Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Faith of a Child

Someone just brighted my day with this:

It was Palm Sunday and, because of a sore throat, five-year-old Johnny stayed home from church with a sitter. When the family returned home, they were carrying several palm branches. The boy asked what they were for. "People held them over Jesus' head as he walked by."
"Wouldn't you know it," the boy fumed, "the one Sunday I don't go, He shows up!"



I just received an email forward, the kind of thing I usually skim and delete. This time, it told a story of a woman saying good-bye to her daughter for the last time, and wishing her 'enough.' I found it substantial enough to reproduce here, edited a bit for structure and theology's sake.

I Wish You Enough
That you may have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain you.
I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.

It put me in mind of the prayer of Agur, contained in Proverbs 30:7-9:

Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches,but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.

It's a good prayer, one I have often prayed myself (so don't expect to hear of me winning Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes!), and one that seems, at least in part, to be summed up in the word, 'enough.'

Jesus stated this same idea in Matthew 6:11, "Give us today our daily bread." Just enough for today. It is the lesson of the manna. Fully enough, never more. The idea is reiterated in verse 34, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.".

Jeremy Camp has expanded on this theme in his worship song, Enough.

All of you is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with your love
And all I have in you is more than enough

You are my supply, my breath of life
Still more awesome than I know
You are my reward,worth living for
Still more awesome than I know


You are my supply, my breath of life
Still more awesome than I know
You're my coming King, you're my everything
Still more awesome than I know


More than all I want, more than all I need
You are more than enough for me
More than all I know, more than all I can say
You are more than enough


Maybe what I long for in life isn't 'more;' maybe it's just... 'enough.'

(c) 2007

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

J Attempts a Coup (Again!)

I am so, so tired. I have just worked (another) 12 hour day, and I am worn out. I know that next week (my deadline) is almost here and the hard work is almost done, but I am just haggard.

And more importantly, I am so tired that I am not walking in the Spirit well. I've always said that 50% of the battle to stay filled with the Spirit is 8 hours sleep. Well, I'm getting some sleep, but I'm still not winning this battle regularly. I have been very 'fleshy' this week.

I am leaving work now to go home and spend some time in the Word. May I find there the refreshment He promised, that tomorrow, "rivers of living water" may flow out of me. I'll take your prayers on that. :-)

Hope you are 'spring'-ing forth!

(c) 2007

Dream Blogging

Last night I had a dream. When I awoke this morning, I remember thinking that I should definitely blog this as a PM. I was thinking that my dream presented a cool spiritual analogy. The problem is, in the light of day, I can only remember this:

I want to be a bolster pillow, in a spiritual sense.

Now if you are wondering what that has to do with anything, I am able to agree with you. I have NO idea what this means or what I was thinking as I left dreamland this morning. Perhaps someone out there can interpret dreams and supply me with the sense of this. Until that happens, I'll just use it as confirmation that the mind is a crazy thing when let loose and unguarded at night. :-)

And for those of you unclear on what a bolster is: it is a round pillow that is shaped like a tube or pipe. It's great for slipping under your neck when lying down, or behind your back when sitting, but mostly it’s used for decoration. See how random I am?

Better run! -J

(c) 2007

Monday, May 28, 2007

PM on Aging

One of my favorite things about growing older in the Lord is the way my worship has changed. The longer I walk with the Lord, the more involved, yet simpler, this becomes.

I understand His greatness better now than 'then.' I understand the depth of my unworthiness more today than yesterday. It is truer in this moment than last that I love Him more than I ever have before.

I love that I am quicker to realize that my lack of desire to worship is tied directly to the sin in my life. I can choose faster (or sometimes, grievously, knowingly choose more slowly) to confess and repent.

I am thankful I understand better how His Word and His Spirit work in my life to allow me to worship in spirit and in truth. I am humbled by how His Spirit weaves His Word throughout my prayer, enabling me to pray in ways that are ever more in line with His will.

His value is ever increasing in my understanding, and that is His hand at work in me. And I'm so grateful.


