Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Sweet Reminder

I feel badly for leaving you with the last post and no follow up...though your many encouraging comments (and even a phone call or two) were deeply appreciated. We have headed into our second busiest season at work, and I don't have as much time to post here now as I would like. However...This is what I should have shared with you on Sunday:

Worship on Sunday was...wonderful. I LOVE singing God's praises with His people. I think I would never tire of that. And as is so often true, it is in the midst of those special times of worship that God whispers truths into my heart.

This past Sunday was no exception. And here is what He whispered:

J, I must bring you to the place where you are empty and needy so that I might fill you with Me.

Except God is so much more eloquent than I can duplicate here. But those non-word truths that He 'spoke' into my heart? They were a healing salve to my soul.

It's not the first time that He's said such a thing to me. And honestly, it probably won't be the last. But His gentle, tender voice reminding me of greater things than I can imagine...I will never grow tired of that either.

I so truly love the One who has loved me with such infinite, depthless love. His hand nudges my chin upward just when I have lost sight of the greater things. He is answering my deepest prayers...that I might KNOW Him. That I might gaze upon His beauty. That I might become a moon to His glory. That there might be less of me, and more--ever more--of Him. That I might be desperate for Him. And to get there, I must be emptied.

This life...this life isn't about what I DO. I forget that a lot. Our society measures things that way and sometimes it just seeps into my soul. This life is about getting to know the lover of our souls. I recently found a 3x5 card I stuck in my Bible about a year and a half ago. I had written myself a note when--in the middle of a conversation--I had an "a-ha!" moment. And here is what I wrote:

"My purpose isn't in my task; it's in my relationship. Point your nose toward His throne."

Not Shakespeare, but it IS what I so often miss/forget/ignore. I was placed here to do good works--that's true. But those good works must flow out of my RELATIONSHIP with the one who ordained those good works for me to do.

You've probably mastered this truth already. Me? I'm a bit of a slow learner myself. But with such a gentle, grace-giving schoolmaster, someday I'll get this down. And in the interim, feel free to remind me to point my nose toward His throne.

And if we could sing His praises together a bit more, I might get there a little bit faster.

Never out of His grip or His plan,

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. --Ephesians 2:4-10, NIV
(c) 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Facebook Statuses I Don't Have the Courage to Post

So I pop on FB and get to see everyone from my life--past & present--'s lovely families and lives and ministries. And I am so happy for them. Genuinely. Seriously. Without taint.

But sometimes, there's a part of me that feels sad afterward. It's the part that just compared my life to theirs. This is a bad idea. I know. I don't do it intentionally because I know that it is a bad idea. But sometimes, when I'm done looking at their so-very-happy pictures, I want to change my FB status to...

--J is a tiny bit sad that God never made her a mom. (Sometimes the adjective changes.)
--J wishes that she could be a Mrs.
--J loves the humility that has come with her current jobs, but wishes she could say that she had done something really cool for God.
--J absolutely knows God hasn't forgotten her, but sometimes her head has to re-instruct her heart on the matter.
--J is waiting for a really cool God-story to be written into her life.
--J loves the perks of being single (like sleeping until 10:40 a.m. today!) but would be willing to trade those in for the right scenario...

You can't post those. I probably shouldn't post them here, as they might taint your perspective on my perspectives. I rarely 'go here.' Really rarely. But today I did. And since I didn't have the courage to post them for real (especially as my FB people have been known to get the wrong idea and then set about fixing me), I'll post them here under the cover of partial-anonymity.

Thanks for hearing me out. Now, I can move on with my day. It's time to wrap up my lesson for tomorrow. Paul's in Thessalonica! Sabbath-reasoning, prominent-folk believing, bad characters creating trouble...There aren't pirates or sword-fights, but it's still a pretty cool story. Let's see if I can make middle schoolers believe that.

