Saturday, September 19, 2009

Who are Weary and Heavy Laden

It’s been too long since my last post. But it is time to break the silence.


I feel a little like a story told of Mahatma Gandhi. A young mother came to him seeking help with her son. She asked him simply if he could tell the boy to stop eating sugar, that it was bad for him. Gandhi pondered her request for a moment and asked her to come back in three weeks with her son. The mother thought this an odd request but did as the wise teacher had told her to do. When the time had passed she returned with her son to hear what the wise teacher would say to her son. Gandhi simply said to the boy, “do not eat sugar it is bad for your health.” The mother was confused and asked him, “Why did we wait three weeks to hear you say such a simple statement?” Gandhi replied, “ I could not speak a truth that I was not practicing myself. I had to learn to live without sugar before I could tell your son to live without sugar.”




The next part of my post comes out of what I had to learn; I needed to practice before I had wisdom to share. We know we live very busy, full lives. Some of you are working in and outside your homes, caring for children, caring for aging parents, dealing with unemployment or the potential for unemployment. How can we continue on the paths of the incredibly busy lives we have without crashing and burning out? Stated simply: We can’t keep going at the pace we are without disaster.


That’s a pretty bleak assessment I realize but hear me out. There are things that can be done to avoid disaster, but you have to be intentional about your choices and actions. If you have already looked at life and seen there are no changes that can be made to lighten the current load then the next step is to look back at the road map and see where your rest stops are.


That may be a strange analogy but if you can imagine your life as a journey and you are traveling on a superhighway, going at a fast pace with little or no stops, you know you are going to get road weary and need a break. That’s what the rest stops are for. Don’t just keep going, stop and take a much-needed break.


Jesus is calling to us while we are rushing along with all the burdens of the family calendar and needs on our shoulders. He is standing quietly as the road sign we speed past saying, “Stop in here. I will take your burdens and give you a much needed break.” Problem is, we keep driving and say to ourselves, “I don’t have time to stop! There is so much to do! Time is short! These things need to get done!” With this mindset we are headed for disaster.


Our rest stops need to happen. They need to be regular and frequent. We are fools to think we can go long periods of time without refreshment and relief. We suffer unnecessarily because we think we can travel a little bit farther without a break.


Enough for now. Think about your current circumstances. When was the last time you really took a break?


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

All



Come to Me, all...

Who is included in this All?

Have you ever thought about this statement?


If all means all then I am in there and so are you. And so are these children in Sri Lanka. And the people in Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America...you get the point.

All.

Not fixed up, cleaned up or saved and sanctified.

Does this challenge you?

Come to Me, all....

Monday, July 27, 2009

Unforced yet Intentional

Somehow today is the right day to tell you a little more about me, so you understand where I am coming from when I present these big ideas like Unforced Rhythms of Grace! So please bear with me on a brief walk through memory lane..... I promise I will get to the blog post title eventually!

I don't know about you, but I was raised with quite a hodge podge of faith traditions. My grandparents on my dad's side were old school Methodists; deacon, adult Sunday school teachers, major donors to the church (found out at their passings). My grandparents on my mom's side were Southern Baptist--grampa not liking to go regularly, gramma wanting to be there when the doors were open. My parents, in my early years (up to jr. high school age) were good at getting us to the Methodist church 3 out of 4 Sundays.

It seems like about once a month I spent the night with my mom's parents and would go to church with them. I heard there the emphasis on "hell fire and damnation" which definitely put the FEAR of God in me as a youngster! The message I heard at the Methodist Church was the emphasis on service to those in need: soup kitchen, donations, making things to send to missionaries. If you are reading for what's missing in my upbringing it was GRACE.

Fast forward past the wandering years of my youth and young adult years (which thankfully the Lord has forgiven and forgotten and I want to forget!) to a woman who came to faith in Christ at 23; hungering for grace and to know Him fully. I did what I hope every new believer does: bought a study Bible, got into Bible study and involved in a church. Grew like crazy!

Zoom to the present, 29 years of life later, covering many change points full of joys and losses as life on this earth holds. Still wanting to fully know the Lord. Still wanting to fully get grace. Have been learning a lot along the Way, which is why I started this blog last April. So this is my very abbreviated testimony to let you know a bit about me why I want to explore with you what Jesus has been doing in our lives, and to discover what is really important to Him. Here it is:

Relationship. Unforced yet Intentional Relationship. With Him first and with others.

He was asked what the greatest commandment was. He said, "love God, love others." Relationship.

He told us how to deal with being overwhelmed: "Come to Me..."

Jesus didn't demand that we relate to Him. He invites us to relate to Him. But how do we, in 24/7 flesh and bones bodies, relate to an unseen Being?

Uniquely. He knows you perfectly. You have individual ways you respond to the world around you. You may be someone who loves to read. Or you may be someone who loves to garden. Or someone who loves to run. Or you may be surrounded by young children daily. My point is, Jesus wants us to come to Him in the middle of what we do during our daily life. He wants to be involved in our comings and goings, in our folding the laundry or washing dishes. In bathing the children and putting them to bed. Whatever fills our days, the Lord wants to relate with us there. He will not force us to talk with Him (that's prayer) but in order for us to experience fully His presence with us we have to be intentional in acknowledging His presence, inviting Him to be with us in what we are doing.

Come to Me....

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Unforced Rhythms of Grace

Yesterday I asked the question, "How do we develop our inner and outer life so that the two can become one?" It won't happen over night that is certain. Habits of mind, habits of action need to be changed to reflect an intentional awareness that we move in and toward.

My life is too busy. Full of doing. They are good things mind you, but full of busy-ness. What am I aware of? Weariness. Longing. Wanting to step out of the fast pace and into a slower rhythm. What is wrong? The margins in my day are too narrow. I need more margin and a slower rhythm.

"Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me--watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." (Jesus: as paraphrased by Eugene Peterson in The Message)

I literally breathed more slowly when I finished reading this passage from Matthew 11 this morning. I want to learn the unforced rhythms of grace, don't you? Next week I want to explore what Jesus has in mind for us; how do we walk along the Way with him in this culture? in this nano-second measuring era? in the busy-ness of everyday life?

Join me?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Hurried, Unexamined Life

I haven't posted in a little over a week. Life is full more than usual right now; international company, new job outside the home, college son home for a few weeks, etc. No excuses, just my reality.

Through all of this busy-ness I have been pondering what life is going on under the fast current of my outward life. Have you ever thought about the difference between your below the surface existence and your outer evident existence? Can the two become one?

If we are too busy for Jesus we run the risk of developing a hurried, unexamined life. A life that lives from task to task, moment to moment and without depth. "An inch deep and a mile wide" is a phrase I heard again recently. With this kind of life, what do we have to offer those around us? No time, no peace, no grace.

It is apparent to me that it's crucial to make time for the development of the inner life; a life below the press of the everyday. How do we go about developing this inner life? What habits can we add? What habits do we need to change?

Short post, but a glimpse into my inner world....

