December 8, 2010

Key Changes

The Christmas season is in full swing, even at work I have worked my magic with garland and glitter.  I am still as much a fanatic about Christmas as I ever was, but this year it's different. 
I'm not living with my parents, surrounded by the familiar decorations and loving memories of a childhood gone by....
my sister isn't here to go on shopping adventures with or plan and plot Christmas surprises the way we did before...
friends are moving not far away, but far enough to make a difference....
scheduling has become tighter than ever trying to fit in as much "quality" time as possible....
people I know have lost loved ones, others are struggling with disease or heartache. 
In the midst of glitter and mistletoe and Rudolph it seems, more apparent in this season than most, that something is not right.   All is not as it should be. 
Praise God that He allows us to claim that as truth. He says in His Word, "No, things are not as they should be."  Scripture is full of pictures of creation groaning as if in childbirth waiting for God to act.  Sin is the reason things are not right and even nature itself recognizes the need for change.  Creation knows that God who is faithful promised and still promises to act.
The advent season is a season of waiting, long lay the world in sin and error pining, recognizing what is broken and waiting expectantly for God to make it right.  That's why Jesus came, immortal made mortal, divine clothed in flesh...to make things right.  I think this realization is why I like advent hymns in minor keys.  With all the sweet and happy wishes for peace and joy during the holiday season, it's nice to be able to buck against it a bit and recognize that waiting is hard and brokenness hurts.  It reminds us that not only are we remembering a season of waiting, but that we are still waiting for the final fulfillment of all of God's promises to make all things new and wipe away all tears.
Yes, all is not as it should be, but I serve a God who keeps His promises.  I live in hope because  because God came to dwell with His people, to set them free.  I live in hope because a baby was born in Bethlehem, just like God said He would be.

Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand;
ponder nothing earthly minded for with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth, our full homage to demand.



Linking up with Emily at Imperfect Prose

December 1, 2010

Living with, living with, not dying from disease

Today is World AIDS Day.
About 33.3 million people are living with HIV worldwide.
To be honest, growing up, I never really thought HIV/AIDS.  Growing up in the 90s, the fear wasn't as great as it had been a few years before, a little more research had been done, and it just didn't really affect my life.
Even in college when my view expanded and the shear vastness of the epidemic set in, AIDS still didn't feel real to me.  The numbers where just too big, the need too great to wrap my brain around and since I wasn't personally affected by it, it was easier to just where a red ribbon and feel I had done my part.
Then came Kenya. 
The life expectancy in Kenya is 54...a full 24 years younger than the US.  While there is good news from UNAIDS about the numbers of people dying from AIDS going down and the number of people on antiretoviral therapy is going up, I'm still haunted by the faces of children I fell in love with.
I went to Kenya knowing that 1 in 3 people living in the slum that I was to work in was infected with HIV.   But it was easy to forget the numbers while playing with the kids...joking in broken kiswahili, laughing out loud, playing games in what little space there was to run and jump. 
Then after the bonds of 6 weeks of working and learning together where built a short-term medical team came in for a clinic.  I remember one doctor saying that there where physical signs of the disease, visible indicators that they looked for...he said not a single child he had seen that day was without those signs.  Objectively it made sense, we were in a slum in Nairobi, serving the poorest of the poor, of course the numbers would be high, but none of us were prepared for that.  Those children, so full of love and laughter in the midst of their circumstances, they are carrying a disease that causes their own blood cells to betray them.  Suddenly HIV/AIDS was no longer a disease of those who made unhealthy choices, these were children.
Today is a day that now has meaning.  Now when I where red ribbons, or buy a (red) product, or give to fill the need, I have faces to put on the pain and that has made the difference.
The work is not in vain, the fruit has been seen, infection rates are going down, ART is more available, we know so much more about this disease then ever before...and yet it is not enough.
Join with me today in praying for those infected, that medicine and education would be available, that families and friends would support and love them, that needs would be met, health would be protected,  that more people would be tested and given treatment, and most of all that God would fulfill His promise to make all things new, because that is the only lasting cure.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. Revelation 21:1-7

Joining with Emily and others in a community build in brokenness at Imperfect Prose

November 24, 2010

Breathe Deep

Sometimes it is hard to remember God's goodness:
When Godly, lovely people lose battles with disease,
when evil people seem to not have a care in the world,
when humble go hungry and proud eat their fill. 
This seeming reality can destroy joy like nothing else I know. 
My head knows that God is good, because His Word tells me so, my heart knows that He is good because I have seen Him answer prayer.  But sometimes I just can't seem to bring it all together.  The pain is too real, the look of suffering in another's eyes is too vivid, the cup is too bitter and I lose faith...even if only for a moment. 
How fickle my affections are, how quick to judge and slow to trust. 
GOD IS GOOD. 
He does  not promise that I will know how His goodness will manifest itself or that it will fit my definition of "good,"  He simply promises that all things will work together for the good of those who are called by His name.  As my pastor said in a sermon not too long ago, "be thankful that He has saved you and live your life." 
And so, on this eve of Thanksgiving I will choose an attitude of gratitude.  Because a thankful heart has no room for doubts.
I am grateful for my name written in the book of life and God who loved me enough to pay with blood to write it.  I am grateful for a family who loves me and loves God.  I am grateful for friends who get me and who have my back.  I am grateful for daily bread and joy in my work.  I am grateful for baby kisses and toddler hugs, for sunny mornings and flocking birds.  I am grateful for projects to keep my hands busy and for art to keep my mind in awe.  I am grateful for health and a roof over my head.  I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who listens to my prayers and answers with what is best and not with what I want.  I am grateful for a savior who is teaching me that if I fear Him, I have nothing to fear.  Most of all I am grateful for the breath of life, both in this world and the next.

breathing deep in broken thoughts, linking up with Emily and  others at Imperfect Prose.

