Saturday, September 29, 2012

Gimme that old time religion

The last couple of weeks I have been picking a "blind pick" from my CD rack before I leave for my Saturday morning commute. I had to make Saturday somehow different, since it seems the whole world is off but me. (I know that's not true) I picked one out but then I cheated and looked at it before I got in the car. I broke my own rule.

There was nothing wrong with my pick, it was good music, but this particular morning I needed more Jesus. I needed extra power. I needed a Holy Spirit infusion.

Raise the roof, clap your hands, sing at the top of your lungs praise is what I needed.

When I need that I go one of two places, Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir or the Gaithers. Well, make that three. I have to throw Sandy Patty in that line-up. This morning I chose the Gaithers. For all you "young un's" out there, if you have never heard one of their Homecoming broadcasts, you have to give a listen. You will be lifted off your feet, and I promise you will have to lift at least one hand toward Heaven.

The first song on the CD was "We Shall Rise." To my knowledge it was the only song I ever heard our Pastor at Temple Baptist Church request twice. We sang it one morning and I think it almost blew the top off the church. Instead of starting the announcements, Pastor Ken turned around and I can still see his shiny black suit and "brylcreemed hair" when he said, "I think we need to hear that one again."

I started to sing this song on the way to work but I found I couldn't squeak out a note. My throat closed up, and a fountain of tears threatened. As I listened to these grand old hymns of the faith, the remembering brought tears along with it.

I heard my other classmates sing, "Nothing but the Blood," in that upstairs room where we held Children's Church. I heard my Grandmother and her sisters voices. And I remembered when we would all get together as a family and sing hymns. I thought of how many aren't there anymore, but with Jesus now singing with the angels.

I heard the swish of choir robes as we all filed out of the choir room. I remembered Easter's and Christmases, and simpler times.

And Sunday lunch at Helwig's and Chicken on a bun.

With one hand on the wheel and one hand toward the sky.......I could almost see those Pearly Gates swing wide open. I can't remember when I had such an effortless commute. And as much as I love Christian contemporary, there is nothing wiggles quite like Southern Gospel.

And that's saying a lot for this California grown yankee gal.

Friday, September 28, 2012

When you feel de-valued

She heard the questions she has heard so many times before falling around her, and her own hollow answers bounce back against the walls.....the ones they wanted to hear. As she walked out, the real answers thundered around inside her head. Just once she wanted to give the real answers, not the ones pertaining to the company.

What grade are you?

What am I meat? If I were tuna I would be dolphin safe 100 percent albacore fillet baby!  USDA grade triple A. I am all but signed sealed delivered to Heaven, the fact that I am not there yet, means I am still breathing. God proved it with His mark of the Holy Spirit. I am a little lower than the angels, that's how the Bible describes me......that's what grade I am. Take that.

Do you have any aspirations of higher learning?

What kind of question is that? Of course I do. I hope and pray that I am learning a little bit more each day I am on this earth as God in His great mercy grants me the time. I would spend everyday in a classroom if I could, but I really do need to pay bills. I believe in improving myself and my mind because God gave it to me to use, not to waste. I would go to writing classes, music history classes, and religion classes everyday if I could and be a professional student.....I have motivation and I look forward to getting up in the morning , I am not a slothful unmotivated person when it comes to learning, despite what my resume says.

The truth is, there is something not right about this 'ol world system and we all know it. It is broken. Many times the workplace pits us one against another, and there must be a system of measurement used to set us apart. Too many times, this system makes us feel de-valued as people.

As as result, we walk out of meetings feeling two feet tall. But here is the truth.......God numbers every hair on our head.

"Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Luke 12:7

And even though we are living in a dark world, we are heading into a world of light, where God is king........"for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light" Ephesians 5:8
This ol world is groaning under the weight of sin and the curse and that snake still slithers in the grass though he knows his time is short.

We are all a spark of divine fixed with an eternal destiny....all of us a combo plate of heaven and hell.  

As I stood at the counter this morning, it felt good to say "No meat" for my breakfast sandwich. Though I know that meat is permitted and God has called it all good, I also know that in the beginning, animals were meant for companionship and not food.  

Way back when, when God presented them to Adam and he named each one. I like to think he put his hands on each of their heads when He did it.

