Saturday, September 27, 2008

Someone make me change the channel

It's been 4 hours. 4 hours that I fully intended to get a lot of things done. 4 hours that could have been productive in my life.
Instead, they were 4 stress-filled hours that have left me tense and with a throbbing headache.

NO ONE should let their kids watch the animal planet channel.

I've seen animals eaten alive, some dope play with the top 10 most deadliest snakes

and get bit--


I've seen the houston aspca guy get clawed up by by cats, a reporter get bit by a dog, a man get bit by a boa, 4 friends rescue a shark fisherman who fell into the water attached to his shark - next to the tuna bait where all the sharks are nipping.

I've seen wire taken out of a dogs elbow, a man attacked by an elephant, another man jump into the water to save a drowning chimp, and the unfortunate demise of at least 50 other animals whether eaten whole, alive.. or... worse.

Maybe I can get this awful channel blocked.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A link - Letterman,Carson and God

It's in my blogger sidebar... but I want to make sure you see it.
I've snatched this from Jon over at "Stuff Christians Like"

#409. Treating God like Letterman treated Carson.

I recently read an interview with late night television legend David Letterman in Rolling Stone. The entire piece was fascinating, but one section in which Letterman described his relationship with Johnny Carson stood out to me:
"You know, there are people in everyone's life who you can't believe you have a relationship with, and you are truly in awe of them, because they are so iconic and so influential that you're just kind of pretending. You know if you behave the way you really behave, they would recognize that you're a complete dope and they would never have anything to do with you ever again. That was kind of the way I felt about Johnny. I was so worried that I would say something idiotic and he would just pull me out of his Rolodex. … I never got out from under the feeling that he and I really could be friends because I idolized him and I knew by any measure I would always fall short."

I thought that was interesting because in many ways, those sentences captured how I sometimes treat my relationship with God. Here, using excerpts from above, is what I mean:

1. "there are people in everyone's life who you can't believe you have a relationship with"
When people say that Christianity is weird, they're right. Faith is weird. The idea of having a personal relationship with the creator of the universe is crazy. That's a big, wild thing if you think about it and sometimes when I do, I can't believe I have a relationship with God. But I do and that's what God wants. A relationship, not a ritual or a reward system.

4. "You know if you behave the way you really behave, they would recognize that you're a complete dope"
Have you ever dressed up for God? We talked about doing that in college on Sundays when you wanted people to think you had gone to church, but have you ever done that for God? Dressed up some issue? Dressed up some desire that you think is wrong or not true or too big for him to handle or too small for him to care about? The key word in that sentence above is "recognize." At times, I am equally terrified of being recognized and never being recognized. That if God knew who I really was he wouldn’t love me and if no one knows who I am then I might as well be invisible. But he recognizes me. He created me. He knows me inside and out, the parts that are ugly and the parts that are beautiful and the parts I don’t even know exist yet. And he doesn't see a dope. He sees a son.

5. "they would never have anything to do with you ever again"
I think that when Christ died, the question "again?" died too. Although I fall repeatedly and feel shame at my weaknesses, God will never see that and reject me by saying, "Again? Again? Again?" I think that when Christ rose, the statement "again!" did too. How many times will God take me back when I fall? "Again! Again! Again!"

Go his blog for the rest of the post...(the numbers I skipped plus some - he goes up to 7) it was just really good and something that was worth reminding myself of. I probably need to read it again.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

This Confusing Walk

If this is really my "walk" then I'm walking in circles.

I've been working at censoring myself ever since that one meaningful discussion where the phrase "Speak that which is precious" planted and rooted itself firmly in my brain. So, this last week, a very frustrating week for me spiritually, I just haven't posted because I didn't know how I could post anything precious.

This post isn't going to be precious I suppose, but it isn't going to fit under the heading of the "not which is foolish" at least.

I'm confused. I've had times in my Christian walk where I didn't understand things, where things hurt, where I was upset by the way God worked things out, and such - but never have I felt so wrapped up, twisted up, tangled up on my own paths before.

I felt certain I was to leave my church, so prepared myself to do just that.
I left. I started meeting with people in my house for a small worship service and discussion - God so far has blessed that. Not to some great degree, but it's a slow process and so far everyone is willing. And God has definitely moved.
I started meeting a family in their house for Sunday School (not on a Sunday) and so far God blessed that. Our one meeting so far was really really pleasant. It went better than I expected.
When I originally left the church , I told my pastor that I really believed that this time would be a time of growth for the church. And now, 3 weeks later I walked back in the doors to discover that a new couple has joined the church, a family of 3 that I didn't know had come in to visit, and a big family was there checking out the church because they might move to this area and become our youth pastors.
Did I mention I'd only been gone 3 weeks?

I was there today though, because the very first week after I left my church, Little One, my former foster daughter that I still get to visit each week and am in close contact with her family, said something about seeing my pastor and so her parents asked if they could go to church with me.
And now they're talking about coming back regularly.

Just like today, if they are there, there is no way that I would be anywhere else but in the corner with them being as supportive as I can. Doing anything else is not even a consideration.

I feel like I'm suppose to be there, but somehow not be there. What? God? What?
Today in this walk, the path is simply confusing.


