Tuesday, December 30, 2008
A sparkly new year is almost here!
Do you have your resolutions ready?
Doesn't it make you downright giddy to start over?!
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do know: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Praise God for the hope we have in Him!
Sunday, December 28, 2008
First stop: New York. Energy, energy, and more energy. Wow what a city! Food was great too.
Second stop: Washington D.C. Awe inducing. Majestic. (Jimmy Buffet concert was also awe inducing for totally different reasons.)
Third stop: Seattle. Earthy, organic, artsy, and oh the coffee! A coffee shop on every block with several bookstores in between. Yum!
One year, three cities, a thousand memories.
Friday, December 26, 2008
I was reading something today about passions...meaning wounds in the depth of the soul, wounds that need the sure anointing of divine mercy and forgiveness. Wounds that pervert the vision of love, wounds that require humility to allow us to seek the help of another; however, we do not often encourage one another in being honest, vulnerable, and undefended. We cannot deal with passions in isolation...which is my default.
I think I can handle things on my own. I think it causes more pain to allow others inside the fortress I have built around my heart, but humility keeps me at the foot of the cross...it does not allow my pride to stand in the way. It allows me to admit that I need companions in this journey, regardless of the pain caused by tearing down my walls ... some experienced sister travelers.
Thank you my sister travelers. You who offer mercy and grace, not judgment. You who do not allow me to wallow in my pit of despair allowing my passions, my wounds, to hinder my walk thus keeping me distanced from God and others. You who keep me from isolating, you who keep me vulnerable so that I can be real...so I can be humble.
Oh how we need one another.
May I be for you what you are to me.
Found this prayer in a Kathleen Norris book that she had taken from the Book of Common Prayer, a prayer for the sick, but one she clung to as she mourned the death of her husband. It spoke to me as I have struggled through Christmas without my dad and wrestled with the heartbreaking situation in my family.
This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus. Amen.
Peace to you,
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest
as men rejoice when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian's defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders
the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior's boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning
will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
Friday, December 12, 2008
OK...time for the lady with the big eye to move down a spot.
I have been thinking about my Christmas list and realized there is nothing more I need than what has already been given. How can I in good conscious ask for anything else?
The gifts I have been given throughout the year have astounded me! This has been the most emotionally difficult and heart breaking year I have had in many moons, yet with every heartbreaking memory there is a blessing. My dad taught me to look for the blessings in every situation because they outweigh the troubles every time. He was right.
My family is in absolute chaos, but we continue to stand in unity even through gut wrenching tumultuous times. My twin and I are not in the midst of it since we don't live in WV but we pray and hurt for them. I don't know how they are surviving except by the grace of God. My twin moved closer so we are getting to spend more time together again and that is a tremendous blessing. We have needed one another to get through the year.
My friends have celebrated with me, cried with me, laughed with me, prayed with me, and loved me. They started my January off with a surprise graduation party and the money for a class ring (my first ever!). Many drove to WV to support me at my dad's funeral. They even all chipped in to help pay for his funeral (the intertwining of grief and financial hardship is quite strangling and I don't wish this burden on anyone ever!). A few months later our home became a reality through the graciousness of friends. Of course my friends are all broke now after the expense of loving me. I am now gainfully employed with a steady income thankfully.
Yes, when I reflect on 2008 I realize the many, many gifts I have been given. Now it is time to enjoy the peace, hope, and expectation that is part of Advent. Now it is time to be thankful.
There is nothing more to add to my Christmas list...every gift has been given. I have had Christmas all year.
Peace to you.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
I have been spied on!
Sunday afternoon my internet wasn't working right. Monday morning it wouldn't work at all...and my desk top icons were rearranged.
My dear hubby took a look and found that several spies were watching me. So many in fact that my internet connection would not even open.
So many that my computer was completely locked up...grrr! I was surrounded.
Somehow my firewalls were down which allowed it all to happen. It took a bit but my favorite undercover agent got rid of the spies and reinstalled my firewalls.
