Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mouse House

   New insurance cards came, and one goes in my wallet – the other goes in the glove compartment. I open the door and there is a rounded mound of white material, shredded and crumpled in the left hand corner of the space. A mouse house! A mouse house in my car? Close the glove compartment door quickly! I double checked it was really closed and then thought about evacuating the vehicle. Alarms were going off, sirens, “This is not a test!” Okay, maybe that was only happening in my head, but it was perfectly real there, believe me. Every time my pant leg would move across my foot on my drive to work I would squirm. Eww!!!! There is a mouse house in my car, what do I do now? Needless to say, the mouse house (a pile of shredded napkins) fluffed and arranged was removed via fireplace tongs, thick gloves, a trash bag, and morale support from the dogs.

   I didn’t, and don’t like the thought of a mouse in my car, unless it sings and dances or cooks. But, it had to be taken care of. Sometimes there are mouse houses in our lives, the metaphorical kind. Those have to be taken care of too. It may require gloves and fireplace tongs, and trashbags – but needs to be removed. It may be a poor habit or choices or lack thereof. Sometimes there are mouse houses, and well – they just have to go!

Thursday, March 24, 2011


   Can’t…. Take….. It…. ANY MORE!!! That was the general thought in my mind when I would look around my bedroom and see the mess. But, then as I would leave the room for the day, I would quite happily let the frustration leave my mind and focus on other things. At the end of the day, there the mess would be again. Books piled in the corner, and that other corner. Dusty mess meets shoes meets a few stray socks. With a knee that has been hurting, laundry started to be draped over a hamper. Little storage available only increased the frustration. There isn’t anywhere to put it – how am I supposed to put it away.

   So, I finally placed an order for furniture with Ikea! It came, and being Ikea – it has to be put together. A couple shelves and a night stand have been put together. I’m so excited to see the parts come together. I will admit, as I’m not quite comfortable with tools, that when I first opened the box and started looking at the parts and the directions, I was overwhelmed. What was I thinking? This was going to be hard!
   But, one step at a time, and thirteen steps later – I have a nightstand, with a door that opens and closes, Correctly! It is so great seeing all of the parts come together and an actual piece of usable furniture come out of the pieces and parts. I can’t wait to see it all come together.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Step Stools and Mary Hearts

   I had the project this last weekend to completely empty and clean my bedroom. So, after everything was moved, the walls still needed to be washed and the carpet cleaned. With a sore knee, the step stool wasn’t really all that fun. But, I had to do something to reach the top of the walls. So, it was on and off the step stool I went. By the end of the day, what can I say but ouch. However, it felt so good to have the room clean. At the end of the day, I stretched out on the floor, just to enjoy the carpet.

   As much as I am looking forward to having the new furniture in place and everything back, I love the quiet space that now exists.
   The quiet, when our world just gets too busy and noisy (which is quite frequently), it is a precious thing to me. When I become too busy, it is just so difficult to hear from God. That is probably partially why I so admire the Mary heart. Luke 10:41-42 says, “‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”
   There seems to be plenty to worry about, knees for instance as you climb up and down off of step stools. But, what good does that worry do me? I don’t mean not caring and just nonchalantly passing off everything in my path. There are definitely items which require planning, coordination, and are deserving of attention. But, that isn’t worry. Worry is the act of just well, worrying. You don’t do anything productive with it.
   I am a champion worrier. I know how to worry in multiple time zones, across continents with multiple subjects at one time! I know how to worry about the weather (a dog that freaks out at storms), the future, the past, work, bills, life, health, family, friends…. I know how to worry! And maybe that is part of the trick of it, I know how to worry. I get it, I understand it. But, not worry and sit at the feet of Jesus, well that is not my natural state and I have to unlearn and relearn things. Lying on that carpet though, I was reminded once again, gently and quietly, with that still small voice, “Give it to me.”
   “Lord, I’m worried about…..” my list would start rolling off my tongue.
   “Give it to me”
   “But, Lord, I’m worried about….. (I’m know progressing into international politics, weather, and my April calendar).
   “Give it to me”
   “But Lord, are you hearing me? I said I’m worried about…..”
   “Give it to me.”
    I paused, and then it hit me – wow I’m doing this again. I’m worrying, and holding on to things that I can’t control, can’t fix, can’t do anything with.
   “Lord, I’m giving it you.”
   “Thanks. Now, just be quiet”

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sunday Morning Prayers

   I enjoy church services most of the time, the sermons that I am privileged to listen to are really wonderful and quite often challenge me to think of God in a new way. This last Sunday I felt burdened to forego listening to the sermon and pray instead. I want to share a piece of that.

