Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Hungry Chicken

I was really tired the other night, so my husband brought home a cooked chicken from the market.  I don't often buy them like this, but it must have been longer than I thought since we had a whole chicken.  (We usually have so many around the table that I get pieced chicken or at least cut it in pieces to cook it; we need more than one most times!)

Well, this cooked, whole, still together chicken was unceremoniously dumped in a bowl and was being passed around the table when my #2 son caught a glimpse of him from the bottom up.

"Whoa, mom, that chicken was really HUNGRY!"


"Yeah, there is NOTHING in its tummy!'

We could not stop giggling through the whole meal!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Feeling Down

Life has been busy.  In the middle of all the business, I am trying to get some extra stuff done.  I'm tired.

Today, I got a lot accomplished.  Got paperwork in order, finalized some dates, made contact with people I need to meet.  Thought I was doing good.

But I ran into one person who's got me down.  Nothing I did was right today in this person's eyes.  Every time I turned around, I was met with a complaint.

"shouldn't have done that"

"you should have done this that way'

"why did you do that?"

Everything I've done is wrong.  I even managed to invite someone for dinner the "wrong" way.

I'm feeling down.  The wind stolen from my sails.  More tired.  The high feeling I had from getting all this "stuff" done gone.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Talking as You Walk in the Way... (or drive)

So I told God that I was ready to listen to Him, but really not excited about what He wanted to say.  Not really.  You see, this person hurts me.  He has, he did, and he does.  I didn't really want to get over it.  I wanted God to smack him one.

(I have this firm belief that I ought to be honest with God, even when it ain't pretty.  You see, He sees it anyway, and I've discovered that He still loves me anyway.  So, I've mostly stopped trying to be so perfect when I talk to God)

But I kept wondering about that... why am I ok with people we minister to not being perfect, but expect people who lead us to be perfect?

I just left this thought to sit in my head while I went about my day, but then in the afternoon, I drove to work.  I have about a half hour drive to work, and it is usually when God talks to me the most.  It has become our time.  We drive and talk.

I got in the car, and as I got on the main road, I said, "Ok, God, I'm listening."


So I said, "well, he just bugs me.  He is always doing things, and you know what he has said ..."


So I said, "Ok what?"

Child, do you know that I love him?

Yes, I know that, but....

Don't I have a right to be totally delighted in my child, even if he is not perfect?  I am delighted in you, and you ain't.


Do you know that I smile down at him and say over him, "This is my son.  I am pleased with him."

oh, God, do we have to go there?

Do you know that?


Do you accept that I have the right to love him, to be delighted in him, to be completely pleased with him?

I took a deep breath and drove silently for a few minutes.  I looked up at God in one last attempt, "but I can't love this guy - he sets my teeth on edge."

Don't worry about that right now.  Just accept that I have the right to love him and be delighted in him, to say over him, "this is my child whom I love."

Another long pause.

Ok.  Ok, I accept that You have the right to love this person.  That you are delighted with him and he is Your chosen child.  I accept that.

But, God, don't tell me I have to love him too.  I just can't do that.

I won't.  Not now.  Just accept that I do.

I accept that.

Then I got to work.  It took me half an hour just to get through that discussion.  We talk slowly, thinking things through.

On the way home, I picked up the talk, "But God, I know You are going to try to make me love this guy, and I can't.  I can't.  Every time I think about him, it hurts.  I can't."

I'm not going to force you.  Just accept that I love him.

Ok, but, how about this?  How about if I let You make me love him, but I don't have to like him.  How's that?

(We do always say that is ok, right?  We have to love everyone, but we don't have to like them.)

Silence again.

Is that ok?  Please?

Child, show Me where I said that was fine...

My brain did a New Testament survey in thirty seconds..... flip, flip, flip, flip...

Got it!  Paul and Barnabas!!  They didn't get along.  They even went separate ways because of it.

Ok, they didn't get along.. but did I say that was ok?

umm... umm...  it doesn't say.  It doesn't say either way...

Or was that just another example of Me using good people who have some messes and aren't perfect?

Ok, I give up.

But you know what?  Earlier in the week, God had talked to me about holding grudges, and I carefully assured Him that I wasn't.  I really wasn't.  I could cope with this.  Sure, don't like the guy, but I'm not holding a grudge - just he is a difficult person, that is all.