Off to live the life I've been given, and placing my confidence in heaven-stored treasures,

And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. --Romans 5:2b-5, NIV

(c) 2008

Just For Fun

This little email has been bouncing around in my family the past couple of weeks, and--while I have many other things I could share, I don't have time to organize those thoughts right now. are some worthless little tidbits about me. (The assignment for the first part was to place an X next to those items that were true about you/your life.)

( ) Gone on a blind date – It’s never even been suggested. Should I be offended?

( ) Skipped school – Well, I kinda played more sick than I was a couple of times…

( ) Been to Canada – On the wish list

(X) Been to Mexico – Went when I was 11 or 12, and saw glass being blown for the first time.

( ) Been to Florida – I live this close (in the Deep South!) and I STILL have never been to Florida. I have, however, been to 34 or 35 other states!

( ) Been to the Caribbean – On the wish list

(X) Been overseas – Uh, YEAH!

(X) Been on a plane – Oh so many times… (Plus, it's much easier to get 'overseas' this way!)

( ) Jumped out of a plane – This is something I hope to avoid…

( ) Been on a helicopter

(X) Been on a train – Never in the US. I’ve had both good and bad experiences here.

(X) Been lost – Sometimes I try to get lost. You learn a lot that way.

(X) Been on the opposite side of the country – Thanks, Far-Out Sis & Fam!

(X) Gone to Washington, D.C. – love, Love, LOVE DC! (Clarification: I love the city; the politics can be another matter…)

(X) Swam in the ocean – Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Sea of Japan, stood on the shores of the Mediterranean, but it was too cold to swim.

(X) Cried yourself to sleep – Glad they didn’t ask how many times…

(X) Played cops and robbers - But not particularly willingly. There were boys involved...

( ) Recently colored with crayons – But I love to!

(X) Sang Karaoke – More times than I can count. First time was with my BF from middle school (though we were in college then), in a Vietnamese ‘restaurant.’ There’s a good story there…

(X) Paid for a meal with coins only – Sadly, fairly recently. Times, they are a-tight…

(X) Done something you told yourself you wouldn't do – both good things and bad things.

(X) Made prank phone calls – I “sold” subscriptions to Garbology Today to friends in junior high.

(X) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose – milk, junior high. Not my only unfortunate experience with milk in junior high, either. Those were some rough years...

(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue - :-)

(X) Danced in the rain – With my MOM! In high school. It was a really heavy storm, and I think we both got sick afterward, but what a memory…

( ) Written a letter to Santa Claus - I was the child trying to inform everyone about the TRUE meaning of Christmas...which of course meant that I started an early career as a myth-debunker. I'm sure I was very popular with the parents...

( ) Been kissed under the mistletoe – But am willing to try it…

( ) Watched the sunrise with someone you care about or love – well, with friends, but I don’t think that is what this is referring to.

(X) Blown bubbles – Best memory is doing so with my niece and nephews just before most of them abandoned me left for Asia.

(X) Gone ice-skating – Love it!

(X) Gone snow or water skiing – Does it count if you didn’t get out of the water? Well, I actually did get out; flying through the air and landing head first back in the water is skiing, isn't it?

(X) Gone to the movies – I almost never go (maybe once or twice a year; who can afford it?!), but this is one of my favorite things to do. I love to lose myself in a story.

( ) Been to Africa – On the wish list

( ) Ate cookies for dinner – I’ve eaten cookies WITH dinner, but I don’t think I’ve done this alone.

( ) Ate cookies for breakfast – Uh…the stomach is quite particular in the AM.

(X) Body Piercings? – Yep. Six of them. Do I sound mysterious?

(X) Been on TV – Yes…but that wasn’t me on America’s Most Wanted. You can’t prove it was…

( ) Stole a traffic sign – Grrrl, I am SUCH a rule keeper. Uh, no.

(X) Been in a car accident – Yes, but it’s never been my fault. I’ve either been completely stationary or not even in the vehicle at the time.

