Tune in 24/7


Saturday, February 26, 2011

I'm Sorry, Did You Say Something?

My husband is convinced I have a hearing problem.  I tell him he has a mumbling problem.  I mean, seriously, I'm not that old.  I should be able to hear clearly.  So, it's not me, it's him.  But, he tells me that no one else complains about him mumbling.  He says it's definitely me, not him.  We've agreed to disagree.

I do confess, though.  I would admit to a listening problem.  Not hearing.  Listening.  Yes, I hear him --but sometimes like white noise in the background as I'm engaging my thoughts in something completely different.  Not sure how I've gotten in the habit of this.  But, alas, it's now something that I'm finding takes great effort to fix.

It's not that I don't care about what he has to say.  I'm just distracted.  I have a lot going on.  A lot to balance as a busy mom and teacher.  And, it's hard for me to equally divide my focus -- to continue doing what I'm doing and still try to hear that very important thing he's trying to share with me.  I've come to realize 'divided focus' is an oxymoron.  I have to train myself to stop and just focus on his words alone.

Seems I can have similar issues with the other Special Person who wants to share His Heart with me. I catch words here and there, but ultimately I'm not listening to what He's trying to say. Divided focus. It's not that I'm not interested. I'm just... well, distracted. Like someone talking to me from my living room while I run from room to room doing my daily chores. I respond with a courteous "uh huh" every once and awhile, but the truth is...I'm simply not listening. Much like conversations with my hubby, what I really need to do is just stop and focus on His words alone.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Everyone But Me

"He talks to everyone but me."

It might seem that way.  Other people seem to constantly have something new they heard Him say.  Wonderful for them.  But, not for you.  Is it because they are better than you?  More spiritual?  Or the famous lie:  'He just doesn't love or favor you as much.' 

There's a perspective change that needs to happen.  It's not that He's not talking.  It's that we aren't tuning in.  If you think about your favorite radio station, it never stops broadcasting.  It sings and speaks whether you tune in or not.  But, when you do tune in, it's a constant flow of back to back hits that you enjoy and get lost in.

But, here's the other thing.  We need to ask Him to soften us.  He could be screaming at the top of his lungs, but a stoney heart may not hear a word.  The more He washes the eyes and ears of our heart, the more we'll see Him, hear Him.  The softer we are toward Him, the quicker we'll catch His constant "I love you!"s throughout our day.  But, remember, we can't change our own hearts.  We need Him to change us.  It always comes back to that.

So, don't believe a word of the enemy's lies.  Your Father never stops singing over you.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

If You Like Pina Coladas & Gettin' Caught In The Rain...

Sometimes we simply can lose interest.

When something is new and fresh, it's easy to be excited and captivated by it.  A new romance.  A new phone or computer.  A new adventure in life.  But, like taste buds, we can find ourselves less enthused with every bite.  The first taste was amazing, but after the 25th, we're accustomed to the flavor and it becomes just another bite.  We still like it.  Don't get me wrong.  It's just not exciting anymore.

This concept can be tricky when it comes to long term things in life.  Like marriages.  Like our friendship with God.  Things that we want to stay exciting, but somehow can be dulled with time. 

Some have a disposable attitiude:  If your gum loses favor, you spit it out and find a new piece to chew.  Others don't take that perspective and realize that it might not necessarily be such a hopeless situation.  Like a fire, it might just need an extra log to get it going again.  It's not dead, it just needs to be helped along a bit. 

I love the song Escape (the Pina Colada Song).  Ok, well, not the fact that the married couple goes placing personal ads about themselves to find new love.  But, the idea that what they were looking for had been there all along!  He answered his own wife's ad as he went looking for something exciting.  He had no idea how exciting things could be with her.  Maybe he didn't realize she was even interested in making things exciting again. 

They both realized they didn't need someone different.  They just needed to rediscover each other.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Open 24/7

Can you imagine having limited access to the things around your home? 

Your refrigerator.  Your bathroom.  Your bed.  How absurd it would be to say you can only use them for say 2 hours once a week.  Things you need on a daily basis -- even on an hourly basis!  Our body requires more than just a weekly replenishing.

