Monday, March 30, 2009

The Difference Between Winter and Spring

Living in the deep South, winter tends to be milder than in the Midwest where I grew up, and spring arrives gloriously earlier. And so it has happened this past week. A few days of rain, and--poof!--spring arrived. Trees are in full flower, lawns need immediate attention from myriad green sprouts, and there is a dense, yellow-green coating over everything (pine pollen...welcome to the south).

One of the beautiful things about spring occurred to me last week as I passed a window: Spring is warmer than winter.

Some of you got there ahead of me, but hear me out. As I approached a window last week, I noticed the sun shining invitingly through. However, in the South, it does that pretty much all year long. What I noticed as I reached the window was that there was now more than light coming through the window; there was also heat.

Now, the sun's rays bring a true promise, not a false one, of warmth. Though it is not yet warm enough for my badly-thinned blood, it is certainly warmer than it has been, and I am grateful.

And it occurred to me that this comparison is the perfect metaphor for depression. Some of you know that I experienced a clinical depression many years ago (I described it here), and that memory still shapes me in so many ways. I remember distinctly that I could not sense the good and reasonable things in my life during that time. It was as if I could see the light, but I couldn't' feel it. True, good things just couldn't reach my soul, and so I lived on in a hopeless, cold place, so very alone.

If you haven't experienced a depression like this--and may you never!--please allow me to say that that cold hole is not one you can just crawl out of. If you know me, you know I'm not really given to negativism or pessimism. But when I found myself in that place, I.could.not.get.out. I sensed that the world around me wasn't as cold and lifeless as I felt it was, but no amount of trying could make me feel that blessed heat.

Only God could pull me out of that pit and shine His warm and glorious face on mine once again. And He did. May my lips never cease to praise Him and remember how the truth of the Son warmed my soul!

I'm so glad it's spring again in my heart. In fact, it might just be summer now.

Warm from His light,

I love the LORD, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy. Because He turned his ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD: "O LORD, save me!" The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, He saved me. -Psalm 116:1-6, NIV

A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without Him, who can eat or find enjoyment? -Ecclesiastes 2:24-25, NIV

(c) 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thought for the Day: Be Still

I didn't intend to linger in the story of the Exodus, but the truths just keep tumbling out on me, and I can't tear myself away. In so many ways, this story is one of the lynch-pins of all history. God continually refers back to this story when addressing Israel: "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt. Based on the Lord's own words, we know that this story is critical to understanding Him and His relationship to Israel.

And it turns out, He's stuck a few humdingers in there for us, too.

Exodus 14:10-14:
As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn't we say to you in Egypt, 'Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians'? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!"

Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."

1. Do not be afraid...
..."Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey's colt." -John 12:15
...Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. -John 14:27

2. Stand firm...
...Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. -Psalm 20:7-8
...Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. -1 Corinthians 15:58

3. Be still...
...Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." -Psalm 46:10

Honestly, it's that last command--the final instruction in the trilogy--that struck me: need only to be still...

I am such a striver. I wrestle and work and maneuver. But when God's on the move, I need only to be still.

Trying to settle in,

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." -Matthew 11:28-30

(c) 2009
All quotations taken from the NIV.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Thought for the Day: Are You Really Ready?

Exodus 13:17-18
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, "If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt." So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle.

Note: "The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle," BUT, "God said, 'If they face war, they might change their minds...'" (So the Israelites did not fight a battle--God did.)

Just because you look ready doesn't mean you are ready. Only God knows when you really are ready--and then, you must believe Him and GO, or you might find yourself wandering in a wilderness for, oh say, 40 years.

Just my lesson from last night,

(P.S. I think this passage is amazing for another reason: How often do the Scriptures just tell us what God was thinking/saying to Himself about a particular scenario? I love that He tells us His motivation for this move.)

(c) 2009
Quotations taken from the NIV.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Rare Moment of Political Commentary

I don't often post my political views here. In fact, I think I've only done so once. However, I'm pretty sure this political cartoon isn't really a partisan perspective...more like a world-consensus.

Ariail is one of my favorite political satirist. I hope you enjoy this brief reality check:

All idiom-ed up,

P.S. Please don't mistake the general absence of political statements for a lack of political opinions. I have many and strong ones. But the heartbeat of my life is Jesus, so that's mostly what come out here. As ShalomSeeker (Shalom being the Hebrew word for peace), I try to keep peace around here, and politics can get mighty fractious. But if Jesus gets divisive...well, that just can't be helped, now can it? :-)

A TRUE Reality Check:
What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away. --I Corinthians 7:29-31, NIV

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Driving Epiphanies..

Oh dear. Someone captured a series of drivers from the state** where I live and compiled them into one very instructive video. You should check this out:

All smiles,

**Okay, I can't prove they were all from the deep south, but some of them look pretty darn familiar... {*wink*}

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Notations on Scripture Reading, Session 2

Okay, remember this? My 'Notations on Scripture Reading'? (If not, here's a hint: This is when you click on the link I provided and read it! :-D) Well, it's time for session #2.