I wish I knew what God really wanted me to be doing. Whatever it is, I'll do it. At the moment it looks like the greatly confusing idea of going back. And I just hate that I put others through this confusion only to end up turning around. And that's if I end up turning around.

I went to pray tonight, and I was telling God that I wish He'd just tell me, clearly, what to do. What is His actual will for this situation, the church, the people, my niece and nephew, my 'foster family'. I could have swore He came back with "You won't listen." To which I replied that I would, if He'd just speak clearly so I'd understand and know for sure it was Him and what He wanted.
Immediately the words "Matthew 16:18" popped into my head. I don't know what it is, so I stopped talking to Him and went for a bible.
It says this:

"And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

Sounds like a great verse doesn't it?
But, I'm not a Peter. And God isn't building His church through me. And right now, the gates of hell seem to be prevailing over and over again. This verse just doesn't seem to fit me.

I don't know anymore. But I want to know, I want to understand, I want to be in His will, and I want to drag as many others into the peace of His will as I can.
But for right now, I just want to know where I'm suppose to go to church next Sunday.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Basically detailed

I became a public speaker today. I'm part of the Human Resource department for my company and on Sunday the way all of the employees are doing their timesheets is going to change.
So, this week I've been working on preparing all of the information to pass out to teach people how to do the timesheets, sending mass e-mails to the 3 other facilities we handle, and then today, to cover all 300-something employees we have at our own facility we held 3 campus meetings at which I had to present the new information to them.

It was a great big day.

But one thing became a priority. Of all the information that they can use, there were key elements that were the absolute priority that they know and understand. I couldn't (or shouldn't have at least!) gone out there and just blabbed about all the timekeeping issues they could possibly have. I had to present, clearly and concisely ("had to" and "did" are two different things) just the information that they really absolutely need to know. Too much that they don't need would have muddled the issues. You have to tackle the basics first.

And all of that concentration on figuring out what was most important, and what topics would muddle the information giving the most - made me wonder about how we witness to people. When I witness, I tend to get caught up in the details, rather than giving you the basics. For the moment, forget the Trinity, spiritual gifts and doctrine on piercings and tattoos. Forget church policy and worship styles, and denominations. Let rest the 'church membership' questions, and different types of baptism and what your viewpoint is on when the rapture will take place.

Offer to people the basics. You're a sinner. Christ was Gods Son, sent to earth, to be a perfect, blameless sacrifice for your sins. He did His part and bore your sins on a cross, which bridged an unbridgeable gap between us and God. All we have to do is believe that, and ask God to forgive us and ask Him to live in us.
And He will.

Once you get that down, then you can start getting down to the details.

My work at work didn't end today though. Now I've told people how to do their time, now I actually have to make sure they have all the tools to do things this new method. As much work as 'informing' was, if I stop there not one single person will do things differently. I have to keep working and create their tools and then get them to the staff. I have to be open to loads of questions. And I do mean loads.

So whatever you do, for cryin' out loud, don't forget to give them all the beautiful details. Don't forget to tell them that there is a Holy Spirit that is available to them. Don't forget to mention gifts of the Spirit that can truly change their lives. And most of all, certainly don't forget to tell them that meeting God is great but that they can get to know Him personally, better and better, deeper and deeper day by day. That they can come to know the heart of God Himself.

Basics are great, but the deep fountain of joy unspeakable is in the details.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A tale of two cats

I've found healing in toilet tanks and compared the devil to a bumble bee, I'm a HUGE fan of analogies so bear with me here.

Meet Josie: Young, frisky, rescued from death by maintenance men. Often stepped on or tripped over as she is always under your foot, swirling herself around your leg, and affectionately just overall being in the way. When I try and feed her each morning, she rubs the jug I'm pouring her food from so I typically end up accidentally pouring out too much as her head dumps the jug over some. As affectionate as a cat can be, she'll easily leave her food to come up for petting, rolling around enjoying every moment of it.