November 17, 2010

Mod Podge and Glitter

As I paint and glitter my way up to Christmas (early I know but I do love it so) I wonder what doesthis mess of mod podge and glitter and lace have to do with the incarnation of Jesus Christ?  At first glance I would say nothing, it is an example of how this deep theological truth has become a reason for silliness.  But not being one to settle for first glances and not being quite ready to resign my glittery dreams and schemes  I decide to look a bit deeper in my heart, why do I love Christmas so much?  Why do I get joy and giggles when I smell pine and see ribbons?
Part of it is my love of hospitality, what a great time of year to invite anyone and everyone over for good hearty foods and warm drinks.  This season is custom made for nights running long with music laughter and board games.  I think that part of my love of decorating for Christmas is wanting to display my home at its best and to give others joy when I entertain them.
Another part is my mourning of shorter days, dropping temperatures,  dead-looking trees, and lack of outdoor color.  The line in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe about it being always winter and never Christmas is one of the most tragic lines in children's literature and I believe it to be a pretty accurate description of what my life would be without the love of God.  "Greening" my apartment give me hope for spring...all is not dead in this season of cold and dark.


Finally I believe part of my love of Christmas comes from a (sometimes overly) developed sense of wonder and silliness that I have inherited from my parents.  I believe that Anne of Green Gables calls it "being of the race that knows Joseph,"  this love of beauty and ability to be suddenly captivated by mystery, hope, wonder, and tragedy that surrounds everyday.  Christmas time is custom made for kindred spirits.  The lush green garlands, snappy red ribbons, shiny bulbs, twinkling bells, flashing lights, tiny jolly figures, all give such scope for the imagination.  Christmas is a time for wonder, wondering at God becoming man, angels singing to shepherds, kings following stars.  If these are not reasons to give into temporary captivity of awe I don't know what is.  Celebrating helps enable these awe-struck sighs and contagious giggles. 
"The more we are proud that the Bethlehem story is plain enough to be understood by the shepherds, and almost by the sheep, the more do we let ourselves go, in dark and gorgeous imaginative frescoes or pageants about the mystery and majesty of the Three Magian Kings." GK Chesterton

Linking up with Emily at Imperfect Prose

November 10, 2010

november grayness

November is a gray month. 
The trees are bare and some how appear purple in their nakedness.  Cloudy skies are no longer just dark with passing rain but are a steely almost dirty looking shade that proclaims frost and whispers of snow.  The rain gets thicker and flirts with the firmness of frozen precipitation. Even the wind seems somehow gray in its new ability to bite.
November snow doesn't usually last long, it's just an appetizer, a foretaste, a teaser, never lasting long enough to make all things look new in its whiteness...just long enough to mess up the driving.  
This was true on Monday.   This November snow turned gray as a cold rain set in melting the snow into slush.  Eventually the snow left and now the 50s have returned if only for a week.  But even this little bit of warmth is deceiving with the wind cutting through it.
As you may have guessed November is not necessarily my favorite month.  One would think that being a good new england girl, I would have made peace with the seasons long ago, but some how this transition between fall and winter always seems to surprise me.  
The only thing I like about November is that it means I can begin listening to Christmas music without being judged.  
I am a firm believer that Christmas is what makes the cold worth it!  
The decorations, the family time, the joyous parties, the delicious food, the awe-inspiring hymns and carols that speak such gospel truth.  When else can you wander through Target on your lunch break and hear the words, "Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Son of Righteousness! Light and life to all He brings Ris'n with healing in His wings Mild He lays His glory by Born that man no more may die Born to raise the sons of earth Born to give them second birth Hark! The herald angels sing "Glory to the newborn King!" " playing over the intercom?
As I wander through this world of gray and cold I pray for contentment, I pray for joy, and most of all a pray that this mystery of incarnation...immortal becoming mortal, Creator putting on created skin...that this mystery would sink into my soul.  May I live like this is true!  Somehow I think that in the light of Jesus setting aside all heavenly glory to be born among livestock, with nothing but the cross before Him, this cold seems a little less gray.

joining up with Emily today at Imperfect Prose

November 3, 2010

God is good and I need to vacuum

I  have written and re-written this entry quite a few times, never quite finding the right words to say.  the command of the english language lay before me and yet all I truly want to say is that God is good.
So often I forget this and in worry-sickness watch and wonder when the rug will be pulled out from underneath me when I am feeling blessed.  Or in self-pitying guilt I reason "what right have I to expect good things from God?" when I have been so disobedient.
Yes, life is messy and yes, life hurts....BUT my God is faithful and powerful, able to do immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine.
On messy days when life gets me to the end of myself and I lay my soul before God in wordless prayer of surrender, cheek to carpet on my living room floor (realizing not only my sinfulness and inability to do anything to save myself but also that I have neglected vacuuming for far too long) I am tempted to despair.  Times like this God's truth is more trustworthy than my feelings and so I let God's promises mend my soul.
"My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
   For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
   and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
   from generation to generation.
  He has shown strength with his arm;
 he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
  and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
   and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
   in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
    to Abraham and to his offspring forever."
Luke 1:46-55

joining up with others who see beauty in brokenness at Imperfect Prose

October 27, 2010

The Romance of the Sea

In the midst of crazy college conversations I learned something new about myself - that I was different from many of my friends in a way that I never expected...I honestly believed that everyone wanted to be a pirate when they grew up, at some point in their lives!  I was shocked to see surprised faces and looks questioning my sanity when I spoke this belief aloud.  I had expected great variations in religion, politics, moral beliefs, but this seemed like a given.
So, with risk of being giggled at, I admit I wanted to be a pirate when I grew up.  No not a real one that plunders and pillages and steals, or even a story book one that makes people walk the plank.  I simply longed for the total freedom of being more at home on the sea than on land; to be able to go where I wanted, when I wanted apart from any entanglements I may have left behind on a distant shore. (maybe I wanted a little rebellion too like not washing behind my ears or not picking up room).
Whatever the pull to the sea was, it is still there....ocean breezes are necessary for my mental well-being. 
The constantly changing landscape, the small treasures of sun-bleached shells and sea tumbled jewels of glass, the familiar chatter of gulls, the rhythmic lapping of the waves all whisper of home to me.  The sun's intensity is multiplied and the wind takes on new life when tainted with the scent of salty sea spray. 
I find it's easier to pray on the beach, the vastness of the seemingly endless ocean laid out before me puts my heart in perspective and gives me a glimpse of the greatness of the God that I serve.
So with all of the craziness of life this past weekend I finally got to run away to my beloved beach.  This weekend was homecoming and before the big game and joyous reunions I stole some time and had my morning coffee with the waves and the gulls.  It as a calm morning, autumn sun streaming through the clouds and I knew that this sight was for me and I wanted to share it with you....
Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Linking up with Emily and others at Imperfect Prose

