Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Necessary tools

Yesterday Phoenix was 15 mos and 12 days old. Today Phoenix is 15 mos and 13 days old.
What does that tell you exactly? Only that he survived yesterday.

Apparently, at the daycare, yesterday turned into a fierce hair pulling war as some little girl found his curls too tempting and just had to yank on them. He then returned with me to the "safety" of "home" and proceeded to injure himself throughout the evening. Pushing on a kitchen chair that has wheels on it he ended up banging his head against the leg of the chair just before ricocheting off the leg and banging the other side of his head on the floor.

Later that night, looking like a losing prize fighter, he went to bed. An hour later I heard a loud and distinctive THUD. Kamikaze kid had leaped from his bed and crashed onto the floor.

All in all, he took his knocks very well. Very few tears and even those ended quickly. But it all left me thinking about parenting and some of the necessary tools for the trade.

The main one I considered a priority was simple: Caffeine.

Not necessarily because you're tired, but just because you need a crazy amount of perky energy that only comes from large doses of caffeine. As I peered into my refrigerator and counted the assortment of sugar laced drinks, they all lacked the necessary amount of caffeine. My shopping list now includes both band-aids and Mountain Dew.

So, to all the people that inform you that caffeine/soda is bad for you, let me just tell you one thing. With the proper amount of caffeine I might have caught the chair in time, might have grabbed the cabinet door before his fingers got smacked, and might have grabbed him before he fell forward smacking his head into the wall.
So the next time you see me drinking a soda, just know I'm only doing it for the safety of those around me.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

One small sentence

I can't tell you how often I consider that God must surely be weary of me.

I'm constantly challenging Him, questioning Him, and just needlessly picking away at him. If I were Him, I'd smite me just to get rid of the annoyance. It's a good thing I'm not Him though, because I'd probably be smiting a lot of other people as well.

Right now, I've literally got a sentence in my mouth, waiting to be spoken. Once an hour or so, the temptation to speak my sentence nearly overwhelms me and I have to tamp it back down until the temptation goes away. There's nothing wrong with the sentence at all, except that I know God doesn't want me to say it.

I've become almost obsessively convinced that speaking it, could cost me something. I might never know the cost, might never see a reward and know that it's specifically connected to my obedience in speaking this sentence or not. But, while everything else I know may be only 99% sure, I can tell you with 100% assurance that if I speak this sentence, I will always always wonder "what if".

And when it comes to God, nothing is worth that.

Almost everyone has their sentence. Mine has lasted two days but generally you get new ones every day, often a new one in every single conversation. It's a phrase, a thought, or a word that -- just before spoken -- is accompanied with the silent tug of the Holy Spirit telling you not to say it. Most often it's a negative statement, hurtful statement, or just an out and out lie.

Lately I've been getting cranky about all the people verbally bashing our President. Our country is much the same as any church. Half the people will like what the pastor is doing, and half won't. Divided, those churches fail at their goal; reaching the lost. Any church that is united is not only strong enough to stand the attacks of it's Enemy, but compelling enough to draw others in. The state of your church is usually evident when one of it's members opens their mouths to speak about another member.

The bible talks about the power of the tongue. Often. The book of James has a lot to say about it. James 3:4&5 gives the example of how great ships are turned and steered by a small helm, then compares how the tongue also is a small member of the body but can do much. It's made me wonder more and more what is so special about my sentence. The temptation to speak it aloud even if no one is around is great. In a way, that pressure only strengthens my resolve to leave my sentence unspoken. I may never see why I've got this sentence, may never see the consequences of speaking it or not speaking it. But I don't have to see, I only have to walk.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

Monday, January 29, 2007

I will lift up mine eyes.

15 month old Phoenix arrived Friday with a cough. It's not too bad, and rarely even noticeable in the day time.

I held him last night as he tried to go to sleep but was constantly disturbed by horrible coughing fits that had him choking and gagging. After 10 minutes of the worst of it I began considering my options. I've been lectured up and down that I may not give him any over the counter medicine without a drs approval. At that time of night the ER would be the only place for approval or medicine and could take 3 hours if not longer to get that. The problem hadn't lasted that long yet, but I had no idea when it would end. So I prayed.

From the moment I began praying until 20 minutes later when I put him, sleeping, in his crib, not one more cough was heard.

I cannot remember the last time I saw an instant and solid answer to prayer like that. So I've thought a lot last night and today about what made the difference. My prayer started out telling God that I knew any relief for him through regular means was hours away. I told Him that He was this childs only hope of relief. And then I pleaded for it.

I went to God both heartbroken and helpless. and I can't tell you the last time I had to approach like that. I'm pretty strong, fiercely independent, and my hearts taken enough blows that I thought it was harder than this. But I never imagined how much it could hurt to look into the face of a child that hasn't been loved like they should. My heart has felt bruised since the day he arrived, and knowing he was sick, uncomfortable, and in the arms of a stranger broke my heart. I was desperate that someone should love and help this child and so I called on God, the well known Father and helper of the fatherless (ref. Ps 10:14, Ps. 68:5). And He most definitely came through.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come from?
My help comes from God,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
Your foot will not slip with your God,

for God keeps watch over you.
Our God does not sleep.
He's with you by day and by night.
Abba, Father. Abba, Father.

Abba, Father, my God!
The Lord will keep watch over you —

a shade at your right hand.
The sun will not smite;
no harm will come to you by night.
The Lord will protect you from harm.

The Lord guards over your life.
Your coming, your going —
God will be there at your side.
Abba, Father. Abba, Father.

Abba, Father, my God!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Walking through the Bible

I've looked forward to this post for several weeks now. In the bible reading program I'm with online all the people have to listen to my comments as we read along and now I've started a collection of them. You all might not enjoy these posts nearly as much as I will, but this is *hopefully* going to be a regular Friday thing.

