Well, I was going to try and keep up on blogging a little more regularly then this, but sometimes time gets away from us. As it is, it has been a busy enough week, despite the lack of blog posts. I fear, however, that my lack of public posting leads people to wonder away or think I do not write.
I am a "stewer".
By that I mean that even when there is nothing displayed publicly, it hardly means that there is nothing to display. It simple means it is not fit for public YET, or that I still am working out a few kinks. So things not only have to be chewed, and re-chewed like the proverbial cud of a cow, but they have to stew or ruminate for a while even once pen has been put to paper (or in this case, fingers to keyboard).
I assure you that there are at least two other posts (for example) that that have been in the works this last week, they just have not been made public yet. One has barely the point-notes to it as I have yet to get the wording beyond that to come out correctly. While the other post was a thought I had stewing for a couple days after I read something in a devotional, that unfortunately I seem to have misplaced so now I can not add the quote that begat the stew in the first place and I feel, therefore, it is unworthy of posting until I have located that quote (which I believe God will provide its discovery when it is best to post it).
You see, I believe God orchestrates things like that for a reason. I do not believe that everything should be shared publicly, immediately.
After all, even Mary the mother of Jesus, is said to have pondered "these things in her heart." (Luke 2:19)
I believe that no matter what a person is going through, if they write songs in the highs, then they should write songs in the lows too. If they write stories, or poems, or whatever they do to express themselves in the highs, they should also do it in the lows. Of course, I do not recommend publishing such things, but speaking from experience, so many things get worked out in a person's heart when they let it out. Before God.
Take the Psalmists' for example. I have always loved how, even in the midst of whatever, they would sing it out. It often started out awful, with words equivalent to "kill my oppressors, Oh God." But in the end, somehow, their heart was always turned back to praising God for the good things. For God being God. Or something like that.
I don't, of course recommend publishing such things or venting them on Facebook (seriously, enough people do that already). But I have found, because I am a writer in many facets, including song, that when I go before God and let it out, somehow in the end--perhaps it is in saying His name alone so much?--I am drawn back to who He is, His goodness, and suddenly I find my worries are not so large. Peace overtakes my heart, and I know that He has is all taken care of.
So I let things ruminate, or stew (perhaps that is not a good word, as it has such connotations like brewing to "blow a fuse", but bear with me), or I chew the cud, on things for a long while and figure that when it is time--like when God helps me find that quote--then it is time to share with other's. Share on here, or wherever. But not until my focus is back on His goodness, His love, even in the midst of the pain or whatever.
A personal example would be from a trip to Honduras a few years ago, where I was invited to preach during a youth service. That sermon was something that had started to stir in my heart during a personal devotion almost six months before that. Something personal that I could not shake or let go, and was constantly drawn back to thinking on, pondering, rewording it in my head, and when I was told "we need a preacher for the service," my heart heard the words "trust me, it's ready."
It was not so much that I knew I could say the right words. It was more like, because I had pondered on it enough, I could sit back, relax, and God could say just what needed to be said. As though, like a stew, it had sat simmering enough that just the right flavors would be brought to the forefront.
Just what needed to come out, and nothing more. Nothing less.
I have never been a spontaneous sort, even in my best or healthiest of years. But when it is time, what needs to be there is ready for the seemingly instantaneous moment.
I believe that if more people took a word from Mary's example, or the idea from the Psalmists, there would be less angst displayed on Facebook and the like. We should let things be pondered, until they are ready--if they are to ever be. And, of course, we should remember that even when displaying our "humanity" our "weaknesses" to show that even we are not perfect, the focus should inevitably, somehow, be centered on God. And sometimes that can not happen without some amount of rumination, letting God sift out the hurt or angst from the wisdom...
So during any of my Online-public areas of silence, do not fret or forget me, rather know that like the Psalmists or Mary, I am hardly quiet, I am just privately cultivating...something...I hardly expect perfectionism, but I anticipate a God-focus...a great stew where even the salt (of tears/sorrow) draws out the best flavors (deliverance/acceptance/love/etc)...
Until next time...
Friday, February 28
Well, I was going to try and keep up on blogging a little more regularly then this, but sometimes time gets away from us. As it is, it has been a busy enough week, despite the lack of blog posts. I fear, however, that my lack of public posting leads people to wonder away or think I do not write.
