Sunday, April 30, 2006

If We Really Believed It...


If we honestly, truly believed Jesus passionately loved us...

We might just stop thinking He was mad at us all the time... and we might just stop hiding, hanging our heads and feeling condemned, and instead, feel His approval simply because we belong to Him.

...we might just anticipate happily the day ahead and what time spent with Jesus might bring, instead of dreading the unknown hours to come. We might not be lonely, worried, depressed or afraid.

If we really believed Jesus loved us, then His words to us would mean more than others' criticizing words... and we'd no longer have to break our necks seeking approval... we'd no longer act like achievement is what earns God's acceptance.

...we might just relax and feel better... we might just have some joy and become stronger... we might just stop passing along our own wrong thoughts and hang-ups about God and instead, we might just pass along true peace, true acceptance and the true love from the very heart of Jesus.

If only we really believed it and splashed around in it every single day of our lives...

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Thing About Words...


Did you watch American Idol both nights this week?

I have to say... On Tuesday night I was very, very bothered by the things Randy, Paula and Simon said to Katharine after her song. I mean, I've watched this show for years, yet rarely--rarely--have Randy and Paula's comments, to me, come-off sounding over-the-top-critical-bordering-on-cruel. As for Simon, well, that's just old hat for him to sound mean. Yet on Tuesday night, his dreadful comments to Katharine really, really upset me. I felt he had humiliated Katharine in front of millions of people and I admired Katharine's enormous courage in not running off the stage in tears--which I, certainly, would have done, had it been me. In fact, Tom missed that part of the show so the next morning I told him what happened and I got all-teary-eyed just recounting the details for him.

The whole thing was odd. I mean, hey... I'm a big girl... I watch American Idol every week and by the next day, generally, I forget which kid is even still left in the competition. But this was different. Off and on all day Wednesday I was haunted by Simon's especially-sarcastic and unjust treatment of Katharine. And I'm sure I must have said some kind of prayer about it, but don't ask just what I prayed. I can't remember exactly.

Then along came Wednesday night! Ryan said that many people had called in complaining the night before. And then Simon nodded and did something I'd never seen him do (he may have before, but I'd not seen it)... He said, after watching the tape of the previous night's show, he felt he and the other judges owed one of the contestants an apology. Oh my, you should have seen me... I jumped up and shouted, "Katharine, right? Say it! Say it's Katharine!"

And that is just what he said.

Oh my... I was squealing and jumping up and down (Tom was at work, so I was alone and able to act quite silly).

Yet, when all that happened, this verse immediately came to my mind:

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pitchers of silver." ... Proverbs 25:11

It was as though Simon's apology brought a type of healing--certainly for Katharine-- but in a way, for me, too. I felt such a release from that nagging feeling of injustice suffered by another person... the thing which had haunted me all day.

Words are powerful. Apologies are both powerful and healing. And I wish we'd all get over the lie which tells us we will appear smaller if we apologize to others.

The exact opposite is true.


***
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof." ...Proverbs 18:21

I Live Where ...


Okay, I confess... I am overdoing this creative writing thing. But I'm blaming it all on how enchanted I was by the I Am From idea which I first discovered at Ilona's blog.

But it's just that this morning I had my teeth cleaned at the dentist's and afterward when I walked through the waiting room, I noticed a few jackets sitting on the chairs with not a soul around to guard them. You can do that here. Everywhere there are little nooks where people leave their coats and hats and scarves unwatched and then actually find them when they return for them later.

I don't think you can do that in every town now... can you? But we still do it here and rather than take that, and other things, for granted, I thought I'd write about what it's like to live where I do...

I Live Where...

I live where most of the houses stand two or three stories tall and are old and close together ... where huge trees line the streets and meet over your head in the middle... where during Autumn, you feel like you're driving in a parade because all the leaves fall and twist down upon your windshield like confetti... where neighborhoods look just as they did 70 years ago, except that the cars are newer.

I live where people of any age still hold the door open for you at convenience stores--even if you walk a little slow they will wait for you... where you hear happy chatter and laughter in the supermarket, yard sales and the Farmer's Market--so much so, that you expect to see people dancing in the streets.... where the Spring morning air makes you feel ten years old again... and when company drives away, they beep the car horn twice.

I live where church bells chime songs three times a day... ice cream trucks bring children racing out of houses in summer... and many homes have a tiny latched door for the milk delivery guy ... where Henshaw's Dairy still will bring you milk and ice cream in their 1950's tan truck and newspaper boys pull blue wagons down quiet Sunday morning streets.

I live where, when you take a weekday afternoon walk, you'll see women hanging their laundry in the backyard or sweeping their sidewalks while wearing aqua dusters and with their hair wound in a scarf... where estate sales in old houses are like trips back to the 1930's and neighbors sit on front porches in wicker during summer evenings so humid that little wisps of steam hang mid-air like fog... where, with your head upon your pillow late at night, the horns of trains sound like the trumpets of Benny Goodman's band.

I live where you can forget sometimes that it's 2006... where I'd love to live for the rest of my life--but if I should leave, I will take this place with me wherever I may go--and then plant it like a seed while hoping it will grow into something as sweet somewhere else.

Those Little People On Your Shoulders


You know how on tv they sometimes show someone with tiny good and evil versions of themselves standing upon their shoulders? And how both those mini-version-people argue back and forth about what the big person in the middle should do, be it good or evil?

Well, I've been thinking about those little people... how I probably have them sitting on my shoulders, too.

And you know? I'm thinking of starving the little evil twin and feeding the little good twin so that she can become the healthier, wiser, more robust one.

So look out little evil twin girl... I am aiming to stop feeding you platefuls of hurt feelings, unforgiveness, laziness, self-pity, negative thinking, bad news and worry. You've eaten quite enough at that sorry table and I've wearied of your extra weight weighing me down, making me lopsided on the negative side.

Now it's time to concentrate on feeding the little good twin girl... She's been asking for extra helpings of kindness to strangers, optimism (even in 2006), a peaceful pace resulting from wisdom and the serenity which comes from truly knowing God. It's time that the little good twin girl become the strongest, clearest-speaking of the two. It's time that I pay more attention to what will make her grow.

And it's up to me to feed her the right stuff.


***
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." ... Philippians 4:6-7

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Just An Evening Note


Well, my husband moved next door today.

Next door to 50, that is, for today Tom turned 49. (Did I scare you?)

Of course, I am teasing him about being so old... and of course he will tease me when I turn 49.

So happy birthday to the man of my dreams... Even after all these years, he is still the one for me.