 "And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name." Genesis 2:18,19

And God called it all good. And it still is.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Letting our light shine

No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. Matthew 5:15

I need to give a shout out today to my best friend....yes, I am "using you" again, Elaine.

She has been on the job for only a few weeks, but she is shining her light in the workplace already. This is why I love her. She doesn't wait for an opportunity, she just naturally shines. She already found out who the "Jesus Saves" truck belongs to in the parking lot at the school. Then she found out who "Jesus Saves" vehicle number 2 belongs to, (his wife). And she was so glad, because she really likes him.

The kids talk to her, like little doors they swing right open for her. They pour out everything, and sometimes too much. And so do her co-workers. She has already found out their stories. She finds out because she talks to them, much like Jesus did, I imagine. And she doesn't ask just to be asking, she asks because she cares, and that shows.

The other day one co-worker hit another's car in the parking lot and just left. Elaine knew how upset she was, so she stayed after work and buffed it out for her. When the co-worker came out to her car expecting to see the ugly scrape, she was astonished to find that she couldn't even see where it had been hit. That's my friend. That's how she rolls. She just says, "I just do what I would like someone to do for me."

That's what Jesus was talking about when he said we were supposed to shine our light so that everyone in the world could see....

And I have watched her do this at every job she has ever had. Every company she has worked for. She gets to know the person who empties the garbage by name and never fails to greet them. Because she knows that person emptying the garbage is worth just as much to God as the big boss.

The other day when her training was complete, she went to Bosa donuts and bought 3 dozen for everyone she works with. They were astonished. "For us?" They said. Not only that, she didn't buy cheap donuts, she went to buy the best because she wanted them to know she valued them and how they helped her along at a new job.

Just like Jesus made the "best wine" at that wedding.

She doesn't brag about herself, so I will. ........Lucky for her, she has a friend who blogs.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."  Philippians 4:12

This morning in prayer, all I heard were the cars zooming behind the house. I ached for quiet. The kind of quiet you find in the country, or sitting at the base of a massive redwood with only the wind sighing above. Everything in my brain is noisy lately.

It is cooling off some, and for that I am very grateful. Here in the desert, it's hard to remember what season you're in. I forget what month it is. It feels more like Spring than Fall. The garland I strung, along with the fall wreath of yellow and orange and brown remind me that it's near. That other places have crisp mornings with the promise of frost, crunching leaves underfoot.

I couldn't hear the birds over the cars either.

I longed for the company of a quail or mourning dove. But then I sensed God saying......"Do you come out here to seek me or hear the birds?" I thought, "Well, to sit in Your presence of course, but the birds are a nice touch." Maybe He allows distractions, and maybe He even sent the birds away for the morning.

And maybe I needed to be reminded that life, and prayer, are sometimes as dry as toast.

And it's perfectly okay.

Because wherever He is, there is beauty and truth, and everything we need.

He is all I need, more than enough like the song says. Somehow, by His grace through the years I have learned this secret. To open my eyes to the extrordinary in the ordinary and lift out the miracle that resides within. All around us are people who need a miracle, and we can give it to them.

Because He has called us "friends.

Monday, September 24, 2012

When Church Happens

He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:14

I went to church but I didn't go all the way in. To be honest, I just didn't feel like hearing another sermon. I have heard it all before. I have sat and filled in the blanks dutifully, like one more task I have to check off. Done. On to the next thing.

I miss the interaction. I miss how at my old church they would ask if anyone had a burden, a need. And then others standing by would surround them, touch them, hands like gentle doves lighting on shoulders, backs........ and the Pastor would pray. Sometimes they would cry and we would want to cry too. There is something powerful about the laying on of hands.....passing the Spirit from one to another.

It unifies us all.

Somehow I can't escape the feeling that we are leaving with our burdens intact. There might be a burning need right next to me, and I would never know it. An inner cry for help like a dial tone unanswered.

We leave as the islands we are. Untouched. Still carrying the heavy load.

I wonder and not for the first time if the Spirit is not quenched with all our organization. Just one Sunday I wish the Pastor would stop and say, "Now everyone turn to your neighbor, not the one you came with, the one you don't know, and pray for each other for 15 minutes."

