Sunday, July 31, 2005

Homemaking College




You probably didn't know I go to Homemaking College.


Well, I do.


Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon. Or sometimes Tuesdays and Thursdays. Class times are up to me and can be held according to my own schedule.


That's the kind of freedom I have at Homemaking College.


The college is located in a really cool part of town. It's in my Dream Room.


We study from books which are never dull. Currently we're reading Mary Jane's Ideabook, Cookbook and Lifebook. It's a winner with the whole class, one of the best books from which we've ever studied. Someday I will live in the country and this book will help me be prepared for that.


We're learning 1940's-style decorating, too. We get to watch films in this class and are currently taking notes from the old Blondie and Dagwood movies. Our final exam will be to, on paper and in real-life, design and furnish a two-story home with a modern 1940's look.


I plan on getting an A on that final.


Another current text book is Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking. It's full of cooking stories from Laurie's early life and recipes, too. Cooking finals aren't my favorite, but they're good for me to complete anyway and they're fun to share with my husband.


We've covered childcare, classic adult and juvenile literature, gardening, economics, graphic design, nutrition, time management and creative writing. For the record, I'm majoring in decorating and minoring in homecare and home organization. But in case that's not your thing, I won't bore you with more details.


Homemaking College isn't for everyone. The entrance requirements are stiff.


You have to be creative.
You have to be self-motivated.
You have to be disciplined.
You can't be all concerned with degrees you can hold in your hand. You can't be in love with money.


You must have an imagination.


And nowadays, you must have guts to believe in what you're doing so that you're not swayed by the crowds who lie and tell you that you are trapped, stupid or lazy.


You have to be brave.


Like I said, the requirements are stiff. Not many people make it in.
Even fewer people see it through to graduation



******

Friday, July 29, 2005

Fast-Forward Or Play?




Currently, this world runs in Fast-Forward Time.

Rush, rush, rush, get that parking space at all costs--the one nearest the doors of the mall, so that you can hurry in and hurry out. 

Find the shortest check-out line in the supermarket, speed through that yellow traffic light, take the nondescript, walled-in freeway--it's so much faster.

Call ahead for Chinese food so you won't have to sit there with your spouse and wait in the quiet.

Hurry, hurry, hurry, even at home. Quickly unload the car and put the groceries away, hurry and do your homework, only time for a shower, never a bath or a song or a story. Answer the phone and the door and hurry and eat dinner so we can get going again.

The world is in Fast-Forward, but I am in Play.

I am still walking and noticing how the people in that lovely old Craftsman house repainted their porch and hung an airy green fern... and our neighborhood children have grown two-inches taller.

Still reading for fun in afternoons while summer hums and taking strolls and remembering when we had picnics at the lake with the church and with ourselves.

Still stopping for coffee at the supermarket and smiling while guessing peoples' stories and dreaming every chance I get so the dreams won't get lost.

Still listening to God-whispered secrets and clipping flowers,one perfect bloom by one perfect bloom in our yard for bouquets on our dining room table. And feeding seed to the morning birds and watching them eat the last of the raspberries in the patch.

Sometimes I find myself in Fast-Forward and you may not understand, but it horrifies me. And then I make myself slow down, slip back into Play. And Life is good again.

I choose Play because I choose Peace.



******

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

That Barnes And Noble Feeling




Oh my. We're having rain today, glorious wet, cold rain. 

And for the first time in weeks, the our house feels cool. I cannot celebrate enough! I've tried,yet I cannot feel grateful enough for this reprieve we have been granted. 

I spent time reading on our porch, drank coffee out there and reveled in those 65 damp degrees--and still I could not celebrate enough.

All morning and now into the afternoon, my house has had that Barnes and Noble Feeling. Classical music is playing, the good kind of classical that makes you feel as though your home is filled with lovely, expensive things when in reality, it's not.

And more. The lamps are switched on because of the darkness outside, lights shining down upon the woods of the tables I polished earlier, all the windows are open , welcoming an I'd-forgotten-what-a-cool-breeze-felt-like breeze. Coffee scent wafts everywhere upon my collections of books.

Earlier I swept the floors, washed the dishes and even washed a few cat nose prints from the windows. Everything is shiny, glowing.

Oh my. I love caring for my nest, my family and making them comfortable, giving them a cozy, clean place in which to grow and learn and relax. I cannot apologize for enjoying working with my hands to make a lovely, comforting home. 