How about yours? I'd really love to hear.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Everyday

So today is Tuesday. A regular day with meals, laundry, a little decluttering, and a job outside our home. Oh and a class to take for new skills. And a sick teen still running a fever. And a visitor from another country coming into town on the train tonight. Full for sure. The question percolating in my brain: how to walk in grace throughout my day?

My heart's desire is to glorify God in all I do. The reality of my life is steps and missteps. A pastor whose teaching I sat under for many years said "we don't live this life perfectly. But what are you characterized by?" That question stuck with me. Truly our evaluation of our day will be flawed; we don't see ourselves as accurately as an outside perspective and not as thoroughly as God sees us. So how do we move toward the goal: "whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God".

We learn to breathe.

Now I know that probably sounds a little ridiculous but bear with me. Let's follow this train of logic. If we are filled with the Spirit of God (which a believer in the atonement of Christ is) then we are empowered to live a life which is pleasing to God. If He has given us all that we need then we are equipped to live a life which is pleasing to God. So since we have both strength and tools our job is to apply them. That's where learning to breathe comes in.

I am not talking about our normal oxygen intake here; I am talking about learning to breathe prayer. For years I have legalistically struggled to apply Paul's writing in Thessalonians and continually come up short. Which then has given the enemy of my soul a place to lie to me about my faith. I hope you are not there, but if you are, take heart! Their is grace for us not condemnation!

Learning to breathe. Inhale slowly focusing on the presence of God; exhale slowly saying or thinking a phrase like "in Your strength" or "by Your grace". I first heard about this type of prayer from Jan Johnson a few years ago. Ancient tradition calls this centering prayer. The point is for us to refocus on God and not on our circumstances; for us to be like Peter when he first got out of the boat--looking at Jesus and not at the waves.

This day will be full; my to do list and God's divine appointments (interruptions!). I will only get through it by His grace and in His power. Breathe in, breathe out....

Let me know how your breathing is coming!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pray for Kate

I don't normally post on the weekends but this story needs attention. Please pray for Kate. Her story and situation are found here.

Join the chorus of believers lifting Kate to the throne of Grace, begging God for a miracle in her young life.

I don't know these people but found out about her need here.

Thank the Lord for how He is using the internet to connect His children for such a time as this.....

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Fun!


Happy Friday!

Here's where I will be today and some of this weekend. It is my favorite way to connect with the Lord; out in His creation.

Hope you make a time and place to be alone with God along the Way!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday Fun!

As we Americans get ready to celebrate the 233rd anniversary of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain, I thought I'd give us a couple of things to ponder.

Have we so embraced the concept of independence as a right that we cannot see ourselves as subject to anyone? Of course I am thinking of our submitting our wills to the will of God in our lives. How can I be both independent physically and dependent spiritually? When there are two apparently opposing issues like these our pastor calls it "living with the tension".


So as you barbeque, picnic or however you celebrate, ponder how best
to celebrate your dependence on a good God who lavishly loves us and
desires our allegiance.

Have a fun Fourth! Have some pie and ice cream for me!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Conditions

Ever find yourself thinking "if I do this then I will reward myself with ...." The "this" might be cleaning or exercise or another load of laundry. Or it might be calling a list of people for volunteers at school or church. Or getting in touch with a not so favorite person. Do you put conditions on your behavior? I know I often do. I'd like to think it motivates me but I am not so sure sometimes.

I have found that my conditions can be really limiting as well. "I must do this before I do can..." doesn't sound bad necessarily but if my conditions keep me from responding to the still small voice whispering to me to call someone in need or bake that casserole for that family, my conditions have gotten in the way of my walk along the Way.

A quote from Oswald Chambers struck me today:
"But Jesus was always consistent in His relationship to God and a Christian must be consistent in his relationship to the life of the Son of God in him, not consistent to strict, unyielding doctrines. People pour themselves into their own doctrines and God has to blast them out of their preconceived ideas before they can become devoted to Jesus Christ."

Have you considered where you are putting conditions on your life with God instead of simply being with God through your day as you walk along the Way? I would love to hear what you are working through....

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Sanctification Gap

Are you hungry for more in your life along the Way? Do you have this confusing feeling that "by this time I thought I would be more Christlike" or "...over this sin problem" or "...showing more of the Fruit of the Spirit"? You are NOT ALONE! I know we have more in common than you might realize in longing for more of the abundant life Jesus has promised. Different faith traditions call this longing by different names, but the basic idea is spiritual growth. Let's explore how this happens together along the Way, shall we?

I had the privilege of attending a fabulous conference coordinated by the Renovare Institute last week. The title and theme of the conference was "The Jesus Way: recovering the lost content of discipleship". All the keynote speakers were amazing and there were too many wonderful workshop titles to choose from! I did come away feeling so full of hearing, experiencing, and learning that I was worn out.

I have been pondering what of all I heard would be the best place to begin to process with you. I decided the workshop that connected some dots for me between history and present day is the place to begin. The title of the workshop called out to me: "How we lost the Way: Learning from the Historical Neglect of Spiritual Formation" It was presented by a professor from Talbot Seminary who did a fabulous job filling in the gaps of my church history.

I won't take the time to re-teach the workshop but I want to say that there is huge benefit to understanding the path of the Church through history; the good, the bad, the distracting. Knowing history can help prevent the repetition of the mistakes of history. Knowing history also helps with perspective for modern day.

Today our churches look to fill the sanctification gap that we feel inside with programs that fill time but not the gap. Many of us decide we will work hard; get busy for Jesus! Get involved with ministry. Maybe this will fill the gap we feel inside. Others of us decide we will perfect ourselves through will power: "I simply won't behave that way, or think those thoughts." Problem there is we are going forth in our own strength and understanding. None of these things are getting us closer with Jesus though. In fact most are simply distractions from simply being with Him.

What is working for you these days? What ways do you find you experience abundance in Christ? Please share!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Fun!

Our cat loves our son, but most of all she likes cozy places. Arwen decided to crawl into the jeans on the floor, up into the pant leg and stay there! We had to take a photo of our crazy cat being cozy at bedtime....

Have a Fun Friday!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Conversations

I am privileged to be attending a conference in San Antonio this week hosted by the Renovare Institute. The title of the conference is The Jesus Way: conversations on how Jesus is the Way. I heard Max Lucado challenge us about fear last evening in his welcoming address. "Fear never accomplished anything" was a point he made. Think about it; fear paralyzes us from action. Fear makes us focus inward not toward others. Fear would be one of the most frequent things Jesus told us NOT to do or be!

I also heard Eugene Peterson speak last evening. His points were to challenge us to recognize that the name of Jesus and the metaphor of the Way are both personal and participatory. We meet Jesus personally and to follow Him as the Way we cannot be bystanders. We must get involved in the life He sets before us; not waiting for a better set of circumstances to come along, but getting into the lives of those who cross our path along the Way.

Won't you join me in being intentional in your relationships, knowing that our great Creator God has a plan in your life and through your life?