And I miss the altar call. Some say it's just not needed anymore. It makes people feel embarrassed, singled out. But I disagree. I feel like it's what draws us all in, and holds us together. Makes us remember when we were the one propelled out of our seat, and how that aisle looked impossibly long.

And when it was just you and the Lord, and no one else. And somehow, you know that this one thing, this one moment will change the course of your eternal destiny. What in the world matters more than that? I believe churches are robbing their congregations when they take this Holy moment away.

Don't get me wrong. I believe in the church more than ever. When I miss it, something is wrong. But I also think that church happens more often than not after we leave the building.

As we sat yesterday with old friends, listening to all they have been through since we had last seen them I felt church happen with the exchange of tears. When she said she was finally getting help in dealing with the death of their little boy. That little boy who was their whole world and in some ways still is.

I can see how that little boy is so alive to them still. And how if he knew what a shadow his death made on their marriage, how sad he would be. I wish I would have told her that if he knew his Mommy was finally getting help, that he would smile from Heaven.

We talked of how it will never go away, he will never go away. But you learn to make some kind of peace with it. And go on for others who still need you.

Church happens when love happens, and not just on Sunday. But over coffee, in between classes, in parking lots, in school buses, everywhere God is.

It happens when we remember the Cross and what was done on it, for us. And that every single thing we bear in this life, He already dealt with.

It was nailed to the cross when He was.

In light of that, we stand at the edge of eternity every day. And with each day, no matter what we have to handle, our gratitude can't help but grow.

We just can't stop counting the gifts. Join me today? And Ann at Holy Experience here.

Friday, September 21, 2012

On autism, and painting the garage with mustard

Her voice drifts across the many miles via the telephone and I don’t have to wonder what kind of day she has had. “It’s one of those days,” she says, “where she does whatever she can think to do.” She sighs wearily, then laughs. “You won’t believe the very last thing she did.”
Hey, I am over at Bibledude today, I would be honored if you would join me there for the rest of this story........
Once again, thank you Duane for the opportunity to share my words, and part of my story.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Car Dreams

Everyone who knows me well, knows about my funky car dreams. I have had them for years. Sometimes I am driving in a very small car with no bottom and I can see the road speeding along under my feet. One night I actually lost a shoe and had to go back for it. In that same dream I was able to pick the car up and turn it around and go get my shoe. What is great about the small car dreams is that you can park them anywhere.

Other times I am driving in half-light. It is almost light enough to see but not quite. It's like I am driving without my glasses on in the dark.

Many times I am riding in a speeding car in the back seat and I realize no one is at the wheel steering or controlling the car. I hastily try to get behind the wheel, but I can never seem to get there. Sometimes I see a stop sign or an intersection where the light is red and I am powerless to stop the car. I usually wake up before I hit anything.

Other times I am going somewhere with no clue as to how to get there and yet I keep going anyway. Many times I am driving over a very high overpass with water on all sides. The view is breathtaking and it's almost as if I am flying but there is an acute sense of fear as well. (Oh, I have flying dreams too but that's another topic)

One thing I notice in all these dreams is that the car seems to be driving itself and turning itself but I realize that I have to get control before disaster strikes. I always wake up before it does.

Last night was something new. I dreamed I was driving backwards. I was driving my Dad's old van and going from Lodi to Stockton (around a 15 minute drive) I was driving around 55 mph, all the time looking behind me and in the rear view mirror.

I woke up exhausted.

Dr. Freud would have a field day with me. But I actually think its pretty simple. God is telling me that it's safe to let go of the wheel as long as He is in control.

I will save the "teeth falling out" dreams for another time.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A day in the life

Staying one step ahead. That is what you consistently have to do. And if you forget, it throws the whole day off. That kind of living alters your life. It's very much like having a toddler in the house, you must think of things they may get into before they do. Secure the area at all times.

You leave the washer open in the morning and ready for her soiled PJ's to go into. And you never  leave washed clothes in the washer, soiled clothes will go on top of them. Many loads had to be repeated because of that.

Check room for dirty clothes she puts back in closet.

Secure unopened mail. Put it somewhere she won't find it.

Leave phone turned down, always.

Don't leave suitcases out unless you are ready to answer 100 questions about where you are going and when.

Signs on doors, on many rules.