( ) Tattoos – But they did just became legal in my state…

* Favorite drink? In order: Water, Coffee, Diet Dr. Pepper (with Sonic ice!)

* Do you love your job? YES! But I can think of several others I would jump at the chance to do if God opened the door…

* Favorite vacation place? A trip to Hong Kong was the best vacation I ever had, but generally, the mountains in the fall.

* Favorite TV Program? I grow more ‘sketch’ on TV by the day, but currently… Antiques Roadshow, Masterpiece Theater, As Time Goes By, Heroes, Eleventh Hour, The Mentalist

* Drive a 2-door or 4-door vehicle? 4-door. Her name is G.G. We should talk about her sometime...

* Favorite salad dressing? Newman’s Own Olive Oil & Vinegar (Worth every calorie!)

* Favorite number? BF's cell phone

* Favorite pie? Pumpkin, every time, baby!

* All Time Favorite Movie? Name a classic musical

* Favorite holiday? I cannot decide. I LOVE the calm and celebration of Thanksgiving; but I love the ‘family togetherness’ of Christmas. And the songs. And the decorations. And the weather. And celebrating my birthday the week before… (less than 30 shopping days remain…)

* Favorite dessert? Angel Food Cake, or chocolate

* Favorite food? Ohhhh, I am such a foodie. I cannot choose. Maybe Thai? I love ALL foods. Seriously.

* Favorite day of the week? Friday night—there’s (usually) nothing that I need to prepare for for the next day.

* Favorite Brand of Body Wash? Anything non-floral. I’m generally allergic to those.

* Favorite toothpaste? Colgate paste, not the gel

* Favorite smell? Something savory cooking, especially if it has onion &/or garlic in it. And gardenias (though I’m kinda allergic). And pine. And the confederate jasmine that blooms on our arbor. And coffee brewing. And that cologne that sharp-dressed stranger was wearing when he passed me in the Korean bus station (Mmmmm...I do wish I knew what that was!). I think I’m very olfactory-oriented. :-D

* What do you do to relax? Exercise (especially Pilates!), watch TV/movies, read

* Favorite Sport? Whatever my friends are into. I love the variety of the Olympics best, both summer and winter. I’m a total Olympics junkie!

* How do you see yourself in 10 years? Well, I tried to guess where I’d be now ten years ago, and I got that ALL wrong, so I think I’ll abstain from this one.

Okie-dokie. That's all the gibberish I can come up with for now. Did you learn anything new? No? Sorry about that. Maybe next time I can be a tad more creative for ya.

Blessings all!

"I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. --Luke 12: 4-7

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's Happened!

It's happened! I said it! What a DAY!

Let me back up a bit.

Last night my roomie mentioned that the temperatures this morning would begin with the number 2. Uh, I live in the South. We don't get temperatures that start with 2...especially in November! And so, since my newest hobby is FREEZING TO DEATH CONSTANTLY, I decided to pull out my biggest, thickest sweater--big, fat turtleneck and all--and layer it over a long-sleeved shirt.

Now this sweater was purchased for my trip to Chicago two winters ago. It's a serious sweater, not one of those wimpy ones you find in the South. And seeing that I bought it two years ago, it's a little...big. I think it's designed to fold under at your waist, but mine hangs straight down past my hips.

Earlier today, as I was in the ladies room, I was looking in the mirror and thinking how big and lumpy this sweater was. And I thought, "Boy, this really makes me look fat."

And then it happened. In my own head, I said the word. I didn't mean to. I didn't even know it was coming. Honest! I suddenly heard--through my tumbling thoughts--I suddenly heard myself say..."I don't care. I know that underneath I'm skinny."

Did you catch it? My own self-talk used the word SKINNY. About MYSELF! THAT is a change. Words like chubby, fat, lumpy...maybe. But skinny? THAT has never happened before! Probably not ever, considering how I viewed myself even as a child/teen.

