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.

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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.”

The Mighty Wonder Buck rides again! And again! And…

picmonkey dogThe Mighty Wonder Buck (A.K.A. The MWB, or Buckley) loves it when I have the car keys in my hand and head out the door; hopes springs eternal in that big black hairy chest of my dog-pound mutt.  A car ride could mean a number of things: to our small town community compost (with all kinds of smells to explore!), to the local farm and home store, or even splashing and swimming at the nearby lake (him, not me, but invariably yours truly gets wet.)

No matter what I’m doing, he’s just good company, and depending on the activity, sometimes he comes home exhausted but tongue-hanging-out-the-mouth happy.  If you’re a dog-lover like Bob and I both are, you know the look.

 

And you would also know that there is nothing unusual about talking to your canine buddy.  Even singing to him.  I mean, he doesn’t know or care if you can sing or not.  So when I came out of Walmart one day to pack my groceries into the car, there was the MWB, cute as ever with his big black head looking at me.

I had parked in isolation in the back lot with all the windows down so Buck had plenty of air and shade, which also meant the car was right up next to the outdoor garden center, enclosed only by a big fence. 

A fact which had slipped my mind.

And as I merrily talked and sang to my furry friend (an original composition, mind you, just for the dog,), I happened to turn and catch a glimpse of a man looking at me as he perused the various and sundry greenery. 

There are times it is unfortunate that so many people know me in this town…

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light…”

Okay, I know that’s not the kind of “peculiar” God is talking about here.  Unfortunately, I have plenty of unholy peculiarities for Him to work on, (that have nothing to do with singing to my dog in public.)

I am convinced, however, that part of this “so great a salvation” that we are given is powerfully intended to make us nonetheless strange in the eyes of our contemporaries, for the very reason of getting their attention and putting that focus on God.  There are so many practical examples of this, in the way we interact, entertain, spend money and time, even (most of all)—how we think.

boneHere’s one bone to chew one:

WordPress has all these great tips and courses on improving your blog site and increasing your readership—that is terrific and and who doesn’t want to do that, right?! I know I do.  Logically, it makes sense that the more people read your stuff, the more people can be helped by what you write. 

But here’s the real meat.  As a Christian, my goal isn’t just to reach a whole bunch of people, but to reach the people God wants me to reach.  That doesn’t preclude my due diligence, but it also doesn’t mean I mark my success by my stats either.  (I mean, Hitler also reached lots of people, just sayin’.)

Which is a “peculiar” way to regard success in our culture, even in our church culture.  Big flashy sound stages with matching budgets; not that those are bad at all, but they aren’t the goal, nor are they a sign of success…at all.  In God’s culture, where the peculiar people “live and move and have their being”, success is measured by obedience, not outcomes.

gentleman-148407_1280And that will definitely turn heads, more than singing to your dog!

I Peter 2:9 King James Version (KJV)  Public Domain

Heart to heart

Bob
And he STILL takes me on dates: roses and camo. What more could a girl want??

Have you ever gotten a gift you didn’t need, or better yet, didn’t really want?  You smile nicely, (‘cuz that’s what your mom taught you to do), and find something, anything, nice to say about it, (“oh, my, these earrings will match perfectly with the stain I can’t get out of my favorite shirt when my granddaughter…”). 

I admit, I have a stash—a small one, so be kind to me—of items to use as “re-gifts”, you know, as things to give away at a party or what not.  ‘Fess up, ladies, you have it too.  At least, if you’re on a limited budget and/or are a frugal recycler who has cast off the collar and leash of guilt a long time ago when it comes to gifts, (“but that was from dear Aunt Betsy!”)  Well, dear Aunt Betsy may have a larger piece of property to hoard such things.  Me?  I’m still storing stuff for my 30-somethings who are now strewn around the globe.   

As wonderful as it is when people give of themselves sacrificially to another, what really makes it meaningful is when they take to time to find out what the person on the receiving end really wants or needs.  That’s when the giving actually becomes about the one who is on the receiving end, not about the one who is doing the giving. Continue reading “Heart to heart”

The Shack Out Back

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Heeding the call to stop concentrating exclusively on their own interests and start looking after God’s, the tide begins to change beneficially for the returning Hebrew exiles.  But there must have been a discouraging note for some of the old-timers who remembered the good ole’ days of their beloved Solomon’s Temple, now summarily destroyed.  As always, God realized this bent in our human psyche:

“Does anyone remember this house— this Temple— in its former splendor? How, in comparison, does it look to you now? It must seem like nothing at all!  

But now the LORD says: Be strong, Zerubbabel. Be strong, Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people still left in the land. And now get to work, for I am with you, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.  My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised when you came out of Egypt. So do not be afraid.”

All this began to happen when the people obeyed God in the very tangible way of laying the foundation to the new temple.   Here’s what I glean from it:

  1. God still speaks to me, and tells me to be strong.
  2. I am not the only one “left in the land”, and I am not alone in this struggle. Granted, I may have to work to see who else is under the rock and rubble with me, but I am most certainly not alone.
  3. I have a directive—get to work.
  4. I can do this because God is with me, and He is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, a formidable ally indeed.
  5. I have the power of God’s Spirit.
  6. God is the same God—He’s brought me “out of Egypt” before, and He’ll do it again. His character and calling do not change.  (Yessss!)

