Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gloria in Exclesis Deo

"Glory to God in the Highest" is a refrain we hear often this time of the year either in the familiar Latin refrain in the carol, or as the account of Christ's birth is read from the book of Luke. Yet this could be the daily cry of my heart when I reflect upon the mystery of the God-Child being born into our midst, maturing into a man, who humbly gave his life so that we might be forgiven and renewed and restored in relationship with our Heavenly creative Father.

To give God the credit for my life, to honor His reputation-this is the desire of my heart as I walk into the next year with new possibilities and fresh chances to live my life for the One who made me and knows me so well. As I reflect over this past year, I also want to shout, "Glory to God in the Highest"! It never ceases to amaze me how much goes on in one's life during the 365 days we label a year. Why we mark the years is another mystery to me, but it is sobering to contemplate the myriad of breathes I took this year, the serious and not so serious conversations, the moment by moment decisions, the musings of my heart, the actual accomplishments-both mundane and marvelous. All these are gifts from God. I cannot even begin to express the amazement at the opportunities I have been given this past year to either succeed or fail, to grow bitter or to forgive, to mistreat or to love, to offer compassion or to resent. The choice to live or to let the death grip of sin suffocate my heart is there every day. I can only give the glory to God for keeping me in His grace, and giving me the strength to overcome temptations and the humility to admit my wrongs.

Glory indeed!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Joyeux Noel

Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal's death on a cross.
Philippians 2:6-8 NLT

I was reminded recently that Noel means birth. So in French, the literal translation is not our common American greeting of Merry Christmas or even the more generic Happy Holidays, or the really sterile, Seasons Greetings, but Joyous Birth! And that is truly what we are celebrating the joyous birth of our Savior! I am marveling more than ever that Jesus came as a human baby. What wondrous love is this! And to take on our flesh, and to be limited voluntarily to the constraints of the human body is rather amazing. And the equally astounding truth that he is fully God.

Earlier this fall I had the opportunity to have a small role in a play at the community college I have been attending the last few years. As I prepared for the role, I memorized lines, I learned where I was suppose to be on stage and I interacted with the other actors. Most people will comment on how hard it must be to memorize the lines, but in reality that is only one part of the whole. To really "become" the character, it is helpful to think about their characteristics, the time period they lived in, and many other aspects of their person. I really had fun analyzing my character by reading the script, noting what other characters said about her in the script, and how these lines indicated what kind of personality she might have. I did some research into the place where the character lived (Yonkers, NY) and also the time period (early 1940s just as the US joined WWII).

I created a life for the character outside of the script. I imagined who her friends might be, where she worked, what happened to her fiance that her mother had scared away so many years earlier. The other actors were also committed to adding this level of interest to their characters making the whole production a richer experience for each of us, as well as the audience. Once we rehearsed, and got our costumes and I had done all this mental work, it was time to bring our characters alive on stage for a live audience. I realized that in a sense I was offering the character my physical body, and my mind and emotions for the time she was on stage helping to tell the story of the Kurnitz family.

As I was enjoying the discoveries of creating a character, I also was understanding in a deeper way the incarnation of Christ, as well as the admontion to "put on Christ" as believers. First, it just amazes me that Jesus would be willing to live within the limitations of the flesh. He knew how to do it best because he designed the human body, soul and mind. He lived out the completely submissive life that we fight against day in and day out. He knew the subtext of the script because he wrote it with the Father and the Holy Spirit. So much to ponder on that topic.

How we are encouraged to live out the character of Christ through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit took on a whole new perspective in light of my recent experience of preparing to "be" the character of "Gert" this past fall. Just as I analyzed everything I could about her from several perspectives and sources, I can meditate on the character of Christ, and then offer myself to him to live out on the live stage of life the actual attributes of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control because Jesus already has lived them and has given us so many examples of how to live these realities in our own lives.

