Gut and re-do

plumber-35611_1280I’m really so thankful our house didn’t burn down.

When we were buying this place back in the early 90’s, it passed inspection, whatever that means.  I think it had to do with certain standards or “codes” to which components of the structure must adhere, like the construction, the plumbing…the electricity.  The data sheet from the realtor indicated the age of the house to be “50+”.  It’s the “plus” that should have had me asking a few more questions.

You know what is said about hindsight.

One of the shortcomings of professional standards is that they evolve, improve (theoretically anyway), many times without telling any of the rest of us.  Translation: now that our house is close to 80+ years, it probably would NOT have passed inspection.  I didn’t know that.  Continue reading “Gut and re-do”

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Charlotte, in all her glory

At this writing, my back is still sore from hauling dirt to the garden and turning the two big compost bins with my American Gothic-esque pitchfork a couple days ago.  Sad commentary on my current level of fitness.  I’ve also been neglecting the compost for most of the winter, unfortunately.  Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to warmer temps coming back more consistently to my part of the planet, and I want to take advantage of them. 

Another thing that also returns with the rising thermometer are the arachnoids… Continue reading “Charlotte, in all her glory”

Whoa, hoss!

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 “Pay attention to this, Job. Stop and consider the wonderful miracles of God!”

This passage encourages me to ask God for His miraculous intervention!  What a God we serve!  Creator of the Universe!  Molder of the everything from the Rocky Mountains to the pebble I skip in the lake!  Designer of the intricacies of the human body as well as an amoeba! 

This dove-tails right into what Jesus said about having mustard seed-sized faith and moving those mountains and asking for “whatever you will and it shall be done”—that suits me just fine, thank you!

Then I realize this passage comes from the book of Job…which gives me pause.  More like slamming on the brake…

If anyone had reason to ask for miraculous intervention, it was Job.  By the time this verse shows up in the narrative, we find our ragged hero drowning in disappointment and sitting on an ash heap with pus leaking from his multiple skin sores.  All of his children and most of his servants have been killed in various assaults, his wealth has been stripped from him, his wife has been less than encouraging, and now his erstwhile friends have showed up to accuse him of being guilty before God for who-knows-what. 

It hasn’t been a good week.

I’m all about asking God for miracles; He knows more than anyone how badly we need them down here.  However, God is more concerned with intervening in my character than with intervening in my situation.  If the trial will benefit my intimacy with Him more than the miracle, He’ll choose the trial every time.

Which sounds pretty scary at first, but then God also says this in the book of Job:

“I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come.
    Here your proud waves must stop!’”

No matter what the circumstance, my Father is still in control.  His plan for my character and my relationship with Him supersedes my immediate comfort, (and not just physical, but emotional, mental, and spiritual as well.) 

Even the secular segment gets the idea that sadness has a crucial place in our proper development:

Of course, I have choices to make in how I process these difficult times—regardless of what’s happening around me, I have decisions about what is happening within me.  And as a Christian, God says I have internal resources not otherwise available.

Part of that processing has to do with interpretation; that is, how I “see” my circumstances.  It’s very, very tempting to fall prey to thoughts such as:

God doesn’t love me like He loves others.

“For God shows no partiality [undue favor or unfairness; with Him one man is not different from another].”

Or, God’s going to do what He wants anyway, so why bother praying?

 “Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly];”

Then there’s the age-old: God must not exist. 

“For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].”

The bottom line is the historical reality of the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ—when nothing else makes sense, that does.  The splintered, bloodied pieces of wood and the splendidly empty tomb mean there’s more going on behind the scenes that I’m not privy to…yet.  To think otherwise means my arrogance is peeking through, something God addressed with Job in no uncertain terms.

So where does miraculous intervention fit in to all this?  Jesus’ template of “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done” is a good start, but I don’t think He meant for it to be a spiritually lazy default.  I like His disciples initial request: “teach us to pray.” 

Which is becoming an ongoing request for me: “Holy Spirit, teach me what to pray specifically, give me grace to pray persistently in the face of disappointment, and help me to engage the power of Heaven for the building of Your kingdom in this circumstance.”

quarter-horse-746979_1280Interestingly, I suspect that’s when something quietly miraculous begins to happen…

…in me.

Romans 2:11; Hebrews 11:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:16  Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC) Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

Job 37:14; Job 38:11 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.

“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.”

Snack time!

popcorn-1085072_1920I love to eat.  In recent years, it has been showing a bit more than in the past. 

One of my challenges, when it comes to food, other than the fact that I live in a place of overabundance and a culture of overindulgence, is that I have a touch of hypoglycemia.  Low blood sugar, that is.  Hypoglycemia isn’t mere hunger pangs and gastro-growling.  Hypoglycemia manifests itself in things like blurring of vision, headache, jitteriness, and irritability.  When it hits, I’ll grab just about anything besides what I should since the craving for sugar is my body’s way to sustain life, even though it may be temporary. Continue reading “Snack time!”