The Bible tells us to serve one another in love and I believe true servanthood begins in our homes. Who are the greatest people in God's kingdom? Jesus said they are those with servants' hearts. Maybe if we could all begin humbly serving our families, we could then branch out and successfully serve and change this hurting world as Jesus, Himself, did.

Gotta run back upstairs for more of that Barnes and Noble Feeling. Tom will be home soon and I'd like to bake something homemade for him.



******

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Blogging--A Vehicle for 'Godly Gossip' ?




I was extremely blessed by reading this post, Truth and Blogging, over at Under the Acacias. It put into words my feelings this past week.

 A special thanks to Mr. Standfast for recommending it.

This might be controversial (hey, we all have to step out and be bold sometimes), but on Sunday I was Blog Exploding and found myself inside some both familiar and unfamiiar Christian blogs. Much of it disturbed me because many of the posts were written complaining about celebrities, evangelists and churches. 

The resulting comments? They went on and on in agreeing complaints, almost as though the commenters were having a good ol' time standing in a circle and throwing stones.

I wasn't certain why this all bothered me until it hit me--Isn't that something like gossip? Aren't we as Christians supposed to stay away from that? Aren't we supposed to say what Jesus would say if He was here?

And then this weird picture come to my mind. I could see Jesus sitting on the right hand of God in Heaven, leaning over to Him and saying, "You know, Father..... So-and-so has all this television time and all she ever talks about is herself. I can't see what anyone sees in her. People say she does good things for others, but I just don't see it.

"And so-and-so! I would not do what he is doing if I was preaching on tv. I don't believe what he believes about _____ --he must be off-base in all areas and not worth watching.


"And that church! They can't seem to do anything right. They should listen to the congregation's complaints more and then everything would be better."


And on and on into ridiculousness.

The more I meditated about how much Jesus passionately loves each and everyone of those people-- Christian and otherwise-- how He died for each one, how He pulls for and prays for each one, well, the more ludicrous that mind picture became.

Isn't it time we pulled for and prayed for each other? That we  use our time to blog encouragement and godly instruction rather than people's mistakes? Shouldn't we be asking God to shine His spotlight down upon our own imperfect heart first?

Just wondering.



******


"We dislike in others what we dislike about ourselves." ... Joyce Meyer

"He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity." ... Proverbs 21:23

Monday, July 25, 2005

Happy One-Year Anniversary...




... to my blog!

One year ago today, I began this blog with a post entitled, The Marys Of This World.

Hmmm. My theme has hardly changed in all these months and I feel no matter how much I branch out, I'll always return to this theme of quiet listening time with Jesus. This is what gives me life.

One year ago I didn't know most of you who read this blog. One year ago I didn't go around thinking, "Hmm. I should blog about that to my readers," nor did I walk around with you always on my mind. 

How much richer I am this year because of your friendship and words of encouragement and just by your being who you are.

So thank-you! And on this special day I anticipate another amazing year with all of you here.



******

The Night God Followed Me Home From Church




Eleven years ago our church experienced a welcomed invasion of the presence of God. Invasion is the correct word, because He invaded our same ol', same ol' traditional way of playing church and He gave us something a million times better.

He gave us His Presence. And suddenly I felt as though if I didn't kneel down, I would fall down. So I knelt, along with others around me, and that's when the liquid love poured down upon me. Oh my, the love poured down and I felt love for everyone in that room--even for those I'd barely liked before--and for all people I had ever known.

An hour later I got up, swaggered a bit, and that night God followed me home from church. And He has lived here ever since.

When God lives in your house, everything changes. Usually He starts by changing you, yourself. You can't get over the fact that He walks from room to room with you. It amazes you that He's staying this long, that He desires to be with you--you!-- every minute, whether night or day. You are shocked that He loves you that way. And when you know you are loved, you can do and be just about anything He wants you to do and be.

When God's in your house, you can't get away with what you used to. But then, you don't want to. You want to live better and be better.

His presence changed me. After being in the same room with Him you can't help but open the door and walk out changed. He brings great love and great light--and the light uncovers your heart's ugly junk. You are horrified to see it exposed.

But then--wonder of wonders-- the Light cleanses and heals your heart.

And your house shines from the inside-out, the Light follows you wherever you go, making your city appear different. People look changed and so do you.

It was the Presence of God which softened my stoney-Christian heart so that it could be further molded and changed by His hands however He chose to mold it on down through the years. His Light is like supernatural fire--it even melted the brick wall I'd built to keep Truth and other people outside.

