Friday, December 23, 2016
Not about the sparkles? Gasp!
I have a sparkle addiction.
Ask my daughter.
I can enter Hobby Lobby with one thing on my list and the best of intentions, but before I know it I'm squirreling hither and yon, chasing the sparkles...
Ooohing and Aaahing like a love-sick sailor.
So I was thinking about that this morning, very early this morning, as I turned on the twinkling Christmas tree lights and settled in for some time-with-the-Lord.
What is it with sparkles? And why was I feeling slightly disconcerted?
And then I remembered...
Aha! The movie we watched last night!
That's what this is all about...
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
The heart of Christmas
I have something important I want to share with you this morning...an early Christmas gift to you.
And even though I have a busy day planned, full of all the activities the season brings, I need to take a minute and give it to you now, before it fades away.
"King David went in, took his place before God, and prayed: "Who am I, my Master God, and what is my family, that you have brought me to this place in life? But that's nothing compared to what is coming, for you've also spoken of my family far into the future, given me a glimpse into tomorrow, my Master God! What can I possibly say in the face of all this? You know me, Master God, just as I am. You've done all this not because of who I am, but because of who you are-out of your very heart!-but you've let me in on it." 2 Samuel 18-22
Did you hear it?
Go back and read it again...
I don't want you to miss it!
Just like David, God loves you just as you are!
Not because of what you have done, but because of Who He Is!
I don't know about you, but when I read that this morning I let out one long exhale...
I needed to be reminded that it's all going to be okay.
You see, it's not about you or me...
It's about Him...Who He is.
All that we have...
All that we are...
Are because of Him.
And that truth filled my heart with wonder and praise!
Let me give you a little background about these verses...
Monday, November 28, 2016
It's the poinsettia's fault!
I hadn't planned on it, but this weekend I bought a miniature poinsettia...marbled in red and white, barely 3 inches tall.
I tenderly packed it amidst a flat of pansies, brought it home and placed it gently into a fragile porcelain Christmas cup, setting it on my kitchen window ledge where I could admire it.
From the moment I spotted that tiny thing at the greenhouse, lost among its larger, bolder, flashier relatives...
I knew it had to come home with me...
For it was a kindred spirit with my longing spirit...
For a simpler, quieter Christmas...
A Christmas season with less exterior and more interior.
A Christmas season with Jesus.
Not frantic busyness.
You see, for years I turned our home into a Christmas wonderland...every surface covered with glitter and lights, nativities and snowy winter scenes.
I spent days clearing out and packing up my normal life to make room for this once-a-year-spectacle called Christmas.
Monday, October 10, 2016
Let there be hope
So, how are you feeling about the upcoming elections?
Are you as weary of the spirit behind them as I am?
It's gotten to the point that even being on Facebook before bedtime sends me to bed anxious, sighing in dread and anticipation of what could come.
I've been threatening to leave the country the minute I cast my ballot, and not return til late November...if even then.
Costa Rica is looking pretty sweet right now!
So, be not afraid...this post is not a rant about the highs and lows, strengths and weaknesses, good and evil of each of the candidates.
I won't do to you what I don't want done to me.
Each of us has been given a mind and a free will to vote as our consciences move us.
Instead, I want to encourage you with something I read this morning in the book of Mark.
I wasn't looking for election illumination...just my need for daily sustenance in order to survive one more earthly day...
Thursday, July 14, 2016
When all other lights go out
I recently sacrificed 11 hours and 22 minutes of my life watching The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
And that doesn't count food, ice cream, and potty breaks.
It is my "comfort-binkie" when I am weary of the world and the direction it is heading...when hope is fading and evil seems to be winning.
It reminds me that someday, Good will win...no matter how dark and hopeless things seem now.
So this morning as I was praying for the many people I know who are battling sickness of body, mind or spirit, I found myself saying...
"Don't let their light go out"...which is not something that I normally pray!
Instantly I was reminded of the scene in Lord of the Rings when Frodo receives the Light of Earendil from Galadrial...
"May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out."
Now, I don't pretend to be a Tolkien scholar...there are a bunch of those out there who have invested their lives in studying his writings.
And I am not one of them.
But I got to thinking about this idea of light and immediately one of my favorite passages in the Bible came to mind, John 1:1-5:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. He was in the beginning with God. And all things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him not even one thing was made that has come into being.
In Him was the life, and the life was the Light of me.