Exodus 3:4 - So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am."

Obviously this is from the section where Moses saw a burning bush. And as spectacular as that had to have been, that part isn't what fascinated me. It's the way the verse is phrased. "When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look". The way it's phrased leaves me speculating about how many other people have seen their own version of a burning bush and never 'turned aside to look'. There are other -- more accurate -- ways to interpret this verse, but I appreciated my interpretation as it reminded me to look; to turn aside, stop what I'm doing and look. And then I might hear God speaking.

Exodus 3:21 "And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be, when you go, that you shall not go empty-handed.

You can find this verse fulfilled in Exodus 11:3 & 12:36 using the same word 'favor'. But 12:33 says "And the Egyptians urged the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste. For the said, "We shall all be dead." Call me crazy, but 'hurry and get out of here before we die' doesn't sound like favor.

Exodus 4:24,25,26 And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the Lord met him and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and cast it at Moses' feet, and said, "Surely you are a husband of blood to me!" So He let him go. Then she said, "You are a husband of blood!" -- because of the circumcision.

This verse seems almost typical of some of the strange verses in the bible except I've always found myself reading it and saying "What!!??" It's not the verses themselves that get me, but how they're crammed into normal verses. The verses above these have Moses talking with God and he's telling him all the things to tell Pharaoh. Then pow, God's trying to kill Moses, his wife starts hacking at her sons foreskin with a sharp stone, and screaming at Moses that he's a husband of blood to her. Then, BAM, God's talking to Aaron and telling him to go meet up with Moses. Every time I've read these verses, I always end up rereading them because I'm sure I must have missed something.

Exodus 5:22&23 So Moses returned to the Lord and said, "Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people? Why is it You have sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have you delivered Your people at all."

It's at that point in the conversation after the whole plan seems to have fallen apart that I start asking "Did you really send me at all?" At least Moses was 100% sure of his calling. But few verses make Moses more real, more human to me than these.

Exodus 7:20,21,22a And Moses and Aaron did so, just as the Lord commanded. So he lifted up the rod and struck the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants. And all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. The fish that were in the river died, the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink the water of the river. So there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. Then the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments;

"Did so" what? They turned the waters into blood also? If all the waters in the rivers, and according to vs 19 that I didn't quote any pots that were holding water, the water in those turned to blood as well. There seemed to be no water in the land. Later verses say that people began to dig around the river to get water because they could not drink the water of the river. If all the water became blood... what did the magicians turn to blood? It mentions something along those same lines several times with the plagues. With the frogs, frogs were everywhere. In the house in the ovens, in bowls, in your beds, and on people. Then the magicians go and prove they can do it as well.
If frogs are everywhere, how do you know someone actually did magic and brought more frogs? And, if you're a king with a frog problem in the land, should you really be trying to get your magicians to bring you more frogs?

Exodus 9:24,25&33 So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, so very heavy that there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. And the hail struck throughout the whole land of Egypt, all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail struck every herb of the field and broke every tree of the field. Verse 33 So Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh and spread out his hands to the Lord: then the thunder and the hail ceased, and the rain was not poured on the earth.

I hate to get picky with the scriptures. I remember vividly how disappointed I was when I was a child and someone pointed out to me that the clouds above my head were not actually God's footprints, and that the verse calling them that was figurative not literal. And while I know that the scriptures don't give you step by step what happened a lot of the times, I wonder if there's more to this story or if it's a miracle in itself. There was a huge hail storm...hail was striking man and beast; hail that was so heavy they'd never seen the likes of it and Moses strolled out of the city. How did he not get hit by hail?

Exodus 13:17 Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, "Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt."

I wonder how many times God's had to take me the long way around something because He knew I'd give up if He took me a shorter route that'd face an obstacle? The children of Israel still had to face war (Exodus 17:8-16) so it's not like this long route was problem free. It also makes me wonder how the story would have changed if they had had great courage and God had taken them through the short cut. What would my life be like today if I never had to be led the long routes?

Exodus 14:8 And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the children of Israel; and the children of Israel went out with boldness.

Not much to say on this, but here God says they had boldness... just before that He was making decisions based on them changing their minds. People always talk about the lessons to be learned from the awful children of Israel, but if you think about the bad things you hear and then you think about 40 long years. I don't imagine I would have done any better than them at all. In fact, probably a lot worse. At least they had boldness.

Exodus 17:7 So he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, "Is the Lord among us or not?"

Oh come on, who hasn't asked that!

Exodus 21:20&21 And if a man beats his servant or his maidservant with a rod, so that he dies under his hand, he shall surely be punished. Notwithstanding, if he remains alive a day or two, he shall not be punished; for he is his property.
Exodus 21:27 And if he knocks out his servant's tooth, or his maidservant's tooth, he shall let him go free for the sake of his tooth.

I don't think I'll ever understand that.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I can't thank Him enough

I'm so glad that I have God.

Between the feelings of excitement, fear, and incredulity that I talked about yesterday is an amazing feeling of calm. If the child comes, it comes, if the house comes it comes. If neither come, then neither come. God is in control. I've been called according to His purpose, and I love Him more than life itself. I know this. So I also know that He is, indeed, working all things for my good.

This morning we reached a standoff on my house with everyone insisting I needed to give them more money. I informed everyone necessary that I wasn't going to give them more money and I was willing to walk away from the whole deal right now if it was necessary. I ended up just sitting back, knowing there was nothing more that I could/would do and knew the deal wasn't going to fall through over this, I just didn't know what was going to happen to keep it alive. Someone caved and the deal is still alive. God works amazing wonders.