I'm still not to goal, but I have come a looong way. (Oh, you want details? How about 95-pounds-gone-worth? Will that suit you? *wink*) And you know what? This instance, this stumbled-upon thought process, tells me that I've come along way in my head and heart too.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all a Jesus thing.

Enabled by His gift, buoyed by His Spirit,

For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code...Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering... Romans 7:5-6; 8:1-3a, NIV

(c) 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

Conversations With God

Here is the blog entry I started yesterday, when rain paused but the trees shone: All the world is gold...and red, and green. The trees here...

That's as far as I got, but you can see that I was seeing the world as beautiful. And that gave me hope. That was nice.

Today, I ran across this website via a couple of friends' communications:

I haven't read much, but this woman is a pediatric nurse on a mercy ship, currently off the shore of Liberia. And here is what sent me into a self-indulgent stew of sorrow: "I spend my days in a delightful whirl of crying babies, cast-footed kids, and even the occasional grownup. I've never been so happy....(Please let me stay forever.)"

That's when I realized that questions that I thought I had answered weren't so fully answered, and that the peace that I so often feel is more tentative than solid. Many of you know that I spent the vast majority of my life planning for and moving toward cross-cultural ministry, from about age 7 to about age 31. I'm no math major, but that's a lot of time.

But after a brief stint overseas, and achieving the necessary master's degree, it all came to a screeching halt. God said, "Wait."

Okay, I can wait...a few months. A year. Or, apparently, more.

Then God said, "Wait on ME."

Okay, that one is harder. It's not just the hunkering-down, holding-on-for-dear-life kind of waiting. In fact, it's not holding on at all. It's a release, an utter, willing submission of yourself to the hand of God. Harder, but I learned.

Then, I asked God, "When?"

But God just said again, "Wait."

So I waited. I tried to make myself useful during this 'intermission.' I delved deeply into ministry. I learned how to disciple. I saw life from the 'professional ministry' side. I worked with a church plant. And every so often, I would ask again, "When?" "God you know my heart is already in Central Asia. They don't know you there..."


I learned how to manage serious physical pain. I learned that God can heal what doctors declare you will live with forever. I learned how to seek His face...and that when you do, He meets you there in ways words cannot define. Amazing lessons...but in many ways, I still felt that I was just treading water, waiting to go.

Finally, years in, I asked, "Am I going? Please tell me where to point my nose."

And God said, "You are not being sent to a people of obscure speech and difficult language...not to many peoples of obscure speech and difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely if I had sent you to them, they would have listened to you."*

And I cried. I cried for two years.

How can I not go? Is there a greater calling?

Then God spoke quiet truths into my heart:
"I don't need you to accomplish great things for Me, J. I AM great, and I will accomplish all that I desire."
"Cross-cultural ministry is not the greatest thing you can do. Knowing Me is."
"Put roots down, J. You've never learned how to be where I've put you."
"Pursue Me. Seek My face."

"I love you. Unconditional, all-encompassing love. Let that sink into the deepest parts of you."
"While you've been banging on the doors of heaven, asking Me to change your circumstances, I've been changing you. This is the greater part."
And so many other truths and promises.

Finally, my heart came to a place of peace, and I found this was my prayer: You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.**

But today, I found myself questioning anew, "Is this really it, Lord? I don't intend this as a complaint, but my heart still yearns for...something. For some things. And sometimes, I feel sad that I'm not there, doing that, serving in that way. What do I do with that?"

What I'm doing now is choosing to remember this: The LORD is my light and my salvation... The LORD is the stronghold of my life.***

I am remembering that this is what I've asked of God, and that it is the greater part: One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.***

And so I end with the same lesson with which I started: Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.***

So Lord, I'm waiting...on You. But this time I know that You know where I am, that You will fulfill your plan for me, that You love me in ways I will spend all of eternity trying to absorb, that Your face is worth seeking--it is so beautiful.