And since God followed me home from church that night, everything remains in a constant state of change. His presence brings change, usually before I understand what God is doing and how and why He is doing it. Life is inside-out and upside-down and seldom logical with His Presence--and all these years later He is still living here.

He uncovers, sears, and then heals. He and His Presence which wakes me in the mornings and lies down with me at night. He and His Presence which, now, I could never live without for even half a minute.



******

"He places the cry in your heart, and He draws you--from beginning to end, it's all of Him." ... Bob Sorge

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Growing-Up Childlike




I'm still reading, still savoring the book, I Go By Sea, I Go By Land. Here is what I read this morning:

"Thirteen seems a very difficult age... Life seems to be running past you and you can't catch it... and you feel happy one day and miserable the next and like people and don't like them all in one breath and Nobody Understands You."

I read that and thought, "Gee, some of us are thirteen for such a long, long time."

I know I was. Happy one day, miserable the next, liking people then not liking them and believing no one understood me. Yep, I spent probably twenty years being thirteen.

Oh, the misery of living like that. The seldom controlling my emotions and believing self-control was for everyone else. Believing everyone else was the one with the problem. And never growing-up or growing beyond my changeable feelings.

Childishness--that's what it was. And I did not begin to grow up until I gained control of my own emotions. Until I slipped out of the leash they had around my neck.

Child-likeness, though, is different. Now I'm growing-up child-like,  with wonder, curiosity and appreciation of art and music and nature and wanting my life to be so full, that even the corners are flooded and not empty. Or maybe not even have any corners at all--just a circle of love and peace and joy.

Child-likeness is everything that's good about being a child. Childishness is everything that's bad or lacking or mis-directed.

And I had to lose the childishness before I could grow-up happy and child-like. Childishness and happiness could not co-exist inside me. One of them had to go.

It took a choice--no, many choices-- on my part. And  courage--and lots of letting go of that which was old and familiar.



******

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." ... Ephesians 4:22-24


***

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Asking a Favor


Ok, I'm going to get real, even though it might hurt someone's feelings.

You're probably not supposed to have a favorite blog just like you're not supposed to have a favorite child, but, er, my very favorite blog in all Blogdom is Kelly's Home Is Where One Starts From. Her blog has been my favorite since the day I discovered it. I love both her writing style and what she writes about.

I want to write like Kelly when I grow-up. Funny thing is, I am exactly twice her age.

Hmmm. I'm thinking I'm already hopelessly behind.

Anyway. Does anyone out there know of another blog very much like Kelly's? One with similar writing style and full of contemplative wisdom and with great attention paid to detail? I've tried for months to find one but have failed. Of course, there is only one Kelly--I realize that--so there is only one blog exactly like hers--and that is hers.

But still.  Do you know of one which comes close? I am blog hungry again and well, you know how sometimes you have a craving for just one thing--spaghetti or potato chips or mashed potatoes--and only that one thing will do? Well, that's how I am feeling during this latest blog hunt. Only another blog like Kelly's will do.

All suggestions will be appreciated!

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Pels Among Us




This morning I'm rereading the book by P.L. Travers called, I Go By Sea, I Go By Land. A highly re-readable book indeed... probably my fourth time to read it.

I read this passage and knew I had to share it with you:

"Pel is our Family Friend. She writes books...She makes you laugh and dance inside yourself and at the same time you feel that she is somebody who will always be there and that is a very safe feeling."

I think we need more Pels among us. We need more Christians who make us laugh and dance inside. I find so few and I read so many serious blogs--wordy, critical, stuffy-choking Christian blogs. After awhile, they make me hang my head. They do not make me dance.

Oh, I'm not saying that everyone should go around pretending to have joy if they do not yet have joy. After all, you can't pretend to be a real-life Pel. You either are one or you're not.

I am saying though, that I wish I knew more Christians who have really been set free. Ones with so much real joy that they can't help but spill it over in showering drops. 

People built stronger than the Titanic--ones who don't sink after running into just one iceberg.

I wish I knew more Pels. People who are free, ones who have learned to stay free--and to share their freedom.

People who are fun to be with, ones who laugh, dance inside and out, shaking-up the joy like shaking-up a bottle of 7-Up and swoosh! Spraying it upon the hopeless wherever they go.



******

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." ... John 8:36

Thursday, July 21, 2005

One Day At A Time




I spent too much of my life feeling overwhelmed, fearing that, because I didn't have the ability to do huge, important things, I could accomplish nothing lasting. But that greatly changed when I learned about One Day At A Time Philosophy.