Oh! Would you like to read three incredible 'I Am Froms'? Each of these brought tears to my eyes and gave me hope for the adults of Tomorrow. I think Mary is raising a whole houseful of future poet laureates. Seriously. I am in awe--truly.

I Am From by Mary's 11-year-old son.
I Am From by Mary's 14 year-old son.
I Am From by Mary's 16-year-old daughter.
I Am From by Mary's 18-year-old daughter.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I Am Aiming For...


Remember that I Am From thing I did awhile ago? Well, I've read so many beautiful examples this week from others' blogs that I kicked around the idea of trying another I Am From. Then I thought, "Nah, that would be overkill or something." But then I thought aha! Since I Am From deals with the past, perhaps I could try a variation, one concerning the future.

So here it is... I am calling it I Am Aiming For... These are some of the things the Holy Spirit is always nagging--er--reminding me to let Him help me do...

I Am Aiming for...

I am aiming for always paying my bills on time... for eating right, taking my vitamins, and just accepting the fact that the older I get, the more high-maintenance I am becoming.

I am aiming for worrying less about my husband and daughter... for not being too shy to greet my neighbors when I'm in the yard and for not complaining about them to my husband when they make choices I would never make.

I am aiming for the law of kindness to be upon my tongue... for not always feeling like I have to teach people something... for listening to what others say they'd like so I can become better at giving gifts... for keeping-up with my email and my blog and not watching as much tv, even the good stuff, like Touched By An Angel and The Waltons.

I am aiming for finally cleaning-out our basement and our car and our guest room (and those other dirty little secrets in my house)... for freely letting go of my possessions... for finishing my painting projects and not pinching pennies because of old fears. For helping elderly ladies in the supermarket reach things on shelves... for not forgetting to give to charity.

I am aiming for growing older gracefully and spending more time alone with God... for relying on Him to help me remember things since my own memory has become so bad... for complaining less and praying more... and for seeking above all else, to know and love God better.

The Calm One


Way back when Naomi was 12, or so, and we were in our Nevada Years, we all spent one 4th of July evening at the home of our friends, Donna and Galen and their 2 daughters. The other guests that evening were mutual friends, Don and Darcy and their daughter and son. After a wonderful picnic dinner in the backyard and lively chatter until dark, a few simple fireworks were brought out. Nothing fancy, big or dangerous, you understand, just simple little noisemakers and such.

Our little crowd sat together in the summer desert darkness while Jacob, age 11, and his dad lit the various fireworks just almost at our feet. Suddenly, a pop! sounded and then Jacob screamed. A spark, or something, had flown at his eye. Instantly, his dad was next to him, asking if he was ok and we could hear that parental fear one hears in a parent's voice at such times.

But then here is what I remember best... Galen, our doctor friend, very calmly, even nearly on the lighthearted side said something rather like, "Come here, Jacob, and let's see what you've gotten yourself into." Both Galen and Don then led the crying Jacob calmly into the house, sat him on a table beneath a light and then Galen examined the eye. The whole time, Galen spoke lightly, smiling, saying stuff like, "These things happen sometimes on the 4th of July," and that he'd bet Jacob would laugh about this while telling his grandchildren someday.

After Jacob calmed down, Galen suggested that he, Don and Jacob go to his nearby office where he could look at the eye closer. He said it looked as though there was just a tiny burn mark on Jacob's face and that the eye, itself, looked fine, but they'd go to the office just to make sure and that besides, all the fireworks had been set-off so it was time for a ride anyway.

And after they left--and the other two moms cursed all fireworks and their ilk--I stood in the kitchen thinking how comforting it must be to have a doctor around all the time. Someone who could stitch you all up if you broke apart in an accident. Someone who knows what he's doing... someone who wouldn't faint at the sight of blood or go crying or screaming into a corner just when you most needed him.

...someone whose calm demeanor can leave a whole room peaceful and serene when it could have, instead, been filled with panic.

But mostly, how wonderful to, in any situation, have a person around who can keep his head when everyone else is losing theirs (as the saying goes). How amazing, nowadays, to know people who don't fall apart whenever things go wrong... people who stand calmly in a storm... people who can walk through this life bravely with the courage and hope which only come from God, Himself--and thus help others to stay calm and hopeful in hard times, too.

And well, that's how I want to be... A reflection of that same strong spirit of God...someone who may not be a doctor, but who can still be counted on to bring healing and peace into any room in scarey, difficult times.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Cheering Alone


Until I was 41, this pretty much had been my life...

I was a strange little kid. When I was 7, I'd cry happy tears during the reunions on Truth or Consenquences and This Is Your Life. I played classical music on my transistor radio while my friends played rock and roll. I collected blue-bellied lizards while the other girls collected Kiddles and bracelets. My family loved stream-lined, brand new houses and I loved leaning, paintless-brown barns in the middle of wheat fields.

As a teenager, I read Jane Eyre while my friends read Jaws and I loved watching Carousel while everyone at school talked about American Graffiti. I adored the people who my family barely tolerated. I hated college while everyone else reveled in it. My friends loved loud parties and I loved quiet heart-talks on the seashore.

As a young wife, I wanted to be the best little homemaker on Earth while other wives all went back to school and then got jobs. I wanted to spend time with my young, blonde daughter while my friends schemed each week to get babysitters as often as they could. I read dusty old books and Gladys Taber, (who nobody had even heard of) and I watched the tv shows no one else could stand. I spent hours in the kitchen and at the sewing machine while everyone else went out and bought ready-made.

I'm skipping a lot of other examples, but well, you get the idea, I'm sure.

I say this went on till I was 41 because it was then that I went online. And finally--finally!-- I found all those people I'd imagined in my head since I was a child. Finally I discovered that yes! There are other people out there like me... people who love best the same things I do. And finally I stopped feeling so odd, so unusual, as though I'd dropped down from a planet in the night sky.

But you know? I'm glad I had those decades of feeling as though I was cheering all alone in a huge, silent coliseum. Something happens when, over and over, you must stand alone. You are forced to make decisions. Either you give-up who you really are and do what everyone else does while pretending you love what they love, or you go ahead and be you--even if it often means being you, alone.

And God can use people who have grown-up standing alone. In today's world, especially, those who have exercised their 'standing alone muscles' will, most likely, be left standing at the end when still standing matters. Maybe that's the reason most folks aren't born into a big round nest of people exactly like themselves. Sure it's nice to have others beside us, helping us stand strong, yet on that Very Last Day, each of us will stand alone before God and perhaps we'll find that, all along, all those years, He was preparing us for that very day--and we knew it not.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

10 Easy Ways to Stop Growing


I am a list kind of person. Lots of times, I think in lists. I hear it comes from being a first-born person in the birth order realm of things.