Blessings abound!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day to all you men blessed to have influence in your children's lives!

You know the saying "you don't know what you've got til it's gone".

Well, this is the second Father's Day without my dad, and this year more than before I have reflected on his solid influence in my life. My dad taught me to appreciate the details of creation: a sea shell in the mountains of Utah, the wonder of the structure of a leaf, the uniqueness of each sunrise over the desert as we drove up 395 to camp outside Bridgeport.

He was amazingly talented in working with his hands and understood the workings of an automobile engine by sound as well as sight. He could troubleshoot an odd sound in my car over the phone! He taught me to change the spark plugs in my VW as well as the oil and brakes. He didn't want his little girl to be taken advantage of!

My dad was a very introspective man and his thoughtful consideration of people and ideas has influenced my way of looking at things. He was also full of crazy sayings that were unique to his group of friends; men he went to Torrance High with and remained in weekly contact with until he died on March 10, 2008.

I miss my dad. Tell yours you love him and thank him for the things he has taught you so far.....



Thursday, June 18, 2009

Waves

Having grown up near the ocean in Southern California, I am well acquainted with waves. In my youth I body surfed but never mastered riding on a board on the waves. I have a great deal of respect for the power of the ocean's waves; I have a cousin who has been with Jesus many years due to drowning in a surfing accident.


In spite of that loss or maybe because of it, one of my favorite stories in Scripture is of Peter walking on the water. It's not just smooth like glass water. It was a storm with wind and waves; tossing the boat around like a cork. This photo is of a very calm nearly surfless shoreline, not at all what Peter encountered . Of course we marvel at the feat of walking on any water, but I believe part of what we have to learn from Peter's miraculous walk has to do with the conditions of the storm.

Our lives have difficult circumstances. Jesus told us that: "in the world you have tribulation; but take courage, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) We will experience loss of many kinds, difficulties and hardships that can literally overwhelm us. But look at Peter. For the moments he was focused on his Lord he was above his circumstances. Miraculously. In spite of the storm.

Oswald Chambers wrote: " we step right out with recognition of God in some things, then self-consideration enters our lives and down we go. If you are truly recognizing your Lord, you have no business being concerned about how and where He engineers your circumstances. The things surrounding you are real, but when you look at them you are immediately overwhelmed, and even unable to recognize Jesus."

I can so relate to this because of some of the tragic circumstances surrounding the deaths of both of my parents, just 9 months apart. Thankfully in my grieving, I didn't hear a rebuke from Jesus but rather a patient waiting for me to stop looking only at the circumstances and to turn to Him. It has been a sorrowful, painful journey, but one I would not change because of the closeness I have experienced with my Lord.

Chambers went on to say:" Let your actual circumstances be what they may, but keep recognizing Jesus, maintaining complete reliance upon Him."

Dear sisters and brothers, whatever you are in the middle of right now, Jesus sees and is waiting for you to look to Him. The storm didn't change when Peter had his eyes on Christ, but Peter was above the storm. In the same way our take away from this story can be that in the middle of our storm Jesus will enable us through His strength to rise above our circumstances to have His joy as we encounter our various trials.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Make Me!


I want you to say this phrase with different voice inflections: make me. You know the ones: attitude that says go ahead and try to...., or the attitude that says I am not going to do what you want...., or the one that says alright I guess I have to...

What attitude do you think the author had when he said this?

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace!
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

~St. Francis of Assisi

Can we join today with this attitude of setting aside our agenda, with wholeheartedly desiring to be the hands and feet of Jesus? How will that look in your day today?

I know for me I will have to set aside my to do list except for the absolutes: love God, love others.
Hmmm....

Monday, June 15, 2009

Something Fun for You to Do!


I have found many new blogs to read and people to follow through both Exemplify Online and A Woman Inspired. One significant contributor in both arenas is Kristen Schiffman, a very personable writer and lover of Jesus. Kristen loves cupcakes and books (her hubby and other fun!). She is hosting a Multi-blog Book Sale this coming Thursday - Saturday, June 18-20.

I am going to offer at least 20 books for sale. There will be other sellers as well that will link up through Kristen's site. All books, whether mine or others, will be God honoring. Paypal will be the online payment source and I already have an account (thanks to ebay purchases over the years!) Tomorrow and Wednesday I will post the photos of the book covers with their sale price and weight so you can figure out shipping costs. Those of you who live nearby will only have to come over to pick them up--coffee at the point of sale?

Let's move these books off my shelves and onto yours for your reading pleasure!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

To Live Is....

How do you finish this phrase: to live is....

To live is fun!
To live is work
To live is boring
To live is joyful
To live is painful
To live is ....

I wonder how you finish it? I have been pondering this phrase for a week and a half since our student ministries pastor challenged the high school students as they approached the last week and a half of school to consider what it means: to live is Christ....

How does that look? What does one do"to live is Christ"? It doesn't say to live as Christ.

Is. This is the conjugation of the verb "to be". Hmm. We are human BEings. Perhaps in this phrase to live is Christ, the act of living, then means "to be" like Christ?

You can't be like Christ you say. He was perfect and sinless and we are not those things. You are absolutely right. Does that mean we are off the hook? That we give up and then are to be like His enemy, living our own lives apart from God because we can't measure up?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Funny the Way it is

I heard a clip of a song on the radio yesterday morning taking my teenage son to school (8th grade with 4.5 days left but who's counting?) It caught my attention when the line ..."a soldier's last breath and a baby's being born" played. With a little research I found some info on it. The title of the song is the title of this post. It's by the Dave Matthews Band. Don't know enough about them to link up here with a clear conscience but this particular song intrigues me.

The song is all about the contrasts that are simultaneously occurring in the world. When we think about the perspective we have on a situation don't we assume everyone else has the same perspective? When we come across someone whose perspective is drastically different than ours we can get very upset. Isn't our perspective right? Thinking about the ideas in this song made me think of the poem Six Men of Indostan. It's a story of six blind men and an elephant. Do you know that one? It's a great illustration of perspective.

Here's my version: 6 blind men were walking and talking together. They came upon an elephant. Each man reached the elephant at a different point because of their position on the road. One of the men found the tail of the elephant, another the trunk, another a tusk, another a leg, another an ear, and the last man the elephant's side. Each man described the elephant from his perspective, asserting that what they could feel is what an elephant is like: a rope, a snake, a spear, a tree, a fan, and a wall.

So my point? How each of us views the world is due in large part to our perspective. Do we look at circumstances through the lens of our own perspective or do we view the world through the lens of God's perspective: GRACE? There are so many things going on in the world right now that are tragic or that we disagree strongly with or that we are ready to argue with people about; asserting that our perspective as the right one.

The only right perspective is God's perspective. He wants NONE to perish but all to come to repentance. If we are looking to Jesus as the author and perfecter of our faith then we will notice He was not angry with those living a life of sin. (Apart from God's Ways) Nope. Jesus was angry with the Religious people who were making it difficult for people to come to God. Now there's a stop you in your tracks thought: am I one of the self-righteous defenders of the Law of God not willing to show Love to those who need it but instead am really ready to judge them for their choices?