I can just imagine the buzz..."Hey all you computer criminals in web world, there is an idiot Christmas shopping with no firewalls in place! Join us for a shopping spree on her!" (I wasn't really Christmas shopping so don't get excited, only a coffee order and a three books from Amazon)
Beware all...make sure your firewalls are intact.
Friday, November 28, 2008
I'm so excited to have my blog ready for the Christmas season! This took some time to get figured out, and it required help from a friend (thanks B), but it finally came together.
Erin says to grab a mug of hot cocoa, get near the gas logs, and have a cozy Christmas.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
At church today the sermon was titled "Before You Spend It..." It was a good reminder just before Black Friday and the spending we can do for Christmas. The first thing we should do with our (actually God's) money is give it back to God. Give to God first what is already His, we are only stewards over it.
The second thing we should do is put some in savings, not to be greedy but to be wise, to be prepared to respond when God calls on us to help someone in need, to be a good steward, to be able to pay for things without depending on a credit card. Save, not hoard which turns this virtue into a vice.
He gave alarming percentages reflective of the shift of our nation from being wise to greedy. In the 1980's 11% of income was put into savings accounts with only 4% being owed to credit cards. Now it is 12% of income owed to credit cards with 0, yes 0% going into savings accounts. We have become a greedy nation who requires instant gratification with more and more to fill ourselves up with. (Another interesting thing was that in the 1980's there were no storage units and now they are quite a hot commodity. We have so much stuff that we can't even get it into our homes.)
Many of us have aching, bruised toes. Many of us realize we need to make serious changes.
He reminded us that Thanksgiving isn't about abundance...it is about an attitude of gratefulness. Being thankful for what we have, not feeling like we need more. Being thankful for what God has provided. Attitude not abundance.
Here's to being a good steward and being thankful for it!
Have a great Thanksgiving week, may it be one of heartfelt thankfulness.
Oh... one more thing. Before you spend your money on Black Friday ask yourself two questions:
1. Have I given money to God?
2. Have I put any money in a savings account?
You're a sinner, you're a saint, you do not feel ashamed. Well, you
might feel a little ashamed of your past, but it did such a good job of teaching you
what not to do. Now you've become a devout Christian and have spent more time
ruminating on the world to come rather than worldly pleasures. Your realizations and
ability to change will bring reverence upon you despite your hedonistic transgressions.
Here's your challenge: What book are you? Take the Book Quiz.
Let me know if you try it!
Saturday, November 22, 2008
I am going through a very good devotional and wanted to share a little of it. It is based on Ps 51, David's confession and quest for mercy.
From the first chapter:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Ps 51:1
Quotes from the author Paul David Tripp:
We don't careen from big decision to big decision. We all live in an endless series of little moments. The character of a life isn't set in ten big moments. The character of a life is set in ten thousand little moments of everyday life. It's the themes of struggles that emerge from those little moments that reveal what's really going on in our hearts.....
...Rather than appealing to the mercy of the Lord in the face of my sin, what I actually do instead is function as my own defense lawyer and present a list of arguments for my own righteousness. The theology behind the defense is that my greatest problem is outside of me, not inside of me....
...Before you can ever make a clean and unamended confession of your sin, you have to first begin by confessing your righteousness. It's not just your sin that separates your from God: your righteousness does as well. Because, when you are convinced you are righteous, you don't seek the forgiving, rescuing, and restoring mercy that can be found only in Jesus Christ.
Yeeouch! Scripture tells us that there is not one righteous among us, yet my "righteousness" keeps me from confessing my sin. When I am in "righteous" mode I can't even see my sin to confess.
This led me to the first beatitude...blessed are the poor in spirit. If I am to be poor in spirit I must let go of my pride, my righteousness, and stop being a defense lawyer. Only then can I recognize my sin , grieve my sin (blessed are those who mourn), as I confess and seek His mercy. Mercy that is new every moment of every day....mercy that is greater than my worst sins.
