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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

After You

It's socially polite, it seems. 

When the buffet of food is spread out and "Come and get it, food's ready!" is announced, we often hesitate.

To jump in first to grab a plate and dig in would seem selfish.  It's not that we don't want to partake, we've just been trained to be considerate.  So, we wait.  We look around at each other.  We hold ourselves back.  We move when we see others move.

****

Good Things have been spread out for us.  Love.  Healing.  Freedom to come closer.  A gourmet of delights that is all for our enjoyment.  Spread out by a Host that calls us all to the Table to partake.

But, some of us hesitate.  We look around.  We want to move when others move.  We hold ourselves back.  We won't allow ourselves to let go and dig in.

We might have forgotten or maybe we just don't fully understand that this is a Table that we can come running to.  We don't have to be shy.  We don't have to wait.  And, we certainly don't have to be ashamed.  And, even if no one else moves, we can still come running. 

Who knows, it very well could be that our moving toward the Table, will help others move toward it too.

Monday, December 12, 2011

First YES-EL

One of the most beautiful things about the first Christmas is the willing parties involved.

Mary didn't HAVE to carry Jesus in her womb.  She was never forced.  She was given the honor to do it, the opportunity to participate in it, but never the obligation.  Not an ounce of pressure.  She willingly said 'yes'.  In fact, her words to the angel were, "I am the Lord's servant.  May it be to me as you have said."

And, Jesus Himself came willingly.  He tells us later that no one takes His life from Him, but He willingly lays it down.  His Father did not pressure Him.  Man did not pressure him.  Mary, his mother, did not pressure Him.  He said YES.  Yes to us.  Yes to being born.  Yes to dying.

And, so it is in the Kingdom. 

We are not pressured to follow.  We do not act out of obligation.  It is a not a religious duty. 

We are Freedom's children.  We say YES because we want to, not because we have to. 

We have the freedom to say No to NO-EL.  And, the freedom, like Jesus and Mary to say YES!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Knot A Problem

Some knots are just way too big to fix on your own.

I've fiddled with knots that are so stubborn, I never get them loosened and straightened.  Despite my efforts, I resolve that it is a knot that will never get fixed, resolved or loosened...  by me, that is.

Then, I hand it off to someone else and they slowly but surely work through it for me.  There is always a bit of amazement and thankfulness for their help.


This morning, I was thinking about a knot in my life.  A knot that I've been trying to resolve for a long time.  A knot that I would pick up, mess with, and fight with until the point of exhaustion.  I put it down, only to pick it back up later on to try at it again -- with little success.


Then, the thought came to me...  "This is too big for you."

With those Words came relief.

Knots are just way too big to fix on your own.  God's not asking us to fix ourselves.  He's asking us to let Him have the knots.  It's knot too big for Him.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Just What I Needed To Hear

Sometimes you're invited to speak your mind. 

You might be asked to lead a small group discussion.  You might be asked to speak in front of a classroom.  You might have the opportunity to speak to the multitudes. 

But, sometimes...  no invitation is given.

And, if you're like many people, unless an invitation is given, you're not one to scream your voice over the crowd just to be heard. 

But, it could be that what you have to say needs to be heard.

No, maybe you're not the talkative type.  Maybe you're not eloquent with your words.  Maybe, you have awkward social skills.  But, that doesn't change the fact that what has been whispered in your ear and planted in your heart can touch a life around you. 

And, we don't need to wait for a formal invitation.  Maybe, just an open door and eyes to see...

That lady sitting next to you on the bus might be grieving.  The Hope that is in you could be just what she needs in her silent struggle.  The cashier that seems to always be grumpy could use your smile and a kind, encouraging, even humorous comment.  Your conversation or joke could change her whole mood.  The man that fixes your car might feel isolated and lonely.  What you know to be true about love and relationships could be a comment that eventually leads him to make new friends and restore his rocky marriage.

You never know.  Never underestimate the power of your words.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Answer Your Phone

There was a man who was not feeling well. 

But, he showed no outside symptoms.  No rashes.  No coughing.  No change in his complexion.  From anyone else's perspective he was doing just fine. 

But, he was not fine.

His stomach ached constantly.  He had sharp pains shooting down his leg periodically.  And, he was always reaching for aspirin to control the headaches he experienced each morning. 

He knew he was not fine.

But, he managed the pain level on most days and went on with life.  No reason to complain anyway and announce his ailments.

But, there came a day when managing the pain became a losing battle.  It went beyond what the over-the-counter medicines could take care of. 

He realized he could no longer help himself. 

So, he cried out to God.  And, God met him where he was at.  The man was comforted and the pain lifted. 

But, the man was not yet healed.  He went on struggling in great pain.

So, he cried out to God again.  And, God met him and lifted his pain.

But, the man was still not completely healed. 

So, he cried out to God again.  "God, why will You not just heal me completely when I come to you?"

At that moment, the man's phone rang.  It was his brother. 

"My son,"  God said, "It is my desire to heal you.  Heal you completely.  But, not in your isolation.     Answer your phone."

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Beatles Fan!

My husband is a huge Beatles fan.

He's got their music.  He's got their videos on DVD.  He's got paraphernalia and huge posters of them on our music studio wall.  He's a huge fan.

Die hard Beatles fans just completely make me chuckle.  When my husband watches their concert videos, I'm both humored and fascinated as I watch the fans react to seeing the Beatles in person.  They're screaming.  They're crying.  They're acting crazy as they hysterically hug each other and lose all sense of propriety.  They are so catch up in the moment of being in the presence of 'greatness' that this is the only reaction they can have.  Oh, what a moment to see their idols in the flesh.  Oh, what a moment!

Though I don't completely relate to the awe struck response to four human beings, I do equate it to how I feel about being able to see my Hero one day.  To finally meet Jesus and see Him Face to face.  When the mystery and the wait is over and I get to see, in person, the One I've been a fan of almost my whole life.  

I can only imagine my reaction.

If I'm not blown off my feet in Glory, I am picturing my response to be one of complete hysterical Beatle-manicness.  I'm going to scream my head off.  I'm gonna pull at my hair and cry like a baby.  I'm gonna grab the nearest person next to me, even if I don't know them, and hug them until I knock the breath out of them.  I'm going to jump wildly up and down and wave my cell phone light as high in the air as I can get it.  I'm going to run in circles and hyperventilate!  I am going go nuts

It's the only reaction I think I could have when I'm caught up in the moment of being in the Presence of Greatness.  Oh what a moment to see Him in the flesh!  Oh, what a moment!  Oh, what a moment!!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Use Only In Case Of Emergency

Emergency Flashlights. 

We store them in our closets.  We put them safely under the kitchen sink.  We have them in a box somewhere in the crowded basement. 

It's merely a backup -- a light source we label "Use Only in Case of Emergency".  And, we don't see it as a necessity until the lights go out.



I have a tendency to treat my Light, the Lamp to my feet, like only an emergency flashlight -- Used 'Only in Case of Emergency'.  Kept safely in a drawer.  Pulled out only when all else fails. 

