Whazyurhurry?

wood 2Oklahoma—where the wind comes sweeping down the plane….

…but what Rogers and Hammerstein don’t bother to tell you is that many times “the wind” comes in a twisting form; so here’s the place on the planet where occurs the highest number of tornadoes, but you can’t have a basement because the soil content is too poor. 

Well isn’t that’s just fine. Continue reading “Whazyurhurry?”

Advertisements

When limitations become lamentations

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Biting off more that you can chew—now there’s a good American idiom!  And it pretty well describes one of my ongoing challenges, physically, professionally, relationally.  If enough is good, more is better, and saving for a rainy day (another fine old saying from who knows when) can turn into moth-eaten clothing or mouse-eaten…well, mice eat all kinds of disgusting things.

Not that I’m into wanton spending either.  I have to be careful, especially with time commitments; Bob says I tend to “give away the store”.  It’s also sometimes difficult for me to share responsibilities, you know, just easier to get it done myself.

However, there is an important fulcrum that I miss when I start playing the psychological game commonly known as “Turf Wars”.  This easily could have happened here as Joshua was slicing up the hard-fought for land of the Israelites:

“This was the homeland allocated to the clans of the tribe of Simeon. Their allocation of land came from part of what had been given to Judah because Judah’s territory was too large for them. So the tribe of Simeon received an allocation within the territory of Judah.”

Boundaries are good.  Actually, good is too generic a term; boundaries are crucial, without which there is no clear definition, identification, or even personality.  In personal terms, when I set my own (emotional, mental, physical, etc.) boundaries, I become increasingly in control—and therefore accountable—for what comes in and out of my personhood.  That sounds nice and psychological, because it is.  I didn’t come up with it; Dr. Henry Cloud did in his book about (guess what) boundaries.

What I see in Old Testament land distribution by Joshua applies also today: 

Judah’s plot was too big, meaning they couldn’t manage it all, which in turn meant large portions would be overrun by wild animals and unwanted non-Israelites again.  This would cause (a) the need for additional clean out, (with potential loss of life, and certainly loss of time—horribly inefficient from a managerial standpoint), and/or (b) the re-infiltration of pagan religious thought, which could trigger a gross backsliding of the Judean tribe, (again, not a pretty picture, based on what did eventually happen to the whole of the nation.)

So God had a good idea, as is His habit.  And Joshua listened, and obeyed.

Unfortunately, what happens oftentimes today, a large load is given to a particular saint, or group of saints, maybe one particular church.  God may bless him/her/them with a favor or outpouring or mission field, whatever. Open doors, open hearts, (open pockets).  YEA!  Go for it! 

THEN, once it gets overwhelming, rather than ask for help or receive the help that God graciously sends, (and He can creatively send it in oh-so-many ways), we choose to see that as an intrusion into “my/our” territory. 

We allow our “turf wars” to severely limit the progress of God’s kingdom on earth, AND free up unused territory otherwise slotted for His Kingdom for another, complete with a wild beast that likes to “kill, steal, and destroy.” 

All because we were too proud and short-sighted to allow the territory to be fully occupied by God’s people…

…even if they weren’t in my immediate “tribe”.

Joshua 19:8-9 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Devilish details

IMG_20150103_172451138I have to fix this. 

If those words don’t actually cross through my brain, they certainly are present in some form somewhere in my psyche. 

I figure part of that pseudo-neurosis may just be hard-wired from birth.  Certainly being a nurse hasn’t helped it along.  When people know you’re a nurse, whether in the hospital or out, whether at work or at home, you’re expected to diagnosis and treat.  Everything.  Appendix?  Just give her a dull spoon, she can take care of it. Continue reading “Devilish details”

A personalized present

IMG_20150103_172451138When it comes to summertime, my husband kind of makes out like a bandit.  To begin with, there’s Fathers’ Day in June, followed by his birthday in July, and (dare he forget) our anniversary in August.  So he can just stay in celebration mode all summer long, and keep Amazon pulled up on the computer 24/7 as the gifts roll in. 

Now, lest I make Bob sound like E. Scrooge sitting at his table fingering his coins, nothing could be further from the truth. But even with his generous spirit, I’m the one doing most of the Amazon gift giving, for my husband’s special moments, as well as for other family members. 

C’mon, ladies, you know how we do.  Check the list, buy the gift, wrap it, put Dad’s name on it, take it to the post, whatever.  No biggie.  Just gotta remember to tell him what “he” sent so when the phone call comes in… Continue reading “A personalized present”

God’s wide-angle lens

wood 2I don’t mean to sound like an old time horse trader, but I have been summarily blessed with good teeth.  If you are not one of those in my camp, then you know that’s not something to be taken for granted, period.  In fact, one dentist once told me that the thickness on the enamel of my choppers is only about one in 100,000.  Translated, that means I have really no viable excuse of any cavities.  But I have a few, cavities that is.