October 20, 2010

Punctuality and the Perseverance of the Saints

I am a worrier by-nature, one way that this manifests itself in my life and a deep need to be punctual.  I worry that if I am not on time (or in most cases a bit early) I may
cause others pain by causing them to worry
   waste others' time and be a disappointment
      miss out on something important that couldn't wait for me.
            cause others my question my love/sincerity/care 
all because I could not make it on time.I know that these are sometimes silly fears, especially when I know that I hold no hard feelings against those who are late when meeting me.
But these worries I still have and so I tend spend a lot of time looking at my watch.
Knowing this about myself and knowing that God has called me to cast out fear and to lay my worries and burdens down, sometimes I write two little words on my wrist...all things.  Just above where the face of my watch is, just big enough so that I see it whenever I check the time. 
"Why all things?" you may ask, I write all things because it reminds me of some of my favorite Bible verses, promises of God that keep me grounded and remind me not to worry.
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phillipians 4:13
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33
"Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."" Matthew 19:26
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28
"I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted." Job 42:2
"Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me,“Write, for these words are true and faithful.”" Rev 21:5


These two little words remind me that there is nothing outside of God's hands, all things must and will work together for my good and for my salvation because He says so.  These two little words remind me that I am held by God's grip and not my own.
Someday, when I remember, at the craft store I will buy alphabet beads to make myself a bracelet so that I can be a more obedient daughter and stop writing on myself.  But until then I will continue to use magic marker to remind my heart to be still and know that my Father has everything under control. 

Joining Emily and others for Imperfect Prose

October 13, 2010

sometimes i just have to stick my finger in my ears and sing

As I sat and thought about what to write tonight, to join in Imperfect Prose, many things came to mind...struggles this week with contentment, wonders and worries about the future, longing for companionship, amazement at my own brokeness all joined the chorus of ideas. 
I pondered and prayed a bit more, not satisfied with any of it and I wondered if i had anything worth sharing.
Then a song came to mind, but first let me explain.  This past Sunday as I was driving and listening to A Prairie Home Companion, I caught an interview with a couple of guys who sang together.  The conversation turned to Lutheran hymns and how everyone knows all the words and then they began to sing "for the beauty of the earth," from memory...in harmony! 
This beautiful moment driving home from church as the heat warmed my toes and the colors of fall leaves flew by my windshield is what came to mind tonight. 
I realized tonight that many of my struggles, worries, temptations, and disappointments can all be traced back to my listening to lies from the enemy.  Isn't that how all this pain started anyways, "did God really say...?"   Why is the bad stuff always easier to believe? Lies about God's goodness seem to be easier for me to believe and harder for me to drown out.  The only antidote to these lies is grateful praise.  It is so much harder to believe God stingy or negligent when I am busy thanking Him for what He has given.  For He truly is good sometimes I just need to remember that.
So tonight I stick my fingers in my ears against those lies of discontent, worry, and brokeness-beyond-repair, and I sing my thankfullness to drown them out. 
I will probably fall for these lies again and have to learn this lesson over and over again; never quite getting it until Jesus returns or calls me home...but for tonight I will make the conscious decision to not listen.



For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.

Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour,
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon, and stars of light.

Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mind’s delight,
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight.

Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild.

Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For Thy Church, that evermore
Lifteth holy hands above,
Offering up on every shore
Her pure sacrifice of love.

Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the martyrs’ crown of light,
For Thy prophets’ eagle eye,
For Thy bold confessors’ might,
For the lips of infancy.

Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For each perfect gift of Thine,
To our race so freely given,
Graces human and divine,
Flowers of earth and buds of Heaven.

Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

October 6, 2010

Fire Prevention and the Glory of God

Sometimes I wonder why I do what I do. 
My job is to prevent fires, to protect lives and property, and to figure out why fires happened so they can be prevented in the future. 
October (as many of you know if you have kids sporting shiny new plastic fire helmets) is Fire Prevention Month, and quite frankly it's kicking my butt a little.  I love talking to kids and grown-ups, especially about fire safety....but when the 13 hour days start to stack up and the event requests keep coming I often wonder what coloring books and shiny new plastic helmets have to do with the glory of God.
I hear stories of others who are feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, freeing captives, and sheltering the homeless and suddenly my color changing pencils and nifty powerpoints don't seem so meaningful.  Sure fire safety is an important message but I tend to ask God, "Are you sure you have me where you want me? Isn't there anything bigger I could be doing?"
This weekend I was blessed to be part of the honor guard at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service. I stood as one of many, a sea of blue to welcome surviving family members of firefighters who have died on the line of duty this past year.  Shoulder to shoulder we stood telling wives, mothers, husbands, fathers, children and grandchildren that they were not alone and that their sacrifice was recognized. 
The babies in strollers were what struck me most as I stood at attention, squinting in the sun.  These children will grow-up knowing of but not knowing someone who had loved them because that someone's job had required the ultimate sacrifice.
As my heart broke for these families God spoke and this is when the pieces fell into place. These fatherless, these widows are why I do what I do.  By teaching people to be safe around fire and teaching them how to keep fires from occuring I am saving lives and families of both those I teach and the firefighters who protect them.  Every fire prevented is one time a firefighter does not have to put their life on the line.
And so, as I move through my week I know that in my weakness I rely on God's strength through the long days and by His grace I am able to give out coloring books and talk about smoke alarms to the glory of God.  Because that is what He has put before me to do.

And I ask all of you to be a hero by saving a hero, please be smart about fire safety and install smoke alarms with working batteries and have a family escape plan.

