Monday, February 28, 2011

Persistent Calling

   “Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy…” Her little voice just keeps repeating the word. There is no hysteria or whine in her voice, just a persistent calling of her dad’s name. I can tell by the way she repeats “daddy” that she is sure that through a combination of her persistence and his care that she will be heard. I love her assurance.

   Luke 10:21 says, “At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.’” The little girl, standing there and seeking out her father’s attention – she is such a beautiful example of a child who reaches out to her father with the expectation of his response.
   When I pray, I need to remember this small voice repeating “daddy” over and over. It is a revelation of how we connect with our Heavenly Father. We all have times when prayers seem to stop at the ceiling and just hover there taunting us. But, in reality we need to be persistently, patiently, repetitively approaching our Father with great anticipation. Because sure enough, the daddy soon enough stooped low, picked up his daughter, and gave her His full attention. Would our Heavenly Father do any less?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Knees

   Over the last few months I have been nursing a knee injury that finally led me at a doctor and physical therapy. The doctor thinks that the fat pad under the knee cap has been pinched and is irritated. When I momentarily got over the fact that he said fat pad and must be a brave (or nutty) fellow to ever tell a woman such a thing, I was ready to listen to all the instructions. One of which again must have led to a look between confusion, consternation, and just plain a lack of translation. The instruction boiled down to, in a nutshell – if it hurts you, then don’t do that. Do something else. Well, by the end of the day, walking hurts, sitting hurts – what am I supposed to do? It is really hard for me to give myself permission to sit and rest this leg. I have found myself trying to consolidate trips into the other room or down the hall. So, why if I know that this joint needs to rest is it hard to rest?

   We have heard mention of the Puritan work ethic, to not be lazy. But, when is it okay to rest? When do we seek out rest? And yet, we have such a wonderful example to look at. God creates the world. He pulls it all together in it’s tiny and great complexities and then rests. He doesn’t rest because of fatigue. He rested as an example. There was no thought of laziness, lack of productivity. My knee hurts. I’m going to rest it and not feel guilty. After all, what better example could I follow?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Countdown

   In just a few hours, the Discovery STS-133 will launch from its pad at Kennedy, and start its mission in space. What an amazing experience that must be, to feel the great engines lift you aloft and then the pressure gradually build until you are released into an environment of micro-gravity. The clock is already counting down; the anticipation must be building in Mission Control even now.

   I would love to be there, in that room, watching it all happen. Feeling the energy in the room, ebbing and flowing as processes are followed. People start gathering, sitting in the stands with binoculars and cameras at the ready watching the clock count down. They will feel the compression and shock of the air as the gases mix and combust. The sound will vibrate the inner ear as the eye watches the orbiter being carried away from the gravitational pull of the earth.
   How amazing it is that such a thing received so much of its early constructive knowledge in warfare. Early parents of rocketry found themselves gaining experience during the World Wars, as the instruments rained down terrible experiences on the population below. That beautiful orbiter, the External Tank, and Solid Rocket Boosters, they are an instrument of peace and exploration. We have just started understanding space, it’s mysteries and complexities, and something of terror gave birth to something of beauty.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

President’s Day

   Yesterday was President’s Day, which I enjoyed having off from work. In the face of all the historical happenings around the world, it was a striking thing that in the midst of our own turmoil, the powers that be are really quite stable. It’s not a perfect system. There are flaws of people; both arrogance and inadequate information. There are flaws of economy as we have all participated in the economic rollercoaster of the last few years. Differences are vast, in philosophy, communication styles, expectations, and hoped for outcomes.

   In all of this, we have a wonderful connection within our government of stability. Think about how even now, with protests in Wisconsin, there are no tanks rolling in the streets. When the whole hanging chad thing came about with ballots several years ago, there was not a coup d’├ętat or a militant uprising.
   From a collection of men, longing for their families and putting their lives at risk, came a system of government that was impassioned and yet separated to maintain control of power levels. From this small group of ministers, lawyers, businessmen, farmers, and others who went to do their best. They inspired a nation and created documents which are still of great importance. Thank you to all of our Presidents, all of our founders, each person who has worked in the government from the clerk to the senator. I don’t always agree with you, but thank you for serving.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Provision

   I love quiet alone time in my car. It’s sort of my me and God time, minus the phone (no texting you know), limited distractions, and no other people in my car. I hit the button, turn off the radio and love to just talk with God. Yesterday, I was looking forward to that time, knowing I would have probably around forty five minutes in my car with a few errands and then getting to go see a friend play basketball. Heading down the road, I turned off the radio and started thanking God for his provision.