The funny thing is, once I open it and read, I can't pull myself away.  The pages come alive.  The words jump out of the Book like dolphins playing in the ocean.  I'm wrapped up its wonder.  I'm caught up in its passion.  And, I'm brought into a world that can not be found here in the natural.  It speaks and tells its Story and somehow knows my story, too!  I don't have to explain myself.  It already knows and already has become my Answer.  It already has become my True Light Source that can be brought out and used, yes even enjoyed, daily -- not just in case of an emergency.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nobody puts Baby in a corner.

"Nobody puts Baby in a corner."

A classic line from what has become a classic American movie.  Dirty Dancing swept us off our feet in 1987.  It's a coming of age film of teenager, 'Baby', who enters a taboo relationship (that she hides from her father), with the dance instructor, Johnny, at a vacationing resort. 

This line comes at the climax of the film when Johnny declares it over Baby, rebuking the resort's choice of seating for her in the corner of the room, and taking her hand as an invite to dance the final dance of the season with him on stage. 

The line summarizes it all.  You don't put what should be shining, in the shadows of a dark corner. 


******

That's God's motto, too. 

His placement of the stars was not in the dark caves of a mountain or underneath a rock.  His placement was in the open spaces of the universe for all to see.  He unashamedly hung them and even went a step further to personalize them and gave them each a name. 

And, He treats us with the same dignity and adoration.  He is unashamed to call us His children.  He is not ashamed to say, "I love you and you are my bright shining star."  He is full of Love for us -- every inch of us.  And, He is proud to be our Daddy.

And, if ANYONE places what should be shining in the shadows of a dark corner, He will, without hesitation, take their hand and pull them out -- announcing to all...

"Nobody puts Baby in a corner."


Thursday, November 10, 2011

No Artificial Flavors, Colors, Additives or Preservatives

Many people are going natural.

We're checking labels.  We're re-thinking the things we are buying, consuming, and giving our children.  We're getting informed.  We're finding out the effects of processed foods.  We're looking at the benefits of organic living.  Health gurus have been screaming it for years, and now many of us are wanting more and more to just go back to what is natural, untainted, unprocessed, and not manipulated by man.  We want the good stuff -- straight up.


*******


Many people are going Natural.
 
We've grown tired of the 'Processed Food'.  We are re-thinking our Consumption.  We're feeling the effects of the Additives and Artificial Flavors and Colors that have manipulated and have hid the Organic Nutrition that our hearts have been yearning for and were intended to have.  We don't want what is fake and not real anymore, but rather the All Natural, Untainted, Unprocessed Love of God.  We want the Good Stuff -- straight up.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I've Got Your Back

I try to be careful to grab every bag.  But, this time I didn't.

I grabbed 2 bags from the store counter, but left the third.  I got home, showed off my new purchases to my husband and didn't even realize I was missing something. 

But, Someone else knew.

The next morning, I had to run to the grocery store and the only time I had to fit it into my schedule was at 7am in the morning.  I never go that early.  But, this time I did.

As I got out of my car, I looked up and saw the cashier from the store I was at the day before. 

"Funny meeting you here,"  I said, wondering if she recognized me.

Her eyes lit up. 

"You left your bag yesterday!  I tried to stop you in the parking lot but it was too late, you had drove away.  I can't believe I'm running into you now.  I never come to the grocery store this early."

******

Someone had my back.  He always does.  It was no coincidence that I happened to run into her.  I never shop that early and neither does she.

I can list multiple times that things like this has happened.  Things I know that were not orchestrated not by me, but by a Father who is keeping His eyes on me and caring for me. 

Like the time, years ago, when I left my purse on the top of my car.  (Yep, I have been that brainless at times!!)  When I got home, I couldn't find it and didn't even remember leaving it on the top of my car.  But Someone else knew.  I remember it was one of the first times I ever asked God to truly help me.  I said a small prayer.  "God, help me find my purse that has so many things in it that are important to me."  It wasn't but a minute later that the phone rang.  It was a woman who was looking for the owner of a purse she found in a parking lot!  I was stunned.  I knew God had my back.  And, I not only got it back, but nothing was missing from it.  God had protected the money, the documents, the photos and everything else. 

That day, I realized two things.

1) God is not only real, but hears me and responds to my prayers.

2) God cares not just about the big things like running the universe, but also the little things that are big to me

He's got my back.  Yesterday, today... and forever. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Family


FAMILY:  Learning how to combine spaghetti, jello, spinach and applesauce
and somehow make it delicious.


A Family knows that arguments do not mean you love each other any less.

A Family continues to hold each other up -- long after everyone else has given up on them. 

A Family knows the power of their words.  They use them to strengthen, not to hurt or manipulate each other.

A Family isn't perfect and doesn't expect each other to be.

A Family replaces the toilet paper roll when it's empty.  They have a 'we', not 'me' mentality.

A Family forgives.  They know the next time around they will be the one saying sorry.

A Family realizes that some disagreements aren't worth losing a relationship over.

A Family realizes that it's better to share your heart than to live as a stranger in your own home.

A Family doesn't bring their 'dirty laundry' to the office.

A Family are each other's 'First Responders'.

A Family knows their boundaries -- and respects them.

A Family sometimes needs to learn the difference between 'support' and 'enabling'.

A Family may change through the years.  But, they never stop being...

A Family   

Monday, October 31, 2011

stuff Stuff STUFF!!!

The five letter word that we label 'shopping therapy' when we buy it, makes us run our credit cards to the limit, and gives us headaches when we try to sort through it. 

STUFF!

Boxes of toys our kids don't play with anymore.  Clothes that don't fit (But maybe someday!).  Things given to us that are more sentimental than practical.  Bags of who knows what in the attic that's been there for ages.  I'm guilty of all of the above.

So much stuff and so little time to use it all and not enough space to keep it all.  But, we do anyway because for many of us, it's hard to let go of things.  Letting go is so permanent.  And, the longer we hold onto it, the harder it is to let go and make that permanent decision.

I had a tank top that I finally threw away last year that I had since I was THIRTEEN!  Was it even something nice to wear?  No.  I kept it because I've always kept it.  It never made the cut when I went through my clothes.  And, after awhile I just couldn't throw it away because it represented a time in my life.  Then, one day, I made the decision.  I came to my senses and talked myself into putting it into the dumpster.  And, believe me, it was not easy.  I still remember when I saw the trash truck come that week and I watched him put our trash in the truck.  It was hard to let go.  But, strangely, it was a relief, too.  It's been one less thing now to organize and I have a bit more space in my closet.

If we don't let go of things, if we don't sort and decide what we really need and want, the things that were once meant to enhance our life will only crowd and suffocate us.  They aren't a blessing anymore, they are a burden.  We look around our house and say, "We need a bigger house!", when actually what we need is a few trash bags, some empty boxes, and a new perspective.

I had a yard sale about a month ago and I finally had the strength to put out an old comforter that I used in college some 15 years ago.  It was still in nice shape and I still liked the pattern.  But, I haven't used it in 10 years.  It's been taking up space in my attic and when we move out of our current home, it will be one more thing I'll be lugging to our new place -- and I probably won't use it there either.  I've kept it because I like it, not because I've been using it or have needed it.

But, it turns it out, someone else did need it.  Really needed.