So as we go along the Way, let's examine our perspectives. Are we looking at the choices people make and judging them as if We are God? Or are we looking at them with the winsomeness of Christ and showing them grace (undeserved favor) in the middle of choices we disagree with?

Funny the way it is....

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Excuses!

I've been considering all the ways I make excuses to not do things I know need to be done.  Do you ever catch yourself going down the excuse path?  I know we are all unique but we also have some similar traits and making excuses is one of them!

I hear myself saying, "I don't really have to do that right now, I can do that later."  Or "I don't feel like getting that done today.  I'll do it tomorrow."  Sounds like classic procrastination to me.

What is the point of procrastination?  I know some of you have studied the human condition far more than I have and can probably tell me all the deep seated psychological reasons one makes a habit of putting things off, but I have a feeling its origins are far deeper than early childhood!

Procrastination or shifting responsibility goes all the way back to Adam and Eve.    Think about them.  Eve: "The serpent told me...." Adam: "the woman You gave me"  Yep. We have a genetic predisposition to make excuses and shift blame.  Whew!  Aren't you glad to know you have an excuse?  Haha!

Truly though, since the Fall, humanity has been pointing fingers, shifting blame and making excuses to not take personal responsibility.  When I look at my procrastination in this light I realize I am living below my calling as a follower of Jesus.  Putting something off that can be done reasonably today doesn't honor God.  "Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."  

So what have you made an excuse for today?  I am off to fold laundry and PUT IT AWAY!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Going Away for a Couple of Days....


Before the summer is  fully upon us and our youngest is done with school, I am sneaking away for two days of play with my girlfriend I've known since High School!  

Guess where we are going?


To Remember Those Who Have Gone Before...


On this Memorial Day remember those who have died in service to our country. We are standing in front of the panel of The Wall, the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. where my mother's brother's name is engraved. I was 10 when he was killed by a land mine. Uncle Buddy left a wife and two small children behind. Our family, like many, knows the sacrifice serving our country is. Please pray for the families who are even now mourning the loss of a loved one.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Fun!

This speaks for itself.....


although I hope they actually ran out of room and wanted to say "....you deal with your worries"

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What Breaks Your Heart?

I started this post Wednesday night after hearing from a sweet friend, Jessica, who is joyfully serving in Thailand, working with the Lord to bring women and men out of a life of prostitution. It struck me that we know so little of all that is going on around the world, what the needs of individuals are, what the pain, sorrow, hunger, homelessness, is really like.

I am not Eeyore just so you know. Generally I am an upbeat person. Every once in awhile, God gives me glimpses into some of what He hears about on a daily basis, and thankfully I am reminded that I am glad He is God and I am NOT! But what does happen for me is I am reminded to be in prayer for the many whose hearts don't yet know the sigh of release from letting the Savior carry them; for those whose suffering is so great they can't think; for those who simply haven't yet heard there is One who longs to comfort them in the midst of their pain...

I heard at a women's retreat several years ago the question: "What breaks your heart that breaks the heart of God?" It stopped me short. I realized I had never thought that way. I began to ponder over several months what things break my heart. I wondered if they were "big enough" for God to care about. I wanted to be caring about what He cares about. I began praying that He would enlarge my heart for the things He sees. What a journey this has been! God is faithful.

When I hear of those dear people in Thailand who don't know that they have options for their lives until someone like Jessica tells them I am moved to prayer. When I hear of the thousands of displaced families in Sri Lanka, I think, "Oh Lord..." and am moved to prayer. When I read my friend Sue's post about her sweet parents who are slowing down more and more I cry and thank God for the blessings of relationships even though they aren't always easy.

Right in the middle of your days, God wants you to join in the chorus of silent and audible voices lifting up concerns to Him. He alone is the One who can hold all these near. He alone can have a broken heart for the hurting and still not be overwhelmed by it all. Please don't say, "well all I can do is pray." Prayer is vital. Prayer is powerful. The work of lifting up others' needs to the throne of grace is the gift God gives us in our relationship with Him; an audience with the King! Please don't neglect that wonderful privilege.

He may also want you to take additional action in response to the things that break your heart. Be aware of opportunities to serve, to write, to fast, to send, to go. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. WE are needed my friends. Ponder your heart; ponder God's heart.
Where has God allowed your heart to be soft, weak, broken and yielding? That is a good place to start.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Quote to Ponder; An Action to Take

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.  Mahatma Gandhi

We hear the bleak reports of economic down turns, flooding in rural areas, war ravaged countries with 250,000 displaced persons, extreme poverty, hunger on the streets of this country as well as throughout the world.  Depressing.  Put your fingers in your ears and say La La La La La.  Avoidance won't make these realities go away.  You just get to pretend that in your little world everything is fine and you are in control.

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.  Wise words to ponder.  What can one person do you ask?  One can actually do a lot.  Especially when one tells another, who tells another, who tells another, and they all take action.

I want to tell you about one such person.  Tim is taking action.  You can too.  Fast and give.  One meal, one day.  June 1st, 2009.  You choose the organization to donate the money you would have spent on that one meal.  But if you tell another, who tells another, who tells another, well you get the idea.   Tim is asking us to tweet this on Twitter.  If you tweet do that.  If you're not on twitter tell your friends the old fashioned way!  But any one of us can help make a difference by fasting that one meal, one day and donating to the suggested organizations that Tim mentions on his blog.

You must be the change you want to see in the world.  Take action.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Looking for Inspiration?

Creative.  I have several friends who are creative and business people.  Dale collects rare beads from all over the world and then makes jewelry or sells the beads to others who make jewelry.  Lindsey is a stay at home mom with 3 littles and she creates and sews up a storm.  Lisa is an incredible mom of two and as a jewelry maker has designed so many unique creations.  

 
Etsy.  I am still amazed at how few people know of this great warehouse of business people.  I just found another sweet woman who is creating and selling through etsy.  Rebecca has items inspired by the shore and creation itself.  Check all these women out; you will be glad you did.  Who knows, you might recognize your talent for making things and be inspired to set up your own etsy shop!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Fun!


Wouldn't you like to spend some time with friends in a place like this?

Probably not great coffee, but bottomless cups

Probably not gourmet food, but family style

Probably not rushed, but cared for

Probably not anonymous, but a place to be known

Shouldn't our table at home be someplace like that too?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What Kind of Person Am I?

I had to have help putting this picture in place because it was huge!  In the process I learned how to change the size in html without changing the aspect ratio.  All that thanks to my husband the engineer!  I asked him if he could tell what kind of person I am from this picture and he said "A duck follower!"  He may know how to manipulate pixels accurately but "getting the hint" is not high on his list of skills.  Not to mention he has lived with my obsession of control for 18 years of wedded bliss, poor man.  

