Sunday, May 25, 2008

This is my God

I have this electric bluish teal wicker furniture.
It's loud, it's ancient, it's decrepit, and it's not going anywhere.
It spent last summer covered in sheets.
Something must be done - something!
Losing it is not an option, neither is painting it; it looks like putting up with it might be my only choice...

So while I was moving it around trying to figure out if there was at least a better way to configure it I noticed something I took some measurements, some very thorough measurements, and made some very detailed notes.

Off to the local super Wal-Mart for milk and paper towels and a stop in the fabric department; if I could find the right fabric I might be able to make it look better. This is a temporary fix, and I don't even know if it will work so I can't spend a lot on it...

And there it was, propped up in the front of the bin of fabrics marked $1 a yard, a fabric with tiny blue flowers the same shade as my bright blue furniture! If I'd designed it myself it couldn't have been more perfect. Thank you Lord!

With all my measurements I was sure I needed 7 yards; but there were 9 on the bolt.
At a dollar a yard I bought it all - just in case.
Well, let's just say that after I was done with the cushions, I have new understanding of the "measure twice, cut once" adage...!
My new fabric on some very old cushions visibly improved the entire room - I'm thinking of calling HGTV so they can feature me on one of those frugal design shows...

What amazed me the most was not my clever design triumph but this: there are times when the Almighty God of heaven steps into the minutia of our lives: here this fabric was there waiting for me, exactly what I needed, and the actual amount I needed (given my faulty calculation skills).

We know from Matthew that God knows when a bird falls and has numbered the hairs on our heads; we know that in a cerebral kind of way, or maybe we think it's just exaggerating to make a point. But when something like this happens it moves that understanding to a whole new place. My heart is in a place of wonder as I again realize, "This is my God!"

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

An absolutely ridiculous but tasty comparison

I think it was Kathy's idea initially, this whole "everyone bring a box of cereal and we'll combine them", concept. Some college town had started a restaurant with this theme and the kids could come in their pajamas, make a cereal conglomeration and watch cartoons on big screens throughout the room. So, hey, why shouldn't we try it?!

We were meeting for a very atypical Friday morning breakfast so we showed up with our cereal and discovered... that we are all very practical women.

There was a special K, oatmeal squares, raisin bran, and a kashi cereal. We are all too boring! (and apparently healthy!) But I'd grabbed the captain crunch with crunchberries and it looked like sprinkles for breakfast cereal!

Life is so often like all our healthy cereals; plain, bland, practical, quite roughly textured and hard to digest.

But friends are the crunch berries in it all: they bring to our lives color and brightness, times of laughter and joy.

There's no getting around doing what needs to be done, and dealing with the issues that come into our lives but there is no reason we have to go through all this alone.

It has been written that a friend is a gift you give to yourself.

If that is the case, then my friends are a box of crunch berries, and they bring sweetness, joy, and color into my life.

that longing in your heart

I grew up in a Christian home, a good church, went to Christian schools all the way through the university and then taught for a while in a Christian school.

So what? (I know that's what you're thinking) experience has influenced, as has yours, my "world view", or how I see things and as the years roll by I'm realizing some things are not as I've always believed them to be.

At my church we'd have special services to which we were to invite our unsaved friends, of which of course, I had none. I lived and went to school in a Christian environment, where would I find unsaved friends?

After I married I discovered a world outside of the one I'd always known, and found what unsaved friends looked like, and surprisingly, they looked and acted pretty much like everyone else I'd ever known. I wasn't expecting that.

In the church I'd always assumed that everyone there is there because they love God and want to live their lives in a way that is honoring to him. I've found that is not always the case. I'd assumed that if you've come to the cross and accepted Jesus as your Savior that you'd also seek to make Him the Lord of your life, and yet I see that for some Jesus is Lord, for approximately two hours on a Sunday morning...

I find that even among those who claim the name of Christ; that not all pursue this intimate relationship He offers us.

I find that, as once I'd never realized, that having this desire, as did the psalmist
"O God you are my God, earnestly I seek you. My soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
I've seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory,
because your love is better than life my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live and in your name I will lift up my hands." (Psalms 63: 1-4)
is not the normal, the common, or the universal.

If you find that thirst in yourself; if anything in your being longs for God, seize it.

As the plant that naturally seeks the light and turns itself to face it, if God is stirring in your heart, do not deny His calling. For we are not guaranteed that tomorrow we will continue to hear his voice - "today if you hear his voice, harden not your heart".

To have your heart drawn to God is a precious thing.

The sunflower is honored to have the pull within itself to continually turn its face to the sun. Impatients, petunias, forget-me-nots; these are all beautiful flowers and they serve a purpose in beautifying the world, but they do feel this impetus to turn towards the sun.

We may serve and love and lead in our churches without knowing this heart wrenching yearning to be continually with our faces toward our God. There is a song that says "Draw me close, and I'll run after you." Seems like an oxymoron doesn't it? But if it doesn't to you, than you understand what it's saying.

I implore you , if there is anything in your heart that stirs you towards your Lord this day, do not let it go unanswered, for even that very stirring is of God.

"How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You" Psalms 65:4

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Change: the only constant?

It's almost the end of May which means there are lots of school year activities ending as summer begins.
A month from now will be summer vacations.
Four months from now we'll be in the midst of getting back into all the things that we're just ending now...

Six months ago you were scurrying about getting ready for you remember that? All the things you had to do before the holiday? the presents and the planning and the concerts and shows and gift exchanges and cookies and... Now all that stress seems like a distant memory. Don't worry though, in seven months you'll be right back there again!

A year ago, where were you?
How about five years ago? Ten? Fifteen?
Don't just read that last sentence, stop for a second and think about it. What was your life's situation one, five, ten, fifteen years ago?

