No strings attached

wood 2I know of a professor who years ago had a colleague saying that he “tried Christianity for a while” but that it didn’t give him what he wanted, so he went off in search of an alternative.  Buddha or something. 

I’m learning to never be intimidated by people with lots of letters behind their names. They are really smart, no contest that, but Continue reading “No strings attached”

Beware of fly-by’s

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280One thing that can’t be disputed about relationship with God in the Old Testament times—it was messy.  A lot of blood was involved: bulls, goats, pigeons,…prophets.

In one of the most historically and spiritually significant Old Testament sacrifices, Abram (not yet having his name changed to Abraham) slices in half several specimens of the animal kingdom in preparation for a special covenant with this Most High God whom very few people are even aware of any more, much less worship.  This is going to be unlike any other offering Abram has participated in, and I suspect Continue reading “Beware of fly-by’s”

In other words…

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“‘But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king!
    Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink.
But he was just and right in all his dealings.
    That is why God blessed him.

He gave justice and help to the poor and needy,
    and everything went well for him.
Isn’t that what it means to know me?”’
    says the Lord.”

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.

Not to be out-skunked.

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Bob and I were enjoying a nice, quiet summer night walk through the neighbor one evening.  Our older street doesn’t have the best lighting so naturally it was dark as we picked our way along some of the crumbing sidewalks.  Suddenly I stopped when I say something moving slowly in the grass as we passed, and thinking it was a wounded animal or bird, we looked at it a little more intently.  As our pupils dilated to let in more light, the image that pounded through the retina and hit the brain was something black with a white stripe down its back.

The brain then gave definite directions.

Unfortunately, we didn’t move quite fast enough, and even more so, we both shouted out in fear

“SKUNK!”

“RUN!”

The brain did not fail us.  It gave us the correct information; we were just not prepared to know what to do with that information.

Unlike this guy.  You gotta admire him on some level:

I’m challenged by this attitude.  I’m sorry to admit that I tend to be more on the panic side (as the fragrance on my shoes could attest!) rather than the calm stoic side; that is, learning the (life) discipline of standing firm, being very still, until the threat passes. And I definitely see that here:

“Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law, that You may give him power to keep himself calm in the days of adversity, until the [inevitable] pit of corruption is dug for the wicked.”

I’m long on information.  I need more than information; I need wisdom, and the power to put that wisdom into practice.  It’s so easy for me to panic about so many things—family, health, finances, world situations, _________.  The problem is that when I panic, I tend to do stupid pretty well, which can get quite stinky not only for me, but for those around me.  The atmosphere is not conducive to others wanting to be around me.  (Especially when I track it into my house, if I can extend the metaphor a bit!)

The psalmist here gives me hope, that the discipline God places on me grants me firm footing when (not if) difficult and scary situations arise, since “the valley of the shadow” is not something we are told to circumvent, but to go through…

…albeit not alone.

Psalm 94:12,13  Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)  Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

Can’t see around the bend?

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Here’s a good quote, and have you ever felt like this??

 “Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because the LORD himself has raised his fist against me.”

Not His hand, mind you; His fist.  It’s one thing to be stopped in your tracks by an upraised hand, or even slapped by an open one; it’s another to be socked in the jaw with someone’s fist!  Granted, this poor woman was not only in the throes of grieving a deep personal loss, but her situation had some pretty unfavorable economic implications as well, such as, how are we going to eat?  Here’s why I LOVE this statement—because the person who said it was SO TOTALLY WRONG!  In fact, though she couldn’t see it, she was about to become a very important cog in the Continue reading “Can’t see around the bend?”

“This Old House”, (which happens to be mine)

IMG_20150103_172451138I guess some people still think that co-habitation is a smart thing before marriage, you know, to make sure they’re compatible and other such nonsense.  I have a better idea: during some of the home improvements when we first moved into our current abode, I decided then and there that it should be federal mandate for couples to work together renovating an old house prior to being issued a marriage license. 

I daresay fewer couples would continue to “co-habit”.

My husband is meticulous.  I, on the other hand, am not quite so patient.  He’s sees one job; I see ten.  He can focus for hours; I am, well, not usually quite that skilled.  Nor careful I might add.  Blogger brother Wally Fry posted a meme that pretty much hits the mark HERE. (I don’t know where he and his wife, Heather, find these things, but they’re so dag-gum true!)

