Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Words by Hugh Prather

These leaves made me think of my Dad. He always calls me and lets me know when they start falling in California....(He called last night) He knows I miss the leaves. Pretty soon an envelope will come with assorted leaves from their yard. Looking forward to that!

Jesus life didn't go well. He didn't reach his earning potential. He didn't have the respect of his colleagues. His friend weren't loyal. His life wasn't long. He didn't meet his soul mate. And he wasn't understood by his mother. Yet I think I deserve all those things because I'm so spiritual.

We are walking in a ticker tape parade. That's all that's going on. Some pieces of confetti read, "great calves," some "chronic sinus," some "no noticeable hair loss," some "multiple sclerosis," and some "third finger amputation." Don't judge your neighbor by what pieces of paper fall on his or her shoulders. Don't think you are cursed or "blessed" by what pieces fall on yours.

The fact is nothing will go right today. And if it does, it will only scare you.

From Spiritual Notes to Myself by Hugh Prather

Monday, September 28, 2009

Our first sanctuary

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother's womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them. Psalm 139:13-16

Astonishing images from inside the womb produced by new technology show babies apparently smiling and crying. Traditionally, doctors have assumed infants made facial expressions, such as smiling, only after birth by copying their mother.

Looks as if this one is sharing a joke with Mom.

Thank you God for providing me with a perfect place to spend the first precious months of my life, a Holy Sanctuary specially designed by You. Thank you also for taking an interest in me long before I even knew You.

Continuing the Multitude Monday counting of blessings, today I am counting memories.

41. Sharing prayers with my Mom by the fireside when I was having some very difficult times. Hands held, her voice I still hear.

42. Summer trips to Yosemite

43. Setting up camp together so many times

44. The big red tent

45. The Coleman stove

46. The first cup of coffee, carried to meadow's edge

47. Coveting the first warm rays of the sun

48. Hot showers after muscle-aching hikes

49. Food that tasted better than it ever did at home

50. Watching deer quietly and them watching us

51. Laying in the sleeping bag hearing the first bird sounds of the day

52. The sound of tent pegs, squeaking restroom door slams

53. The magical echo off vertical granite walls

54. Changing light of late afternoon, the drawing in of evening

55. Warm fronts, cold backs by the campfire

56. So sad to leave

Count your blessings along with Ann at "Holy Experience"
holy experience

Friday, September 25, 2009

You gotta read this book

"These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." - Deuteronomy 6:6-9

The Bible is not just another good book. It is God breathed, God inspired, and God's love letter to His people. But why then is it so easy to pick up a novel, and sometimes so difficult to find time for devotions? Even for a book addict like me, who can always find time to read, I feel a small battle being waged within me when it comes to sit down with the Word. That fact alone tips me off that there is power behind the Word that the enemy wants to keep me from tapping into.

When we read God's book something very powerful and miraculous happens....We actually breathe in the BREATH OF GOD. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16)

It is our sustanance, Jesus referred to it as food, food that we cannot live without, that means we must ingest it, let it fill us up!

And the tempter came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." 4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4:3-4)

It is our compass, our guide, our light in the darkness for when all other lights go out. Try going somewhere you've never been before without a map or GPS! Every day brings new challenges, new territories and we need God's word to face these situations in the clear light of Scripture.

Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105)

With all the other voices clamoring for attention in our world today, we need to hear the voice of God to counteract them. We need this reminder again and again, because the other competing voices around us are never silent! We forget it if we don't hear it often enough. Even more important that "hearing it" is "doing what it says." That is the challenge!

"For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like." James 1:23

It actually performs a work in us, it works on us from the inside out!

"When you received from us the word of God"s message [literally, "the word of hearing of God"], you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe." 1 Thessalonians 2:13

And also, it is not the word of man, but the Word of God....This is important, so many times I have heard that the Bible is "open to an individual's interpretation" It says what it means and it means what it says. What part of "Thou shalt not," "Flee from," and "Do this," do we not understand?

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation (2 Peter 1:20)

Last but not least, God has the last word, always!

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever (Isaiah 40:8)

A great idea is buying one on CD.I finally did this a few years ago. Commuting 40 minutes twice a day, I go though whole books in no time at all. So many times I have heard a verse and went back to look it up later. I also don't get quite as mad at other drivers!