At the end of my yard sale, I made a decision to give everything that was not sold away for free.  There was no way I was going to bring all this stuff I worked so hard on to sort through, back into my house to clutter it again.  About 10 minutes after deciding, a car pulled up and saw the comforter.  She asked how much it was and I told her for free.  She couldn't believe it. 

She said, "Oh, how wonderful!  I know someone with 3 children who asked me if I had any extra blankets!"

She went on to tell me that these children don't actally have a bed to sleep on either right now.  They were in great need and trying to find help.  And, because I was willing to let go of my clutter, there are children who are now sleeping a little warmer tonight.

I'm so glad I let go.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Traps & Crabs

Two things we should never play with Traps and Crabs.

But, we do.  We play with things and dance around the idea of things that ultimately are not meant to be played with and can only bite, snap and trap us in the end.

We play with adultery.  We think that the married man or woman we are with, though obviously OK with the idea of cheating and unfaithfulness to their spouse, will certainly be faithful to us.  We swim in the river of De-nile. 

We play with gossip.  Who's to say that the neighbor you are whispering with will not be whispering about you as soon as you turn and walk away?  We are lying to ourselves if we think they aren't.

We play with pornography, shoplifting, illegal business...

In the thrill of its taboo, we lose sight of how able they are able to ensnare us and hurt us.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rock Scissor Paper

ROCK - SCISSOR - PAPER - SHOOT!

A great classic childhood game.  Usually played between two people.  Your choices: 1) Either make a fist to be a 'rock' 2) Put out your middle and index finger to make a 'scissor' 3) Lay your hand out flat to make 'paper'.  Rules:  If one player puts out a 'rock' and the other puts out 'paper',  'paper' wins because it covers rock.  But, if the 'paper' is met with 'scissors', 'scissors' wins because 'scissors' cuts 'paper'.  But, alas, if the 'scissors' is combated with a 'rock', 'rock' wins because 'rock' crushes 'scissors'.  The game can go on for hours and it's always the luck of the draw, so to speak.

A great game for kids, but a game that can be seen among us older 'kids', too.  Some of us want to dominate.  Dominate our jobs, dominate relationships, dominate in well -- everything.  So we poise ourselves as the dominating object.  If we encounter a 'rock' person, we are like 'paper' over them.  If a 'paper' personality confronts us, we whip out our 'scissor'.  And, if we are met by 'scissor', we want to crush them with our 'rock'. 

For those that have played the 'game' long enough, they don't even have to think about it.  It's like a sixth sense.  They feel out the situation or the person almost subconsciously and poise themselves to be sure they are the dominating object.  It helps them feel secure.  It keeps them guarded and always with the upper hand. 

But, it's a dangerous game to play

because every child knows -- no matter how many times you win, at some point -- you will lose.  And, how crushing it will be when you do. 

May we put down our childish games and humble ourselves.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tick Tock...

We know it will happen.

Just as sure as the sun comes up in the morning, so with the Son will come back for us.  It's a promise.  He said it Himself.  Nope, I can't wrap my head around it.  I don't think I'm supposed to.  And, to be honest with you, if I didn't know what I know about Him already, I think I'd have a hard time believing it.  But, since I know that He does not lie to us, and everything He says comes true, I can only trust Him on it. 

Knowing this guaranteed future event gives perspective on my daily life.  Though we've been waiting 2000 years for Him to come back, it is very possible that He will return in my lifetime.  Your lifetime.   It's possible that He will come even by the end of this decade, this year, this week, this day, this very hour, or even before I finish typing. 

The thing is, we don't know.  And, we're not supposed to.  He's told us all we need to know right now and is asking us not to fix our eyes of the guessing games of time and day, but fix our eyes on the One who is coming.  Fix our eyes on the One who alone is stable and can hold us and carry us through the times ahead. 

The point is:  Do you know the One who is coming??


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Don't Kiss Me, I Just Ate Onions

For many of us, we aren't comfortable interacting with people when we don't feel good about ourselves.

We might avoid going out until our hair and make-up are in place.  We don't want anyone to see us when we are 'not put together'.  We might keep to ourselves or even shut off if our minds or emotions are in a funk.  We don't want people to see through us.  We only want them to see our 'smiley days' when we have our act together.  We might avoid physical contact with people if we don't feel comfortable with our own physical body.  It has nothing to do with the other people.  It has everything to do with ourselves.

Our spiritual confidence is no different.  When we feel good about ourselves with God we have no problem interacting with Him.  But, if we carry guilt or shame, we will probably avoid looking up.  We keep our distance.  We keep Him at arms length.  We aren't comfortable approaching Him.  We aren't comfortable letting Him touch us. It has nothing to do with Him.  It has everything to do with how we feel about ourselves. 

Some try to make themselves feel better with God.  They might say in their hearts, "I'll get myself cleaned up.  I'll love more.  I'll promote peace.  I'll feed the poor.  I'll give my money.  I'll say repetitious prayers in hopes that it will be enough to appease my conscience.  And when I feel good about myself, then I will feel better about getting closer to you."

But, here is where the dilemma is:

We can not clean up ourselves. 

Nope, not one bit.  And, even if we try, it is like putting perfume on a rotting dead body.  Our sin is a stench in His nostrils. 

But, here's the good news.  No, we can't clean ourselves, but we do have access to a Royal Bath.  God stands there with His Soap and Wash Cloth and says, "Come on, son.  Come on, daughter.  Let's get you washed up and get some clean clothes on you.  And, then, no matter how you feel about yourself, you can know that you are completely presentable to Me and can draw near - - with confidence."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Spicing Life


There was a woman who wanted to make a pie.  A delicious apple pie. 

After making her crust and cutting her apples, she glanced down at her recipe. 

It called for a bit of cinnamon. 

"OOO.....Cinnamon always makes apples sooooo good."  she said to herself as she licked her lips.

She added what the recipe called for... and then some.  Pausing for a moment and looking down at her pie filling, she added a bit more 'for good luck'. 

"Certainly, this will be the most delicious pie I have ever made because cinnamon makes apples taste so good!"

And, with that thought, she sprinkled them again with even more cinnamon.

As the pie was baking, the aroma of cinnamon began to fill her home.

"Oh, how amazing this pie is going to be!"  she said to herself.  "Good thing I added so much cinnamon."

When the pie was finished baking and done cooling, she sliced a large piece for herself and took a huge bite.

It was then that she realized...pie should taste good with cinnamon... 

but, not when used in excess!


Saturday, October 8, 2011

UNDER CONSTRUCTION (please excuse our appearance)

They know it will make a mess. 

Businesses, households and road crews are completely aware of the process when renovating their buildings, homes, or roads. 

But, they do it anyway.   

They send in their demolition crews.  They rip down, pull apart and don't hold themselves back.  They aren't concerned about the mess they are making during the demolition process because their eyes are focused on the finished product.  If anything, they understand that the mess is actually a sign to all that things are going to start looking really really good in the near future.

Renovating the heart can be a similar process.  And, boy can things get messy as the Carpenter begins His work -- pulling out and ripping down the things that are like cancer to us; bringing up old heart injuries that make us limp all day long; shaking the foundation of things in our life that hinder our Freedom. 

He knows this ain't no mess-free job.