Meet Gratch: About 4 years old now, always slightly cattish in the typical snotty way that cats have of making sure you know you're not important to them. She was simply a stray that got brought to me. I don't typically claim her, because she makes certain to not claim me. Each morning as I go out to feed her, she lays under her tree and pretends she doesn't care. Food, no food, whatever. She does come up fairly often, and gets all bothered if you pet her sometimes. She'll come and stand an inch from your leg, but if you bend down and pet her she jumps and moves away as though she never imagined the likes of you would dare to touch her. I know... I could be reading too much into her actions, but over the last few years now I've never developed a huge patch of affection for this obstinate cat.
Gratch, has made it abundantly clear that she does not like Josie. That's part of why I had to get a second food dish, so they could eat in separate areas just so Gratch would leave Josie alone. If Josie even gets too close with her hyper self, Gratch tends to hiss and give her a good swat.
Yet, Josie doesn't even seem to care. She jumps happily between both bowls aggravating the daylights out Gratch who solidly refuses to eat out of the same bowl as Josie.
Ok... here's where I'll piece it all together for you:
The two bowls - that feels like two separate worship styles. One contemporary, one traditional. I could be entirely wrong, and this could be hatefully judgemental (though I don't mean it that way) but, I can never imagine someone from the "traditional" frame of mind searching for food from both styles because they're just so hungry they want more of God.But I can easily picture the contemporary folks basking in the traditional style just because they're hungry for more and they don't care where it comes from as long as it's all God.
The hissing cat - The happy, and free people, hungry for God need to be exactly like Josie. Not caring who hisses, or doesn't eat but just wanting to get in, be affectionate and eat what's provided with gusto. (That thought seemed especially important to me since I've worried so much lately about intruding on other peoples worship with my worship.)
And lastly, ME - I was always alright with Gratch. She's a good cat, albeit obstinate. She was ok, I fed her, took care of her, and a few times when a neighbor cat harassed her, I even went outside and protected her. But, Josie has become a delight. I enjoy watching her enjoy whatever it is, be it eating, or her continual purr, or her constant enjoyment of any and all attention you give her. And in all that, I wondered if that's how God feels about us. When we embrace all of Christianity with gusto, and pleasure, and a visible hunger for food and and audience with the King Himself, I can't help but imagine that God, much like me with my silly cat, delights in our delight in Him. We can be Gratch. Half the time I am Gratch. But I want to be a Josie, with exuberance and hunger and affection for my Savior that delights His heart, blesses Him, and stands out as a witness of my Saviors obvious love.

.... I said lastly before, but one more thing popped to mind. If you watch Gratch, you wouldn't have any idea that I take good care of this cat, and would willingly pet and spend time with her. Matter of fact, if you watched me pet her, you'd think I regularly beat her from her response.

Josie however, makes me look like a really good, kind owner.
And I for one want to make sure that the way I act, and think about God, and how I act like He thinks of me, makes God look as kind and loving as He really is.
*PS. Those pictures are only pictures of cats that look like mine - my camera battery died so this is the closest I could get*

Imagine all the people...

Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so - little ones to Him belong they are weak but He is strong.

We're such dorks. Ok, I guess I shouldn't speak for the rest of the world. I'M such a dork sometimes. I say it and I say it and I say it, and yet I still never really grasp it. Jesus loves me.
It's not about being perfect, being good enough, being holy enough, being mature enough in the faith, or even being a good enough witness.
And I wonder if I'll always have issues with all of those, until I finally grasp the basics. Jesus loves me.
Jesus loves me.
He chose me for His child, He drew me to Him. I didn't become a Christian because I drew near to Christ, but because Christ drew me near to Him. Jesus loves me.

I'll sin and fail, but God forgives and loves with an everlasting love that is not dampened by my stupidity. Nothing can separate me from the love of God. It's easy to focus on how we've failed, or fell even. But God easily looks past that to simply simply love us.

It's so easy it's hard.

In a post that I read recently it said:
"I see myself as under law when I've been bad, because I deserve it, and I see myself as under grace when I've been good, because I've earned it. Totally wrong."

It may not be the easiest thing in the world to hang onto grace and walk in it with freedom and ease... but it doesn't make it any less something we should be doing. Imagine... no really, close your eyes just for a moment (after reading this paragraph of course) what a difference it would make in the world if Christians no longer lived in self-condemnation trying to regain a relationship with a God that never stopped loving us in the first place?

Ok, now imagine it.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Getting off my bum and into the car.

I read a post *it's in my shared items on the right also* that talked about preaching want-to as opposed to have-to. And it gave me a lot to think about.

The heart of legalism is in the have-to's, but as I considered the very idea of the difference between have-to and want-to I realized how truly inspirational the want-to's are. They make you want to be a better person, better Christian, better spiritually.
Whereas the have-to's weigh you down so much that you start ignoring all of musts, because there are just too many that you can't live up to it.

I wonder if that's part of what Christ traded for us at the Cross? He exchanged the 'have-to' of sacrifice and symbolism that really only gets you by, to the 'want-to' of living a life of sacrifice because of love and devotion that offers you so much more than you can imagine.

So today, instead of saying I wish people would say it, I'm going to say it.

Life with Christ isn't about following a list of have-to's. It's about a relationship, personal knowledge of Christ as your Lord and Savior. A friend that sticks closer than a brother. A God and King that states that He has loved us with an everlasting love. The things He asks of us are only for our own good, not to burden us, but because He knows that following what He asks leaves us with less burden than if we didn't.

He offers us His Holy Spirit and offers us power living within us if we'll only seek Him.
It's an open candy store of pleasure and goodness if we'll only take the time to visit.

Talking to someone yesterday, they were going to walk a block down the road for food. They said "I'm just going to walk it because I'm too lazy to get in the car."
It's a statement that makes sense, yet doesn't make sense all at the same time.
And it's exactly what we do with the Holy Spirit. We'll walk, and sweat down the road on our own because it's easier than getting into the Holy Spirit (or getting the Holy Spirit into us as the case may be) and really going somewhere.

Maybe the tricky catch to the whole thing was that he was willing to walk because he knew he wasn't going very far. It could just be that we've never really planned the trip in our heads, but maybe that's the point. When is the last time you really thought about your growth and progress - yes that's right, I said progress as a Christian? If we stopped and looked, it's quite possible that we could look into the future and see something that we want to get to. And we'd realize that it's not a place we can get to on our own.