Yes it's true; I would love to have all my ducks in a row and going in the same direction all the time.  But unfortunately that has yet to happen.  My literal husband and son would promptly say "You don't have any ducks."  Perhaps that is really the problem, not my lack of control over life but the fact that we don't own any ducks!

Seriously though, I have had to be undone in this area of control so many times  that you'd think I would have learned the truth about my small circle of influence in the universe by this season of life.  But since I am in the middle of a series of unfortunate events right now, I am recognizing yet again that I don't have control.   It's all in God's hands.  

He is so extremely patient with me, the slow of learning.  He is also extremely gracious in the lessons I seem to need repeating.  Truly, at this point in life I just laugh and say, Oh yeah, I forgot again, didn't I Lord?  He gently reminds me and I willingly take His hand, as I  brush off my skinned knees from my stumbling.

So I shared what kind of person I am.  How about you?  What does God have to teach you again and again?  Or are you one of those vicarious learners who benefits from the open mistakes of others like me?  Please, please don't let me be the only one who needs repetition!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mid-Air

I don't know what season of life you are currently in, but I have the best of both worlds in my family.  We have two sons: one at home getting really excited about starting high school and one in college really excited about his studies and what God is doing in him while at Biola University. 

At Biola they have chapels to attend; a required 30 for the semester.  This is the last week of school before finals and graduation.  Wisely the theme of chapels this week is "God's Call on Your Life".  Our son's a great communicator and is often willing to share what he's been learning (see previous post to know where he got that!) and today was no exception.  He called me right after chapel to tell me how great it was and that I need to get the recording.  I wanted to know why it was great and he shared some tidbits that made me think of things that God is teaching me right now.

The speaker talked about our common desire to know God's plan for our lives, rather than simply trusting His good plan.  He used an illustration of a trapeze artist at the moment of letting go to just prior to grabbing on to the next bar.  He called that mid-air.  He challenged the listeners to live life mid-air; trusting God without knowing for sure what is next.

The image reminded me of something this very same son made me do two years ago when he was working at Hume Lake Christian Camp as a High Adventure guide.  They have trust building activities that are optional for campers to participate in, but for this visiting mom, there was no option.  Check this out and then I want to tell you what happened to me.

That's not me in the video, but I did what she did.  42 feet up in the air stands the platform.  That's really high especially when you look down!  While on the platform you get locked into the harness and the cables.  The guide is hooked up to the platform in case any wild camper or mom grabs them for "safety".  So there I stood, just like Jessie in the video, getting ready to go off backwards.  My son was holding the harness to drop me whenever I gave him the okay.  It was a very frightening moment for me and he knew it.  He was not trying to rush me or goad me on, he really wanted me to make the decision to fall backwards.  I told him I was afraid.  He said, " I know Mom.  But this is your chance to know you are in God's hands."  With that I took a deep breath and said Ok.

Then I felt it.  Crazy adrenaline! Weightless falling.  Micro-seconds of unseen support.  Mid-Air.

When Matt shared what today's chapel speaker had said of trusting God's plan  and living mid-air, I was immediately reminded of that sensation.  It scared the bejeebees out of me in the waiting, but once I was mid-air I was fine.

What does that mean for us in the waiting for God's plan to unfold?  We have to face the fear of the unknown.  Fear is an emotion and like all emotions is intended to bring us to our Abba to share it with Him.  We don't know what is around the bend or off the platform, but God does.  He knows the plans He has for us, plans for welfare and not calamity, to give us a future and a hope.

Can you risk mid-air?  I am.  And God's carabiners are strong and perfect and His cables go for eternity!  What a ride!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

To Teach is to Touch a Life Forever


Some of you who have known me for awhile already are familiar with my history. But for those who don't, I have spent more than half my life teaching. I have worked with children, youth and adults in a variety of settings from traditional classrooms to garages to auditoriums. I love to teach!

What I have discovered in working with Kathy is that my passion is really to give the tools to learn so that my students, regardless of age, can continue the learning process on their own. Giving away a passion for learning and growing is not an easy task. But if only one student was inspired in each year's work, it would have been worth it to me.

The funny thing is, although I am no longer a classroom teacher, I find myself still teaching! I guess it is because I am an eager learning and I want to share whatever new things I have come across. When I am enthusiastic about something it is nearly impossible for me to keep my enthusiasm to myself. I'm not sure if that is bad; you'd have to ask my family what it is like living with me: "Hey you guys! Guess what I just read?!"

Your passion may not be for learning and teaching what you learn. You do have passion about something though. You may be busy today with small children and can't think much past their daily schedule of needs, or you may be going into a season of change and you don't know what is ahead. Either way, somewhere inside you is some element of creative passion. I know that is true because each of us is created in the image of God and He is the source of creativity and passion!

I really encourage you to carve out some time to sit in solitude asking your Maker what your passion is if you are disconnected from the awareness of how you are wired. He knows the plans He has for you...

Some of you are really living out your passions right now and you inspire me! I really believe we are intended to share our gifts and talents with one another for both blessing and challenge. How do we get started though? What can you do today to take a step toward living out your passion? I would love to talk with you about what I have been learning (there I go again!) that can help you get the tools you need to learn about your passion.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

In 1989, after experiencing many significant life changes within a short period of time, not all of which were welcomed, a friend gave me this card. I was so touched by the sentiment that I framed it. It has been a part of my visual inspiration for 20 years! Recently I have experienced the second set of significant life changes, none of which were planned. This visual reminder has been inspirational for me still and in new ways this time through.

Life has a way of happening whether we are ready or not. I lost both my parents within nine months of one another through unexpected means. As a result of those huge losses I was unable to continue working in the administrative capacity I had been, so I stepped away from that position. Truly, I could barely function, the grief process was so overwhelming. It has been a two year period of deepening my relationships: with my husband, my sons, and my Lord.

When I was younger along the Way, I really didn't get what James encouraged us with: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Now, after 28 years walking along the Way, I think I finally understand. God tests our faith as He tested Abraham, so that the surpassing knowledge of God in Christ can be ours.

We can have joy in the middle of deep loss and sorrow. And no it doesn't make sense. But God does have a plan, He is still on His throne and His promises are true to those who believe. I have lots more to say about the lessons I have learned and I will in future blogs, but what I most want to encourage you with today has to do with the changes I am being led to and hopefully they will encourage you too.

I have had the privilege of working with a terrific woman for the past six months, who is a follower along the Way and my Life Coach. Kathy has listened to me at this change point in my life; trying to help me sort out what is left of me after losing so much. She has been both inspirational and prayerful for me. Through my work so far with Kathy I have recognized my desire to communicate what God has taught me through the life He has blessed me with. She has pointed me toward tools and exercises to sift through ideas and passions and find the commonalities to build upon. It has been a very inspiring journey that I highly recommend!

As part of this journey I have been stepping out in new ways: this blog is an example. I have joined facebook, twitter, and a women's social network, Exemplify Online. You can find those links down the sidebar on my blog. But today I found a new connection that I want to make sure you know about that can encourage you to make some changes and reach out to others through the internet.

