Monday, June 29, 2009

Ten Things I Did Today

There's no good reason for this post, so I hope you enjoy random drivel, 'cause here it comes...

Ten Things I Did Today:
1. Awoke on time. (Yea! And rare!)
2. Found TWO.GRAY.HAIRS at the nape of my neck. {Ewww.} (They are no longer present, btw. I don't mind getting older, but I do mind looking older.)
3. Wore new-to-me-pants and -sweater. And took a picture of the sweater for you. :-) (You're welcome. {laughs at self})
4. Lay on the hot brick sidewalk try to warm up in the 95* heat.
5. Ran my heater in my the 95* heat.
6. Ate ice cream bar anyway.
7. Drank an entire two-liter of Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper. {Uh, Oops!}
8. Visited the ladies room an inordinate number of times, for some reason...
9. Cooked up my lunch in the kitchen at my workplace: sauteed fresh zucchini with fire-roasted tomatoes, black beans, turkey sausage, garlic & herbs. {YUM!}
10. Oh, and worked.

Plenty to do, but slightly bored,

P.S. Today's verse on was my life-anchor verse (meaning, God comforted me with it years ago, and continues to use it to reassure me), so I share it with you:
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, NIV

(c) 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Vacating (Or, as the plebs say, 'Vacationing')

There's nothing like a vacation to soothe your weary soul...
I can recall only a few times in my life where I truly took a vacation. I have often been blessed with visiting family--which I adore, truly--but there is something different about just taking off for the express purpose of unwinding and enjoying yourself. I think I've done that about three times ever (even growing up, family 'vacations' were spent visiting family).

1.) A friend and I took off to visit Hong Kong when I was living in S. Korea. That was a FABULOUS trip, while we were there (the before and after we some of the WORST experiences of my life, but I'll save that for later).

2.) Two years ago, my much-loved brother came to visit, and we took in the sights all over the southern state in which I live. And it was GREAT. Here we are:
3.) A week ago, my best friend and I took two days off of work and headed to the beach to camp. Ahhhhh... I truly didn't think it would be as WONDERFUL as it was.

This most recent vacation provided much blog fodder (actually, they all did!). I will definitely have to tell you about the screaming banshees/Visigoths we encountered. And the 'castle' we toured. And about getting lost--twice--walking five minutes from the bathhouse to our campsite (really! I usually have a good sense of direction!). And the exotic insects. And the marsh. And the sea turtles. And the glorious water... Okay, it was a really great trip.
But today, I thought I would just whet your appetite with a few (rare-on-this-blog) photos. My dear friend loaned me a camera (I haven't owned one since mine died a decade ago in Central Asia :-( ) and shared some of her pics, too (those would be the good photos). So, here we go...

Pickin' up the ice (Can you see that the back AND the backseat of the truck are completely full?):
Setting up camp (Yes, that is SWEAT! It was mighty hot in that tent until we got the flaps down!):
But the reward for all that sweaty work was this:
And this:
And THIS! (See, I TOLD you I was pasty!):
Day Two: the marsh preserve, and a million crabs:
And 'castle' for touring (Do you love my backpack? KISS!):
A lovely, lonely, empty beach for hiking (1 mile each direction to the jetty):
And a hiking buddy:
The Jetty:
Day Three: We were finally able to catch on film one of the beautiful butterflies that called our campsite 'home':
And then, we got ourselves some sun!
All in all, it was a little gift of refreshment from our Father. And I am grateful.
P.S. Just to keep it real:
Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. --James 1:16-18, NIV
(c) 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring

This tune by J.S. Bach is quite common, especially in weddings. But have you ever heard the words? It was originally written in German, but the translation reads:

Jesu, joy of man's desiring,
Holy Wisdom, Love most bright;
Drawn by Thee, our souls, aspiring,
Soar to uncreated light.

Word of God, our flesh that fashion'd,
With the fire of life impassion'd,
Striving still to truth unknown,
Soaring, dying, round Thy throne.

Through the way where hope is guiding,
Hark, what peaceful music rings!
Where the flock, in Thee confiding,
Drink of joy from deathless springs.

Theirs is beauty's fairest pleasure;
Theirs is wisdom's holiest treasure.
Thou dost ever lead Thine own
In the love of joys unknown.

Isn't that beautiful? I love the imagery of Jesus as the fulfilling joy of our desires. And God as 'uncreated light.' And His breath infusing us with the fire of life. And Hope guiding us. And drinking from deathless springs of joy. It truly is lovely. I hope you enjoyed it too.


Praise the LORD, O my soul.
O LORD my God, You are very great;
You are clothed with splendor and majesty.
He wraps Himself in light as with a garment;

He stretches out the heavens like a tent
And lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.

