Preparing for impact

SASWe’re traveling quite a bit recently, seeing family and all.  Our children have dispersed globally—if there were reasonably inhabitable colonies on the moon, at least one of my kinder would be there.   Even our nearest kin are out of state.  I told our youngest daughter, (the one currently residing in Scandinavia), that her software engineer husband needs to hurry up with that transporter beam.  Until then, however, it’s the car or the airline.

I’ve flown plenty, but Bob still gives me the window seat.  There’s just that wonderful rush when the plane speeds noisily down the runway, then the cabin gets quiet as the ground just falls away.  I love it. 

Of course, not long after that happens, the flight attendants begin their little demonstration that no one pays attention to, but should.  Instead we go back to staring out the window or reading the magazine in the seat pocket.  I think it’s somewhat comical when they instruct us on how to put on the life jacket under the seat when we’re flying from Missouri to southern Cal…?? Continue reading “Preparing for impact”

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Stone, wraps, and other impediments.

I wonder if Martha gets a bit of bum rap.  She’s the calculating one, knows what needs to be done and does it herself if necessary.  The list-maker, the bean counter.  Martha was the chief cook and bottle washer when Jesus came to visit her and her siblings.  She alone was the one who received a gentle rebuke from the Lord when she demanded that her sister, Mary, come and help her in the kitchen instead of sitting with the Master, listening and absorbing.

I bet Martha as the older one, the one who helped her little sister growing up to put on her clothes and lace up her sandals.  You know how older sibs are called upon in a family.  Insert all of that on Martha’s shoulders.

Now Mary, it’s possible that Mary is same woman mentioned in another of the Gospels as the “unclean” prostitute who broke the jar and anointed Jesus in an act of repentance for her now-former lifestyle. The jury is out on that one, but for argument’s sake…

In this context, I can perceive Martha’s frustration, helping to sacrificially raise her younger sister only to have her go off and ruin the family name.  Perhaps this is why no spouse is mentioned for Martha— in that culture once the family is disgraced, who wanted to marry into that?  If this is case, like the older brother in the parable of the prodigal, I get it.

Then their beloved brother dies. 

Interestingly, when Jesus finally decides to make an entrance, Mary is the one who stays behind, but it’s good ole’ practical Martha who goes out to faithfully meet the Master.  Of course, the first words out of her mouth are, guess what, cause and effect:

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”

Problem defined, problem solved.  That’s Martha.  If Plan A didn’t transpire, she always had a Plan B.  It wasn’t, however, quite what she expected:

 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.

But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”

How often do I ask God for a miracle, only with the proviso that He does it my way.  Good grief, don’t open the tomb!  Don’t expose the decay and don’t make the smell of death public.  No, I like to keep things private.

I forget there was nothing private about Jesus dying on a cross—for me.

There is something about the things we keep hidden which allows them to fester and multiply.  I’ll try to deal with it on my own. If my first plan is tanked, then I’ll think of the next step, but by all means, let’s keep stench under control.

window-806899_1920Except life doesn’t actually work that way.  The only way Lazarus was going to walk out of that tomb was to roll away the stone and let him breathe God’s fresh air.

How’s your air quality today?

John 11:21,21,39 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.

Your turf, or mine?

I love the description of the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem under Nehemiah’s close eye.  We read phrases like “next to him”, and “beside him” throughout the narrative as each family group takes responsibility for a part of the reconstruction.

Obviously, Nehemiah couldn’t accomplish the project on his own; it may have been his vision, but the people’s participation was not only expected, but necessary.  There’s a lesson for the church right there—pastors can’t do it all; in fact, not even most of the work in building God’s kingdom. Continue reading “Your turf, or mine?”

It’s Complicated…(Part 2)

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280After yesterday’s post, now the plot thickens…with blood.

And lots of it.

Like, Stephen King and Nightmare on Elm Street all rolled into one.  Here’s a brief recap:

Hebrew man and half-wife (concubine) traveling through town in area of the Israeli tribe of Benjamin; brought in to spend the night with nice man who knows better than to let them stay out at night in the town square.  We found out why in the next few verses because… Continue reading “It’s Complicated…(Part 2)”

Just hangin’ around

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I have a bit of a problem with the movie-star mentality that the church often has with popular preachers and teachers.  Driving around in a big city, seeing their faces splashed up on bulletin boards advertising this or that upcoming event just somehow makes me feel…I dunno…like closing my eyes and letting out a big sigh.

Not that I don’t have my faves, people from whom I get some of the benefit of their personal relationship with our common Father and Savior.  But the operative word there is “common”, meaning I have the same access with the same responsibility to hear from God myself, as opposed to settling for allowing all my understanding to derive from their hard work.  That’s just mental and spiritual laziness.  Continue reading “Just hangin’ around”

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.

Where are my sticky notes??

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I like to consider myself I an at least somewhat responsible parent, but for some reason, I don’t know why, I seemed to have a mental block when it came to remembering orthodontic appointments for my kids during that phase of our lives.  Thanks to our dear orthodontist (and his secretary!) for their good graces and common sense to make routine phone reminder phone calls.  I’m sure it saved them money for missed appointments and I console myself that I probably was not the only one.  But even if I was, I’m still glad I had the reminder!

To this day, I’m not offended with reminders.  I live with sticky notes.  I email myself from work to home, and vice versa.  I tell people to call me.  If I don’t write it down, it’s a gonner.  There are just so many brain cells for Continue reading “Where are my sticky notes??”

Old machine, new instructions

IMG_20150103_172451138I like to innovate.  That’s a nice way of saying that I’m not really good at reading the directions.  At first, that is.  Now, after the fabric is cut, or too much flour has been mixed in, or the nail has been hammered where there is no stud, then I tend to take a look at the instructions a little more closely…maybe.

So I decided to try my hand and my old sewing machine at making some “Boppy” covers for our upcoming visit with our new granddaughter.  For the uninitiated, “Boppy” is the brand name given to a convenient donut-shaped pillow for nursing mothers, one of which our daughter ordered and which we were packing to bring out to her.  So I thought I would get some cute little covers to go with it.  Being the “frugal” (that’s a nice word, I’ll leave it at that) grandmother that I am, I decided to make the covers myself rather than spend part of the kid’s future college fund by purchasing them online. 

Never mind the fact that Continue reading “Old machine, new instructions”

Please and thank you…or not

IMG_20150103_172451138

“And I didn’t even get a thank you note!”

‘Fess up.  How many times have you thought that, or some version of it?  You let someone cut in line in a traffic jam, and instead of them giving you a polite wave, the guy behind you gives you a not-so-polite one finger salute.  That’s what I’m talking about.  Just a little appreciation for the sacrifice, if you don’t mind.  At least, that’s what mom taught me back in the day.

Here’s another good one—you choose to start this tithing thing to your church, and end up getting a rejection notice from your insurance company about those impacted wisdom teeth you just had removed.  Now who you gonna aim your frustration at, hmmm??

And yet, for some wisdom beyond Continue reading “Please and thank you…or not”