Yesterday the pacing was bad. Every time I settled down to write she would come back in the door. Or go out again. The silent close of the screen door......50 times a day. And every time, the air conditioner would click on trying to keep up with the raised temp in the house.

There used to be a zoo in my hometown that I liked going to, but I always felt sad for the coyote. He paced all day in his little cell. As a kid I wanted to set him free and live the life he was meant to live, running through fields chasing rabbits. I have never really liked zoos since.

I know Joyce must feel a bit like that coyote, and I can't imagine what it's like inside her mind. So I really try to be patient. We take her to Walmart and buy her an ice-cream and let her sit on the benches and watch people. She likes that and so far has only wandered off a few times. Security had to be called.

But yesterday I was in a hurry and just wanted to get there and back.

By the end of the day I felt like the coyote as well, so I went to the store again........I found myself whistling in the aisles.....I felt that sense of freedom that happens when you are suddenly sprung. I understand now how women with small children feel, just wanting to go.......anywhere away.

Elaine dreams of Alaska with an unlisted number.

This is our life right now. And Jesus is here with us. So it is going to be okay. Because.....

"Never will I leave you or forsake you......."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Asking the big questions

Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:17

I slept late because I took a Walmart sleep aid. I missed prayer this morning......and running. That threw me all off.

Then I was messing around with the template and header on my blog yesterday and messed it up. So now it is beautifully off centered.....and the lettering is also not centered. Bless Dusty Rayburn for sending me the code. I know what he sent was right because he is a very smart guy, and a techie. But I put the code in and nothing changed.

And I decided that was okay because my life is very much like my crooked blog header right now. A beautiful picture  but gloriously off center. Not perfect. So I decided to leave it like that as a reminder.

"How did you love today?"

At the close of each day it's what I ask myself. It seems more often than not there is a big fat red "F" on the report card in my heart. Mentally I check off everything I did wrong. I see fail after fail. Glaring at me from inside their smug little boxes.

We need to ask ourselves the hard questions as Christians. That was what came out of the church service on Sunday morning and ever since, I have wondered. Have I fit Jesus into a comfortable niche in my life?  Am I a "friend" or "follower" like on Facebook or Twitter, or am I a Disciple?

Disciple has definite connotations.

I felt the weight of it all as I stepped out the door to finally go running. I needed it to clear my head, and heart. And as I ran, something happened. I felt it lift. As I heard the words to East and West, I felt the warm oil of His grace from the top of my head all the way down to my toes.

It was like the oil I was anointed with once for sickness. And now I was feeling the healing of His Grace all over again.

Grace that is always greater than all my sin.

And where grace enters in, He always brings His love with it.

Oh God, this is it. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, for the assurance I am still and always Your child.

Only in Jesus can I be that picture of perfection. God sees my heart. The truth is, there is a lot I will get wrong today too, but there are some things I will get right.

I will get up and try again tomorrow with Jesus. And I thought another thing too this morning. That like Alzheimer's? Once we confess to God, he not only forgives, He forgets all about it.

He has given me a living, breathing example of that right in my own home.

I guess you could say that God has a form of Alzheimer's too when it comes to our sin.

As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I see the moon and the moon sees me

I see the moon
the moon sees me
the moon sees somebody I want to see
God bless the moon
and God bless me
and God bless the somebody I want to see.

American Lullaby

Jaycee Dugard described recently in her interview with Diane Sawyer that the night before she was rescued there was a full moon. ‘For some reason I looked up and the moon was bright and beautiful,’ Jaycee recalled.

One hundred and twenty miles away her mother was also looking at the moon, which had become a symbol of hope for the two women without them even knowing it.

‘I had gone to my second job and got home about 8.30/9pm,’ Terry said. ‘I looked up at the moon. I remember saying: “OK Jayce where are you, where the hell are you?”

The next day, Jaycee Dugard would be rescued from the hell that had been her life for 18 years. In that same interview she talked about looking out at the moon and clinging to the memory of when she and her Mom would gaze at the moon together and talk about which was better, the full moon or the crescent moon.

My Mom says she always thinks of me when it's a crescent moon because I once told her I loved a sliver moon. Actually, I love the moon anytime. Soon after my niece was born, my brother made it part of their routine to go outside each night they were together and find the moon. It is something they still do, just the two of them. I think it is a wonderful gift he has given her.