It also comes with a guarantee; (and you won't find this kind of promise in the self-help section of Barnes and Noble); if you do what it says, you will live forever!

See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—even eternal life. (1 John 2:24,25)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Get a life!

We have all heard these phrases:
"He has no life."
"She deserves a life."
"I have no life"
"Get a life"

The worldly mantra of life seems to be: "Do well in school so you can get the right job, so you can have enough money, so that you will never have to go without, so that you will be fullfilled and take wonderful vacations so you will never be bored; repeat cycle with kids, retire comfortably in Florida or Arizona."

When we are born again into new life in Christ and start reading the Bible, we see that our earlier concept of life rubs up against what Christ teaches.

"For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 16:25

We try to get the two to blend, but they stubbornly refuse. It's not so much that the first concept is wrong....school, money, good jobs, success; those are all good things, but as believers we have to be open to change course when God directs. The Holy Spirit prods us to ask different questions, not what do I want, but what does God want for my life?

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Romans 12:1

Sometimes life interrupts life and does this for us. A parent becomes ill and all other siblings disappear, a grandchild needs raising and you are the only one left standing, a child drops out of school, the list goes on and on. Sometimes God gives us an unexpected call to serve, but if we are clinging so tightly to our first life we miss His voice....Sacrifice is hard, it's not glamorous, you get dirty, sometimes you get no recognition, sometimes you are even ridiculed for your efforts. (Parenting comes to mind here)

You may feel like your life has become as predicable as punching a time-clock. You may feel defeated before the day even begins....But take heart, Jesus had something much bigger than whatever you are facing, and He did it for us! He did it so that we could know that whatever we do in this life has meaning, and an impact for all eternity!

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

And here is the miracle part.....the secret!(unlike the popular book of the same name that swept across the new age landscape awhile back) When we yield what we want and exchange it for what He wants, He brings eternity into the moment. Everything we do becomes a prayer because we can't do it any other way; and somehow we always find the strength we need for each day.

So maybe your life doesn't look like that "perfect" one over there, be assured, He is using your hands to make brushstrokes in His great masterpiece that will last forever.

We have a life, and it's His!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


This song by Jamie Slocum speaks to me so powerfully each time I hear it, here are the lyrics: (to mute my playlist go to bottom right column)

This is the life I’ve always wanted
To know the prince of peace
To feel my faith restored
As your grace surrounds me

This is the day of new beginnings
This is where my freedom starts
And now death has lost its sting
And Jesus how can I thank you?

There is a lightness in my laughter
There is a joy inside my soul
My heart is overwhelmed
And Jesus how can I thank you?

Just to know, just to know that you love me
It gives me hope to carry on
You’re the one thing that I can turn to
Just to know, just to know that you’re with me
On all these roads I traveled on
You’re the one thing that I can turn to
Just to know, just to know that you love me
It gives me hope to carry on
There’s nothing this world can do
I confess my dependence on you
Lord, I confess my dependence on you
Dependence on you

Monday, September 21, 2009

I was seeking that quiet place of peace this morning, but I couldn't find it. The peace that makes you feel like everything will be okay....that assurance in the heart that makes the soul, spirit and mind quiet down. I thought maybe I could find it if I layed down for a bit....I prayed, He heard. The 23rd Psalm came to my mind in the quiet, the one that always calms....

The Lord is my Shepherd,
How many times He has saved me from my own recklessness and stupidity. Kept me safe from wandering over the cliff in the dark, like a lost scared sheep.
I shall not want,
He has given me everything I could possibly want, all wrapped up in Him.
He maketh me to lay down in green pastures,
So many times I have felt scared, lost, alone, hopeless.
Then that peace that passes all understanding seeps into my soul, the dawn bringing hope again.

He leadeth me beside still waters.
Where I can drink my fill
He restoreth my soul.
So I can get up again and face life, even when I would rather get back in bed.
He leadeth me in the path of righteousness for His names sake.
Somehow I get the strength to do His will even when I want to do my own, sometimes His will is just to keep going
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
Yes I have been there.....sick, deciding it would be better not to eat, how do I get back into the land of the living....Mom and Dad's anxious prayers, then a miracle healing....And then a few years later new husband suddenly gone; honeymoon not even over yet, gone to Heaven where I couldn't find him, couldn't talk to him, my life seemingly over.
I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.
You were with me then and now.
Thy rod and they staff they comfort me.
Disciplining me when I get out of line, and guiding me back to the safety of the fold, even going out of your way to look for me when I am out of Your sight.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overfloweth.
You have made me royalty, a daughter of the King!
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
From my first breath to my last, Your presence will never leave me, until I see You face to face in Heaven, where I will live with you for all eternity.