Sunday, February 23
I have got to say that after having been plowing through Leviticus the last couple of days, I am so grateful Jesus came and died and rose again so that we could be made clean, anew, set apart or sanctified and have a relationship with Him. Because the whole process of getting purified in the Old Testament, just reading it even, is tiring! Imagine having to weed through your animals for a perfect, unblemished one, then take it to the tabernacle for the whole process. Making sure you do exactly what you need to with certain parts, etc, and don't confuse them. Certain animals or certain process for certain sins or to be cleansed after one has been sick, etc. Yikes! We will not even mention about the shaving of all one's hair that I just started to get into in today's Bible reading--eyebrows even...
Have I mentioned how thankful I am to have a good day with friends and know that I can crawl into my Daddy-God's lap, rest my head on his shoulder at the end of the day, without having to think twice about whether I picked up a head cold on the way. I can be as tired as I want, and I do not have to exhaust myself before I can be considered clean enough to talk to Him. Even to just thank Him for a great day...
I do wonder what the process of purification while having a disease like Arthritis would have entitled in the O.T.? I am sure it required work...
Well, let us just say that "thanks" hardly suffices, but I am so thankful He did all the work so that in just a few minutes I can crawl contently into my Daddy-God's lap and sleep peacefully through the night...
Thursday, February 20
All too often the idea comes to me as someone asks for me to pray for them as they are need of a miracle. The thought is of course one we have probably all thought at one point or another, one that is ingrained in our minds: How can I ask for this, when I am so obvious broken.
Basically, when someone asks for me to pray for a physical ailment, my mind looks at my deformed body, my crippled fingers, it looks inside to where it feels intense pain on any number of joints at one given moment, and thinks "how can I expect to see someone healed, when obviously I am not? How can I do this, when I do not have enough faith [or whatever] to be healed too?"
I was sitting down to lunch the other day with a couple of friends and one of them mentioned her own struggles. Mentioned that once she had a prophet say she would lay hands on the sick, those with her same ailment, and see them delivered. And then she added, "but of course I have to get myself better first. And once I am eating healthier, and better physically and mentally, I will lay hands on the sick."
It is funny how we lay everything so contingent on ourselves.
Do you see how often the word "I" was used?
Where is God in that?
I am quite sure that even if I stood before you, totally and obviously healed physically, that I could still find something broken somewhere that in my mind would disqualify me from laying hands on the sick and seeing them healed.
Yet, broken as I might be, I have seen others healed.
It leaves me with only thought...perhaps it is not contingent on me or my abilities after all.
"When we are weak, He is strong." "When we become less, He becomes more." Perhaps those words mean more than I thought?
Perhaps it is because I am broken that God can use me? After all, I can assure anyone who asks, that it had nothing to do with my faith, my gift, or my talent, let alone my healing. Just take a look at me and tell me how I could have done any of it?
I think it would be best to stop limiting God to our abilities, our looks, our...whatever...and just step back and let Him work. If in the process He wishes to borrow my deformed hands to see His work done, then so be it!
Who am I? Broken.
Who is He?
Tuesday, February 18
I love playing fetch with Lance! He has the best expressions...He's all panting and excited as he releases the ball to my hand and sits, patiently, and yet easily distracted. Until I ask if he's ready. Then the tongue goes back in the mouth as his muscles tense and every focus is on me, ready to jump at the slightest movement. But he won't leave his spot until I say "go get it," which of course I don't tease him (too much) and usually say as I toss the ball...
The reaction I love the most is suddenly how focused he becomes at the word "Ready?" Nothing else matters then but focusing on me, waiting for the call to "go"...I'm thinking that is how focused we should be on God, eh? We should respond to His morning wake-up call of "ready?" with focus and determination, unwavering from Him as we wait for His "go".
(Perhaps we can learn something from Lance, then, too, as it seems like nothing else makes Lance happier then bringing back the prize [the ball], no matter the cost, and starting anew...)
Are you ready?
Monday, February 17
Had another interesting, puzzling, thought that raised so many more questions in my mind...
We say that God chooses to restrict Himself to needing and using us, His people, as His hands, His feet, His mouthpiece, etc.
