Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Blessings to you all!
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
There must be more to life than having everything. -Maurice Sendak
I have have no idea who this guy is. However, I'm pretty sure he's echoing another, more familiar sage: Solomon. Isn't that what the whole book of Ecclesiastes is about?
There is more to life, and it's Jesus.
Joyously living in Christ,
Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.
--Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, NIV
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Ten Things I've Learned About Myself:
1. I really like to make things (but I have so little a background in this that I really do have to be shown HOW to do it!).
2. I like to know HOW things work. In fact, I don't store information well when I don't understand the 'how.'
3. I reached adulthood without developing lots of preferences, especially regarding food. There weren't options in our household; you ate whatever you were served. So why bother deciding you didn't like it? :-)
4. There are foods I really don't like. And some I was never served growing up, but love.
5. My fall-back defense mechanism when I feel overwhelmed is to not do anything...to just pretend it isn't there. Don't deal with it; don't acknowledge it. It turns out that this is a lousy way to function successfully in life.
6. I don't have a great long-term memory. If it's not something I've reviewed in recent history, there's a good chance I won't know it now. Scripture and random, useless facts are usually an exception to this. This is one of the reasons I never want to have a job where someone's life could hang on my decision. What if I forgot something critical?!?
7. Just as my brain isn't always trustworthy, neither is my heart. Makes me mighty glad that God Himself has taken up residence in me! Who knows what I would be like without Him?!
8. I am cautious beyond belief by nature (I once scored a 3 out of 100 on a risk-taking analysis), but when I have peace that God is moving, I will pick up and do just about anything.
9. I love order and symmetry, but have learned to appreciate forms of disorder and asymmetry...But not as much as I love order and symmetry. ;-)
10. I am a more selfish, evil person than I could have ever imagined. The older I get and the more I love Christ, the more messed up I know myself to be.
Well, not exactly Shakespeare, but at least it's something.
Pressing on to know the LORD,
So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD
His going forth is as certain as the dawn;
And He will come to us like the rain,
Like the spring rain watering the earth.
--Hosea 6:3, NASB
Monday, May 12, 2008
It is now early on Monday morning, way past my bedtime, but I wanted to share with you how very smoothly today went. I got a little unraveled when I had to refuse the flower they tried to hand me on the way into church, but I zipped off to my Sunday School class where I promptly got distracted by my students' complete lack of effort to engage the lesson. (BLEH!) During the service, they did do the special highlights, but just as I found my heart starting to well, it was suddenly gone...as if a wave starting to swell toward the shore suddenly reversed directions and simply headed out to sea. And from that point on during the day, I found myself walking in an inexplicable peace. I'm pretty sure [ironic tone] that was GOD.
Thank you for your kind thoughts, and most especially for your prayers. The season is over, my heart is settled, and God--as always--is victorious.
Just one more note added to my eternal song of praise,
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. --Philippians 4:4-9
Friday, May 9, 2008
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Praying for others when you need to be prayed for,
Feeding others when your own soul is hungry,
Living truth before people even when you can't see results,
Hurting with other people even when your own hurt can't be spoken,
Keeping your word even when it is not convenient.
It is being faithful when your flesh wants to run away.
Ministry: Doing what you cannot do with what you do not have for the rest of your life.
-Dr. Bill Lawrence, Prof. Em. at Dallas Theological Seminary
Ten Random Facts About Me:
1. I love Roman numerals.
2. I always eat breakfast in my car. Saturdays are an exception, sometimes, depending on when I need to leave the house.
3. I would like to have a skill at which I excelled. (A jack-of-all-trades; a master of none?)
4. I typically need background noise to be able to fully concentrate. (The outcome of growing up in a household of seven, I'm guessing. (-:)
5. I find listening to most radio stations frustrating since they repeat the songs far too often for my taste.
6. Pink is one of my least favorite colors.
7. When I type, I only shift with my left hand. I never learned to use the right-side shift key. Weird, I know. Typing (this was before the universal shift to 'keyboarding.') was a year-long class and I only took the first semester. :-D
8. I often feel in life that there is information that others have that I missed somehow: socially, academically, even spiritually. I have no way to verify this; it's just how I feel.
