Thursday, June 26, 2008

Brain Fodder

Here's a quote I heard this week:

It is not enough that we do our best. Sometimes we have to do what is required. -Winston Churchill

Whatcha think?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ten Things for Tuesday: Ten Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Life

Hmmm....I come without a specific topic in mind, so let's see what develops.

Ten Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Life...But I Learned Anyway! ;-D

1. You want to want to share Christ? Start doing it. The more you share, the more you care.

2. It's your expectations that set you up for disappointment. It's okay to consider how things might turn out, but hold your hands open before the Lord on everything so that changes don't require prying your hands open in order to release your expectations. That's where the pain is.

3. Growing older is a really good thing. Our society values youth, but I don't see that being a God-value. What God values is wisdom, and while He offers it liberally when we ask, it is more naturally a by-product of age. A little life experience goes a long, long way. And my observation is that age tends to produce people willing to ask for wisdom, as James instructs us to do.

4. Your teenage/high school years are NOT 'the time of your life'!!! What idiot started this rumor? Your teen and pre-teen years are some of the most challenging years you'll ever have, as you try to sort out who you are, what you believe, what you're doing here on planet earth... Very trying years, if you ask me. Personally, I'm loving my thirties!

5. Most things of value don't come naturally to you--you have to work on/for them. I was naturally good in school, so somewhere I came up with the idea that the good things in life were the things at which you were good. Uh...No. Anyone with a little life behind them knows that this is not true. (I just caught myself shaking my head at the computer to emphasize my point! LOL!) Honestly, it wasn't until I began to observe who really had a good handle on life and who didn't that I figured this one out.

6. You can do more, learn more, and work harder than you ever thought you could. In C.S. Lewis' book The Horse & His Boy, part of the Chronicles of Narnia series, there are a pair of escaping, talking horses which think they are running as fast as they can...until a lion begins to chase them. Suddenly, there is more sprint in them than they thought possible. It turns out that this little extra motivation actually ended up saving them and their riders, but the real lesson is: you've got more in you than you think. Now, may God never have to send a lion after you for you to test this out!

7. You limit yourself more than you are actually limited. Okay, this is probably going to seem silly, but... For years, I thought I wasn't smart enough to learn chess. You know, chess is a smart person's game! And that is true, but it's not exclusively for the brilliant. I tried to figure it out in high school, and when it didn't come to me naturally (see #5 above), I just assumed that I wasn't smart enough. Well three years ago, a friend was trying to learn to play with her new husband, so we jumped in the boat together, and... Uh, yeah, turns out that not only can I play chess, but that I really enjoy it! It wasn't a real limitation that kept me from learning to play chess for 20 years, it was my perception of it. (I will also add that this set off a learning spree in me, where--so far--I have added painting, crochet, knitting, and use of basic household power tools to my newly-learned list! Sewing, here I come! And maybe pottery shaping. And I'd like to learn to work on my car, and woodworking, and...any suggestions?)

8. God really does use the weak & foolish things of this world to confound the 'wise'. Do you know who I really love to be around? People who really understand how great their sin is and how great a Savior their God is. Broken, yet healed people who know how great a healer their Jesus is. People who have or are hurting, who can see the kingdom of God through a lens I do not possess. It is these who really connect to their God, and who help me to connect too.

9. Even in the darkest places in your life, God is there. People do tell us this one, but we can't really believe it until we have cause to test this one out. But it is true. There is no place in this world or in your head where God is inaccessible. He sustains even when it seems you are in free-fall. Even when you cease to feel His presence, He is there. It is a gift we cannot refuse, though we can refuse to engage it. But irregardless of our response...God is there. Don't be afraid of the hard, dark, scary things in this life. I--and more importantly God--promise(s) you, God is there.

10. The Christian walk is better and harder than you can imagine at the beginning. Steven Curtis Chapman has a line in one of his songs that says something to the effect that, "This road that leads to heaven, it will not be the easy way." That is a true statement. The life of a disciple is characterized by discipline, both internal and external. It is a life of sharing in the sufferings of Christ. But it is ALSO the most beautiful, glorious, hopeful, wonderful journey offered to anyone, anywhere, at any time in the history of the universe. It is hard, but it is worth e.v.e.r.y moment. Don't take my word for it. Try it.

Well, that's all the attempt at wise words I can muster for today. I hope you will share your thoughts on "Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Life." After all, We're all in this together.


(c) 2008

Monday, June 23, 2008

TMI (For the Uninformed: Too Much Information)

My friend over at Life in the Parsonage was tagged with this recently, so I thought, seeing how meaningless drivel is not much available these days, that I would join in. Please feel free to choose a comatose state over reading this next bit. For all I know, that's what you're doing anyway...right now...this moment.......Is anyone listening?!?