There are 365 days in a year. If I round that off to 350 days , here are some figures I will get if I apply One Day At A Time Philosophy:

If I make one simple improvement to my house each day, in one year I will have made 350 improvements. Changes can be anything from hanging a picture, painting a door, dying a load of dish towels, rearranging my living room or cleaning out a closet(or drawer). And if I make two small changes each day, by the year's end I'll have made 700 changes in my home (!)

If I read and meditate upon one Bible verse each day, in one year I will have meditated upon 350 Bible verses. I don't know about you, but I have a hard time consciously meditating upon two Bible chapters and a Psalm and a Proverb--intricately and thoroughly--all day to where all those verses change me forever. I can handle one verse, though, and let it sink in deep.

If I do one small act of kindness each day for either friends and/or strangers, by the year's end I will have done 350 acts of kindness for others. Three-hundred and fifty!

And so on.

And of course, I'm not just talking about numbers for the sake of numbers so that I can pat myself on the back. But rather, so much of our life is out of our control (face it, it is), and yet each day I can still make choices, simple things which add up into the thousands over years and Time.

In other words, I am not as helpless as I sometimes whine that I am.

One day at a time, one thing at a time. There's nothing overwhelming in that at all.



******

"Inch by inch, anything's a cinch." ... Robert Schuller

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Uh-Oh-- I'm Watching A TV Reality Show




The world must be ending! 

Last week Miss Pollyanna starting watching a real-live tv reality show. What's more -- I loved it. I'm planning on watching it every single week.

Unfortunately I caught only the last hour of two. What in the world was it? It was Brat Camp on ABC. It's a show where troubled teens were sent out to the high desert by their parents with a team of counselors/professionals who take groups out like this all the time. The kids were told by their parents they'd be gone a week, but turns out, it will be a minimum of 40 days (if I recall correctly).

Now, ok. The parents should have probably told the kids the truth up front--what exactly they were getting into. But (and some of you will disagree, probably those of you who have tiny, cute, obedient children)--desperate times do sometimes call for desperate measures.

The show will be on again tonight and rather than tell you all about the problems these kids were exhibiting in their homes, etc.,  I'll let you watch it for yourself. If you wish.

Why would I like such a program? It must be the teacher-me, the huge desire I have within my heart to see people turn around and view Life things in a new brighter light. My wanting to see people come to peace within themselves and their families.

And ok, I'm a fixer. 

Or rather, one of my main goals is to aim people toward the greatest Fixer of them all. And not that Brat Camp will do that by the series' end, but hopefully it can calm these kids down so that they'll glimpse something to keep them going, alive and out of prison while they search for that which is real, abundant life.



******

A note: If you are the type of person who believes that an easy, pampered life will make kids and adults stronger, you will definitely not like Brat Camp.

Monday, July 18, 2005

More Looking Back




I can't believe what I used to do years ago. 

Each September as soon as Naomi would return to school, I'd put on my 'business face.' I'd dress-up and make-up and then leave the house in the car after Naomi walked out the door. I'd shop and run errands--some real, some made-up-- trying to appear efficient and important and as busy as all my friends. I wanted everyone to know I took my homemaking seriously and that I treated it like a 9 to 5 job. I was 'just a housewife' and I was so concerned about how other people viewed me and all that I did.

Good grief--it may as well have been Halloween with all the pretending I was doing. Talk about insecure.

I've recalled all that play-acting lately, how it felt rather like being an actor in front of an empty auditorium. I mean, who really cared about my supermom-pretending? Who watched me and felt impressed? That is, who besides me?

No wonder I was so often unhappy. So often I was untrue to myself. So often a phony, trying to be someone I only thought I wanted to be--and never being empty enough of myself so that Jesus could be seen. 

It's hard for Him to shine through the fog of pretence. 

And it's nearly impossible to accept and love other people right where they are if I cannot first love and accept myself right where I am.

Why do we do this to ourselves? (I'm glad you asked.) For me, I couldn't accept that I was just fine, what I enjoyed was as valid as the things other people liked. 

And to God I was as valid as everyone else, too. Just as I was. 

Only when that became a fact to me--not just a nice thought I repeated over and over, but a fact--only then could I slow down and be me. And love who I was--and who Jesus is within me.