More than one can fathom, and we have a lifetime to learn our role, and live it out empowered by the Spirit of Christ. Hallelujah!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

As I entered the month of December, snowflakes tumbled down outside my study window. I looked for some comfort and solace in different devotional books around my home. I was looking for one of my Advent books, which has daily readings for the season. Instead I came across "The One Year Book of Psalms", and I turned to the December 1st entry. I was greeted by this hymn and it spoke to my heart's desire for rest, freedom and joy.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus

Born to set Thy people free;

From our fears and sins release us,

Let us find our rest in Thee.

Israel's strength and consolation,

Hope of all the earth Thou art;

Dear desire of every nation,

Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,

Born a child and yet a King,

Born to reign in us forever,

Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.

By Thine own eternal Spirit

Rule in all our hearts alone;

By Thine all sufficient merit,

Raise us to Thy glorious throne

The simple words warmed my heart and helped me to prepare for the day and the season ahead. So far this year I haven't been very in tune with the holidays. I'm not in a rush to put up our tree. I have hardly any gift shopping done. I have been listening to Christmas carols in the car, but that's the extent of my Christmas spirit.

Usually we have family devotions each Sunday leading up to Christmas. I asked our younger son if he would get us started this past Sunday. Since the boys are older, we allow them a turn to prepare and lead our thoughts. We ended up at a local restaurant that has free wi-fi because our internet and phone was out. It snowed on Sunday and apparently this caused our phone to die. That is why we were out, checking email, accessing my online algebra homework, so I could study for finals, etc.

The boys had spent the afternoon doing a fabulous job cleaning their rooms (finally :), so he had no time to prepare a devotion. So as we gathered around the laptop eating our bread and soup, I suggested Bradley go ahead and find some thoughts to inspire us for Advent. He told Kurt to look up the first Advent candle and its meaning. This will go down in history as one of my cherished memories of our advent devotions. We have grown up, no more wiggly bored boys who don't totally get Mom's enthusiasm for this holy season. Just four people who love each other and need the time to connect with each other and be reminded that this is a season of hope. Not just wishing for something, but deep heart joy-knowing that we are loved by an amazing Heavenly Father. Who also had a son, and knows the joys and pains of parenting, and wanting his children to grasp and cling to His enthusiasm as well as longing for everyone to embrace this holy season of remembering the birth of the Savior.

To a crust of bread, the internet and family. Have a blessed holy season watching and waiting for the advent and promised return of the Lord Jesus.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Great Invitation

You may be familiar with "the Great Commission" found at the end of the book of Matthew. But recently I was reading the last part of Matthew 11, and thought it should be titled "the Great Invitation".

"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 NIV

As I contemplated these words, I was struck by the turn of the two phrases that include the word rest. First Jesus offers a straightforward invitation of rest for the weary. He knows we need refreshment in Him. Then he offers a deeper draught of rest that is accomplished through joining with him, accepting his offer to balance the load we are carrying, as that is what happens when two are yoked together. Somehow I think we are getting the better part of this arrangement, as Jesus can bear so much more than we can. And in this learning environment, Jesus promises rest for our souls. As we plod along in this life he offers rest while we labor. It is an amazing paradox, that we can be refreshed as we serve along side of our Saviour, who has set everything straight so we can find rest in our very souls- our minds, our emotions and our will, even. May we accept his invitation with gladness and renewed desire to live out the lives he has arranged so skillfully for each one of us.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Delight: To Give Keen Enjoyment

I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation… Isaiah 61:10a

Delight almost seems too whimsical to describe how I feel towards the Almighty One. Yet delight is kindred to joy and other words of bliss. He satisfies the deepest desires of my heart. He delights in His creation. He delights in His Servant and Son, Jesus, who He sent among us to extend His love and mercy. When I ponder the thought of delighting in the Lord, and then the reciprocal delight He sings over each of us, I am staggered by such thoughts. (See also Zephaniah 3:17). And this is the very sentiment the Father exclaims when He sends His approval on the day of His Son’s inauguration for His earthly ministry.