   “Lord, today I feel burdened to pray, though torn because I believe that this sermon is going to be good and useful to hear. But I also want to have a merry hear Lord, doing what you want me too obediently and with joy. So, here we are. I also want a Mary heart, one that sits in your presence, content to soak you in. So again, here we are.
   Lord, my heart is heavy. So much news, such sadness and hurting, fearful and hateful and terrible things in the world. What do I do in the midst of this? We have so many that are ill, many that are angry, burdened, frustrated. I am overwhelmed at the hurt, broken hearted over the pain. What can I possibly do with all of this? I could just ask for you to fix it. But even as you do, because you are faithful to, would I remember to thank you? I hope so.
   Lord, please let our hearts be submissive to you, open to hear you. Abba Father, our ears are so stopped up that we only hear muffles of your word. Remove the blockages, that sin like an ugly and filthy dirt, so that we can hear you. How you love us, I don’t know if I will understand, but I am grateful.
   Lord, I loose your forgiveness. I loose a quiet, conscious, driven seeking of your quiet, of you – that we will ache with the need for time with you.
   Lord, I loose your peace. In the midst of such suffering, in the middle of an ugly world with hateful words, poor attitudes, and the tyranny of busyness, the deceit of arrogance, I loose Your Peace. In the middle of all of that and more, the wreckage of humanity, I believe that you will clean up the filth. The mess is overwhelming when your peace and grace illuminates it. But, then, we watch the hands remove the debris. I think of the wreckage in the lives of people have been hit with earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, fires. The debris is still being cleaned up, I beg you to loose your peace in the middle of the cleaning.
   Lord, I loose your joy. Let my own heart be joyful in my tasks. When difficulties come, please maintain the balance of joy in my life. Let me do my tasks with joy.
   Lord, I loose your goodness and holiness. Father, the people here, in this room right now, they are your children that you know intimately from before they were born. You know them from head to foot, each hair, freckle, thought, want hope, hurt, desire. You know all. In this please loose your goodness to pull us closer to you.
   Thank you Father, my own heart is lighter. You are so good. Thank you that you do not just leave us when we mess up to clean up the afore said mess. But instead, you help us, illuminate our way, and bring your joy, peace, growth, and love.”
   This is just a part of it. I missed really paying attention to the sermon, but I felt as if Jesus were sitting in the pew with me. I just couldn’t miss out on the time to talk to Him.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cleaning out the Dust Bunnies

   If anyone is looking for a pet dust bunny or perhaps a cute little fluff of fur, I would be happy to work out a deal. Yesterday was the official kick off of deep spring cleaning project. It involved emptying the room of everything (including furniture), and then today will be an afternoon with the vacuum cleaner and carpet cleaner. It was hard work, and the project is not over. But, it feels so good to have a place that will be so clean.

   As I was cleaning, I was thinking about how I need to take stock of the condition of the interior of my heart and soul and mind from time to time as well. Are there cobwebs in the corner or window panes that are dirt covered? Is the dust piling up or perhaps there are those little fur balls in the corner. A spring cleaning of the soul is a perfect time to examine where I am in my life and if it is aligned with what God wants.
   It is such a wonderful feeling to have cleaning done, open the windows and be refreshed.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

6 x 6 Squares

A community mosaic, consisting of 6 x 6 canvas squares, was arranged by a local art center.  Several hundred canvases were the source of personal inspiration.  I saw a string of eleven of them in a row and it struck me how unique each one was.  There were oil paints, cut glass, photos, pencils, paper, and other media used.  Combined by individuals they are each so beautifully unique.  I love how with all of these being by different people, that they are so unique.  It is a reflection of their creators that they are also so unique.   Just little squares of canvas become little captures of people’s hearts. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Anticipation of a Western Sky

   I stood outside of a campground laundry, listening to the dryers run and watching my breath fog up in front of me. Then, looking up I saw something that took my breath away. The sky was completely full of stars. I mean, I have seen star filled skies before, but nothing like this. Without cities around, I really understood for the first time why it was called the Milky Way.