Thankfully, our Father understands that our heart needs more than just occasional nourishment.  And, He's made a way for us to have 24/7 access to make sure those needs are met.  We can come anytime.  How?  Because, the Curtain's been ripped!  The curtain that hung in the temple was torn from top to bottom that Great and Glorious Day.  It announced to all that all can come and come freely!  Our needs don't have to be put on hold 'til Sunday.  We don't have to tell our hunger to wait, our fatigue to hang on, or our sorrows to linger.  His provision is accessible.  Even now.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Listen To Yourself

Years ago, I worked with a teacher who was excellent at what she did.  She loved the kids, she had well developed lesson plans and used her resources brilliantly.  I learned a lot from her. 

But, there was one thing she was unaware of.  Her volume.  She had gotten into the habit of raising her voice at the children quite often and quite harshly at times.  Being unaccustomed to it, I remember being startled and bracing myself the first few days I spent in her classroom.  She used yelling as a tool for control.  In my concern for it, I remember lifting up a small prayer about it.

A couple days later, she sat down with me and said,  "I want to apologize.  I had no idea what I sounded like!"

She went on to tell me that she happened to hear herself through a tape recording at home.  She knew that's what she also sounded like in the classroom.  Being able to listen to herself objectively made her suddenly aware of what others had been hearing all along.  She was embarrassed and humbled.   From that day on, she was more conscientious of her volume and her classroom took on a much more relaxed feel.

Lesson learned:  How beneficial it can be to listen to yourself (even if it's not through a recording).  You might be surprised by what you hear.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Where Am I Looking?

I've noticed a common theme in life.

Back when I used to play softball as a kid, they would tell me, "Keep your eyes on the ball."  So I did.  I was a better player as a result.

When I go bowling, I'm told to focus my eyes on where I want the ball to roll.  So I do.  The poor pins don't like it, but I smile as I see my score increase.

When I learned to drive, they were careful to remind me to keep my eyes on the road.  "Your car will follow your eyes, so stay focused," they told me.  I've taken their advice and now have a better driving record to brag about.

Common theme:   It matters where I fix my eyes.

Peter, our New Testament friend, would know just what I'm talking about.  He had distraction issues as He stepped into the impossible... walking on the water toward His Lord.  When his eyes were fixed on Him, the impossible turned possible. 

But, oh the waves!  Oh the chaos around him!  And, there went his focus --away from the Savior and onto the problem.  Onto his situation.  Onto himself.   And, down he began to sink.

Peter reminds me of the common theme and makes me ask myself...

 Where am I fixing my eyes?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mustard On The Face

If you walked around ignorantly with mustard on your face from your hot dog or spinach in your teeth from your salad, you'd probably hope that someone would be brave enough to give you the heads up about your appearance.  How embarrassing to discover it on your own hours later after you've interacted with dozens of people!  One of the first words out of your mouth might be, "Why didn't anybody tell me?"  Maybe they wanted to, but didn't feel comfortable enough with you to be so honest.  It was easier to say nothing, than to create an awkward moment.

Honesty is one of the most scary words in the dictionary for many of us.  It can be hard to be honest with ourselves, and can be difficult to be honest with each other.  But, when honesty is coupled with Love and Second Chances, it goes from being scary to liberating. 

Our Father approaches us with just such honesty.  He sees the mustard.  He sees the spinach.  And, He's not afraid to point it out -- because He cares about us.  He'd rather speak the Truth than leave us in the dark about the reality.  Wonderfully, though, He doesn't point it out to condemn us or beat us up about it.  He points it out, so we can be free from it.  He's able to be honest because He also provides a solution/answer....Himself.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

More Than A Paperclip

This weekend our family went on a hunt to replace some things in our kitchen.  My husband and I dragged ourselves and our kids on a focused mission.  We wanted to get in, get out, get home, be done.  But, to our dismay, we could not find what we were looking for.  Four stores and four hours later we came home with only one thing on the list.  I have to say, on any normal day, I would have been very irritated.  What a waste of a day.  To me, a good day is a productive day.  But, something happened in my heart on this 4 hour misson. 