It took God all of one situation to show me what He already knew!  And I struggled.  I told Him I had no idea how to put this one down.  I couldn't do it.

He didn't force me to.  He didn't make me practice loving him.  He just told me to accept that He loves him.

I'll let you in on a secret about me. I am an extremely loyal person.  It is just who I am.  There are people I love deeply, and I am loyal to them.  If someone says something about them, I'll go on the defensive.  Touch them, and watch out!  The flip side is there, too.  If someone I love cares about someone else, then I will also care about them.  I saw this once in a situation in Bible school.  My roommate deeply cared about "person A".  Person A really offended me and hurt my feelings.  I could not retaliate at all.  I did not hold it against her.  Instead I said to myself, "she is deeply loved by my room mate who respects her and says she is like this... I don't see it.. but..." I ate the hurt. I chose to align myself with my room mate's feelings because of loyalty to my room mate.  I still keep the relationship to Person A free from accusation of hurt simply because of that loyalty to my room mate.

I'm a loyal person.

Part of my problems with this person is that he has hurt me.  Part of it is that he has spoken against someone I am pretty loyal to.  That is hard for me to deal with.  I just didn't see how I could put down a grudge.

But, the same loyalty that helped get me into trouble helped me get out.  Because I can accept that God loves this man.  That He is delighted with him.

And I naturally, without force, chose to align myself with One I am loyal to.  Once I accepted that.

Being known.  It is a relief.  There wass no use pretending things were fine.  God knew.  There is no shame in dealing with it with Him.  Doesn't affect our relationship one bit.  He already knows what is in my heart.  There is a total delight in being known so well.

I'm safe because I'm known. Completely known and completely loved.  Nothing to hide.  Imperfect, and yet loved.  I'm safe here, relaxed, and happy.

Driving - still my favorite time to talk to God.  Maybe because He knows He's got me without distractions or escape for awhile! :)

Messes in the Ranks

We had an interesting discussion on the way home recently.  A person on our team had told us that we should not waste our time trying to witness to one person since he had seen that person in another place, and she wasn't as good as she pretends to be when she is with us.

Ok.  umm... I thought the point was that she is a sinner...  Am I surprised that she is doing something wrong?  No, not really.

As we work as leaders of team of awesome people, we also have a responsibility to help them grow as Christians.  Part of our job is helping them learn how to minister.  They also have a responsibility to us to help us when we need it, and they are good at that.  We depend on each other.  But this is one situation where we need to figure out how to help them see that Jesus came for sinners and we need to continue to reach out and not be shocked when the people we are reaching are - well, just that - sinners.  The sad truth is that we don't accept as well people who are messed up.  We'd prefer to have Bible studies with "good sinners".

It was a great discussion, and I was feeling pretty good about it.  I was thinking, "well, we are called to people with messes".  Then came that quiet voice into my consciousness...

What if those people with messes are not the ones you are ministering to who aren't perfect, but the one you are ministering with?

I was a little annoyed at that quiet voice just then.

I sat quietly for a few minutes.  Then I looked up and said, "Ok.  I'm listening.  I'm listening, but I won't lie.  I am not that excited to hear Your point of view right now."

Thankfully, God does not require me to be excited about what He wants to say before He says it.  We talked later the next day, but that is for another post.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Being Known

I grew up always a stranger.  Always a foreigner.  In some places, I looked like one and in other places I didn't, but I was always a stranger.  Part of me happily fit in.  Part of me never will.

I grew up always on display.  People were always watching.  My very differentness could attract a crowd in some countries - people who would watch how I chew, laugh at how I tried to talk, or giggle when about how I wore my shawl.  My simple position in life had people in other places watching... how do MKs act?  Are they going to be normal?  Their parents must be such good Christians, so let's see how the kids are?  The pressure knowing that we had to be well behaved because, after all, these people are supporting us.

I grew up always trying to be normal, trying to blend in, but like a chameleon, able to change to fit the surroundings.  I bet that no matter how much the chameleon looks like a rock, he doesn't feel any more solid.  If he looks like a leaf, I bet he doesn't feel anymore green.  There has to be a "chameleon feel" that is himself seperate from all he blends into.  There has always been a me separate from my surroundings.

Even now, even when I could fit in to these surroundings fairly well, there is a me separate from them - that part of me that is a rich mix of all I am.