(c) 2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pleasing Meditations

I decided last night that no matter what else I post, I want to be sure to remark regularly on the simple, beautiful, sometimes unperceived things that God has done, has given. I'm going to call these 'Pleasing Meditations,' or PMs. I take this from
"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." --Psalm 19:14

Please feel free to add your own!

PM #1 On my drive home yesterday, I was parked at a stoplight. In a thoroughly urban space, with radios playing, everything in sight paved, with wires crisscrossing the heavens and a motor rumbling at my feet, I suddenly spotted two birds, diving into the middle of the intersection. Whether they were at play--as I like to believe--or whether they were fighting for territory, as is more likely, the interjection of God's creation into man's creations was immediately refreshing. While man imitates God, and not wrongly, still he never produces the effect that true creation does. The birds at play were simple, beautiful, fresh.

And I am grateful.


(c) 2007

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hot Words

This was part of the Scripture passage in my inbox this morning:
The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives.--Proverbs 27:21

I know I must have read this before; I've read through Proverbs many times. But this verse has never struck me before. Today, I realized how true it was. We gladly welcome words of praise, but through them our lives are purified, our hearts tested. Praise so often draws to the surface the pride in our lives, at least it does in mine. I suppose this is good; impurities are skimmed off when they come to the surface of gold and silver being heated. Praise lights that fire so that God may draw out the taint in our hearts.

It's starting to feel hot around here...

(c) 2007

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Morning Glories

Listening to the radio on the way to work today, I heard a quote from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. One phrase from it was,
It's always morning somewhere.

Suddenly, I was thinking of the verse in Lamentations 3, that states that,
[the Lord's] mercies are new every morning.

Immediately, I understood in a fresh way that His mercy (defined as the withholding of what we deserve) is renewed every moment. It is a beautiful picture, isn't it? The sun is rising continually on mankind! Glory to the Son, who imparted such grace (defined as the giving of what is undeserved) to us!

Enjoy your morning glory--New Mercies!

(c) 2007

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Agony of Truth Redefined

I was just listening to a message that Josh McDowell delivered. He was discussing conversations he’s had with youth/gen-x/gen-y –er’s over the past few years. He was discussing how truth is now something considered created by each individual, not something defined to be discovered.
He asked a young man (actually, he’s asked 1400 young people, with no right answers) why he believed the Bible was true. He couldn’t give an answer. The next day, he came rushing up to Josh, very excited. He said, “I know the answer!” How did he know the Bible was true? Because he believed it. It was true because he believed.

I literally groaned out loud. My stomach hurts. How fully Satan has corrupted our very thought processes. How much harder it is for this generation than the previous to understand God’s Truth. How critically important it is for us to know truth, to be able to define truth, to live truth before a very, very lost world.

Oh, please stand. Please press on. We cannot give way now. We must, having done all, stand in the gap for a decaying, dying world. We must have an answer.

So, reader, do you believe the Bible is true? Why? How do you know?

(c) 2007

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Random Admissions

Just to add one more thing for today...

Ten Random Admissions, to bore or brighten your day.
1. I am sitting at work typing this email. However, I feel no guilt as it is after 8:00 p.m.
2. I had a little breakdown earlier this week at work, and I'm not sure I've really recovered from it.
3. I really only enjoy shopping if I have money. I don't have to spend it, but the possibility must exist.
4. I want to get rid of my cat but can't bring myself to do so.
5. I really miss traveling.
6. I think the early excitement of my life (teen's and early twenties) makes the routine-ness of life now harder.
7. I think I actually like vanilla ice cream better than chocolate, but my new favorite it butter pecan!
8. If someone else would pay, I would be a perpetual student.
9. I would love to know how someone figured out rubber bands. What a strange (but wonderful) invention!
10. If I could visit any time in history, I would return to the late 1800s/early 1900s. So many cool things were happening in the world, but world-wide wars hadn't yet squelched people's (misplaced) optimism.

Just restoring your faith in my random-ness! :-)

(c) 2007

On Mother's Day

I've wanted to write about Mother's Day all week, but I have simply been too crazy-busy swamped (that's correct in Southern-ese, if not in the rest of the country ) until now.

Mother's Day: a day for celebration, for remembering one of life's most precious persons.