I enjoyed the process. 

It became an afternoon of talking to my best friend and children.  Laughing.  Snacking.  Joking.  Singing.  Building a sense of camaraderie as we made decisions and choices together in the stores.  I got to experience... the present.  The gift of the here and now.  I got to experience... the moment.

Back when I used to do more office work, I had someone tell me, "Ya know, Valerie, life isn't about paperclips."  I didn't get it at the time.  I was task oriented.  It was all about checking off my to-do list and if I happened to interact with others in the process or change as a person, then that was fine.  But, the paperclip was the focus.

But, this weekend, I got it.  I genuinely understood that life isn't just about getting things accomplished.  It's so much more than that.   It's about enjoying each other on the road to that accomplishment.  It's about laughing and growing and gelling relationships as you go.  It's about discovering who you are and the One who made you. 

It's a journey.  It's moments.  Not just checkmarks in the day planner.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Just Relax

Zoey ran to the swing ahead of her Father.  Her adrenaline rushed faster than the breeze that was blowing that day. How she had looked forward to this time at the park. 

She sat down and began quickly swinging her legs back and forth as she had remembered seeing other kids do. But, her timing and rhythm was off. She could not seem to get herself started. 

But, she was determined.

She got her whole body into it as she used her arms to pull way back and way down. Then, she jerked her legs up as high as they could go and thrusted them downward. But, to no avail. She knew it worked. She just couldn't figure out how to make it work for her.

Then, she felt a firm Hand on her back. It was Daddy.

"Just relax, Zoey. I'll do the hard part. You just enjoy the ride."

And, with a gentle push, she was suddenly gliding high into the sky! And, each time she made contact with her Father, she was thrusted higher and more gloriously until she felt like she could poke her fingers into the clouds!

How much easier it was when she stopped her striving and just relaxed in Daddy's hands.

"Just Relax"

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Great Exchange

"I'll give you all of Mine and you give Me all of yours."

That's the bottom line promise.  He's asking for everything.  But, the contract guarantees us that we then receive from His Abundance.  We can hold Him to that agreement --even be bold about it.  It is The Great Exchange. 

But, will we do it? 

Are we willing to trade in our penny to receive the Gold He so desires to give us?  Are we willing to trade our poverty to receive His Riches -- unearned, undeserved?  Is our pride worth that much to us that we can't let it go so that we can partake of such a Rich Inheritance? 

It's not an even exchange.  It just isn't.  But, that's the beauty of it -- His bounty for our ashes.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Two Doors

A man took a journey on foot.  Before leaving, he packed his bag with everything he would need.  He knew this was going to be a journey of self-sufficiency.

At first, his travels went relatively smooth.  Until he reached the Great Wall.  The Wall was too big to climb over and too long to go around.  He was stuck. 

Suddenly, 2 doors appeared on the Wall, each leading to different places on the other side of the Wall.

One door read,
 "You may enter and bring what you have.  But, beware.  It will not be enough to sustain you on the other side."

The second door read,
"You may enter, but only alone.  Leave all self-provision at the threshold.  All will be provided."

What door do you think the man chose?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Help Me Stand

I think one of the funniest scenes to watch is two people trying to walk on a slippery surface together. Neither one has a sure footing, and the natural instinct is to grab for the nearest thing or person next to them for stability and balance. But, the other person is in the same boat. So, the comedy continues as they both slip and slide, grabbing on to whatever parts of each other's bodies their hands land on. Usually the climax of the skit is a dramatic tumbling and twisting of both people as they collapse inward on each other. Neither one found valid help. Neither one could offer any.

Funny when played out on shows like America's Funniest Home Video (AFV). But, not so hilarious when played out in real life relationships. Neither person is stable. Neither can offer much valid help. But, both still grab for each other as they spiral downward.

What's needed is a third party intervention -- someone who is not walking on the 'slippery surface' themselves. Someone who's footing is sure and can reach out to offer proper aid that will result in both people finding their stability again. Maybe it's someone who's been there themselves and knows just where they're coming from.

The question is though: Are the ones who are struggling willing to reach out for help?