Take a glimpse of this scene: (Matthew 3:11-17)

Jesus comes to John at the Jordan River to be baptized. John is hesitant, and Jesus reminds him that this is to fulfill the scripted plan of God, so John acquiesces. In the hushed moment, as soon as the baptism ritual was over, Jesus wades out of the water back up onto the bank, where others are waiting for their turn to signify their desire to return to God, and little do they know that God is in their midst, preparing for His journey to become the sacrificial Lamb, who has come to take away the sins of the world. But heaven knows, and the Father orchestrates a moment in time that I imagine Jesus will replay in his heart on the hard days of the journey- the days of temptation, ridicule, scrutiny of the religious leaders and their mistreatment and misunderstanding. And ultimately the climb to His death on the cross.

But in this moment, the skies set the stage, possibly it was a cloudy day and the clouds part to allow the sun to shine through like a spotlight on Jesus, and next a supernatural being in the form of a dove, the Holiness of God, lights on Jesus, causing his countenance to glow as he delights in hearing the affirmation of God the Father in these beautiful words:

“This is my Son,” beams the Father, “whom I love” with tears in His eyes and a lump in His throat, and then His voice choked with emotion completes His sentence, “with Him I am well pleased.”

What joy to know the Savior…He has clothed us with garments of salvation… and restored our ability to delight in Him, to enjoy the life He has provided…nothing can rob us of His joy and the way He alone gladdens our hearts. Do not let anyone rob you of His joy, my friends. And do not let the trials, triumphs or tedium of this life rob you either.

Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD and delight in his salvation. My whole being will exclaim, "Who is like you, O LORD? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them." Psalm 35:9-11

Monday, November 3, 2008

Algebra: Logic Concerned with the Properties and Relationships of Abstract Entities

Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.

James 1:2-5 NLT

The partial definition of algebra in the title gives some light into my current state of mind. Not that algebra is causing my boredom, but definitely a lot of my frustration. I get the concepts to a degree. But the most annoying thing about algebra is how much time it takes away my pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. I can honestly say that concerning logic I have little interest. Where’s the romance? And “the properties and relationships of abstract entities” sounds like political jargon. The root of algebra literally means “the reduction”, which makes sense because my homework is always asking me to reduce and simplify. I wish someone would reduce the need for an English major to take any math, but then my Math major husband would ask why Math majors have to take English courses. I concede.

Now I have to admit I was surprised to come across a math concept called imaginary numbers. Ha! I knew it, there is no purpose to algebra, it’s just a very confusing fairy-tale and in the end hopefully everyone will live happily ever after; unless it is a tragedy and everyone dies. We may be getting somewhere here.

I keep trying to find meaning in this pursuit of numbers, symbols and operations of arithmetic. I like to discover spiritual metaphors in my learning adventures. With math I think the key correlation is perseverance, which leads me back to my previous discussions of how we live in the midst of the mundane. Some things just have to be worked through, and the joy may only be found in the completion of the task.

Math is not all bad, I was able to help a friend triple and then double the tripled recipe recently. And I’m pretty sure I must have used some algebraic finesse to do so. At least my friend was impressed, and the rolls she made were delicious. I told my voracious bread eating son to pace himself- only three rolls at a time.

Well, I am going to watch the best commentary I’ve found so far this year on the election campaign-SNL sketches of the candidates.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Ordinary: Of a Kind to be Expected in the Normal Order of Events

We encounter God in the ordinariness of life,
not in the search for spiritual highs and extraordinary,
mystical experiences, but in our simple presence in life.

Brennan Manning

God still draws near to us in the ordinary, commonplace,
everyday experiences and places…
He comes in surprising ways.

Henry Gariepy

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

Acts 4:13 NIV

He [God] made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find Him…He’s not remote; He’s near.