O Lord, Hineni.****


The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands. --Psalm 138:8

*Ezekiel 3:5-6, NIV
**Psalm 16:11, NIV
***From Psalm 27, NIV
****This Hebrew term basically means, "Here I am." More on this soon.

P.S. For more of my thoughts on the waiting/longing process, you can review this post.

(c) 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Would You Pray...?

Ummmmm...I'm having lunch today with one of My Girls. The one I'm most concerned about. The one I feel most like I need to have my A Game ready for. And today, right now, I'm working off my Q game. I haven't quite reached my Z game, but I'm a long way from my A game.

In light of my previous post, if you dear reader, read this blog before 1:30 p.m. EST (we are meeting from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.), and if you have a relationship with God the Father through Jesus, would you pray for me, for this interaction? I feel empty and unprepared, but God is strong in our weakness. May it be so today.


In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. -Romans 8:26, NIV

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. --2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NIV

(c) 2008

Out of Sync

Today, I feel like I'm doing everything incorrectly.
-Relationships with friends
-Relationships with family
-Relationships with co-workers
-Relationships with 'My Girls'
-Relationship with God
-How I manage my time
-How I manage my money
-Where I spend my energies

I feel befuddled and confused and overwhelmed.

I don't like how I'm feeling. I understand that feelings often's just that I don't have Scripture or data to contradict these feelings right now.

Please understand the million caveats here: I'm not doubting my God or my relationship to Him. I'm not doubting that I am loved. I'm not really doubting at all. It's one big word has been stamped on my forehead: WRONG.

By noon, these feeling could be gone, and my head clear. But right now, I feel shaken and oppressed, and I just want to crawl away and hide.

Just how it is,

The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?
When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.
One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.
Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD.
Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, "Seek His face!" Your face, LORD, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior.
Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.
Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.
Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence.
I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

--Psalm 27, NIV

(c) 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

I Am My Own Barbie...

Do I have your attention now? Well...

My Journey has produced one unforeseen habit: I have become my own Barbie-doll.

The change in my body and the complete turnover of my wardrobe means that putting together an outfit is no longer an automatic thing for me. Each evening:
...I find myself checking the weather (even temps in the upper-60s mean I'm going to need a sweater; I simply run that cold now. Someone PLEASE tell me my metabolism will reset itself...).
...Then I head to my closet and stare into it for awhile, wondering what goes with what.
...I start pulling out bits and pieces and--and this is where the Barbie-doll part comes in--I start trying them on. One outfit after another goes on, mixing and matching, trying to determine:
1.) What currently fits (some things are now too big; some new acquisitions are still too small);
2.) What matches; and
3.) What is 'me' (most of the items have been given to me, so I have to determine what fits my style/body).

Last night at 12:30 a.m., I found myself laughing--at myself--trying to figure out how to dress myself! But it turns out that that tan jumper I've been waiting to fit into is now just the right size...

Not that I'm wearing it today. Today, the high was 65*. That called for a sweater. ;-)

Waiting for my Ken, pink car, and jacuzzi-ed home (*wink*),

Lacking clothes, they spend the night naked; they have nothing to cover themselves in the cold. -Job 24:7 (I'm just KIDDING! Come on, it is funny!)

(c) 2008

For Those of You Who Miss the Olympics as Much as I Do...

Because every Monday should start with a smile, enjoy this:

There are a couple more really great ones, but I think this is the best. (He has a floor routine and an uneven parallel bar routine, too.) TOO much fun! ;-)


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Rich In Mercy, Rich In Grace...

There's a passage of Scripture that moves me to almost-tears virtually every time I hear it. My response is so instantaneous and comes from the very deepest places in me that it catches me off guard almost every single time. I read it again this morning, with the same response, and so thought I would share it with you. Please allow me to walk you through my thought process...