He makes the clouds his chariot
And rides on the wings of the wind.
He makes winds His messengers,

Flames of fire His servants.
He set the earth on its foundations;
it can never be moved...

May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
May the LORD rejoice in his works--
He who looks at the earth, and it trembles,

Who touches the mountains, and they smoke.
I will sing to the LORD all my life;

I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
May my meditation be pleasing to Him,

as I rejoice in the LORD.
--Psalm 104:1-5, 31-34, NIV

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


The images and data alone are worth digesting; but more, they will leave you with a truer sense of the v..a..s..t..n..e..s..s of our Creator's love.






Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?
Who has understood the mind of the LORD,

or instructed him as his counselor?
Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him,

and who taught him the right way?
Who was it that taught him knowledge
or showed him the path of understanding?
Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;

they are regarded as dust on the scales;
He weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.
Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires,

nor its animals enough for burnt offerings.
Before him all the nations are as nothing;

they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing.
To whom, then, will you compare God?

What image will you compare him to?
As for an idol, a craftsman casts it,

and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
and fashions silver chains for it.
A man too poor to present such an offering

selects wood that will not rot.
He looks for a skilled craftsman
to set up an idol that will not topple.
Do you not know? Have you not heard?

Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,

and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
He brings princes to naught

and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown,

no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.
"To whom will you compare me?

Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.
Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:

Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel,

"My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God"?
Do you not know? Have you not heard?

The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
--Isaiah 40:13-28, NIV

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Sometimes, I get the tiniest glimpses of how very great our God is. And when I do, I simply can't breathe.

Try wrapping your mind around this: Consider an expert. Any field of study. Just for an example, let's go with science, specifically biology. How many experts--people who have committed their lives to the study of biology--would it take to form a team that knew all that is known about biology? Certainly not one man, not even one great man, would know all there is to know about just this one subject. Probably not even 10 men, or 100.

But God knows all that man has discovered about biology. And, he knows all that man has not yet discovered about biology.

And he also knows all that there is to know--both what man knows and has yet to know--about physics, and mathematics, and languages, and sociology...

There is not one subject on which God is not a complete expert. Not one.

If I dedicated my entire life to the pursuit of complete knowledge of just one language--say, my native tongue, English--I would still not learn all that there is to learn of this subject.

Can you feel the weight of the comparison? Not even one subject can be truly mastered by man, yet God holds mastery over them all. And not even because He learned it, but because He created it.

How infinite is that mind? How vast is that kind of creativity? Even considering this humbles me. And I'm pretty sure that's the right response. I'm pretty sure that is what God was going for when He began to speak to Job at the end of that book. Have you read those final chapters lately? Go, now, and do so. I'll print some at the end of this post to get you started. Read, and tell me if you don't end up humbled, just as the psalmist did:
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:3-4, NIV)

Or David, in Psalm 139:

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand. (NIV)

Consider how vast are the very thoughts of God. Consider just His knowledge (we'll save His attributes and kindnesses toward us for another day). Consider, and remember your true place in this universe.

Placing her hand over her mouth,

Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:
…Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?

Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!

Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,

or who laid its cornerstone-
while the morning stars sang together

and all the angels shouted for joy?
Who shut up the sea behind doors

when it burst forth from the womb,
when I made the clouds its garment

and wrapped it in thick darkness,
when I fixed limits for it

and set its doors and bars in place,
when I said, 'This far you may come and no farther;

here is where your proud waves halt'?
Have you ever given orders to the morning,

or shown the dawn its place...?
…Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea

or walked in the recesses of the deep?
Have the gates of death been shown to you?

Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death?
Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?

Tell me, if you know all this.
What is the way to the abode of light?

And where does darkness reside?
…What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,

or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?
Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,

and a path for the thunderstorm,
to water a land where no man lives,

a desert with no one in it,
to satisfy a desolate wasteland

and make it sprout with grass?
Does the rain have a father?

Who fathers the drops of dew?
From whose womb comes the ice?

Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
when the waters become hard as stone,

when the surface of the deep is frozen?
Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades?

Can you loose the cords of Orion?
Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons

or lead out the Bear with its cubs?
Do you know the laws of the heavens?

Can you set up God's dominion over the earth?
Can you raise your voice to the clouds

and cover yourself with a flood of water?
Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?

Do they report to you, 'Here we are'?
Who endowed the heart with wisdom

or gave understanding to the mind?
Who has the wisdom to count the clouds?

Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens
when the dust becomes hard

and the clods of earth stick together?
Do you hunt the prey for the lioness

and satisfy the hunger of the lions
when they crouch in their dens

or lie in wait in a thicket?
Who provides food for the raven

when its young cry out to God
and wander about for lack of food?

Then Job answered the LORD:
"I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?

