“Are we there yet?!?”

When people say, “life is a journey”, they’ve obviously never been on family vacations.  Or maybe that’s where the analogy originated!

If you’ve ever traveled with children, (that’s children, plural), you are experienced in a challenge unknown and unappreciated by your adult counterparts.  This was particularly true in the days prior to the techno-burst of unlimited data on tablets to keep the little balls of energy wirelessly entertained while they are strapped for hours in a seatbelt.

Of course they don’t like the seatbelt!  Nevertheless, it’s your responsibility to get them wherever in one piece, despite the potential assault on your own sanity.

   “Jimmy has his elbow in my space!”

   “I’m hungry again!”

   “Beatrice say she has to go to the bathroom!”

   “Nope, never mind, she okay now.”

trip-307920_1280And the ever-popular…

   “ARE WE THERE YET???”

Triple-A should have an app.

So, when the Old Testament priest named Ezra undertook the monumental task of transporting men, women, and children, plus a hoard of silver and gold, back to Jerusalem after the 70-year exile, no wonder he prayed…a lot. Continue reading ““Are we there yet?!?””

Whoa, hoss!

rodeo-2685568_1920

 “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.

“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!””

Say, what??

windsor-castle-1253197_1920Bob has been a little concerned about my hearing.  Of course, when it comes to watching our beloved British shows on TV, we both have to turn up the volume, if you get my drift.  Our very entrenched Midwest American minds don’t always pick up the subtleties of our Anglo-neighbors, and we end up asking each other—

“What did he just say?”

“I dunno…turn it up.”

Neither of us want to miss any of the important plot developments for lack of communication, y’know.

Which is absolutely what could have happened here, but thankfully somebody was listening closely: Continue reading “Say, what??”

Frogs, and other useful tools

IMG_20150103_172451138I rather like frogs; actually, I really quite fancy them.  (No, not to eat!) 

Along with the crickets, they sing me to sleep at night, and keep serenading me in the pre-dawn mornings on the patio before work.  Bob, my biology-professor husband, likes them also, but has a much more practical bent toward them.  Whereas I always want to catch them, pick them up, look at them eyeball-to-eyeball, the prof always says, “leave it alone, it’s a scared little creature”. 

How does he know if it’s scared? (Turtles, on the other hand, right, I know what they do…)  Besides, as far as I’m concerned, one of a frog’s life functions is to let me pick it up.  So there. Continue reading “Frogs, and other useful tools”

Here comes the bride!

IMG_20150103_172451138Planning weddings has become a multi-gazillion dollar business.  I fancy you could send their kids to college with some of the hoopla that society calls weddings these days!  I mean, c’mon, if half as much time, effort, and financial resources went into preparing for the marriage as it does in preparing for the wedding, well…the statistics would read a whole lot differently.

So there’s my soapbox.

Evidently, however, our 21st century Western culture is not alone in this absurdity.  Take another look at 1st century Judaism—

“The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration.  The wine supply ran out during the festivities…

One source I looked at said that wedding celebrations typically lasted five to seven days, and the whole village would be invited!  Okay, they’ve topped us on that one.  I don’t know how much wine costs back then, but over a week, it would’ve certainly driven up the bill.

“…so Jesus’ mother told him, ‘They have no more wine.’”

 “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”

I love, love, love Mary’s concern for the bride and her family.  True empathy.  It could be that she has already married off daughters of her own, and can feel the coming embarrassment if something isn’t done, and quickly.  Very possibly, her own husband, Joseph, is dead by this time, so she turns to her nearest benefactor, her oldest son Son.  (How convenient.)

Her next remark is brilliant—

But his mother told the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’”

Seemingly having just been given a bit of a brush off, albeit polite, she proceeds to clear the way for something extraordinary should God decide, in His wisdom, to do something…extraordinary.

Which, as we know, He did.

I don’t know if the bride and groom, or their parents, ever found out.  (Yet another example of how God comes to the rescue for us when we’re not even aware we’re in danger, but that’s another whole lesson, I suppose.)  However, the disciples knew what happened, and it made a decisive impact.

people-2576936_1920Which leaves me with another impression—shall I ask God for something and not “clear the path” for Him to do what only God can do?  Should I not also listen for His voice in response to my request rather than go on wringing my hands?

I think not.  I prefer Mary’s tack, doing what I can do at present to allow for future heavenly intervention.  Then, listen.  Carefully, and creatively.

(To be continued tomorrow….)

John 2:1-5 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.

Who’s measuring stick is in your tool box?

IMG_20150124_162302245Bob was NOT pleased.  I don’t remember the exact scenario, something about possible plane tickets I think.  I just remember I had made him very, very nervous by my looking into some potential plans without cluing him in, but not because he’s a control-freak.  It’s simply that after almost forty years of marriage, he knows:

“You have a way of just making things happen!” Continue reading “Who’s measuring stick is in your tool box?”

Spandex Rides Again!

bikesAs summer break was drawing to a close, Bob asked me to go on a “rocket ride” with him.  When your husband of almost 38 years asked you on a date, the appropriate answer is “YES!”.

Part of our retirement planning the past several years has been to purchase several good bicycles.  I say several, since they are used for different purposes: on-road, off-road, and then I have one just for errands and groceries (I call it my “town-bike”). 

I’m somewhat disappointed to admit that the muscles and joints are not quite what they used to be, readily complaining, and preferring my great-grandmother’s rocking chair to the hard saddle of my Specialized Allez.  Of course, padded spandex comes in handy.  Bob says there are two fashion rules for wearing spandex:

  1. You have to have the right body type, and,

  2. Nobody has the right body type.

Continue reading “Spandex Rides Again!”

Why I’m a Fan of Messy Prayers — Kris Vallotton

How’s your prayer life? Is it a lively discussion or more of a stale habit? I think as Christians we often get caught up in checklist prayers. How boring is that? Not only is checklist praying an often empty habit, it’s also leading us to miss out on real connection with a Living God. I…

via Why I’m a Fan of Messy Prayers — Kris Vallotton

Still Water Reflections

quillA great idea (in the form a beautiful poem) from Enthusiastically, Dawn, (yes!  another Dawn to BLESS the blogosphere, just sayin’!!)  If you haven’t seen her site, definitely stroll over (her Instagram is fun also).  Here’s a thinker for us all today:

Still Water Reflections by Dawn Paoletta

I have an idea…

for you

to keep you from judging your peers,

to help you not criticize your neighbor –

the one who brings out your fears…

that person you just don’t get

yet.

Am I judging my peers,  criticizing my neighbor?

Do I? Am I?

I have an idea, for you-

to keep you from logs in your eyes,

to keep you from tripping over them

to guard against compromise,

to help you listen, really listen to another

not just think your thoughts

while they talk

and you supposedly listen,

waiting to interject- and inject your

poison.

Do I listen, really listen?

Does my compassion and empathy rise

or do I just wait to stop pretending

I’m listening?

Do I listen? Do I lie?

I have an idea for you,

to keep you from corrupt

communication

to help you not discuss with others,

what was never meant for discussion.

To keep you from speaking lies, disguised

as truth,  masquerading as prayer

but lacking the one thing that matters

before words are ever spoken about another :

love.

Is grace my motive to speak?

Do I love that which I speak of?

Am I guilty of slander or gossip?

Do I hate?

Do I? Am I?

I have an idea, for you-

one to keep you shining like gold,

one to help you reign in your tongue

whether you’re young or old:

Do you grumble under your breath,

murder others with your speech,

excusing your comments and conversation

before you begin to preach?

The words that flow from your mouth,

may seem wise in light of today,

but if you don’t stop the flow,

how can you ever pray?