Are you planning on going beyond the general christendom visible in our churches?
Do you want to?
What do you want to do - that you're not doing now - to get there?

Where there is no vision, the people perish the Bible says. I want to look, with new eyes, into my spiritual life and envision how much more I could grow in the Holy Spirit, and then I want to do whatever it takes to grow.

The Antipsalm - a link

Bob from "In The Clearing" linked in his blog to this post by "Ponder Anew"
I'm giving you the big chunks that really caught me but the entire article is not that much longer and very much worth reading.

Antipsalm 23 (life where God vanishes)
I’m on my own.
No one looks out for me or protects me.
I experience a continual sense of need. Nothing’s quite right.
I’m always restless. I’m easily frustrated and often disappointed.
It’s a jungle — I feel overwhelmed. It’s a desert — I’m thirsty.
My soul feels broken, twisted, and stuck. I can’t fix myself.
I stumble down some dark paths.
Still, I insist: I want to do what I want, when I want, how I want.
But life’s confusing. Why don’t things ever really work out?
I’m haunted by emptiness and futility — shadows of death.
I fear the big hurt and final loss.
Death is waiting for me at the end of every road,
but I’d rather not think about that.
I spend my life protecting myself. Bad things can happen.
I find no lasting comfort.
I’m alone … facing everything that could hurt me.
Are my friends really friends?
Other people use me for their own ends.
I can’t really trust anyone. No one has my back.
No one is really for me — except me.
And I’m so much all about ME, sometimes it’s sickening.
I belong to no one except myself.
My cup is never quite full enough. I’m left empty.
Disappointment follows me all the days of my life.
Will I just be obliterated into nothingness?
Will I be alone forever, homeless, free-falling into void?
Sartre said, “Hell is other people.”
I have to add, “Hell is also myself.”
It’s a living death,
and then I die.

Psalm 23 (Life when Jesus is present)
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil.
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Powlison closes:
“Can you taste the difference?….The psalm is sweet, not bitter. It’s full, not empty. You aren’t trying to grab the wind with your bare hands. Someone else takes you in His hands. You are not alone.”
Let that sink in deep—and breathe.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sunday 1/12

My initial thought, as I try and recap my Sunday away from my church is:
There's no place like home.

You feel it, when you walk in the door. The Spirit of God is there. It loosens the knots that may have built in your stomach during the week, and you feel better just for having come in.

I missed that today.

I went to another church, actually, I went to Larry's (One-Sided) church. It's been awhile since I've been to a bigger church, so I admit, I chuckled at the theater-like feelings I had when I saw the screen flashing prior to the service different messages like "Please silence your cell phone" and "No food and drink in the auditorium" - complete with a big picture of a drink and fries and a hamburger I believe.
They sang good songs, new and old, and I'd say about 30% of the congregation longed to be clappers. I had the same old internal struggle about raising my hand during the worship time - since no one else was. I managed to do it and I wonder if I'm paranoid to think they're glad the visitors are gone.
The message was good - all about temptation and how none of us are above it and how God makes a way of escape.
I was a little disappointed that they use "The Message" for a bible... rather than (I know, I know) a real bible.
Personal opinion only.

I was on the phone with someone from my church this evening and they mentioned hard feelings and I couldn't help but wonder if I'll have a lot of repair work to do when I go back. This has been a crazy year and I haven't been a good friend to the whole church and I wonder how welcome I'll be to just walk back in.

Then I complained to God that I'm just one great big bundle of fear sometimes.
I want to be home. But when I go home, I want to be strong enough to worship and speak boldly the gospel of Christ. And I'm learning in my own goofy way.

Last night was my first home-hosted worship/church service. I'm not a song leader mostly because I'm too freaked out about picking songs - but we not only made it through it, but we made it through it well. It was good in my book. I would label it as great, but I've been in my house when I've worshipped God before, and I know how much better it can get.

Next, is home-hosted Sunday School that starts Tuesday. I'm nervous about this one since other things are involved and I'm afraid it will become more of a time of fellowship and conversation than what we really came together for. But, I don't want to lose the fellowship and conversation by being hard-nosed about the spiritual conversations. I don't know where this one ends up. So, to my 11 readers today - keep Tuesday evening in prayer.

Some of my questions to my Sunday School kids is "If you could change how church functioned, what would you change?"

I think my answer would be that our time should be more conducive to the people talking. From what little talking to people I've done, I know that they have a lot of questions that aren't being answered by a sermon. And they have some struggles that you'd be surprised about, and some of them... their hearts are way more towards God than you'd think just by watching them from the outside.
Maybe I'm lacking this experience in church because I duck out too quickly, running away without talking to people in the past. But there are a lot of people in my church that I know that others just don't know them well enough. If our goal seriously became to get to know each other better, well, there's not that many people in my church but I could spend a lot of time if I have to visit every single family personally in order to get to know them, their struggles, their heart. So... despite my initial dread, fear, heart palpitations and ulcers at the very thought of them.. I wish churches had some night where they met and just talked, asked questions, prayed for each other and uhum.. confessed their faults/struggles.