Okay, here we go:

Favorite person: I'm gonna have to go with Jesus. And that wasn't always true. Here's my story.

Favorite food: Oh, I love all food...ALL food. That's been a problem for me for, say, the first half of my life. But I just don't go a day, even now, without something sweet, preferably chocolate!

Quirks about me: Okay the problem here is, what's NOT quirky about me? I'm a pretty odd duck, I'm afraid! :-) Let's about the fact that I don't try to balance individual meals, but I do balance my day's worth of food (dairy at breakfast, grains & veggies at lunch, protein for dinner, perhaps).

How would the person who loves you the most describe you in ten words or less? According to Ephesians chapter 1: Blessed, Chosen, Adopted, Redeemed, to the Praise of His Glory! (Just to name a few--go check it out!!) And wow! I asked my BFF too, and she said: Loves unconditionally. Loved unconditionally. Worships hard. Laughs well. Wholly beautiful. I'm really blessed. Really.

Any regrets in life? I am going to 'get spiritual' on you here: Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 3:12-14

What can you NOT live without: People, God's Word, Times of Quiet

Favorite blog: ACK! I love so many! So...I'll go with one I've not mentioned here before. Check out Pioneer Woman. She is stinking hysterical, though just to be clear, I can't endorse every word she writes...

Something you can't get enough of: Sleep...and I'm SINGLE! What would I do if I were married or I if I had kids?!?

Worst job you ever had: Selling shoes in a specialty store. Every foot deformity (and smell!) known to man crossed that threshold, and I was to fit them and then sell them a bazillion pairs. Did you know that I am SO not a sales woman? It scarred me such that I would not show my own perfectly-fine feet in public for more than a decade. No kidding.

What job would you pay not to have? See previous question.

If you could be a fly on the wall anywhere, where would it be? My sister's house in Asia, just so I could be near her again. :-}

Favorite Bible Verse: You cannot MAKE me narrow this list down. I simply won't do it. I...Won't...Do...It. Okay, well, a promise God gave me just before I graduated from college...I could share that one with you (but I won't be responsible for the torrent of Scripture passages that just might follow the opening of that dam!): Psalm 138:8: The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands.

Guilty pleasure: I make it a point not to engage in things that create guilt in me. I've got enough issues in life without THAT! ;-)

Got any confessions: I'm pretty sure that confession is considered good for the soul but bad for the reputation, and since God says that a good name is more desirable than riches (Proverbs 22:1), and I'd like to keep my good name, I think I'm gonna pass on this one. ;-D Except for sharing the fact that I can pretty much eat an entire full-sized watermelon in one sitting...YUM!! (Except if you've done this, you know why I don't usually indulge myself in this much.)

If you had $1000 to spend on YOURSELF, what would you spend it on? Replacing the wardrobe that I seem to continually be shrinking out of (YEA!!!).

Favorite thing about your house: The house isn't actually mine, but I love that the sun shines in my bedroom in the mornings. It is a wonderful way to wake up (okay, that, and my 2-5 alarms. I wish I was kidding. See! I told you I needed more sleep!) Also, the smell of the blooming jasmine on the arbor. Yum!

Least favorite thing: Poor water pressure in my shower--but I deal. ;-D

One thing you are bad at: This is a long list to choose from. Hmmm....Keeping my blog posts short? (That seems innocuous...see the confessions Q above.)

If you could change one thing about your current circumstances, what would it be? I would love a financial re-start. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

Who would you like to meet someday? Ruth & Boaz. What a great story!

What makes you feel sexy? Um...I'm single. Do I have to answer this question? You know, us single folk work really hard not to think too much about these topics...

Who is your real life hero? I'm not much of a hero-worshiper kinda gal. I don't really keep pedestals around in my life. I just like people in general.

What is the hardest part of your job? Keeping myself on task when I don't have deadlines.

When are you most relaxed? Friday night, when the week is done, but the Sunday work [read: ministry] has not yet begun. I love ministering on Sunday mornings, but anyone who does it must admit that it is work too.

What stresses you out? Running out of time on something.

Favorite quote: Excel in the Revealed.

Why do you blog? Narcissism? Just kidding!(?) I really need to put my thoughts down to sort out my mind, and having an audience forces me to clarify my thoughts. (Thanks for being there for me, guys!)

Well, that's all the witty content that isn't!

Until we return tomorrow to "Ten Things for Tuesday,"

(c) 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Heavy Heart, An Unshakeable Hope

I feel like my heart is full-up (as they would say in the South), and not in a good way. There are so many issues in my mind right now which need to be considered and prayed over--from my life and the lives of my family and friends--that I feel......heavy-laden (I knew growing up on the King James Version would come in handy eventually!). I feel weighted down and grieved.