Anyway, today here is my current list... It's from the voice of experience, trust me (as in, 'been there, done that'):

Guaranteed Ways To Slow Down Your Spiritual Progress

1. Nearly every day, walk around believing God is mad at you. And disappointed in you. And not speaking to you.

2. Learn to live with a sense of guilt and condemnation. Always spin your sins and mistakes around and around in your mind.

3. Always doubt whether you are doing what God wants you to do.

4. Do only what makes sense to your head. Let fear keep you from getting out of the boat and walking on water.

5. Believe you already know all a person can possibly know about both the Bible and God.

6. Pay for your sins by promising God you'll do extra good deeds.

7. Hold a grudge--don't forgive people. Become bitter, not better.

8. Blame God for every bad thing that happens.

9. Believe God is unable to bless others through you. Worry about your gifts, talents and callings so much that you never discover what they are or develop them.

10. Stay too busy to meet with God each day alone.

Of Changing Seasons


On Thursday a friend emailed me and asked what my favorite Bible verse was.

I love an easy question, don't you?

My favorite verse, or passage, is the one which begins, "To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven..."

What a comfort... What a comfort to know that change is God's idea and God's ideas always have a reason, a purpose. Not one varying, twinkling moment is meaningless to God--each moment means something and adds up to something eternal.

What a challenge... What a challenge to cooperate with God's timing (which usually appears slow, but in reality, is always on time). What a challenge to not make things happen before their perfect God-Time... to not race ahead of Him to try to create a rickety imitation of what would have real and strong with God's presence.

What peace... what peace there is when His agenda, His goals--His seasons-- for me become what I truly want most... and I stop wanting different or better things because I realize there is nothing better.

What joy ... what joy to know I can walk beside God during each season, good and sad, looking up into His eyes and being guided by their light and love, not by all the shifting and changing I see all around me.

Well, don't get me started... Just take my word for it that, for years now, this Bible passage has been my favorite one.


***

Something fun: Saija sent me this link to The Byrds singing their classic song on the Ed Sullivan Show. You can watch it here.

1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hooray! No More Vacation


Finally, after two weeks, Tom is flying home today from his business trip.

Never before have I spent two weeks home alone. It was the best of times. It was the not-so-best of times.

I'd awaken, smiling and wondering, "Where shall I go today?" I'd take my time getting dressed and ready and then drive to the cute little shops I'd not visited since autumn leaves still hung in trees. I'd play European Lady and go shopping for only enough food for that one day and later I'd watch sweet, mushy movies, fast-forwarding (with my very own remote) through any dialogue which, I felt, slowed the movie down--all the while sitting in the most comfortable chair in the house, normally reserved for Tom.

I got up when I wanted, went to bed when I wanted, puttered, dreamed on the front porch in the sun and tried never to make dinner.

It was terrific. For about a week.

There's something that begins to creep in when you always get to do whatever you want. It's something a little like selfishness and spoiledness and unappreciation all mixed together. You begin to take things for granted because, suddenly, there's nothing contrary going on with which to make the good times feel even better. It's like Spring arrived but you didn't really notice or care because you didn't have a real Winter this year--just strings of warm, sunny days.

It's like too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing.

And well, I already knew that, but it was good to be reminded. It's good to remember that if we only had good times, they would, after awhile, plateau into a boring kind of goodness. They'd never be spectacular because they couldn't be compared to days of ice and wind and snow and rain and thus be appreciated for their gentle newness. If you always got your way, you'd soon get bored and start demanding bigger and better things to top what you'd grown bored with.

Or something like that.

All I'm really saying is that I'm glad Tom--and normalcy--are returning home today. And thank-goodness for them both.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

To Complain or To Create? That Is The Question


This past week as Tom has been away I've considered driving to Barnes and Noble, but I've still not gotten there. Why? Because over and over it comes to me that I have my own Barnes and Noble right here in my house. I mean, I have books I've still not read and there's classical music playing on my (1940's replica) radio and there are comfortable chairs in which to sit and the scent of coffee brewing everywhere. What more do I need?

There is a Starbucks near our Barnes and Noble which, years ago, I visited a few times, not just for the coffee, but because in the back, there was a sunny little room with tiny tables and two walls painted in luscious colors. I would sit there with a book mostly pretending just to read, because actually, I was studying that room. I made mental notes of all the details which made this room a place I loved and then I'd ask myself, "How can I create something like this in my own home?" And then I'd dig in my purse for scraps of paper and sketch a few more plans in detail. One day I even made a note to learn how to make great coffee at home--even that detail was part of the plan.

Do you ever do that? I can remember being 12 and looking at the luxurious, damask and chandelier-topped rooms in the 1971 issues of Better Homes and Gardens and then jumping up off my bed and rearranging my whole bedroom. I'd place my furniture at the same angles I'd seen in the magazine photos and then throw my rugs around in the same slap-dash style and you know what the most amazing thing was? In and through my eyes, my room with its cast-off, 2nd-hand, poor preacher's family furniture would look nearly as nice as the rooms in the magazines. Only different, of course.

I didn't see it then, but what I was really going after was a certain feeling, much more than a certain look. Even today, that holds true--and not just in decorating, either.

And well, my regular readers know I have a nasty habit of always including a lesson in my posts... so here is today's: Complaining about what we do not have is a sure way to zap creative energy and ideas. It's as though we are allowed only one kind of energy at a time.

I often remind myself (firmly) that I can either create or complain, but I cannot do both simultaneously. Complaining carries with it an ugly germ, one called Hopeless, Whining Dissatisfaction and it's been known to cause a strange type of blindness to possibilities. And once it spreads, oh my, you're stuck, usually on a couch from which you find it hard to get up.

Sometimes we don't have what we want simply because we complained instead of created... or thought we were praying, but were in reality, just plain ol' whining about what we did not have.

Or maybe we prayed for new stuff when, actually, we should have prayed for new eyes through which to view our stuff.

And it's funny, but even now when I visit inspiring places or look through magazines with creative eyes, not complaining ones, I still feel very much like that 12 year-old girl when I return home and move furniture all around or paint a wall a new, luscious color.

And admit it, you've gotta love anything that makes you feel 12 again.