Which means I’ve taken my teeth for granted….

Until now.  This year I had to get my first (hopefully only) “crown” for a fractured tooth.  OUCH to both the process and the bank account!

I’m thinking of an older friend from church many years ago who had saved a sum of money for some dental work, when she unmistakably heard her Lord tell her to give it to someone.  All of it. 

WHAT?!?  But, Lord?!!  (We’re all really good at “but, Lords”.)  She did, however, obey, and of course, the money returned back to her very quickly, from an unexpected source, and if I Continue reading “God’s wide-angle lens”

…and turning to the white pages (or, beyond John 3:16)

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280For those of us who have had the privilege to be exposed to the Bible most of our lives, we’ve probably memorized John’s verse that still shows up at football games (John 3:16), and highlighted passages like Paul’s definition of love (1 Corinthians 13).  After bravely skimming over Leviticus’ regulations on infectious skin diseases, we may have even ventured into the Old Testament faves like David and Goliath, and Isaiah’s “unto us a Child is born”.

But then there’s Ezekiel…(sigh). 

Zeke and I go way back.  Can I just say here at Continue reading “…and turning to the white pages (or, beyond John 3:16)”

Dog’s best friend…a kitten??

I made three mistakes this morning.  Well, probably more than that, but three that I will relate in print.  A stray neighborhood kitten boldly waltzed up to me as I came out to my patio.  I couldn’t help but pick him up (aw, so cute, etc…).  Holding him in my lap, I gently introduced him to my big black 60-pound dog, Buckley (also a rescue, I might add) and then supervised closely as they actually got to know each other, timidly but definitely.  As they picked around each other, I decided to name him Viking (Vik for short) in honor of our new grandchild in Norway. 

Then I fed him. 

Okay, so that’s probably more than three mistakes.

Obviously, it took a little mediation to launch this canine/feline relationship.  Buckley has a tender heart, but is blustery and weighs about 58 pounds more than Vik.  Vik, even as a kitten, has retractable claws.  And honestly, though I was out here this early Sunday morning to pray for the church, I’m thinking instead that perhaps God wanted to do the talking…about His family.  Specifically:

  1. Some of us are big and blustery, some of us are quiet and timid. When we come in contact with each other, there are times we could benefit from some mediation.  

“Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News.”

  1. Relationships can get inconvenient, especially when boundaries are still being defined. There seemed to be a few times that Vik needed a time-out from my bluster-Buck. He spent a few minutes under a rake, up on the patio wall, and of course, on me. 

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

  1. Diversity was God’s idea to begin with. Please forgive the mixed metaphor, but not all the plants in my garden are self-pollenating; they need a little help to produce fruit.  In similar fashion, Vik can go places and do things that Buck cannot, and vice versa.  In short, we need each other to accomplish God’s plan. 

“But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.  How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.  The eye can never say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ The head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you.’”

Buck has already been looking for his new friend the few times he’s been out as the day progressed.  The little bowl sits ready for some fresh milk if Vik shows up tomorrow. 

(Kinda hope he does.  We have plenty of mice in the area.) 

 

Philippians 4:2,3; Ephesians 4:32; 1 Corinthians 12:18-21  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Wisdom of Wildflowers

garden lastI think this is called Spiderwort.  Such a weird name for such a cool plant, as I was not aware that spiders have warts—sounds like something out of Harry Potter or C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters.  It grows wild here in Missouri; you’ll find it along country roads or railroad tracks.  Since I have some in my own garden, I observed its fascinating property of opening in the cool of the morning, and closing up shop in the heat of the day.  Check it out:

It’s like this little wildflower knows its limitations and adjusts accordingly to keep itself safe and therefore more productive (and beautiful, I might add.) 

If only I had such intrinsic wisdom….

Dr. Henry Cloud, in his brilliant book, Changes That Heal, also speaks Continue reading “The Wisdom of Wildflowers”

Who’s minding the gate?

IMG_20150103_172451138We had a break-in a year ago.  Well, not really a break-in.  More like a stumble-in.  Bob and I were watching TV on the couch one evening when we heard a noise in the kitchen.  Some poor soul just ran right in after…, well, it’s a long story.  All was taken care of, police, ambulance, and thank the Lord for good neighbors.   

I say it wasn’t a break-in since we hadn’t locked our back door. (Duh.)  Even though we both grew up in a big city, we tend to take for granted the relative safety of our wonderful small Midwestern town.  So, really, our fault.  Lesson learned, but like Paul Harvey used to say, here’s the rest of the story…

I’ve been plowing about in the Old Testament books of Chronicles.  Unfortunately, they have acquired a reputation that puts them decidedly among what some call the “white pages” of the Bible, i.e., the edges of the pages are white because they are seldom touched.  The past few years I’ve been trying to discipline my reading Continue reading “Who’s minding the gate?”