And even as I realized that I felt this way, God's sweet Spirit brought to mind this passage:
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. Selah.

(Psalm 62:5-8)

Some of you don't even know me, yet your prayers sustained me through a difficult week last week (/month last month!). I thank you for that, truly. If the Lord leads you to keep praying, would you add my momma to your list? She is not well, and we are now going to wait a week for the results from a week's worth of tests. God knows what the problem is and what the solution &/or outcome will be, but we also have the right to ask Him for healing and health, as long as we accept whatever comes from His hand.

I've long believed that the journey, the processes of life are where God hides the lessons. The result is glorious, but it is the journey that changes us. And it is the transformation of our lives that God is seeking, so that we might reflect the very image of His Son (2 Corinthians 3 & 4, esp. 3:18). And so we review lessons spoken so often into our lives: learning to wait on the Lord, and opening ourselves to the transformation He longs to work in the midst of the journey.

May we never cease to be ever clearer images of His glory.

Polishing my reflection,

Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing.
Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to You I pray.
In the morning, O LORD, You hear my voice;

In the morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation.
Psalm 5:1-3, NIV

(c) 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Resurrected (as in, I'm alive again!) and Blessed

Ahhhhhh...the week is a few days :-D...and I am recuperating still. However, the week went pretty well.

I will tell you, though, that I was and am still plum tuckered out. I worked 12 days straight, and averaged 14 hour days, though many days went longer. I walked and moved for many of those hours, and would often not return to my desk (my usual residence while at work) for six or more hours at a pop. Thus, I was/am tired. :-)

There was some stress too. Lots of people to manage; a new director; doing some tasks for the current and the following week (early) since my boss was leaving the country; getting the mission team out of the country; organizing the final program. But here were the two humdingers:
1.) I got a call from OUT OF THE COUNTRY from an irate parent because of one teacher's disciplinary action. When the waters settled, we realized that the teacher hadn't really done anything wrong, but it might not be a good idea to repeat the behavior either. And the parent apparently called me first, so I caught the worst of it--and his response was pretty bad. But by God's grace, this isn't the first angry parent I've had to talk off a ledge in my life (and it probably won't be the last), so I was able to manage the scenario okay.
2.) In the final program, each class is to share a tiny bit of what they learned that week. Puppetry puts on a brief puppet show, violin plays a short song, etc. The one class--the one class (the one with the teacher who would never do something like this)--that we didn't verify what they were doing...hijacked the showcase with 28 minutes of presentation. Ugh. My stress level was out of the atmosphere. The program is an hour and fifteen minutes to begin with. You can imagine how happy the parents (and extra kids) in the audience were to be sitting watching kid presentations for almost two hours. :-( I was not happy. However, I will say, not one person verbalized their complaint to me. And that was more than gracious of them...really.

But overall, the week went really well. The children got to try new forms of art or build on skills they had already tested, learned of the beauty and creativity of our God, and really seemed to enjoy themselves. But the highlight of my week came during the final program (before the hijacking).

There is one student who comes to these events each year. And he is a, challenging student. He is quite big for his age and has some kind of disability or disorder that makes impulse control exceedingly difficult for him. He has no ability to whisper and his mood can swing on a dime (happy kid one minute, belligerent the next). You can imagine the sometimes less-than-thrilled-responses of the staff and youth workers when he shows up.

But you know, I like this kid. He's not trying to be the 'trouble-maker' he is often described as. He just doesn't know how to do differently. Some of that is a physiological inability to control himself, and some is simply stuff he hasn't learned yet. So after many attempts to manage him from afar during the final program, I found myself sitting next to him, trying to help him know how to respond appropriately. He wanted to share every story he knew related to what was happening on stage. He wanted me to know that he knew that song, or that that joke was funny. Every word was loud, every clap or laugh louder, and it was growing clearer by the minute that those around him didn't appreciate him being there.

And then, the signing class got up to share, and on came a worship song (one you would know if only I could remember which one it was now...). And this little boy could not keep himself from singing along, in his loud attempt at a whisper. He was trying to be quiet, and I was trying to show him how to sing along but not voice the words, just move his lips. But his off-key song just couldn't be contained. And suddenly, I didn't want it to be. For while everyone else there was enjoying a performance, this little boy was worshiping God.

Even now--as I did then--I find myself crying at the thought of it. It was such a beautiful thing to me to see him lifting his voice in worship to our Savior. This little boy who really does have all kinds of challenges and 'issues', just unable to contain his adoration for God. And all I could think is, "THIS is why we are here. THIS is what it is all about." And without warning, I found myself singing along.

I could not be more grateful to God for the way He capped off a long and grueling week. That one moment, maybe 120 seconds long, made every sacrifice worth it. And I hope that in heaven I get to stand next to that little boy again, and sing along there too.