No pews, no microphones, just people coming together.

And yeah, I might be too chicken to attend.

Is there something that you would change about the way a church typically holds 'church'?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Healing in the tank.

Last week I noticed that my toilet was running constantly.
By the end of the week I noticed it was running a l o t.

So last Saturday I went to Home Depot and picked up a whole kit to change out my tank innards since the city guy.. yeah... nearly two years ago... had told me that I needed to change my tank mechanics out for sanitary reasons. Apparently the balloon with the long metal arm is on it's way out.
And I certainly want my toilet to be in style.
So, finally on labor day I labored over my toilet. During Bells naptime, I started trying to take the stuff out of my toilet and get the tank off.
Naptime ended right around the time I realized the bolts were rusted on connecting the toilet to the tank.
Then Tuesday, after Bells bedtime, I pulled out a saw and slowly chopped the bolts off.
Did you know there is another nut that holds the bolts onto the tank?

Thankfully, I've got a 2nd bathroom, because mine has been inoperable all week long since Wed and Thurs and Friday there was just no moment when I could work on it.
Ok, I could have worked on it Friday after Bell left, but I wasn't about to. It didn't even occur to me.

So today, I started working on hacking through these last two nuts of resistance. I stopped after a little bit and walked away from the job.

Then, I opened the back door, went back into the bathroom, picked up the tank and walked outside with it. Standing on my deck, there was a moment of hesitation and then I dropped it down onto the concrete steps.
I expected a lot of mess, but not the noise. It was very loud.
I stood, looking at the mess - and I laughed.
And then I cried.
Then I laughed again while thinking "I can't believe I just broke a toilet tank."
It's fun being an adult. I don't think I would have been allowed to do that when I was 12.
I cleaned up the mess - and I just felt better. One broken toilet tank was the key to healing. Or at last jumpstarting it.

I love the unspiritual answers. The goofy things that we can do that can change your life, your day, your attitude. It's not all about prayer or bible reading, or just telling God all about the burdens. Sometimes, it's just about breaking something, ruining something, burning the last mortgage payment notice.

It's about the unspiritual human celebrations, and expressions. And it's a beautiful thing that sometimes I'm just too religious to give in to.
I think the same God that made this:

Knows that breaking a toilet tank would make me feel better.
And He loves me, all of us, in a way that we're just too stubborn, or strict to understand sometimes. He loves me. He's there, through every moment - including the ones we're too blind to see Him in. He's wonderful. He's trustworthy. He's way better than a dropped toilet tank.

Speak that which is precious

This is a bible study outline I received from a friend - it's challenging for me, especially on days like today, but I wanted to share it so you could be challenged as well.

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
Jeremiah Told to Repent

15:19 Therefore, this is what the LORD says:
If you return, I will restore you;
you will stand in My presence.
And if you speak noble [words],
rather than worthless ones,
you will be My spokesman. (A)
It is they who must return to you;
you must not return to them.

Modern:“Speak that which is precious and not that which is foolish, and you shall be My mouth.”
Cross references:
Isaiah 49: 2-62 He made my words like a sharp sword; (C)
He hid me in the shadow of His hand.
(D) He made me like a sharpened arrow;
He hid me in His quiver.

3-6 He said to me, You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendour….. for your are honoured and made strong in the eyes of the LORD…. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.
Ex 4:16;
16 He will speak to the people for you. He will be your spokesman, and you will serve as God to him.
Focus on saying only what God says.

“You have a healing spring within you.”

Let your words be purposeful:
A) Edifying: Love, Acceptance, & Forgiveness; the message of Christ:
B) Healing body, mind, & spirit; the action of Christ, (destroying the works of Satan)
C) Giving Hope & a Future; the purpose of Christ
D) Creative & Prophetic; the continuity and nature of Christ: Speaking light into darkness and chaos.

Explaining the complaints about "The Shack"

I was linked to this article by John Lynch from "Hungry And Thirsty".
The article is written by Mr. William Young,-author of "The Shack"- concerning the difference between facts and truth.
His book has been very popular, but a large portion of those that read it seem to come back with the review that they liked the story but it wasn't very real since the facts were messed up.
Mr. Young gives you something very interesting to think about. I almost quit reading the article halfway through - but I'm glad I stayed to the end. It's worth it.

To read the article Click Here.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Morning Shakes

I woke up this morning, and I heard you speak to me. Your words dropped me to my knees, clenched my stomach and shook my heart. You quietly, and oh-so-clearly spoke the declarations I fear the most.
"You're alone"
"You can't handle this"
"You're not suppose to be a foster parent"
"Your baby will suffer and it's all your fault."

Fear, that nasty monster, crawls into my heart and makes it race, it twists my stomach into itself until I can only curl up holding my stomach praying it will stop.
Fear, that nasty killer, causes my mind to race with ways that I can step in and change a circumstance I don't like. Because I fear God won't.

With my heart shaking, I reached for some type of help and I found the words to a song "He can calm your fears, dry your tears, and wipe away your pain. When you don't know what else to pray. When you can't find the words to say. Say the Name."

