A New Song by Gabrielle Guthrie

Gabrielle Guthrie

Someone once taught me a valuable skill. In times of trouble, always stop and ask yourself, ‘so what do I need in this situation?’ What do I need emotionally, spiritually, physically? Put your oxygen mask on first, or you won’t be of any help to the others.

There have been times of such chaos and confusion that I could not answer that question. I was so rattled and disconnected I could not identify a single need. “We have not because we ask not,” but sometimes we don’t even know what to ask for any more. Sometimes what we need is simply “more of Him and less of me,” as the saying goes. Often what we need is to simply set ourselves down and to breath Him in.

Not long ago, while dashing about, burdened by all the world’s cares, I prayed, a bit tongue in cheek, for a song, for a theme song, for some background music in my life that didn’t sound so much like the theme song to Jaws. I’ve lived in shark-infested waters for far too long, and the music from Jaws was starting to play in the back of my mind. Although somewhat comical, the theme song from Jaws was not cause for rejoicing.

I need a new song, Lord. I just need you. No sooner had I said it than I heard it on the radio, a new song, my song, the song my heart didn’t even know it needed. Toby Mac’s, I just need U. I snatched that song right up, received it, let it wash over me. What a perfect song for me.

You know how when you’re teenager, and your brain is all soft and mushy, and you hear a song, and it becomes your song, and immediately every word is yours, and snatches of those lyrics are now so deeply embedded in your soul, so implanted, someday you’ll be sitting on the porch at a rest home, still singing love songs and hits from the 70’s?

Science has a name for that, a well documented and observable window of opportunity within our teenage brains, where music slips in and touches our very soul, never to be forgotten again.

Well, science is wrong because I am 53 and now totally crushing on Toby Mac’s, I just need U. Praise the Lord; I’ve now lived long enough to become an embarrassment to my children. Mom! Turn that down! Mom, do you have to drive around with your windows down and the music on? Mom, this is like…rap??!

As if I did not just spend the last 30 years saying those very things, kissing the last vestiges of my pride away, enduring the shame, wringing my hands……

Revenge they say is a dish best served cold.

What can I say, I am simply without excuse. All I know is that I just need U.

When You pull me closer, I come to life
When You pull me closer, I come to life
When You pull me closer, I come to life
When You pull me closer, I come to life

 

 

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John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.


Gabrielle Guthrie blogs about faith,culture, politics, and humor with an emphasis on biology because biology is all about life and life abundant.  Her popular blog my be found here https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com

“So you see, there’s this thing called biology….”

A Blessing In The Pocket Rots by Susie Duffy Buehler

I met an angel this weekend. It’s quite a story. It started with an ad on Craigslist: “Very comfortable old chair. Fabric is worn but has no rips or tears. Heavy, solid, well-made wingback. Free for pick up. Location near Central Market.” Within a half hour I had a text, “Hello. Saw ur CL and would like to get the chair. Available anytime.” I replied back “Hello there. Can you pick it up tomorrow?” Reply was “Yes. Or right now. Either one.” Since this was midnight on Friday I suggested 10:00 the next morning, and she replied “10 is perfect. See u then. I’m Bobbi by the way.” I explained the chair was a little too heavy for me, and on the second floor, and she might need to bring someone to help, and she replied, “My husband is just going to love being my surprise helper 🙂.”

At 9:30 I texted to confirm the pick-up and she said her husband was coming without her but he had a dolly. At 10:00 I opened the door to a well-dressed, sophisticated young man who held out his hands and said, “I don’t know if it’s your style but my wife makes leather purses so we wanted you to have one to thank you for the chair. I’m Bob by the way.” Touched by the purse gesture, and tickled by him and his wife having a common name, I thanked him and led him to the chair. He stopped to study it. “This is really beautiful, are you sure you don’t want it?” I explained I’d had it for 25 years, always meaning to recover it, had never gotten around to it, and it was time to let it go. He said he and his wife restore things really just for the enjoyment of doing it. “Tell you what, I’ll send you pictures after we restore it and if you want it back we’ll give it to you for free.” Surprised, I told him if I liked what they do to it I’d happily buy it back from them. He said, “No, my wife and I are incredibly blessed. We’d give it back for free. A blessing in the pocket rots.”

A blessing in the pocket rots. “Like fruit” he said.

He started to load the chair on the dolly and I commented on what I thought were carpal tunnel braces on his arms. “No” he said, “My wife and I caught an autoimmune disease while traveling the world. We’re disabled. We received a financial settlement which allows us to do the things that are important to us. The disease is terminal. We’re focused now on only those things that create joy.” As the conversation progressed he shared that they were in fact leaving Austin next weekend, their home all their lives, to retire to a very small town in the Pacific northwest. They both like grey cloudy weather so they had googled “dreariest place in America”, found and visited the dreariest small town, bought a house for $40,000 cash, and were planning to live out their lives as they wanted, whatever time they had left, without interference. “We’re moving from one heaven to another” he said.

