hidden glory

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

my blog has moved

My new blog address is: http://heathernelson.wordpress.com/

I'll be posting there from now on. Thanks for visiting ...

Monday, April 14, 2008

an article worth reading

I just discovered this amazing article on the Burnside Writers Collective about the importance of love and what keeps us from it.

Check it out -- I had to pass it on: "Have you loved well?"

Sunday, April 06, 2008

life in the Psalms

I've been reading through the Bible again, this time in large sections rather than detailed exegesis. I wanted to be able to get a bird's eye view of the themes. To not lose the elements of literature that I can too easily miss when looking at minutiae. Seminary was a great experience on many levels, but it was also easy to lose the awe of God and his Word for the academic study I engaged in.

So I got to the Psalms last week. And I decided I would read ten at a time. (except for the longest one, Psalm 119) I wasn't sure how this would be. But what I'm gleaning is the broad range of patterns for conversing with God the various psalmists set for us. It's quite amazing how one psalmist in one psalm (or throughout several) can range from dire distress crying for relief to joy and rejoicing at God's evident goodness, from asking for vengeance for his enemies to pleading for help from their overpowering strength. In the Psalms, I find the words for every emotional state I could be in. There are ones of deep despair (try Psalm 88) as well as ones full of rejoicing (like Psalm 104) and many that are a mix of both (Psalms 42, 57).

The Psalms can give my heart words to express to God when my own run dry. They meet me when I'm sad, but they don't leave me there. They bring me to a place of rejoicing because of trusting in the steadfast love of God that's truer than my emotions.

Read them if it's your first time or your 100th. You'll find life in these poems of the heart.

A sampling of my favorites this time around:
Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you. (86:4)
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,
who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.
They rejoice in your name all day long ... (89:15-16)
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
who daily bears our burdens. (68:19)
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy. (65:8)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

fun things about February

Wow...it's been awhile since I've posted. Instead of my usual bemoaning during this time of year when I begin to feel like winter has out-stayed its welcome, I wanted to report that there were actually fun things that happened in February. Since I do a lot of counseling during the week, I like to think of these things as categories of "therapy" (ha, ha). Therapy that is perhaps "out of the box." But practices that, nonetheless, can be refreshing to a woman who tends to pour herself into work and ministry at the expense of good soul-care and relationships with people I love.

Without further ado, I introduce my new therapy method #1: IKEA therapy -- Seth and I practiced this with great delight in being able to get rid of his bachelor-esque TV cabinet in exchange for a new one. We actually had fun putting the furniture together (I call it "adult Legos"). And we added this beautiful wine cabinet below as well:

And now, the therapy that ALL who live in wintry climates already practice, or at least strive to: #2: beach therapy. Nothing does the soul and body better than taking a flight to Ft. Lauderdale to visit a good friend and soak up the sunshine. Although it was only a couple weeks ago, it already seems too far away!!

My first journal entry shows the immediate success of such practice: "I sit on a white sand beach under a sunny, brilliant blue sky as turquoise waves crash in front of me. And I am SO thankful to you, Lord, that you sent me away to be refreshed in a land of eternal summer with a good friend."

And a spontaneous poem came out as well:
Palm trees in paradise
Instant spring
Warmth -- from the inside out
Joys of old friendship
Resurrection life
Returning to refreshment
And rest. Thanks again, Nan & Pete, for hosting me!! I would say beach therapy has been quite successful.

Seriously, an article (in Discipleship Journal by Ben Patterson) that I read about TRUE everlasting Joy, found not in a place or in new furniture, sums up what I long to practice every day: "...the joys of a day were signpost to Joy, to the good and gracious God ... The reason I loved that day was because it was a little like the God who gave it."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

happy valentine's day!

I'm reading (and writing my way through) a new book, "The Writer's Way" by Sara Maitland. I'm only a couple chapters in, but I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to brush up on their writing. One of the first exercises she suggests is doing free writing associated with a color. Since today is Valentine's day, I chose pink. And here's a poem that came out of it. It's quite rough and both deep and cheesy at parts ... but I think that's how life is! You have to laugh and you have to cry.

So anyway ... here it is. And happy Valentine's day! Know that you're loved and celebrate that. Laugh (and cry if you need to) at my lil' poem. Seth and I are off to a Flyers game (the Philadelphia hockey team) and we'll be doing a romantic dinner tomorrow night. His night, her night ... ha, ha!