But, He proceeds and asks us to stick it out with Him because his eyes are focused on the finished product.  He knows the mess is actually a sign that things are going to start looking really really good in the near future.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

So Long For Now

My Grammy.  I wish I could introduce her.  She was one of kind, for sure.  Spirited.  Ornery at times.  Bold, yet tenderhearted.  My mind is still filled with child-hood memories...


Her Food
She used to make warm fresh baked bread.  No bread machine -- the old fashion way.  I remember her Polish cooking and big strong hands that I would watch her kneed the bread and stir her pots with.  I can still hear her ask her daily survey of who wanted an egg for breakfast.  No one went hungry at Grammy's house.

Her Face
I remember her denture-filled smile and subtle humor and sarcasm that made her so intriguing to me as a child.  I could see that rascal behind those brown eyes of hers. 

Her Care
I remember Vicks being put on my chest in the middle of the night when I was sick, and second and third 'tuck ins' while I slept to make sure I didn't catch a draft and get cold.  She loved me as her own.  She loved us all as her own.  Even into my college years, I received letters from her -- still caring for me even then.

Her Fun
I remember bus rides on Thursdays to the town square.  She'd buy us Wendy's cheeseburgers and Cabbage Patch clothes from the vendors.  I remember the bountiful candy on her refrigerator door that we would invade at every visit.  She had enough sweets to fill Candy Land, but insisted she was 'not a big sweet eater'.  Whatever Grammy! 

Her Love Song
I remember her saying I love you and singing..."I love you, a bushel and a peck, a bushel and peck, though you make my life a wreck.  Ya betcha little life I do..."  She wouldn't say she had a great singing voice, but that never stopped her from expressing her love.

Her Departure
She was 94 when she moved away.  She did it Grammy-style.  No fuss.  No scene.  Don't-you-worry-about-me-I'm-fine kind of exit.  She's in a new Home now where I'm sure she can cook up all her favorite dishes everyday and feed it to her neighbors.  A place where she can sit and knit to her heart's content.  A home she will never have to clean.  A Depression Era she'll never have to live through.  A better Place.  A place she can finally talk to Grandpa again and give her own mom and dad and daughter a big hug.  A place the rest of us here need to wait a bit longer to get to.



There was something my Grammy would always say. 

She'd say, "Don't say good-bye.  It sounds too permanent.  Say: So Long -- because I'll see you again!"
Indeed Grammy. 

And, so...this surely is not good-bye.


But, only 
 so long for now. 


Monday, October 3, 2011

Don't Forget the Baby!


A husband and wife decide to take a road trip with their baby.  And with every baby comes much luggage. (Gone are the days of just one carry-on bag.) They begin to pack up the car with diapers, bottles, a stroller, a playpen, bags of miscellaneous baby products and wipes.  When they are finished and begin to drive away, they smile proudly at each other.  They packed everything that was needed -- even the directions to where they were going and their to-go coffee mugs.  About a half mile down the road, the mother turns around in her seat and her face turns white.  She looks at her husband and doesn't even need to say it...  They brought everything -- but the BABY!!


***

Keep what's most important, most important.
Don't forget the baby.



Friday, September 30, 2011

Too Busy To Laugh

I went out for breakfast with my husband this morning.

I loooove our morning dates.  There's nothing like starting the day with my best friend and a cup of coffee.  Our conversation started out with small chats of this and that and some scheduling and administrative sort of things. 

But, then we got beyond business. 

Our conversation took a sudden turn down humor lane.  And, suddenly, it became one big stand up comedy routine as we joked about life and our observations of people, society and ourselves.  I started to laugh so hard I was bent over in my chair right in the middle of the restaurant -- holding my mouth closed to help silence myself, only to sit up and roar again with laughter -- almost choking on my eggs over medium.  I just couldn't help myself.  And, honestly, it felt so good to laugh, I didn't want to stop. 

As we were leaving the restaurant I said, "Gosh, honey.  I don't remember the last time I laughed so hard.  I've just been too busy to laugh."

And, that's when I stopped and heard myself.

TOO BUSY TO LAUGH???

What has life become that I have so much to do that I am too busy to laugh?

It's like a baker who works hard all day long but never stops and savors the sweetness in front of him.  Or, a man who has built his house, but is too busy to stop and sleep in it and enjoy the work of his hands. 

Being busy isn't a bad thing.  But, we must be careful that it does not rob us. 


Have you been too busy to laugh?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Beyond the Rules

I'd say I'm a rule follower.

I stop at red lights.  I pay my taxes.  I  buckle my children properly when driving in the car.  I like doing what is right.  It not only is important in society, but it makes me feel good and it helps me feel secure that no one can accuse me of doing something wrong.

I think it's commendable and it pleases God when we obey the law of the land.  So, I carry that rule-following mentality into my relationship with God.  I want to 'get it right'.  I want Him to be happy with me.  I want to win His favor and never be accused of getting it wrong.  How tragic that would be!  What would happen if I lost God's favor in my life?  Would He leave me?  Would He stop providing for me?  Would something bad happen as a result of my wrong doing?  Would He just disown me and stop loving me?  And, then what would I have to do to gain it back?  How many rules would I have to follow and for how long to win His Love again? 

It turns into a horrible place of insecurity with God.  I base how much He loves and accepts me by how good I have been that day.  If I have volunteered to help the needy, surely God loves me more today.  But, if I don't do what I think I should be doing, I place myself outside of God's acceptance.  I condemn myself -- even before finding out His feelings on the topic.  The bottom line is, I'm looking at me, not Him.  I'm judging myself rather than letting God have the final say on it.

And, when I do find out what He thinks, this is what He tells me.  This is His Song over me...

"You have already won my heart.  There is nothing that can separate you from the Love of God in Christ Jesus.  There is nothing that is too big that I can not forgive through my Son and His sacrifice for you on the cross.  Rules are for religion.  Grace is for relationship.  I love you.  And, you are accepted not by what you have done, but what my Son has already done for you.  And, that is the bottom line."



Thursday, September 22, 2011

Formulas & Conclusions

I remember them well...  Physics class, Geometry, Algebra.  Classes I took in high school that helped to label and put into words and equations the things in our natural world.

What I think is so interesting about the study of science and math is that all these things existed and had their 'rules and laws' well before we defined them.  And, that is all we did.  We didn't go and make the rules and then ask the natural world to fit our formulas.  We discovered and studied it first and found out the truth about it. Then, we defined it, explained it, and made our formulas.  We didn't ask nature to fit what we think it should be.

Interestingly, though, many of us have not taken this approach with the spiritual world.  We have come to our own conclusions about who God is, the way He feels about us, His Character, His Love, and even His Judgement and how to get to Heaven.  We have made our own formulas about something we have not even understood the Truth about ourselves.  And, what is worse, we have gone and told others about it and have taught it as if it was the Truth.

How is it that we would not attempt to make nature's rules, but we think we can make our own spiritual rules? 

We can not.

Truth is Truth.  It existed long before man. 

And, if we are wise, we will do as we have done with science and math...  we will first seek out the Truth.  The One.  The Way.  The Life.  We will not make our definitions and formulas and ask Him to 'please fit nicely in my box'.  But, we will first discover Him, and allow Truth to define Himself to us.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rescue Pet


Rescue pets.

