Planning…

You know that whole “knock, and the door will be open to you” thing that Jesus talked about?  I’m wondering how many times we stand on that same threshold with the door finally open, but are too scared to step over.

Which makes this story of Nehemiah so informative to me.

The land of the Hebrews, God chosen people, lay in utter ruin and desolation, as predicted.  The people, those who survived, are in exile, servants of the foreign king.  Nehemiah lands the job of cupbearer of this pagan king himself, not particularly a posh position, since at any time the royal loses his cool, Nehemiah could lose his head. Continue reading “Planning…”

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“Recycling” is not for wimps.

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Anybody else remember this guy??

I’m a recycler.  I haven’t always been, however.  I grew up with learning that respect the environment meant putting trash in the bin. We grew up with Smokey the Forest Ranger teaching us how to not start forest fires (he must have grown up in California…) and there was some commercial about a Native American with a tear in his eye.

So in essence, if I was to be a responsible citizen, everything went, um….into the landfill.

Out of sight, out of mind.  (Ouch.) Continue reading ““Recycling” is not for wimps.”

Famous But’s of the Bible

baby-boy-2137395_1920I really relate to Moses’ reaction when God told him to go confront Pharaoh.  It wasn’t just a matter of “let me sleep on it”.  Moses’ response was an immediate “But, Lord…!”  In fact, one translation records around five ‘buts’ in the same conversation!

I’m so thankful God is patient.

Contrast that with a follower of the up and coming Christian religion.  His name was Ananias.  News might not have traveled quite as quickly as it does now, but we can tell something had reached Ananias’ ears concerning a man named Saul, and his treatment of the people of The Way. 

“Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers.”

So there Ananias is, minding his own business, when God taps our erstwhile hero on the shoulder to deliver a personal invitation to this rabid Pharisee…

“But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem!  And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.”

Only one, “but, Lord”.  Impressive.  God, in His mercy, pats His servant on the back with a few words of encouragement.

“So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me…”

Ananias calls this infamous malcontent “brother” based solely on God’s recommendation, completely against everything he has heard about the man up to this point.  Equally impressive, and some lessons are to be observed:

approved-1966719_1280Acceptance does not mean approval.

I’m well entrenched in the “Show Me” state of Missouri.  Unfortunately, however, “showing fruits in keeping with repentance” and “study to show yourself approved rightly handling the gospel of truth” tend to be concepts that the 21st century American church like to keep on the back shelf. 

On the other hand, Saul, (who changed his name to Paul after his conversion), stayed with the believers and risked his own life in the synagogue to the point that they had to help him escape his former bosses by lowering him in a basket over the town wall!  Paul was loved and accepted into the family, but trust came from proving his character by his observable behaviors and decisions.

shield-31869_1280Courage to act. 

I can only imagine that Ananias needed more than a little courage to put his faith into practice.  Sure, he had experienced a clear and specific vision from God, but if he is anything like me (like most of us?) there had to be that sneaky little voice from back in Genesis saying “Hath God really said…?”  And it’s a good thing for all of us that Ananias obeyed, Paul writing more than half the New Testament and all.

anchor-2536643_1920A strong link. 

Interestingly, we don’t hear anything about Ananias in the rest of the Bible, not even from Paul in any of his writings.  Ananias was ‘merely’ a link between the old and the new.  Now, if it had been someone in our 21st century what-about-me culture, he might be tempted to compete for a place in the spotlight.  But that’s not what God had in mind for this faithful disciple. 

We tend to think of a wrecking ball as doing the big demolition, but it would be impotent without the strong links of chain that hold it up.  Paul was a great wrecking ball against Satan’s kingdom, but he needed each link of the chain to do that work effectively.

Minding my own business and staying out of trouble.  I rather like that plan, until God taps my shoulder and points in a different direction way out of my comfort zone.

How many “but, Lords” will He get from me?

Acts 13:1,13-14,17  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.

In other words…

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“When you go through deep waters,
    I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
    you will not be burned up;
    the flames will not consume you.”

**P.S. Check out where this quotation came from on Kris Vallottan’s blog!!

Isaiah 43:2  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Somebody clean the ox

IMG_20150103_172451138My house is not a clean house. 

Well, I mean it’s hygienic.  We have indoor plumbing and clean water, which, for context and perspective, is more than can be said for most of the planet. 

It’s just that, as Bob says, “my girl is a messy girl”.  Truth.  I really had to acknowledge that when all the girls moved away and the empty nest didn’t really reorder itself.  Nope. 

Just too many books to read, too many posts too write, gardening, projects, and then there’s this thing called a full-time job.  And a husband.  (They take time, too.  Well worth it.  And he’s the clean one of the duo.)

So I find at least some solace in this:

“Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.”

Thank you, King Solomon.