I grew up trying to behave.  Now for some kids, that is not too difficult, but I was one of those for whom behaving was a little more of a struggle.  But always watching how I appeared.  People were watching.

Even now, I am aware of how I behave.  There is a good side to that.  I mean, there are times to behave!

But with these pressures, it was hard to be known.  Like a cut jewel, there are many sides to me.  People might know one or two.  A few good friends might know more.

Being known takes time.  It takes trust.  It takes the permission to pick up the jewel and turn it around and ask questions.  To not be surprised with the different sides.  To not be shocked with a rock colored chameleon turns green with yellow stripes like a leaf.  To not focus on the outside, but to sit and listen.  To spot the lizard, not the disguise.

Time is a rare thing in the life of some of us.  I'm now 37, and my frantic moving pace has slowed.  On last count, I was at 29 moves, so I am really pushing that gap between years and moves.  There were times in my life that the moves were more than the years.  But beyond the moves we ourselves have made, the lives of missionaries and their kids are constantly affected by the moves of others.  We are a little like bumper cars in a large rink - life is full of short relationships.  We learn quickly to get to know people, to let them in, but never to hang on to them.  There is rarely time to turn the jewels around to the many sides and get to know them.

Most people see me in my one setting.  They know me in that setting.  They don't know that there are any sides to me, a product of being fit into so many different places.  I feel happy in my relationships with people, but also sad... feeling like only a part of me is known... wishing I could be other sides of me, too, but aware that others don't always understand.... they are not used to being of many cultures at once.

There are a few people who have seen me out of my one setting.  Who have picked up the jewel and turned it over to see the other sides.  It is a different thing for me.  I grew up thinking that it would be uncomfortable to have someone know you that well.

It isn't.  It isn't at all.  I am known well by some, and it isn't scary.  It is like watching the sun rise over a lake up in the mountains.  It is like drawing in a deep breath and breathing out in complete relaxation.  There is a comfort in being known well.  A feeling of absolute safety. 

But, he shouldn't have....!!!

My kids say one version of this phrase to me so often that I am tempted (and sometimes do) to snap back at them, "and I don't care what he did!"

That is not entirely true.  Of course, I care what he does.  But I  care that the one I am talking to get the point that he can only fix his end of the problem.  Fixing the other guy is not his job.  I'll have to go find the offending sibling and deal with his own issues with him.  But I need to deal with the issues of each kid with the kid themselves.  It is a part of motherhood that is not my favorite, I assure you.

Two wrongs don't make a right.  And life is not fair.  What other things did our moms tell us that we swore we would never tell our kids?  But we do.

I completely understand and sympathize with the child whose hat and mittens were kicked on purpose down the stairs.  That is just not right!  I agree with them that something needs to be done about it.  But when they chose to take that something into their own hands and knock the brother down the stairs after the hat and mittens (relax, it is only five steps!), then I have two problems to deal with, not one.  Both need correcting.  And this is where the frustration comes in, "but mom, he shouldn't have.....!"

"No, he shouldn't have.  But neither should you have...."

"But I wouldn't have if he hadn't....!  He started it!"

I wonder in heaven is there a score board for who started it?  Or are we all responsible for the actions we start?  Yet, when we hurt others, are we also not responsible for that?  Responsible for actions and reactions.... How about feelings?  Are we responsible for our feelings?  Ho about for the feelings that our actions cause in others?  It is an area I firmly preach to my kids, but still struggle with in daily life.

But, he shouldn't have......!!

There are a few things in my life that will get me more riled up than any other.  Top on that list would be an attack on my kids.  Following closely behind that is when someone questions either my truthfulness or my integrity.  That is usually enough to send me off the deep end on a response.  Question my methods, my quality, my rational, and I will roll with it, but question my integrity, and I will react.

I also still harbor this deep desire that life should be fair.  That people should be fairly treated.  I hang on to tht desire even while informing my kids that life is not fair - deal with it!

So yesterday, my team leader did exactly what will get me riled up.  He questioned my integrity.  To top it all off, he treated me unfairly, differently and more strictly than he treats other team members.  What he encourges others to do, he critizised me for doing.  And warned me not to use funds for personal things on top of it all.