Keeping the gratitude list going....

31. The prayers of friends and family that keep me going.

32. Little niece has liked school this year and comes out smiling and happy.

33. Unwavering love

34. Eyes to read with

35. Having the money to pay bills

36. Iced tea with a bit of cranberry juice on a warm day

37. Homegrown tomatoes

38. September and relief from the heat is in sight, somewhere....(important in Arizona)

39. Good teachers and aides that care.

40. Always God, who knows me inside and out and still wants to be my Father.

Count your blessing with Ann here:
holy experience

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Reflections for a Sunday afternoon.....

Francis of Assisi, born Giovanni Francesco di Pietro di Bernardone (can you imagine the roll call at school?) His family was both worldly and wealthy and young Francis was a product of his environment. Upon his conversion his life changed dramatically. In 1209 he felt a strong desire to "imitate Christ" by living a life of God poverty, chastity, and obedience. He literally took the fancy and expensive clothes off his back and handed them to his father, thereby marking the new life he was about to live. He began a ministry to lepers and those who were ill until his death in 1226.

He had the marvelous talent of seeing all the world--every living thing--as a beautiful gift from God. He called the sun, the moon, and all the creatures of the earth his brothers and sisters.

Taken from "Devotional Classics", selected readings for individuals and groups.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Reflecting on God's goodness

Jewish believers all over the world are celebrating Rosh Hashanah today....as defined by the torah.org website:
Rosh Hashanah is the first and second days of the first Jewish month of Tishrei. It marks the beginning of the Jewish new year. The celebration of this holiday is marked with solemnity, as it is the day on which the whole world is judged for the coming year. Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of the world, as it was on this day that G-d created Man on the 6th day of creation. Every year, on this day, we proclaim G-d as our one and true King.

It is good and right to reflect on these things today and everyday. I needed reflection this morning because ever since I got up I have been battling a bit of anger. It rose up like a flare when I wasn't expecting it, and it was unwelcome. Upon further introspection I realized that it was directed at God. Maybe anger is not the right word. It's not a shaking fist at God kind of anger; more like a "what are you thinking/what's your plan here" kind of anger. Frustration really.

Someone I care about very much is not being taken care of the way I think they should. I guess that's what it comes down to. "Like, hey God, this is someone that is Your kid!" None of these feelings take God by surprise. He welcomes dialogue, and questions, even challenges. Sometimes an answer comes thundering back, like when He answered Job out of the whirlwind:

Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. "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, 10 when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, 11 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, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?

I love the little barb He throws at Job in verse 21: "Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!" Did God's love for Job diminish because he questioned God? Absolutely not. God wasn't surprised by Job's feelings, questions or thoughts any more than He is by mine.

Sometimes He seems to put examples right in our path that validate even further everything we are feeling! "This is a test, this is only a test."

Even as I voice my prayers through tears, puzzlement, and frustration, a miracle occurs; thoughts start to form. Grace infused thoughts.....I remember all those times He has kept me, kept my friend, sustained me, strengthened me, provided for me, raining down His great mercy, love, forgiveness year in, year out. Always in His perfect timing. Grace comes full circle. I still have questions, but I know the One who knows the answers, and that makes all the difference.

Sometimes we need "trust" lessons. Sometimes we need to know He is right there ready to grab the bicycle seat lest we wobble and fall.

Psalm 86:15
But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

They that wait....

I am thinking of the Holy Spirit this way today, like that eagle taking off, waiting on that branch for just the right moment; just when we need Him the most to swoop down and bear us up above the clouds.

I loved that scene in Return of the King.....Frodo and Sam are spent, collapsed on Mt. Doom, exploding fire raining down around them. Knowing they have just accomplished the impossible, but waiting for the inevitable final end when they would be enveloped by flames, not living to see the restoration of Middle Earth. And then.....the eagles. Picked off the mountain by powerful but gentle talons, that will bear them to Rivendell. I also love that Tolkien always portrayed eagles as rescuers.