A Woman Inspired is an online resource for learning the steps and short cuts for building an online presence for ministry in whatever capacity God is leading you to do. They will be holding an online conference June 8 - 11. I am so excited for the opportunity to take part in this conference. There is no travel involved; it will be held online. If you go to their website you can check out the speakers and their topics.

I know this won't be for everyone, not because you couldn't handle it but you may not be ready for making any changes right now. But some of you are right where I am and need to know how to get plugged into the opportunities to reach out to those who need encouragement from God's Word and His work in your life and the lives of those you know.

I, like Paul, say this: I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: 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.

Press on my dear friends! Don't fear the changes; God has greater things in store for you!

Be sure to check out Exemplify Online!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Fun!


I had to take this pic when we were up at Hume Lake at Christmas. There is no end of hilarious images that come to mind for what might happen to someone who would zipline across the thin ice covering the shallow water. If they fell from the zipline they better not dive in!

Have some Friday Fun!

Creative School Projects for all you Moms

I know how much we all love the assignments that involve building some model of what the children have been learning, but bear with me here.

Learning really can be fun! Just check out this castle my son Mark designed. If you look closely it is all chocolate! Now I can tell you that was a fun project to help with! Legos, cereal, marshmallow cream and candy bars. Hmm yummy! The downside was when he took it to share, he let the class eat it up (not the legos of course!) Glad I took the picture before hand.

What about our own creative projects? You might have a scrap book to work on or a sewing project to start, but I am actually talking about the ongoing projects of relationships. Our parents, our siblings, our friends, our spouses, our children; you get the idea. There is no end to the creativity needed in the project of relating to other humans in a meaningful, interactive way.

How do you find inspiration for your creativity in relationships? I love to hear what moms do to have fun with their children, or ideas of friends in connecting with others. How about you? What is something fun or inspiring or creative you have done recently to develop those relationship projects?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Something De-Light-ful

I don't know if your life has been touched by any spectrum disorders such as A.D.H.D., Asperger's Syndrome or Autism, but in searching for a cute picture of a balloon to lighten things up at my blog, I found this logo for The Balloons Of Hope.  What a terrific organization and purpose!  You simply have to check them out.

I don't think there is a better way to lighten things up along the Way than to hang out with children!  I don't mean simply observe children, I mean play their games, sing their songs, IMAGINE things with them, read stories and just enjoy!  

Jesus put children in very high standing you know.  He made sure no one would keep children from Him; He told us that we are to be like children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Ever wonder what He meant by that?  Was that another mystery image that didn't make literal sense like being born again?  I am not a Bible scholar but I like to think after 28 years of formally hanging out with children I have an idea of what Jesus meant for us to do.

Children are so completely without guile and trusting.  They don't judge, they accept.  They imagine and enjoy God's creation fully.  They love you just because you show up.

I think we are to love Jesus just like a child loves.  I think we are to trust with the child's complete non-judgmental way of trusting.  I especially think God wants us to fully enjoy His beautiful creation including all the people He made in His image.

You want to lighten up like I do?  Go out and play!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What Do You Take For Granted?

Isn't this a beautiful picture?  Looks like a day coming to a close on the Pacific Coast.  Actually this is a sunrise over the Indian Ocean on the east coast of Sri Lanka.  Such a peaceful image.  Such beautiful people, a beautiful country.

It is not so peaceful there right now.  What do you take for granted?  Food?  Water?  Running water?  Flush toilets?  A roof over your head and a floor under your feet?  Peace in your neighborhood?  

Families in Sri Lanka have been caught in the cross fire for 25 years and lately things have gotten worse.  People are being forced from their homes because of fighting and are once again being relocated to IDP camps (no border to cross so they are not refugees but Internally Displaced Persons)  They have a common well, sometimes, corrugated metal for make shift shelters and palm fronds to weave into a roof.  Poor sanitation, limited food.  Relief supplies sent by international Red Cross is not getting to the IDP camps because the Sri Lankan army is preventing it.  

What do you take for granted?  

Monday, May 4, 2009

Humility or Humiliation?

Hope you saw my Friday Fun post. Humble Pie is a real thing not just a figure of speech. I am going to try that recipe this week; thankfully my family likes savory pie for dinner on occasion and a steak pie sounds yummy! But strawberry rhubarb sounds better!

That is really how we are isn't it? We would rather have things easy or fun and to have our own way than to have to give way to someone else. Dessert is better than veggies in some minds. I have been mulling around the difference between humility and humiliation since last Friday when I was hunting for a picture of a pie to use on the blog. I have a few thoughts and a couple of questions.

We want recognition for a job well done. You have seen it in a child's face when they finish a chore. You have felt the need when you have done a good deed that was almost hidden from view. We all have. Our self wants an Atta Boy! But what about when the opposite kind of attention comes? The kind of attention that points to a mistake or misunderstanding? What of our need for recognition then? Don't you want to just have the ability to become invisible? To have the elven cloak that was given to Frodo? I know I do.

Along the Way there are many opportunities to learn the difference between humility and humiliation. Some are public, like tripping and falling in a restaurant on Valentine's Day. True story. I did it this year. Hmm. You don't need me to define those two words for you but I do want to remind you of the importance of living out the difference. Being embarrassed by a mistake does not mean you lack humility; how you respond to the correction of your mistake will demonstrate the difference in your life. Do we assert that we are in the right when there is a conflict? Do we demand we get our way? Do we look for the recognition for our actions by talking about our accomplishments? If you or I say yes then we lack humility in that area (or maybe in all areas? Ouch!)

Jesus helps us with how our behavior needs to look as we walk along the Way in Luke 14:7 - 11. This isn't the only spot in Scripture we can see the difference between humility and humiliation. Paul exhorted us to remember how Jesus modeled humility for us in Philippians 2:5-8.

Big sandals to fill no doubt. But if you are a Christ follower you have the beauty of the indwelling Spirit who equips you to make the choice to grow in humility rather than demanding your own way. So here is my question: Do you walk with Jesus along the Way? Following Jesus is both a one time decision and a process involving moving from one model of life and behavior (self-centered) to a very different model of life (God-centered). Walking along the Way is full of change. The Way of faith is the ultimate grand adventure! For the Way up is really the Way down. It is really living out the difference between humility and humiliation.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday Fun!


Doesn't this look yummy? I had so much fun hunting for a picture that I had in mind for today's post. Ten in the morning looking at photos of pies may not be the best idea if you are trying not to eat too much, but this particular pie stood out because of its name: Humble Pie
I don't know if you have ever used the saying "eating humble pie" but the above link tells a brief history of the term and gives a modern version of the recipe for what sounds like a delicious main dish!
In my next post I'll tell you why I went down the rabbit trail hunting for pictures of pies. For now you can learn two new things by checking out the link! Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Reading and Writing (no 'rithmetic)

Being an author is pretty time intensive. Funny thing, writing is connected to reading. Who knew? Researching sources, gathering material for writing queries, finding pictures for this blog all take time. It is worthwhile time because along the way I encounter these wonderful Divine appointments with people or their writings.