By the time I got back up, some new thought had occurred to me. I've never been thankful for the family member Bell gets to go to today. It's someone she knows. She'll have cousins to play with. Family. And I imagine, judging from what little I know about where she's going, that it will be a sacrifice for this family to have one more child in their home. Yet they're willing to take her. Because she's family. And, I hope, because they love her.

A gentleman at work and I, have been talking about the sacrifice of praise. And today, attempting to remember to be thankful for what God may have provided Bell, is going to certainly be a sacrifice. And that is what I start this day with Lord.

Pray for me today. 5:30pm is going to come too quickly. And for the sake of Bell I just can't break down until she's gone. These are always hard, but this one is by far the hardest. I don't know how to tell you how she crawled so deeply into my heart so quickly - but I would have easily adopted this child. Easily. And of the 5 kids so far, she's the only one I can completely say that about.

Pray for Bell today. It's hard to transition - even to family. (Do you want to move in with your cousin? I didn't think so.) Pray that Gods will would be done in her life, and in her families life, and that no weapon of the enemy would be able to stand against that perfect will.

And one day, should I stumble across you in Heaven, I'll hug your neck.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Don't let your heart be silent

It's not an easy thing to do, for me, it's actually the amongst some of the hardest things I've done in my lifetime - it's the oh-so-difficult task of speaking my heart.

It's easy to think things about people, appreciate them, love them, respect them - but harder altogether to say it.

I've been working at cultivating a community around me. Church friends I know are now accepting invitations to lunches, dinners, and I'm taking some great nervous swallows and accepting an invitation I received. I'm calling people, and reaching out to people as best as I know how. I want them to know they are loved, needed, necessary in my life, and valued. Not valued as something to be kept on a shelf and untouched, but something to be valued and lived in as a favorite shirt might be.

Too many times we find ourselves praying for a moment, the words to say, the time to speak them, and that they'd be said perfectly. But, much like speaking in tongues - sometimes the words will never appear unless you actually open your mouth.

Say something. Anything. Make sure, that everyone you care about knows where they stand with you. Love, and give of yourself unabashedly. Even if it hurts or when you know it isn't returned.
Value people.
Value people.
Value people.

And pray for Bell.

Finding a stupid president

By far, the only article on the election that I've truly enjoyed and it's all about picking a stupid president.

It's a good article, even if you're not into politics, (like me) you could enjoy this article.

"Last thing we need now is a great leader"

(HT to SLW for the link I found on his blog)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Friday night, God.

23 minutes ago I returned a phone call and I found out that at 5:30pm Friday afternoon, my heart was going to get in a car and drive away.

Bell is going away.

5:30pm Friday evening.

Tears that I thought I had controlled are falling fresh just since I typed it out. Every single time, it just plain hurts. God.'s less than 48 hrs. I wish she were leaving on a weekday so I'd have no choice but to get out of bed the next day and carry on. God.

She had such a crazy hard time adjusting that first week, I hope she somehow just slides right into her new environment. God.
Please let them keep her safe, let her know she's loved, teach her and hold her. God.

I hope she somehow learns about God, and grows up trusting in Him. Grab onto her God, and just don't let her go. Reach her, from now until she's old and gray and feeble and breathing her last. Send someone in her life that can tell her of You. All of this time I've been praying that I could be what You would have me to be to her. Now I'm asking that You could be what I won't be able to be to her anymore. oh God.

She is precious, she's really been the absolute best kid I've had so far. Her attitude and spirit just crawled all over my heart. ..
God. Help me not to break until 5:31.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Getting your can to the table

It really did become a post unto itself - I wanted to share this as an actual post - I put it into a comment earlier and really wanted to see it be a post.

I had to laugh tonight as Bell and I walked through the supermarket picking up a few items. She had a can of chili, and a package of bologna in her hands. She worked VERY hard to carry them both but struggled most of the way.
Literally, at one point we stopped in the aisle for a minute and a half while she dropped the chili, bent over to get it and dropped the bologna, bent over to get it and dropped the chili.I enjoyed every moment of it. It's a post unto itself how much I enjoyed watching her try so hard.
She wasn't perfect, she wasn't good at carrying two simple items that I could have long-since just taken from her and carried myself - but ultimately, she was successful. And my crazy heart took so much joy in her success as she toddled over to the checkout and stretched to put her items on the counter that it could have burst.
It's not about perfection, it's not about doing it exactly right.It's about our ever present struggle, and drop, and struggle and drop, as we grow. Ultimately, God just wants to rejoice as we get our cans to the table.

Wondering out loud...

Here I am... just wondering out loud again.

In my wonderings though... I'm wondering what the world, the Christian world would be like, if we Christians stopped being sympathetic to each other.

We tend to be a little hard on the world, but entirely sympathetic with each other. Abortion, horrific, homosexuality - perverted, democrats.. just kidding. :)

You get my point though. We take the sins of the world and we make them into these big awful things that you don't want to have touch you, and would never taint your family.

Yet, our churches are full of sin. We gossip, we backbite, we're lazy, we're not good stewards of our money, we're poor employees, we're angry drivers, and we can be easily offended.

And those are the small sins. SMALL ones. Forget the crazy huge things (or at least as we size things, not God) like Jesus saying that if you even think about adultery, you're an adulterer. We don't want to talk about that do we.

