I am taking the next week off from my blog. I will be back on Monday, August 3rd. Hang in there with me, friends, as I try to catch my breath and figure out where to go from here. Have a great week!
Monday, July 27, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
--This just in from the Department of Disease Control and Extreme Neuroses: It came to my attention this past week that the coffee stirrers at Starbucks fall under the same unfortunate contamination risk as the toothpicks that were tested back in the 1980's for traces of urine. You remember that study... where they tested the unwrapped toothpicks in the dispensers on restaurant counters only to discover traces of urine and other yummy bacteria. (This is where I was going to reference this study, thus proving my thorough and dependable reporting skills only I couldn't find one. It's true though. You can trust me.) I realized this when I met a friend for coffee this past week and was in need of a stirrer. Sadly, I have been to Starbucks hundreds of times and this is the first time I thought of this. What kind of racket are they running? No way am I stirring my mocha with a urine stick. Anymore.
--My children have all been away this whole week and I have made some startling discoveries:
1. I enjoy extended periods of quiet. Okay this is not new information but it was worth pointing out.
2. There have not been any blobs of toothpaste in any sinks and no toilet seats left up. I have been suspecting them all along but this just confirms my husband's innocence.
3. Our grocery bill hit a record low this week, confirming my suspicions that boys really do have hollow legs.
4. I enjoy extended periods of quiet. Oh, wait...I already mentioned that.
5. I am waaaaaaay more productive when there are no arguments to referee and I am not constantly saying, "Turn that lousy excuse for music down!" or "Which part of 'NO' do you not understand?"
6. I miss my hungry, messy, loud, toothpaste wasting bottomless pits when they are not here.
--The sands of July are quickly running out...hope you are living big this summer!
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.
I have written many posts on this blog about taking risks, exploring unknown places and launching the proverbial boat towards deep waters. And I have meant every word I have written as I feel passionately about not settling for status quo. That being said, I have been thinking a great deal about air travel and the altitudes at which different aircraft fly. And I want to share some thoughts that I have about this in relation to the topic of risk-taking.
Different aircraft are assigned particular altitudes based on a number of factors; direction, distance being flown, and the size of the plane. The ideal altitude for each craft is the one that has them flying most efficiently and thus using less fuel. Passenger jets typically fly between 31,000 and 37,000 feet. Smaller business jets operate up to 45,000 feet. And the Concorde has flown as high as 51,000 impressive feet, a height at which one can often see the curvature of the earth. Air traffic controllers determine when, where, and how high planes will fly based on all of these factors with the goal of getting people where they need to be safely, efficiently and without hurting others in the process.
My point here is that risk for the sake of risk is a life of madness. Risk for the sake of obedience to God is life at it's very best. And risk looks different for each individual. Some will be required, in the tradition of Star Trek, "to boldly go where no man has gone before", to hit the heights of the Concorde. For some, the greatest risk will be to stay the course, cruising at a normal altitude, when running off impulsively is easier. No one can define what is risk for another. Some will see risk and call it irresponsible while others will view a sound decision and say it lacks the vitality of adventure. Only the person taking the next step, in harmony with the heart of God, is capable of making that call. One thing is most certain...we were all created for high adventure, for ardent, technicolor living, and for, as Mark Batterson calls it, "refusing to allow your human responsibilities to get in the way of pursuing the passions God puts in your heart." Technicolor living is the full embrace of your own life, wrapping one arm securely around whatever risks He calls you to take and wrapping the other arm tightly around the beautiful mundaneness of the everyday. The ability to see the heaven and the fire that is right in front of you only happens when you are seeing your life through His eyes. The key is in the seeing.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Churches, like individuals, come in all shapes and sizes with varying personalities, purposes and visions. Some are full of life and draw you in, beckoning you to become a part of its' vitality. Others are cold, arid and devoid of life, causing you to want to run for the door like one might hurry to leave a mausoleum. The living won't linger among the dead. And many, many are somewhere in between, unremarkable, uninspiring and largely unattended.
Yesterday morning I attended a service at a church that is full to bursting with the life of God and I came away encouraged, challenged, and hungry for more. More of God and more of healthy body life. And just for the record, that is how I believe church should be. It seems that everyone has their own idea of what church should or should not look like and some believe that their way is the only way. But, if I might make a bold assertion, I don't believe God is the least bit offended by diversity. The last thing He is going to be crammed into is a man-sized box designed to formularize the God of the universe and the "building of His church", which is His job-not ours. (Matt 16:18)
What does offend Him is pride, which, oddly enough, is at the root of every problem that is encountered in the church. Pride elevates self over God and this is, quite simply, what threatens the furthering of the Gospel and the very life of the church. It would seem to me that if we stopped trying to do His job (building the church) and merely cooperated with Him by disregarding self, adoring Him, and loving others.....the church would explode in such a way that our finite minds never imagined. I don't pretend to have all of the answers and I don't even know what such cooperation with Him should necessarily look like. I suspect it will look gloriously different in different places. But always is will be devoid of pride. Always His children would refuse to focus on what they find disagreeable in the church and choose to focus on all that is good and right in His Face. Simplistic, I know, but I am foolish enough to believe that the Gospel was intended to be just that.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
--Conversation that took place at my house this week:
14-year-old son: "Can I take my coffee into my bedroom?"