Recently I came across a piece that simply posed questions for us to think about and discuss. The point was, if you are tired of shallow connecting -- "Hi how are you?" "Fine" "Me too" "How are the kids? Work?" "Good" "me too" then taking time to pose any or all of these questions would likely take a conversation past the mundane to a little deeper connection.

Questions of Consequence:

1. What is hard for you?

2. What are your joys?

3. What do you hope for?

Going deeper with people is following Jesus. Think about His conversations. Of course He had perfect knowledge and perfect wisdom which we all lack. But I would say that taking the time, making the connection that we all crave at some level, honors the individual and it honors the Lord.

Try these questions out the next time you get to hang out with someone. Let me know how it goes!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ready?

I am not ready. I want to be. I long to be ready at any moment, but I am distracted. I am distracted by the dishes, the laundry, the dust, the paperwork. I can’t seem to put a routine together because something or someone comes along the Way to change my plans.

Wait. Watch. Prepare. I want to be available to those in need of a good Word. I study. I pray. I wait. I watch. But still I don’t feel ready.

What gets in your Way of being ready? What are you getting ready for? This picture is simply a road sign but it struck me thinking about the paradigm of sharing our faith.

Peter, who walked and talked with Jesus along the Way, tells us to set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.

We as followers along the Way are to live full of hope we walk in this world. We show hope in the Way we struggle, suffer loss, live daily and transparently before others. Jesus is the Way. If we follow His Way we see our paradigm set forth. It is not religion. That can distract us from the Way. Jesus shows us the Father, shows us Himself. If we watch carefully we will see how to follow Him along the Way.

This is faith walking. We don’t see Jesus face to face yet, but we have His Word, His promises and His presence through the Holy Spirit to help us along the Way. We have each other to come alongside in challenging times, if we are living transparently in our need.

Getting ready is a life long pursuit. Being ready just means being real with where we are along the Way. Keep setting apart Jesus Christ as Lord in your heart by moving yourself off the throne. Keep faith walking. Keep getting ready and you will be ready.

Join me?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Faith Walking


Do you ever stop to think about what it really means for you to "walk by faith"? I know that in different seasons of our lives we have more or less time to stop and ponder big ideas; I wasn't spending a lot of time in contemplation when I had babies to care for or when I worked more than full time like so many women whose work is outside and inside the home. Let's take a few minutes to think about faith walking together.

Our days are filled with "to do lists" of tasks that must be done and our focus is on them, not on things with eternal consequence. Yet if anything is important then everything can have importance in the realm of faith walking. The Message tells us that "the fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see."

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. So faith walking is daily. We go through the ups, the joys, the successes of our lives confident in our trust in the promises of God. We go through the downs, the sorrows, the loss of our lives confident in our trust in the promises of God. Wait a minute! Didn't I just say the same thing? Good for you for noticing.

Yes. Whether we are experiencing ups or downs, joys or sorrows, successes or loss, we can have confidence in the promises of God. I know this is true. Not only have I read about lives in Scripture but I have watched the lives of dear friends and have experienced first hand how faith walking looks.

Walking is active. You move. You used to be in one place, or circumstance, and you change and grow to another place. C.S. Lewis wrote of this movement in the Last Battle: as Aslan moves through the Doorway he turns and calls over his shoulder to those following him, "Come further up! Come further in!" This is the invitation Jesus offers us as we walk along the Way. Get to know Me more, walk with Me, talk with Me.

This is not an item on a to do list, it is the essence of our very life! Further up, further in! This is what faith walking is!

Come along the Way....

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Fun!

I don't know if you will find this photo as funny as I did when I took it last December, but it really struck my funny bone at the time.

Later when I was looking at it I thought maybe it was a little melancholy (or maybe I was feeling a little melancholy!)

How does this strike you today?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Perceptions

How do you like the new look of my blog? I have been struggling with the perception I had of the appearance of my layout; colors, size you know the details! It was too cut and paste and didn't really appeal to me. I kept hunting for how to make it more my own (for free of course!) Found a cute site (the link is in the upper left) that offers lots of fun backgrounds (thanks Penny!) and other goodies to customize your blog site. If you're blogging, check it out! Enough of the fluff!

Yesterday's post I talked about the idea of paradigms powering our perceptions. Our model or pattern affects how we look at something or someone. The big idea here is does your paradigm fully work for you? How do you perceive circumstances that you find yourself in right now? We have so many paradigms as I mentioned but the one I would really like to explore is faith. This paradigm is at work in your life even if you don't stop and take a look at it. Your model or pattern that was handed to you from your family affects your perceptions today. Big concepts like trust aren't always openly discussed in a family but what your parents showed you about faith and trust as a child has imprinted your paradigm and thus your perceptions about faith.

What you say you believe and what you demonstrate with your actions may not always line up and that is due to your paradigm. Do you find yourself fearful and you don't know why? Are you prone to worry and want to be done with that struggle? Look at the model you grew up with. The power of modeling for the learning process of children is well known: often something important is "caught" not "taught". The tendency toward fear may have been subtly modeled and you didn't even realize it. All is not lost! Paradigms and perceptions can be changed.

I will go so far as to say that your faith paradigm is the most important pattern for you to examine and align and realign throughout life. What we do and say is important; people close to us as well as those strangers we come across are watching how we interact. If you claim the name of Jesus, how you follow Him along the Way is THE most important paradigm to keep looking at. More on this later...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Paradigms and Perceptions


Have you read this book? If you haven't I recommend it. Here's why: it is fiction, first and foremost. It deals with deep hurts that we all have even though we push them down or away. It gives you somethings to ponder and we all need to be thinking!

Here is a quote that made me stop reading and think about the depth of these words.

"Paradigms power perceptions and perceptions power emotions.
Most emotions are responses to perceptions--what you think is true about a given situation."

I want to unpack this statement a little. Paradigm--"an example that serves as a model or pattern, especially one that forms the basis of a methodology or theory" We all have models or patterns that we follow, and sometimes without even realizing what they are and how they impact us. Parenting, marriage, roles in the family, are all examples of paradigms that we have that we may not even think about.

So read that quote again, filling in a particular paradigm you have. Take time to think it through in how it affects your daily life. Does your paradigm have a positive affect on you and others? Does your paradigm need adjusting to be more effective for your life?

Now specifically look at the paradigm of your faith. Many people don't stop to think through what they believe and if what they believe lines up with how they live. Take some time to think about deep, eternal matters. I'd love to talk with you about your thoughts; no judgment, just open discussion.