Now I love, best and most, the days I just get to stay home and paint walls, read, garden, embroider, wash dishes and dream. I am so grateful that now I'm perfectly content to play--to be real-- before my audience of One.



******

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Different Paths of Childhood




Just finished reading Honestly, Katie John! by Mary Calhoun. And ok, so it's a book aimed at 11-year-olds. But it was a painful book for me to read, even now at my 'certain age'.

Painful because Katie John felt wildly different than all her friends--and oh, the memories that brings! She thought they gave importance to non-important things, wasting their days. Katie-John then rebels and becomes anti-everything her friends stand for--which she discovers is not the answer, either. By the book's ending, she learns to allow her friends to be who they are and to allow herself to be herself.

At age 14 I was like Katie-John. I remember standing in my bedroom all Scarlett-O'Hara-ish declaring, "Never again will I act like everyone else because I am like no one else!" I had different thoughts and values, but not until that day did I realize that was all right. You know, being out-of-step with 95% of everyone else.

But while I was 14, that's exactly what I began to realize.

And instead of being blown away by the unlike me folks, I began feeling grateful for the 5% who enjoyed the same things I did.

And this will sound weird, but I also grew to be thankful for my own company. I enjoyed being with this girl inside my skin, the one unlike most folks. She and I made all sorts of fun discoveries together--we read books no one else was reading, we wrote stories, took walks and imagined all sorts of adventures.

Most important, we began following where we thought God was leading, even different, crowdless path. And we found ourselves in wonderful places which led us to where we are now.

After all these years, we're happy. Contented.

And I'll bet Katie-John is one happy lady, too.



******


"Birds fly in flocks, but eagles fly alone." ... Joyce Meyer


"Haven't they got anything more important to do?"
Sue murmured soothingly about it being a little thing, but Katie-John surged on.
"That's just it. It's little!... Everything they do is little, silly, giggly. Don't you see, Sue, this boy-chasing--it's such a little way of life!"

... From Honestly, Katie John! by Mary Calhoun

Friday, July 15, 2005

Not-So-Terrific Thursday


Well, I could give you a whole list of what went wrong yesterday, too, but I will spare you. It was one of those days which was so ridiculous--one thing after another--that you just had to laugh. Either that, or ruin the day by feeling frustrated and cranky.

But I chose to laugh. I chose to just keep drawing Life and humor and strength from God because I had too many years where, on days like that, I drew negativity, whining, complaining and misery instead. I now prefer Life and I've learned to receive it in the midst of days-gone-wrong, almost like an injection from God, Himself. It's hard to explain. It's kind of like the sap which keeps trees healthy and holding up their branches toward heaven. Lovely, life-giving God Sap.

Anyway, the highlight of my day? Going to the little supermarket less than a mile from us. I really should shop there more often. They have been in business for ...hmmm... I believe nearly 70 years and recently they had old black and white photos enlarged of their early years. All around the store up on the walls are huge photos of past clerks in their white aprons and customers, too, in their nifty hats and dresses. And the outside photos show old cars from the 1940's in the parking lot. Also, there are other scenes of other buildings in our town from days when much of it was empty fields.

Every time I walk into that store I feel as though I am a young bride again, of 25 years ago. This store is very much like the one I shopped in when I was first married and Naomi was just a baby munching Cheerios in the cart. Only that store was 2,500 miles away from where I am now, and more, that store was demolished years ago. How sad to see the empty lot there on Main Street when we visited our old hometown last October.

But our store here is still very much alive and hopping and always has a festive feeling. It's customers always seem happier and from a different time. And like I said, I'm reminded of the years I was in my 20's and pinching pennies like crazy and using ground beef 100 different ways and trying new recipes every week--trying to make something from nothing and feeling pretty proud of myself when I succeeded. Those were the days I would search the couch cushions for change when I needed margarine and then I'd walk to the store because I had no driver's licence, and buy the margarine (on sale) and feel downright thrifty--and grateful.

And now I am 46--or 'pushing 50' as I call it--and those days feel so long ago. I don't buy half of what I used to because we are trying to eat healthier--we can't get away with eating the old way anymore. But when I visit that store and push my cart through aisles which have seen fashions and hairstyles and fads from the 1940's through today, I feel catapulted back in Time. I am that young wife feeling like she's playing house and loving the game. It's even the days of Father Knows Best and Leave It To Beaver once again -- and I feel as though I have come home.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Not-So-Wonderful Wednesday




Yesterday...argh.