But what if we did? What if we got fed up with ourselves (I say that because I'm fed up with me right now) and we said "You know what, SIN is SIN." God doesn't see a size, and I can't allow myself to either. SIN, is in my life, and God help me I want it out.

And we'd say it, we'd scream it, we'd cry it because every little ounce of sin stands between us having the absolutely perfect relationship with God. It holds us back from growth. Grow, grow, grow. Where you at is awesome, now GROW. And even if you're not growing, fertilize, water, whatever it takes to nourish the growth you want to achieve. And I wish the written word could convey the sudden tenderness in my heart as I say it's the growth that God wants you to achieve as well.

Gods will is always exciting and scary. It takes faith. And also a good understanding that God has forgiven you. Every day.

Ok... now when are we, and those around us, going to call our fear to be sin? When are we going to call hanging onto foolish pasts sinful? There are some things that I struggle with - and I get that. There are things that we'll struggle with. But I also know in my own life, that there are some lies, some fears, some doubts, that inside I know are not true but I allow myself to live them out.

I think I'm not good enough so I don't try.

I think I'm not the right person to speak so I don't speak.

I think I'm not wanted so I go away. (And for the record, I'm not talking about my church in this aspect... just wanted to make sure that's clear. My church loves me. I love them. 'Nuff said.)

But too often I think I'm too this, not enough that, worse than so-n-so, not spiritual enough, not whatever

so I don't.

What if our Christian brothers and sisters looked at us when we said those things and said "You know, that isn't true, it's a lie from the devil and acting on it rather than Gods promise to you and His declaration of who you are is a sin."

What if?

Seething Civility...

Ouch... it hurt to see myself.
Milton linked me to a blog that had this play linked on it along with the authors (Glen) take on it. I literally read it and winced. It's all about grace. Good grief. *sigh* Grace is too crazy hard.

Two old women finish their tea at a cafe in Lichfield. One holds the bill…

Anna: Oh, you. Now don’t be so utterly ridiculous.
Eva: I insist. I insist, my dear.
Anna: Absolutely not and I won’t hear another word from silly old you.
Eva: Well, I won’t hand it over.
Anna: You give it to me right now.
Eva: I won’t. I won’t, and that’s the end of it.
Anna: I can’t have you paying for this, can I?
Eva: You paid for the last tea.
Anna: And that was nearly a year ago, silly.
Eva: Exactly. Just put that wallet away now, you troublemaker.
Anna: That’s enough. Give it to me.
Eva: I’m going to pay and that’s that.
Anna: Then I’m putting some money in your purse.
Eva: You’re going nowhere near my purse.
Anna: I need to say thank you.
Eva: Then a simple thank you’s enough.
Anna: You know how I feel about this, dear.
Eva: Well, fair is fair.
Anna: I don’t believe it is fair, if you don’t mind.
Eva: Then you can take me out for a nice meal next time, can’t you?
Anna: This is my treat.
Eva: It is completely my treat and I want to pay. The end.
Anna: No. [Pause]
Eva: Now sit down. I’m just going to put it on my credit card and we’ll go on with our lovely afternoon.
Anna: Tell me how much it is.
Eva: And we’ll see the dahlias out in Biddulph.
Anna: I’ll sit right here then. I’ll just sit.
Eva: Well, you’re being silly.
Anna :You’re being silly.
Eva: I don’t want your money. A simple thank you is fine.
Anna: I’d like to give you some money.
Eva: Just say thank you now. Just say it.

Ok, now Click here to see Glen (From Christ the Truth) expound on the play. Really. If you're anything like me, only click the link if you dare.

HT to Milton at Transforming Sermons for this link to "Christ The Truth"

Monday, September 01, 2008

So, the home depot lady...

...tried to give my kid to someone else.

I'm standing at the Home Depot aisle, trying to figure out what I need to get , Bell is standing a few feet away from me literally walking around in circles. She stops, and a Home Depot lady comes up to her and goes on about how cute, and 'do you want to come home with me?" and holding out her hands to see if Bell will come to her and let her hold her.

At the beginning of all this I stopped what I was doing and went to stand next to Bell. I don't know how to describe why I feel it's necessary to do specific things like this, but I believe, firmly, she always ought to know that I got her back. Even if she doesn't understand it.

So, I'm standing there, next to Bell. When the lady says, "well come on... come with me." She's motioning to Bell, and Bell toddles off after her while looking back at me. I put a stop to things because I don't want her walking off with strangers, even though her entire last two months has been about trying to help her get accustomed to strangers. I'm stopping Bell, and telling her that she should only go with people if I say it's ok and the Home Depot lady looks at me, the lady still beside Bell, and says "Oh, she belongs to you?"

She pointed three aisles over to some Hispanic guy and said she thought they went together and she was trying to give my kid to him.

Lesson learned.... don't turn your back on your kids. It might not be some pervert trying to hurt your kid, it could just be a mistaken but helpful person trying to do something good. Watch your kids. All the time. All. The. Time.

Wake up.

It use to be that if you heard a sermon that hit too close to home you'd say it was like the preacher was reading your mail.