My thankfulness right now has not so much to do with still being able to proceed on the house, but the peace that comes from knowing God is in control. I do not spend time worrying if grass will grow, it's a given. And today I haven't spent time worrying if this house will happen. Whether it does or not is in God's capable hands and there is amazing peace in that.

I just can't say often enough how nice it is to be happy. I know so many unhappy people, and spent enough time unhappy myself in the past, that I know how heavy that burden makes you feel. I didn't spend much time appreciating my happiness until this morning when everyone around me seemed very unhappy. If I didn't have God, I would have been in that same boat with them.

The song "
My Tribute" starts off with the lines "How can I say thanks, for the things which You have done for me". Those lines keep running through my head as I sit just thinking that I'll never be able to thank Him enough for all He's done. There are no words to describe how truly grateful I am. None.

And now, sitting here typing about how grateful I am, I had to pause. The idea that God timed this phone call in the middle of my praise only makes my peace greater.

The phone call was to let me know that 1 yr old Phoenix, will arrive tomorrow around noon.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I hope I never forget this feeling.
It's an outrageous mixture of excitement and fear and incredulity.

My offer was accepted on the house yesterday. So today I've spent the whole day passing e-mails, phone calls and faxes with my realtor, the sellers realtor, and my mortgage company. It's been a tedious paperwork hassle, no more or less than I expected at this point.
But then I received a phone call from Arrow, my foster care agency, telling me to expect a 1 yr old little boy this week. For about 25 minutes he was coming today. Then paperwork fell through with the shelter he's staying at and so the timeline became "sometime this week".
There's also a strong likelihood that his 5 yr old brother will be coming also "eventually".

My increasingly overworked brain now randomly obsesses about packing, paperwork, and repairs AND assembling the crib I didn't think I'd use, paperwork, and childcare options.

I believe I've mentioned before a quote from a book series I was reading that described adventure as being one desperate move followed by another never knowing how it was all going to end. Life, this week, has become an adventure.
I can't wait to see how it's going to end.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


I've already moved. Not physically, but mentally.

Despite the fact that my offer was nearly $15,000 less than what they were asking, they took my offer seriously. They sent a counter offer, and asked me to partially give up a few things that I didn't want anyway. I confess I was smirking as I said I'd give up all those things 100% if they'd accept my next offer. It might not work, but I love the ins and outs of negotiating. It's probably going to be the most expensive fun I'll have in my life.

But each night I leave work and go to my current home. A home I've loved dearly for 5 years now. I spend the hours there mentally packing. Figuring out the quickest, and easiest way to get all my stuff out of this one house, and into another. Then I study pictures of the rooms of the new house and try to figure out what order repairs need to be made in so it will be ready for foster care inspections. I'm living here, but in my heart, my home is somewhere else now.

In the middle of all my planning and dreaming, I've thought about how all this should be very similar to living here on earth, when my home is in heaven.

You see, I've shown my house to everyone that would look. Everyone that knows much about me knows I'm looking towards a new home. My mind completely occupied with the prospect of one day occupying my home. I wake up thinking about my home, I spend the day taking care of things that will get me into my home, and when I go to bed it's only after praying about my home. My heart that once loved my current home so much, spends it's time thinking about leaving it as soon as possible.

I need to get that enthused about my heavenly home. It's bright and fair according to songs written about that home. It's beauty is too great for anyone to take a picture of anything that would even come close to the beauty there. And if that doesn't make enough of a difference, then the fact that my King will be there should. I wonder if everyone that knows much about me knows I'm looking forward to my heavenly home. My heart isn't as consumed with it as it should and could be.

I'm afraid I can't end this post with encouraging news about how my heart has changed concerning Heaven. I'm sure anyone more spiritual could probably tell me it should. But I am excited to be here on earth still. Much like I use to be excited to be in my current home. I'm glad to be here. I'm looking forward to doing so many things here before I get to my new glorious home in Heaven. I'm hoping to spend years and years making a difference in lives, and while I'm ready to go now, I'm not willing. I look forward to the day that I see Heaven with a futuristic sense of "one day but hopefully not today".

I just hope I will have done something good for Christ by then. I want a good report card when we read my book.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Being Pentecostal

I went to my parents church last night. It's not a bad church, it's just a church that I'm glad I only attend once a month.

The people there are kind and appear faithful, they've always been gracious to me and I hope that this post will be gracious to them as well. I'm praying this post will appear as it simply is, comments on the night, and not as complaints on the night.

Every thing was absolutely routine until we came to the end of the service. The pastor called for prayer time at the altars and the men and women split to their two different sections (they're hardcore Assembly of God) and began to pray.

As I tried to pray I could not have been more distracted if someone had tried to pluck a chicken at the altar. To my left a woman was speaking in tongues and laughing between the words of her prayer. To my right, another lady crying and speaking in tongues. On the pew in front of me, another lady weeping. To add to all that, the pastor of the church has an absolutely booming voice. I could have gone outside during the prayer time and still understood every word of his prayer.

Trying to block out the sound was -- short of a miracle -- impossible.

So I decided to try and merge into it. The old saying of "if you can't beat 'em join 'em" came to mind.
That didn't work either.

I could only kneel there and try to imagine God, looking down from His heaven and watching us. With all the women around me wailing, the pastor booming, and me kneeling quietly with my eyes scrunched shut I imagined sticking out in the scene like a sore thumb. Picturing moments like that make me believe God enjoys me. If for no reason but that I'm good for a chuckle every now and then.

When I finally stopped trying and just sat listening to the noise I found that I enjoyed being surrounded by the loudness of their worship. I enjoyed it that is, until my brain kicked in and asked, 'Is this really worship?"

We had a 'worship service' where we were suppose to sing our praises to God. And, except for the pastors booming voice, it was relatively quiet. It was more lively than my churches worship service, but that's not a good measuring stick to hold it to yet.
This might be unkind, but I wonder as they bent their knee to pray to God, if the only reason they finally got loud and fervent was because it concerned something they wanted.