Like those eagles, the Holy Spirit gently comes and takes me in His powerful but loving talons high above the chaos, letting me rest in the shadow of His wings for awhile. Catching my breath I hear air rushing through wings, feeling my body leave earth, see it rushing below. And nothing but quiet, rhythmic flight.

This morning was one of those rescue moments for me. A night of fitful sleep, plagued by worried, middle of the night thoughts, waking at 3 with full knowledge of the alarm going off at 4....Fully entertaining thoughts of calling in....just to get some sleep. Then I got up, knees hit floor first, elbows resting on unmade bed, plea of help, "just get me up, Lord." He did.....

Interesting Eagle fact: Pound for pound, an eagle's wing is stronger than the wing of an airplane.

"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Painful restoration.....

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."
— C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Endless gratitude

The most precious gift of all....

"When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had said this, he showed unto them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord. Jesus therefore said to them again, Peace be unto you: as the Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit."

And.....Spoken by the prophet Joel:

"In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy."

The same power that transformed the disciples from a quaking, shivering, huddled with fear bunch; listening for footsteps and clenched fists pounding at the door, to an "empowered by God" group that would turn the world upside down, still empowers you and I today as believers, and the church continues to flourish....

Consider these facts from Philip Jenkins:

A few years ago, Bishop Spong wrote Why Christianity Must Change or Die, and his message was that Christianity is becoming discredited in the West, the old supernatural lessons are ceasing to carry any weight, so Christianity must change or die.
I will die, Bishop Spong will die, but, as far as we can tell, Christianity seems to be flourishing remarkably. The Christianity that is flourishing in the global South is a Christianity that looks very strange to Western eyes. It takes prophecy and spiritual healing very seriously. Dreams, visions, trances are all notions that carry a good deal of currency in the countries in which Christianity is succeeding very dramatically. It would be hard to convince a congregation in Seoul or in Nairobi that Christianity is dying, when they are far too busy building a new facility for the 20,000 or 30,000 new people they have added to their congregation in the last decade.

Places considered unreachable several decades ago have now become hot spots for Christian growth, and hundreds of new churches are being planted each month in those places. Take the small country of Nepal, for example; the church there is growing faster than in any other nation. In 1960, the number of Christians totaled only twenty-five. Today, the number has risen to almost 1 million. Despite the abuse and isolation many Nepali Christians have faced in recent years, churches are springing up all over the country. And though Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims, still constitute the majority of the population, Christianity is growing twice as fast as the other faiths.

Philip Jenkins is Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies at Pennsylvania State University. He was born in Wales and educated in England, where he received his Ph.D. from Clare College at Cambridge. He has written over fifteen books and many articles on contemporary religious issues and controversy.

The list of gratitude goes on:

21. The first cup of coffee in the morning

22. People that continue to love even when it seems impossible

23. Friends that know how to fix broken washers (washer gave out this morning and very smart friend pulled part out and also repaired part) Hallelujah!

24. Precious gifts from people that remind me of their presence.

25. The knowledge that ALL good things come from God.

26. Computers that keep us in touch with our loved ones far away.

27. Telephones that do the same thing.

28. Service people that show up on time and do a good job

29. The innocence of children

30. People who go out on a limb to rescue those who can't rescue themselves

holy experience

Friday, September 11, 2009

In Memoriam

For the first time in 8 years, under the current Administration September 11th has been designated a national day of "service."

It's a good thing to volunteer, and we should do so....

For the other 364 days of the year.

Today I remember September 11, 2001 as a memorial to all who lost their lives and continue to be impacted by the horrific events of that day. How life was changed for all of us including those innocent people who were just starting their work day; grabbing that cup of coffee, firing up the computer, dropping kids off before work, talking in office doorways, all the rescue workers who never dreamed how their day would end up.

A day to pray and remember, a day to thank God for carrying us all through that terrible time, and for His continued protection and preservation.

May we never forget.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I know a secret....

Jeremiah 33:3
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

There is something so very intimate about someone whispering in your ear....it is much different than just saying it right out loud. It means, this is for you only. I want you to know that I have your full attention, and that you really hear what I am saying...I had a very dear cousin do this one time in a crowd and I never forgot it. It meant so much to me that he would take the trouble. It meant he cared.