   As I thought back over the last few years, it struck me afresh how deep down prayers, groaned at the throne of the Heavenly Father, had been answered. I felt my eyes welt up, a good thing I was turning into the parking lot! The thing that really hit me was that when I was pouring out my heart a few years ago, I never would have guessed at how the answer would have shown up. And yet, it’s a perfect fit for me. It amazes me over and over when God does that. I could never have planned this this well, and it was a matter of trust and patience. God’s provision really is amazing.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Un-Bundled

   I am so grateful for a thick winter coat and warm snow pants when the snow is up to my knees. I can just sit right down in the fluffy white stuff and enjoy it. But, it is difficult to move, my freedom is restricted as the layers that are difficult to maneuver in. Just last night, I took the dog for a walk and enjoyed being outside in sweats and a t-shirt. It felt so good to have that freedom of movement!

   Imagine trying to stay that bundled in warmer temperatures. Not only would it still be bulky, but extremely uncomfortable! But, if that is what I am used to, it would feel strange not to be bundled. I would just think it was normal to feel that way, to feel like I couldn’t really move about. I think sin is something like that in our lives. We are born into sin, a thick blanket and coat of the familiar and the corrupt. When we are saved through grace, it is as if those layers have been stripped away and we are suddenly blessed with freedom of movement.
   It may feel strange, even fearful. But, we are blessed with freedom in God to be un-bundled from sin and instead provided freedom in grace.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Reflections

As the snow is melting and the air warming up, we had a thick blanket of fog one morning this week. Soon, the knee high snow outside my front door changed to puddles. A combination of the fog making the sky look opaque and the water in the puddle being still led to a reflection of the trees in the water. I noticed the puddle and how the trees were reflected on that wet surface, not a perfect representation – but a representation none the less. As I moved around the puddle, trying to skirt it and avoid getting mud on my dress shoes (a.k.a. work shoes), the reflective image changed. The more I moved, the more it changed.

I started thinking about what I am supposed to be a reflection of. When people look at me, I want them to see a reflection of God. But, if they continue on around the puddle of me, what else do they see? Do they see circumstances reflected or God moving through them? Do they see my failings or God working through them? Do they see my successes or God using them? I want to be like a puddle, clear and a smooth surface for God to be reflected on.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spring is Coming

   It is unmistakable, the first signs of spring are being shown. I love snow, but it is good to feel the sun and it’s warmth. Soon, the flowers will be blooming and the air will be full of their smell.

   Each season is so different. I love the feel of fresh snow, powdery and deep. I like to really dress in all the snow gear and then head out at night with the dogs. Just sinking down into it, leaning back and watching the stars. It’s beautiful; the intense quiet, and the brightness of the sun on the snow.
   Spring comes in with a passion of storms and a swirl of bright colors. The air itself changes it’s fragrance and becomes full of the smell of earth. The ground soaks in the moisture and the green starts returning to the yard. Tree buds are just a moment away. I know that they open secretly, because I go to bed one night and they are buds. The next morning, there are tiny leaves.
   Summer comes with its heat and the smell of sun block. Summer vacations are planned and the anticipation that has lasted all winter and spring now comes to fruition. The earth is warm under my feet, and I begrudge my time in shoes. Summer rains are something to walk in, to sit on the front porches with porch swings, and enjoy the sound of the rain.
   Fall, every fall I think it’s my favorite. The color, the smell, the “lullaby of the leaves”. Red, yellow, and orange colors are painted onto the leaves by the Great Painter and the world takes on a new due of color. The yellow leaves are my favorite, it seems like sunshine on the top and on the bottom.
  So, I’m saying good-bye to winter and hello to spring. Especially since I have seen a robin and a bug in the yard! It’s a sure sign.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Snow Melt

   After a few days of sunshine and warmer temperatures, the fluffy white stuff is starting to turn to little streams and spongy earth. I have noticed over the last years that around trees and bushes the snow melts first. The warmth of the trunk and the roots creates a warmer area of ground and the snow melts faster. If you have grown up around snow, this may just be an accepted part of winter melting. But, why does that happen?