***
"We should not tempt the Lord as some of them did--and were killed by poisonous serpents; Nor discontentedly complain as some of them did--and were put out of the way entirely by the destroyer...
Now these things befell them by way of a figure [as an example and warning to us]; they were written to admonish and fit us for right action by good instruction, we in whose days the ages have reached their climax." 1 Corinthians 10:9-11

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Crossroads


As Mary (Jesus' mom) pondered things in her heart, I've been pondering some things in mine...

I think we all come to crossroads in our lives much more often than we realize. Maybe we don't even see crossroads unless they are huge, but I believe they come in many varying sizes. They are the places where you stand when God is asking you to make more changes... to lay down some things, even good things, and leave them alone... to abandon old ways of thinking, old ways of believing, maybe even old relationships which are zapping your best time and energy, rather like turning a hose into a sieve.

I am at another crossroads--this one feels rather big. I'm standing here looking ahead and seeing that the straight path is narrower than this one I've been walking. And I won't be able to run along that new path with the same baggage and weights and self-imposed responsibilities. There's not room nor the strength for all of us together.

It's just no longer working to hold onto what God is no longer giving me Grace to hold. It's felt too much like juggling-in-place and keeping a bunch of plates spinning up on sticks. No wonder I've had this out-of-control circus feeling inside me lately--I think I've pitched a big red-striped circus tent in the crossroads and I've been stuck here. And God is not into being stuck anywhere along the way.

He is into my running the race at His side, and running that race to win.

And you know... Just finally recognizing where this discomfort is coming from, well, it helps. I'd missed making strides alongside Grace... I'd grown tired of all the shuffling of suitcases and the juggling and spinning plates and the little twinges of guilt when I couldn't keep up. No wonder I've been feeling strangely uncomfortable lately...

...my spirit has been aching to re-enter the race with a free and obedient heart.

Easter


Happy Easter to all my readers!

Want to know which song I will be humming all day long? Click here.

And peace be unto you and your family...

Friday, April 14, 2006

Wisdom--A Big Deal?


"Above all and before all, do this: Get Wisdom! Write this at the top of your list: Get Understanding!" Proverbs 4:7

When I was young (and stupid), I used to wonder why wisdom was considered such a big deal. Boy, oh boy... Now that I am old--, uh, more experienced, I see what all the fuss was about.

Without wisdom, I'll buy things I cannot afford
and be haunted by bills I cannot pay
and then lose sleep and grow old (and ill) before my time.

Without wisdom I'll refuse to believe I can't eat the way I used to
and that I'll get by fine without exercising,
and then I'll keep gaining weight each year
and then my back will start hurting
and then who knows what else will happen because of the stress of the added weight?

Without wisdom I'll find myself often in the wrong places at the wrong time
and needlessly put myself in embarrassing/compromising or even dangerous situations.

I'll choose friends (or jobs or cars or houses) I should never have chosen
and spend years paying the (painful) price.

Without wisdom I'll cling to things God got finished with years ago,
rather like riding proverbial dead horses (going no place).
I'll move-on when I should have stayed
or I'll stay when I should have moved-on.

I'll put things off until it is too late
and people have died or opportunities have passed by forever
or I'll have to pay late charges (lots).

Without wisdom I'll say things I'll regret
or leave important words left unsaid
or speak too soon, changing whole routes my life could have taken.
I'll make assumptions without having facts
and believe anything I hear.

And on it goes to infinity.

Like I said, the older I get, the more I understand all the fuss about wisdom. When something can improve your life and even save it, it's worth a little noise and a few sermons, too.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Love In The Night Watches


"I remember You upon my bed, and meditate on You in the night watches." Psalm 63:6

Saija brought up the night watches first... This is one of my favorite subjects.

There are many reasons we awaken at night, the reasons would make a book.

I believe sometimes it's God who awakens us and we'll lie there wondering why we cannot return to our dreams until oh yes! It comes to us, "Perhaps God wants me to pray for someone." Then on our back we pray until we sleep again, often awaking in the morning without even remembering those prayers.

And that's a Good Thing, even a God Thing.

Other times we awaken because God wishes to teach us something, often because He was not able to catch us sooner. We used-up our daylight hours running our errands and filling-up our ears with music, tv, and scurrying our children from Here to Over There... He reached out, but could not grab the back hem of our coat as we ran... He could not take our hand to lead us to the Quiet Places. So our bed at 3 a.m. becomes the Quiet Place we missed and now, finally, He has time to speak to our heart and whisper what He was trying to teach earlier.

And that, too, is a Good Thing, a God Thing.

But another Time, another Reason, the one I love best is this... And those are the nights when you awaken, in the silence, sometimes with moonlight warm upon your face, and you open your eyes wide because you sense He is there again, there sitting upon the edge of your bed smiling down at you. He is taking a night watch and you are the one He is watching. Tonight it is your turn to know He is that close.

And you smile in the silver light and tell Him, "I wish I could see you." To which He replies, "Why do you need to see me if you know that I am here?"

And while you ponder HIs words, the room, even the corners, become full of His love... and there is so much Love, that you feel it heavy, like your grandma's old quilt, upon you. So heavy, so warm, that your eyes prick with tears, happy ones, tears which whisk you away to dreams and morning light and a knowing smile when you awaken.

...and a sense of His presence all day long. All because of love in the night watches...all because of Him.

Fame


If you remember the tv series, Fame, give yourself 50 bonus points. Oh my, Fame was so removed from my own life as a 23-year-old wife and mother back there in 1982, but still, you could always, always find me sitting on the couch, all avid and rabid, in front of the tv each Thursday night for Fame. I *loved* that show--its characters, especially, and its singing, dancing and plot lines, too. Everything.

Fame's School of Performing Arts' teachings hit squarely on my own ambitions. In high school, I'd been a gold medal gymnast (tiny, tiny school--do not be impressed), so the dancing fascinated me. And I'd been known for my poetry,too, so during Fame when they'd talk about never giving-up and doing whatever work necessary to achieve your dreams, I was right there with them. I'd envision myself as the next Emily Dickinson, though of course, hoping my own drawer of a thousand poems would be discovered and appreciated long before I died, not after, as in Emily's case.

Every much-anticipated episode, Fame fed my ambitions, causing them, sadly, to grow too big to fit inside my little house. So, well, I mostly became dissatisfied and frustrated with my perfectly-fine-God-given lot in life.

But it wasn't Fame's fault. Those kids (who, in real life, were right around my same age) were doing what they were called to do--and they knew it. And in my tiny home, I was doing what I was called to do, yet I didn't know it. At least, not for absolute certain--it was a come-and-go, wispy kind of thing, this knowing I was in the right place at the right time.