...And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, Boy howdy, yes I was. which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, I was in allegiance with the world and with the devil.
...of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. That same spirit is still at work in those who don't know Jesus. Those poor people...
...Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, I absolutely did all of those same evil things; my life was completely about me and my desires.
...and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. I was under God's WRATH. I had earned 'enemy status' in relationship to God, and He was furious at my sin. This makes me tremble...
...But God, Oh HOW I LOVE these words. They are the interjection of God into humanity, of Christ into my life!
...being rich in mercy, Rich. Overflowing. Abundant. MERCY. The withholding of what I have earned (God's wrath!)...
...because of His great love with which He loved us, What kind of love is this? Why would He bestow it on me? How very great it must be indeed!
...even when we were dead in our transgressions, D.E.A.D. Completely unable to help myself. Dead under that wrath, covered in the evidence of my guilt.
...made us alive WHA-HOO! I am ALIVE. Living, not dead. No longer helpless and without hope!
...together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, When Christ was raised, so was I. Though my life had not yet begun, yet it had already been redeemed. I was made alive with Christ!
...and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, Where am I now? Well, physically I am on planet earth, awaiting my death or the return of my Savior. But positionally, I am seated with Christ in the heavenlies. That's how fully sure my life is. It is already confirmed as 'checked in' to heaven! that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. WHY? Why did God rescue me, give me life, pay my debt? WHY? To show off His grace. The riches of His grace. He demonstrates how full of grace He is through the kindness He showed me in Christ Jesus. When does all of this culminate in bringing Him glory? "In the ages to come..." There is so much more ahead of us! The best really IS yet to come!
...For by grace you have been saved God extended this gift though there was nothing, NOTHING about me that appealed to Him. In fact, everything about me was revolting, so fully steeped in sin was I. His gift was just favor, just an act of generosity on a level the world has never known.
...through faith; The door to heaven swings open on the hinges of faith. Grace draws us to the door and pulls us through!
...and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; It's not about me! NOT me! There is such freedom there! I can't earn it--even if one could, who could actually achieve such a thing? I can't lose it; I never again have to walk in fear for my life! It's not about me! I'm free!
...not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. I think He included this part just to keep me from missing the point when I start to do the good works He prepared in advance for me to do and start to get all "big-head" on Him. Those works are from Him and for Him, but they are NOT about my salvation. If I could earn even a part of my salvation, why would Jesus have had to die?!
(Ephesians 2:1-9, NIV)

I start crying right about the "But God" part. If I was speaking out loud, you'd hear me emphasize the words "rich" and "mercy." We have been given so very much, that words don't really cover it...But Paul made a pretty good start here in Ephesians, and I am so very, very glad!

Feeling the riches of His mercy and grace,
Rejoicing in His love,

(c) 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

On This, The Morning After...

So many opinions, so many emotions are flying around today, on both sides of the political landscape. I thought I'd weigh in with this, the place God brought my heart to rest this morning:

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

That's it, ladies and gentlemen. God is on His throne; our mandate is the same. The earth hasn't shifted (for good or for ill) as much as everyone feels it has.

Resting, seeking, waiting,

Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise. God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne. --Psalm 47:6-8, NIV

(c) 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


The day dawned chill and blustery, the kind of gray day that makes you want to sleep late and sip hot cocoa over an unhurried breakfast. But that wasn't a luxury this day afforded. Dressing as quickly as my not-quite-ill-but-not-quite-right body would allow, I reviewed my choices, checked names, reread amendments.

And then I was off.

The line at the school was lengthy long before I arrived at 8:30 a.m., stretching out the door and around the parking lot for nearly a quarter of a mile. The people in line were quiet, mostly bundled against the cold and damp that the wind kept whipping against their faces. A slow shuffling rippled through the line occasionally, giving hope to the faint of heart. I added myself to the end, preparing myself to practice a cheerful spirit.

An hour passed. I had reached the canopy, a very slight protection from the mist, and a small victory of sorts. My stomach clenched as the condition from earlier emphasized itself. But I would not leave the line. My task was too important to be interrupted for any reason.