The Light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it."
Bingo! The last verse...
Friday, July 1, 2016
The fine art of pendulum swinging
I don't know about you, but I feel like I live in a daily state of repentance.
Sometimes I wonder if my brain and my heart have even the remotest of relationships.
I mean really, how many times do I find myself thinking the same stupid thing over and over again, only to have to ask forgiveness for it?
Or doing the same stupid thing over and over?
Or saying the same stupid thing over and over?
You get the point.
The other day my daughter posted a parody on Facebook of what "Christian road rage" looks like.
Sadly, it looked a wee bit like me at rush hour in Charlotte.
But what made the biggest impression on me was the pendulum swing in this guy from rage to repentance...back and forth, back and forth...
I mean, he knew what he was doing was wrong but he kept doing it anyway!
Just like me.
Let me give you an example...
Thursday, June 16, 2016
Mostly small choices
"Get up sleepy heads...it's time to rise and shine!"
Those words echo in my head...words my father would shout out every morning to get us four girls "up and at 'em" for the day.
I think of them this morning...my parents were just here and their presence is still felt. Maybe I should have asked my father to bang on my bedroom door and shout those words out one more time, just for old time's sake.
'Cause I sure could use some "up and at 'em" this morning!
You see, I have been trying to wean myself off the little blue pills that have helped me sleep during the past couple months of busyness. With a compromised immune system, I have to sleep or I pay a price...and all those around me pay a price. And it is not always pretty.
So I have decided to go cold turkey and make myself sleep without them...I figure eventually I'll be so tired I'll have to sleep!
All this to say that as I was tossing and turning last night, sans blue pills, I told the Lord I sure could use a word or two from Him...you know, one of those "I am here my child, and this is what I want you to hear" times...
Times that require stillness and listening.
Well, today I am about as still as I can get! The house has been cleaned, the shopping done, gardens are well watered due to some timely rain, and the birds are dancing with joy over their overflowing feeders this morning.
It's just me and God and my coffee....a glorious combination!
So I picked up a book I have been longing to read, "Letters to Laodicea: A Call to Repentance for Evangelical America" (John E. Hartman)...and that's where God met me...
"The world is constantly trying to shape our thinking as we swim in a sea of voices coming from every direction and in multimedia form, advocating for a world without God.
Day after day they speak, some softly, some stridently, some in words,
many in music and penetrating images.
Like streams of water flowing over rocks, their message has worn us down
and reshaped us unawares.
In spiritual slumber we have joined those thirsty for the satisfaction of the self while losing the taste for righteous living and fellowship with God."
And then it goes on...
"...we have a form or shadow of godliness but deny its power by living a life centered on ourselves, rather than God...our weakness is evident to those on the outside.
We have lost their respect because we live much as they do, absent the more extreme excesses and acts of disobedience, characteristic of our day."
And now the zinger...
"How can we speak to immorality when our people are morally compromised? How can we challenge the thinking of modernity and post-modernity when we know little of Scripture and its teaching?
How can we counter what we have unknowingly absorbed?"
Like it says in the movie, Larger Than Life, "Fair question!"
This ties in with what I have been thinking a lot about lately...the idea of integrity.
I love Webster's 1828 dictionary definition...
"The entire, unimpaired state of anything, particularly of the mind; moral soundness or purity; incorruptness; uprightness; honesty."
Well said, Noah!
I think all of this goes back to my parents just being here...my ever-constant longing for my father to come to know and love Christ...my ever-present desire to honor and glorify God by all I say and do.
Am I always successful? No way! Only Jesus has carried that out!
But there's nothing like spending time with unbelievers to open our eyes to His need for us to live lives of integrity.
So the title of this blog, Mostly small choices, goes where I want to go with this...
And that is, that everyday our lives are filled with small choices...little things that point ourselves and others to move toward one kingdom or the other...the world, ruled by Satan, or the kingdom of God.
It's the little things that matter...taking something of little value that you feel entitled to, taking an opportunity and justifying it by saying that "it won't hurt anyone"...little words, little acts...that all shout loudly.
Things that God sees.
And that others notice.
I don't know about you, but I want God to search my heart, to give me eyes to see what He sees in me.
I saw a bumper sticker the other day while we were traveling..."Be the Change You Want to See In Others" and it has stuck with me.
I can't change others and neither can you...only God can...from the inside out.
But with God's help I can be changed...cleansed...purified.