So I reacted.  I used to be quiet and just let him say or do whatever and keep smiling.  I'm not sure that is me anymore.  When a child reaches a limit, we discipline to inform them that there is the limit.  We might flick their reaching hand before it gets to an outlet.  There might be other consequences, but we learn by consequences.  I wondered if just smiling and being silent was teaching him anything or if he needs consequences to know that he is crossing a line.

So I reacted.  I still don't know if I reacted too much or not.  Part of me says to myself, "you should have been more gracious", and part of me says, "but he shouldn't have...!"  Part of me says, "I've tried gracious with him, and it ain't getting the point across!"

He shouldn't have.  I have never given him any reason to question my handling of finances or my time.  If anything, I err more on the side of not claiming expenses (even for things like the trip to go pick him up when he came in!) than using funds for personal things.

He shouldn't have.  I am a fairly truthful person.  Sometimes too honest at times.

He shouldn't have.  It is completely unfair to question my choice of something I chose to do at no cost to him in my free time while in the same situation, encouraging another on the team to do exactly that - everything paid for.  I live with the unfairness of the paid and unpaid because there are reasons behind that that I agree with.  I wasn't upset over that at all.  But to then question my right to do that??!!

He shouldn't have.

But as I go about my day calming down and reminding myself of a few things that make it more able for me to work with this man... I began to wonder about that phrase "he shouldn't have" and how I answer it as a mom.

No.  He shouldn't have.  That is pretty clear, pretty obvious.  He shouldn't have done this.  But that is not the question for me.... that question is for him.  He will have to answer to God for how he treats people.  I don't answer for him.

My question is "did I respond correctly?"  I can answer upfront that I did not respond in the most gracious manner possible.  But I also scratch my head and wonder.  Do we always need to be as gracious as possible?  Some people are a little slow on the intake.  They don't pick up things, and if they are not told clearly that they are giving offense, they would never get it.

But did I respond correctly?  I don't know.  I did not personally attack.  I firmly stated that what he was insinuating about me has no basis.  I have not acted like this, am not, and would not.  I clearly stated that he had offended me.  I did not make comments as to his character, although, he could infer from the letter that I am none to impressed with him at the moment.

But was it correct?  I don't know.  I look up at God and again wonder, "when are You going to do something?"  Then I look at my kids where two of them are currently locked in a feud against each other, and I am tired.  I wonder if God is tired too and wants to say, "hey, just get along!".  Or if He will threaten to make us share a room until we stop howling every time the other walks near by.  (No, I did not just suggest sharing a room with him... just to get that VERY CLEAR!!... It is a threat and a possibility I am considering with two brothers who struggle to walk down a hall and pass each other without a fight... share a room until you are capable of occupying adjacent spaces without yelling at each other!)

Maybe I am ready to listen to God right now.  And I am infernally tired of dealing with this man whose opinion and attitude towards me are like shifting sand.  There is no way to rest.  I think if you were to get to the basis of the problem I have with him, it is the lack of honesty.  The flip-flopping back and forth, the smiling to my face while talking behind my back is what gets to me.  Be honest.  Be trustable... whether you are good or bad, be trustable.  Speak plainly.  Be fair.

He shouldn't have...

No, he shouldn't have... but I am just back to the simple basics:  two wrongs do not make a right, life is not fair, and you are only responsible for your own actions.

Actually I disagree with that last one to a degree and it is to this point - you are responsible to consider the result of your actions on other people's feelings.

And to balance that with when is it time to speak up and teach people.  To flick hands that reach for outlets.  Better to let you feel a little pain now and learn something than to just let you continue on until we all get burned.

He sets my teeth on edge.

But I am responsible for my reaction.  Needing help there today.  Needing help.  Knowing what this one has said, what he has done over the last few years when I was hurting and found myself wounded with my own side shooting at me, I need help.  He's used up his supply of grace.  Proved himself someone I can't trust.

But I am responsible for my own actions.  Struggling with that concept today.

Life is not fair.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

That Endless Paperwork

I really should not complain.  I shouldn't.  But I had to go do visa and other official paperwork.  I've decided that this is just one of those things that is not fun.

I had to go get pages added to my passport, so after a long drive, we were met at the gates by a smiling security guard who told us that now we have to book an appointment for this service.  "But we just drove in here!"  He cheerfully suggested that we drive home, use our computer and book an appointment for tomorrow.  Hey, a little sympathy would be nice!  No.