I told you it was probably unkind.

I'm sure I could be accused of the same thing a thousand times over, but I hope it's not true. May I weep because I long to be in Gods will. May I weep because of the wickedness of my heart. May I weep in gratitude because of the goodness of my God. May I weep because He is indeed MY God.

I hope I never weep for a new car, new house, more money. Some things just aren't worth crying over.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Sick people are my favorite people

I've spent the last several days enjoying myself to no end. I don't know if I'm a dying breed (no pun intended), or if other people just don't talk about how much they like hospitals, but I love the hospital. Depending on what you're talking about I might say otherwise (I hate how my hospital tends to misdiagnose everything and neglect it's patients) but for hospitals overall, I give them two thumbs up.

You're generally surrounded by a large population of people that at some point (they might have gotten hard and burnt out by now) got into their profession because something in them wants to help people.
Unlike Wal-mart, when you walk down a hallway and smile at someone they tend to be aware of you and often seem to have needed that smile.
It's a place where people speak to strangers, it's a place where a connection is instantly formed as they know you're here the same reasons they are - someone you love is in pain.
It's a place where most peoples guards are down, and just because you're in the same place as them, they will tell you things that their friends don't even know about their suffering.

But the main reason I like hospitals? I have a captive audience.

I like people, almost all people, and I like to learn. Those old people stories that kids don't like to hear -- I'd gladly spend all day listening to. I don't like hearing the same ones over and over, but if you listen long enough new ones are generally thrown in.
Also, at the risk of offending people, I've noticed that the older they are, and sicker they are, the more likely they are to be nostalgic. They'll tell you more about the things that went on 50 years ago when they were in school, or first had kids, or got married, or moved to where ever. And those stories are the best stories.

I've spent the last several days parking myself as often as possible in a chair next to someone that's got a wealth of stories. And I've enjoyed myself completely. As much as I want her to feel better, I'm going to be sad when she gets out. I will miss these visits.

And while I'm not hoping my friends, family, acquaintances, or anyone for that matter, will end up in the hospital, I will be there if you do. So I hope you have a good story to tell.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

5 year anniversary

It might be a foolish anniversary to celebrate, but 5 years ago today I moved into my home.

I moved in hurt and angry and bitter. Worst of all that though, when I moved in I was absolutely convinced that I was God's leftovers. And let me tell you, as hard as it is to feel like the worlds leftovers, it's a thousand times worse to feel like God's leftovers.
I walked into the house and no longer had to pretend that things were alright in my world. I spent countless hours trying to capture the attention of a King that seemed to love everyone but me, seemed to hear everyone but me.
You develop the sense that you must be horribly flawed for God not to love you.
Somewhere in the middle of all of it, I still don't know when it started, but my constant dialogue of unhappy discussion with God started to turn into simply a discussion. That discussion turned into a distant friendship where I'd talk to Him but never trust Him with anything truly important. And now I've found myself telling Him things I was afraid of even thinking.
Looking at my life I wonder how much I still hold back from Him. I know I've got a lot more progress to make, but I'm so glad I'm not what I was five years ago.
I will always remember this house, this home, and be thankful.

But now, I'm house hunting. I've begun to wonder if I have something in common with St. Jude (Patron saint of lost causes). The house I've staked my claim on had my realtor trying to claim as a disaster. I don't see a disaster. Love is blind, so maybe I've just got blinders on since I chose to claim it. I've told my realtor today the amount I'm willing to pay which is nearly 15,000 less than what it's listed for. I'm going to milk a foundational crack for all it's worth, and I'm hoping that since my realtor keeps ranting about it being worthless he might be able to convince them of the same.

Either that or he'll tick them off. I'm praying about that one.

My credit score is 735 (yes, I'm boasting!) and loan issues seem to have no hang ups as of yet. So I'm going to just have to wait and see. I'll live either way, but I am trusting that God will make room for me somewhere. It will work out, whether it's this particular house or not.

God still moves, and I can't wait to see where He's moving to.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Something to learn

An idea came to me, it's no new idea, I'm sure any of you could have probably told me this long ago. But, it was just a thought that had never occurred to me in this particular form before. So, now, in keeping with my true fashion, I'm going to analyze it to death hoping to gain some new insight.

I'd written something earlier in the year about expectations. I re-read it this morning and combined with a gift I recently received it made me stop and think.

I received a quilt last week. The quilt was sent with a note to let me know that I was being thought of and prayed for, and they hoped the quilt would be a reminder of that for me. I didn't expect them to do that. It didn't even occur to me that someone would do that. But if I had thought someone would want to give me that kind of reminder, my mind would never have imagined a quilt. Just for the simple reason that I wouldn't have thought of it.

I could expect them to lead a 2 hr prayer meeting two nights a week. I could expect them to visit every shut in at least twice a week. I could expect them to save ketchup packets to squirt into our bottle of ketchup at church, so we could be better stewards of our money. My expectations would be foolish, and leave me disappointed.

But instead of doing all those things that might be expected, they do other things I don't expect. They install hot water heaters for women in the church, they practically jump the minute you seem to even remotely imply that you need help, and they seem to long for your family to get right with God as much as you do.

But more than anything, when I met them, I expected them to tell me information about God. Again, ignoring expectations, they instead showed me how to live a Godly life. I've spent 24 years getting information about God. And now 1 year of learning with living examples that has taught me more in this 1 year, that I learned in those other 24.

I didn't expect that.

But, that's only my example. They aren't what this post is about. It was just the springboard that brought me to what I'm thinking about now.