The animals that once were abused, abandoned or mistreated, are brought into a safe space to recover -- in hopes that they will heal and find a place of belonging in their new environment.

My children and I met one yesterday.  Our neighbor bought a beagle who apparently came out of very rough circumstances.  Beautiful little dog.  But, her past was written all over her face. 

"She's scared of people," my neighbor explained to my youngest daughter, who asked if she could pet the dog, "Not nice things were done to her, so now she is scared of everyone."

"Ah, poor thing," my daughters and I said.

"She's still getting used to me even," my neighbor continued, "It took my mother and I an hour yesterday to get her to come out from under the bed."

You wonder what could have happened to the dog --  that even the new owner, who feeds and loves her, is still trying to earn the dog's trust.  I guess it's one of those things... you can take the dog out of the fear, but it's hard to take the fear out of the dog.

***

Many of us are like rescue pets.  We were literally rescued.  There was no hope for us up to that point.

And, now the process of renewal begins.  Rebuilding trust with our new Parent as He reestablishes our concept of what Love really is.  At first, we might be like the beagle.  We're scared of everyone -- even the ones that love us.  We run and hide under the bed for our own protection.  We don't believe quite yet that we are safe in our new Home. 

But, with time and steady, consistent nurturing, we are slowly changed.  We psychologically turn the corner.  We begin to allow our hearts to draw closer and closer to our Father, as we become more and more aware of just how deeply loved and accepted we truly are.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Guess How Much I Love You

It's funny how we can act differently with people based on how we think they feel about us. 

If we think the person has a low opinion of us, it might be hard to relax and completely be ourselves with them and around them.  On the other hand, if we know they esteem, appreciate, care, or love us, we are more likely to let down our guard.  There's nothing to try to prove.  There is no need to feel defensive.

With that said...  when you think about God, what are your first thoughts about how He feels about you?

Do you think God loves you?
Or, do you think God has a low opinion of you?


Many of us would give the Sunday School answer...  "God loves me, of course."  But, is this how your heart truly feels?  Do you know that He loves you?  Do you know He does not condemn you?  The real answer can be seen in how you react around Him.  Are you relaxed and able to be yourself?  Or, is your guard and defenses up?  A heart that knows it is loved and accepted does not feel the need to fight or run and hide.

Last night, I read a book to my daughter, Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney.  Illustrated by Anita Jeram.  What a perfect picture of us and our Daddy and how He really feels about us.

It's a discussion between a father Hare named Big Nutbrown Hare and his son Little Nutbrown Hare.  The son is determined to show his father how much he loves him, but is continuously outdone by his father's answers.  Little Nutbrown extends his arms to show how much he loves his dad, but when his dad stretches out his arms, they reach even farther than his son's could ever reach.  The son reaches up high -- but the father can reach higher.  "I love you as high as I can hop!" the son says.  "But, I love you as high as I can hop," Big Nutbrown Hare responds.  Finally, after going back and forth, Little Nutbrown Hare thought he had it... "I love you right up to the moon," he said.  Surely, his father's love could not be bigger than that.  But, as the father leaned over and kissed his son good night, he whispered with a smile,

"I love you right up to the moon -- and back."


 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Dare You

What would life look like if we completely chose not to worry?

Is it even possible to go a day without worrying in some way?  For many of us, worry has such a prominent place in our lives that it's become a normal feeling.

I remember one day, I went through most of the day not being mentally stressed or worried about anything and the thought actually came to me:"This feels weird. I should be concerned about something right now, right?" Having a peaceful heart and mind actually felt abnormal. Surely there was something out there that needed my worrying -- as if somehow worrying contributes or helps a given situation.  In reality, of course, it does not.

But there is one thing that I can do.

Our Father tells us not to worry about anything.   Let me say that again.... ANYTHING.

But, instead -- Pray.

Prayer replaces worry.  Worry can't contribute but prayer can.   Worry doesn't bring Peace but prayer does.   Worry doesn't change things but prayer absolutely will.

So, I dare you.   I dare myself.
Instead of worrying today, let's channel every anxious thought into communion with a Dad that loves us and is there for us. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fighting The Water

Flooding.

It's a word no one ever wants to hear.  We build our levees.  We make our preparations to secure our homes.  We bite our finger nails when we hear news of its possibility.  It just makes us down-right nervous.  It's an act of nature that, if unleashed, can overcome us.

In the natural, flooding is a headache and can be a heartbreak.  But, in the supernatural, it's the best thing that can ever happen to us. 

God's Love toward us is a Mighty River.  It's Strong.  Its Power can overwhelm us. 

But, many of us have built our levees.  We have built our walls of self protection -- maybe even without realizing it.  We fight against the Mighty Current.  We resist the waters of Love that want to flood our hearts so that it can cleanse us, overwhelm us with its Joy, sweep us off our feet and carry us into the arms of our Father.

And, He's asking us.

He's asking us to let go.  Let Him in.  Let the flood waters flow.  Let His Love drench our hearts.  Cleanse us.  Fill us.  Settle our greatest fears.  Calm our stressful minds.  Wash our broken lives.

He's asking us...   to allow the Flood.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

You-nique

There's a phrase that goes, "In a world where you can be anything, be yourself."

To the person who wrote that, I wanted to say, "Thank you".  Thank you for the reminder that me is all I can be.  And, that has been a  journey for me to discover.  No, I can't run like my sister.  No, I can't cook like my friend can.  No, I don't always have my words together and speak eloquently like my neighbor.

But, I am me.   And, beyond that, I am only an actress playing a role -- trying to be something I am not.

An apple tree makes apples.  It's not ashamed that it can't make pears because it was not designed to make pears.  Jaguars aren't better than turtles just because they can move faster.  And, eagles aren't better than snakes just because they have wings.  Creation amazingly expresses itself in its own unique fashion -- Rainbows.  Waterfalls.  Oceans.  Space. 

And, we should feel comfortable and confident, too, in how uniquely and wonderfully the Creator has made each of us.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Must See...Again

My husband and I went to New Hampshire for our honeymoon.

If you have never been there, let me tell you, it is stunning.  The mountains, the waterfalls, the hiking trails, the moose-sightings, the cozy bed & breakfasts.  It left us so breathless that we decided to go back again a year later, and then again 2 years later to bring our new born daughter to see it, and then yet again several years later to let our second daughter see it, too (along with practically my whole husband's side of the family!) We just wanted to share it with everyone!  

Some might say, why keep going back?  Just take some pictures.    

But, no picture can do it justice.  It's one of those things you have to experience.  The majesty.  The colors.  The smell of mountain air and the snow (yes snow!) even in the middle of May, as you walk up the trails of the huge mountainsides.  As much as we would want to remember it all, we forget.  Our senses have the memory of how we felt when we took it all in, but daily life back in the suburbs clouds it  -- which is why we want to go back and relive it all over again...and again...and again.

I compare this to my breathless moments with God.  Moments that I tell myself I will never forget.  The wonder.  The majesty.  The speechlessness as I gaze.  But, when I come down from that mountain, though I have the blissful memory, I realize that memory is not enough.  I have to go back and see it again.  

And, every time I do, it never disappoints.  No matter how many times I take in such Majesty, 

I am always left speechless.  
I am always left wanting more.  