However, despite my sometimes counterproductive hyperactivity, God’s plan Continue reading ““This Old House”, (which happens to be mine)”

T-i-m-b-e-r!!!!

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Before writing this, I just mowed and trimmed the yard.  Instead of a “rider” we have a push mower, (well, alright, gas powered, not the kind your great-grandfather used, which was the REAL push mower).  And I was having issues with my trimmer, (okay, it’s also gas powered, not the hand clippers I used as a kid…)  And it was Missouri-summer HOT and HUMID! 

Whine, whine, whine.

That’s kind of what a couple of the Hebrew tribes sounded like when they came to Joshua as the nation of Israel was settling into the long-awaited Promised Land—

“The descendants of Joseph came to Joshua and asked, ‘Why have you given us only one portion of land as our homeland when the LORD has blessed us with so many people?’  Joshua replied, ‘If there are so many of you, and if the hill country of Ephraim is not large enough for you, clear out land for yourselves in the forest…’   The descendants of Joseph responded, ‘It’s true that the hill country is not large enough for us. But all the Canaanites in the lowlands have iron chariots,…They are too strong for us.’”

At first, it does sound a little like whining, but to their credit, these leaders had made a proper assessment of their current situation and resources; they were being honest. 

“Then Joshua said to…the descendants of Joseph, ‘Since you are so large and strong, you will be given more than one portion.  The forests of the hill country will be yours as well. Clear as much of the land as you wish, and take possession of its farthest corners.’”

Bringing that honesty to the Lord (via Joshua, since we’re talking Old Testament), the people were initially given the direction they needed…

 …but they were going to have to work hard for it. Then check out what Joshua says next (this is so cool)—

“And you will drive out the Canaanites from the valleys, too, even though they are strong and have iron chariots.”

Bringing that honesty to the Lord, they were then given the needed encouragement to make it happen.

God has allotted certain things to us, which includes our deliverance from the clutches of sin.  He wants that abundant life to flow from us to others (as I have to remind myself, it’s not just about “me”).  Because of Christ, I have too much in me to be penned in by my puny circumstances, not when God has forested hills and open valleys for me to expand into. 

…but I’m going to have to work hard for it.

I’m expected and designed to work hard.  Spiritual battle is not fun.  Clearing out the wood from the hills (past experiences, regrets, and my own “personal demons”) and the iron chariots from the valleys (Satan’s demons, since they like to hang around my warning-sign-304370_1280garbage), can be a daunting business.  Messy, too.  Definitely not a one-man job, but neither was it for the tribe of Israelites who needed to expand. 

So I should sharpen my axe and stop whining.

Joshua 17: 14  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.

Even angels need occasional clean up

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Our oldest daughter and her husband had a recent parenting experience.    

I love these.  I call it “payback”. 

Actually, that’s not the main reason I love it.  (Okay, It’s one of the reasons, just not the MAIN one.) 

My son-in-law was celebrating his 40th—really good stuff.  And being the wise parents that they are, they decided to ask precious Auntie Laurie who lives nearby to watch little newly toddling Gracie overnight while Mommy and Daddy took off on a fun and relaxing birthday “date”.  So smart.  So Continue reading “Even angels need occasional clean up”

Define “green”, please?

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We were visiting our eldest daughter and family this past summer at their home in southern California.  I don’t really know what the Mamas and the Papas song “California Dreamin’” meant back in the 60’s, but starting about 2011, it meant dreamin’ of water.  I’m also reminded of a pretty impressive draught we had back in Indiana many years ago.  The grass had turned not only brown, but so crispy that you couldn’t comfortable walk on it without shoes!

Nice, spongey green grass, on the other hand, is so soothing to the feet, smells fresh when cut, and the sheep and cows feast away.  No wonder the shepherd/songwriter/soon-to-be-king David used that in what has become probably the most beloved psalm in the Bible.

“The Lord is my shepherd,  I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures…”

I like all of that, I really do.  It’s just the “I shall not want” part that gets me a little tripped up now and again.  Truth is, I DO want, a lot, and often, and sometimes not very patiently.  And I don’t think I’m the Continue reading “Define “green”, please?”