Joining with Emily and others as we search God's grace and practice what He has taught us to do at Imperfect Prose

September 29, 2010

Prone to Wander

Lord I feel it, prone the leave the Lord I love. 
Lately I have been feeling like Hosea's wife....heartbreakingly cruel, foolishly fickle, and stubbornly unfaithful to the One who loves me best. 
When I am still and silent and listening I can hear God speak words of comfort and strength, but I only when I am looking in the right place.  God's word is the only place I will find these words.  So unless I have hidden these words in my heart or are daily reading them God cannot use this precious gift to calm my heart and soothe my hurts. 
Time and time again, lately it seems, more than ever, I find myself distracted....pulled away from the eternal by shiny objects.  Many of these shiny objects are not "bad" in and of themselves but they are not what I need, they will never satisfy.  They are like chewing gum when my stomach is growling and my hands are shaking from hunger. 
And the tragic part is that I know this!  I know for a fact that all the things I try to lose myself in...to relax, unwind, veg out...will never give me true rest!  Yes, there is a time and place for recreation, entertainment, and the like but they are not what I need when I am feeling overwhelmed.
I long for the day when in heaven my hunger will be completely satisfied and I will no longer be distracted by good things when I am to be pursuing what is best. 
Until then I will pray...praying that I would be more faithful the the Faithful One, that I would stop settling for good when I should pursue the best, and that I would develop a craving for eternal things.
 Until then I will continue to mess up and will bring my broken and hurting heart to God in repentance. 
Until then I will remember that He who began a good work in me will work it through to completion.

Joining with Emily and others as we lay our brokenness down at the foot of the cross at Imperfect Prose

September 26, 2010

Friends that stick closer than a brother (or sister as the case may be)

God has blessed me with more friends than I deserve and tonight I want to give a shout out to the fearsome foursome.

We have been friends for 19 years....growing together through girl scouts and slumber parties,
dress-up and junior high, first crushes, first kisses,
first heartaches and everything in between.
This summer has brought changes...two sisterfriends have gotten married, one has moved away and a younger sister has begun to be enfolded into the mix.




Sometimes this requires some crafty planning (like cardboard faces to fill-in pictures), multiple picture texts, and long conversations on various types of media.



But through it all, it means the world to me to have these girls who have known with and without braces, loved me through my awkward pre-teens, crazy teen years, put up with my quirks, held me accountable to the life God has called me to, and have always been ready at a moment's notice with a prayer or word of Godly encouragement.  Thank God for girlfriends!

September 22, 2010

usefullness

I have a bit of a Martha complex.  Cobwebs call for cleaning, recipes beckon to be tried, dirty dishes drown out the silence that I am called to.  My Loving Father tells me to be still and know He is God.  I know that He has truth to tell and love to lavish on me but somehow listening doesn't make the top of the to-do list.
"If I am useful then I can earn my keep.  Production equals purpose.  Busyness brings self-worth."  all things i hear my mind preach to my heart and yet I hear a still small voice saying, "stop....cease your striving and listen....let me teach you my truth, heal your wounds, forgive your sins....let me love you"  Then I look up and let the warmth of the Son warm my cold heart.
Yes, I know that faith without works is dead and that God calls us to do justice, feed the hungry, work towards His glory but obedience without love is meaningless.  Faith must come first.  Loving God must take precedence.  Trusting God to be enough must be enough when He says so. 
Work alone will never save, usefullness will not erase the sin-sick stains on my soul or the pain I feel or the pain I have caused for others.  Christ alone can save this weary soul.   Holy blood shed is the only cure to redeem the works of my hands.  Praise God that what I intend for evil He intends for good.

Joining Emily and others in a community of redeemed brokenness at Imperfect Prose

September 15, 2010

What is your only comfort in life and in death?

That I am not my own, I am not my own to define
but belong not rented or borrowed but owned
body and soul, all that I am, every word every thought every passion every dream every step
in life and in death even when reality as I know it no longer exists, this I know is true
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. by brother, redeemer, friend, and Creator
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, a price i could never have paid
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. Hallelujah, I sing because I am happy, I sign because I am free
He also watches over me in such a way His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me
that not a hair can fall from my head nothing is to small to escape His notice, He is concerned with every detail of my life.
without the will of my Father in heaven: no thing is a surprise to Him who loves me
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. not my immediate satisfaction, ease or comfort but my salvation
Because I belong to him, it is His grip that keeps me there and not my own
Christ, by his Holy Spirit, Holy Trinity, working together to hold me
assures me of eternal life Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready there is no fear of turning back
from now on to live for him for I am not my own!


Today I bring my weakness to draw rest and strength in the shade of God's faithfulness and linking up with Emily for imperfect prose.  For when I am weak, then am I strong!

(red text from Heidelberg Catechism question #1)

September 8, 2010

Longing for the City with Foundations

"To trudge: the slow, weary, depressing yet determined walk of a man who has nothing left in life except the impulse to simply soldier on." (Chaucer in Knight's Tale)
Sometimes I feel like my spiritual feet are made of lead...each step forward takes a bit more effort than the one before.  My legs ache to rest but I know that stagnancy is a slow killing poison and that lack of forward motion results in loss of ground. 
I read my Bible, I pray, I have my quiet times, I go to church...and sometimes it just doesn't feel like enough.  The overflowing joy, the peace that passes all understanding, the strength to mount on wings like eagles all seem to be just out of reach, behind a clean glass wall...a barrier not visible but hard and cold.  On those days I trudge
This has been such a season but God is showing me the blessing of nothing left to lose.  When I surrender my hopes and dreams, the expectations I have of God, He is free to work in me as He wasn't before.  There is a beauty in not quite hitting the breaking point because it is by God's grace that I am pressed but not crushed.
That "impulse to simply soldier on" can only come from God.  I know my heart, I know that my soul is lazy and would rather not move if it means discomfort.  Pushing on, beyond my comfort level and known ability, is something only the Holy Spirit can teach my heart to do.  Now I see that I press on because I have been taught look for something better. 
Yes, failure terrifies me.  Yes, unfulfilled dreams ache.  Yes, betrayals sting. Yes, temptations are strong and sin eats away at my joy and love of God.  Yes, forgiveness is hard to give and harder to receive. 
BUT all these obstacles shall pass away when I see my Savior face to face.
"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." (Rev. 21:3-5)
I trudge because I believe Jesus when He says He will make all things new.
Linking up with the community of hope and brokenness at Imperfect Prose