9. I used to be able to sing, but really lost my voice after about four years of non-use during an intense period in my life. I miss it, and am slowly working to get it back, but I no longer feel comfortable singing in public.
10. Fall is my very favorite season and summer my least favorite. I sleep so well when it's cool, and I just hate sweating for no good reason. ;-)
Well, it's not much, but it's something. Hope your lives are more interesting today than mine apparently is!
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
And so, having not even arrived at the actual day yet, and I find myself struggling. I just reread last year's post on the subject, and I find that much of it is still true. I LOVE the life God has given me--it is rich and rewarding, and for perhaps the first time in my life, has real roots in a community. I am blessed beyond measure, pressed down and overflowing. So why is it that Mother's Day cards and commercials and ads all make me feel small and insufficient and empty? This is one of those things that requires much battle in my mind. I spend this season fighting to recall the many, many blessings in my life. Not that I want one iota of anything God doesn't ordain for me. And yet I still struggle...
Sometimes, it makes me wonder if there are things in my heart I won't admit even to myself. That is probably true (and I suspect I am not alone in that, yes?). Perhaps there are desires and longings that I am simply sitting on, waiting on. That is probably true, too. In fact, I know it is. It is--at least partly--why I wrote this.
But then I consider that in the vast majority of the non-Mother's-Day-Season year, I am fine. These pains don't surface and I live life content with the blessings God has given, not the ones He hasn't. I truly don't believe in looking to see if other people's grass is greener. My grass is just as green as God ordained, and it does me zero good to check on other people's lawns. (I don't want their fertilizer anyway; mine's plenty, I assure you!) And I can live in that contentment 93% of the year.
So I have to ask the question, why is this 'season' difficult? And I find that--at least in part--the answer is: I am being tempted. Satan uses this season, these flowers, cards, and well-wishes to stir up trouble in my soul. And you know, when I write that, I'm kinda glad to know it. What Satan means for evil, God is turning to good. Looking back, I realize through each year's trial, my 'soul muscles' have gotten stronger and stronger. I don't know that the pain is any less than it once was, but my ability to deal appropriately with it has grown. God has allowed this longing and temptation to create in me:
...a heart that strives lay it all down before Him.
...a quicker, "I will not covet" response in my mind.
...a will that knows it can choose to celebrate God's gifts. Period.
And so, this year, I'm looking at Mother's Day Season as a gift. It is a chance to once again turn my heart back to my Father and to rest in His goodness and His gifts. I may have a dozen children someday, or I may die with only spiritual ones (a blessing indeed!), but no matter what the future holds, I have all that my Father deems best for me now, and I can and have chosen to glory in it.
Tomorrow, I may struggle more. Sunday may be more difficult than today. But by His grace, my lawn is well-watered and fertilized. So I think I'll stick to tending it, and let you celebrate your own green lawn.
Doing spiritual workouts,
Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers...
For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
-Psalm 1:1-3, 6
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart...Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. -Hebrews 12:2, 3, 7a
Monday, May 5, 2008
I have no idea who Herbert Spencer is. I didn't even try to look him up. This quote can stand on its own, as it echos messages from the book of Proverbs!
One dictionary defines folly as, "a foolish action, practice, idea, etc.; absurdity." When we don't let people experience the results of their foolish actions, they cannot and will not learn to not do those foolish actions.
It brings to mind a catch-phrase often bantered around in the parenting realm: natural consequences. Often, parents must present consequences to their children that do not naturally flow from their behavior. But frequently, children can learn not to repeat an action simply by experiencing the outcome of those choices; these are natural consequences.
It seems to me that often God lets us experience natural consequences so that we can learn to part ways with our folly. I'll give just one example: credit cards. Need I say more? Some of you probably use these as the tool they were designed to be. But for some of us, digging out of the trap of easy money we fell into when we started using credit cards is God's method of helping us depart from our folly. I'm really ready to be separated from both my folly and my consequences! But sometimes, to really learn to forsake our foolishness, the consequences need to drag on...and on... But someday, I will be completely free from foolishness, possessing the wisdom found in the mind of Christ! When God writes His children's stories, there are happy endings!
I just wanted to share with you what I felt was an apt quote for our generation. When we shield people from the consequences of their actions, we do what God doesn't--doom the world to her folly.