   The truck of the tree is darker and absorbs more heat in the light than the white snow does. The tree is also much more than meets the eye on the surface. A whole other part of the tree sits underground, sheltered by the deeper earth and containing a greater degree of heat. They work together and soon that snow melts off much faster than what is in the neighboring field.
   So, can we learn anything from that that applies back to people? Sure! We all experience snow, the frozen condensation that piles up and up and up in life. Will it ever melt? The deeper the roots, the more protected we are from the frost that is permeating the ground. The trunk stands strong and holds the heat, it just stands and holds that heat, storing it up for usage. We need to plant our roots deep, by digging into the Word. In our busy world, we also need to stand still and soak in the warmth of Jesus. We don’t have to run around like a crazy person to enjoy the presence of Jesus.   
   So, as the snow melts, take a look at the trees. Enjoy your roots, stretch out, be still, and enjoy the presence and warmth of Jesus.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Possibility

   I just had my very first skype conversation, with wonderful friends who live 8 hours away. That is so cool! Imagine being able to hear each other and see each other at the same time. March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone. That must have been such a culture shattering moment, as sound was transmitted over space from person to person. Imagine people who have never heard the voice of a loved one after moving away, being able to speak and hold conversations. The possibility of the technology was truly astounding. Now, just over 100 years later a tiny lens is built into my computer along with a microphone, and I talked to friends states away!
   Alexander Graham Bell never had the opportunity to see something like Skype and web cams, but I wondered if he dreamed of the potential possibilities the communication would one day arrive at. Now, that we have this, I wonder what will be next. Let’s keep dreaming and inventing and exploring. Maybe one day it will be a hologram or better yet, a transporter!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Eternal Assurance Agent

   Working my way through books, H.G. Wells wrote in the War of the Worlds, that “God is no insurance agent.” I thought that that was an interesting statement, but wanted to add my own though at the end of the characters. God is an assurance agent!

   Insurance is (according to the English Encarta Dictionary) “an arrangement in which a company provides customers financial protection against loss or harm in return for a sum of money in premium payments.” So, if God is an insurance agent, then I have to buy an agreement and pay for it. And, I better make sure that that agreement covers everything under the sun, because insurance only covers what is in the agreement.
   Assurance is a pledge of promise of certainty. Again, going to the dictionary, an assurance is “confidence and freedom from uncertainty; a declaration intended to inspire confidence.” In Job, a companion said, “Be assured that my words are not false; one who has perfect knowledge is with you.” The certainty God offers is not based on what is covered in our plan, but in His plan. He is the maker of eternal assurance.
  
Job 36:4

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Raspberry Mocha

   I’m a person who needs sleep. If I want to be functional, not grumpy, and not ready to cry at the drop of the hat then I need a good amount of sleep. Lately, my schedule has been a bit crazy and left me with less sleep than normal. Yesterday, I found myself struggling with being cranky out of being tired and knowing that what I really wanted was to not just get out of bed. By lunch time, I felt like I was wading in deeper and deeper water and losing ground. It was time for extreme measures! A raspberry mocha – with an extra shot of espresso was my solution. The lady looked at me kind of funny when I ordered the extra espresso. “Ummm…. You know, that will be four shots?” I told her that that was okay and headed out with my extra caffeinated raspberry flavor treat.