Saturday, August 27, 2011

The one who is wise prepares. 

He does not wait for the rain to fall to begin his preparation. 
He begins while all is still well -- when there seems to be no obvious sign of anything coming.

He moves in faith. 
He moves steadily. 
He does not sway in his decision to be ready. 
He does as he knows he should -- without doubting. 

He does so because he knows he is not following what his eyes tell him...

but what his heart is pressing him to do.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I Couldn't Care Less

There was a boy who loved baseball.

He ate, drank and breathed baseball.  He invested much into the game and in turn the game gave back so much in joy and pleasure.  There was nowhere else he'd rather be than on that field doing what he loved.

But, he got hurt.

It was the bottom of the second inning and while at bat, the pitcher threw the ball right at his knee.  He was injured so badly that he was told he could never play again.

The boy was devastated.  All that he loved was taken from him in an instant.  He was so sad that, though his parents offered to still take him to the games and watch from the stands, he resisted and stayed in his room much of the day.  

His heart grew numb.  In an effort to dull the pain, he began to act like he didn't care about baseball at all.  It was the only way he could cope... hardening his heart and refusing to feel anymore.


****

It's easy to want to shut off -- to pull the 'emotions switch' and become numb and hardened about something you actually still care very deeply about.  A failing marriage.  A career crisis.  A relationship with a friend, daughter/son, or parent.  Your place in society or social group.  The giving up of something you love.  It's easier to not care -- than to face the pain.

I think what's important to remember when being in 'shut off' mode' is that you are aware that you're in 'shut off mode'.  Be at least honest with yourself that you aren't allowing yourself to be honest about how you feel.  Coping is one thing, but don't fool yourself into thinking that this is how you really feel.  If that happens, you might never reach out and find healing, health and restoration.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

I'm watching you...

An interesting fact in training your Labrador.  We read in our dog training book that everything we do with our dog teaches him something.  So, even when we are not necessarily trying to train him, we are.

I believe the same thing is true with our children.  I might not want to teach them to lie, but if they see me lie, I have taught them that in some way I'm OK with the idea of lying.  Same thing with cheating, talking bad about people, being disrespectful to authority, etc.  Their eyes and ears are more tuned in than I even know.  And, even beyond their conscious learning, they are absorbing.  I've heard them say things verbatim that I have said at some point in time.  I hear myself come out of their mouths.

Knowing this makes me even more aware of who I am and what I do and say on a daily basis.

I think, often times, the strongest motivation in life to do what is right is based on your audience.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Life Is Like...



Life is like watermelon.  It's sweet, but sometimes you get a mouthful of seeds.

Life is like the game Twister.  It's not always comfortable, but at least you're not alone.

Life is like a Christmas tree -- how beautiful it is when you step back and take in its beauty.

Life is like a skunk.  No matter how much you perfume it, it still stinks sometimes.

Life is like cayenne pepper.  Sometimes it 'bites ya back'.

Life is like a barter system.  It's a give and take kind of thing.

Life is like sitting in the dentist's chair.  You might have a lot to say, but you have to be patient until the opportunity is given.

Life is like a pizza.  We're all given a pie.  But, it's our decision what toppings we will put on it. 

Life is like an electrical outlet.  There's power available to us.  But, if not used properly, someone can get hurt.

Life is like going through a fast food restaurant drive-thru.  You don't always get what you ordered.

Life is like a box of chocolates...  which might be why I love life so much!




Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Come & Get Me

When you really want something, you reach for it.  You focus in on it.  You make an effort to move toward it. 

Maybe it's a career.  Maybe a romance.  Maybe it's as simple as trying to catch a good sale before it's over.  Or, maybe it's a life-changing or life-saving action.

Whole-hearted reaching goes a long way.  Passive reaching (which actually sounds like an oxymoron to me) does not.  

Seeking is similar.  You're either seeking or your not.  If a child is looking for his father, he is either calling for him or not.  If you're looking for something you need, you are either looking for it or your not.  I've never met a person that found their keys without some amount of looking.


When it comes to Higher things, we are told to take an active part.

SEEK.  "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."   

He's not playing games.  His heart is absolutely wanting us to find Him.   But, He wants our hearts to be involved too.  Can you imagine if a person wanted to marry you more than anything in the world, but instead of wooing and romancing you into it, they decided to just force themselves on you --disregarding how you might feel about a relationship with them? 

He's looking for a response from us.  He's looking to see if we will come and take Him up on His amazing offer.  He's looking to see if we will voluntarily reach out and grab His extended Hand.  He is looking to see if we are absolutely serious about Him or just 'passive reachers'. 

If you want Him... go after Him.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I Have A Dream!

I had a conversation this week with a teenage girl.  Our talk brought me into her world of blissful dreaming.  In 2 1/2 minutes, with stars in her eyes, she told me everything she wants to do when she grows up -- from music to acting to going to medical school.  She was absolutely serious about it and no one could quench her passion.  It was an inspiring conversation for me. 

I walked away thinking about my own dreams. 
And, that lead me to think about His dreams for me. 

There are specific things that God has impressed on my heart about my life.  Plans.  Dreams.  A Destiny.  Dreams He held in His own heart for my life as He crafted me in my mother's womb.  Things He's had planned for me even before the foundation of the world.  Things that would compliment my talents.  Things that would bring much Joy to His Heart.  Things that would bring me closer in my relationship with Him.

It reminds me of Jeremiah's words...  "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

He's declaring it!  

I HAVE A DREAM!  I have a dream for your life!  I have plans that are too wonderful to even imagine -- things you would not believe even if you were told. 

And, the beautiful thing is -- He wants to make these dreams come true for us!  He's not one to play games.  He says, "Seek and you will find." 

But, He also says, "You do not have because you do not ask."

He wants to give us life, and life abundantly.  Are we seeking the Dream Fulfiller?


Monday, August 1, 2011

JUST MARRIED (10 yrs. ago) part 4

10.  Let's talk about...  well, you know...

Sex.  The media and the entertainment world have no problem talking about it, advertising with it, and perverting it.  It should be something that we're able to talk about with our spouse.  But, for some  reason, it feels almost taboo for some married couples to actually talk about their sex life together.  Or, maybe there's never a perfect moment or best way to open up the discussion.  A great way to start might be to just discuss the idea of discussing.  Sounds weird, I know.  But, the only way to talk about it is to purpose to talk about it. 


11.  Oh, I'm sorry.  I forgot.  You're human.

I have come to realize that I expect alot from my husband.  So much so, that I sometimes don't allow him the room to be human.  I'm quick to get frustrated with him and slow to be gracious with his weaknesses.  I start to look more at what he's not doing to meet my needs instead of focusing on all he does do to enrich my life.   He's human.  And, no one is perfect.  He needs as much grace as I do.


12.  If you want him to lead.  Let him.

I told my husband once that I really needed him to take the lead in this certain area of our marriage.  His response was very positive.  "Sure," he said, "but don't give me a hard time if it's not done to your preference."  hummm...  good point.  I wanted him to lead, but only if he did it my way.  Letting him lead means just that.  Letting him.




JUST MARRIED (10 yrs. ago) part 3

#7  Talk to Him before you talk to him.