Way back during those years I still believed that fame, (the thing, not the show), was something that could fix the wrong things and the missing things inside of me. I thought if everyone knew my name and needed and appreciated me and my talents, well, that would made me truly happy.

Wrong. At least, wrong for me.

Later, in my mid-thirties I finally had the 'fame' and appreciation I'd craved years before, but oh-so-fortunately, it came after something new happened between God and me... and because it came after friendship with God, it paled in comparison. Because also by this time, I'd come to realize I was nothing without God.... I didn't want to be or do anything apart from Him... and any fruit of doing what He'd asked me to do, only belonged to Him. The credit, the appreciation would always belong to Him because every idea and word and ounce of strength came from Him to enable me to do anything of lasting value.

Just finally feeling close to Him was better than all the fame in the world. For one thing, always, the crowds go home... they eventually forget you... and unless you've gained God along the way, you're left with only memories. Fame, truly, is fleeting.

So anyway, (I didn't mean to ramble like that, honest!), Fame (the series) finally, finally came out on dvd and I ordered it. I was scared, though, to buy this series, to see it again after so long. I wondered if I'd still love this show since I am so not that same young woman sitting there on the couch drinking-in every word, every song, every dream of those kids on the screen. That was miles and miles ago and that Debra is, gratefully, mostly gone.

But alas! My Fame dvd's arrived this week, I have watched 5 episodes and hey! I still love this show. Love it, love it. It's felt like a high school reunion, one where only I have some grey hair, though. The plots are still wonderful and all the dancing, especially, appears just as fresh now as it did in 1982 (and did any other show ever have a cooler opening sequence?). And how refreshing to watch a series centering around many aspects of Life we all share, instead of basing show after show on s-e-x (she says, blushing). Fame is like watching tv from a different planet.

Fame still makes me laugh and dream and remember what it was like being young (and still able to do walkovers and round-offs), and just starting out on the path of Life. And it still greatly inspires and motivates me, only in different ways from different motives. It's as though I'm watching Fame through totally new blue eyes. And actually, I am.


***
To read more about Fame, click here. Scroll down.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17

Monday, April 10, 2006

When You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do


I like positive people. I need positive people and I wish I knew more of them.

Oh my... give me more people who collect Touched By An Angel dvd's and who would rather treasure what that series did, rather than tear and pick it apart for what it didn't say or didn't do...

...give me friends who can, in a flash, list ten things they love about their spouse, instead of ten things they hate.

... give me people who have problems, but still have godly, supernatural joy.

... give me those who don't dread cloudy days or Mondays or April 15th.

... give me people who have the wisdom of an adult, but the faith of a child.

...give me people who say they are Christians and who, much of the time, react like Jesus might.

Well, you get the idea.

Sometimes you have to fight to stay above your problems, not under, defeated and kicked in the head by them.

Sometimes you have to let go of the pestering, negative influences in your life, whether it's a newspaper, a tv show, or even a friend.

Sometimes you have to fight to stay positive, even if that means you are misunderstood by people who mean a lot to you.

Sometimes you have to fight to stay up so that you're able to help friends who are down.

In this Christian walk, you will often be misunderstood, even if what you did was something God asked you to do. If you are blown away every time you are misunderstood, well, you're going to spend lots of time blowing around.

Sinking beneath negativity is the easy thing to do. Anyone can do it. But sometimes you've just gotta do what you gotta do and often, that means doing whatever it takes to keep your joy, which is your strength. It might mean:

spending extra time with God
reading a good book
apologizing to a friend
watching a funny movie
taking a walk
mailing a card of encouragement
putting on some smile-worthy, dance-worthy music
shopping or going out for coffee with someone
dragging yourself out of that pity party
playing, dreaming, creating--
sometimes it just takes pulling ourselves out of the ruts we drive ourselves into, usually without even seeing what we've done.

It takes a fighter to keep one's joy and thus remain strong. May you learn about the joy fight--and may you fight--and may you always win.


***
"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life..." 1 Timothy 6:12

"...for the joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold..." Nehemiah 8:10

Homemaking Retreat, Anyone?


This morning I opened the curtains in our sunroom and the coolest thought came to me--"I wonder if anyone has ever held a homemaking retreat weekend in their home?"

Hmmm... If I were to hold a homemaking retreat here for women who have wandered into ruts of discouragement and boredom with all things housekeeping, well, what kinds of things would we do?

I think first, for inspiration, we'd watch a Blondie and Dagwood movie and set-up the ironing board and iron dinner napkins while watching (and pin curl each other's hair?).... And we'd discuss and admire the Bumstead's adorable checkered-linoleum kitchen and their 1930's living room furniture and floral drapes. I'd point-out Blondie's cool aprons and her simple, but pretty homemaking dresses and how nice she always looked, even with a cleaning day scarf tied in her hair. Maybe we'd watch June Cleaver awhile, too... (Blondie and June --my heroes.)



I think I'd walk everyone through my own 1930's rooms while playing Big Band era music (and trying not to dance) and I'd show them the furniture we found cheaply (or free) and explain why everything is arranged as it is... I'd show them the walls I painted myself and how nostalgic it looks to have opened windows floating the sheers forward all wispy-like on sunny summer days.



I think we'd have a baking session in my kitchen and I'd let everyone roll-out pie crust on my 100-year-old hoosier cabinet and we'd all wear my 1950's aprons which I like to place, ironed crisp, in a drawer. I'd let them peek inside all my kitchen drawers and play with my peeling-green, wooden-handled egg-beater, the 50-year-old cherry-painted flour sifters and the nifty orange parrot salt and pepper shakers I bought from Target just the other day. (They sit on one of the three-quarter shelves I added above my sink, inspired by the ones in Blondie's kitchen, of course.)

I'd lead everyone down to my basement where I do my laundry in bare-bones 1950's style, the only modern convenience being a washing machine. I'd show them the light-green cupboard where the dirty clothes fall from the laundry chute upstairs and I'd make doing laundry sound like so much fun, that they'd all argue about who gets to wash my clothes (hey... I'm only human...).

Well, we'd go on like this all weekend--playing housewife at my house and learning to find the fun--the pleasure--in every task, every minute.

Because it's there--the fun, the pleasure, that is. And not just solely for me, either. But for anyone who's willing to think opposite of the world and for anyone who's willing to spend some time learning to enjoy whatever must be done around the house. And here's a hint--if you'll learn to enjoy God in the middle of the cooking, cleaning and fixing, you'll have learned the secret of enjoying all of Life.