So that my life can shine before men and glorify my Father in Heaven...that I can be a vessel fit for the Master's use and joy.
So this is my prayer this day as I strive for integrity in all things...taken from Philippians 3...
"Lord, what things were gain to me, I count as loss for Christ.
I count all things but loss except for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.
I want to be found in You, not having my own righteousness
but the righteousness which is of God by faith.
I want to know You, and the power of Your resurrection, and the fellowship of Your sufferings,
being made conformable unto Your death.
Lord, I know I am not perfect, but I will follow hard after You...
Forgetting those things that are behind, and reaching for the those things that are before me.
I will press toward the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Because I love you. And I long to see others love You also.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/55527193@N05/22632707605">Gravity</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">(license)</a>
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Finding your Calcutta
For the last several weeks I have been working through a book by Mary Poplin on her time with Mother Theresa and the Missionaries of Charity in India, Finding Calcutta.
I'm not sure why I picked it up, except that I was looking for a good beach devotional...something to keep my Spirit growing without too much work on my part.
Since it's a library book, I haven't been able to mark it, though truthfully that has never stopped me before. I have been known to borrow a book and get so enraptured in it that I forgot I was not its owner and I would have at it like a possessed person. Of course later, with great contrition, I would humbly buy another brand-new copy for the owner. Yeah, I know...
Anyway, today I finally finished the book and I was a little sad...always the sign of a good read in my estimation.
I put it down on the seat next to me....picked it up...skimmed through it...took note of all the Notes in the back...and at that moment I knew I had to get my own copy...the library was waiting for theirs and they do not take kindly to overdue desecrated books. And this book deserves to be a marked edition.
So, you may ask, what is it you are getting at?
Well today I thought I would ask you the same question the Spirit is asking me...if I need to struggle, I do so appreciate company...
"What is your Calcutta?"
Before you answer, read this from the book...
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
On success and near-death-experiences
Recently a dear friend asked me to read a book on near-death-experiences (NDE's), Imagine Heaven by John Burke.
Her reasoning was that it would motivate me to look beyond this world to what awaits me...that what I learned from it would give me a hope that no matter how messed up things are here... now...that the best is yet to come.
I have to admit that I began with great skepticism, passing all I read through my Great-Sieve-of-Doubt...
Until today, when I read this...
"Not everyone can succeed in the world's eyes. Most will not be rich, famous, or powerful, and the world's glory will pass away with death; yet every single person can succeed in what God put them here to do. He looks at the heart and motives most.
The world tells us money matters, power matters, prestige matters--and we drive ourselves crazy trying to prove to one another that we're successful enough, important enough, powerful enough; yet in the end it's relationship that truly matters. How ironic that in trying to prove we are worthy of love through accomplishments, we could miss accepting God's love and sharing it with those around us-- and in the end, that matters most for true success!
Everybody wants to change the world; nobody wants to love their neighbor! Yet all God wants us to do to change the world is to love God so we can love our neighbor as much as ourselves. We may accomplish big things in the world's eyes...But if we fail to love our families, our neighbors, our co-workers and those in need whom God puts in our path, we've failed in the primary task God's given us to do."
Which got me to thinking about true success according to what God says.
If God is looking at my heart and motives, and cares more about my relationship with Him and others and less about what the world says is important, how am I doing?
Remember those days in school, where your mind was off rambling through fields of daydreams, when suddenly the teacher called on you and you had no idea what she was talking about? Because you weren't paying attention? And then everything came quickly into focus?
That's what I'm talking about...how easy it is to go through a day, or a lifetime, thinking about other things and missing what is most important...
Friday, March 25, 2016
I am a rose trampler!
There is nothing, absolutely nothing, like Spring in the South.
Especially this year, when Spring literally kicked out Winter in one day...bursting and busting out all over and putting on a color show the likes of which has never been seen before.
I don't remember a year when the vibrant lime green of Persimmon leaves mutually co-existed along with the soft white of Dogwood blossoms and the scarlet in-your-face Azaleas.
It's like all creation got together and said, "Let's show 'em what we got!"
Any gardener here worth their salt has had their sap running for weeks now...being forced to jump-start necessary Spring activities to full-speed-ahead in an effort to keep one step ahead of Mother Nature's exuberance.
My back and muscles say I am a fool...but a happy fool...