In this case, it's like the preacher was reading my blog.

Last night the speaker apparently read my blog, then came to church and spoke to me.

He said that people believe God has the power to do stuff... we have faith for that - we just don't believe He'll do it for us. Does that sound familiar? That's because I wrote it back in "Where are the miracles?"

Then he tried to dissect the reason we don't believe He will do stuff, and at least to my ears, the main reason He hit was Shame. Does that sound familiar? "My Confession"

It's too easy to remember who you were, and to let those things hold onto you. It's easy to see who you see yourself to be in all your messy shame and guilt and lack of measuring up. It's incredibly hard to see yourself as the person that God thought could help children, or minister in a church, or change the way a company does business.

When we look into the mirror, we see the old man. Because the new man is an inner change typically. We can't see the newness on the outer layer typically. But, when God looks at us, He - somehow despite our messy sins - sees the new man.
It's pretty hard for me to see that though. And that's why I only feel qualified to do the things the old man can do. Cause it seems like that's who I'm working with.

But it ain't.

My pastor yesterday morning was reading from 1 Corinthians 15. He was reading somewhere else in it, but while he was getting to where he wanted I was looking at the verses and one really stood out to me. It was 1 Cor. 15:34
Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

I found it a challenging verse because people are usually so sympathetic, so kind about you not living up to what God wants you to be. They accept that you're failing, or making mistakes, or whatnot, because they don't want to appear to have judged you (heaven forbid!) or for a myriad of other reasons.
But here, Paul says AWAKE. Sleeping is necessary, but if you're asleep during a moment when someone expects you to be awake it's typically not a good thing. So Paul says WAKE UP, wake up to righteousness - and then he tells us that people don't have knowledge of God and that is to our shame.

I can keep on sleeping, saying that I can't do such and such, or get past the past or let go of my fears. But those are the things that are holding me back from giving people the knowledge of God. I speak that to my own shame.

So maybe no one else will be bold enough to tell you to let go of the past because people are dying without God - but maybe you'll be bold enough to tell yourself. Shame on us. Wake up.

I feel the Joy of the Lord

This song started running through my head this morning, and my mouth as well - it's a very good thing I only seem to get toddlers who don't verbalize enough to tell on me for some of the strange things I do while doing the laundry, making beds and such. Because todays song was an old favorite of mine.

"I feel the joy"

We sang it once at an old church that I went to, and I was bound and determined that we had to shout the chorus, and somehow... I'm still not sure how... I managed to get people stuck in the back row with me to shout with me during practice times and somehow it just stayed through our actual performance for the service. To me, maybe no one else, it was the best performance our choir ever did. I was profoundly, and I do mean profoundly disappointed that not a single person was moved from their sitting position. But that's a story for another day.

This morning I went looking for the words because I hate singing only half a song. And I found a youtube video of a church singing the song. (Seriously - there's a youtube video for everything.)
I'm not sure if anyone watches the videos I put on here - please let me tell you how awesome comments are, I even accept anonymous ones - it's pretty easy.... hint hint wink wink nudge nudge.

BUT, in case no one watches this video, I dissected it for you. Dissection is below the video, and below that are the words to the song since it's a little hard to catch all the words from the video.

:15 1 hand is raised.
:30 Movement is noted from the clappers.
:38 A slight bouncy motion begins from some of the people.
:41 - 55 Brown suit guy from the side slowly and clappingly makes his way to right in front of the platform.
:52 Happy white shirted background singer (on our right) starts bouncing.
:57 This count shows 3 hands are raised.
:59 Brown suit in front of platform begins bouncing.
1:03 Those 3 hands that were up are now waving.
1:12 Brown suit in front of platform is dancing now. Go him!
1:30 If asked what happened, I'd swear that the brown suit guy found deliverance. Also, the majority of the visible crowd is solidly bouncy.
1:56 I'm noticing that the closer you are to the platform the bouncier you are.
2:18 Even the non-bouncy people further back are unable to just stand still while they clap now.
2:35 Finally the lead singer gets the bounce.
2:48 Coming from our right side - a man runs across the screen.
2:54 Dark suited man appears briefly on the right side of the screen dances a circle and dances right back out of screen.
2:55 Something gets on the dark suited background singer (towards the middle) and he gets the bounce.
4:05 Excited white shirt guy in the front-ish row, apparently runs off to go have a jubilee.
5:03 I sit back and enjoy the fact that the last 5:03 minutes these people from Lighthouse Pentecostal Church in Beebe Arkansas got to have a jubilee.

The lyrics to the song:

"I Feel The Joy"

I'm a little tired of the devil's games
keeping me in bondage from my sorrows and shames
I deserve better I won't go another day
I'm here to claim deliverance in Jesus name

I feel the joy of the Lord falling fresh on me
I feel the joy of the Lord delivering me
I feel the joy of the Holy Ghost all over me

Now I have royal blood flowing through my veins
I'm a child of the king I've been buried in his name
there is no devil that can come against me
I've been bought I've been blessed and I've been set free.

I have been loosed I've been set free
So pardon me a moment while I have a jubilee
The Joy of the Holy Ghost is all over me