I expect a lot of things of God. When I pray, I don't expect him to "answer", I expect Him to say yes. I expect Him to heal the sick I pray for, provide justice when I demand it, shower money on the people I think need it, give jobs to those that I've decided should get better jobs, and if someone that's suppose to be a Christian is doing something wrong, I expect Him to make it stop.
My expectations are foolish, and often leave me disappointed.

Instead, while I pray for Health, justice, money, jobs, and for the world to be a perfect place, He gives me peace, patience, love, warmth, compassion, mercy, hope, faith. He gives me something to reach for, something to strive for. He's given me dreams.
He's freed me from bitterness and anger, from fear and hating life. He's given me a brand new life.

I didn't expect that.

My expectations would always leave me still wanting more. And they always leave out the things that I truly desire. If my friends that gave me the quilt did everything that everyone expects a Pastor and his wife to do, we'd all miss out on the very best part of knowing them. In that same way, if God did all the things we expect Him to do, our physical lives would change. For 80-100 years probably. But our spiritual lives, left unattended by our expectations, would wither away and die. It's just not worth it.

But to carry on I need to start applying this idea to others. Not just in terms of God. I need to remember that my expectations of people aren't necessarily God's. And while I can still expect good things from everyone, it's God who decides what those things will be, not me. If my expectations ruled the world, well... I'd have a lot of ketchup packets and no quilt to comfort me.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Good morning

I'm working out of town today so I'm up and blogging early. The problem is, it's nearly 5am and I'm just not clever or interesting at all at 5am.

The problems of my morning so far have revolved around leaky milk jugs and eggs that seem to have simply given up on life and exploded while waiting around in the fridge for me to get to them.
I'm hoping the klutz factor to my cooking abilities will somehow just fade away before a child dies of malnutrition here. Well, I'd never let that happen, but I don't know how long a child can exist on McDonalds and bologna sandwiches. I also don't know why on earth they spell something bolo-g-n-a when it sounds like baloney. But that's just one of the things you wonder about at 5am.

Anyway, to those that I know read my blog, I like you and I count you as friends. So I encourage you to stay home today, if you must get out don't go far from home. Don't try and fix anything electrical, or use anything sharper than a butter knife. If someone comes to the door and you don't recognize them, don't answer it. And if you think the food is old, for goodness sakes don't eat it.

I have a history, a strong history, of bad things happening when I go out of town. So be careful out there today. And hopefully we'll all be safe till I return to blogging on Monday.

Buenos diás!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

One signature can change your life

I'm a foster parent.
I signed several pieces of paperwork and my signature line didn't just say "signature" it said "foster parent signature". I looked at that line over and over and thought that surely there must be another line that I'm suppose to sign on since I'm not a foster parent. But I am. Or at least a close enough to one for their technical signing purposes.

I chose to become a foster parent because it feels like God's plan for my life. As a matter of fact, I know it's God's plan for my life.
I chose my agency because I knew it was the agency God was drawing me to.
I chose the timing of now because it was the timing God wanted me to do this in.

Everything, all sorts of big and small factors have just, amazingly, fell into place. Yet after my 4 hours of questioning during the homestudy I honestly thought the only way I'd ever actually become a foster parent is if God works one more miracle and speaks in an audible voice to the director of the agency.

I'm 25 and I feel young. Not in a "young and vibrant" kind of way, but a young and foolish kind of way. There's a certain amount of wisdom that I think all parents should have, and I don't feel that wise yet. I know God can see my heart, and knows that through Him I can do this. But the agency workers can't see with God's eyes. And while I hate to think that they have horribly low standards, I just can't imagine what they see in me that they would trust me with this job.

But it's done. I sit here now both anticipating and dreading every ring of my phone, not knowing when the call will come. But God thinks I can do it. So I will do it.

I'll say Yes, Lord, yes, to Your will and to Your way
I'll say Yes, Lord, yes, I will trust You and obey
When Your Spirit speaks to me, with my whole heart I'll agree
And my answer will be yes, Lord, yes.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I hope

Yesterday was wonderful.

The burden that is my unceasing wave of thoughts (my brain never seems to stop thinking) was lifted. Most of my thoughts yesterday were nothing but praise and thankfulness. Thoughts on the joyful things in life, and the good things surrounding me.

The day was almost over when I began thinking about how the day had started with me chasing a bad dream. I only spent a few minutes chasing that dream, but I spend hour after hour, day after day chasing so many good dreams. Good dreams that I can see will actually come to fruition, and other good dreams that have already been realized.

God's taken care of me in so many ways. Before some of the most challenging days in my life I can remember that shortly before that day came I had a really wonderful day. This day wasn't any different. Looking down at today from the contentment still there from my day yesterday I found myself having to choose to trust God and keep my contentment rather than look at my worries and try and think them out.

There are so many scary things in this world; different challenges that each of us face in growing that it's hard to always remember that God has allowed everything that's happened to happen. Much the same as I have goals and dreams that I'm working towards, God has goals and dreams for me that He's working towards seeing come to life.

That part excites me.

I hope I always remember those good days. I hope I always randomly force myself to slow down into the simplicity of something like Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. I hope I always keep hoping.

Besides all the things I hope for, I've especially begun to hope for the day that the the clouds roll back and my King comes to take me to my real home. A day when every tongue confesses Him as Lord -- no more conflict over who is right and who is wrong -- and ever knee bows -- no more indifference -- and friends that I look forward to knowing the next 20 years will be with me in Heaven for an eternity. I have hardly begun to hope in seeing Christ, because it's more than my mind can comprehend. I can't even fathom seeing Christ so I spend most of my time imagining what I can imagine.

So I hope. And I hope to give hope. It's just too stressful living without it.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Sharing a snappy day.

Apparently God decided to oblige me and help me out in my decision to make this a "snappy new day". And since my posts are generally so serious, I thought I'd share my wonderful day with you. It's been a good day, a happy day.