May God be a part of our ten thousand little moments as we confess our righteousness in each one of them.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
This evening my 8 year old daughter and I were cleaning the kitchen. We had a medium sized box that I told her to just put beside the trash can. She wondered if we should keep it to wrap a Christmas present in. As we were weighing the pros and cons of using the box she said, "I know how to decide. Our family can have a presidential election about it."
I'm still laughing.
The election is over but even the children were so saturated by politics that the jargon is just oozing out.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Our school hosted it's very first drama production last night. What a fabulous job those kids did. You would have thought they'd been putting on productions for years. We have been blessed with a talented (and energetic) drama teacher....Mrs. Z.
The play was a parody of Romeo and Juliet. It was a "tragical comedy". The actors and actresses were even able to work the audience...they realized when something was funny and let the laughter take place before moving on. They delivered the lines with wit in their voices. Pretty advanced for such a young drama club.
Way to go Sandhills Classical Christian School!!
When I turned around to go back in the house I realized the view behind me was sensational. The sky was a brilliant color.
The rainbow at sunset was breathtaking last night. Hope you had a chance to see it.
PS. Thanks Sparky for calling me to make sure I didn't miss the view! I would have if not for your thoughtful call. Love you sweetie!
Friday, November 14, 2008
It is almost like going out into a soaking rain without an umbrella and getting drenched to the point that it has seeped through to your skin. You have to peel the wet clothes off and can only get warm by taking a hot shower.
If you have an umbrella you may still get a little wet, but not to the point of being soaked to your skin. When you are out of the rain, the wet spots dry quickly without residual dampness.
That is a difference in people who deal with chronic depression and those who don't. There are times we have an umbrella and times we have lost it…the umbrella that is, not our minds. Who knows what happens to the umbrella? Maybe it broke or we misplaced it. Maybe it rusted.
There are times things seep in and settle in our souls. The dampness permeates our cores until there is not a dry, comfy spot to be found. That is when the darkness surrounds us. We can’t see the light of day no matter how hard we try. Any energy we have is used up just trying to get through the day at a functional level.
This has been a challenging year for me. I have had real reasons to be sad, but not paralyzed as I have been. I am thankful my twin wasn't born with depression genes, but even she admits to being tearful at times as we grieve our dad. I don't wish him back, I just have to learn to live without him.
I don’t think I’ve had a single day that I felt “depression free”. My emotions have been raw and tenuous. There have been some days better than others, but none battle free.
As I said in an email to a friend (thank God for her and my other support peeps) I wish a thousand wishes not to battle depression. I wish a thousand wishes I was “normal”. Until I get to heaven this will be a daily battle. It could be a much worse battle...this I know.
I know my life is good. I know my life is blessed. I know God’s grace abounds. This makes my depression less understandable to me and really makes me angry. "Just get a grip you idiot!”
Oh, the conversations I have with myself. Not self healing I can tell you that.
Those of you who love me, I ask you to love me still…even when I don’t love myself. If you don’t love me… well I don’t blame you a bit. I can’t ask you to understand because I don’t understand it myself.
My only hope is in Christ. This soaking rain will pass or He will help me find my umbrella... He always does.
God's peace to you.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Your grace has found me just as I am
Empty handed, but alive in your hands
Forever I am changed by your love
In the presence of your Majesty
These words are from a song today at church. A reminder once again of His all powerful grace that I mentioned in a prior post. The words poured over me as I recalled the dark night of my soul when I cried out to Him...absolutely empty handed, but alive...at the end of myself. Only by His grace.
I hope you felt God's presence in your life today.
My husband is an amazing man to have around. Our bathroom job is finally done...from one weekend to three weekends, but he does it right. He is a perfectionist and pays attention to details that I wouldn't worry about. (As is in, "Who cares if we still have pieces of wallpaper hanging...it will give the paint texture. Our new faux finish technique." Oh yes, I thought that.)
The best thing is that we went from 2 outlets to 6...yep, you read it right...6! And he discovered the built in nite light in the overhead light and put in a REALLY cool gadget with buttons for the light, the fan, the heat, and the nite light! Very cutting edge.