One and a half hours. I could see the tiny cubicles which were my destination. Sorting us, the workers shuffled the lines to verify our identities. Confirmed in who I was, I proceeded...right, away from my goal. A very long line yet awaited me down a stretch of hallway unseen until now. The line reached to the doors at the opposite end of the hall, though no one was exiting. As each face rounded that corner, it fell, realizing that the wait was not over.

Two hours, fifteen minutes. A slight motion from a seated woman told me that my moment had come. Now was my chance, a culmination of hours of attempted indoctrination, of research, of conversations and contemplations.

It was finally my turn to cast my vote.

A few minutes to review, to be sure I had marked all that I intended, and it was done. My hours had been redeemed, my voice had been expressed.

As I strode out the doors, I placed myself in another line, the line to the throne of God. Having done my part, I cast the outcome, the blessings and the cursings, before that holy throne, returning to my walk of faith down the sidewalk of an elementary school.


(c) 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

There's No Plan B?!?!!

I think one characteristic which all people share is the desire for options. Do you know what I mean? I don't mean 10,000 choices of cereal...though if you live in the U.S., that is certainly available to you. I mean knowing that if Plan A doesn't work, that Plan B is an option. And maybe plan C, D, F, G, and H, if necessary. We want to know that we aren't trapped, and that if this whole thing falls apart, we're still gonna be okay.

We feel this way in the small things ("If Wal-mart doesn't have this, then Target will.") and in big things ("If I lose this job, then I could always go work for company x."). We even--unfortunately--feel this way about relationships: If my church/friend/spouse doesn't work out, I could always find another... I believe this is even the reason that suicide is an option for people. It is Plan Z, but, "If plans A-Y don't work, there's always Z..."

But it strikes me that God isn't a Plan B kinda guy. In fact, there's only ever been one plan, unfolding in perfection since before time began. God never shifts (theological term for God never changing: immutable). He doesn't hold that extra card in his back pocket, just in case... His plan plows through difficulty, beauty, righteousness, and unrighteousness, accomplishing His purpose without delay or fail.

Our plans tend to move along just fine when things are going smoothly, but tend to look for a detour when the roads become rough. But the God of the universe who calls us His own also asks us to live as He does: one plan, one Body, one Spirit, one Hope, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism... Think I'm going over the top? Check me:
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. --Ephesians 4:3-6, NIV

You know, the last verse of this passage tells us why "One" is so important: Because there is only ONE God. His very nature is unity, singularity. He doesn't need to vary and variance doesn't fit his character. God designed the plan (sovereignty), knows the plan (omniscience), has the power to work the plan (omnipotence), is everywhere working out His plan (omnipresence).

So, if God is working His Plan A, and there is no plan B...And if we know the God of Plan A...why is it so hard for us to simply stick to the plan? Perhaps it's because we didn't design the plan; we don't know the plan in full; we don't have the power to enact all the plans we would wish. And we are stuck in the spot where we are, impotent to make really radical changes/decisions in general.

This is why we are called to walk by faith. This is what it means to walk by faith. And when we walk by faith, we are agreeing to honor the one-plan system that God has put into place. We are agreeing to Plan A. This is part of what marriage is designed to demonstrate. "Until death do us part..." No Plan B. Through thick, thin, and thinner still. This covenant is designed to help us know and show the God of Plan A, in all the beauty of His holiness.

A story is told of the Spanish explorer Cortez, who, upon finding the New World embarked on exploration of it. However the going was tough, and his troops began to discuss Plan B, taking the ships and returning to the Old World. But Cortez understood the principle of being a one-plan man...and promptly burned their ships. There would be no retreat; the job must be done.

So it is in this life. I have chosen to align myself with the God of Plan A. There is no retreat. There is no detour. And...there is no need to fear. For the God of Plan A IS working out His plan, with the detail and skill only the creator of the universe could display. And the end? Well, he's told us the end:
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. --Revelation 22:1-5, NIV

Stickin' with Plan A,

(c) 2008