First thing in the morning, the house was like a sauna because the great outdoors was that way.

Second thing, the vet called at 8:30 a.m. to say that the previous day's tests came back for our (favorite) cat, Lennon. Looks like he's a diabetic. I'll have to give him shots since Tom faints at the sight of needles (I am so not kidding).

Third thing, Tom had the day off, but he wasn't feeling well. So we camped-out in our room all day with the air-conditioner and tv and DVD's. I embroidered a little bit. It was too hot to do anything else.

Fourth thing, Naomi emailed me to say she'd been very sick since Sunday, had seen the doctor on Tuesday and was told she had an ear infection in each ear. We called her to see if she wanted us to bring her anything, but she said no thanks.

We all have days like that and the temptation when I do? To meditate upon what is going wrong. To play it over and over in my mind like a video tape you watch until it wears thin.

And that is the test. Will I play that tape in my head until I have it memorized? Until it gets me so down that a grey day turns black? Until it overwhelms me to the point where I just choose to let the sad waves wash over me and I'm unable to reach out and help anyone else out there in that sea?

Or will I choose discipline? To make my mind go only where I want it to go, to things 'which are lovely, worthy of praise, excellent and of a good report'. To just take care of what I can and then trust that the rest will either take care of itself. Or that God will handle the rest.

There is a season for everything. Yesterday was my 'season' for acceptance, for trusting that this, too, shall pass. For keeping foremost in my mind and heart that God is still God, He is still good, and He is still in control.

And He still brings joy in the morning.



******

Monday, July 11, 2005

No One Has It All


I just finished watching the second part of Oprah's interview with Brooke Shields concerning Brooke's postpartum depression. I remember after I watched the first half months ago, some women bloggers sounded quite surprised that someone as gorgeous and wealthy as Brooke could ever be depressed. Some of them even questioned the validity of Brooke's incredible struggle as though being a beautiful, famous celebrity would, of course, make one immune from such problems.

Well, I was shocked, too--shocked that anyone could believe that wealth and beauty and stardom would totally satisfy, fulfill and guard anyone from deep pain.

But then I reminded myself that many years ago I used to make my own share of "If only..." statements. "If only I was gorgeous like ____, then I would be happy." Or "If only I had more money, then I would be happy and content." "If only I was thinner/well-known/living in a bigger house/driving a better car/had more friends/had more opportunities to teach...blah...blah...blah.... then I would be happier/more fulfilled/able to do more/ and just generally a much better/kinder/freer person."

It took me a few years, but I finally woke up.

I could have each and every one of those things, and still--still--not one of them would fulfill and satisfy me for me than just a little while. Only Jesus brings with Him any permanent satisfaction. Only in Him have I ever found true joy, peace and contentment--anything-- which lasted more than a few months.

Trust me, I spent quite a few years looking in lots of other places for what only Jesus gives me now every day of my life. I am grateful beyond words that fortunately, I looked in 'nice' places and not the terribly scarey places where some people search. But no matter, even in those nice places I kept hitting brick walls--no real, lasting peace or anything else of lasting goodness. Just a whole lot of frustration and discontent because God designed it that way--that the more I searched in places where He was not, the more I relied upon other things and other people to make me happy--the more unhappy I became.

I am never going back to where I once was... Yet even as my title says, no one has it all. Not even Christians. Why not? Because if we did, we'd lose our sense of needing God every single moment of our lives. We'd also feel like we didn't need other people, too. We like to believe that could never, ever happen to us, but it could...it would... because of these earthly bodies we now occupy("The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" ... Jeremiah 17:9). These hearts like to take control and run with it.

Jesus likes to keep us needy... needy for Him... needy for that which is true life.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

There Are Still Safe Places





Early this morning I drove over to our local tourist town.

I mostly window shopped, but then my feet became tired just as my head did of such outrageous prices everywhere. Although not the pinch-penny I once was, neither have I abandoned all common sense to the point where I will pay $149 for a simple bedspread.

So I picked up some lunch then drove to a parking lot very near the old-fashioned movie theater I have told you about. From the outside, the theater is just a squat, white, non-descript building. It's the inside which grabs your collar and whisks you away to the 1940's. Like many things in this life, if you judge that theater only from the outside, you'll miss every wonderful thing about it.

Anyway, I sat in a parking lot very near there because of huge green trees across the street and only a couple houses. I thought, "How do some people live without trees and woods, especially the kind which go-rainbow in Autumn? It's hard for me to dream while I am looking at buildings in a city like the one I visited today so I took my lunch to that parking lot--to watch the trees and dream at noon on a Saturday morning.