Mother's Day: the one day of the year Mom can be assured of getting a flower (in church, at least), even if it is only a carnation, and a phone call, if she has adult children! :-)

Mother's Day: an opportunity for some, like this first-born, to call their mothers and offer them a sincere, "You're welcome," (for of course it is her first-born that makes her a mother.)

Mother's Day: when exhausted, harried mothers get to remember that motherhood is actually a good thing. I have one friend who has wanted a child for so long, and she received one through adoption a couple of months ago. Mother's Day was an especially special day for her.

Mother's Day: a hard day, for some. Three of my good friends have lost their mothers recently, and this weekend was especially hard as they grieved in a new way the passing of these special women. I have one friend who lost her first-born in utero a couple of months ago, and Mother's Day was a difficult one for her also. I have married friends who have tried for years to become pregnant or to carry to term, and Mother's Day can seem a mockery of their pain.

Mother's Day: a day for irony. I can't tell you how many times this past weekend I was wished a happy Mother's Day. If you don't know me, perhaps you won't know that I am single, never married, no children. However, I am in my mid-thirties (I hate typing that-lol!), and virtually all of my friends are married and do have children. That is a wonderful thing, and it allows me to live a bit vicariously without having to wake up every two to four hours for months on end. I like that very much!

Mother's Day: to the woman who wants children but has no prospect of having any, a painful period. And this year, for me, it seemed more so than most years. Don't misunderstand. I'm not pining away; really, really, truly, I am not. I think my friends and family would testify to this. I really do love the life God has provided me, and I am keenly aware of the benefits of singleness and of this season in my life. I would NEVER wish for me what God has not provided. I would not want a husband/children/a picket fence/two dogs/a cat/and a goldfish if that wasn't God's calling on my life. (Okay, I wouldn't want some of those anyway! I've already killed enough goldfish for a lifetime!)

Mother's Day: a day to grieve the passing of time. I don't begrudge time traveling on. I just miss the things that will never be because it has moved along. For example, I will never, no matter what happens from this moment on, be a young mother, a young parent. Unless I have better genes than I am pretty sure I have, even if I was married tomorrow and pregnant the next day, I wouldn't have nearly the time with my grandchildren that my grandparents have had with me. In fact, the more time passes, the chances of me ever being a mother grow slimmer and slimmer.

Mother's Day: a day to feel old. I'm not old, but I'm not young either, and on most days, I kinda like that. I have the benefits of some experience without the aches that prove my history. :-) The lines have started, but not really settled in for the duration. :-) But on Mother's Day, well on Mother's Day, I feel old. I feel bypassed. And I feel very, very alone. For while many people go through this, maybe even some of my readers, I went through this alone. I didn't feel free to share this out loud with anyone. I didn't tell anyone that I cried on Mother's Day, and I've cried every time I've thought about writing this blog. In fact, I'm crying right now.

I would never want what God didn't plan and provide for me. But on Mother's Day, I miss the possibilities that youth offered. I know now that no one's life turns out the way they plan it; this knowledge is one of the benefits of age. But it doesn't stop you from planning it when you are young, and the releasing of that plan is what hurts the most, sometimes even on Mother's Day.

P.S. Don't forget this blog is where I process what I'm feeling, what I'm thinking. These are my thoughts, my process. This isn't where I 'live,' so you don't have to worry about me. :-P

(c) 2007

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Please Pray

Dear Friends,
It has been a difficult week so far at work. Not bad, just really hard. I am really at the point of not being able to manage the stress. I am making changes here, but today, right now, I just wanted to ask you to pray.

There are some ministry-critical things that need to happen now. I am also trying to prepare to teach that discipleship class. For these two reasons, I suspect the stress and distraction I now face is spiritual warfare.

So, even as I engage it on that level, I wanted to ask you to pray with and for me, if you would. The next 3-1/2 weeks are very, very full, and I need to see God's path for me through it.

Thank you,-J

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Ideas Needed

I will begin teaching a 7th & 8th grade discipleship class (some call this Sunday School, but I like to focus on what I'm actually trying to do) at the end of this month. I am so excited. And I can promise you, I NEVER thought I would be excited about anything related to middle school, so this is what we call a "God-thing."