When you can find God in the mundane, then nothing is ever mundane again.

I'd spend the homemaking retreat weekend spreading that thought, too. After all, it's the most important one.

***

Do you enjoy the look of 1930's and 40's decorating? As I mentioned, the old Blondie movies are a real inspiration. There are two Blondie dvd's out, each with five different movies on them. Each can be found very cheaply here at amazon.com.

The first season of Leave It To Beaver is out on dvd now, too (here). Half the fun for me is just feasting my eyes on the Cleaver's household furnishings and being inspired to care for and rearrange my own.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Upright? Or Mostly Just Uptight?


...Heh...

I'll keep this post simple--simple words creating simple pictures.

I think, as Christians, we have certain choices. We can, like Holy Ghost Commandos, approach people while gripping our Bibles like machine guns, shooting-off rounds of our beliefs and strategically-aimed-scriptures (to prove we are right and on the winning side) and then pop-pop-pop-pop-pop blow people away...

--or--



We can be more like farmers walking the fields, spreading scriptures, like seeds, from firm, yet gentle hands... relying on the God of the harvest to cause the seeds to grow...

And we can be like sowers of birdseed, too, creating seed-scattered paths which draw others forward, hungering for more of what we have scattered.

Just something I've been thinking about this morning... And I'm wondering if people--and God-- see me as being upright--or mostly just uptight? Am I leaving behind more bullets or more seeds? It matters, you know...


***
"The tongues of those who are upright and in right standing with God are as choice silver..." Proverbs 10:20

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Speaking of Movies...


Tom has been away on a business trip for a few days so I have been foot-loose and fancy-free (as they say). It's fun being temporarily alone--I admit it. Getting up whenever I want (sleeping-in till 6:00 a.m. instead of 5:45...) and taking the car whenever and wherever and driving to cute shops I've not visited in eons and idly browsing there... and taking-in a matinee without having to let anyone know or leave a note on the kitchen counter.... and not having to make dinner (and isn't that the best part?).

So anyway, this morning I, as usual, got up before the sun did, so I made my pretend coffee, turned on the little heater in our Cozy Room and popped in a video which I found on the dusty Family Shelf yesterday at our local video store. I sat in Tom's recliner (another plus of these days alone--his chair is much more comfortable than mine), and I watched Mrs. 'Arris Goes To Paris, an older (1992) movie with Angela Lansbury.

Oh my... Now, my men readers might not like this one (unless you appreciate Miss Lansbury), but I wholeheartedly recommend this film. It reminds you that one person can make a huge difference in other people's lives and you feel like jumping up, racing outside and being kind to everyone you meet. Classic Angela Lansbury--I watched the whole last half with a lump in my throat... Two thumbs up!

And speaking of movies, I've updated my movie list here at my blog, the one I tend to share with anyone who says, "They just don't make good movies anymore." For me, it's more like, they don't make as many good movies anymore, but they still do make some good ones. Or maybe that's just me.

So anyway.... If you'd like to see a list of the movies I've enjoyed the last, oh, 14 years or so, please check out my list here. They're listed in the approximate order of the year in which they were made. (Scroll down if you'd rather skip my blathering commentary.) These are the movies I can recommend with a clear conscience (especially if you own a tv guardian in some cases), but I'll warn you-- it will be obvious by some of the titles that I am often easily entertained. The starred titles on my list are the movies I have loved most... try not to laugh too hard at some of my choices!


***
Are there any movies not already on my list which you would recommend, ones made after 1992?

Friday, April 07, 2006

It Was a Dark and Stormy Life...


Outside my windows today there drizzles rain and greyness and dark places in the sky, even stabs of lightning...

...and it comes to me that it was a whole, bloomin' dark and stormy Life those years when I'd lie on my couch and count my problems instead of my blessings and when I'd let someone's hurtful words ruin my whole week...

It was a dark and stormy Life when I'd mope around my house and complain about what we had (or didn't have) and when I was most concerned about how others saw me and my family...

.....and when I'd hesitate to give away money because I feared not having enough... when I'd see people get blessed and feel, not happy for them, but jealous... when my friends wouldn't answer my letters and I'd get mad...

It was a dark and stormy Life when I took baths in disappointment and self-pity and when I thought the goal in life was for everyone to know my name and appreciate me... and worse of all, when I loved just about everybody else more than I loved God--and walked around 24/7 feeling guilty about that.

It was a dark and stormy Life for a long, long time. Inside of me, I mean.

But then, in the across-the-sea horizon, the sun began to rise, creeping up one step at a time and exposing the junk I'd tried to hide, because hey! Aren't you supposed to hide all the bad stuff?

According to the sun..... no.

And now the sun continues to tip-toe farther up into the sky, sweeping away--pushing out and squeezing out-- the dark and stormy Life and its hiding places. And making all things new.

But only when I welcomed the Light, did things begin to change. And that was the hard part... but the vital part, too.

Fall In Love With The Gardener


I have found the secret to not dreading and despising the times of great pruning in our lives:

Fall in love with the Gardener.

When you love the Gardener, you won't scream when He steps through the tall weeds toward you with those huge hedge clippers.

You won't pull up your shallow roots and run, crying, toward a hiding place, hair caught in the brambles. You won't cower there and tell Him, "______ needs to be pruned--not me! He's the one with the problem."

Nor will you squeal, "Noooo! Don't prune that away. I adore that part of me.... I just am what I am..."

Fall in love with the Gardener and you'll have passion in the middle of the prunings, love in the middle of the surgeries... a shoulder to cry on when the pruning becomes humiliating... a heart to grow close to while parts of you are dying...

...and you will become displeased by what displeases Him, even if it's something you formerly quite liked about yourself... you'll trust that He knows what He's doing and He knows a whole lot more than you do about your own garden...

You'll prefer this Gardener, this Friend, who sticks closer than a brother (who gets busy or leaves)... you'll have an encourager who is never out to lunch (like normal people who have a life away from you, too).

You'll have a God who comes down to your ever-changing, blossoming garden to walk with you in the cool of the evening.

And there is nothing better than that.


***

"Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit." John 15:2

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

That Awful Woman(?)


I'm no fool. I know lots of women hate/abhor/distrust that Proverbs 31 gal. You know, the smug lady also known as The Virtuous Woman. I wish that for every scathing article about her I've read, a dollar would suddenly appear in my hand. I'd be rich. (Okay, okay... so I'd just have an extra $20.)