   Now, I’m looking forward to seeing that sight again. I can’t wait until I get to see that sight again. There is a grandeur to this planet that can take my breath away. Mountains that sweep up to the sky in strong peaks and hidden vales are home to the most amazing climbers, goats that seem to have feet that could never hold them on the tiny ledges – but do. Plains that move with the wind like the ocean, and hold a smell from a purple clover like plant that just smells purple, the birds dip and dive over the plants. Lupine growing in valleys, purple and pink, with bees that travel from petal to petal searing out hungrily for food. Tiny little insects and giant buffalo, geysers and crystal clear ice chilled pools. I do long to see that sky again, and once again sing, “How Great Thou Art.”

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Where is the Power in Prayer

    Finishing up the list of why we pray in James 5, this statement follows, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” While I would like to think my own prayers are effective and powerful, I know that I don’t have a source of power within me that can actually answer prayer. So, how does that work with this statement? Righteous prayers are those aligned to God’s will. I would imagine that they are honorable and upright before God. Following God’s plan and seeking God’s will – the prayer of a righteous man is something which also aligns with who God is.

   So, align myself with who God is – and pray with faith and excited anticipation to watch God’s answer. There is indeed power in prayer, it is the power of a holy God.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Why Do We Pray – Help Needed

   We pray when we are in trouble, when we are happy, when we are sick – and also when we need help. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” I have been going to physical therapy for knee problems lately. What I didn’t know was that part of the problem was caused by weak muscles in my hip. Relying on my own resources, I could never fix the problem. Instead, the irritation of the joint continues, creating further problems, thus more irritation and more problems. It’s not a pretty picture.

   We pray when we need help. Here in James 5 we are instructed to confess to each other and pray for each other for healing. Confess? Umm….. could I just confess that I ate to many thin mint cookies yesterday and leave it at that? Confession is good for us and yet very difficult to do. Why? Because we are afraid of the consequences and the reaction. What will they say? What will they think of me? And what is that supposed to do anyway? Well, when I got help for my knee – I found someone who had different resources than I did. They helped me find different approaches to stairs and other difficulties. So, the person we confess too may be able to help us by providing new insight and resources. Also, it is a matter that can build accountability. If someone knows where we fall, then they can ask how we are doing in that area. If we know someone will ask, then we are more apt to look at the change of behavior we are striving for. It breaks the vicious self-reliance cycle.
   Those who are hearing that confession, they must be prepared to respond appropriately and pray with that person for healing. That means that we don’t get to play the shocked and spotless person who has never messed up. We must instead be real and honest ourselves as we pray with them for healing. We are not the one who can wash away that sin stain, but we do have an opportunity of helping to hold up that brother or sister.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Why Do We Pray – We Can’t Fix It

   I love the smell of a hardware store. The feel of wood and all of those really interesting tools that I don’t know how to use, such fun! As much as I enjoy a hardware store, I am not terribly adept at power tools. I am not the person to come to when something breaks. There are times when things more serious than an appliance or piece of furniture breaks. When a person breaks, be it directly related to sin or indirectly related to the condition of sin – I do not possess the capability to fix them. So, what to do?

   James 5 says, “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.” The prayer offered in faith, stepping out on belief and trust of the commitment God has toward His children, it is a powerfully moving action. It is not that the prayer is so powerful, but the act of trusting an omniscient, almighty Creator who is powerful is something which reinforces our reliance upon Him. To make the sick well. Well can mean different things, one is acceptable. When I read this, part of me wants it to say healthy, so that the sick will be healthy. But sickness truly is directly related to an action of sin, or indirectly related through the very presence of sin in our world. Therefore, it is unacceptable. But, this prayer in faith, to make the unacceptable acceptable, the un-forgiven forgiven, it is better than physical health. It is spiritual health, and more important.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Why do We Pray – We Aren’t Feeling So Swift

   Even a low grade fever can just knock me off my feet. Something about that temperature spike and I just feel so tired and achy. Low grade fever, that will come and go – it is the bodies way of fighting off infection. But, sickness is another example of when we pray. We pray when we are in trouble, when we are happy, and when we are sick. This prayer takes a form of physical action, in obedience, and stepping out on faith.