Pink … it makes me think
Of a ribbon reminding me of breast cancer
That my mother survived
And the roses with which my husband pursued me
And won me over with his charm
Real charm
Baby girls
Future daughters?
Valentine’s day candy hearts
Whose messages I wanted to live by
But whose taste I could never stand

Saturday, January 26, 2008

january in review

So it has been a fast January. Not quite as fast as December, but nearly so. I guess it goes quicker when life picks up the pace! I think I got myself in trouble for all of the times I said in December, "Oh, let's do that in January. I'll get to it then."

Church planning meetings, counseling center influx of intakes (blame it on my own theory of the combination of post-Christmas blues/New Year's resolutions/family issues that resurfaced through holiday gatherings), more ministry crises than usual ... Let's just say it makes me all the more thankful for this Saturday of no definite plans except dinner with good friends. Rest is such a crucial part of what's needed for us as humans who grow tired and weary quite easily.

Highlights of this month were a visit from my Dad a couple weeks ago. He was here on business, so Seth and I met him for dinner at Maggiano's -- see picture below. We had a great time!

Another highlight continues to be our church, and especially celebrating our one year anniversary on January 6. The luncheon afterwards was amazing -- some of the best food I've ever had. We were overjoyed and surprised when pictures made it to the front page of the local community newspaper, The Chestnut Hill Local. What a celebration of God's work from beginning to end!

One of the fun gatherings this month was a baby shower for two mothers-to-be expecting their babies within the month. We had a great turn-out and such a wonderful time together. Here are some pictures below:

So...that's January in a nutshell. One other accomplishment that can't go un-celebrated is the capture of a mouse who had grown a bit too comfortable in our apartment. He welcomed us home when we got back from Christmas by scampering across the foyer, and he continued to let his presence be known through waking us up at night with the sound of his late-night snacking on something loud in our trashcan. Not to mention the trail of evidence we would discover the next morning ... chocolate cookies eaten through, a plant dug up, plastic bags chewed through ...! Ugh ... what a nuisance! We were thankful to finally trap him ... hopefully no friends of his will show up. So far, so good. We'll keep it that way.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New Year's rituals

A new year has arrived! And with it usually comes a new slew of guilt for the resolutions I didn't seem to get to last year. But actually, that's not the case since I have purposely stopped making many New Year's resolutions because of my propensity to feel guilty so easily. I forget that my righteousness and my identity isn't equated with my ability to keep laws I make for myself. Like go to the gym daily or to try to get up earlier every day or to eat only healthy food or to learn how to enjoy winter. The truth is that I can't keep up with my own laws.

Much less those God requires of us. And so I begin this new year thankful afresh that it's not about my ability to keep laws, but it's Christ's righteousness for me. It's Christ being brutally torn apart on the cross to turn away God's wrath that I rightly deserve because of sin -- this is where I get my righteousness and my identity. It's his life for mine. I was reminded of this last night through a Bible study on Galatians that Seth led. Again my heart was renewed by the gospel: the fact that I can do nothing but Christ did everything. And once again I fell in love with the beautiful truth of Galatians 2:20 - 21

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

So instead of New Year's resolutions, I fall back on the ritual of taking the New Year as an opportunity to renew my hope in who Christ is and to ask Him to do the unimaginable in the year to come.

On a totally different note -- my last few days at home, I used the New Year as an excuse to finally start cleaning out my stuff that remains in "my" closet at my parents' home. And besides the 5' wide Amy Grant poster from the 90s, the funniest thing I found was a writing composition I wrote in 4th grade, at age 9. Read it and laugh:

My brothers are big pests. My littlest brother, Bryan wrecks everything. Two or three weeks ago, I made up a lego house and a lego car to go with it. Guess what Bryan did? He was in the room where I had my legoes and wrecked it. I was so mad at him I could have kicked him to the moon! That's just one story, but he's done several other things. My other brother, Jonathan, is a big pest too. He is always minding my business.

And there the composition abruptly ends. Probably for the best of everyone. The more ironic thing is that my grade was a "Good!" with a smiley face. What was that teacher thinking?

I am quite thankful that I grew up to now LOVE spending time with my two "pesty" brothers. And that they grew beyond the "wrecking" stage of things as well. And that our family has grown, through Jonathan's marriage to Nicole which adds a sister to our family, too -- what I've always wanted. We had so much fun over Christmas break together in South Carolina, celebrating Christmas "re-loaded" (4 days after Christmas) and New Year's Eve and having many late night chats in between. I only wish we all lived closer and that our time together as a family was more often than twice a year! It gives me a taste of Heaven ... when eternity will be adequate to enjoy relationships as they were meant to be.

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