But personally, I don't understand where all that hatred is coming from. I mean, how can you hate any scriptures which give you permission to SHOP?:

"She selects wool and flax ...
She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar...
She considers a field and buys it...
She sees that her trading is profitable...
All of her family are clothed in scarlet...
She is clothed in fine linen and purple..."


You've gotta love those shopping verses, don't you? Especially that part about her bringing her food from afar--if that isn't permission to order new-to-you, exotic foods from other countries online, well, I don't know what is!

When it comes to this Proverbs 31 Woman, can't we lighten up? Can't we just use her example as something to aim at? (And no... not with a gun. Heh.). But instead, can't we take a verse like this one,

" She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks."


...and simply let it motivate us to get out of our funk (or out of the recliner) and have a better attitude about our work? Can we just let it inspire us to work-out, exercise, and become strong so that we're not always throwing-out our back?

And could we possibly let this next verse help us keep a sensitive, giving heart?:

"She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy."


Can we allow it to simply bring some balance, since we are bombarded on all sides by advertising telling us what we MUST have in 2006?

Can't this verse:

"... She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue."

... just serve as a reminder to be concerned about our words and to keep ourselves educated so we can, lovingly, instruct others?

And when it says:

"She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come."

...can we keep that one simple? Can it just be a verse which keeps us from 'letting ourselves go' as we get older? Can we allow those words to nudge us into caring for ourselves better so that we will age more gracefully and be better able to handle whatever our future holds?

I guess I just don't get it. In all the 27 years I've been married, I have never once felt threatened/condemned/stressed-out by the Proverbs 31 Woman. Okay, so she was Ideal, dare I even say pretty darn close to perfect? But today, in 2006 more than ever, we need some Ideal People. Yes, Jesus was and still is the best Ideal Person, but still, it doesn't hurt having a few Ideals as fleshed-out examples in today's world. Heaven knows we need as many as we can get.

I don't know about you, but I like being challenged.
I like a hard-hitting sermon, rather than a "just-keep-doing-what-you're-doing" one.
I want to be inspired to do and be something greater.
I don't want to be coddled and patted on the head and told, "Just relax. God blesses mediocrity, too."

And if you've read this far, I believe you want something higher to aim for, too.

Good for you. You are a Virtuous Woman (or a Virtuous Man) in-training. Keep up the good work. You may already be an inspiration to a whole lot of people, whether you've seen them watching you, or not.


***
Be sure to check out SarahLynn's post about the Proverbs 31 Woman in her bedroom. I was absolutely inspired by all her words and pictures!

Saving Time


Well, I wrote about saving money, so now here's a post about saving Time. Years past, I was a Saving Time Artist, in fact, I used to tell everyone, "I am the only non-busy person you know." I've loosened up a bit now, yet still, it's hard to love and appreciate Life if I'm living it in the hurry-hurry-stressed-stressed Fast Lane (personally, I hate that place). Instead, I try to stay in the Stop-And-Smell-The-Roses Lane. Life is sweet there. For me, anyway.

Some of these are more time-saving concepts than tips, and too, I'll be skipping some of the obvious hints you've read a zillion times before.

1. Whenever possible, I practice the All At One Time principle:
I create my own baking mixes All At One Time so that I'm not having to drag out the flour, sugar, spices, baking supplies, etc., all over again and then store them away again.
The same goes for the vacuuming, dusting, washing dishes, laundry (wash a large load, not 3 small ones...), etc.--I do each task All At One Time, until it is finished.

2. We video tape many of our favorite tv shows and watch them later. This way we save lots of time by fast-forwarding through all the commercials. When we do watch shows 'live,' I jump up during commercials (sometimes, not always) and do little tasks around the house-- rather like playing, Beat The Clock. Fun, and it's amazing how much you can accomplish during one hour-long show.

3. I buy postage stamps online. I love not having to stand in line at the post office or supermarket.

4. I buy many gifts online, ones for birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, etc. I also buy packages of greeting cards online. This saves hours(!) and saves on gas money and my patience (nerves), too.

5. I immediately throw away junk mail when it arrives, rather than letting it stack up and having to sit down later and wade through a big mess.

6. In the rooms where I spend most of my time, I keep a tablet and a pen so to list any tasks which come to mind, rather than walk around later asking myself, "Now, what was I supposed to work on in here?" or having to hurriedly do those things at the last minute (grumbling the whole time).

7. On our refrigerator I keep a list so Tom and I can jot down the items we've run out of. Then I just take this list with me when I go to the supermarket.

8. I remind myself that the less I own, the less time I'll have to spend caring for it.

9. And basically, I'm learning that Wisdom always has a better way of doing anything. It just remains up to me to choose whether to listen to Wisdom or to my own bright ideas (which never end up being very bright at all).


***
What are your favorite ways of saving Time?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Nests Filled a Different Way


Berrymom asked me to share how I got prepared for the Empty Nest...

Oh my. Do you have a few hours?

No, really... it's one wild, book-length story, really... All I can do is throw-out some words, rather like a poem,
rather like spreading bird seed (since we're speaking of nests)...
So just pick-up what might help you and leave the rest on the ground...
And remember--letting go of anything is always made easier when you grab onto whatever God gives you in its place. And He does always give something in place of what we lose--but sometimes our worry, complaining and sadly staring backward clouds our eyes and blinds us, sometimes for years and years.

***

During the little birds' high school years, you let them fly
Farther away and for longer periods of time...
Another year, another few miles and hours...
You let them get their feet wet in the Responsibility Pond.

And meanwhile, back at the nest...
You fight Worry,
Do battle with it,
As though it was something which can take you,
Crashing, down...because, yes, it can...
And when God says He watches your little bird while you can't,
You make yourself remember that... and hold onto it.
You replace Dread with Anticipation of all things becoming new after the Empty Nest... because, yes, they do.

You cling less to your children and your Mom-Through-And-Through identity,
And more to God and your husband and friends.

And you do a little flying, yourself, on short, pre-adventures of your own...
You realize a journey can be near or far and even books and computers and backyard gardens hold adventures.
And during these flights you find new identities and creativity,
Soon you're flying around to places you never knew existed,

But yet, returning home and to that Mother's Heart late afternoons--
Handing out worms and hugs and advice all around.
And then the next day--
You're the new Great Explorer, again
and then The Mom again by night...
The Adventurer and Learner and Peeker Around the Corner again--
And then the Mom again at Home...