Mightily blessed,

(c) 2008

Monday, June 9, 2008

And So It Begins...

I stand on the cusp of the work week. In 25 minutes, the craziest week of the year will begin. I'd take your prayers. I'll let you know how He answers.
It's Music & Arts Camp Time!

(c) 2008

Friday, June 6, 2008

Incensed...But Expected

A friend forwarded this link to me today. I forewarn you that it's not pretty (though not too graphic):,2933,363493,00.html

A pedestrian was hit by a car in broad daylight in Hartford, CT...and no one came up to him to help him! Cars simply drove around him. One scooter circled him. Apparently a few people called 911 from a distance. Yet no one came to him. No one...loved him.

I am incensed. It is indecent, achingly ugly and self-absorbed. But one thing it is not is inhuman. This response is actually very human. It is exactly the kind of response our flesh provides: gawk, but do not risk self. Do not think of others first. Do not lay yourself aside.

But the reason we are indignant is significant. If it is natural for us to think of self first, why are we appalled that these people didn't? Even unbelievers are shocked. Why? Because the law of God is written onto our hearts, believer or not: ...When Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts... (Romans 2:14-16a) God's law reflects His nature. And God's nature is to love--laying aside self, caring first. That is part of what is written onto our hearts.

The parable of the Samaritan traveller comes to mind. An injured man, uncaring respondents. Who was this man's neighbor? An unlikely man--one whose theology was warped (the Samaritans practiced a syncretistic version of Judaism), and yet he let the law of God rule his heart.

I am sad to think that we will see more of this...much more. For our society is actively pushing out God's laws, rejecting intentionally what God has written into our very DNA. And without the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, a callous indifference is what we can expect to see in our society. And it will happen sooner than you think.

Our times grow dark, and more darkness awaits if we are where I believe us to be in relationship to God's prophecies of the end times (they are a-comin'!). So what hope is there? The hope of our society is the presence of Christ illuminated by the Holy Spirit in the life of each and every believer. If you know Christ, than selflessness should be flowing out of you. The natural law of God in our hearts enlightened by the presence of the Holy Spirit should be making you and me beacons in a place where dusk is quickly falling.

When I ask of myself if I am that beacon, I'm not totally satisfied with the answer. But it is my calling, and thus it is my goal: You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. --Matthew 5:14-16

Seeking to shine so that others may praise my Father in heaven,

(c) 2008

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I Do Live...But Barely

Well the wedding went off without a hitch...which frankly was a little disappointing. I mean, I wanted them married and happy--and am thrilled that they are--but it is the hitches that make the memories. And since the bride and groom usually remember each other's face, a couple of "I Do's" and mostly "Blah blah blah" after that, it doesn't really matter too much to them. But for the rest of us, it is the entertainment! ;-)

Okay, okay, I wouldn't really have wanted something bad to happen, but a little glitch, a moment of craziness...would that be so bad? Like when my aunt set her veil on fire (just a little. No one saw anything except the groom smacking her in the face.). Or when my sister, a junior bridesmaid, got the stomach flu in the middle of the ceremony (don't worry, my uncle scooped her out of the ceremony just in time!). Ahhhh...these are memories!

Okay already! I'm just kidding around here. Truly, it was a wonderful ceremony, a wonderful weekend. Family, much laughter, great food, real worship, and a covenant made that I have no doubt will last until death parts them or Jesus returns (soon, Lord!). It really was wonderful. I loved getting to know my new sister-in-law (SIL from this point on) and her family. And friends of the couple that I didn't know or didn't know well. My grandparents were there too, and that is always a treat.

But you might have noticed that I didn't include sleep in my above list. That would be 'cause there wasn't much. Not in the three weeks prior either. Or since, come to think of it. And thus the title: I do live, but barely. I am so very tired. And it's only going to get worse from here, at least for another week or so, as the church where I work runs a children's music & arts camp next week, and I'm responsible for a good bit of it. I think it's going to be great...but I might not remember it if I don't find a way to get some sleep soon! My body's wound up so tight now that even when I have time, it takes me a good bit to calm down enough to get there. These aren't complaints, just facts.

But the best part is, it really is a good time in my life. I like being busy and seeing family, and celebrating such a wonderful experience. I am tired, but I am happy. AND, I return to you with many, many thoughts roaming loose in my head that need to be corralled and put into a blog post or ten. So let's see if I can carve out time to share with you over the next week or two. I'll do my best, but warn you now, if I have to choose between blogging and sleep... Well, I'll see you when I can.

With a wink and a smile (and was that snore I just heard?),

(c) 2008

Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?"
Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD.
You have filled my heart with greater joy
than when their grain and new wine abound.
I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O LORD,
make me dwell in safety.
-- Psalm 4:6-8