Wisdom calls aloud in the street,
she raises her voice in the public squares;
at the head of the noisy streets she cries out,
in the gateways of the city she makes her speech:
"How long will you simple ones love your simple ways?
How long will mockers delight in mockery
and fools hate knowledge?
If you had responded to my rebuke,
I would have poured out my heart to you
and made my thoughts known to you.
But since you rejected me when I called
and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand,
since you ignored all my advice
and would not accept my rebuke,
I in turn will laugh at your disaster;
I will mock when calamity overtakes you-
when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,
when distress and trouble overwhelm you.
"Then they will call to me but I will not answer;
they will look for me but will not find me.
Since they hated knowledge
and did not choose to fear the LORD,
since they would not accept my advice
and spurned my rebuke,
they will eat the fruit of their ways
and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.
For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
but whoever listens to me [wisdom] will live in safety
and be at ease, without fear of harm."
-Proverbs 1:20-33, NIV
Friday, May 2, 2008
Sarah from Life in the Parsonage, one of the most interesting and 'real' bloggers that I read, generously shared this award with me. I cannot tell you how exciting (and addictive) this blog journey has been, but I am thrilled to be friends with people I have not yet had the chance to meet! I love how God uses all available resources for the encouragement and development of the Body of Christ.
You know, I started blogging as a way to journal and yet share where my heart really was. I needed a place to process my thoughts and things God was teaching me, and I also felt the call to just 'be real' before others. So often in the church, we can put forth the image we want others to see. I won't say I'm free from that, but I do try to share what I'm really thinking and feeling. I hope I don't sound too 'churchy' but I did grow up from early childhood as a believer in Jesus and a member of the church, so how I 'speak' here is really how I speak. (There is a slight possibility that I'm just a nerd of almost-unequaled proportion, but I'm refusing to entertain that option.) I am honored and humbled that God could use my ramblings to bless or encourage or exhort anyone, more or less the fair number of you that read &/or comment. He truly uses the foolish to confound the wise, no? LOL!
So, those of you who blog, why did you start blogging? Have your purposes changed along the journey. I'd really be interested in hearing a snippet about this area of your life. In the meantime, I'm going to go revel in the fact that I have a new blogosphere friend who deemed me worthy of awarding. Then maybe I'll go floss! LOL!!!! (If this makes no sense to you, check out Sarah's latest blog entry.)
Pressing on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus,
Thursday, May 1, 2008
About four years ago, when a friend of mine was very sick, I painted a 'pottery' picture frame for her. It showed a sunrise and a Scripture reference, and while I am no great artist--seriously--I was pretty pleased with the piece. I was so happy to get to give her something I had made.
Two weeks ago, several years after she recovered from this serious illness, I stopped by a garage sale for her daughter's ballet school...and lo and behold, there was a picture frame that looked awfully familiar. And when I use the term 'awfully,' I really mean that. My stomach just sank. It had already been a rough--and early--morning for me (remember how I don't do mornings well?) and seeing that gift marked with masking tape for $2 made my heart hurt.
Now, no one should feel obligated to keep a gift I give them any longer than they want it. Really. But in that moment, I realized that I had put much of myself and my love for my friend into that piece. To see it leave her hands to be sold so cheaply made my heart hurt.
So I did what seemed my only option. I bought it.
And then, when I got home, I realized that this is exactly what God did for us. He created us with joy and gave us the gift of our lives. And it was sold right off to death, for the cheap price of a piece of fruit. But God, who is rich in mercy, refused to let that be the end to his masterpiece. In His great love, He bought us back with the blood of Christ, the only currency which buys a soul. That is what it means when we say we are redeemed. We have been bought back...to the eternal praise of His glorious grace!
That's a sweet, sweet story, one that I plan to sing for all of eternity! But you know, that's not really the end of the story. We were bought by the Father not simply to be. We were redeemed to be a pure and holy people, a people eager to do His will, a people to be for His praise:
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. --Titus 2:11-14
Redeemed for a purpose! The story God writes for each life is beautiful and never aimless. These are purposes worth pursuing, worth living for. So now, we are not garage sale pieces. By the blood of Christ, we are new creations!
Bought with the precious blood of Christ,
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. --I Peter 1:18-22