In our bathroom he upgraded us from 2 outlets to 8...yep, 8!! I'm ecstatic!!! No more going to the other bathroom to dry my hair b/c our one plug was full of his razor and my curling iron. We are entering a whole new way of life here.
The only down side is that I flooded our bathroom this morning before church. I just keep making messes for him to clean up. I knew I shouldn't have been working on those pipes by myself...
Thanks Sparky for all of your hard work...and you look cute in your tool belt to boot.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Many of you who read my blog already know that fall is my favorite season. We have been blessed with beautiful colors this year. Erin and I were discussing God as an artist this morning. She said that the trees are God's art. I agree that God's creativity is very evident in the fall colors.
I came across a quote I wrote down in the heat of this past summer. We were on a stolen weekend with friends at the beach, enjoying the bright sunshine and the hot sand, and I was already envisioning fall.
It is a mellow day, very gentle. The ash has lost its leaves and when I went out to get the mail and stopped to look up at it. I rejoiced to think that soon everything here will be honed down to structure. It is all a rich farewell now to leaves, to color. I think of the trees and how simply they let go, let fall the riches of a season, how without grief (it seems) they can let go and go deep into their roots for renewal and sleep. May Sarton
A few verses near to my heart go along with this a bit...
Isaiah 30:15...In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength...
Psalms 1: 3...like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
Hope you can make time to enjoy the beautiful season, and to let God speak to you through His artwork. Here's to letting go!
PS-The picture is one I took this morning from my bedroom window. How can I not feel blessed with a view like this?
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I just finished my women's Bible study on the life of David. It was so powerful. I've been amazed by grace for some time, but now I am in absolute awe. Grace that I don't deserve, grace that was poured over me even as God laid the foundations of the earth, grace that sustains me.
Even for one as unworthy and sinful as I. Even for one who has made the most vile of choices a person could make. His grace surrounds me. It brings me to my knees.
If I had a theme song it would be this:
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Was blind, but now I see
Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love, Amazing grace
Thank you God for the gift of your grace, for the power of your grace.
Thank you holding me under your mighty thumb until I was broken and at the end of myself.
It was there I found you waiting with arms spread wide.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Today's sermon was "Can I Like God and Not the Church?" It was a great sermon...very timely and right on target. He shared some of Dan Kimball's findings on people's positive views of Jesus, yet very negative views of "church". It brought to mind something I read Friday night.
The local church is where God is seeking to go public-not just a place where the gospel's truth is talked about, but where the gospel's attractiveness is visible. The local church, as Francis Schaeffer said, "should be right, but is should also be beautiful." It's through the community of Spirit-inhabited saints, more than any other way, that God intended to show the darkened world the kind of God He is.
Therefore two chief callings rest upon us. The first is to live in such a way that our lives boldly proclaim, "There is only one God worthy of undivided trust and unrestrained adoration." The Bible calls this faith.
The second calling is to care for one another in such a way that unbelievers are amazed. The Scriptures call this love.
...When we let other gods (money, career, approval, achievement, possessions, pornography, or whatever) meet our needs, we proclaim to all those around, "God is not enough." And when we treat one another with indifference or disdain, when legalistic standards matter more than fellow saints, when church is more like a corporation than a family, we communicate to the world that people don't matter all that much."
...The great tragedy and heinousness of our sin is not primarily the destruction it brings to our lives but he crippling it brings to God's name...the worst result is that the glory of God is for that moment obscured....We profane God's name.
May we love one another enough to make unbelievers see the very real difference in us...the very real, positive difference Jesus Christ makes. I don't want my behavior to obscure God's glory even for a moment. Prayers that God's love flows out of us daily.
Friday, October 31, 2008
I worked with the King today. Later, he ordered a whopper at McDonald's. The drive through clerk asked him if he knew "where he was at"...when he saw Mr. King pulling around he couldn't get his head back in the window for staring. I think it made his day. He was getting his coworkers to come to the window to see. Very funny...funnier than I imagined in fact.
Later we had three bald dads with daughters running around the neighborhood. Very cute. No costumes needed for the dads.
Hope your Halloween has been fun!