He mentioned he’d prayed for patience, and God responded by sending him a lot of irritating people so that he’d learn patience. I told him I was at one time pretty satisfied with my life and had prayed for humility and God responded by sending me several humiliating experiences until I prayed “I got it, thanks”. “He’s a really good parent” Bob said.

He loaded the chair into his car and I asked if he meant Austin and the new dreary town when he said one heaven to another. “Yes” he replied. “We are so blessed; our regrets are so small.” By now I’m overwhelmed and tell him I’d like to hug him, and he lets me. It was such a blessing to meet him.

Chair secured, he held out his hand to shake mine and said, “I’ll see you in Heaven” and drove off. I know he meant Heaven on the other side. Not just Austin or the new town.

John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

 

 

 


Susie Duffy Buehler is an Austin based writer regularly seeking to see people through God’s eyes. Sometimes the challenge is harder than others but there is no shortage of practice opportunities.

I Love To Tell The Story by Gabrielle Guthrie

Gabrielle Guthrie

There’s an old hymn that begins,  “I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love. I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true; it satisfies my longings  as nothing else can do.”

I’ve always been a storyteller, one born of some harsh beginnings, the oldest kid in a family where stories were not valued, they were perceived as lies, as vain imaginings, as delusions, as totally useless in the world. I grew up believing imagination was a guilty pleasure, story telling a sin. We worshiped at the altar of reason and science alone……and also chaos, confusion, and brokenness.

But as Nathaniel once said in the bible, “Nazareth? Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” And  Philip simply says, “Come and see.” I love how God tells a story, one that always turns all our expectations on their head.  We never even see Him coming.

A King….born in a stable.

I told stories to encourage people, to give them new eyes to see through the darkness around us. A tree is never just a tree. Those who can imagine things can see a child on a swing on a summer day or perhaps the lumber for a house. Our eyes are everything and what we see tends to shape our worlds. We are the narrators of our own stories. When circumstances are bad, when dark things come our way, the stories we tell ourselves matter, what we believe, where we place our eyes, can make all the difference in the world.

I met the Lord when I was about 3 yrs old, in a bright, warm light, in a flash of awareness and communication that is still more real to me today than yesterday was. I was wearing a pink checked dress and there was a scab on my leg. God smelled like fresh-baked bread, but unlike any bread I had ever smelled before. A bit funny, but some 50 years later, I still long for the smell of God, a smell so unlike any other. He smelled like home.

That was a baby faith of course, but a seed so firmly planted, it soon rooted and began to grow. I knew He would never leave me or forsake me and that someday we would be together again. I long for that day, but do everything I can to delay it too, because as the saying goes, “Jesus Christ didn’t die just to get us into heaven, He died to get a bit of heaven into us.”

Heaven is not in me yet, not all the way.  There are still too many stories to be told, stories of hope and redemption, stories, “of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love.”

John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Gabrielle Guthrie blogs about faith,culture, politics, and humor with an emphasis on biology because biology is all about life and life abundant.  Her popular blog my be found here https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com

“So you see, there’s this thing called biology….”

Sanitized Truth And Fairy Tales by Gabrielle Guthrie

Gabrielle Guthrie

As a kid I was blessed to have gotten my hands on an ancient book of fairy tales, many ancient books actually, the original Nancy Drews, the Wizard of Oz. Some people don’t realize it, but these versions are different from what we see today. They have characters full of dimension, angst, suffering, sometimes a rare triumph and victory.

We have edited and sanitized these stories, bringing them more in line with the political correct attitudes of today. The modern versions of Nancy Drew are so flat and two-dimensional, so full of stupid and boring, she has been rendered nearly impotent, transformed into something so unappealing many girls have no interest in her at all anymore.

I remember reading many of these tales and being horrified, traumatized even. But is that not the sign of a really good piece of literature? Isn’t it somehow wonderful to finish a book feeling as if you had just walked through those adventures yourself and to now look up and realize your very perceptions of reality itself have changed?

When it comes to fairy tales, disneyfication happened, sanitizing those tales into something pleasant and charming, something people would find appealing to share with their children. We don’t want any trauma here, no uncomfortable feelings, and certainly not any complex moral issues that might cause one to think too critically or to question anything. Also, everyone must always get their prince or princess and live happily ever after in a palace….