And you keep on like that--
Adventuring and learning and developing your own wings--
But always returning Home
Until one day--Poof!

You fly back inside your own front door
And pausing, looking around-
You discover your nest is empty--
But empty only of children--
For now it's full of everything you carried home from your mini-adventure years.

And, extra-nice, the Father of your little birds is sitting there,
(Hair still mussed from adventures you took together),
Though now he is a Husband (and that's more fun for you)...
And God, Himself--
Well, you've spent so much time with Him
Learning how to fly,
That now you'd recognize Him anywhere
(And that's where you see Him sitting or standing now--anywhere.)

Empty nest? Hardly.
Still full, just differently.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Of Empty Nests


A new online friend of mine asked me last night about this empty nest thing. I thought I'd answer her here instead of in an email.

The empty nest, for me, has been incredible. Fun. A starting-over place. A time-to-make-my-dreams-come-true place.

But oh my... The hard, awful, painful parts were the prior years to the empty nest. The letting-go of Naomi. The Really Letting Go, not the saying (lying) that I had and yet still aching inside at just the thought she'd someday be gone... and my major days of motherhood would be no more.

The Really, Truly Letting Go was the tough part.

But because God is so good, He walked me through those years, letting me take baby steps and, like a good father, not laughing at me when I fell at first and then over and over after that. No, He'd just pull me back up and remind me and remind me that motherhood, mostly, is His transient gift.... those I'm-your-mother-let-me-help-you years are here for just a season and then, alas! Afterward, there really does exist amazing seasons after children fly away.

That has been the biggest surprise.

After one year of an empty nest, that is where I am now--Amazing Season #1. And boy, does this feel good--this life on the other side of a child at home. On this side, I glimpse delights I never saw over in that other, earlier place.

I see the possibility of doing what I have always wanted to do. Of making old dreams come true and creating new ones and helping people along the way. Of playing and puttering and dancing and making something only I could dream-up. Of even cutting out paper dolls if I want to, realizing you don't need a child in the house as an excuse.

Of acting as young as I feel, instead of too often acting like somebody's mother.

Oh my... lately I've felt more like the teenager I used to be, well, the one I was on my non-moody happiest days. I've become reaquainted with the girl who peered into the future, saw possibilities of the dreamy, endless variety and believed she'd be able to conquer anything which got in her way.

But now, it's even better than that (for one thing, I have this really cool, steady boyfriend who is lots of fun. So okay...we've been married forever, but hey, we still have fun together). And too, now I have some wisdom and experience which, hopefully, will keep me from being blown over when there's no applause... and from wasting a lot of time, energy and money. Instead, wisdom will, I hope, guide me to the places God means for me to be. And I know those places will be good and right because He is good and right. And so is the life for the ones He leads, even those on this side of an empty nest.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

When People Bail Out of the Bus


I just finished reading this post, End of the Road... I encourage you to read her post first before you read mine, but if you don't have that kind of time, here is the crux of it:

Of course, there is a possibility that it's maybe not so much Jesus as it is his followers (or like we used to say here in NASCAR country, it's not that I hate Dale Earnhardt, it's Dale Earnhardt fans I can't stand). Lately there have been an awful lot of folks loudly proclaiming to know and love Jesus who, if they really did, would be ashamed of themselves for the way they've behaved (yes, I'm talking to you, Shrub). Maybe this is just a generalized disgust with way too many so-called Christians, disguising itself as a loss of belief in Christ. But I don't think so.

So as 2003 was the year I lost my daddy, 2004 is the year I broke-up with Jesus. It was an amicable break-up; we're still friends and we may even get back together, if his nasty friends stay out of our way.


Since I am rather old and have been a Christian since, like, before McDonalds was even invented, I already know exactly what you are thinking:

"Hey, it wasn't me. I don't even know that girl."
"That's just an over-used excuse."
"Blaming others is the easy way out."
"Can I help it if she bailed? I could've quit a million times, myself."
"We all make mistakes in how we treat others. Nobody's perfect, you know."
"That shows a lack of commitment on her part, not mine."
"That's her own fault and someday she will see that."

I know... I know...

But.

Jesus said, "It would be better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones." (Luke 17:2)
And He tells us if we have not love, we are nothing... just a bunch of noise....
And He said be ye holy......
and take the log out of your own eye...
and judge not lest you be judged...
and we'll be held accountable for every idle word....

...and ... and stop me before I say more...

Yes, some people do use our bad behavior as an excuse to break-up with Jesus. But wouldn't it be great if we'd behave ourselves, at least enough, to remove all legitimate grounds for their excuses?

Maybe if we'd give-up our own agendas, that wouldn't be nearly as hard as we think.

We might even become someone's reason to stay inside the bus just a little while longer, rather than their excuse to get out.

Coming Closer


"It may be said without qualification that every man is as holy and as full of the Spirit as he wants to be. He may not be as full as he wishes he were, but he is most certainly as full as he wants to be."

A.W. Tozer said that and many people might think they disagree. But not me. I've found it to be true.

Certain people will dogmatically tell you that few people were meant to have close relationships with God, but as for the masses (i.e. the rest of us poor shmucks), we're just supposed to muddle along in unfulfilled longing and acceptance of being at-arm's-length unchosen ones. (I even read that in a blog yesterday, though not in those words. But awfully close, though.)

Hogwash! All of it. I mean, ok... maybe there will never be another Abraham or Moses or David... and yet... there will never be another me--or you--either. And today, as Tozer said, I am as close to God as I have determined in my heart to be. My walk with Him is not the same as anyone else's, but it's as amazing and fulfilling only to the point that I've opened my heart and laid down my earthly life so that God could give me something better. Namely, Himself.

And I guess what I'm really saying to you is this: Never, ever let anyone's sad, disappointing experience with God become your standard for belief. Never let another person's excuses discourage you from believing that, with God, there is always something more. Because there always is more. He is endless, after all.

And never let another person's lack of hunger for more of God dictate your own level of hunger. It is hungry hearts which are filled. It is the dry, parched throat which needs water most.

And should you have lost that hunger to know God better, or perhaps never known it at all, just ask God for it. Keep on asking until it becomes yours. Because even the hunger to know God comes from Him--it takes God to know God. He's blessed, not offended, to be asked for the longing for a closer friendship with Him.

From beginning to end, it's all of Him.


***
"To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul's paradox of love, scorned by the too-easily-satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart. " ... A. W. Tozer

"...Most certainly and thoroughly I now perceive and understand that God shows no partiality and is no respecter of persons..." ... Acts 10:34