Speaking of open--be open to reading the Shack. It is not doctrine, it's fiction. But I would go so far as to say it can be a tool to move your paradigms a little!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Quote from a certifiable genius

Did the title make you curious? Some quotes I collect are simple, some profound. This one is profound in its simplicity. I have to give finder's credit to my friend Susie who is a terrific quote hunter! (among many other skills she possesses)

3 Rules of Work

1. out of clutter, find simplicity

2. from discord, find harmony

3. in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity


Sounds like Henry Ford. Practical, grounded, straightforward, matter of fact. But its not Ford. Before I reveal the quotable individual, let's look closer at these three rules.

Each rule has a challenge in the first half and resolve in the second half: clutter, discord and difficulty are resolved in simplicity, harmony and opportunity. Not only can we make that word pair observation but look at what the rules are for--work. You might simply think rules for getting work done. That approach could be sufficient for appreciating these rules. But you can also look at each of these rules and see that in order to achieve the resolve it takes work; not just task oriented work but character forming work. These rules could be re-titled "3 Rules for Change" or "3 Rules for Growth". These rules are bigger than they seem at first glance!

Of course you might expect something profound in its simplicity from a certifiable genius~ Albert Einstein

Now go and apply these rules....

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Beauty That Matters is Always on the Inside

Hopefully you read my previous post which linked you to Susan Boyle's audition performance on the show Britain's Got Talent. Millions of people have viewed the YouTube posting. Today I want to share portions of a wonderful thought provoking article about Susan Boyle, titled "The Beauty That Matters is Always on the Inside" written by Colette Douglas Home in The Herald web issue 3439. The following excerpts are Reproduced with the permission of the Herald & Times Group

This small, brave soul took her courage in her hands to pitch at her one hope of having her singing talent recognised, and was greeted with a communal sneer. Courage could so easily have failed her.


She lived with her parents in a four-bedroom council house and, when her father died a decade ago, she cared for her mother and sang in the church choir.


It was an unglamorous existence. She wasn't the glamorous type - and being a carer isn't a glamorous life, as the hundreds of thousands who do that most valuable of jobs will testify. Even those who start out with a beauty routine and an interest in clothes find themselves reverting to the practicality of a tracksuit and trainers. Fitness plans get interrupted and then abandoned. Weight creeps on. Carers don't often get invited to sparkling dinner parties or glitzy receptions, so smart clothes rarely make it off the hanger.

Then, when a special occasion comes along, they might reach, as Susan did, for the frock they bought for a nephew's wedding. They might, as she did, compound the felony of choosing a colour at odds with her skin tone and an unflattering shape with home-chopped hair, bushy eyebrows and a face without a hint of make-up. But it is often evidence of a life lived selflessly; of a person so focused on the needs of another that they have lost sight of themselves. Is that a cause for derision or a reason for congratulation? Would her time have been better spent slimming and exercising, plucking and waxing, bleaching and botoxing? Would that have made her voice any sweeter?

Susan Boyle's mother encouraged her to sing. She wanted her to enter Britain's Got Talent. But the shy Susan hasn't been able to sing at all since her mother's death two years ago. She wasn't sure how her voice would emerge after so long a silence. Happily, it survived its rest.

If you'd like to read Ms. Home's wonderful article go here

I hope Susan receives further opportunities to sing. She has earned them by virtue of her talent. But my question to us all is what talents have we not brought out to be seen for lack of opportunity or even more, the fear of ridicule? Perhaps the courage Susan displayed can spur each of us on to love and good deeds, knowing that what truly matters is the beauty on the inside
that is always seen by our audience of One.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Little Things


My dear friend Debbi made this yard art stone for me many years ago. Doesn't it look lovely nestled in among those tiny green plants?

I have left them there although I normally pull them all out. That's because they are weeds in my garden bed! My quote for today is one I love as a gardener:

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Fortune of the Republic, 1878.

I don't just love this quote for the chance to rationalize leaving the weeds but it makes me think too.
I just have to wonder what is valuable to God that I over look as little and unnecessary? What may I have cleared out of the Way that really has virtue not yet discovered?


Friday, April 17, 2009

Musings

I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses....

I don't know your habits, but I know mine: the ones I have and the ones that I am trying to form and reform.  One habit that I love is rising earlier than the rest of my family to enjoy the quiet in the house alone with my coffee and my Lord.  After daylight savings we sometimes walk through the garden looking at the new shoots of seedlings or the flowers in bud.  Hearing the birds waking up as the sun rises is so calming to my spirit.  The songs of the house finches who nest in our jasmine have such a lilting melody and I find myself imagining their conversation with their Creator as I eavesdrop.  

As I walk or stand staring at a bird or plant I allow my mind to flit like the birds; the needs of my family come to mind; my husband's need for work, our oldest's desire for a summer job keeping him away from home again, our youngest's sports plans.  I think of the uncertainty that surrounds so many people's lives in Sri Lanka, in Uganda and here in the States.  I allow my mind to rest in the knowledge that God is already in the unknown of my future and it is completely known to Him. I remind myself of the many times He has shown up in my present, proof enough of His promise to never leave me or forget me.

Giving my mind and heart time to bring thoughts and fears to the surface also gives the Lord space to show up in my present with His comforting Word reminding me that He leads me beside still waters.  I am able to hand over the fear of the unknown to His capable hands as He walks with me and talks with me and tells me I am His own....

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Inspiration

"It is never too late to become what you might have been" George Eliot

I mentioned earlier that I love to collect quotes; I find inspiration through the written word. But inspiration comes in lots of forms: sights, sounds and memories can all play a part in inspiring us to change and grow. The quote above comes from a Mary Engelbreit picture I have framed. I look at it to remind myself that the new skills I want to learn are not beyond my reach; I look at it to see that the things I already know and love can be made use of in new ways.

This has been an inspirational week for me: I spent time pondering my own question "what difference does the Resurrection make?" ( a lot! more on that later); I had tea with a dear friend and her very inspiring mother; I am writing and writing and writing some more!

But the greatest inspiration came with the third reference in as many days to this wonderful, plain woman who had a dream to sing on a big stage. Check this out and let me know what you are now inspired to do!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stress


My dear husband left the following quote near the coffee pot one morning:

"Caffeine is for people who think they are not hyper and irritable enough on their own."

I just don't know what was he trying to tell me!

Have a laugh and hopefully a stressed - less day!

Monday, April 13, 2009

What Difference Does it Make?

Most of you reading this celebrated Easter yesterday. There are those I know too that didn't. What difference does it make? Really? You may have gone to church yesterday, gotten together with family and/or friends to share a meal and even perhaps talked about the message you heard. But what difference does that message make in your life today? Monday?

Kids are home from school this week, you may have the week off yourself. Activities fill your day but what difference does Jesus' sacrifice for you, for me, really make today?

When you go through the day today, doing whatever it is you do, ponder that question, okay?

What difference does it make?

Let me know; I have some ideas for me, but I want to hear from you....

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Sunrise


This photo is a striking image of a sunrise over Jerusalem. The photographer captured beautiful lighting; do you see an image within the light?

Hope you have a joyous celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus with your family today!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Images

What can an image do?





Bring serenity?














Inspire to greatness?



















Cause fear?








What does this image do?



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