As I left for work yesterday morning, the moon looked very much like the picture I posted today. I thought about Jaycee then, and how strong she had to be to hold out any hope at all after what she had been through. I thought of how the moon has been hope for me, just the existence of it assures me that all is still well. God is still in control.

Every time I gaze at the moon, I see the bigger picture. More than once, it has taken my breath away.

Because when I am staring at the moon?  It is His light, His face I see.

And if not for His light we wouldn't be able to see that moon or the stars or each other for that matter. And if not for the light of Salvation and His grace, we would all be held captive.

With no hope of rescue, and only the moon to save us.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Love, Dad

-----Original Message-----

From: Lyleret8
To: Lheyd59
Sent: Sat, Sep 1, 2012 8:41 pm
Subject: book

Hi Lori, We worked on the fence today as I told you. The real hard part is done. Ron forgets I am 84. We did bending over all day, I can not do that....I came home and took a shower and relaxed in bed for awhile. I went out on the back deck in the cool breeze and took Merton;s book and you Prayer Closet book to read. I ended up reading your book for an hour and a half. You know I read good books but I was mesmerized by your writing, you write like Thoreau or Kathleen Norris. about nature and life. I can't tell you how absolutely blown away by your talent. I Love you, Dad.

This email was sent to me by my Dad. And surely he could not have been talking about me, but about someone else.......I teared up when I got it, because I realized again how incredibly blessed I am to be surrounded by people who have sent me things like that my entire life. Not because I am so great, but because they are.....I don't mind telling you, it made my night.

There is no price we can ever put on the value of good words. And because it was done for me, now I make a habit of doing it too. I never leave my Mom and Dad's without leaving something under their pillow to find after I leave. And I leave notes around the house where I know Elaine will find them too. She had many words thrown at her growing up, but many were not good. Most were negative.

Edifying words have the power to convince someone they can really do anything they set their mind to do. But negative words have the power to demoralize and destroy. Sometimes those words make someone set out to try even harder to succeed, but all too often they leave a wake of destruction.

Some people spend all their lives recovering from the sting those words leave behind.

God loves it when we give out good words.......He knows their incredible ability to heal, to mend, to uplift.

And that person who has been on your mind? It's time to write them a note or email . It may come just in time.

And then leave one for God too, even though He already knows what you are going to say.......

And if you have ever thought about setting your blog to print, I would encourage you to do so. It makes a wonderful gift for someone you love. Sure, they can get on the computer and read it, but there is something about being able to hold your words in their hands. Like having a bit of you with them.

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A doll story, but not just for women

For those women who still have dolls, and the men who love them........ Not the dolls, the women.

I was late to like dolls. When I was around 4 or 5 I wanted to be like my brother.....I had a name picked out and everything. I wouldn't wear anything but cowboy boots, jeans and flannel shirts and insisted on wearing boys tennis shoes. Black high tops to be exact. It is to their credit that my parents actually bought me a pair and let me wear them.

Every now and then we fish them out of the cedar chest and laugh......

My parents figured it was a phase, and they were right. They held their breath and played it cool. They didn't freak out and drag me to the child psychologist and I really respect them for that. 

Anyway, I wanted a horse, I prayed for a horse. I had a plastic collection of no less than 10. Some had broken legs and we had to scotch tape them back on. My Dad got creative with spray painting some of them if that particular month I just had to have one like little Joe's black and white pinto on Bonanza. We lined them all up and played for hours, the neighbor girl and I.

When I was around 6 or 7 I decided I liked to wear dresses and cute clothes. Though I held onto my passion for horses, one Christmas I got a little rag doll who played a lullaby. I promptly fell in love with her.......she had a blue dress and yellow yarn hair. She was my "special" present that year.

I had a succession of dolls after that, and I loved them all. We had an emotional connection my dolls and I.

I had barbie dolls, wanna be barbie dolls, troll dolls, little kittle dolls and paper dolls. Some of my cousins had collector Shirley Temple dolls. My cousin June had a big floppy life-size doll her brothers used to roll down the stairs. They loved how life-like she looked as she fell to her death. They also attached explosives to her. They were sick.