Please remember that this is just a bullet list (thinking of you, Sarah) of the ideas and observations floating around in my head as I've been reading through the Scriptures chronologically. (And for those of you who note such things, yes, I haven't read bunches in this particular pattern since a month ago when I first did this...but I have been reading other parts for other purposes, just in case you were worried. ;-) we go:
  • Abraham's loyalty to and love for Sarah was really remarkable, especially in light of the ancient cultural pressures to bear children. Sarah's barrenness seems to have made her a bit crazy, but Abraham loved her to the end. I'm waiting for a man like that (hopefully minus the crazy part...)!
  • I've heard many people disparage asking God for signs or details, but the story of how Abraham's servant found Rebekah seems to indicate that God is willing to move in this way (do I need to list all the caveats here, or will you just assume I'm not a nut case?). Prayer: "God, let the one you've chosen be the one who waters my camels when I ask her for water." I just think that's cool. He's moved in faith, prayed in faith, and waited in faith, and God meets him there. That's the kind of woman I want to be. I'm not, but I want to be...
  • It doesn't matter that I know that the genealogies are crucial to tracking this story, I still find them a tad boring. They're like cleaning the bathroom: necessary, but icky and uninteresting.
  • God uses hard circumstances to put us in place to be blessed by Him. Genesis 12: Famine in land; Abraham goes to Egypt and leaves wealthy. Genesis 26: Famine in the land, but God tells Isaac to stay put; Isaac plants crops, and reaps 100-fold because of God's blessing, and when Isaac moves south (Beersheba), he leaves as a wealthy man. Genesis 41ff: Famine in the whole world, but God has strategically placed Joseph so that his family (Israel and descendants) will be saved. And when they move to Egypt, they are given much wealth because of God's favor on Joseph; and when they finally leave 400 years later, they plunder the land just by asking for it. Maybe I should be more willing to go hungry... ;-)
  • Joseph was a truly remarkable man: filial, pure, honest, business/world savvy yet fully committed to Yahweh, patient, forgiving, and deeply blessed. Hard lessons learned from a pit/slavery/prison, I'm guessing. Oh God, whatever it takes to be a person who brings you glory...
  • Watch this: Exodus 3:7-8: God--"I have seen my people's misery and have come down to rescue them." Exodus 5:22-23: Moses--"God, the situation has gotten worse and You have not rescued your people at all!" Exodus 6:1: God--"Moses, it's not what it seems. Watch me! I am going to make Pharaoh drive them out!" It often gets worse before God gets to put His glory on grand display. Little problems are no problem for God, but great problems bring Him great glory.
  • God's purpose for "His people" was for it to be hard, so that when He rescued them, they would recognize Him as their God and deliverer. Exodus 6:6-8: "Therefore, say to the Israelites: 'I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.' " How often is God working the same pattern in my life (letting things get hard so I'll recognize Him as deliverer)...and I'm just crying, asking Him to 'fix it now!'?
  • Last one: Pharaoh's magicians/'wise men'/sorcerers--what was wrong with them?!! Quit trying to COPY the plagues and start trying to FIX them! Crazy people! Whatev.

Okay, my verbosity knows no END! I'm forcing myself to shut up now, as I've probably just lost all my readers by just blabbering on and on like I am still doing! Ahhhhhh! Shutting up now.

How about you tell me what you're reading and thinking? That'll fill the silence I'm going to leave for the next 15 seconds before I start blabbering again... Which means, you'd better HURRY! :-)

Joyful in this journey,

From Moses' & Miriam's Song, after passing through the Red Sea:
The LORD is my strength and my song;
He has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise Him,
my father's God, and I will exalt Him.
The LORD is a warrior;
the LORD is His name…
Who among the gods is like You, O LORD ?
Who is like You—
majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
working wonders?...
In Your unfailing love You will lead
the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
to your holy dwelling...
The LORD will reign
for ever and ever.

--Exodus 15:2-3, 11,13, 18, NIV

(c) 2009

Friday, March 13, 2009


I love words. I love roots of words (Hello Greek! French! Latin!) I love dictionaries (our friends!). I am a word geek.

[It is important that I pause to offer you this reminder: Do not confuse 'word geek' with 'someone who knows how to spell' or 'someone who can play Scrabble well (Sorry Uncle B/Aunt J, Dad, My ESL students in S. Korea who whupped up on me..., etc.)' For reasons that don't make a lick of sense to me, these things are simply not synonymous. Moving on...]

So when I discovered that I could have deliver a new word to my inbox each day...well, I didn't pause to get myself there!

Sometimes the words are ones I already know. Often I discover that I have misconstrued a term, or forgotten some of its definitions. Good reminders!

Sometimes the words are ones I've heard used, but not been 100% sure of the definition and never got around to looking up. Good clarifications!