   What is so sad is that this highly caffeinated yummy drink lasted did perk me up, for about four hours. And then, I could feel the tide returning and I resumed dragging myself along. “Must sleep!! Must sleep!!! O bed, where art thou!” Okay, I know I’m being a bit melodramatic, but it is really amazing how we require certain things to function.
   We need food for energy and strength. Sleep and rest is absolutely necessary for functioning. Certain minerals, vitamins – they provide good growth and help with good bone and joint health. Shelter, water, heat, clothing, each part is like an important puzzle piece, where all together it makes it work.
   We need each other as well; companionship, caring, and friendship also play a part; as we are not meant to be solitary creations. We also play a part in our differences, as the different pieces work together to create something new. But, just like the need for sleep, we have to be aware of our diversities and look for ways to use them as part of a whole, not see them just for their separations.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Edify

   It shouldn’t be so hard, but it is. It shouldn’t be such a struggle, but it is. With one quick flick of fingers over a keyboard of a computer or phone, with a phone call or ill conceived word, we can be so cutting. Our words can turn each other into a mass of cuts before our eyes, and we walk away as if nothing ever happened.

   “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
   The Superbowl came and went, championship come and go, celebrity awards – they come and go with a moment in our lives. But, how do we respond to those who did not receive the spoils – that lose the game? Losers! Just think of the talk the last few hours of a national song which was sung with great enthusiasm but the words became mixed up, a toss that was missed, or a run that wasn’t quite fast enough. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I could nerve up to sing in front of millions and certainly not to run in front of them.
   So, how do we respond? We need to edify them! Because with that, we are telling each other that we all make mistakes. We are human, let’s go on and help each other get better. It’s not ignoring the mistake but not blasting someone for an error either.
   I have a choice to make to edify someone today. I’m going to give it a shot – how about you?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Between the Game

   I will admit that I am not the biggest football fan out there. It’s not that I’m opposed to football, I just don’t really understand it. I was in band and my personal thought is that the football game is the entertainment for before and after halftime. Okay, okay… I can practically hear people groaning. Anyway, yesterday was the Super Bowl. I watched the interview with the president and the reading of one of our great founding documents.

   The Declaration of Independence, what an amazing document. Written and signed by men who represented colonies of people, nearly separate countries in their thinking and economic planning. This is such an amazing declaration in part because the possible severity of what would have occurred to the signers if the events had been different. If you have never actually read the Declaration of Independence, I would encourage you. There is a list in there of grievances against the king. Stating the complaints, the colonies declared their separation from the thing which was causing the problem.
   Do you need a Declaration of Independence? Do you need to declare yourself separated from the trouble in your life? Where does trouble come from? Well, if God is peace then the opposite of that is being troubled; therefore the devil brings the trouble, sin brings trouble. What do we do then with that realization. I propose that we sign off on the declaration of independence, the acceptance of salvation that God provides us. I hope you enjoyed the game and watched the commercials. But, between the game and commercials and the reassertion of your normal schedule, I hope you think about your declaration of independence.
   Oh, and I will admit – I do enjoy watching my neighbor play football because I can sort of follow him around the field, or at least I am learning to.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

How Long

   I read an interesting question yesterday from the Making Disciples facebook wall, “How much time must a disciple-maker spend with one being made into a disciple?” It’s an interesting question, and may seem to be quite complex at initial glance. I admit that my first thought was to modern culture and somewhere between the thought of the mobile society we live in and Master Yoda of Star Wars.

   How much time must I spend discipline to make them a disciple? Wait a minute, I don’t make disciples. I can help mentor and grow and teach those who are learning to follow Christ, but it is He who makes them, not me. Now that the pressure of making things is off, I can think more about the time.
   We do live in a very mobile world now. People that may have once never traveled much farther than their homes, may now move around the entire world. When the physical distance grows, the time factor mentioned in this question can become quite difficult. Communication, even through the social media technology available currently, can still be quite different than talking in person. In addition, the person needed and most suited to work with that individual at that time, may not be the person to grow with them and teach them later. That is the beauty of the body, each piece functioning as it should.
   So, I will go back to my original answer of my post – “as much time as we are given.” As God moves us along our own lives, He will move us in and out of these places, so we are both “made.”

Friday, February 4, 2011

Coffee & Water Break

   A long time ago, I lived in Florida and there were two hurricanes. The first went through, and then the second followed only a month later. If you have never been through a hurricane, think tornado, but magnified over and over. Midst the roads that had been swept away, the flooding, the wind and storm damage, there was a small army of people who went out and started working. There were crews putting back the lines, repairing piping, patrolling, and in general putting the town back together. Working in the heat and humidity, the crews there received a mix of thanks and hostile hurry ups.