Well, my passport has maybe, just maybe enough space... so we decided to go try for the visa and hope they don't notice that I am low on empty places.  My husband is perhaps the best visa-getter in the world.  We walked in, he cheerfully greeted the people at the desk, and gave over the paperwork after a long conversation as to the well-being of the entire family of both the desk clerk and the official in charge that day.

We waited.  Because I need a visa to my husband's country, the purpose of the trip is simple.  I go to visit.  The did not ask questions or require much from me at all.  In fact, besides one question, my view on the whole affair was not even asked.  All business was conducted by the men.  There was a glitch when my husband did not actually have any documentation stating he was from that country, so he simply respectfully asked what he could do.  The man scratched his head, disappeared for a few minutes, and then came back with an empty sheet of paper.

"Just write down that you are a citizen, and that you married your wife, and why she needs a visa."

So he did.  And signed it.  The officer picked it up, examined it, and nodded.  (Was being able to write well a test of citizenship?!)  He looked a little surprised and said, "you write very well, like you work in a government company or something like that."  My husband smiled and said thank-you, and that he does work, but with computers.  (Later we smiled again at the thought of why my husband's knowledge of the written language is so good!!  Computers are such a wonderful general thing to say.  We do work with computers!  If I am questioned, I always say, "I know he works with computers, but I don't understand that much about computers...."  That usually works.)

About fifteen minutes later, the man appeared with a visa in my passport.  He opened it up and showed us, "See, you were running out of pages in your passport, so I put this visa in the "admendments page", but I just put it over to the side a little so it covers up where is says "admentments" and where it should have said "visas", so it will work.  But you should get some new pages in it very soon."

See - they are creative!  Now there is just enough room for the stamps and all.  I will still try to get more pages, but the visa is done!

On a funny note, while sitting in the office, a lady next to me in the waiting room struck up a conversation with me.  She was totally shocked that I was applying for a visa to her country.  She asked me about three times over and over if we "foriegners" need visas.  I assured her that we did.  She looked completely dumbfounded and said, "Well, that is good then.  I thought it was just something we had to try to get to go to your country!"

I wish.  Oh, how I wish.

Now, another day, and another appointment with the embassy to hopefully get pages added to my passport, but at least I did get my visa.  I'm on my way soon!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

All in a Day's Work

We're watching movies all day.  And it is work!  What fun.  A whole day to get others to watch the kids, and our whole team is gathered to watch movies.  Ok, we are watching with a good purpose, but we are watching movies.  It's great.

Anyone know any good movies out there that are useful in some of these countries?  What have you run across that you thought, "wow! wish I could get my neighbor here to see this!"?  World-wide search... what movies are good?

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Script That Went Wrong

When He came to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were so extremely violent that no one could pass by that way.  And they cried out, saying, "What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?"  Now there was a herd of many swine feeding at a distance from them.
 The demons began to entreat Him, saying, "If You are going to cast us out, send us into the herd of swine."  And He said to them, "Go!" And they came out and went into the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the waters.
The herdsmen ran away, and went to the city and reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs.   And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw Him, they implored Him to leave their region. 

This passage always puzzles me.  It just does.  It always has for different reasons at different times.  I opened my Bible again at the beginning of this week on a day that I really wanted to hear from God, and this is what passage was next.  I must confess that I was a little disappointed.  Why this passage?  It makes no sense to me.

On the surface, is a great story.  Big scary, demon possessed men.  Raving mad.  Scaring the whole town.  Jesus appears.  One word and they’re gone.  For extra excitement, throw in the whole herd of pigs running off into the horizon and jumping to their deaths in the sea.  Makes for a great story.

But what is the point?  Besides the fact that Jesus is big and strong.  Ok, point taken.  Yet it is a strange story.  It doesn’t fit the pattern of miracles.  This is the normal pattern:

Need + Jesus = Wow, Praise, + Glorifying God.

This one just doesn’t fit the pattern.  Something goes wrong.  There is the clear need.  Jesus comes.  Wow, one word, and problem solved!  We’re just getting ready to hear the praise and glorifying God, and something goes wrong.

The happy music stops, the picture screeches to a stop… what is going on here?