September 1, 2010

scattered

Most times when I sit to write it is because I have something to say that is gnawing to get out.  Today is not one of those days, my mind is scattered, torn between so many thoughts and questions that I am having a hard time discerning any one cohesive thought.
At a retreat in college i remember the speaker had a mason jar full of muddy water, murky brown and completely opaque...she had just shaken it up.  She placed the jar on a stool and began to talk about God's call for us to be still and know that He is God. When she spoke of even prayer requests being silenced she caught my attention. Thoughts, concerns, heartaches, and troubles are like the little bits of dirt in the jar...swirling madly around, diffusing light, blocking vision, becoming an obstacle to truth.  As she spoke of the peace which passes all understanding the jar began to settle.  Slowly, the jar's contents slowed down.  First light began to filter through.  Then bits of larger objects began to stick out through the muck.  Finally the dirt settled to the bottom and the water was clear....twigs once completely hidden became perfectly visible. 
I am reminded tonight that is I sit still before God and close my mouth and calm my heart dust will start to settle.  First the light of His love and peace will begin to break through.  Then parts of what He is trying to tell me will start to be revealed.  Finally, if I am faithful and patiently wait, He will show me what He wants me to know. 
My inability to hear God speak is not because He is busy or because my problems are too small for Him to care.  It is simply because I have not sat still or stayed quiet long enough to listen.  My thoughts and needs, hurts and cares are legitimate but I need to trust, for right now, that my Father already knows them. 
Tonight is a night for listening.

Recognizing my muddiness tonight and linking up with Imperfect Prose

August 25, 2010

"It's just the gypsy in my soul"

Gray days make me want to run.  Clouds alone are not enough to send me into a tail-spin, but every once in awhile a patch of unsettled weather aligns with the end of a season, and hormones, and individually meaningless disappointments, all working together to make me feel as unsettled as the boiling gray clouds above me with tears seeming as close the mist that refuses to rain.  On days like this I feel I hear my name in the wind and see the road rising up before me, daring me to leave it all behind and just start over.  The lies of discontent become almost overwhelming and the ties of love and common sense seem to be stretched to the limit.  For a day or two I dream of how deliciously romantic it would be to just keep driving past my exit on my way home from work...to drive far enough to drown out the "nevers" and "maybes", the "shoulda dones" and "coulda dones"....and i think how wonderful to be Mary Poppins or that lady from Chocolat who would just pick up and leave whenever their job was done and the wind changed.  I crave the feeling of jumping without a net, of spreading my arms and flying with reckless abandon.
On days like this I wonder how a season of glorious possibility, that was once so full of promise and plan, is drawing to a close before all the dreams could be fulfilled.  I remember dreams of long ago that still hang unrealized.  And I stew in unlived memories with only a cup of tea for company.  How lovely to just leave the disappointments behind and create new memories, in a new place where no one knows my name or what to expect from me.  I look at the lives of those around me and see them moving on while I feel stuck in the mud and mire.
Lies are easier to believe on gray days.  It's not that I doubt the love of my family and friends, it is their love that keeps me here instead of running when this restless spirit hits.
Praise God He does not let me stay here long.  Behold the power of a beautiful redheaded baby boy snuggled into my chest as we dance to every song comes on the radio.  Babysitting my favorite redheaded nephew tonight was exactly what I needed.  As he sleeps in the room next to me and I begin to clean up the broken bits of dinner left of the floor I realize that God was here, these pieces of tomato and bread and hummus are bits of manna from heaven, my Father's love sent to comfort my soul....yes there are dreams still unrealized and hungers still unsatisfied but He is good and has promised good to me.  Little by little my Father is teaching me to trust Him in the midst of longing, not to meet the need but that He will be enough.
Realizing my brokenness and God's wholeness with Emily for Imperfect Prose

August 18, 2010

Free to Love

"in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.What can man do to me?"  As I read this verse this morning and then throughout my day God has been showing me that with Him as my first love I have nothing to fear.
Not only has Christ conquered sin, sickness, sorrow, and death so that I may no longer fear them; but He has also loved me so completely that I truly have nothing to fear from loving others.  True people may disappoint, leave, or even betray but if my hope and trust is in Christ alone none of these events should throw me.  What a freeing thought!  I can love others without fear of rejection because that is how Christ has loved me......hallelujah, what a Savior!  Through His unconditional love of me I may love others truly unconditionally. 
As I'm writing I'm just now beginning to see how this opens up the possibility of loving one's enemies, this is only possible when He alone is my source of satisfaction.  Christ can never disappoint and He has promised never to betray.   Hurt and disappointment should never color my relationships, they should only serve to increase my longing for heaven when all things will be made new!  When I feel abandoned or neglected, discontent or disappointed a change of perspective (a return to my First Love) is what is needed not a change in circumstances.
If only this were a once in a lifetime lesson instead of one that must be re-learned with every step through life.  Praise the Creator for His unfailing love and enduring patience in teaching my wandering heart!
As I am humbled by God's great infinite mysteries and my finite and inadequate vocabulary I connect with Emily forImperfect Prose

August 16, 2010

Why I run into burning buildings

I realized last week that I have left out a large chunk of my life from this blog....for those of you who don't know I run into burning buildings.  I've been a volunteer firefighter for 9 years, but I've been around the fire service my whole life, literally.
There is a picture of my dad feeding me a bottle while sitting on the front bumper of a fire truck and some of my earliest childhood memories are of my sister and I helping my dad at the firehouse on Saturday mornings.  Even though I marched with my girl scout troop I always rode to the Memorial Day Parade on a firetruck.
I'm a firefighter because my dad, along with numerous uncles, set the example (for a while growing up i thought Santa wore fire boots, because in our family he did).  At first I thought that joining the fire department when I turned 16 would be a cool way to get to spend time with my dad without my mom or sister being around but I soon discovered the unique satisfaction of being able to physically help someone when they were in need, and I was hooked.
Of course there's the adrenaline and sense of brotherhood which are pretty cool too, but the ability to bring order and safety to a chaotic and dangerous event is what I love most about this work.  I love it so much that I went to college to study Fire Science to learn how to do it better.
My "paying gig" is as a fire inspector.  This means that I get to stop fires before they start through reviewing building plans for code compliance, inspecting buildings for fire safety, and my favorite part, educating others about simple steps they can take to be more fire safe and home, work, and school.  And then if a fire does happen, we get to investigate where and why it started.  I like my job; I LOVE fire prevention.  I love when people ask questions and learn stuff they didn't know before, stuff that might save their or their family's lives.
The pictures from last week are from the National Fall Firefighters Memorial.  On average the US kills over 100 firefighters a year, leaving behind broken families and grieving communities.  In 2008 3,320 civilians lost their lives to fire and direct property loss due to fires was about $15.5 billion.  Many of these fire could have been prevented. 
Check out http://www.firesafety.gov/ to learn more about how you can take steps today to protect your family from fire.
I love being a firefighter, I love wearing the gear and riding in the trucks.  I love being of service and seeing that look of appreciation.  I love showing off our trucks to little kids and seeing the awe in their eyes.  I love the exhaustion and satisfaction that comes after fighting a fire.  I love my fire department family and the unique bond we have....but honestly I would be so much happier if we didn't have a job to do.  If there was a way to eliminate fires I would give the rest of it up in a heartbeat, but until then I'll keep doin' my job and praying for the safety of those I serve with and those we are serving.