Not that I consider myself a strong ox, although Bob says that I “come from good stock”, whatever that’s supposed to mean.  (He also says, however, that I can “work him under the table”.)

I think it’s probably also easier in parenting, for instance, to take a DIY attitude rather than let the kids learn by doing, because of the potential/probable mess, which makes more work for yours truly (which may or may not get done, see above disclaimer.)

Extrapolate: it’s likewise easier (translate “safer”) to not care so much, try so much, dream so much, reach out so much in this otherwise hostile world we live in this side of eternity.  It gets harsh, uncomfortable….messy.

This citation will probably put me over my word count, but it’s worth the read:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” –Theodore Roosevelt

I have not a clue whether or not good ole’ Teddy would have made it into the White House in today’s climate, but I sure do like this quote.  And if ever there was an ox in a Washington china shop (other than, of course, now) it was Teddy.

sweepSo while the laundry piles up in the stairwell and the dog hair in the kitchen, I’m off to a workday at the church.  The laundry will be there when I get home, and the dog hair never really goes away.

Proverbs 14: 4  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.

Ties that bind…or strangle.

IMG_20150103_172451138Several years ago, I read a study synopsis from a well respected site indicating that the most influential power in a child’s life was his parents. (Golly-gee-whiz, I wonder how many man-hours and tax dollars went into that one.)  Of course, ask any of the teachers in my middle school, and they could have told you that.  Better yet, I have a Book that pretty well spells it out from years of experience and Wisdom. 

Needless to say, there are some forces in the Universe that are inherently powerful, for good or evil, and parenthood is certainly at the top of that list.  It’s not that parents can take credit for all the choice their kids make (positive or negative), but their influence is still credibly incredible in some capacity throughout a person’s life. 

So it takes some real courage when a child, even an adult “child”, has to back up and re-evaluate patterns of thinking and doing that Continue reading “Ties that bind…or strangle.”

No paper or plastic

IMG_20150103_172451138When Bob and I were engaged to be married, I decided to register for stoneware and stainless rather than fine china and silver.  Some may have called that “common”; I prefer to call it practical.  Even so, for years I would store my special dishes in the corner hutch and bring them out only for special occasions; c’mon, ladies, you know how we do. 

Finally, after about 35+ years of collecting dust, I decided this was actually kinda dumb.  Why not use the good stuff on a daily basis?!  Are we not worth it? Good grief, it’s dishwasher safe anyway! (Unlike the fine china of the 70’s, I might add.)

SoooOO000ooo….not too long ago, out of the hutch and into the kitchen it came to be lovingly used along with the stainless Continue reading “No paper or plastic”

Buckle in, God’s got a plan

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I was always one of the tallest kids in class.  Back in high school I used to joke that the main reason I was on the girls’ basketball team was so that I could get off the traveling bus first just to intimidate the opposition.  Despite what they may have initially seen, in reality they didn’t have much to worry about.  My lack of athletic prowess may have been caused by hidden orthopedic challenges (no longer hidden, I might add!), latent asthma (ibid.), or simply a lack of interest and/or talent.  Like my 6’5” brother once observed, tall people rarely have to jump…for anything.

Nevertheless, what we see with our eyes can be scary, because we have a way of interpreting it through the lens of past experience, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  In fact, it’s a safety mechanism.  If there’s a motorcycle coming down the road, past experience says it behooves me to move.  Unless, of course, I’m an 18-wheeler with the right-of-way, then I expect the burden of wisdom to rest with the motorcycle.

With this in mind, I suppose I can have a little compassion on Continue reading “Buckle in, God’s got a plan”

Silverware, or flatware?

IMG_20150103_172451138I don’t have a home and hearth “lifestyle” site like my bloggin’ buddy, Lindsey.  Case in point: I grew up calling all eating utensils “silverware, yet I somehow doubt that we ate off of silver.  I have since learned the differentiations between silverware, stainless, and simply flatware.  Now, Lindsey might be able to tell you more precisely what those are are (and how to use them correctly!)  One thing I have learned, however, (Lindsey, dear, please correct me if I’m wrong), is that the more you use silver, the less you have to keep it polished.  Otherwise, just stuffing it away for special occasions means you had better budget a fair amount of time in the preparation of the event for the wearisome task of polishing, cleaning, and wiping. 

For someone who rarely gets around to dusting my furniture, no thanks.

Not that I would allow my granddaughter to dig in the dirt with the silver serving spoon I got as a wedding gift lo, these many years ago, but why stuff that little treasure away just for dipping out the mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving?

So I wonder how much I fall prey to that attitude in other areas of my life; that is, putting something away for “safe keeping”, afraid it might get broken, stolen, or at the very least misused or disregarded, instead of using it for Continue reading “Silverware, or flatware?”

In other words…

 

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  The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion on the road! Yes, I’m sure there’s a lion out there!”

Proverbs 26: 13   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.