God does too, He wants to whisper in your ear today.

He cares.....For your ears only.

"Finally, I suspect that it is by entering that deep place inside us where our secrets are kept that we come perhaps closer than we do anywhere else to the One who, whether we realize it or not, is of all our secrets the most telling and the most precious we have to tell." Frederick Buechner

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Steadfast and Immovable

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 15:58

This verse popped into my head during prayer time today and I always wonder what God is trying to tell me when that happens. When I think of being steadfast and immovable I think of these majestic redwoods. I heard His gentle Spirit prodding in my mind and then it went down to my heart, which sparked emotion. So many times, I am anything but. But I want to be.....

Paul is telling us in this verse that we are to be like these trees.....rooted into the rich soil of Scripture, knowing that whatever I do for the Lord is not in vain. If I am praying, seeking Him, listening for His voice, being obedient when He speaks, then I don't have to worry if I am in His will or not.

As I dwell on these trees today my mind may be scrambled with worry over things I can't change and things that may never happen, but let me rest in your promises Lord and know they are true.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Multitude Monday (one day late)

holy experience

The list continues, due to labor day and driving back from San Diego no chance to blog on Monday!

11. Happy reunions with old friends.

12. A few days off! Gazing at the ocean once more, hearing and feeling it's magic!

13. Calls from home (glad you're home safe, and we are all okay)

14. Sometimes I forget God, but He never forgets me :-)

15. Being able to clean house.....dust bunnies beware!

16. There is always another good book to start.

17. Thankful for every little thing, my Mom taught me that!

18. Pets that curl up beside you!

19. Hugs from little arms

20. Good food, had alot of that in San Diego.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Soft answers....and best friends.

Last night I met "my snippy self" again. She comes out every now and then. I was minding my own business getting my hair done when she made her appearance. My best friend was in the next chair waiting for her turn. We were having a "hair party" both getting beautified and I was so glad to be getting a trim. Everything was going along just fine until my friend kindly and helpfully said, "Are you sure that length is right?" You see, I had been complaining about it earlier, how I just couldn't do anything with it and I couldn't see my earrings because my hair was hiding it....blah, blah, blah. In an instant, out of my mouth came a very snippy retort. I don't know where it came from, I wasn't irritated, I was in a good mood, but there it was. Old snippy me right out there. I said rather tersely, "we talked about this earlier, she knows what she's doing."

A gentle (soft) answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

In my mind and to my ears, it didn't sound bad at all, but to her ears it sounded very harsh and unkind. I believe her because I know my friend. How could something sound so different in my own head, so much so that I was surprised by it when she brought it up later. She was wounded by it. She was reaching out in helpfulness, and was rebuffed.

Words said the wrong way can be just as painful as an insult, and I missed an opportunity to respond with kindness, and a soft answer....

What I didn't know was that earlier that day she had been wounded by someone else she had been trying to help. It was uncalled for and she didn't deserve that one either....My best friend is one of most kind, helpful people I know. She is one of those who never fails to get aside her own needs to give time and attention to someone else.

She really didn't deserve that.

My mind wandered back many years to when we first met. She had just moved to my hometown and started working in my company. We were both wounded souls back then. She had cut herself off from some negative people and places, to start a hopeful new life. Escaping the dark looking for the light. She just had been through a terrible accident and was still recovering from months of painful therapy. I had just lost my husband, had my whole world turned upside down. We were sitting side by side much like at the hair place. She innocently asked what I was thinking. I replied, "If it pertains to you, I will let you know." Wow, what a (fill in the blank)! I don't really know why she ever talked to me again. But she did.

We have laughed about that so many times since.....

She didn't know God back then, although she had heard of Him. I knew Him but really wasn't living for Him...so many conversations about God we had, so many prayers, tears and laughter shared.