   Continuing in James 5, “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.” Well, the instructions seem pretty simple don’t they? We certainly just can accept it at face value – obey and pray. But, we can also look below the surface to better understand.
   If we are sick, we are instructed to call for the elders. These leaders are to pray for our healing, asking God in agreement for healing. Then, anoint with oil is mentioned. I love how God uses ordinary oil for an extraordinary concept. Oil was seen as something of health in the ancient world. This oil that is mentioned, it’s just oil. I could use it to cook with as well as be prayed over. God uses the everyday object, and lets us see Him work extraordinary miracles and be associated with His blessing.
   I think of how we might also act as oil for God. We can be ordinary objects which may pour out love on another, like an oil, and God can use this to create marvelous effects.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Why do we pray - We’re doing the happy dance

   Yesterday, I started tackling this great question, “Why do we pray?” I say it’s a great question because I believe that God is big enough for all of our questions and enjoys watching us grow. So, I’m working through the big ideas in the few lines of James 5. For today, it’s “Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.”

   Now, I’m a singer and anyone who has been with me for any great length of time will hear me at random places (public and private) hum, sing softly, or even sing loudly. I can sing by ear or note, in choirs, groups, or solos. Microphone in hand and feet on the stage or barefoot in the living room or the pasture – singing is a form of prayer for me. It is a way for me to communicate with (speaking, listening, receiving, responding) to God.
   I have a beautiful little chocolate lab who had surgery earlier this week. When she is back up on all fours, she will be doing her happy puppy dance once again. When she is happy, you can’t help but know it. There is a dance in her step, a prance in her walk, and a happy tail waggle. In her own way, she is singing a song of praise.
   Praise is just a much part of prayer as petition. So, when we are in trouble we pray. When things are going well and we are happy – we praise. For many of us, that takes care of two major mood groups right there. But, it does beg the question – why praise? Have you taken a good look at the news out there? I have a couple of thoughts. One is that it’s infectious. It really is! When someone around you is happy and sharing that joy, others perk up as well. I think that we are meant to help share that happiness with others around us. But, maybe it helps perk God up to. In the sense that it makes Him happy to hear us realize the gifts in our own designed (albeit limited) ways. Another is that the good seems to be weighed down by the bad these days. The news can be hard to take. Praise reminds us that God really is sovereign and in charge – in the good and the trouble.
   Give it a try today, burst out in song. Maybe someone will even sing along!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why Do We Pray – We’re in Trouble Again!

   I heard a wonderful question the other day – why do we pray? Now, don’t just give the standard answer. Think about it, wrestle with the question, let it roll around in your brain. Why? Thankfully God is big enough for all of our questions – so let’s go ahead and ask it.
   Then, I think of a series of answers in James 5. One of them is “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray.” Those moments of trouble do seem to inspire a getting real with ourselves and God perspective, don’t they. Especially when troubles become miseries and desperations, we may find ourselves on our face before God. We are weighted down by the trouble, the dilemma, trial, and tribulation need someone to help relieve us of our burden. So, why do we pray? Because we are in trouble again.
   Is that a bad thing? I’m going to venture a no – the reason being that this is a pretty clear instruction. In trouble, pray. Let me give an example from my own week. Wednesday morning dawns, kind of gray and soggy, but nonetheless a new day. I get ready for work, dressed, teeth brushed, hair brushed, and shoes and everything. When I walk out to my car, I circle round to the driver’s side and what do I see – but a flat tire! Oh no!! A quick phone call to give those at work a head’s up that I’ll be late and I head back inside to call AAA. The tire guy comes and puts on my spare in a jiffy (he made it look really easy). Now, I’m an hour late to work and still have a busy schedule ahead plus physical therapy. My necklace breaks, my button falls off my coat! What’s next? So, in the time period when all of that was going on I have a choice to make. I can either get upset and stew for an hour – which won’t help. Or, I can pray about it. “God, would you take care of this whole tire thing and let me use this extra time at home wisely?” I felt myself calming down and spent the time rehearsing a song for choir. I was still able to get things done at work and even have new exercises at physical therapy because I’m getting stronger. All in all, it was a pretty good day. It wasn’t that my situation changed, though God certainly could replace the tire if he wanted. It is that I asked God to make it the morning He wanted it to be. In other words, I handed over the weight of the trouble for the peace and strength of God.
   We pray – because we are in trouble.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hold My Paw

About ten years ago, I had a beautiful little chocolate lab puppy come and join my life. I watched her eyes turn from a smoky green to a beautiful golden brown. She grew and has been the closest of my furry companions for years now. In this last big snow, Megan’s ACL tendon went pop and so we found ourselves at the vet yesterday for surgery. Surgery happened, Megan is home recovering.