“Told you so!”

Now, there’s a phrase we typically enjoy saying, but  we universally hate hearing!

I love the way Paul does it, however.  Here’s a quick backstory:

Falsely accused by his own countrymen, Paul has played his “I’m a Roman citizen” card and appealed to the Supreme Court, (i.e., Caesar), which gives him a one-way all expenses paid trip to the capitol.  This meant a voyage by sea, which could be tricky based on the time of year.  Putting in at one less-than-luxurious small town port, the sailors think they can make it to the next spot before the weather turns bad. Continue reading ““Told you so!””

Don’t forget the trash

Here’s a progression of leadership that I find interesting, not that you have to be recognized “leader” in this sense to make the lessons noteworthy.  This is, however, a true countercultural mindset that I personally find very informative and challenging.

And David realized that the LORD had confirmed him as king over Israel and had greatly blessed his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.

In other words, one of the main reasons God blesses me is for the sake of His people.  (Wait…you mean it’s not about me??) Continue reading “Don’t forget the trash”

Can I skip church today?

country-church-2413911_1920This Sunday morning, we have a guest speaker coming to our little church.  I say “little” to distinguish our congregation from the mega-churches in big cities—nothing against those, as they must have their own special challenges. 

No, the assembly Bob and I attend is quite small, living in the rural community that we do, and as such there is ample opportunity to “get involved” since you don’t usually have to be an expert at anything to be included on a team or committee.  Bob and I are on the worship team—he plays bass and I play guitar and sing, (well, at least I try to.)  Every week with only a few exceptions here and there. 

For the past 20+ years.

Which means that people sort of get used to us to be there, I suppose.  But today… Continue reading “Can I skip church today?”

Proper use of the bulldozer.

wood 2Bulldozer—now there’s a fun word!  I did a little digging (pun intended), and evidently bulldozer is a very American term, no surprise that.  Its origin is summarily inelegant, and had nothing whatsoever to do with the helpful heavy machinery we count on today.

Not long after the American Civil War and Honest Abe’s Emancipation Proclamation, racial prejudice continued (duh) in the form of intimidation tactics, which included administering a “bull’s dose” with a whip on the backs of black Americans who would not vote for a certain party.  The thugs eventually were referred to as “bull dosers” or “bull dozers”, those who cleared a path for their own ideology. (1) Continue reading “Proper use of the bulldozer.”

More than a cowboy hat

IMG_20150103_172451138When we formally met the man who was to become one of our sons-in-law, we wanted to give him “the tour” of the small Midwestern town our girls where we live and are girls grew up.  He is Swedish, but had lived and worked in both the Big Apple and sunny Cal.  However, he had not yet been initiated into rural mid-America.  Even so, he liked camo, and he wanted a cowboy hat. 

He came to the right place.

His soon-to-be sister-in-law, (daughter #2), decided it would be a good idea to devise a scavenger hunt throughout the town, hiding clues in places that would take him all over the familiar haunts including the high school, an old abandoned farm tractor who’s final resting place was behind a local grain elevator, a landmark eating establishment with the finest in traditional, heart-stopping American hamburgers and milkshakes, and the like. 

hat-2738831_1920Of course, the end point was a true-to-earth Midwest Farm and Home store, where he got to pick out his own real life cowboy hat. 

Together, they have since put on a similar “treasure hunt” for his nieces and nephews.  There’s just so much fun in watching the kids’ excitement as they follow the clues and find good stuff! 

Which gives me pause to consider that this enjoyment must have its foundation in Someone who similarly enjoys His children searching and finding.

“He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.”

There is a thought circulating that if God is so intent on us knowing Him, why doesn’t He just make it easier, speaking more directly, personally, getting our attention more efficiently.   Allowing this new member of our family to look for and find each clue was hopefully causing a greater connection with the town (experientially) and with us (personally).  It took some time and creative energy to put that together!  And he was worth every bit of it.

Granted, God has and still could use an occasional burning bush, talking donkey, or disembodied hand writing on the wall, I suppose.  Those tend to be a bit more compelling, but not necessarily as effective toward His everyday purpose.  Which is…?

Glad you asked.

“And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.”

Eternal life—not just pie in the sky by and by, but true moment-by-moment intimacy with Creator God.  Right now.  Nothing less. 

However, the funny thing about clues is that they are easily missed unless one is actively looking for them.

“The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him.”

We were not about to let our daughter’s loved one miss out on even one clue, as we gathered around him to help him out, (which is a huge part of what God’s family is supposed to be doing with each other as well.)  We knew what we had waiting for him at the end of the ordeal.  crown

And so does God.  Only it’s not a cowboy hat… 

John 15:17; John 17:3  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.