Acts 17:26, 27 The Message

Jesus spent time with ordinary people. He probably even encountered some bored people. Yesterday, I was bemoaning my state of boredom. Today, I seem to be hounded by quotes and verses to remind me that boredom may stem from the daily experience of ordinariness. If we calculated the number of ordinary days against the extraordinary, I imagine ordinary would win. This is where we have been placed to live out the majority of our days. We wouldn’t be able to experience extraordinary without the routine rhythms of life. The usual days of walking in the valley of the shadow of death create a dramatic backdrop to the light drenched mountains that we are journeying towards. My friend says that in her artwork the shading or shadows cause the object to appear more realistic. The shadows of pain and boredom give life its realistic quality. Our enjoyment of special moments is heightened because we have lived through the mundane.

Peter and John appeared courageous, in spite of their ordinariness. And those who observed them attributed their changed countenance and approach to life to the fact that they had spent time with Jesus. Instead of fighting boredom, I will see it as an opportunity to draw me nearer to our Blessed Saviour!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Boredom: The State of Being Weary and Restless through Lack of Interest

"Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because, in the last analysis,
all moments are key moments and life itself is grace."
Frederick Buechner

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest."

How can it be that someone who leads such a full and interesting life can say, “I’m bored”? Yet that is how I have been feeling lately. I have been through seasons of loneliness that have brought me closer to the holy and hidden heart of Christ in me. But this seems to be a new test, a territory that I have bumped up against at times, yet a spiritual landscape that I have not spent much time in before, and hope that I will be led out of soon.

What lessons are to be learned through boredom? It seems obvious that you can learn things from pain, like patience and perseverance. And in exciting and glad times I can rejoice, but boredom seems to be a breeding ground for temptation; a mood of drudgery that propels me towards indifference and apathy. It seems the cure for boredom might be increased activity or new adventures, but in reality part of it stems from little time to rest and lack of interest in my current routines.

I don’t know how long I will be here, but I will let you know what I learn. In the meantime, I will come to Jesus and confess this condition of my heart, and I know he will show me the way out or the way through it, whichever is best for me.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Acknowledge: Admit the Truth Of

Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below.
There is no other.
Deuteronomy 4:39 NIV

In these uncertain days, when so many "what ifs" are swirling in my head, I need to acknowledge, admit the certain truth that God alone is worthy of my allegiance and my total devotion. My faith is not in a new president, or government bail outs of the economy or even in my husband’s job. My faith is in the Creator of heaven and earth. I can cry out to Him, and acknowledge Him in all my ways, and He will make my paths straight. (Proverbs 3:6)

Jesus taught us to pray in the following manner: (Matthew 6:9-14)

"This, then, is how you should pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."

Each line has a truth to acknowledge. And admitting these truths to God and agreeing that He alone is the One I can rely on builds my faith in Him.

So today, once again, I acknowledge, admit the truth of God’s Holy Character, His Sovereignty, and His Superior Ways and Purposes. I admit my need for His Daily Provision of just what I need for that day. I confess that His forgiveness is necessary for all my relationships, and when I withhold forgiveness, I do not experience the full impact of God’s forgiveness in my own life. And lastly I acknowledge, admit the truth of my desperate need for God’s protection from temptation and the attempts of the evil one to discourage or dissuade me from believing in, clinging to and relying on the true love of Jesus alone.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Occupation: A Way of Spending Time

"Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works
and glorify your Father in heaven."
Matthew 5:16 NKJV
As someone who chose to "stay" at home these past 20 some years, I have often struggled with how to describe my occupation. Whenever I have had to fill out a medical form, and they have asked me to list my employment, I would write "homemaker". One time a clerk even chided me that I was still just a homemaker. I wish I had offered a clever comeback, but instead I just went back to the waiting room a bit miffed.
Now that I have returned to school, I can claim the status of student. So I occupy my time with going to campus, studying and passing my classes. Yet this description is not broad enough to label my "occupation".
I was pleasantly suprised that the definition of work in the Greek gives a broader picture regarding this controversial topic:

1. business, employment, that with which anyone is occupied
2. any product whatever, anything accomplished by hand, art, industry, mind
3. an act, deed, thing done
(from Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2000, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
I was relieved that anything I am occupied with is work. Even resting can be work. So whether you work both at home and outside the home, as most women do regardless of the title with which they choose to identify themselves, we can be confident that our work matters; its purpose is to honor and uphold the reputation of our Creator.
Another thing I like about the definition for work is that it includes anything we produce with our hands, including art. Art is a very broad topic and that helps me to enjoy the pursuits of writing, crafting, and creating time and space for my family and God. I leave you with the author of Ecclesiastes commentary on work:
"Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him-for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work-this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart."
Ecclesiastes 5:18-6:1 NIV

Monday, August 11, 2008

Faith: Trust or Reliance

"Have faith in God," Jesus answered." Mark 11:22 NIV

“Faith is embracing uncertainty. We’ll never have all the answers. And some people never come to terms with this truth. They feel like something is wrong with them because they can’t wrap their minds around God. But maybe faith has less to do with gaining knowledge and more to do with causing wonder. Maybe a relationship with God doesn’t simplify our lives. Maybe it complicates our lives in ways that they should be complicated.”

Mark Batterson, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day

When circumstances don't seem to change or get any better, I wonder if my faith is faltering. If I just had more faith, I chide myself, then life would improve. But as I think about it I don't think my faith is diminishing, so much as it is displaced. I am placing my trust in other people to meet my expectations or I am waiting for time to go by so the pain lessens. But in reality I need to rely more on God, and trust Him in the midst of life.

The success of my life has little to do with everything going well. Because that is just unrealistic. Jesus' simple encouragement to have faith in God brings life back into perspective. God is the one I can depend on. He is always there. He can handle the uncertainty. The quote above reminded me that I don't have to figure out my life. I just need to take the next step of faith, knowing God determines the outcomes.

So here's to complications. Faith truly can cause wonder and awe. May we be more aware of God working out our lives for our best, and for His glory!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Cuckoo: A Bird who Lays its Egg in Another Bird's Nest

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
One day I was looking up a word in my dictionary. My eye fell upon the word "cuckoo". I read the entry and giggled to myself. I happened to be sitting near some other friends and told them the meaning of the word. We were all tickled for some reason. Maybe because we sometimes associate the word, cuckoo, with crazy people.
As I thought about a bird who would lay their eggs in another bird's nest, I was convicted about my tendency to compare my accomplishments to others. Mainly others who I believe are more accomplished than me. The Spirit revealed to me how foolish it is to even try to "lay my eggs in someone else's nest."
God has a purpose for me that is unique to his plans for my life. I do not have to be someone else or attempt an other's goals or talents. It is cuckoo to try to fulfill some scheme that wasn't designed for me, nor I for it. How freeing to realize my nest is just right for me, and my "eggs" belong there.
An idea was hatching, a plot developing for my life even before I was born. It was inspired by our Creator God. And he has a plot, plan and nest for each one of us whether we are cuckoo or not.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ethereal: Of or Relating to Regions Beyond the Earth

"Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth." Colossians 3:2 NLT

"The heavens declare the glory of God..." Psalm 19:1a

It is so easy to become consumed with life on earth. To think of heaven and regions beyond sometimes seems frivolous or at least impractical. Yet it is the sunshine and the starry night sky that inspires. They are forever telling us there is Something or Someone beyond us. I have been home bound this week, mostly by choice and the heat of summer. So I have had time to read and reflect more on heavenly thoughts.

God is so creative and uses words and images to draw us to himself. He even uses headaches. I have been fighting one all week. And today I was really lamenting my demise, when the thought popped into my mind: "If I didn't have this headache, I probably would be out and about instead of reading and praying." Even though it was hard to concentrate, I still was drawn to different books sitting around the house. I would read a bit, sometimes pray for people the readings brought to mind. I still wish the headache would go away, but I also know that God heard my prayers today.