To have a different day, you can almost guarantee it by having a different attitude.

Of the few chores (besides work) I needed to accomplish today, I needed to call and extract some information from my mother. Easier said than done when she's got alzheimer's. Fortunately for everyone in the family, she hasn't gotten to the mean stages yet, and tolerates our curious looks with the ease of someone entirely oblivious to them.

I called her to find out the city I was born in. She didn't know and so she tried to dig out my birth certificate. She then spent the next ten minutes trying to convince me that the birth certificate was in her hot little hands and was entirely blank. All those little fill-in-the-blank spots normally filled by mothers name, fathers name, babys weight, time of birth, etc. etc. All that was blank. Making her argument all the more convincing was her insistence that it was signed, had a golden seal and was in an envelope marked "Birth Certificate".

Finally everything was straightened out and she found my actual birth certificate. I began joking about being the child from nowhere, with no parents. Unfortunately, by that time she'd already forgotten the whole ordeal and I had to explain why on earth I'd say I was from no where.

At some point she's going to end up living with me and I truly hope God gives her some special reward for having to spend her final years in my hands.

Won't you be my neighbor?

Sunday night I went to bed and I dreamed that my house was on fire. I spent who knows how much time trying to put it out and while I did get the fire out, it seemed to be out more because there wasn't anything left to burn, than due to my efforts.

Skip forward to 4am this morning. I'm lying in bed staring at the ceiling when I hear a siren. I don't generally pay any attention to them because my house is on a street that every ambulance and fire truck seems to use as the quickest route to get across town. I idly noted that the siren stopped suddenly rather than the normal sound of it passing by. I still thought nothing of it. Then I saw the emergency lights no longer moving, but stopped and flashing in my bedroom window.

Lying in a nice warm bed, on a cold sleepy morning I was 110% wide awake.

It turned out to be nothing. I still don't know what was going on, but by the time I got to the window the fire truck was moving on down the road again. If only everyone could have so effective an alarm clock.

But then it was still 4am and I was wide awake. I made as good a use of the time as I could, but by 5:30 in the morning I found myself watching Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Yes, you read right. Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. This morning I learned that everyone has feelings about grandparents, how straws are made, and I was asked what it must feel like to be a fish. I don't think anyone's ever asked me that before.

As Mr Rogers changed his jacket so he could leave he sang "It's such a good feeling".
If you click on the link you can hear the song as well.

It's a good show, and it started my day off quite nicely. Though, finding out my house wasn't burning down was a pretty good start as well.

It's 8am now and I'm off to follow Mr. Rogers lead and make it a "snappy new day". Which is pretty easy to do since I've got such a good feeling.

By the way, if any of my neighbors happen to read this; if you see my house on fire, please put it out. :)

Monday, January 08, 2007

My deliverer is coming

I'm ready to fight. I'm also very excited to take up this fight. That's probably the unrighteous part of my righteous indignation.

I only have two previous fights (of any real substance) under my belt. The first fight closed down Burger King (exactly what I prayed for), and the second fight earned me an apology from my public library.

In this fight, I want to win Godly leaders, making Godly decisions, and standing up to make Godly changes.

My church has spent a year making payments on a debt that has not moved one penny. Our payments drop into a seemingly bottomless well that is our interest and past interest and is never seen again. A small church of maybe 20 has made debt payments of over eight hundred dollars a month for the past twelve months. And yet each time, each payment, earned us nothing except a history of being faithfully robbed.

After a few months attending the church, and coming to understand the situation I became frustrated. A few more months and I was outraged. Now, after having been with this church for over a year, I am sickened, hurt, angry, and most of all distrustful of the "leaders" who after hearing our petition for mercy, deigned to forgive one-third of the interest on our debt.

May God show them more mercy, than they have shown us.

From the research I have been able to do so far, one of the reasons our denomination moved away from the Methodist is because they strayed from the teachings of holiness. What becomes of our denomination if our leaders stray from those very teachings themselves?

Of the few times I've picked up my righteous indignation and started picking at a perceived injustice; something has always happened. I firmly believe that God still moves. God still works. God is still as faithful today as He was when He gave us His Word. If a widow can change a judges decision by persistence, then I will learn her lesson of persistence.

Either I will become convinced that they have not put money above following Gods principles concerning money, they will become convinced they have wronged us and make reparations, or they will see the downfall of their organization. No organization built on Godly principles can stand once it has chosen continued sin and disobedience.

I began this with only two possible outcomes on my mind. The fact that a third has appeared and cannot be shaken startles me. But ultimately means that I should fight all the harder that they see the truth.

I wanted to post this mainly so I will have a record of the day I started this. Not to aid me today, but because one day I will look back on my posts. I will see this post and remember back to this struggle. And I will remember God's answer. Even if I only discover that my indignation is wrongfully placed. This post will one day be yet another reminder -- whether I fail or succeed as I see it -- of a day in my walk.

Meanwhile, I have hope. Hope in a God that hears my prayers and is wholly, not partially merciful. Hope in a God that allows affliction but provides deliverance. Hope in a God that loves.

And that is why I'm excited.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Unseen powers

I'm an avid reader.

The huge bag I carry with me almost always has at least one book in it. Waiting in long lines, waiting at railroad crossings for a train that has stopped, things like that generally don't bother me. While you're counting the minutes I'm reading.

I'm re-reading a series and just finished book two today, and this particular book was 974 pages, the book before that had a few more than 800 pages. That's nearly 1800 pages. 1800 pages of a constant war between good and evil. I've read the details of vile torture being done to a man to get him to tell the secrets he hid to protect the innocent. I've read of horrible beasts that do horrific things. To see someone die quickly in this book is a relief, it has spared you pages of torment before their death. The evil ones in these books seem to have no limits. The good ones in these books seem to be all too limited.