Sometimes they are already favorites. Like Wednesday's word:
ululate \UL-yuh-layt; YOOL-\, intransitive verb: To howl, as a dog or a wolf; to wail; as, ululating jackals.

Oooooo, I love this word. And I can do it really well, too. This is also the term used to describe the sound middle eastern (among other) women make when mourning or celebrating. It's that undulating, high-pitched wailing sound you'll sometimes hear on news reports, etc. That's the part I can do really well. I can't scream, but I can ululate! (Hidden talents, all around us...)

Today's word was an entirely new word to me, but I think I'll be slipping this one in from time to time:
inanition \in-uh-NISH-uhn\, noun: 1. The condition or quality of being empty.2. Exhaustion, as from lack of nourishment.3. Lack of vitality or spirit.

And being the kind of gal you've come to know me as, you know what my first thought was? That INANITION is exactly what we are spiritually before we know Jesus. My life before Jesus was full of inanition. (Notice the pun? Full of emptiness? See, words ARE fun!)

You know, I've been a believer for so long and from so young, that sometimes I do wonder what I have to offer the world around me. I mean, how do I explain to you all that Jesus is? To me, He IS everything. I've basically known nothing else. How do I distill His truths to make them articulable to someone who doesn't know Him? This might sound silly to some of you--those saved later in life who remember life before Jesus, or those of you gifted in evangelism who can naturally speak clearly of Him--but it has been and is a real dilemma for me.

So today, as I contemplated this problem, I found myself thinking that these are the kinds of things that I should share:
--What if the greatest problem in your life wasn't what you thought it was? What if it wasn't relationships or money or happiness or a good, stable job?
--What if the greatest need in your life, if filled, would answer all the other questions? It won't make your problems go away, but suddenly, things make sense and have purpose.
--What if the greatest need in your life was to replace the (and here's when the word arrived in my inbox) inanition that is so overwhelmingly present in your life?
--And what if all you had to do to remove the inanition was to accept the fullness provided by another?

Isn't this the gospel? We: empty, dead, lifeless. He: seeking, paying, saving. We: receiving. He: filling (literally filling with His Spirit!). God--now, also man--dying, substituting, rising. Isn't that the truth that makes all the difference? Isn't that the truth that fills our inanition with la vie? With life?

Jesus--the author, initiator, pursuer, finisher of our faith. It's all about Him. May I never cease to find ways to articulate this truth.

For this truth is everything.


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it...

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
--John 1:1-5, 10-14, NIV

(c) 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Around the World...

Though I was given a rich background in reading at home, my school education in the classics was hit and miss...mostly 'cause I moved and the districts had different timetables for when you read what. By the time I graduated from college, I knew that I had some holes in my knowledge. So when I found myself with an inordinate amount of reading time while living in S. Korea, I decided it was time to get to work.

I picked up a bazillion Penguin Classics books, and started digging in. One of my very favorites turned out to be Around the World in 80 days, by Jules Verne. I loved it for its surprise ending...which I will not spoil for you if you haven't read it (Go! Now! Get it!). Few books/movies surprise me, and I adore the ones that do.

Anyway, when the phrase "Around the World" started popping up in my Weight Watchers meetings, I perked up. Jules Vernes has not failed to engage me yet. But my WW buddies had a slightly different meaning in mind. Here is what you hear in my meeting:
"If you are craving something, eat a little bit of it and move on. If you don't, you'll eat 'around the world' to try to satisfy your craving, and then still end up eating what you were craving in the first place (significantly increasing your caloric intake in the process!)."

I have found this to be a good process for me, as I do tend to 'eat around the world' if I don't just 'answer the call' in the first place! :-) However, I have realized recently, that I tend to do the same thing with God.

The one thing you can be sure that a regenerated heart will crave--to some degree--is fellowship with its Regenerator. And though my heart--at its deepest part--longs for my God, sometimes I find that I will try to fill that longing with everything else on the planet before I just get down to business with Him. And when I do finally get back to His presence...we'll, it's definitely sweeter than the chocolate my tongue tends to crave.

But boy-howdy, can it ever take me a long time to get there sometimes.

It is for this reason that I am really grateful that Jesus instituted communion/the Lord's supper. That pause, in the environment of worship, in the fellowship of other believers, is a moment to pause and ponder what my heart is really savoring.

And you might have already guessed that this past Sunday, I found that I had been 'around the world' and was still unsatisfied.

But oh, the goodness and graciousness of our God. Always there with forgiveness (I John 1:9--faithful (ALWAYS) and just (RIGHT because the debt has already been paid) to forgive us!), always open armed to the repentant heart. And ever bestowing His kindnesses on us, which lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4)!

Sometimes, I think being a child of God is like getting a product on sale AND having a coupon for it...which is doubled! It really is the best of everything. :-)

'Round the world and home again,

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.

The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.

The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.
They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;

they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.
By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.

Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
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 19:7-14, NIV

(c) 2009