These people aren’t happy with the miracle.  Instead of being thankful, they come out to Jesus and beg Him to leave.
The other day, I began to write down the questions I had:

1. Why does Jesus listen to the demons and do what they ask Him to do?

2. What happens then to the demons after the pigs commit mass suicide?  Are they free to roam again?

3.  What about the poor pig farmers who just lost their livelihood?  Hardly seems fair.

4. What happened to the previously demon-possessed men?  There is no mention of them – no word from them, no reaction from them, no future, nothing…  They are acted upon, but they themselves actually have no part in the story… what happens to them?

5.  Ok, the herdsmen play their part well as if they did indeed read the script.  Someone is always supposed to go running and telling the news.  But… what happens?  Did they carry a grudge for the loss of their pig herds?  Was it the way they presented the news or was it the people in that town themselves?  Next on the cue cards should be the village running out to welcome Jesus and bring their sick and tormented to Him?  They don’t.  They come out to meet Him, and beg Him… not to come in…. but to leave!  Please, please don't come in our town!

What is going on in this story?  It doesn’t make sense.

Often I sit and write in my journal what I am learning from a section that I read.  But I read this passage and sat blank.  What is there in this?  I had nothing.

Finally, I gave up.  I told God I had no idea why He wrote this story.  All I had was questions.  So I wrote down all my questions, told God I’m thoroughly confused, and closed my book and walked away.

A few days went by, and as I worked, I wondered about this passage, sitting quietly in moments my hands were busy but my mind not.  As time went by, a few things came into my mind.

I wondered about the response of people.  Why was their response like that?  Does much depend on people's response?  It is an interesting question as we seek to share the gospel with others.  Even Jesus, even approaching a city with a terrible problem, even by performing an impressive miracle, even then the response of the people was total rejection.  Utter, total failure of reaching that town.  What does that say to us when we feel like we failed?  When a ministry outreach does not go like we thought it should?

I kept turning the story over and over in my head.  Then I began to become a little tense over some of the guests due to arrive this week.  One is our team leader, and my heart is still raw over the things he has said about me.  Now, you wouldn’t know it from how I act.  I work well around him, do things for him, and he is so oblivious that he likely thinks we are great friends.  Quite the contrary, I have to restrain myself when I am around him.  I am nice to him because that is who I am, not because of who he is.

So I was tense, and still turning this story over in my head.  So, one day I sat down with a cup of tea and wondered, “Why, Jesus, were these people so scared by You that they were more willing to have their demon-possessed men terrorizing them than You?  They treated You like You were a crazy man, a threat to them.” 

Then I was still.  Jesus Himself was so misunderstood that people told Him to go away.  They’ll live with their crazies and their demon-possessed people rather than have Jesus come.

I still don’t understand this story completely.  But this I learned - people’s responses are different, and we are not responsible for people’s response to good news or good deeds.  And even Jesus was regarded as a dangerous threat.  People acted as if He were worse than insane maniacs.

So this week, I sit in meetings with this person.  I work with him.  I continue to serve him just like I serve all the others that pass through my life.  I noticed he has a rip in a suitcase, and I brought my needle and thread to sew it up over coffee break.  I will fix that because I do that sort of thing.  I am not responsible for his response.

And I rest in the comfort that Jesus Himself was regarded as worse than a crazy person.  He understands.  He knows what it means for me to be here today and to smile and serve.  I serve God.  I also look up at Him and say, “hey, Your kid did this.”  I leave it to Him to deal with His kid.  I’ll keep reminding Him, maybe.  And He’ll keep telling me He understands.  He’s been through it.  I'm not alone, even in this.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Only during Service - The Dead Man

My daughter has a facination with dead people.  No, she's not morbid.  She's full of life and full of fun.  But she has this thing about dead people - especially during a sermon.

Our pastor has a thing about dying.  He doesn't like it at all.  Every New Year's, he mentions that a new year is one more year closer to dying.  That is fine with me - dying might be uncomfortable, but there is no death, only life... so it is fine with me.

But poor pastor preached a pretty good sermon, but only once - very breifly - mentioned a dead man.  The man who said to Jesus, "Let me first go bury my father".... 

That was all it took!  I looked over at my daughter's notebook, and she was busy drawing...


We still haven't figured out what the guy flying up in the sky is.  

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Putting a Face to a Name

Ha!  I figured out how to work my scanner and found some old photos.  So, I thought I'd put a face to my name.  No chance in this one being a security risk!  Enjoy.