Anyway, I am working on developing the curriculum for this class. There are many things that I want to cover in the course of our hour and fifteen minutes each week (actually, more, 'cause I believe in assigning homework! Why should we spend more time on the things that matter only temporally than on the things that matter eternally?). But I'm betting there are things I'm not thinking of, lessons that, if taught to them now would save them heartache later.

So, dear readers...
If there was something about life or Scripture or God that you wished you had learned earlier; or if there is some lesson that you were taught when you were young that served you well...would you share that with me?

Things like...there are decisions you are making now that will affect your life later, maybe forever (an unexpected child, for example). I need your life experience to create the best curriculum. Poll your friends, too. :-)

Thanks for your help!

(c) 2007

Let's Play a Game...Seriously!

Something happened this morning to remind me of a creative writing class I took in high school. My teacher, Mr. Kornfeld (silent "d"), was, and I presume is still, an excellent teacher. He taught general English, composition, and Latin, in addition to creative writing.

In this class, each week he would assign us a short, usually two-word, phrase, and we were to write a one-page vignette using this phrase in a creative manner (as the class name would suggest). Typically, the words seemed antithetical. Today, when I walked into a co-worker's office, I heard her say, "It was ugly, but comfortable." And suddenly, I was back playing this game. How many different angles could I come up with for this phrase? My favorite was:
"As I turned once again from the air of disagreement in the room, I found that I was discouraged, yet at home. My relationship with my sister was ugly, but comfortable, in the bizarre way that dysfunctional family relationships are." (This is PURELY FICTIONAL!)

So...I thought I would introduce "Interactive Blogging," the very latest (as in, I just made it up) in techie fun. So give it a try. What's your best thought on the phrase...?
"Sticky perfection"

I would also welcome your suggestions for future phrases for Writer's Blog--The Game for Phrase-Turners of All Ages. (I hear Hasbro calling...)

I look forward to hearing from you soon--in the blogisphere!

(c) 2007


As the cinnamon buns finished baking, Aunt Joyce realized she was not out of powdered sugar icing after all. Uncle Bob liked his plain, but cousin Benjamin would enjoy slathering them with the icing until he reached sticky perfection.

"Sticky Perfection" = Duct Tape. Love, BIL (#1, in case that didn't narrow it down...)

I might suggest a game called Apples to Apples. Similar concept. My thoughts on this phrase?? It was only minutes before the big game, but Jim wasn't sure if it was ready or not. He chewed on it some more and finally came to the realization that he had achieved "sticky perfection;" the perfect wad of chewing gum for the big game.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

You Wouldn't Believe...

May 05, 2007 - You Wouldn't Believe

I stumbled onto this while researching something on the web. I might add that it just goes to prove that there is a crazy person manning a website for every nutty idea ever birthed. Check this out:

Not my style, but help yourself! The monomatch game was kinda fun, though....Smiles!


Happy Thoughts on Zoo Life

May 05, 2007 - Happy Thoughts on Zoo Life

I've left my grief comments as my latest blog long enough! Time for some fun.

My aunt asked about the "locked in a zoo after hours" story (from my "Funny, but True" list from a few days ago). Specifically, she asked how old I was. It sounds like she thought maybe I as 6 or 8, but noooooooooo, not me. I was 24. Here goes:

I was living in South Korea at the time. A friend and I traveled to a nearby city for the day. We went to a museum (where some weirdo followed us around for a while taking pictures of us and asking for our addresses so he could send us the pics--not a chance!), enjoyed a leisurely lunch at a local restaurant that overlooked the mountains there, and then headed to the zoo. It was a fairly small zoo, and it was built on the sharply rolling hills that were part of that mountain. (If you don't already know, 70% of Korea is mountainous--think Blue Ridge or Ozark Mountains, not Rockies.)

We wandered around the zoo for a couple of hours. Around 4:45 p.m., I heard--at a distance--a really terrible sound system, through which someone was trying to communicate something. Now, my Korean never advanced past pleasantries, menus, and basic shopping phrases, so there was no way that I could understand this announcement. I asked my Korean friend what had been said. It was too far away and too muddled for her to understand either, she said, but no big deal. So we wandered on. I think we were at the giraffes at this time.