44-year-old dad: "Can you keep from spilling it on the carpet?"
14-year-old son: "Dad, I am 14...not 4."
44-year-old dad: "True, but you just microwaved a metal spoon..."
--I know I refer to Tim Sanders frequently here, but he just says so many things that make sense. Check out this post on cell phone conversations. It is good stuff!
--The tragedy of the week involves my poor laptop. Apparently something unfortunate happened to the keyboard and now the "shift" key is broken and the a, a ..."A" key sticks and it is a hopeless mess that has sent me spiraling into a deep depression. so, my hubs recommended taking it in to Dr. Hard Drive, but i just cannot bring myself to enter an establishment that sounds like the name of an adult film star. i mean really. but clearly i cannot live without my shift key and without capital letters in my life. and "a"s that stick? don't even get me started! what's a girl to do/ do/ do? i will tell you what...my hubs took it in because he isn't concerned much with his reputation and, quite honestly, he has been to see dr. hard drive before. it's his dirty little secret. well, up until now, that is. sooo, here's hoping that i get back in the land of capital letters. and "a"s that don't stick.
--oh, and in case you want to get all sassy with me and leave me a comment telling me that my keyboard has two shift keys, let me spare you the trouble. my sons, all three, pointed this out already and i let them know that when i took typing in high school, i always used the left shift key and i have no living idea how to even use the right one. it would be like trying to paint with my toes, okay? sorry. i have been a wee bit out of sorts this week.
--have a lovely weekend. hope it is filled with shifts that work and "a"s that don't stick!
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Last night I saw 75-year-old grandma do stand up comedy, a 35-year-old cancer survivor sing opera like an angel and a nine-year-old electric guitar player who made my chin drop. I am NOT a fan of reality television but I caught a few minutes of America's Got Talent last night and I went to bed feeling inspired. The world is full of people who say "you can't" every day. Bruce Wilkinson, author of The Dream Giver, calls these people border bullies. And because most border bullies are well-meaning people who cling faithfully to the obviously attainable, they can be very convincing as they seek to keep dreamers "grounded".
But I love seeing people at least try to go somewhere that others say is impossible. That show may be a vehicle I would not necessarily choose, but I love to see a dreamer step out of the everyday to shoot for an extraordinary moment. I have a teenage son who dreams some pretty big dreams and I am not about to tie his feet to the ground. Someone's son has to grow up to be the rock star...why not mine? The world is full of nay-sayers, and disappointment and circumstances alone will challenge hopes and threaten dreams--why should I stand on my own child's border and ask "why?" when I can shout "why not! "I believe one of my strengths is helping people, my own sons included, to dare to believe they can do whatever they love. There are too many people getting paid to do what they don't love while their passions sit on a shelf and collect dust. And I love to do some dusting and see people really love their lives and pursue their passions!
Monday, July 13, 2009
Psalm46:10 "Be still (cease striving) and know that I am God..."
There is a direct relationship between waiting in stillness and knowing God. When we cease our striving and our religious activity long enough to rest quietly in the stillness, we find that He is there. Jeremiah 29:13 says, "You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." This seeking and searching has been mistaken for activity and in a society drunk with accomplishing more in less time so that we can get even more done, most of us do not have the vaguest understanding of what this means.
The activity associated with searching and striving is for those who are unwilling to exist in the quiet places of the soul where God accomplishes great works that are largely unseen. He tells us to be still and in that stillness, that waiting....there He is found. And that is the great secret of seeking. Waiting is not passive and fruitless, a waste of precious time. It is an intentional repositioning of ourselves at His feet, knowing that transformation will surely come. Waiting in stillness is the divine mandate that most of us miss and so He must orchestrate our circumstances in such a way that we are forced into periods of waiting. But when we embrace this waiting and this stillness we find places in our own souls that we did not know existed and it is there that we see the reflection of His face, the branding of His image. And that is where we are changed and transformed. Sue Monk Kidd defines this paradox as "achieving our deepest progress standing still."