"In all your ways, acknowledge him..." (Proverbs 3:6) 
Funny what a difference a small discussion with Him makes before I have a discussion with my hubby.  Talking to God first about things helps me unload my burden, clears my head, and gives me proper perspective before I go sounding off to my husband.  Then when we do talk, I know there's a third party involved who says He will guide us in all our ways.


#8  Talk to me while I'm eating.

My husband has low blood sugar.  It took me some time to realize that he can't have much of a discussion when all he can think about is getting his sugar normal.   

When you really need to talk, it's a great idea to do it over dinner together.  No sense in trying to make your point over the sound of your hunger pains and the nagging of your low blood sugar.  It will also help set the tone and bring focus to what matters most about your discussion -- your relationship. 

#9  Sometimes she's right.  Sometimes he's right.

You don't always have to 'win'.  Put down your pride and really listen to each other.  You might find that this time your partner might actually be right!  I remember a time when I really thought I was in the right.  But, my husband was trying to tell me that I hadn't really been listening to what he was actually saying.  When I put my opinion aside and listened objectively, I finally saw where he was coming from.  And, ya know what?  He was right!



JUST MARRIED (10 yrs. ago) part 2


#4  Make time for things you hate.

If it's important to him, it should be important to you. 
If my husband was a bachelor he probably would not keep his desk very organized.  But, his desk is in the same room that I teach music lessons.  He makes time to clean because he knows it's important to me.  (Thank you honey.) 


#5   Keep the Source your source.
He's your husband.  Not your God.  I lean on my husband for many things.  He is my best friend.  But, he can never take the place of my First Love.  Only God can fill the God-shaped hole in our hearts.


#6  Sugar makes everything sweet.

My husband and I are two very different people.  We see life differently and we approach tasks differently.  This can get interesting when we are trying to accomplish something together as a team.  It's easy to lose our patience with each other; It can turn into a war of the wills.  But, there is an ingredient that we can reach for.  Love.  It's the sugar that makes our baked goods complete and beautiful.  Without it, we might still 'make the cake' together --  the task will still get accomplished.  But, no pastry tastes good unless it's sweetened with Love.


Sunday, July 31, 2011

JUST MARRIED (10 yrs. ago) part 1

10 years of marriage isn't long.  But, a few thoughts at this juncture. 


1.  "Never get your husband from a bubble gum machine." 

That was my husband's response when I told him, in jest, that he's 'not what I ordered'.  We both laughed.  Very true.  Some things should not be done blindly.  Bubble gum, yes.  Husbands no.   


2.  Let him eat kimchi.

Years before my husband met me, he worked with a Korean community.  He fell in love with everything about them.  Their language.  Their passion.  And, especially their food.  So, when we got married, we occasionally visited the Korean grocery store and would grab their sticky rice, seaweed, radishes, and the oh-so-stinky kimchi -- what my husband describes as rotten cabbage.  Its scent is so strong that it would stink up our whole kitchen.  Though, I didn't like the cabbage (and had to light a candle to help kill the smell while he ate),  I respected the fact that my husband did.  Just because I didn't like it, didn't mean I had the right to forbid it.  Love isn't selfish.


3.  You got 3 minutes. 

I love roller coasters.  And, like a marriage, it has its ups and downs and unexpected curves in the track.  But, at the end of a good one, you look at your partner and say you'd do it all over again with them in an instant.  The only downside to a roller coaster is that it's too short.  Even the long ones go fast.  It seems like you just got on and suddenly the ride is over.  In light of eternity, we don't even have 3 minutes with our partner here on earth.  So, let your hands up and enjoy the ride!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Comm-YOU-nity

I saw something a couple weeks ago.

A woman, sitting in her car in a parking lot, pushed her door open and dropped an empty take-out cup onto the ground.  She had my attention.  Was she planning to leave it there?  Or, did she just want to set it down for a moment with the intention of throwing it away in a trash can? 

I was rootin' for her.

"Come on, girl," I said to myself, "you're not gonna just leave it there are you?"

I continued to watch. 

She opened her door again and threw out a handful of crumpled papers.  Then, some other odd items I couldn't identify at a distance.  Then a small plastic bag.  It was obvious.  She was cleaning out her car. 

I wanted to keep believin'.  Surely, she would gather it all up when she was finished and walk it to the McDonald's trash can that was just 15 feet away.

But, I'm sorry to say, she did not.  Instead, she closed her car door and pulled up to the next parking spot in front of her!  She removed herself completely from any responsibility for the trash she left behind her.

I was disappointed, to say the least.  And, honestly, I wanted to be quick to judge her and say, "What are you doing lady??  You mean to tell me you can't pick up your junk and walk it to the trash can?  Who's gonna clean this up?  We're part of a community here!"


We forget. (I forget)  Or, maybe we just don't care. 
We make our decisions sometimes without thinking about how it affects the lives around us. 

We are thinking 'me', not community if we...

Litter 
Text while driving
Don't wash our hands after using the bathroom 
Shoplift (businesses often raise their prices to compensate for the loss)
Speed and drive recklessly
Treat red lights like 'stop-tionals'
Mishandle our taxes
Don't tip our waiter/waitress/hair dresser/etc.
Do dirty business


Maybe we think our actions don't have much impact.  "It's only one piece of litter.  It's only one fraudulent claim."   But, it takes each little piece of sand to fill the beach.  And, little can add up to much if we all choose self over community.  And, in the same way, little can add up to much if we all choose community over self.

How will YOU be part of Comm-YOU-nity?


Friday, July 22, 2011

Paint & Pretense

Being able to paint furniture is great. 

I especially love that I have that option when I buy things that are all beat up from a thrift store.  The basic structure of it is still sturdy, it just needs some cosmetic help.  With a bit of sanding and a 10 minute paint job, I can turn my trash into treasure.

Interestingly, though, our Creator is in the business of doing just the opposite.  He sees our painted, polished exterior.  But, He also has the ability to see beyond the 'paint' we hide behind.  He sees the beauty of the original wood. 

He says to Himself, "She looks good now.  But, I know her potential.  It lies beneath all the coatings of paint."

So He begins the stripping process. 

Some of us have multiple layers.  Years of paint built up.  But, with a steady, careful, and patient Hand, He slowly removes all that is not part of who we are.  We become a work of art in His Hands as he chips away at the layers and relieves the real us.  He pulls away the pretense and the fear that makes us hide.  And, when His work is done, we experience the Freedom to be ourselves. 


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Meatball Mush

On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed...


Poor little meatball. 

What'd he ever do to anyone anyway?  Sittin' on the top of his world, minding his own meatball and spaghetti business when suddenly... 

"Ahchoo!" 
He's completely blindsided by a nasty blast of someone's sneeze! 

And, if that's not enough, he gets knocked off his horse, (well, pasta platter) and rolls right out of his comfort zone.  First the table, then the floor and, who knows why nobody stopped and helped the poor fellow, but he rolls right out the door!  How much more vulnerable and out of your element can you get?!

What downward momentum he must have had because he didn't stop there.  His humbling continues as he journeys into the garden and of all places under a bush where no one could see him and he could very well be forgotten about altogether.  What a personal dilemma and place of humiliation for the confused guy.  I can imagine after a moment of lying there as a pile of mush, that he may have been tempted to despair and give up on all hope of anything good to come from such a terrible thing.  

