealing his presence.  When we color, our Father notes what we have done.  Some may see a scrawling.  But they honestly do not matter.  The Father completely understands and is thrilled.

“It’s like you come onto this planet with a crayon box. Now, you may get the 8-pak, or you may get the 16-pak, but it’s all in what you do with the crayons–the colors– that you’re given. Now don’t worry about coloring inside the lines or outside the lines. I say, color outside the lines! Color right off the page!”

Waking Life

I’m of the firm opinion that we need to communicate to our children the wonderful gift of being creative.  We must release them, to imagine and be inspired.  We need to encourage them to use their crayons, even if they color outside the lines.

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The Melancholy of Edvard Munch

munchDecember 2, 1863 – January 23, 1944, he was a Norwegian painter. He is regarded as a Symbolist and a forerunner of expressionism. He focused on themes of fear, anxiety, melancholy, and death. He did not believe in heaven, or other Christian themes or doctrines, as far as I know.

My intention is to reintroduce you to an artist that I highly esteem.  The challenge I suppose is to understand the issues that Munch discovers in his work. He clearly taps into the ‘angst’ of the modern man, and what he does perpetuates a mindset for our generation.

Obviously these paintings are just an introduction, and I understand that they are selective. I have refrained from any kind of interpretation, other than laying down a general principle–  to Munch, color is everything.

Munch was probably not a cheery person. He essentially was driven by anxiety through his whole life. It seems that he could be very ambitious. His classic work was “The Scream” which he made several versions to sell. He used different mediums to do this– tempera, lithograph and pastel. Interestingly, “The Scream” is a favorite target for art thefts. It captures the minds of every modern thinker.

Within our culture, “The Scream” is iconic. Warhol, Gary Larson, Dr. Who and even “The Simpsons” have cashed in on a parody of it.

Quotes

“I painted the picture, and in the colors the rhythm of the music quivers. I painted the colors I saw.”

“Painting picture by picture, I followed the impressions my eye took in at heightened moments. I painted only memories, adding nothing, no details that I did not see. Hence the simplicity of the paintings, their emptiness.”

“For as long as I can remember I have suffered from a deep feeling of anxiety which I have tried to express in my art.”

“Disease, insanity, and death were the angels that attended my cradle, and since then have followed me throughout my life.”

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The Scream, 1893
Munch’s best known painting ^

 

The Sick Child (1885)
Melancholy, 1894
Melancholy, 1894
Golgotha, 1900
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