August 12, 2010

Hushed by those who have gone before

As I sit humbled by the sacrifice of those brother and sister firefighters who have given so courageously and selflessly of themselves I am reminded to pray for those who are left behind....children, parents, lovers, and friends.

Although I'm not very wordy today I am linking with Emily for Imperfect Prose today.

August 4, 2010

My God, how great thou art, and how quick I am to forget

Sometimes I fear suffocating in safety, of living a life of quiet desperation.  It is easy to believe in a mighty God when I am faced with mighty obstacles....Goliath before me solidifies my soul's certainty that my God is bigger.  But what do I do when there is no Goliath, when the only obstacles before me are a mirror to show my own sinfulness.  The mundane is such an excellent soul-snuffer and sanctification moves like molasses when measured by the minute.

The questions arise in the still of the midnight moon and the hum of the summer bugs outside...."have i missed my chance for love by speaking too late? too early? or maybe by just not working hard enough?" "does God actually care or have a plan for me or am i destined to slip through the cracks" "can i call my self a christian when there is so much wrong in the world and i live in such luxury?" "am i actually living in God's will for my life or have I missed the mark? and if so how long will i be stuck before I get back on track?" "have i lost my muchness? i seemed so much muchier a year ago when my hands were dirty and calloused from serving the poor and needy halfway across the world."

But then in the breeze i hear that it is time to lay my questions down and i feel ashamed of my questions.  How can I still doubt when I have been witness to so many evidences of His faithfulness?  At times like this God speaks though my garden.



As seeds I doubted in the March mud and cold but my tomatoes proved me wrong











Then as transplanted seedlings assaulted by the late May sun and wind and rain I braced for the worst, but still they grew.











I bought cages sure they would never fill and even if they did they would be lovely green plants with no fruit, still they grew







Then one day, despite my doubt, fruit!


My prayer is for contentment, that I would learn to grow where I am planted and to take joy in the exact circumstance God has placed me in in each moment.  For I know in my head if not always in my hear that it is He who loves me, that guides my steps.  Let my life be like my tomato plants, bearing fruit in the presence of doubt. 

A wise woman once showed me this quote and I pray that I would remember this when the questions come....
"I am not single because I am too spiritually unstable to possibly deserve a husband, nor because I am too spiritually mature to need one. I am single because God is so abundantly good to me, because that is His best for me. It is a cosmic impossibility that anything could be better for me right now than being single. The psalmists confirm that I should not want, I shall not want, because no good thing will God withhold from me."--Paige Benton Brown

Linking up with Emily for Imperfect Prose

July 18, 2010

Gretchen Wilson, Paul, Puritans, and Hobbits

As the song says, "I'm a product of my raising."  As I look forward and try to define who I want to be and what type of home I would like to have, what interests I would like to more intentional about and what gifts I would like to develop, I've some to realize that my tastes and interests may not be as random as some may think.
About a year ago, while digging holes and talking about favorite Lord of the Ring characters, I claimed a kinship with the hobbits.  I feel like a defining mark of a hobbit is a love of domestic arts done well....a meal well prepared, a home cozily decorated, a party well enjoyed, a pipe well smoked, a story well told...this is also a theme in my life.  Things like these, done well for the sake of them being done well and well enjoyed, give me a deep sense of satisfaction and joy.  A word well chosen, a joke well delivered, a garden well appointed and kept, a blanket well knitted, a wine well crafted, a kitchen well cleaned, a cup of coffee well brewed...all of these make me sigh and smile and think of heaven.  Knowing this about myself, I've tried to figure out why these seemingly mundane things give me such joy and I think that a lot of it has to do with how I was raised.
Being a good new englander, I have a strong sense of the puritan work ethic.  "You don't work, you don't eat." seems drilled into my DNA and owe much of my productivity to a desire to eat deservingly.  Now I know that this ethic can be taken way to far and I indeed have taken it to far in my own heart, believing that I must "do something" to earn not only other people's love but God's love as well.  By God's grace He is building my ability to rely on grace and rest in Him and accept good gifts without looking for something to do.  I am by no means "there yet" but He isn't done with me yet and I am just a clay pot after all.  Sometimes the work ethic is useful and enables me to keep my hands from being idle.
I also blame Paul for my love of things done well.  Colossians 3:17 was a common reference in my house growing up, "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."  Taking this verse to heart I have often thought, "If you're going to do something in the name of Jesus, it better be done well," and Paul says, "whatever you do."  This means cleaning the mold off of my shower tiles and teaching people how to use a fire extinguisher; reading a story to kids in nursery and tending my garden; reading my Bible and encouraging my friends and family...."do it all  in the name of Jesus."
That is a lot to live up to, but I think it also has shaped my love for things done well.  And my love of things done well has shaped who I am....I have eclectic taste in music because when you love "music well played" genres don't matter as much.  I have a long, somewhat random list of favorite books and movies because I love a story well told, almost regardless of subject matter.  I love things that are homemade because someone has put the effort into to doing them well, I love organic things because others have taken the extra step to have a garden well-tended.  I love to cook and make things from scratch because if I'm gonna do something, I like to do it as well as I can.  I love a line of logic well thought out and an argument well crafted...even if I ultimately disagree with it.
I think that this also has shaped my frustrations...I get frustrated when I don't have the tools or time to do something as well as I think that I ought.  I also get frustrated by others settling instead of striving, and I get even more frustrated with myself for settling instead of pushing through.
Perhaps I have spent to much time thinking about this but writing it down has helped me process...in black and white I can see logic. 