   Just this week in Iowa we have had a blizzard, in a storm that covered many states with snow and ice. There are many people who were left without power, in very messy snow drifted and ice covered circumstances. People headed out into the crazy weather, to do their job and help others. It is easy to complain, to moan and groan about circumstances. But, let’s remember those people who are working hard, as their own driveways remain needing plowed and their only families are missing them. Let’s remember to take them coffee and water and say thank you. You can make a difference to your community as well.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Just a Way to Occupy Your Time

   We had a blizzard and ended up with giant snow drifts here and there and, well – just about everywhere. After we tackled the driveway and cleaned around the car, there was time to come in and warm up. Personally, I have enjoyed the quiet day as work was even closed with the poor weather conditions. But, I understand that there are a few folks that were bored with everything being shut down.

   When I was a little girl, my mother had a cure for boredom. If I approached her and told her that I was bored, she would ever so sweetly send me off to dust. I didn’t have to dust that long, but any complaints of boredom it led to a dusting cloth in my hand. So, for any of you that might be having a quiet day and don’t want to dust, I thought perhaps I could provide a few ideas for something to do.
1. Dust – I just had to throw that in

2. Go play in the snow
3. Try a new recipe
4. Create something with an art project
5. Read a book
6. Play a game
7. Talk to a friend
8. Provide a neighbor with some snow removal assistance
9. Spend some time in prayer
10. Brush the dogs
11. Go take pictures of the wintry scenes
12. Take up sledding
13. Run a long hot bath with lots of bubbles
14. Take a nap in the sun
15. Write a thank you note – I’m sure you can find someone to thank
    Hope that you don’t have to spend a snow day dusting.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blizzard

   I have been told that there was a blizzard the year I was born. But, as I was not actually born yet, I can’t say that I remember it. Yesterday, the snow started flying here with a strong wind blowing. Pretty little star shaped flakes that lightly landed on my coat in the morning suddenly became whipping little stingers of ice. The snow kept piling up around the front door.

   Snow was piling higher and higher around the front of the house, and it was a great deal of fun watching the dogs try and work their way through it. But, the majority of the time was not spent outside – it was spent warm and cozy inside. With a yellow lab curled up next to me, curled into the curve of the back of the couch and snoozing along quite happily. A wood stove put out a wonderful heat that seeks into you and warms in it’s wonderful unique way. A cinnamon and a pine candle provide a sweet smell to the room. If this is how blizzards go, I’m okay with it.
   As an aside – thanks to all of those who are not able to be at home or someplace warm during the blizzard because they are at work. Thank you to the emergency workers, the police officers, the power and water folks, the street cleaners, and all of the other workers that keep working even when we are in the middle of a blizzard.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Watch Out for the Pedestrian

   I was walking to my car and came to an intersection. Look right, left, back farther to the right – it is a four way stop, and then I started walking across the street. A teal colored car with a red stripe and rest spots was preparing to make the corner. The driver decided that there was a great need to hurry me along and proceeded to yell – hurry up as he drove past. I don’t know, perhaps there was a great emergency or perhaps he thought he was funny (which he was not). Either way, I was crossing along on a snowy road and being hurried along by someone in a car. Needless to say, by the time I was crossed the intersection, I was just down-right irritated!

   Arriving at my own car, I started thinking about how the driver was really quite rude and if I had slipped on the wet and wintry conditions, that would have created a potentially serious hazard. I felt my irritation grow. But, after I had cleaned off my own car and given myself a few minutes to cool off, I thought about how the driver could not have known that my knee was hurting or how I was concerned with slipping. I’m not excusing this or justifying the behavior. I’m simply stating that we are often unaware of a bigger picture.
   Sometimes, we have pedestrians in front of our ideas, policies, practices, and they resist change. They hem and haw their way along (or at least we think so), while we are attempting to move forward. How tempting to roll down the window, “hurry up!” Otherwise, I will run over you with progress, change, and the newness of life. I may not be aware of their pains, fears, and aversions. They may not understand why I am attempting to move forward.
   So, be careful when crossing the street, and be mindful of the pedestrians. You may just be one of them.