I’ve been known to run around singing like a teapot a la Angela Lansbury or trilling to the forest creatures like Snow White, so it’s not as if enjoying these versions is bad or something. It’s simply that in the modern western world we now live a rather sanitized and insulated existence, walled off even from the nature of our own selves. Even love is now reduced to something akin to a Hallmark card, a somewhat flat and two dimensional thing involving receiving little commercialized tokens of affection and endless romance. It is no surprise we have so much divorce, so much unhappiness, so much frustration. Where’s my happily ever after, the trilling forest creatures, the palace I ordered??

In the Gift of the Magi, she sells her hair to buy him a chain for his watch, while he sells his watch to buy her some combs for her hair. Those somewhat comical stories of human foibles and sacrifice for love are all but forgotten today.

In the original Little Mermaid there is no fun loving Ariel. She gives up everything, her identity, her very life itself, just to taste what it is like to have a human soul, to suffer unrequited love. She sacrifices her very life just to know human suffering. She does not get her prince in the end, she sacrifices herself and finds God instead.

Cinderella isn’t really a story about true love and finding your prince, it’s a story about suffering and grief, about unfair circumstances and injustice and the cruelty of human beings. It’s about sexual competitiveness, power struggles, and the hierarchies of human nature. It’s a about preserving your soul and keeping your heart soft in the face of such challenges. It’s about the beauty to be found in suffering, graciousness, humility. “Cinderella,” the name itself, in all its different versions and translations, means one whose worth is not seen on the outside.

Beauty and the Beast is about sacrifice too, about letting go and learning how to love in the face of fear. Beauty must let go of all her preconceived notions, her fears and simply trust her heart, take a leap of faith. But the Beast must let go of Beauty herself and risk living under a curse for the rest of his life. There are lovely themes about freedom, sacrifice, and love, woven all throughout the original story.

These are such valuable and important life lessons to know, so I perceive the loss of these fairy tales as a kind of theft. We have been robbed of the truth about our own selves and deprived of the commonality of the human experience.

Pinocchio, he wants to be a real boy, but he is trapped in his own deceptions. Truth is something we as people tend to have a hard time with, always thinking we can improve the tale of ourselves, simply by retelling it in a fashion more to our liking.

John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

 


Gabrielle Guthrie blogs about faith,culture, politics, and humor with an emphasis on biology because biology is all about life and life abundant.  Her popular blog my be found here https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com

“So you see, there’s this thing called biology….”

A Secret Club by Gabrielle Guthrie

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
C.S. Lewis

“I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather, C. S. Lewis.”


Gabrielle Guthrie

Whenever I think of “truth illumined by literature,” it draws me back to childhood, to the wonder and delight to be found within the pages of a book, the awareness that you are not alone, that someone else in the world has seen the truth, too.

CS Lewis begins with the idea of orphaned children in a war, a metaphor for the truth and reality of our lives perhaps, us as bits of the world’s collateral damage seeking refuge in the countryside. They fall into the back of a wardrobe one day, into another kingdom, another place in time, but real, perhaps more real than the wardrobe itself.

It is hard to explain how fiction can speak to you in a language only you can understand, profound ideas and truths felt and processed more by the heart than by the brain. Narnia was like that for me, a land of talking beavers and eternal winter that made far more sense than the one we live in now. Aslan, our lion, so beautifully crafted, woven around such sophisticated theology,  but known and recognized immediately.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Aslan can be known but never known fully, never tamed and domesticated, so he fits into a box in which we are more comfortable. He eludes our efforts to make him smaller and safer or bigger and meaner. Aslan is Aslan, and he simply tears down what we think we know as fast as we erect it. Aslan will reveal himself as he chooses and not as we chose.

“He’s wild, you know.  Not like a tame lion.”

Aslan is much like another Lion, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and people will often try to define Him too, to make Him bigger or smaller, safer or meaner, contained and tamed. There are so many of us who have leaned into CS Lewis’s Aslan character, who have clung to him fiercely in hard times, who have refused to be deceived by cheap substitutes and poorly drawn imitations. You are not my Aslan. That is not what my Aslan said.

Aslan is not our Lord and Savior, but Aslan is our Lord and Savior felt in the heart of a man who knew him so well, who lovingly recreated him for a Goddaughter, and gave so many of us a priceless gift in the process; a way to understand who God is and what it all means and why we are here.

We are like a secret club, us Narnia survivors, grown up girls now who still believe in fairy tales, who return to those lessons when we need wisdom and discernment. We bump into one another now and then and wave, linked together by our fierce love for the One who inspired the character of Aslan. He is a real Lion who lives in our hearts and imagination; One who has survived the test of time, reason, and adulthood. He is the Lion we have learned to sense and to feel, to anticipate with wonder and delight eagerly.

“Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again” -CS Lewis

John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

 


Gabrielle Guthrie blogs about faith,culture, politics, and humor with an emphasis on biology because biology is all about life and life abundant.  Her popular blog my be found here https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com

“So you see, there’s this thing called biology….”