July 12, 2010

My Toast

Below is the toast I gave at my sister's wedding....including referenced movies for those who may be wondering.

(My sister) is my sister, my partner in crime, my confidant, and my fellow movie fiend.  When I say that (my sister) and I are movie buffs, I don't mean the intellectual "I have an intelligent opinion about the Oscars"kind, or even the "I've seen every movie ever made" kind.  What I mean are the "We can mute our favorites and fill in the voices" kind.  Over the years we've watched a lot of movies and a few have become like old friends.  Some of those favorites have transcended their role as entertainment and have actually helped shape our romantic ideals. To pay homage to this legacy of cinema, I would like to toast the happy couple with nuggets of wisdom from some of our favorites.
"Ladies and Gentlecars!" -Cars
"Love is like the measles.  You only get it once and the older you are the harder you take it."-Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
"Why do men chase women? Well there's a bible story...God...God took a rib from Adam and made Eve.  Now maybe men chase women to get the rib back.  When God took the rib, He left a big hole there, where there used to be something.  And the women have that.  Now maybe, just maybe a man isn't complete without a woman."- Moonstruck
"When you see a guy reach for stars in the sky, you can bet that he's doin' it for some doll." -Guys and Dolls
"Because its the greatest reward that woman or man can receive on this earth.  To love and be loved." -Guys and Dolls
"Mawage, Marriage is what brings us together today.  Marriage, that blessed arrangement, that dream within a dream." - The Princess Bride
"It's that thing where you hang together a lot and button each other's hard to reach buttons" - Sabrina (the 1995 one)
"I know I chatter on far too much...but if you only knew how many things I want to say and don't you'd give me some credit" - Anne of Green Gables
"'I'm afraid for her....she'll be gone so long, she'll get terrible lonesome.''You mean we'll get terrible lonesome.'" - Anne of Green Gables
"I could not have parted with you to anyone less worthy." -Pride and Prejudice
In closing.....
"Kissing would be nice, yes?" - The Princess and the Frog

Thankful for so many things!

This weekend brought the end of an era and the beginning of a new adventure, all with lots of joy, tears, and feather boas mixed in.  My lovely little sister got married this weekend to a wonderful man.  While I could not be happier for them and more thankful for the man God has chosen for my sister; this event was bittersweet.  Gone are the days of slumber parties and all night movie sessions and talking long after the light's been turned off.  On the upside I have gained a brother, made some new friends, and most important....a long held desire of my sister's heart has been met.  For those things I am incredibly grateful!
I'm also thankful for amazing friends who support me and for Titus 2 Women who continue to teach me about living as a woman of God. (I'm especially thankful that living as a woman of God sometimes includes feather boas and dancing with joy).

I'm thankful for rain that stays away and boots that make mud puddles fun.
...and for photographers that rock my socks ;-)
 

Mostly I'm thankful that God's grace is sufficient for me in all circumstances.   Thank you Jesus for giving me the strength to say goodbye with joy instead of fear.

July 8, 2010

Vacation

Mmmmm, is there anything better than sleeping in the sun breathing in lungfuls of salt air?  This week I am off from work and loving it.  I love my job, but it's nice to sleep in, wear skirts, and be able to ramble a bit.  Last weekend we spent soaking in the sun and hanging as a family in Westbrook.  Thank God for family and the opportunity to hang out with 3 generations!
We even got to see an amazing fireworks show!
While there, I realized that salt air may be necessary for my mental well-being.  There is something about the sea's sheer vastness contrasted with the detail of seashells smaller than my fingernails that puts me in my place.  That realization of my own smallness combined with the sun and sand and salt air combine to put me at peace, even with this week of wedding craziness ahead.
Coming back home meant a pretty quick shift in gears....now its wedding wedding wedding all them time! :-)
I am incredibly grateful for this week off, however, part of me can't help but wonder if I will be wanting a vacation from my vacation come next Monday morning.

June 27, 2010

Have I mentioned that I can be easily distracted?

I realize that it has been entirely too long since I have written, but if a post magically appeared whenever i wrote one in my head while i was driving, believe me, my blog would not be so empty!
I think part of the reason why i have not written is because I have not been able to wrap my head around a lot of the things that are happening in my life and so it was easier to continue floating on auto-pilot than it was to sit and write and process. 
So now as i am procrastinating on something else I will begin by saying that I LOVE SUMMER!!! I love the hot and humid weather that makes me crave shade and finally melts away winter's cold.  I love the bugs....the lightning bugs that make me feel like I'm 6 all over again as i stare at them in wonder, and the heatbugs whose "buzz" is the soundtrack of the season.  I love the beach and the sunshine and icy cool drinks.  I love farmer's markets and lush gardens and flowers in unexpected places.  I especially love that fact that i get 3 hours of sunshine after work.
All this said, this summer is different, for the first time in my life I don't have a seasonal aspect to my job, I am working the same hours at the same place, indifferent of the changing seasons.  This feels a little weird.  Although I love my job, I miss the freedom of summer vacation. 
The one thing that is changing this summer is that my sister is moving away.  Up until this weekend I have been able to put this inevitable fact off, but as the bachelorette party weekend draws to a close and "last times" for various things happen it is starting to sink in.  My sister and I have always been close in that we are 11 and a half months apart, but our friendship really kicked into high gear when we went to college and no longer shared a room.  And now I as I ponder her move to the far off land of bourbon and horse racing, I realize that the thing i have the hardest time with is that there will be stories that she is not a part of.  I trust God and know that He has good things for her, and I love my future brother-in-law and know that he will take good care of her but the simple fact that there will be times i won't be able to say, "hey, remember when?" scares me a lot more than i would like to admit.  I hope that by writing this out and forcing myself to process this fact now, I will be able to get the really ugly tears done with before the wedding, because water-proof mascara can only be expected to do so much.
In other news, and in order to end on a much lighter note, my container veggie garden is doing well and I got to eat the first string bean from it this afternoon with a much beloved friend.  The tomatoes and eggplants have blooms and I look forward to many good meals to come from them :-)

As I sign-off I guess the take away lesson is to trust God.  Change may be scary and things may not look promising, but God is in control.  O that I would live like this were true and would leave my worries at Christ's feet when I cast them there instead of picking them up again in distrust.