I put my hand over my mouth.
I spoke once, but I have no answer—

twice, but I will say no more."
--Job 38:1, 4-12, 16-19, 24-41; 40:3-5, NIV

(c) 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The [not-so-nice] Things I'm Thinking

Wowser. Ever just feel like you're looking at yourself from the outside--very third-party-ish--and not like what you see? UGH. That's how it's been for me recently. And when I see me from the outside, I don't really like what I see. For example...

--When did I become such a complainer? I can't STAND complaining! Yet lately, I hear myself twisting even perfectly fine situations into something to complain about. Yuck.

--Why must I be so negative? Why must there be a down side to everything? A downside I feel the need to express audibly? I used to be a "here's the blessing in this" kinda gal.

--What's up with the irritated voice I now seem to possess very frequently? I hear myself speaking, and even to me, I sound irritated. Yet, I don't generally feel that level of irritation.

And all I can think is that I must be really hard to be around lately. And I don't know why I am being this way. It seems very distant, as if that's not even me speaking or my emotions flowing out. Yet your actions pretty much do reflect what's going on inside you.

And I don't like that one bit.

All I know is that this isn't Jesus. This is the ugly, old, full-of-sin-nature me. And I don't like that me. And since I know that that isn't who I now have to be, I'm going to seek out some answers in the only place I can get really good ones on topics of this sort:

His throne.

And I'm hoping to report to you an attitude adjustment to you really soon. 'Cause I don't think I can live with the me that is emanating from my lips for much longer. And I don't think you should have to, either.

Looking for loveliness,

Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;

wash me, and I will be whiter than snow...
Hide your face from my sins

and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,

and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
--Psalm 51:6-7, 9-10, NIV

(c) 2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Smells Like...

They say that scent is our strongest sense, and from the way it can instantly transport me to places I once was and remind me of people I once knew, I believe it.

Yesterday, I took a trip down olfactory lane. As a gift to a friend of mine who just graduated from high school, we went to the mall to find her 'signature scent.' [The male readers just tuned out. Sorry, guys! :-)] We went from bottle to bottle and store to store sniffing and thinking and commenting on myriad perfumes. And after almost every inhale, you would have heard us say, "It smells like ________." We were always comparing the scents to something we had already experienced, something of which it reminded us [gardenia, oranges, coconuts, etc.].

And this morning, I found myself pondering how this is related to Paul's statement in 2 Corinthians 2:

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?

I've always loved this illustration, for I can picture it so clearly. I have a very sensitive nose. [Beware smokers; I know.] And people DO have scents--some of them pleasant, many of them not (in my humble opinion). So when Paul says we (believers) are spreading the fragrance of Christ in our wake, I 'get' the illustration.

And you know what I love? It is GOD who is spreading this fragrance through us. It is HIS work. Which is a good thing, 'cause sometimes, if He weren't a-workin', I wouldn't smell so good, ya know? I truly wouldn't be equal to the task without Him doing it in me.

So, here's to the fragrance of Christ: to some it stinks of death, to others it is the perfume of life. But either way, I hope when I walk by, that each one says to themselves, "That smells like Jesus Christ." Kinda makes the journey more valuable, no?

Spreadin' The Scent, one day at a time,

Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume...Jesus replied... "It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. --John 12:1-3, 7b NIV

(c) 2009

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

If I'm Not Retreating, Why Am I Moving Backwards?

The illustration rolling around in my head is that of a soldier. Think WWI or WWII. It's probably from the Memorial Day documentaries I watched, but I just can't get this picture out of my mind.

I'm a soldier (a much-used spiritual illustration). Picture me in a trench. Picture me poking my head up above the trench. Picture a sudden onslaught of shots from the enemy, pinning me in place. Perhaps wounding me. Certainly disabling me from being effective in my mission.

Got the picture? Here's what I mean.

Ever since I wrote the One. One. Zero. entry, I have felt absolutely pummeled. I had about three glorious days to bask in what God had done for me, and then the temptations, setbacks, and discouragements began. And it's been bad. I have felt completely under attack, and have discovered how weak so many of my defenses are.

And though I haven't surrendered--though I still battle--I feel as if I'm fighting on a moving sidewalk. One that is moving backward.

And since the victory I declared was a spiritual one, I'm pretty sure that the battle I'm fighting is also a spiritual one. It's like the moment I realized and declared God's work, my head stood taller than the trench's edge, and I became the target.

And it's been hard.

Really hard.

I've failed a lot.

I am really struggling. But I have not surrendered. This is a journey I must complete, because that is what God declared I must do. Therefore, it is a journey I will complete, and I will do so in His strength alone...for I haven't any strength left of my own.

I am in the battle, and I will survive the fray. But I might very well leave with scars. But since Jesus Himself bears scars from the spiritual battle He fought on my behalf, I'm not too upset about that.

But I would like to take a breather from the front lines, if I could.

Under fire, but in His care,

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. --Ephesians 6:10-13, NIV