And in the middle of my dreams and onion rings I thought, "You know? I feel just as safe right here as I do in my own home." In fact, all morning as I'd driven from store to store to shopping mall, I'd felt God's arms, His presence, around me, even as the thoughts of the horrible tragedy in London came to mind. 

Our own tourist town has often been mentioned as a potential place for a terrorist strike.

Often I think about what it is that really makes me safe--it's not the locks on my doors and windows at home--not really. If some lunatic was determined to break into my home, he could probably find a way. Same goes for my car.

Do I usually keep my doors and windows locked at home? Yes, out of wisdom, I always do. 

But you won't find me cowering afraid, inside, nor depending only upon those locks. Instead, You'll find me trusting God and the wisdom He gives. I mean, you'll never see me walking dark streets late at night alone or accepting rides from strangers! 

No, again, there is such a thing as wisdom and common sense and listening so to always be found in the center of His will.

Yet, if the center of His will someday takes me to an unsafe place, I'll trust Him there, also, and may I always live my life ready to leave it in a second, without loose ends and regrets.

And in the meantime, that my heart will know I'm safe and loved wherever my feet take me.


******


"Go with God..."

"For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways..." Psalm 91:11

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Can Anyone Have Too Many Friends?




You ask a simple question like, "Can anyone have too many friends?," and people morph into instant parrots, mimicking words they have always heard before: "No, of course not! Friends are treasures and the more you have, the better."

Come on. Has anyone besides me ever thought that question through?

For one thing, it's possible to have so many friends that you end up being a good friend to none. We can spread ourselves too thin, you know. 

We can have friends who pull us in directions we ought not to go. Friends who spin us out of balance because of the time, money and effort they ask of us. Friends who require they come before our families, our work, our other relationships.

--friends who keep us so busy, distracted that we come to the end of our lives never having fulfilled our destiny, our purpose.

--friends who carry with them a negativity about life which attaches itself to us, yanking us downward into discomfort, darkness of mind.

-- friends who get offended at the drop of a hat, requiring of us extra time in trying to heal their wounds.

-- friends who ask us to support their dreams with our words, time and help, but never returning the favor.

--and again, we can even have so many wonderful, generous friends, that we spend the majority of our days feeling guilty because we're unable to give back to them all they gave to us.

--and more.

Five years ago I went online and found old friends in this Internet World and new friends, kindred spirits galore and now this incredible Blogland.

And eegads. Color me overwhelmed. I so want to keep up with everyone! With each of you, but I can't, not if I also want to complete the callings God has given me to fulfill before I die.

You'll find no parrot here. I've thought this one out and this is what I have experienced first-hand. If you can keep up with 200 close, personal friends, more power to you! 

I seriously wish I could, but well, no. I simply can't.

***
Clarification: I do realize there are many different types of friendships, each requiring different amounts of time, effort, etc. But the real tragedy is when I start telling my closest friends, "If you want to keep up with what's new with me, you'll have to check my blog." That, to me, is pathetic. And that is exactly what I've been doing lately--and it's going to stop.

"Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people)... Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is." Ephesians 5:15,17


******

This Is Our World Now


I watched the news of the terrorist attacks on London and I thought, not for the first time, "This is our world now."

Oh, not the everyday and everywhere world, but a bigger part of our world than I like to realize. And I think we must each ask ourselves what are we going to do about it?

Will I hide in my house, will I make it my world, only venturing out when I must? Will I watch life from a tv screen with movie actors instead of experiencing it for myself? Will I leave a legacy of fear and distrust to my daughter?

Or will I keep my eyes on God? Will I do whatever it takes to keep the peace within me when I can see it nowhere outside of me? Will I operate from a base of the peace and assurance others who fall apart in times of great stress will need to help them keep going?

The time to prepare for a crisis is not in the middle of a crisis. I first heard that ten years ago and I have spent those years preparing for times such as these. But too off and on, hit and miss--and that must change.

I believe in walking ready, living ready, 24/7 and to share comfort, encouragement with those who did not prepare early.

--and with those who have absolutely no idea that there is One who sticks closer than a brother, especially in days and times like these. Especially in this world such as we know it now.

How to prepare? By paying attention to that still, small voice, even if it means getting quiet when everyone is telling you you are wasting your time.

By reading what God says about real life in His word and then doing what we have read--even when it hurts.