February 7, 2010

poor internet service leads to random thoughts

I was without internet at my new apartment for a while and during that time had lots of thoughts pop into my head begging to be blogged, i think its related to the murphy's law that makes your nose itch when you're working cookie dough. Anyways, i will attempt to record those thoughts which i can remember.
First...I have beaten Martha Stewart at her own game!!! one of the good things in the February edition of Martha Stewart Living is the suggestion to drink Woodford Reserve bourbon as a birthday drink. I gave Kevin Woodford Reserve as "birthday bourbon" last march!! I even named it my official "birthday bourbon" of choice! Hahahaha, it is a good feeling to know that I am ahead of the game in the birthday celebrating arena :-)
Second...I was looking at a catalog of hippie t-shirts, bumper stickers, and other related paraphernalia that one of my co-workers brought it. While some of the things were entertaining and thought provoking, some of them are just plain wrong about Christianity. Why do pagans or atheists have the corner on the "green" market? Shouldn't we as Christians be more active in being good stewards both of our world and our bodies? Just because this world is not our ultimate home does not mean that we should use up all the earth's resources with reckless abandon and disregard for others around us or those who will come after us. We should care more for the earth and our fellow man because we have been mandated to do so by God! Anyways, one of the bumper stickers while i'm sure it was meant to mock evangelical Christianity made me think. It said "God wants spiritual fruits, not religious nuts." I'm thinking that there's probably a lot of truth to that. God calls us to a faith shown in works: supporting the poor, defending the weak, seeking justice, forgiving unconditionally....loving sacrificially! Like Paul says, "if i speak with the tonuges of angles but have not love i am a clanging gong." Just something to think about.
Third, I finished Plenty, the book about the couple who started the 100 mile diet in Vancouver, pretty good book, lots of good thoughts about trusting that your region ahs a lot more to offer than you probably think. One good quote I found in that book was that our inability to feed the world is not a supply problem, its a creativity and kindness problem. I'm starting to think more about loving not just within my financial means but also my regional means.
That's what's been on my mind :-)

January 12, 2010

NPR Wisdom

I was listening to Morning Edition during my commute today and I heard something that made me think. During a plug for supporting public media the announcer said that "sometimes it is worth it to stop everything and just to listen." I'm pretty sure that they were talking about that moment when you put your shopping or appointments on hold for a few minutes to stay in your parked car to listen to an NPR story that has captured your attention, which I have done and I wholeheartedly feel that that is a worthy cause I feel that this phrase has much deeper applications.
Often times in New England I feel that efficiency is so highly prized that quick response and action are prioritized higher than actually listening to what people are saying, processing it and responding thoughtfully. How often do we miss what other people say or even respond with a completely inappropriate ("not making sense" not "naughty" inappropriate)response? One i have caught myself saying is: when some says,"What's new?" I will respond "fine thank you, how are you?" First of all they didn't ask how I was, they asked what was new in my life. Second, I'm assuming that they won't actually care about my response to I answer "fine" instead of how I really am. craziness!!!!
Imagine the implications in everyday life if we, even for just one day, made an intentional effort to actually listen to what everyone said to us and to respond after first thinking about what they said and how we should respond. I can imagine that while some people would be flattered or intrigued, others will become easily frustrated by not receiving a response at the speed that they expect.

But even deeper than that, God frequently calls us to "stop and just listen." This is so unamerican. Stopping everything, all the multitasking, worrying, juggling and spinning plates, to listen to someone Who wants to focus on Him alone. If anyone else were to demand this type of attention it would seem absurd and yet this is exactly what God calls us to do, to "be still and know that He is God." Most times He doesn't even want to tell us what to do but reveal a part of who He is! Reading God's Word, prayer, church, the sacraments, all of these are ways that God speaks to us and these are all things that should never be multitasked. God deserves a singular focus.
I remember a speaker talking about being still and allowing things to settle during that stillness. She used the visual of a mason jar filled with swirling muddy water, you couldn't see anything other than brown, but when she let it sit eventually the dirt settled to the bottom and the sticks and rocks that were previously hidden became perfectly visable. I think that there are probably imbedded sins and idols that are easy to hide when I am busy, God is calling me to be still so that I have to focus on Him and to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal and root out those sins.

Random bit of wisdom from WNPR.

January 10, 2010

My own home

It has been a while since I have written, but now that I don't have cable sucking time away from me I have more time to write :-)
God has given me a new adventure, He is no longer calling me to be content not living on my own but He is now calling me to be even more responsible for the gifts He has given to me and to rely on Him for provision. He has given me the opportunity to move out on my own, not too far from Mom and Dad but a lot closer to work. I moved about a week ago and am just now starting to feel a bit more settled into this new place.
Now that I have this opportunity to start fresh I am trying to start some good habits, like being more intentional in the food I buy and eat by creating weekly menus and shopping for more organic and/or local items, saying no to cable television (although I do have an antena TV and a blu-ray player), and spending more time each more in God's word. Right now I am doing My Utmost for His Highest as a devotional and reading through the Gospels. The beginning of My Utmost focuses a lot on knowing Christ truly and not just superficially so I decided to read through the gospels and to pray that God would use this time to open my eyes to who He truly is and that that personal knowledge of Him and His holiness and power would effect how I live my life day in a day out. I know that without the work of the Holy Spirit this will not work at all, I have no ability or even desire to see this through on my own.

In other news I am readying Plenty, the books written by the people who started the 100 mile diet. I was surprised to find out that they are from Vancouver! I was definitely expecting them to be somewhere with a longer growing season. So far it is pretty good. I recently finished Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver which is also about eating locally. It was a very enoyable book to read and made me want to at least make an atempt at eating more locally. Although her viewpoint is very pro-evolution it is easy to insert God's will and promises into her writing as she does recognize the divine at work in how human's are provided for. She simply focuses on the created instead of the Creator.

I have been thinking a lot about hospitality lately and I am beginning to think that it is not so much a gift or an action as it is a lifestyle. I think that at its essence, being hospitable is just loving others and seeing their needs as a higher priortity than your own comfort or preferences. That idea of sacrificial love was the topic of today's sermon at church. To think, just showing people grace while dealing with a frustrating problem, holding a door for someone coming in behind you, bringing in sweets to share at work, all ways to show hospitality without ever inviting someone into your home!