Pass me the brush

paint1It’s done!!  We were able to get the caution strip painted by the Daycare/Preschool’s new parking area BEFORE the doors opened on Monday morning.  We had already had a couple of people trip up on the overhanging lip to the sidewalk, so this really needed to be done.

Others in the church had helped lay the concrete.  They had also researched and provided what was needed for the paint job. I guess I was the erstwhile crew-chief for this part, so I got there early to sweep and tape, when another church member showed up to help.  As he started on one end and I on the other, I yelled down to him that I had never painted concrete before, so if he had any suggestions…

“Just start painting!”

Hmmm..I liked that.  Do the best you can with what you have and keep the main directive in mind, i.e., prevent injury with a warning stripe before the kids come on Monday. 

And we had some pretty good help, I want you to know!

Okay, so it wasn’t perfect, but it’s not like we were asked to do brain surgery.  There may need to be a few touch ups later.  But mission accomplished, and actually quite well, if I do say so myself!

Nehemiah also had a task that laid heavily on his heart—rebuild the protective wall around Jerusalem. Importantly, he also had a clear directive from God AND confirmation to match the weight of the task before him AND he had done his research, which was actually ongoing, as the narrative continues.  (Slightly more than painting a church caution strip.)

Once construction started, there was immediate backlash:

Sanballat was very angry when he learned that we were rebuilding the wall. He flew into a rage and mocked the Jews, saying in front of his friends and the Samarian army officers, “What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they’re doing? Do they think they can build the wall in a single day by just offering a few sacrifices?  Do they actually think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap— and charred ones at that?”

I find this to be such a perfect picture of how our enemy, our truest enemy that is—Satan, reacts when we begin the task God has given us to do.  Note, however, it is (1) a directive from God, and (2) it has been confirmed to the level of the task’s weight, and (3) the pre-project research had been done (“counting the cost” and all that). 

Then I just have to start “painting”.  God is more than able to touch up a few strokes of misplaced color along the way.

Nehemiah 4:1,2 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’s my brush?

paint-117599_1280As I write this, I’m waiting for a phone call.  Our church recently completed pouring concrete for a much-needed upgrade on the parking spaces by the daycare facility.  They were asking for help and so, although Bob and I have absolutely no experience in these things, we showed up to see what we could do, which was as expected—very little.  So I provided food for the workers for a few days. 

Now some painting needs to be done, a yellow caution strip to prevent tripping over the little step-up to the sidewalk.  Again, I’ve never painted on concrete, but put a brush in my hand and tell me where and I might actually make a small contribution!  (Or a mess, or both…) Continue reading “Where’s my brush?”

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.

Just say it

wood 2

Face it, there are just some things we don’t like to admit.

I think I’m getting pretty good at the phrase, “I’m sorry”.  If something goes wrong, I just kind of figure it’s probably my fault.  There’s an art to apologizing and I’ve had plenty of practice. 

I’m also quite adept at “no”, as in, “I can’t accommodate what you want me to do at this time.”  That just has to do with personal boundaries and allocation of resources, also a finely honed skill. 

Possibly near to the top of the list of difficult things to say is Continue reading “Just say it”

Mud Pies, and other delicacies—

garden lastMy two-year-old granddaughter likes to play in the dirt.  (Of course, so does her grandmother, but I rationalize my behavior by presumptuously calling it “gardening”.)

As a doting grandma, I post this photo with her mother’s permission:

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Another recently shared video showed her working in the dirt, and when asked what she was doing, she replied, “I’m making honey!”

Now, THAT would be a bit of a creative miracle.  But then, come to think of it, our original form likewise came from the dirt.

Out of the mouths of babes…..

I read another’s comment that perhaps Continue reading “Mud Pies, and other delicacies—”

Providential mathematics (or, holy ‘rithmatic)

wood 2

My dad is a mechanical engineer, a P.E. to be exact, and those from engineering schools will understand what that means.  I grew up with T-squares, and triangles, and old Boilermaker bookcovers from the 50’s.  Dad’s been retired for years, but that part of his huge legacy lives on in me, (as well as my brother, also an M.E. from Purdue, who coined the phrase, “may the Great Rhombus bend your straightedge”.) Dad, in his own brand of jocularity, once told me I could go to any university of my choosing as long as it was Purdue, and could be anything I wanted, as long as it was an engineer. slide-rule-332493_1280

HA!  Good try, Dad.  I have yet to experience a yearning for calculus.

That’s the context; here’s the story:

Mom and Dad, being the wonderful parents they were to four teenagers, were attending the Continue reading “Providential mathematics (or, holy ‘rithmatic)”

The “Two-paw” Approach

I’m home from church this morning.  Wow, the things we take for granted.  I’ve been muscling through a serious migraine which hit at the tail end of some sort of viral illness, so basically my Spring Break from my day job as a school nurse has been pretty well tanked.  Tomorrow I go back to work, I hope.  But the church worship team I’m a part of, including my dear bass-player husband, must go on without me.  As usual, I’m feeling some twinges of guilt, kind of like the remainders of the migraine, which is in its third day.  The “coulda-shoulda’s”  try to creep up behind my soul like the subtle but ominous discomfort in the back of my skull.  But that’s another whole story.

Suffice it to say, I’m home alone now.  Well, not really.  Buckley is quite happy that he has company this morning.  Normally, he’s home alone at this time on Sunday morning, so he’s feeling pretty okay with this arrangement. 