One who has been pruning and feeding and nurturing and loving-on, as they say in the South, my gardens...unearthing and mulching tender shoots of life, feeding and pruning, doing all a good mother does for her children, because she cares for them...which leads me to...
Last week, when I was sitting in church, thinking and praying and attempting to reign in my meandering thoughts...when I heard myself singing this chorus...
"Crucified, laid behind the stone
You lived to die
Rejected and alone
Like a rose
Trampled on the ground
You took the fall
And thought of me
And whether or not the worship team meant for that chorus to stick in my mind all week I do not know...(personally I think they did)...
But for whatever reason, for almost one week now, that chorus has hovered around my consciousness like a pesky mosquito, bugging me...
Thursday, March 3, 2016
Come, dance with me
Well, I love the idea that I love to dance!
I have never been good at it...junior high and high school dances were agony for me...
Standing on the sidelines both hoping and dreading that someone would ask me to dance.
Much as my mind pictured Ginger Roger moves, my body functioned more like Frankenstein.
So I would stand there. Waiting. Hoping...
That by some miracle, my body would miraculously cooperate with what my heart longed to do.
Thirty years later I'm still waiting.
But today I got to thinking...
That maybe I have had it wrong all these years...
That I have missed the point.
You see I have a nephew, Zachary...
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Not measuring up? Boy, do I have good news for you!
It was a rough sleep last night...
A tossing and turning, rolling and moaning, smashing the pillow kind of night.
It's never a good idea to go to bed with an unresolved issue on your mind.
But I was too tired to deal with it so off to bed I went, taking comfort in the thought that a good night's sleep can often cure whatever ails you.
But as I said, it was not a good night's sleep.
And I did not feel cured as the sun slipped over the horizon, through the lace curtains, and into my bleary eyes.
So now I'm sitting here with my "Life is Beautiful, Capture Every Moment" mega-cup of coffee...
Finally thinking clearly and understanding what I should have taken the time last night to work through..
"By daily practicing our trust in Him, we will realize that whatever He calls us to do is always in our best interest, even if it seems difficult or miniscule by our own personal measuring tape." Ken Boa
Yup, that's what I read in my devotional this morning...in red, glowing, larger-than-life letters.
Remember when you were a kid and your parents told you, "Trust me, this will be good for you?"And it always was? Even if it did hurt a little?
Well, it seems like my Heavenly Father has that same belief system...
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger...or something like that.
You see, in a moment of unreserved passion, I volunteered to lead a study with the same group I had just done Truth Project with. (Yeah, I know, you're not supposed to end a sentence with "with" but right now that does not seem important.)
This Righteous Living series seemed a perfect follow-up to Truth Project...what to do with all the head knowledge we had just gained.
So this fool rushed in where angels dared not go and volunteered to lead it.
Thursday, January 28, 2016
On suffering well
The other day I went to visit a dear friend who is suffering with shingles in her eyes and on her head.
She was in utter agony...face scrunched in pain, pale and gray in color.
I went there bearing tulips (her favorite flowers) and balloons and chocolate (her favorite food) seeking to encourage her, kind friend that I am.
I don't know what I was thinking...probably that I had something to offer...some word or prayer that would make everything better.
But what confronted me was such suffering that I trembled before it...tears in my eyes and sadness in my heart that such a woman of God should suffer in this way.
I mean really, she's been through so much already. How much is enough, Lord?
You need to know that she is THE one earthly person I most aspire to be like when, and if, I ever grow up.
She is wise...loving...caring for all creation and people passionately.
She knows how to comfort and her empathy knows no bounds.
Is she perfect? No. And she'll be the first to tell you! But I think she's pretty gosh darn close on an earthly scale.
So, where is all this going you ask?
Because today I want to ramble on the subject of suffering.
Because if you and I haven't already suffered, our time is coming. Count on it.
And we need to be ready.
A great deal of preparation for suffering is simple, but it must be done now, before suffering comes in like a tsunami and we are left reeling.
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
This year I missed it.
You see, every year there comes a moment during the Christmas season when I "get it"...
When everything comes together and a flash of understanding invades my hectic life...
When I meet the Christ of Christmas.
Christ amidst the hustle and bustle, glitter and lights, food and festivities.
Who He is. What His coming meant. Why I am called to celebrate the Incarnation.
It is a gift He has always bestowed on me and one I have come to eagerly anticipate.
But this year it didn't come.
I missed it.
At least that's what I thought.
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