One book I was drawn back to was "The Divine Hours". It has a format of prayers and readings from the Bible that repeat during different hours during the day. It was comforting to read through those and allow the familiar phrases flow through my mind and to penetrate my heart.

I leave you with a portion of "The Prayer Appointed for the Day":

"O Lord, You have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing: Send your Holy Spirit and pour into my heart your greatest gift which is love..."

Friday, July 11, 2008

Cram: To Pack Tight; Jam

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV

“Adversity is often the seedbed of opportunity.” Mark Batterson, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day

I am preparing for a house guest this week, and so I decided yesterday morning that I needed to wash one of our comforters for her bed. As I was cramming the fluffy white thing into my washer, I thought to myself, this is not a good idea; I really should take this to the Laundromat. But since I did not have time to go, I continued to cram it into the cavity of my less than optimal capacity washer. Later I came back to check on its progress. The clothing piled on the floor waiting for its turn to be washed was squishy and wet. While the washer filled with water, the too tightly crammed comforter allowed water to splash and run out all over the dirty clothes. Ever optimistic, I plunged forward and tried to wrestle the comforter out of the washer into the dryer. I assured myself that the comforter had spun out well enough, but then I noticed some grime from the washer rim on the corner of the comforter. I tried to rub it off and only made it worse. I surrendered and hauled the comforter into a basket and on to the Laundromat.

I brought a book along to read while I waited. The chapter in the book was about “reframing your problems” from God’s perspective. The title of the book is In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. That inspired the following entry title in my journal, which I also had brought along: In a Laundromat with a Comforter on a Humid Day. This little adversity with the comforter afforded me some time to reflect on not only my laundry dilemma, but also the current state of my life. To put it lightly my life has been tightly packed with way too many activities and commitments. I cringe when I open my planner. I cry out to the Master Scheduler of my days, “Help!” And he rescues me time and time again. I am so thankful for his patient love.

Even when I neglect to create time and space for Him, he optimizes my foolish ways and redirects me to his perfect ways. So I met with God in the Laundromat. He reminded me of my growing up years and my embarrassment of having to use a Laundromat. And yet it was a refuge of sorts. We would load up the station wagon, haul in the clothes and visit while we waited. We gave my younger sister rides in the roller carts, and I learned how my step-brother liked his jeans dried so they came out with less wrinkles. As an adult I have often found quiet moments on vacation while doing laundry. And I used to take the boys to Suds N’ Duds between camp and vacation to get all the clothes washed at once. We’d buy donut holes and eat them with soda for a treat while we waited. Waiting is good. It gives you time to reflect. And even though I had to pay $4.00 and spend 40 minutes out of my day, the time reading and reflecting was worth it. I even got to play the pinball machine. So the lesson for the day was do not cram the comforter into your home washing machine, go to the Laundromat, and enjoy some time with the Comforter of our Souls. Also watch how much you are jamming into your life and ask the Master Scheduler in advance what he wants on the agenda of your day or week.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

New Space

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Matthew 6:6 KJV

This weekend I painted our son's old bedroom an inspiring, warm guacamole green. My husband calls it the new avocado green. The room that has been our son's for the last several years has become "my" room. I have always wanted a room to gather my creative outlets and have them at hand. So here I am at my cool, borrowed drafting table. I was thinking that would be a good kind of desk for me as a writer and creative person. I was at my friend's a couple weeks ago lending her our table saw, and we talked about Les making me a table for the room, and I also mentioned my desire for a drafting table. And there was hers- unused and stored in her garage. She gladly offered to let me use it! Amazing friend and touching provision from our Creative Father.