I am not this blonde anymore... but likely just as mischieveous!

I still do love chocolate....

Well, I still like to feed people, but do tend to wear a little more while doing it.

Seriously, I begin to wonder if my mother ever bothered to dress me in the summer!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What I Know

Five years ago, I asked someone, "Can we talk?"  A simple question because I needed help and expected, like most people, that they would talk with me and leave.  Everyone leaves.  Life is just like that, people come and people go.  Except these did not leave.  They did not say nice things and then walk out of my life.  They have never walked away.  That very fact is one of the most special things in my life.

I began to learn how to grow.

I'm coming to a place where I feel like I am reaching the top of a hill.  Oh, there are likely hills in front of me, too.  I've given up thinking I will reach a flat place that never changes.  That would be too boring!  But I am at the end of a season, and I am thinking back over things.  Looking back after the visit to this place I went earlier in the month.  I wanted to write some of what I have learned.  What has changed.

Also, I'm struggling right now.  Feeling overwhelmed.  Feeling in doubt about a few things.  I've learned that when I am struggling and don't know some things, then I begin with what I know.  When I am confused, I start saying what I do know, what I do believe.  That helps me get my footing to go through the tougher times.

So I began to write.  Sometimes, I just write my heart out with no purpose.  I wrote on the top of my paper, "Things I Learned"

God is not a disciplinarian.  There is a delight in knowing Him that I never realized existed.  He disciplines me, but the goal is not that I become perfect as in a perfect model or display, but that we might have a perfectness in our relationship, no tension, no slights, no strain between us.  Accepted with all my faults, loved with an abandoned delight, and called to grow into a perfect relationship.

God does not force me to change.  He doesn't withhold Himself from me until I agree to change.  He doesn't shame me into changes.  He utterly delights in loving me and that love calls forth a response in my heart, a delight in moving closer to Him.  I don't always delight in all the changes He shows me.  I am not always happy about being shown all the things in my heart that keep me from enjoying His love, but my heart longs to know Him more, to know and experience His loving of me.  So I face those changes and challenges head on.  Sometimes they scare me and I take off running.  Sometimes it's hard, and I cry for help.  Sometimes, those things God asks me to deal with are some of my favorite things.  Yeah, I've got favorite sins and weaknesses.  I wiggle and squirm and try to ignore that call at times.  But my heart betrays me.  It longs for the delighted love of God.  Even the things I held as my favorite sins are so empty, and my heart longs for the One who delights in me.  So I turn and cry out to God.  Help me.  I need Your help to deal with these things.  I need You.

He won my heart.  Such a stronger force that trying to make me change or make me obey.  He won my heart.  It seeks to follow Him even through the tough, the scary, and the things I want to hang on to.  Even though I can not even imagine or believe what He calls me to, I follow... because my heart moves towards the One who delights in me.  I am utterly loved.  There is no shame in discipline that says, "Come closer to me because I want you, I delight in you."  He has written His law on my heart.  That was what He promised, and He has done it.  So my heart betrays me.  It keeps me going toward God.  Perhaps it is not my heart.  Perhaps it is His Spirit.  But He has won my heart.

I remembered the verse God told me twenty years ago:

"Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. Ez.36:25-27

Ah, I have a story I want to write one day... a story about why this verse is so special to me.  One day.

So, I'm feeling overwhelmed.  I've got an interesting mix of guests coming and there is tension between them all and can likely pull up tensions in our own family.  I'm real low on time alone.  I'm facing some talks with God where I need to sit and be quiet and listen about some areas of my life.  I'm confused and frustrated about somethings.  So I go back to what I know.  Starting there.

What do I know?  I know I can trust.  I have to remind myself sometimes.  It doesn't come naturally to me.  But I know I can trust Him.  I'll rest in that today, and go on tomorrow.

I can trust Him.  Even in discipline, He can be trusted.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Back to Normal

Anyone else out there pretty happy that all the holidays are going to be over and normal life starts soon?

I'm pretty tired.... we've had between 12 to 17 here for most of the holidays, and I've done well with food, clean house, and being with people... but come Monday morning when everyone is gone and kids are in school, I'm going to whip this house back into shape, fix myself a cup of tea, sit back, and enjoy it ALL BY MYSELF!!!