Roger, Wilco

plane-607224_1920This past summer Bob and I enjoyed visiting my parents in their beautiful Midwest retirement community—it’s like a college campus for the over-60 crowd.  They’re incredible!  Interestingly, we were also roaming around the California Redwood Forest just few weeks prior to that, and in my mind, there is a striking resemblance between the two in more ways than one, if you get my drift.

Now a retired engineer, Dad is a United States Navy veteran who worked as a mechanic on airplanes, and his stories keep me spellbound.  While we were visiting, a neighbor stopped in.  Mr. B is a 90+-year-old U.S.A.F. bomber pilot vet from World War II.  (Triple exclamation marks…!!!) Continue reading “Roger, Wilco”

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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.

Them’s fightin’ words!

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I really like my comfort zone.  In fact, I tend to snuggle in with my favorite blankie and stuffed toy (it’s name was Pinkie, BTW, a big fuzzy stuffed dog of said color that I remember my big brother swinging around the room to irritate me—which worked.)  Only now my favorite toys are a bit more expensive (a house, a couple of cars, old though they be…) and I frequently wrap myself in my favorite “blankie” (my marriage, my family and friends, my health, such as it is….)  It’s not a perfect mountaintop, but it’s the one I live on, if you get my metaphorical drift, and I’m thankful for it.

Of course, when you’re married to a science teacher like my husband, the metaphorical tends to become the concrete.  He likes to point out practical things like, “Yep, those mountains were brought about by earthquakes, two Teutonic plates vying for the same space, and….” 

You get it.

In this instance, however, the point is well taken in that sometimes God has to shake us up to get us off the mountaintop and out of our comfort zone, since in reality, we are called into the war for His kingdom.  But we’re in good company:

 “When we were at Mount Sinai, the LORD our God said to us, ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough. It is time to break camp and move on. Go to the hill country…Look, I am giving all this land to you! Go in and occupy it, for it is the land the LORD swore to give to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to all their descendants.’”

Interestingly, God could have provided everything His people needed right there on that particular mountain.  (You know, because He’s God.)  But also because He’s God, He knew that was not the best for them, it was not His fulfillment of the promise for them, and God is not One to settle for anything less than the best in, for, and through them.  And us.  For His kingdom. 

A few other things had to take place, and much later, the psalmist put it like this:

“You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver…We went through fire and flood, but you brought us to a place of great abundance.”

Unlike other kingdom conflicts happening on our current timeline, the Christian conflict is a spiritual one for our culture, our children, and even our own hearts and minds.  It’s uncomfortable (to put it mildly), but it is the place where God promises not only His peace, but most importantly, His presence—His Truth in the midst of turmoil, His koinonia in the midst of conflict. 

Given my ‘druthers, I’d sometimes rather hang out on the mountain than join the fight in the valley, but reader beware: because of the Father’s love, if a little shaking doesn’t do it, He may turn the mountain into a volcano.

Deut 1:6-8; Psalm 66: 10,12  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.

Oops

wood 2I’m not techno-savy, as I’ve mentioned before.   At the same time, I’m not as illiterate in all things computer as I was in the past.  The learning curve is still fairly steep, but I choose my own plateaus here and there along the way.  I have no false aspirations of becoming the “Tim McGee” of my generation.  I mean, after all, I procured this new Macbook thing instead of my old PC, but I did cheat by downloading Microsoft Office onto its little hard drive.

That was my first mistake….

Here may I back up in the story?  I’ve been praying that this whole blogging thing would not become an idol.  Let’s face it, when a few wonderfully generous people (like you) take the time to read and “like” what I write, those feel-good endorphins smother the gray matter and little chemical smiley faces pop up inside my head.  As a Christian, that can go one of two ways.  Either I can Continue reading “Oops”

A modern Yankee in Queen Lizzie’s Court (with apologies to the monarchy and Mark Twain)

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My mother-in-law busted the mold for mothers-in-law just like my own mom broke the mold for step-mothers (but that’s perhaps for another writing.) Jo, widowed for four years, met and married an equally wonderful widower, a Brit, a fairy-tale Prince Charming who whisked her away from Indiana to a cottage on the English Channel, complete with castles, bobbies, and tea time. 

But it didn’t take too terribly long before she found out that, to put it in her own words, “England is a foreign country!”  Not only do they drive on the OTHER side of the road, not only do they have OTHER spellings for words like “tire”, there are also OTHER customs strange to someone even as genteel and experienced like my dear Jo. 

Case in point: hosting a dinner party one day, she picked up the nicely made dessert and passed it to the person Continue reading “A modern Yankee in Queen Lizzie’s Court (with apologies to the monarchy and Mark Twain)”