I know that there are plenty of people out there would not understand, but I just couldn’t breathe easy until I heard that the surgery went okay. Then, when they did call, there was nowhere I wanted to be but at the vets. These wild furry creatures, they share my home, make me laugh, and have such personalities and intelligence it’s astounding. Megan will be taken care of as she heals. I’ll be holding her paw as much as I can.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cardinals in the Cedars

   At the edge of the yard, a few cedars stand. They have retained three green hue even through a long, and very snowy, winter. The cardinals really seem to love those branches, because in the mornings I often see them tucked into the branches, peeking out at the morning. The brilliant crimson of the feathers stand out in the cedar, creating a classic Christmas card look each morning. When the colors are combined with the being struck by the morning sun, it becomes an effect which really belongs more to oil paint than birds and trees. The cardinal is a brilliant color and when it is in the sun, its color is only brighter and more pronounced.

   God made us with unique characteristics, bits of color in our character. We are certainly responsible to grow these strengths. Then, they are to be used to the most honorable and right to forward God’s people and purpose. But, as much as we work on these gifts, it is when the Son’s light is part of the equation that we really see the attributes stand out distinctively.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


   Spring is coming, it really is. Between the robins and a tiny little green leaf sticking out of a sidewalk crack, I’m sure that it is coming. There are all of these beautiful little signs, and then Boom! A crack of lightning strikes, the temperatures plummet and ice coats the twigs again. Late snows, mud, thunder, and a cold rain are also parts of spring. Spring approaches and it can be tumultuous as the warmth approaches.

   If I didn’t know that spring was coming, and that soon the flowers were to be budding, I would probably wonder at it’s approach. Is it worth it, to see flowers, to go through the cold and mud and storms? Sometimes, our life is about to open into a spring. There are flowers and warm sunny days right around the corner. But, as it approaches, all we can see are the turbulent days which occur leading up to the seasonal change. Without the approach of spring, those flowers wouldn’t have the moisture in the ground for growth, we wouldn’t have the food we need for growth.
   Give it time, keep looking for spring’s approach.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Stopping to See the Robin

   It’s too early to smell the roses, they haven’t even leafed out yet. But, I did stop to see a robin. The little feathered creature perched on top of a low tree and just watched as I walked by. I was close enough to admire the feathered lines that looked as if they had been painted by a light expert touch. Puffed up, the little bird held to the warm air in its feathers. I wanted to hold it in my hand.

   It’s been a really busy couple of days and it’s so easy to lose sight of the robins, roses, or other moments to relish. Life gets hectic, responsibilities mount, and before I know it – I can lose sight of some of the little joys which make life worth living. As spring approaches, even before the roses are holding a single leaf, stop and see the robins. Notice the little details.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Imagine a Walk in Space

   I have had a love for space for years.  Something about the mystery of it, the vast size and splendor, it attracts my mind and heart.  I could stare at the stars for hours, just admiring them.  Right now, the orbiter Discovery is in orbit around our planet.  She acts as a home and working place, a place of safety in the void of space.  I think one of the most amazing experiences out of that whole conjunction of amazing experiences would be to take a space walk.  An extra vehicular activity (EVA) is when the astronaut suits up in his or her very carefully prepared, multi-layered, suit and steps outside the sheltered environment to begin a task.  But, in that first step, that big grandiose moment when the astronaut steps into the space and sees stars that cannot be seen through our atmosphere.  I can only imagine what it would be like to take a walk in space, to see the earth and the stars in their glory.  Discovery will land in a few days, returning back to our much larger ship (a.k.a planet) that protects us from vacuum of space.  Endeavor and Atlantis are the last flights, following the Discovery.  I hope that the imagination that led us to the wondrous ability to walk in space will lead us to future walks.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Light Effects

There was an ice storm a few nights ago. Waking up, I found a layer of ice covering everything. After letting the car run for quite some time, I was able to scrape the remainder off the car. A tenuous walk in to work, led to me being a bit apprehensive about walking out to my car later. Would it still be slick outside? The power of the sun was at work and where it’s rays could reach the ice had melted off. I was amazed at the difference of the effect the light made, and started thinking about light.

God is described as light, and wants us to bring up the icy patches, the slippery spots, in our lives so that he can melt them. The ice could be issues that we don’t want to deal with, hard or cold parts that are painful to touch. But, when God’s light touches them, they start melting and become softer. Then, the shell melts away and the light contacts the surface. God moves and His light creates change.