But, to his amazement, this was not the end of his story! 

Surprisingly, we are told that the 'mush was as tasty as tasty can be!"  His trial made him even more pleasing!  Imagine that!  And, after a year of hiding, the season changed and what was once a pile of mush became its own growing tree!  And, that tree grew amazing 'fruit' -- more meatballs and tomato sauce! 

So, if you're a meatball all covered in cheese, on top of your bowl of spaghetti.  Remember the journey of our poor little fellow and the good that came out of that sneeze!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Petal Plucking

He loves me.  He loves me not.  He loves me.  He loves me not. 
He LOVES ME!

A child's simple game that said it all.  A scene filled with giggling girls, petals thrown everywhere, and the hope of true love. 

I played a game or two in my day.  Admittedly, I was one of those giggly little girls with stars in her eyes when I had a crush on a boy.  I can remember counting the petals before I started to try and figure out what the last petal would land on.  Would he love me?  Would he not?  Sometimes I rigged it to work in my favor.  It had to land on 'he loves me'.  How disappointing and unromatic it would be otherwise!

I don't play with flower petals anymore.  But, I do occasionally play a similar game with God. 

He loves me.  He loves me not...

I know He loved me yesterday.  But, today I just don't feel so secure about it.  I'm unsure about us. 

And, honestly, there is nothing I hate more.  It's similar to wondering from day to day if your father loves you.  Or, being uncertain if your husband or wife still accepts and adores you the way they did the day before.  It's an insecure and terrible place to be.  When my head is not on right and I'm on the "He loves me not' petal, my whole day takes on an insecure and shaky feel.  AUGH! 

And, then He reminds me. 

God doesn't play these kinds of games with us.  He's not waking up with an Eight Ball toy in His hand asking it if He should love me today or not.  He's not checking ridiculous horoscopes to see how He should feel about His day and feel toward me.  Can you imagine if that is the kind of Guy He is?  For sure, we'd all be swimmin' with the fishes by now. 

His Love is consistent and unconditional.  And, we forget sometimes that He's the One that made the first move.  We love Him because He first loved us.  He's the Initiator in this Romance we have with Him.  And, believe you me, He is more interested in keeping this flame alive than even we are. 

So with a sigh of relief, I stop the questioning.  I stop petal plucking.  And, I simply say thank you.

Thank you for loving me.  Today, tomorrow, and every day after.


Friday, July 15, 2011

RSVP

RSVP.

It's French for répondez s'il vous plaît, meaning “reply please” or "please respond" (Wikipedia).

When receiving an invitation, it's not only courteous to RSVP, but in many cases required.  Large events like weddings, for example, depend on their guests to respond.  The host did their part.  The guest must do theirs as well.

But, sometimes we procrastinate. 

I know, for me, I'll throw an invite in a pile of 'to do' papers and it simply gets lost in the shuffle of things to get done.  I will either label it as 'low priority' or just completely overlook it altogether.  If I'm not careful, I may never RSVP at all.  The wedding will still take place.  But, a seat will not be saved for me.

*****
We have been INVITED. 

There's a Party.  A Banquet that is going to take place.  Soon.  Yes, very soon.

The invites have gone out.  The Host has done His part.  But, He waits now for our RSVP. 

But, some will procrastinate.

They will throw it in the pile of 'things to do before I die'.  They label it 'low priority' or overlook it altogether.  And, if they are not careful, their 'time to go' will come upon them like a thief in the night.  The Party will still take place.  But, a seat will not be saved for them.


Don't procrastinate. 
RSVP today.



Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Antiseptic

Caring for wounds can be an unpleasant experience. 

It stinks because not only have you gone through the pain of being hurt but now you must allow yourself to feel the sting of the medicine.  And, the thing is, if you're going to get better, you have to get yourself the proper treatment.  If you don't, the wound is susceptible to infection and that could lead to worse consequences.  Though we hate it, we have to apply the antiseptic.

Heart wounds need proper treatment, too.  And, sometimes it can be down-right unpleasant.

His Love is like an Antiseptic to our hearts.  It's beautiful and wonderful.  But, it also kills Germs and Infection. 

So, we come.
We come to the Doctor.  We visit the Hospital.  We find the Treatment we need. 

And, because we trust Him, we willingly press our wounded hearts against His Healing Hand.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Interruption of Service

At the top of our steps in our second floor hallway, we have a double light switch.  One switch works the hallway light.  The other switch is connected to the outlet that's down the steps where our TV/cable is plugged into.  Most of the time we are careful with which switch to use.  But, occasionally, we flip the wrong switch and instead of shutting off the light, we completely interrupt the service downstairs by cutting off the electric source.  When it happens, it's usually followed by several moans from the people downstairs watching TV.  

Similar to our electrical outlets, we have LIFE outlets.  The places we are able to plug into to get the nourishment we need to keep our hearts going.  Things like reading the Bible, and fellowshipping with others that love the God we love.

When we are consistently plugged into those outlets, we are like the Energizer Bunny.  There's a steady flow of LIFE running through us.

But, when we disconnect.  When we don't plug in --  it is like the switch at the top of my steps, and service gets interrupted.

Stay connected.  Stay plugged in.  Where else can we go?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I'll Leave The Light On

One of the scariest things to me is losing your child. 

How my heart goes out to the families of the children I see on posterboards at the grocery store or post office. 

LOST
HAVE YOU SEEN ME?

Desperate cries for help from the people who love them.  I can only imagine the number of broken hearts there are for every photo posted.  I always say a prayer as I walk by the poster.  Sometimes I even get choked up as I see their faces.

Who knows the stories behind those photos.  Was the child/teenager taken?  Did they willingly run away?  If they did run away, why?  And, do they know that there is someone out there that is looking for them?  Do they know that their faces are being mass sent and included in our coupon mailers?  Do they know how much they are loved?


I can only imagine then how our Father feels towards His lost children.  His posterboards would probably be filled with heartfelt pleas...

LOST!  My most amazing son.  My most beautiful daughter.  If you are reading this,  I want you to know that I am not mad at you.  You are not in trouble.  Please do not be afraid to reach out and contact me.  You can call collect any time day or night.  Please don't feel like you have to get your act together before you call me.  I accept you right where you are at.  I JUST WANT YOU HOME!!  So, please please if you are reading this...  PLEASE CALL YOUR FATHER.  You know where to reach me.  I'll leave the light on.  I love you. 
-- Daddy

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Trash Man

I think it's one of the stinkiest jobs you can have -- being a trash man.

Under-appreciated I would say.  I can't remember the last time I thanked my trash man.  Let me think...  Nope.  Actually, I have never taken the time to thank him.  He faithful comes and takes away my garbage with one swift move of his strong arms.  In a matter of moments, I watch my waste get eaten by his big truck.  I never see it again.  The trash man takes care of it all.

He's a reminder to me of how well my other Trash Man takes care of my garbage.  With a swift move of His Mighty Arms He sweeps away the junk.  Effortlessly.  Willingly.  And, never with an ounce of condemnation.  (Trash men don't condemn you for your garbage.) 

So, thank you trash man.

And, thank you Trash Man.

How filthy my life would be without you!