But despite what the characters believe about how much power they have, they have never failed to be able to accomplish what was necessary. For one character, giving himself over to hate and anger gives him a powerful magic, when that same character gave himself over to love and forgave his enemy, there was nothing that could prevail against him.

These books are almost tiresome in the way that the very second one threat is eliminated another three are waiting to take it's place. The characters, the good ones at least, never seem to rest. And despite the fact that they believe their power isn't nearly enough to stop the threat to the world, they carry on unwaveringly in their mission to try.

Under normal circumstances their magic is exactly what it is, no more or less powerful. But under extreme circumstances, when they know it's do or die, in sheer and blind fear they give everything they have. It is then that they find that their magic is capable of doing things no one imagined or expected, including their enemy. And it is always enough. The most encouraging thing about it is that the power is/was always available to them, they just don't know how to tap into it until they were backed into a corner. And even then it only comes out once the only thing left to them is absolute desperation.

My brother and I both read this same series before, and when I asked him if he noticed a theme to it he said yes, he had, but found the theme to be technology. I've noticed some very well written digs at the welfare system, but that is it. So it could be that others would only read these books and wonder how I could become so gripped by it, when the evil described is absolutely sickening. But I see God on nearly every page. I see things that are impossible, becoming possible because of an unseen hand. I see that while truth always wins, it is immediately followed by another attack from a tireless enemy who simply replaces it's lost minions with new ones.

I see mostly, that just like the characters in this story, the power of God to conquer any foe, or get through any situation is always available to me. I just have to learn to tap into it.

Food lesson #8

Food, that is two weeks old, regardless of looks or smell, if eaten, will make you very unhappy.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


My mother came to my office today. She came in composed, then broke down and cried, the composed herself again, then cried again. Her face was tired and her movements slow at first, she seemed somehow stronger when she did leave.

Letting out the tears, and then being distracted from the pain can bring a relief that money can't buy sometimes.

My parents spent yesterday at the doctor. They were ultimately told that the surgery previously planned for my dad would not be taking place. There's too much cancer and it's spread to at least 6 spots on his bones now.

I do not wish him dead, but I find myself more and more grateful that I'm coming to the final page in this book. That one day I'll be able to breathe a breath of relief, knowing that someone that has brought so much pain, will never hurt anyone again.
I am tired from holding my breath, from watching suspiciously, from trying to forever counter an enemy who strikes with twisted truth in weak places no one would ever notice and only when no one is watching.

I have learned so much good from him though. I have learned to be a hard worker, I have learned to pay bills on time, every time. I have learned that if someone needs help my answer should always be yes, more so, I've learned to offer before they ever have to ask. I've learned to tithe and tithe generously and faithfully.

And because of him I learned "shades" of truth, I learned myself how to twist it around so people would not be hurt, and because of that I've learned how simple it is to lie. Even in the simplest words from saying "We" instead of "I". There is 100% truth, and there is a lie. I hope to spend the rest of my days speaking only truth, 100% truth with nothing ever again tweaked to serve my purpose.

Sometimes the things you learn from people are simply the ways not to do things. Because of my dad I've learned who I don't want to be. I've learned to guard against foolish things that can eat at me and ultimately control and ruin me. More than anything, because of this man I have learned compassion. Not the easy compassion felt for someone innocent, but the difficult compassion felt for someone who has given you pain.

When I left home at 17 I was fervently praying that my dad would die a slow and painful death so that he might gain even a glimpse of the pain he causes. Today I sit having watched him do just that, and I've learned that true regret brings a pain all it's own.

He's dying, but he's dying while working hard trying to make sure that my mother will be well taken care of when he dies. I hope I die with even half that kind of strength.

A link to a link to a link.

In my regular blog rounds this morning I stopped at Marshian Chronicles and read a really good post on Casting Vision. He provided a link to Jolly Blogger, who had a really good post about Visionary Dreaming. They both quoted from a book by Deitrich Bonhoeffer called "Life Together".

I'm going to give you the quote from the book that they used, but before you form your opinions from just that one quote - which will leave you with a lot of objections - I'd recommend you go read the other post which clarify. I agree with Louie over at Marshian Chronicles in that visionary dreaming isn't bad at all. It's just how you go about it that can be bad.
So here's the clip from the book:

"God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God Himself accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all in the circle of brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together. When things do not go his way, he calls the efforts a failure. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself."

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Slowing down and pleasing God part 2

I didn't intend for this to be a two part post, but my last post left out something important that I wanted to get in. It feels necessary to complete the thought that I started in the last post. So if you haven't read the post "Slowing down and pleasing God" click on the title and read it first.

As I was reading the bible last night, Genesis 4:6 & 7 seemed to jump out at me. I'd spent awhile prior to picking up the bible just talking to God and by the time I was finished, my heart could not have been laid more bare. It was then that God told me to read His word.

I started in chapter 4 and wasn't very many verses in before God showed me what He was wanting me to see. Chapter 4 verses 6 and 7 reads:
So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

There is wholeheartedness: marked by complete earnest commitment : free from all reserve or hesitation.
And halfheartedness: lacking heart, spirit, or interest
There is passionate: capable of, affected by, or expressing intense feeling
And dispassionate: not influenced by strong feeling; especially : not affected by personal or emotional involvement.

If I don't choose to serve God, with my every move, my every action, then sin lies at the door.

I'm not talking about the sudden sins that accidentally occur. The word spoken too quickly, deeds done before thought. I'm talking about premeditated sin. For me, the very act of saying I can go so much over the speed limit without being fined is a sin of my heart.