There are divine pockets of waiting throughout life that hold deep treasures and it is only the ones who are willing to embrace the stillness and to wait on Him that discover that this treasure is but more of Him. For years I wrestled with this, acquiescing on the outside but resisting and resenting within. It has only been recently that I have wrapped my arms around this thing called waiting so that I might discover the depths of truly knowing Him. Give yourself permission to pull away, to cease so much activity, to engage in quiet waiting. The "knowing" is worth all the "waiting".
Friday, July 10, 2009
--One of the blogs I follow is Jeremie Kubicek over at Giant Perspectives. He writes on leadership and recently posted The What, Why and How of Reading. It is no secret that I am a huge fan of reading, both for recreation and for personal/professional growth, and I found this post to be encouraging and insightful. Just sharing the love...cause that is what I do!
--Those of you who know me are aware that I can be quite absent-minded at times. On some levels this can be cute and quirky. This week, however, I took it to a whole new level. A much LOWER level. I was making homemade chocolate ice cream for the bottomless pits that live in my house and had completely assembled my trusty Alton Brown recommended ice cream maker. Or so I thought. After preparing the ingredients and pouring them through the opening at the top, I was astounded to see no churning action going on and all of the delicious chocolatey goodness was running out all over the counter. Now, I ask you...what kind of thinking individual forgets the FREEZER BOWL in the whole ice cream making process??? Uuummmm....that would be me. Obviously thinking was not involved that day. It was a small miracle that I didn't totally destroy our favorite small appliance.
**please note that no small animals or children were harmed during this process. I, however, was thoroughly ridiculed by every member of my family, including my visiting sister**
--Fav quote: "The shell must be cracked apart if what is in it is to come out, for if you want the kernel, you must break the shell." ~Meister Eckhart
--In case you didn't know, having your shell cracked is agony. And that is all I am going to say about that.
--I am headed to the great state of Alabama this weekend for a wedding ( I love weddings). Our very special friends, Greg and Pam Rogers, who planted and pastor Tuscaloosa Life Church will be watching one of their sons marry the love of his life. I love weddings...did I mention that? My favorite moment is when the bride appears because I love, love, love seeing the look on the groom's face when he sees her for the first time and watches her come toward him. It makes me think of the joy it must give the Lord when He looks at me and at you, His bride, coming toward Him. And it makes me want to draw nearer still to Him.
Do have a wonderous weekend! See you on Monday.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
When a husband and wife come together in the most intimate of connections it is called lovemaking. Love is not actually made in the act of sex, it is merely expressed in a wildly intense way that only God could have imagined. And when each of us joins together in the closest of intimacy with our Heavenly Father, it is called soulmaking. Likewise, the soul is not made in the intimate dance between the Father and child but it is expressed in a wildly intense way that, again, only God could have imagined.
There is an ineffible discovery of soul and self and eternal identity that can only be realized in the tender moments of exchange and connection between Father and child. And the self that is realized is really just the true reflection of Who He is and how He desires His image to be reflected in us. And these reflections of His face in each of us are as unique and different as each snowflake that falls to the earth, not one resembling any other. It is the constantly changing environment within a cloud that makes each snowflake uniquely different and so it is with each of us...our ever changing surroundings cause us to be a reflection of the Father's heart and face unlike any other. This must cause the heart of our wildly creative God to burst with excitement over the endless expressions of His true self that are then possible to be seen and enjoyed in the earth.
However, many of us have been deceived into viewing such exchanges with God in much the same casual way that so many view sex. It is for our own gratification, serving the purpose of meeting a base need in such a way that the heart need not ever be engaged. How cheap and shallow an imitation is this of the deeper reality that He intends for us to know when our hearts are engaged and our souls are brought to life in a fiery, breath-taking intertwining of flesh with the divine. Soulmaking is an incomprehensible union worthy of our pursuit that will move us toward, as Sue Monk Kidd puts it, "recovering all that is lost and orphaned within us and restoring the divine image imprinted on our soul."
Monday, July 6, 2009
When all of your writing comes from the deep places in your heart, but your heart is aching, dry and arid, it is difficult to string together words that will bring life to others.
Why write at such times?
It seems that many who write songs do their best work in the dark hour.
Some of the writing that has spoken to me the most has come from people who were transparent when hiding would have been easier, and watching them move forward even when broken has somehow brought life to me.
Hiding is easy and avoiding banal platitudes that are oddly suffocating is far more appealing.
Yet somehow people worth following are the ones who smell like the desert. They have known hunger and thirst and barrenness and can be trusted to bring food and water and life to someone else.
Can you really be an oasis if you have never known the aching need for one?