My friend had an African American doll when she was growing up in Texas. She loved that doll and her Dad threw it out because it was the wrong color. I don't think she ever forgave him for it. All these years later, she has looked for one like it in antique shops, even EBay. She's never found one.

One day I went into my favorite gift shop with my Mom, and there on the bottom shelf was the most adorable doll I had ever seen. I had to have her. She had long brown hair that looked real. She is pictured on the right. I named her Suzanne, after a Judy Collins song I loved.

The other doll belonged to my Sister in law who has been in Heaven now since 1998. My Mom had her for awhile, but ran out of room to display her. She was gathering dust in the same trunk my old shoes were in, so I bundled her up and brought her home.

The strange thing about that doll? Shortly before I got married my maid of honor got sick with the chicken pox and couldn't do the ceremony so my Sister in law graciously stepped in and fulfilled her wedding duties, perfectly I might add.......including wearing the beautiful peach colored dress I had picked out for my friend. The very same color this doll wears today.

She's almost as beautiful as my Sister in law was. It is safe to say that I am emotionally attached to both of these dolls. It's what they represent that I hold close, all those good times, safe times. For a few moments I am a little girl again, lost in the wonder and magic of long ago. When dolls were more than just dolls.

I remember every one of them like old familiar friends.

And when I watch my little niece with hers now, I smile and my heart glows warm.

I remember when all over again.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The most important thing I may never tell you

To everyone I care about and even those I don't know or love:

I want you to go. To Heaven that is. And no matter what you may have been taught or believe. It exists........and believe me, you will very much want to go there. You will not come back here again as something else, this is your one chance.

Behind every moment eternity rests. Eternity awaits.......

I am telling you this because I care. And as I was praying this morning, and thanking God for the assurance that I am going there, as will most of the people I love, I thought of you. And I knew that right now if something happened, you wouldn't.

And more than anything else? I want you to understand that it is not for anything I have done that I go to that wonderful place, that place of unapproachable light, but only for what Jesus did.

For me.....For you.

And that other place? You really don't want to go there. No comfort from friends waits for you there. There is only the absence of everything good, everything you ever loved. And forever is a very long time to gamble on. I hate writing this......hate to think that people are dying right now and will miss out on something eternally good, because no one told them.

Because they ignored the voice that spoke in the quiet.

Day after day.

Because they never got a letter like this.

Please know, that it doesn't have to be. You have an incredible opportunity to be with the God who created you for all eternity. He wants you with Him.......

And no, we won't be floating around on clouds playing harps. It will be as real a place as you can possible imagine. In fact, the Bible says we don't even have the capacity to know just how good it will be, only that it will exceed our wildest imaginations.

That light that you see every morning and every evening? Those planets? Those were set there just so. As reminders of where we come from and where we are going back to someday.

And it may be very soon. The tragedy is that you will never see this letter. It will most likely remain right here, because you see, I don't want to offend you. The truth is, I would rather see you go to hell than offend you, because I really like you......

I just don't love you enough.
Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
in the heavens.

Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Psalm 8, proof that He loves you.
Still counting the gifts, every day, every Monday too......

Saturday, September 8, 2012

I called my Mom because I wanted to speak with this special girl, but she said they had just left for the pool.

I had been thinking about hearing her voice all day....And I thought of her swimming and how she loves it, and I could just see them in my mind at the pool. And my eyes swam tears......."She's ten, she's ten, she's ten," was the refrain that wouldn't let go. How did she get to be ten?

She is not actually, but she will be in a couple of months. This must be how parents feel. How do they do it? Their hearts must ache with an overflow of love continually. Well, good parents anyway. How do they let go? Maybe it is a really good thing I never had kids. I would have been one of those obsessive parents who follow their kids to school and on the bus. And I can imagine me, standing in the driveway crying buckets.......waving a hankie when they pull out of the driveway and leave for college.

I have a hard time leaving my cats with strangers.

But there she is. And all at once we turned around and she was so tall. Wearing size 10 dresses and impossibly big shoes. When did it happen, and how many moments did I miss in all these years? Silly me, thinking she was still 6 or 7, I tried to pick her up when her feet were burning on the hot cement and almost dropped her. She laughed. Bless her, she has my sick sense of humor.