But it’s Sunday morning, so I “could/should” be doing something, you know, Sunday-ish.  I’m out of my routine and my element right now.  So I tried reading, but got up to take some more migraine medicine after Bob left for church.  I’ve prayed, some.  Thought I could go out to get a little exercise with the Buck, as that can help the headache, but Bob took the “dog” car, and it’s snowing/raining/sleeting out with gusts up to 30mph, not that Buck would mind at all.  This year, March is blowing in like a lion, a very cold lion. 

So I sit with my tablet to read—a great book on prayer a might add, by an old guy named Andrew Murray—and Buck decides it’s time for, well, it’s just time for him.  First, he sits at my feet and gazes up at me with those big brown eyes.  Head strokes and smooches, but evidently that’s not enough.  I’m ready now to read, but next up comes the paw, and he has big ones.  This is, of course, only the precursor to the whole front half of a 60-pound mutt in my lap, which is not conducive to reading, much less praying.  We’ve decided that one of his superhero powers is his irresistible cuteness which draws your attention away from what you should/could (those words again!) be doing.  I succumb, not only for his desire for me, but for my desire for him.

As usual, it hits me when I’m not looking for it, that realization that God is trying to show me something despite my best efforts to come up with something on my own:

  • God wants us to “bother” Him, to “interrupt” Him. Of course, He probably wouldn’t use those words to describe our coming to Him as such. I am reminded of the non-Jewish woman who reverently but assertively approached Jesus for her child’s healing.  At first, Jesus seems to divert her by mentioning something about “throwing the children’s bread to the dogs.”  Now c’mon, really.  If that had been said in our 21st century hearing, it would have been plastered all over the news media as one of the biggest political gaffs ever!  Anti-discrimination suits would abound, effigies would be ignited, sanctions would be imposed…and we would have all missed the point by a long shot.  Jesus had no intention of denying this caring mother of what she was so desperately seeking .  But He did need for her to see for herself how desperately she wanted it.  Was she willing to persist in the face of humility?  Was the love for her child more important to her than her own pride?  Thank God, the answer to both soul-wrenching questions was a resounding YES.  In dog-world, to which she was compared by the Lord Himself, when the one-paw approach was not enough, she went to the “two-paws-in-your-lap” strategy, and the Son of God loved it.
  • We are irresistible to God, our Father. Yes, even though Buckley’s adoration of his humans has much to do with providing his food and his fun, it’s apparent that there is something more that sparks his furry love for us. All it takes is for my husband to walk into the room for a thump-thump-thump with the tail to begin, and as we say in our house, “the tail does not lie”.  Likewise, even when we come to God from a beginning point of need, that beginning point is accepted and irresistible to Him.  Now granted, maturity of relationship demands more than the Santa Claus mentality.  Even our dog has learned that, and has learned to enjoy our companionship beyond mere provision.  Sometimes this maturity takes an “in-Your-lap” technique, a heart-after-Your-heart attitude, an “I-don’t-care-what-the-final-decision-is-or-how-long-it-takes-just-let-me-be-with-You-no-matter-what” approach.  To heaven, such a determination is, well, irresistible.

The March snow is still falling at about a 45 degree angle, and the service at church starts in about sixty seconds.  That’s too many numbers for me to deal with right now.  Besides, I think I just did what God wanted me to do at this time for this morning.  The Buck sleeps peacefully on the floor next to me as the antique school clock hanging on my wall ticks steadily on.  It reminds me that school starts again tomorrow, but this morning I have alone-time with God, with both paws in His lap.

Excerpt from God Loves Dogs, by Dawn Jones

#Godlovesdogs #relationship #mutt

No pain/no gain–where’d THAT come from??

IMG_20150127_165010447
The famous Missouri KATY Trail!

 

Just had my long-awaited and summarily needed doctor’s appointment for a couple of whining and complaining knees. This had begun to make itself known years ago, along with several other things; it’s like I turned 31 and the warranty on my body expired.  I honestly don’t care too much about doing any more 5-K’s—I hated running when even when I was in high school sports,(which wasn’t much back in the 70’s compared to today’s competitive environment.)  I would, however, like to walk without a limp, and pursue terrain hiking and off-road biking a little more than I have so far.

Unfortunately, one of our daughters has inherited her mom’s inconvenient orthopaedic anomaly, and on top of that, was considerably more athletic in high school.  There wear and tear on her knees drove her to more drastic measures at her young age, and in the process of physical therapy she was given a series of exercises that are a bit different from our culture’s machismo attitude of “no pain, no gain” mentality.   No weights, at least to begin with, no gym facility fees, just simple, isometric, and easy things to do for rehab.  In fact, she confessed that when she had stopped doing the prescribed exercises (given to her by the professional experts, I might underline, they seemed too easy) the difficulties began to return, and were improved when she started again.  Hmmm…

Similarly, we tend to think that being with God has to be hard.  I’m not knocking those that do the 40-day fasting kind of thing, but it’s probably not a good place for most of us to start.  It’s easy to think that if I can’t be proficient in something immediately, then why bother?  Starting and “failing” (however you define that) and starting again; it’s just too discouraging.

What we tend to miss in this line of reasoning is that, when it comes to getting to know our true Father, failure is only defined as not starting at all, and or once started, being persistent even the “small” things.  There are lots of other strategies for this divine relationship that I would like to explore in this format….later.  But suffice it to say for now, that just getting started in a way that seems far too easy is the first step, with surprising results.

Now it’s time to do those wall sits that my husband has been telling me to do all along.  (I’ll probably never live THAT one down…)     –dawnlizjones