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