So here I sit blogging in this new space. Potential galore. And seeing that I really cannot keep things to myself, I will share this room with guests, as it also has our convertible futon couch in here. I can't wait to start gathering my supplies and tools in here.

Today as I was dreaming about different purposes for this room, I remembered that I have always wanted two things: a prayer closet and a walk-in closet. I envisioned myself praying in this new space which is like a walk-in prayer closet combined. I'm loving God and His creative providence in my home and in my heart. Hallelujah!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Enjoy Your Lot in Life

Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him-for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work-this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.
Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 NIV

It is so easy to become complacent or downright aggravated with everyday life. When we become discontent with our lives, we are cranky. We look at others’ lives and want what they have. The reminder that all we have (or do not have) is a gift from God really changed my perspective recently. When I strive to make my life enjoyable, I get frustrated. Or if I look to others to create a joy filled life, I get disappointed. God is the one who enables us to enjoy and accept our lives.

One reason I get bored or discouraged stems from how I occupy my mind. If I am always looking at magazines or movies that portray lives different than mine, then I want those things. If I get in a rut of regrets over the past and missed opportunities, then I get depressed. But if I think about all that I have because of God, then my heart and mind can be occupied with gladness. I can list and acknowledge the people, experiences and things that I am thankful for.

I am thankful for my family. For living in the Midwest. For my heritage. For the opportunity to go to college as an older adult. For our church community. For our home and my front porch where I can sit and meditate on all the good things God has provided. For blogs. For books. For paper and pen. For laugther and tears. I am glad that God has given me wonderful people, experiences and things to occupy my life.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Wet Cement

If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.

1 John 1:8-9 NLT

I was out this beautiful morning walking our dog, when I noticed the road was marked off by traffic cones, and a small backhoe was parked at the corner. I happened to be walking on the sidewalk, which is unusual as I tend to walk on the road. (Must be a left over habit from growing up a country girl; no sidewalks out there.) As I approached the corner I was listening to the praise music on my i-pod, while letting the dog and my feet carry me down the sidewalk. I noticed a metal bar over the sidewalk, stepped over it and began to sink- in wet cement. A man on a cell phone was trying to warn me, but I had been too engrossed in the song that was playing. I removed my ear phones and apologized. He didn't seem too upset.

After quickly jumping back out of the cement and dragging the dog along, I returned to walking down the road instead. I noticed several areas where a crew had recently smoothed cement over the other sections of the sidewalk at the end of each home’s driveway. As I walked closer to a crew at the end of the street, I debated whether or not to confess my blunder to them. As I approached them, I decided to tell them in hopes that it might not be too late for them to smooth over the evidence of our walk into the cement. They thanked me for telling them, and assured me that people usually do not tell them and it makes their work more difficult. I was glad I confessed.

This little morning adventure caused me to question how many times I had noticed the danger signs of a sinful choice, but just ignored them and walked right on into the sin anyway. Thanks be to God that he also is delighted to see our repentance (like jumping out of the wet cement), and to hear our quick confession so he can cleanse us or smooth out the mess we’ve created. Also I thought about what would have happened if I hadn’t told the men that I messed up. The evidence of my error would be set in the concrete, and the work to repair it would take longer. What an incentive to confess to God immediately when we realize we’ve stepped astray.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

Matthew 7:25 NIV

Although many report that the economy is slow, contractors are still building houses around our neighborhood. One house on my usual drive looked as if it was a tear down that would be replaced with a bigger, better house. Strangely enough they just tore down the house structure and kept the foundation. As I drove by it again the other day, I wondered what caused them to keep the old foundation. I would think they'd want a new one along with a new house. But I guess if there is nothing wrong with the foundation,why not keep it.

As I think about the changing structure of my life (I just recently celebrated another year of living), I am thankful for the foundation that my life has been built on since I was a child. Even if my children are growing up, and my husband and I are entering the prime of our lives, and even though at times these changes scare me to the depths of my soul- I can rest on the sure foundation of Jesus and his righteousness.