At 5:00 p.m., now further from the speakers, we hear another attempt at an announcement. This time, I actually clued in as to the time, and turned to my friend and asked if the zoo was closing. No, she didn't think so. We're fine. We wandered up and down the little hills on which that the zoo was situated for a while longer. When we happened upon the elephant display, everything seemed to be closed up, the animals inside their corrals. We both looked at one another. Just to be sure, we moved on to the next animal feature, and found the same thing. A strong suspicion crept over us...

We made the best bee-line that we could (given the hilly nature of the location) toward the gate...and found it abandoned and locked! The zoo was closed and we were inside!
So we did what was our only option...We laughed hysterically. Can you imagine the insanity of this scene?

Now this was not quite the problem that it would be in the United States. The gate at this zoo was only about four to four-and-a-half feet high. Rather than spend the night at the zoo (not appealing even for a moment), we climbed the gate, jumped down, and ran down the mountain laughing!

We spent the rest of the day giggling. Who gets locked in a zoo!? We do.

Just another inane snapshot from my life. -J

(c) 2007

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

On Change & Grieving

Isn't odd how we can grieve good things? Change is so often good, for us, for others. Yet we can feel even the best things as a loss. I suppose it is a loss; change means things won't be the same. Perhaps that's what we grieve. We grieve because things are different and we had just grown used to how things were one second ago.... :-)

There is a change in my life, and I have found myself grieving, EVEN THOUGH I know it to be: best, right, and God-ordained. Proves I'm human, I guess.

See, I have a sister who is handicapped, both physically and mentally (though to what degree is undeterminable). My parents have sacrificed (though they wouldn't term it this way) her whole life to take care of her very significant needs. But the time has come for that to change, for them to take care of her needs in a different way. Last Friday, my sister entered a long-term care facility.

(Now, firstly, let me just address all of our immediate reactions. This is a good home. I know this is a great place, because I have worked there on three separate occasions (that's a looong story). I still keep in touch with some of the staff there, individuals who have been there 15, 20, 25 years. They provide excellent care, and if you have to go anywhere, this is the place to go.)

Our family isn't abandoning my sister. All of us would give up our current lives to take care of her if that is what was needed. But the truth is, at this time, this is a better place for her. The staff there has the time and resources to meet all of her needs without straining them emotionally or physically. This placement puts her in a place where she is free to socialize more, and she is a very social person. This is much more stimulation, activity, and therapy in this one place than my parents could provide even if that was their full-time job.

But we still feel sad. Even though we know that this is a better arrangement for my parents, who have been raising children for 35 years without break or respite. It will allow their time with her to be quality time. It will allow their poor strained bodies to recover a bit. It will allow them to just enjoy one another in a way they haven't for many, many years.

But still, I feel sad. It doesn't even make sense to me. Why be sad over a good thing? But I am. And somehow, I know that that's okay, it's normal, it's even right somehow. But even as I try to sort it out here, I cannot put it into words. Perhaps time will filter my feeling enough for words to be applied.

I don't only feel sad, mind you. I am so happy for my sister and for my parents. This is a good, God thing.

But this is the place where I share and process, so the part that is here is my grief. It's not bad, and it's not forever. But that's where I am today.

Just wanted to share. -J

(c) 2007

Tuesday, May 1, 2007


I have so many things to post, so many thoughts, and so many things that have happened over the last week. But just to get started, here is a thought I shared with a friend today and I thought it fitting to share here:

One of the cool things about the past 7-8 years in my life has been how God has forced me out of the circle of believers that I am 100% comfortable with and made me engage with believers that have thoughts, philosophies, or even theology that I don't agree with. And though I am still not greatly comfortable with that, what I have learned is that God is working through all the various philosophies, churches, denominations, mission agencies, etc. Somehow--only altogether--do we make a complete body of Christ. So...while I don't always like it, I need them, all of them, for this Body to be complete here and now. Complete, not perfect. That's still a good ways off!

More later. -J

(c) 2007