"All of my servants on their way to the High Places have had to make this detour through the desert...I bring my people into Egypt that they, too, may be threshed and ground into the finest powder and may become bread corn for the use of others."
--Hinds' Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard
Sunday, July 5, 2009
My friend, Cee Lew, from beautiful South Australia has recently awarded me the Honest Scrap Award for honesty and authenticity in my blog writing. This was an honor to me as I have always sought to be both in everything I say, do or write. And Cee is a picture of authenticity herself. Pop over here and check out what she has going on in her corner of the world.
To keep this award, there are some rules by which I (and future recipients) must abide:
So, here are the "ten honest things about myself":
--I have a deep desire to leave a legacy of my writing that will make a mark on others the way the writing of certain others has marked me.
--My three sons are the joy and delight of my heart and if I do no other great thing, I will have raised three men who will make a difference in this world.
--My faith in Jesus Christ is the foundation of who I am and the reason that I live.
--I love and adore dark chocolate and I hate and detest spiders.
--I desire to travel the United States and see every place my heart has longed to see here.
--Then I want to travel the globe and see the rest of this spinning orb that God created.
--I do truly believe that marriage can be heaven on earth and my husband is easily the finest unexpected gift I have ever received. Life with him is an endless treasure.
--Regardless of how dark the path of my life can sometimes be, I really do love life, the mundane or the exciting, and I thank God for this life I have and I would trade places with no one.
--Two other things I wanted to be as a girl were a world-class tennis player or an Academy Award winning actress.
--Besides my family, my close friends who feed and encourage my soul are my favorite things. And really, family and true friends are what make us so very rich.
And now, to offer this fine award to 7 others (and in random order, mind you):
-Erica Orzechowski of Ponderings for her uncompromising authenticity. I have always respected that she is true to who she is. After all, pretending in order to please others is such a waste of precious time.
-Rachel Grubb of So I've Been Thinking for encouraging me to make time for my gift. I can't wait to see where her gifts take her.
-Bruce Goddard of View From A Hearse for making life in a southern town a thing to be treasured and even envied. He writes from a heart that authentically loves where he came from.
-Joylene Green of Therapy for giving real-life encouragement to her readers on living a healthy and whole-hearted life.
-Eddie Taylor for being a man who lives a life others should envy. He follows God anywhere and he is the same man at home that he is in public. There is no other like him.
-Adrienne Scott of In the Meanwhile for being exactly who she is. I have always respected her walk with God and any reflections in her writing of that walk are well worth reading.
-Jen Walsh of Chair Rocker. Many times I have popped over to her blog and read words that I needed so very much in that moment. Her words are always real.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
Observations from the seaside:
--All food tastes better at the beach.
--Calories do not matter while away at the beach and watching what you eat is completely unnecessary.
--Some people are under the complete misapprehension that swimsuits are one size fits all.
--Bologna sandwiches are tastier with sand in them.
--Coke for breakfast is acceptable, even recommended, at the beach.
--God made spray on sunscreen and I love Him for this.
--It is okay to leave your beds unmade for the duration of your time at the beach.
--Hanging over your balcony and yelling loud, obnoxious greetings at the people walking by is frowned upon by some folks.
--There are actually people in the world who think it is okay to leave dirty diapers and tampon applicators on the beach. This is a great mystery to me that I do not understand.
--O'Steens in St. Augustine, FL has the best fried shrimp on the planet. And they are deveined...bonus points for that!
--It is not considered abusive to bury your children in sand and then take pictures of them.
--Chubby, naked babies running around on the beach are cute. Chubby, nearly naked men of retirement age running around on the beach are nauseating. Add excessive back hair to the equation and you might need to take some Pepto.
--My first book will be entitled "Men With Excessive Back Hair and the Women Who Love Them But Not Enough to Help Them Get Rid of It." You can pre-order your copy in the comment section.
--Certain boys I know think that chlorine can serve as shampoo for the duration of an entire week. This is not recommended. I repeat-NOT recommended.
--Being at the beach requires lots of energy. This explains the necessity of eating 6-8 meals a day. That is my story and I am sticking to it.
--And finally, responsible parents do NOT allow their sons to use blow dart guns to kill innocent frogs from the safety and comfort of their condo balcony. For the record, this was another family with questionable parenting skills and not us.
Have a great Fourth of July weekend!
Thursday, July 2, 2009
I'm not trying to wear out the MJ thing but....
I read recently that, growing up, Michael Jackson was teased a great deal by his father and that he was reported to have said to his son, "God, your nose is big!" In a 2003 documentary, Michael was reported to have said that when performing he would have been happier wearing a mask. Nothing done to a person in childhood excuses adult behaviors and choices, but we often forget what careless words said to a child can do and the lasting effects of those words.