That was about 21 years ago.....in many ways we are not the same people we were then. God has brought us both through so much in our separate journeys, but thankfully we have been able to walk the path together. So many things we have shared over the years....joys and sorrows. Her baptism to new life and running over a carpet on the way home, dragging it down the freeway. Jesus did have the wheel that night! (Nobody was hurt and we got off the freeway safely, one smouldering carpet later.) We have stood in the shadow the shadow of death.... planning a funeral for a stillborn niece (hers.) Seeing my sister-in-law valiantly fight a cancer who had the last say on this earth but not the next. She is with God waiting for the rest of us, as are so many others. Many other exits from this world to the next. Many prayers said together for our families.....so many needs. And now with parents getting older, we share grief over what the future holds for them and us....her Mom suffering mid-stage Alzheimer's. Nobody prepares you for that.

But still we have kept our best-friendship intact...snippiness and all.

I look back over the years and reflect on all that God has brought us through, and I marvel. Sometimes snippiness happens, and sometimes the best intentions go sour. But this has given me pause to thank God for such a wonderful friend and what a blessing she is to everyone, and me. Thank you Elaine for 21 years of "best friendship!"

Call your best friend today and tell her (or him) how much they mean to you.....

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (And it is not snippy) 1 Cor. 13:1-7

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Enough will never be enough.....

Wish I had written this....

We thirst for something far greater than this world can satisfy. So we are always disappointed. Always. But disappointment is itself a gift. Disappointment drives our search for life. We go from one false promise to another, gobbling up things and people in great gulps only to find them go tasteless too soon. And that is the secret of contentment.

It’s when we discover that enough will never be enough that we can finally stop kicking and scratching our way through life, put it all down, and let God be the point of the compass for us. Then we are ready to link arms with the rest of the human race as partners in the great enterprise of life. Then we realize not only the insufficiency of the other on whom we have put the burden of our emotional satisfaction, but of ourselves as well. Because neither we nor they are God, we can finally be gentle with one another.

From Called to Question: A Spiritual Memoir by Joan Chittister (Sheed & Ward, 2004).

“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” Augustine

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What is on your altar?

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:1,2

What does it mean to present our bodies as "living sacrifices" to God? We discussed this yesterday in Bible Study and we all decided that sacrificing can be very painful. Especially when God asks you to part with something very near and dear to your heart. Putting ourselves on the altar is tough; our flesh cries out in rebellion. Just try fasting for a day and you will see what I mean.

In all of our lives, there are areas that God is wanting us to deal with. When you start trying to live for God certain things cry out for immediate attention. You see what God expects and you think it is impossible, but "with God all things are possible to him that believe." (Mark 9:23) As we walk further down the path of obedience we realize that God brings different things to our attention at different times in our lives. Lovingly, patiently, He heals us, questions us, turns us toward the mirror of His word of truth, but never leaves us without resources. And the process is sometimes very painful, like hacking off a limb, but:

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." 1 Cor. 10:13 and we have an advocate in God Himself: "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin." Hebrews 4:15

So there is hope for every possible temptation of the flesh we are confronted with! God is not surprised by any of them, and He is big enough to handle them all.

Sometimes we feel like the thing that God is asking us to place on the altar is just too much of a sacrifice, but look at what Abraham had to do.....

(Gen 22) Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied. {2} Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about." WOW! What was his reaction?

He didn't argue....he didn't ask why...he just saddled up the donkey, grabbed the wood, Isaac and went! Growing up I was taught that Isaac was a child, but further study into this made me realize that Isaac could have been a grown man! This means that Isaac had a part in this obeying too! He could have headed for the next caravan out of town, but he didn't. Abraham had SO much faith in His God that He knew that God could raise Isaac from the dead. Nevertheless, I can't imagine that it was a happy trek up the mountain for 3 days!

In that one act of obedience, Abraham took his belief in God so seriously that he didn't hesitate to act. The story has a happy ending...Abraham and Isaac both walked down the mountain.

"And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. James 2:23

Maybe it seems like crawling up on that altar is the most painful thing you could ever do, but thankfully He has already been there, He knows the way, and He can get us to the other side!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Whispering change in the air, September carries with it
a promise, a transformation....All of nature in preparation,
the Holy collection of earth's yield before the silence...

Fall comes, the earth winds down....
Groaning inwardly, steeling herself for silence, season of
When she rests from her labor.
The time for resting is near, but not yet.

First she will offer up everything she has to give, and then;
One last riot of color before complete surrender to the naked
cold of winter white.

She waits for hope of spring while you and I sip tea by the fire.

And as the earth renews so must we:
"I urge you therefore, brethren by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:1,2