In this life, things tend to crumble, and not merely bank accounts.  Relationships and families, dreams and plans, health and vitality,…and churches.  There’s just no sense sitting around pining over the dust of Solomon’s Temple when God’s calling me to build something new.  Stop comparing.  Stop waiting.  And above all, stop whining.

jackhammerAnd get to work.

Haggai 2:3-5  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.

AND, he cleans bathrooms…!!

IMG_20150103_172451138

It’s kinda hard to argue with your husband when he’s cleaning the bathroom because, well…HE’S CLEANING THE BATHROOM!!  Granted, for you younger women who implemented the non-traditional delegation of labor from day one of the honeymoon, this may not seem like a big deal.  But for those of us who grew up during the revered years of the reigning queen of domesticity (“June Cleaver”), just trust me…it’s a big deal.

To score Bob a few more points in the annuls of wifedom, his comment to me several years ago was, “It’s my goal in life for you to never clean another bathroom.” 

And after my subsequent recovery…

(Just kidding.)

But he wasn’t, and I should be so worthy of such lofty goals!?!  So, our little tête-à-tête had to do with an ingredient I had Continue reading “AND, he cleans bathrooms…!!”

Spiritual speed traps

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280In, lo, these many years of driving, I had never had even one point against my license, despite what my husband refers to a my “lead foot”. There is in our small town, however, a place drivers affectionate refer to as a “speed trap”—you know, the limit is 30mph, but in a few yards it goes up to 45, and in between the road gently slopes downward…

bodyworn-794099_1920The officer was nice. Nonetheless, I was a several dollars poorer and a few “points” wiser. 

The idea is that I was responsible for what I didn’t know, but should have known.  I didn’t know I was going ____mph over the speed limit.  I didn’t know there was an officer just biding his time.  Both of these bits of information would have been helpful in preventing my mishap, but no matter.  I still had to “pay the man.”

Which makes King Josiah’s response so much the better in my mind.

After a long and sordid line of (mostly) wicked rulers over God’s people, Josiah had a interesting idea—let’s follow our God.  In fixing up the temple, one of the workers found the Book, the Law where their God explains the conditions of the covenant with the people. 

Now, the king was already on the right track in terms of his heart-attitude, and being raised in a very ungodly and confusing family/social environment, he was doing what he could with what he had.  But when presented with this additional info, his reaction was, well, possibly a bit better than mine when I was pulled over…

“When the king heard what was written in the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes in despair.”

One of our family catch-phrases is “what am I supposed to do with this information.”  It’s really a good test to see if there is something the other person is expecting from me, or if he/she is simply, you know, just talking.  This seems to be exactly what Josiah did, and he discovered, in no uncertain terms, that God wasn’t just talking.

Someone once said that the Holy Spirit speaks to those whose hearts are positioned to act upon His instructions.  So when Josiah heard God speak, he took one of the offensive idols and…

“…he burned it. Then he ground the ashes of the pole to dust…”

Pretty definitive statement, that.  And it wasn’t the only culture shift that was made as Josiah “turned to the LORD with all his heart and soul and strength”.  Love it.  The kingdom of Judah was responsible for what they had neglected to know (even though it had been available), but God blessed them for the changes, (formidable ones, difficult ones), that were accomplished.

It would behoove us to follow his example.

2 Kings 22:11; 2 Kings 23:6   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…

creation-of-man-1159966_1920

  “ The LORD our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us…”

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.

 

Wipe your paws, please

picmonkey dogThe Mighty Wonder Buck has a morning routine.  Actually, it’s based on my routine, which has to do with being very much a morning person.  Generally, I’m up at around daybreak or shortly thereafter, and that’s when I’m OFF work.  During the work week, it’s dark, and sometimes the birds aren’t even singing yet, unless it’s an owl, which is pretty cool in itself.

I’ll head outside for pot of tea on the patio, while Buckley noses around and sniffs and, well, does other things dogs need to do first thing in the morning. 

Except when it’s raining.  Then he’s on his own for a quick in-and-outer to do his business, which can be fairly substantial for a 60-pound pup. Because of his long hair and his feathered feet, he tends to track in LOTS of mud.   The mud doesn’t seem to bother him much; it’s just not within his canine Continue reading “Wipe your paws, please”

Don’t bother washing the hat

garden last

This spring I put in a new garden.  I’ve already blogged somewhere about it, so I’ll spare the details, but to say it’s back-breaking work (fine, I’ll admit it—especially for this aging back) is without question.  I’ve done it, however, with the hopeful expectation of an improved harvest. 

If I’ve learned one thing living in America’s Heartland, it’s that farmers are possibly some of THE hardest working individuals on kevinthe planet.  Their hands are not soft, and the ball caps on their heads are not nice and clean.  During harvest, they work dawn to dusk (sometimes beyond that), and it takes not only Continue reading “Don’t bother washing the hat”