Is this how God feels about us? After all, every life is sacred, every life is eternal. I know He grieves and misses us when we are away. I know that at the end of a life spent without Him, He aches for what could have been. I know it.

Watch out for her God. I know she has Mommy and Daddy and Grandma and Grandpa, but sometimes they might miss something.

But you never do. Thank you.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Telling the story

The most authentic story is the one we are living out right now.

I felt like a kid on the playground who got picked for a game. You remember that feeling, the lineup, the choosing sides? If you are like me, you hated it. I was always short and not very competitive so I never got picked first. Michelle Fromm always got picked first, and you always wanted to be the one she picked first. I was always somewhere in the middle, and that was fine with me, as long as I wasn't dead last.  

Today, over at Duane Scott is launching something very special.

I was invited to take part in this wonderful opportunity to share some of my stories, and though I'm still not sure why, it is a great honor. I think maybe God had something to do with it. The reason this means so much is because I believe in it so strongly. We all have a story and no one story is more important than any other, especially to God.

God has written our story on His heart, and more than anything, He wants us to share His story with each other, and with the world. After all, His story is the one that matters most. Like the old hymn says:

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.
Tell how the angels in chorus,
Sang as they welcomed His birth,
“Glory to God in the highest!
Peace and good tidings to earth.” 

Well, that is part of it anyway. This song, written by Frances J. Crosby, tells the redemption story. The most important story that will ever be told. And, your story, our stories, matter.

So pull up a chair, sit down beside us on the bench and we will share a story together. Who knows what we may learn from each other.....

Many thanks Duane, again!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Living the beautitudes

I knelt by my bed, seeking the familiar, looking for home.

Lately, easy things have been difficult and I slog through the day, feeling like I am beating a path through a thick jungle with a machete.

I cherish my days away from work, I count them off, savor every hour. Four, three, two, and now I have just tomorrow. Herding cats would be easier than trying to capture my thoughts right now.  I ache for the simple. I ache for things to slow down.

I hunger for nature even more than food. I need to hear the trees speak, hear my own heartbeat and feel it slow to the rhythm of the bigger picture. But trips are like a far off dream, and the motor home sits silent and empty on the storage lot.

Care giving takes its toll, and the rubber is meeting the road again. And I know it is no accident that other circumstances have come into play, all of them conspiring to create the "perfect storm." My job is stressing me out big time, and I am in the beginning stages of that time in a woman's life known as "The Change" BIG LETTERS.

It goes by many names, and no one wants to talk about it so I won't either. Suffice it to say, it feels like a black shade has been pulled down on my life.

And yet, even with all this going against me, I know this season of my life is an opportunity. A divine appointment. A chance to demonstrate love without getting anything in return. A chance to put my faith into action.

Care giving is extremely humbling simply because of the times you fail. Day after day we are tested. Day after day there are opportunities to succeed or fail at loving.

Just the other morning the clouds parted and God allowed me to feel a tremendous sense of peace, even joy about what we have been doing for the last year and a half......I was pumped up, I was ready to deliver a sermon on the Beatitudes to anyone who would listen.

And 10 minutes later her Mom got up and irritated me to the point that I retorted back to the sarcastic thing she said. Most of what she says is sarcastic but I know that. I should have been ready. And of course her timing is always impeccable.

How can a woman who can't remember anything you said 3 minutes ago, remember you hitting a pole with the car and doesn't hesitate reminding anyone who will listen? I guess when you have practiced negativity and denial your whole life, it comes easy, that's how.

I really don't know how Elaine does it, and yet I do.

We laughed when she got up and I told her how fired up I was, how I wanted to preach a sermon and then Joyce immediately showed me how far I still was from the Kingdom of God.

I am happy to say that through all this, we have kept our gratitude. Our peace. And in spite of it all, there are a hundred little moments a day where I will absurd moments of joy.

At the library......out by the garden.....sharing a laugh......kneading bread dough.....watching the cats antics.

And getting into the Word can always take me home when I don't feel I can take another moment.

I can honestly answer the question that Paul Chan throws out in his book, "Crazy Love." What are you doing right now that requires faith?

Everything, simply everything.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful,  just as your Father is merciful.  Luke 6:32-36