How was it different than it is now?

What do you expect it to be like five, ten, fifteen years from now?

It has been said that the only constant in life, is change.
Our workplaces change.
Our children grow and leave.
Our relationships change - some ending, some beginning, some growing deeper, some becoming stagnant.
Our style and places of worship change.
We find ourselves ministering to different people.
Our bank statements fluctuate (hopefully for the better).
Our health changes.
And our perspective changes because of our experiences and in all of this: we also change.

But there is one constant, when we and everything around us changes:

"I am the Lord, I change not." Malachi 3:6

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" Hebrews 13:8

Thirty years ago I was a child, twenty years ago I was single, ten years ago I had one very small child: my life has changed.

But for thirty-five years something has not changed: and that is the fact that God has been my God, my light, my refuge, my salvation, my strength.

God does not change.

Where I will be and what people will be around me will be different in the years, and quite possibly even, the months to come. Yet God will still be my God and when I am coming to the end of this journey of life and end up frail, or alone still God will be with me: when my children have grown and my health has faded, the one thing that will not change is God's loving care over me.

"I still belong to you;
you are holding my right hand.
You will keep on guiding me with your counsel,
and afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on the earth.
My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
He is mine forever!" Psalms 73:23-26

So, in this day, filled with things that cannot help but change; spend time in developing your relationship with the one who never will.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sitting in the Sun

I took my coffee outside this morning to enjoy the spring day.

A slight breeze rustled the brand new leaves on the trees against a cloudless blue sky. A variety of birds were conversing, as they were busy about their tasks. I could hear some children playing far down the block, and then there was the sun…

The sun was brilliantly bright and warm and I just sat with my eyes closed and head back and enjoyed being covered with warmth and light.

In about an hour, today will turn into a crazy busy, all day kind of day, but for ten minutes I did nothing but sit in the sun, quietly, peacefully...still.

Sit with the Son this day.
"Be still and know I am God" Psalms 46:10: you who are busy serving and helping and doing for your families, your friends, your church.

Stop and just sit with the Son because here it is that you will be refreshed and reminded that we do what we do because we love him and we are caring for those He has brought into our lives.

But it all starts with him. It is "in him we live and move and have our being"(Acts 17:28) and as a few minutes in the sunshine refreshes our spirits in this frail body; just think how being still with your Savior will bring restoration to your soul.

"He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside the still water. He restores my soul." Psalms 23:2

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Change the bag

I already know that when you read this you will shake your head at me like "duh!"

But that won't stop me from telling you what you already know...

I was unsuccessfully vacuuming today.
The vacuum was just not doing its job - I kept pushing and it kept not picking up.
Finally the light bulb went off in my head...I need to change the bag!

Gingerly I pulled out the bulging disgusting bag of accumulated dirt and threw it away. Then unfolding the pristine new bag I installed it, turned on the vacuum and lo and behold, it was so powerful it just about sucked up my carpet off the floor.

No matter how much I pushed, my cleaner did not have the power it needed for the task. Why? Because it had done so many other tasks already and the accumulated results of those tasks had now siphoned off its power.

Where are you lacking power? In ministry? At work? In relationships? With your God?

Life is messy and life is unfair and it hurts and we accumulate the dirt of walking through our days and there come times where we need to just realize the hurts we're carrying and dump them so that we can have new power.

And I will again tell you what you already know:
Christ stands waiting for our call and ready to help us.

"Cast all your care upon Him for He cares for you" (I Peter 5:7) or

"Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about what happens to you"

"Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you" Psalms 55: 22

I don't need to keep carrying the hurts, disappointments and frustrations that have accumulated.
I give them to the one who cares for me and longs to take my burdens.
I now have a fresh start, new power, and more floors to vacuum...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

April 31st

I wrote down this morning that it was April 31. It sounded strange when I wrote it, but I wasn't near a calendar and I did know that yesterday was the 30th. So imagine my surprise when later I realized that today is May 1st.

MAY 1st! How did it get to be so late??

When it was April 31st there was a whole month of calendar pages between me and the next season - when school is out for the summer...(cue ominous music here).

But now it was suddenly May 1st and the next page is (gulp) June and suddenly my days have become even more numbered.

Now what's the difference you may be wondering?
I bet you already know the answer...
Typically what are your first conscious thoughts in the morning?
Mine are, " What time is it? What day is it? What is going on today?"

What would you do if you woke up thinking it was Monday and then realized it was Thursday? It could change everything right? That's how I felt about it being May 1st, because it made it that much closer to the changing of the "season" and when the "season" changes, everything changes. What I do, who is where and when, add a road trip, daily water events and a never ending supply of popsicles...and you've got summer.

When school began I had these big ideas of what would be done before school was out for the summer. But now it's May 1st, will I get done all I need to before "time is up?"

So I started thinking about what had happened in the month that had ended prematurely (according to my calendar system)

In April I...
was inspired and completed five pieces of writing
finished up a major project
made a decision I'd been waffling on for weeks
was introduced to and started laying the groundwork for a new career path
added thirty-five pages to my journal
was asked if I'd be interested in writing a book
and of course, most importantly, made loaves and loaves of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!

Wow - April was one profitable month!
But I didn't realize that until I was able to look back at it: in thirty days a lot had been accomplished; most of which I hadn't even planned to do.
So either I'm very efficient or very easily distracted!

So, now I have six weeks and so much to do it hasn't even all made it to the lists yet, but I realize that a month may be longer than I realize and that's encouraging but what encourages me the most is this " It is of his mercies that we are not consumed for they are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:23

No matter what I do or don't do in these coming days; I will have strength and mercy sufficient for every day and I am promised a replenished supply each morning.

Even if it isn't April 31st!