Why Wait??

(full read at dawnlizjones.wordpress.com)

I am quickly becoming of the opinion that there is no better way to celebrate than to have friends over into the garden.  So far, I have had a small family reunion dinner, my oldest daughter’s “Skype” bridal shower (she was in California and one sister was home in Missouri, and the other sister was in New York City—hurray for technology!), a private evening bistro with my husband and his poetry, and a bluegrass birthday party.  One day, I thought I would ask a few girlfriends to come over for an “open air” breakfast in the late morning.  Two of these ladies are quite accomplished and creative gardeners, and my spot of earth was far behind what they have mastered.  In fact, there was still dirt laying around in various spots from fixing some of the stones in my yard.  But is a garden ever truly completed?  I tend to think that, since it is made of living things, then a garden must be viewed itself as a living organism, ever changing, ever challenging, fluid as opposed to finished.  It would be a shame to put off entertaining until I had enough…enough what?  Enough flowers, enough bird feeders and butterfly attractions?  And what for?  To impress them?  Not on my budget or expertise!

I wonder how often we fall into the same restrictive and lock-step way of thinking in other areas of life:

  • Can’t have the boss (or pastor, or in-laws, or fill in the blank) over until the house is big enough.
  • Can’t have children until we can pay to put them through college.
  • Can’t take a vacation from my job until the next deal is closed.
  • Can’t give money to my church until I get a raise.
  • Can’t play with the kids until the dishes are done. (Oh, I beg of you not to make that mistake!)  
  • And here’s the really big one: can’t tell someone about Jesus until I get my own spirituality together.

Our can’ts are camouflaged as responsibility, when in reality they may be precariously postponing what is really important for what is merely urgent (at best), or selfish (at worst).  Please don’t get me wrong; boundaries—whether they be relational, emotional, financial, to name a few—are important, but so is our choice of who (or Who) is Master of the garden gate.  I need to remember the story of Mary and Martha, two of Jesus’ good friends.  Martha was concerned with preparing to entertain Jesus, and Mary with actually entertaining Him by sitting attentively at His feet.  Who was being most productive?  Would Martha’s house ever be “good” enough to entertain the Son of God?  And yet, when the opportunity was presented, she was in danger of missing out on the best house guest ever!  Obviously, Jesus did not expect perfection (by cultural expectations) before making Himself gloriously and generously at home.

  • I would hope that the people with whom I associate will choose to identify me by my character, rather than by the square footage of my property. Let me honor God with the property of which I am His steward, and leave others’ opinions up to Him.
  • Certainly we have financial obligations to our people, but care must be taken to not overburden ourselves with future concerns over which we have little or no control.
  • Someone who is married to his job can find his marriage to his spouse dissolve without him being aware of it until it is too late. A vacation doesn’t have to be a long expensive undertaking, but a regularly planned evening away—ALONE—can bring health and vitality into not only a relationship, but also into the job as well. And a caution to stay-at-homes: this means you, too!  Check the chatter about the kids with your coat at the restaurant and focus on some exclusivity with your one and only.
  • We somehow feel that giving money to God is a chore, like getting our teeth pulled. We have to psych ourselves up for giving what we think we can’t afford, or for beating back the guilt feelings when we don’t. An Olympic diver doesn’t start learning his craft by jumping off the high dive.  Start small.  It’s okay to ask God to increase our salary, but I should ask Him to increase my giving first. 
  • Yes, dishes need to be done, and we are not to use any excuse for a slovenly lifestyle, but that whole “cleanliness is next to godliness” is not in the Word of God. Our children are a gift from the Lord, more than our dishes. They need us to let them know that in very tangible ways, and the most important is giving them of our time.
  • And, of course, the perfection of our lives is not the witness that Jesus is looking for. It is the consistency of love, and constancy of attendance on Him, of sincere repentance with corresponding behavioral decisions. It is His perfection of character that engulfs the flaws of mine.  Good grief!  How can I adequately bear witness and represent a Holy God!?  To feel any remnant of adequacy to this task is the epitome of pride and hubris.  No, I must not wait until I esteem myself a “better person”, and wholly rely on His Holy Spirit’s adequacy within me.

What opportunities are presented to us today? I want to be extremely careful to not allow them to pass by because of short-sighted nonsensical statements that include “can’t…until.”  On the contrary, I want to challenge myself to evaluate every self-imposed restriction that would threaten to put off what would bless someone—

—and many times that someone turns out to be me!