By remaining teachable, not proud.

By getting real with ourselves. Letting God deal with and humble us instead of running to Him complaining about how others act and trying to do in them what only God can do.

By keeping our houses in order--the one of wood, the one of flesh.

By letting God have the final word. Staying when He says stay, going when He says go. Speaking when He says speak, shutting our mouths when He says shut your mouth.

Ultimately---by surrendering to and obeying God and loving others as He does. And by loving others even while it's not easy. 

We cannot give away that which we do not already have so to give away the comfort of God I must first be receiving it for myself.

***

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Fireworks From The Rooftop




Always, we've been able to watch our town's fireworks display from our sunroom windows. Well, often it's been just me watching, alone, because usually Tom has to work graveyard shift on the Fourth of July. Or it's been me with a cat beside me.

This year was supposed to be one of those rare, gleaming 4th's which Tom was going to have off from work, but we got a call early in the afternoon--someone was sick, could Tom come in and work the graveyard shift?

I will spare you my biting words of disappointment. 

We'd been ready to head out the door to go to our old-fashioned theater to watch Cinderella Man. Instead, Tom had to go to bed and sleep away the afternoon. On normal days this is hard enough, but on holidays, it's nearly impossible for this Pollyanna to handle that stuff with grace.

Well, Pollyanna failed that test. And that's sad, because the day didn't turn out badly at all. Tom went to bed, yes, and I hung around feeling sorry for myself, ok. But then Naomi came over later and I got Tom up and by phone we discovered he wouldn't have to work the whole night--just 3 a.m. until 7 a.m.. And so the three of us sat around the dining room table and had one of the nicest talks we'd had in months--

--and after Naomi left, Tom went to get the two of us movies and dessert. Surprisingly, he was able to find the old classic, Double Indemnity, which months ago, Hollywood Video told us they didn't have in stock--but they had it yesterday. Tom had never seen that movie and I only vaguely remembered that although I'd hated the ending, I'd enjoyed Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck and their over-the-top dialogue.

After the movie ended and Tom said he'd been pleasantly surprised at how good the film was, the fireworks outside our sunroom windows began. Tom said, "Hey! Maybe we can watch them from the roof this time." Yes! For the first year, those windows which stretch across the top front of our house belonged to me, not Naomi--they are the windows of my dream room. 

So we ran upstairs, into my hot, darkened room and then threw open one of the small windows. And this was no easy task--we each squeezed through and on out into the black night--out upon roofing shingles like the world's best sandpaper.

What a view! Much better than the one in the sunroom below us, what with trees partially in the way. We sat there watching the bright exploding colors before us, telling each other how much better this was than fighting all the traffic surrounding the park where the fireworks originate. And this was sweeter, as always, just watching fireworks from our own home--this time upon our own roof.

And I sat there next to Tom feeling sorry about the way I'd handled the disappointment of the early afternoon. I should have known that God would come through for me and turn this day into something just right. And man, I apologized to Him for doubting His ability to redeem a day-gone-sour. 

I was sorry I'd acted like I used to almost constantly ten years ago.

And, sitting up there on the sloping roof in my black skirt and bare feet, with sweat dripping down my neck, I knew that some review lessons on handling disappointment are probably heading my way. Hopefully I will pass those upcoming tests.

It was even harder squeezing back into my room though the little window when the fireworks ended. But the show had been worth every bit of the trouble to see it. 

The night, the entire day, had become one to remember.

******

"Is anything too hard for the Lord?" ... Genesis 18:14

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Respecting Silence




I've taken some time off from blogging because, well, nothing is coming to mind to write about. 

Just little themes here and there ("Maybe I could write about ___. Or wait! Maybe about _____, instead.") But it gets no further than that and I know I'm only grasping for straws. And you deserve better.

I'm learning to respect God's silences. To honor His teaching times and my student times--and to not panic and start reasoning why, why, why I'm unable to write freely like before. 

Instead, I love being reminded of who I am apart from my blogging and  alone with Him. I've watched many people get excited by their ministry and then turn unexcited about Him. Then burned out. I don't want that to be me.

And I am learning to not run out and shoot off my mouth, pretending like it's God speaking through me, when it's so not.

Maybe the words will return tomorrow. Perhaps He'll let me write about my day or weekend or silly things. Maybe He won't. This blog is His--my life is His--so again, I must respect the silence.

And I know you will, also.



******

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." ... Psalm 46:10