These feelings are intense and play out in the smallest things. If I'm holding two cups, one filled slightly higher than another, for me the very act of taking the one less full is my way of preferring you. Should I take the "better" one for myself, I have, in essence, chosen not to give you something I deem to be the best. Which means I chose my own pleasure over yours. And putting myself first isn't the example that Christ set up for me to follow.

It's hard to live that way. Not because I'm giving stuff up, because when I do give something up I generally don't even notice it. It only becomes difficult when I take the best for myself and I cannot enjoy it because I know that I've already chosen wrong.
To you this may seem foolishness, but for me it is the only way I can be a living example of a selfless Christ that walked this earth. It is the only way to a truly happy life.

Choosing to obey, keep quiet when tempted to argue, and to choose the best for others over the best for myself, is my way of ruling over sin. In those moments of choice though, I sense sins desire for me. Not only that but I feel my desire for sin, only to realize how truly undesirable it is only mere seconds after I've chosen wrong.

Choosing the hot chocolate with more marshmellows, getting where I'm going 6 minutes faster because I sped, getting 20 minutes more sleep because I ignored whoever was calling, none of it has ever felt worth it. And likely never will.

I hope I do well.

Slowing down and pleasing God

It was 3am in the morning and I was speeding.

I deliberately slowed down from 40mph, to 35mph, but I was in a 30mph zone.

And I did all this, speeding down the road, next to two police cruisers.

Fortunately for me, they were too interested in a poor red sports car that I discovered later that they believed to have drugs in it. That's how I was able to break the law, right next to law enforcement, with no consequence.
I got lucky.

I even exchanged some quick comments the other day with someone about how "technically" you're able to go at least 3 mph over the speed limit without ever getting stopped.

The police will probably never fault me for going 3 mph over the speed limit.
But what will God do?
There are probably a thousand small things that I can do, and get away with. But I don't want to get to Heaven having done the bare minimum to get in.

Since this new year has begun, I've been focusing a lot of pleasing God. So many things in my life I have done to please others, or to keep someone from being displeased with me. And now suddenly I'm looking to find specific ways to please God.
And as I read, and learn more about the subject, I find myself thinking of all the small things that I do just because you can get away with it.
3mph might not mean much, but even 1 mph indicates that I don't have an absolute and profound respect for the governments authority over me.
I believe submitting to others, is more about submitting to God than the other authority.

So many of the little things, little wrong things, we do just aren't important. But still I do them. Though hopefully, I will quickly and thoroughly begin to root out those "small" things and call them the sins that they are.
I want to be pleasing to God. I want God to be pleased, and I want to be the one that gave Him pleasure.
I hate going 30mph, but I hate disappointing God more.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Clocks clocks clocks

Every year at least one person in my family asks what I'd like for Christmas. Generally I don't know myself. But I still rarely tell people, even if I do know, because I hate the very idea of passing out a shopping list.

This year was different. Early on in the season, I informed my family of two simple wishes.
A Clock
And an iron.

I've had an ironing board stored in my house for the past 4 years... yet have never owned an iron.
My living room has a digital clock that was virtually impossible to read from any position except standing up directly in front of it. So I asked for a wall clock.

Two days before Christmas, a friend presented me with a huge clock for my wall.
Christmas day, my brother presented me with the initially requested clock.
Yesterday I found out that I had won a game that I'd played Sunday, and thus won... a clock.

Interestingly enough, of all the games played Sunday, and all the winners announced, each winner won a mug. Except me. I won a clock.

Gods word says you ask not because you have not.

I've asked for a bunk bet, found it at an amazing price - the very exact bunk bed I pictured when I closed my eyes.
I've asked for a crib, again found at nearly a third the price wal-mart would have charged, and the nicest one I could imagine owning.
I asked for a clock and got three.
I'm officially out of room for clocks at my house.

The bible talks about how He'll open the windows of heaven, how He'll supply all our needs, and how He'll do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine.

Each of the specific things I've listed may seem small and foolish to you, but they became important to me. Not in the sense that I would be unhappy should I not get them, but in the sense that, as I received each one it specifically spoke Gods love to me.

As I sit and think about all the changes that will soon be happening, I cannot tell you how tightly I hold on to the fact that the same God that cared about a need as foolish as a bunk bed, will be that same, personally involved God when I find myself in a dark place, a dark time.

It's incredibly hard to think of God as personal. It's hard to imagine He's watching over people and giving them words to say. It's hard to imagine He's giving people flat tires, just so they won't be on the interstate when the semi flips over. It's hard to imagine that He loves, just like you want to be loved, except better.

But He does.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

I'm 25 yrs old, and single. I've never been married and have no interest to be married.

And with that "experience" under my belt, I got into a debate in Sunday School with two ladies, twice my age that have been married, divorced, and one of them remarried. The debate? How submissive you should be to your husband.

Towards the end of the lesson we ended up going down a seemingly unimportant rabbit trail, when the teacher of the class said something that made me think it was somehow ok to speak. I try and stay quiet in church and class just because it's a lot harder to get in trouble for what you didn't say. But yesterday, for some reason, I started talking.

I tactfully started my words with something like "I don't agree with that at all." Sometimes I even amaze myself with how foolish I can be.

At the end of the class everyone still seemed to like me, but I've been in churches long enough to know that we often put on a very good show of things. I can only apologize for my attitude and try again.

It could be that God is just trying to show my how very badly I need to become humble. As I look back over the arrogance of my words to women I highly respect and from whom I have so very much to learn, I feel like a child again. Of all the things I desire my words to be, ignorant or thoughtless isn't one of them.

The fact that we've started a new year means very little to me this year. My hopes aren't that this coming year will see me becoming a better Christian, a wiser more mature follower of Christ. No. My hope is that the next hour will see me become those things. The next day. The next week. For if I take care of this hour, the year will be taken care of as well.

But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
. 1 Corinthians 13:10-13