Yet, there are stories where angels have appeared as guards and helped people escape through a coup. Or where He appeared in a dream or vision and talked to an unbeliever, causing them to decide to seek out Christianity. And other such stories...
In other words, more often then not, God might choose to restrict Himself to using us, but He can and does sometimes use other methods.
However, there is one thing that He chooses to restrict Himself to that there is no alternative.
He stands outside of time. He can make sure everything happens just the way He needs or wants it to, the first time. There is no reason to do a do-over...
I have never heard of anyone getting on their knees today, begging for something to appear in their cupboard that, well, they forgot they needed, but they needed it yesterday.
"Hey, when did that get there?"
"Don't you remember? Someone gave it to you yesterday/"
"Uhm, no. I'm pretty sure nobody did; it was not even there two minutes ago or I would not have been begging God for it now."
I have heard of God suddenly softening a heart if there was forgotten due-date and grace was provided for allowance to give it tomorrow or something. I have heard of God working miracles with time in that way. But never by going back in time, as it were.
There is a movie I love to watch called Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. (There are two movies; I'm referring to the first one). The interesting thing is the whole movie focuses on solving the puzzles to finally achieve this gift that is referred to on several occasions as giving the possessor the "power of God." They are, of course, referring to time. If they can do what needs to be done in the time it needs to be done in, the one who holds the special object can have the gift of time and can go back and change whatever they want, do whatever they want. No restrictions. They stand outside of time.
Time seems to be the one thing God restricts Himself into, and the one thing we can only dream to achieve...
And I wonder...why is that? Why is that the one way He chooses to restrict Himself? Why is it that outside of movies and the imagination, I have never heard anything about a time-warp like the above 'mini-story'?
Even our moments of panic and suddenly pleading (because something had a due date of yesterday) still works out better when all is said and done, somehow. And that is the miracle. The one thing God orchestrates, every minute of every day, that we take for granted and never see...The miracle of time. Perfected, the first time.
Sunday, February 16
"It's not the power of the curse - it's the power you give the curse."
I like that quote; but I like the movie it comes from for two reasons...
For anyone who is unfamiliar with the quote, it comes from the movie Penelope. It's about a girl born with the curse of a pig-face (nose and ears like a pig). She does what most girls do, of course, and believes that the curse will be broken once she marries (the curse said it would be broken when one of her own kind --a blue-blood-- loves her).
Too many romance movies say at the end (just after the wedding), "they lived happily ever after."
It's a popular idea, and definitely an easier one to believe. Easier, because it requires little work on our own part; once we are married "life beings", everything becomes perfect, happy, better...
I am always reminded of what a professor at college once said in talking about marriage: "two halves, don't make a whole."
I correlate it to the idea of book-end. Like contacts, it's hard to say without the 's' at the end, but bear with me here...
I own a wonderful bookend. It's country-western themed with a beautiful cowboy boot, spurs and all, nestled against the wooden side. I love it, and it fits right on my book shelf, supporting the books against the side-wall of the shelf. It is surrounded by my other country-western and wanna-be-Texan themed nick-knacks.
I also own another bookend, a set of bookends actually. They sit on my "fantasy" themed bookshelf holding up the Lord of The Rings, Narnia, and other such books. In fact, it is a set from the Hobbit, the one end being Bilbo inside his hobbit-hole, heading towards the door to answer, because on the opposite side of the door--the other bookend--standing in the garden outside the door is Gandalf rapping the door with his stick.
Any of those bookends can stand alone. A little nicked, bruised, and well-worn (the point on Gandalf's hat has been re-wired on many a time), but they are still individual bookend (no 's'). As long as they are holding the books up against a wall or the side of the shelf, they can work, alone.
If one of the bookends was only a half, could it hold anything up? If it was just the bottom board, would not the books just fall onto the wood? Or if it was just the side board, would it not topple over with the books? Or just the figure in the middle (boot, Gandalf, whatever), could it be of any use aside from just another nick-knack on the shelf?
That is what, I believe, the professor meant in college.
We should not need another person to complete us. With God (the wall, in the bookend example), we are complete.
Yes, the Hobbit bookends are more complete, together. Separately they work, they can support books, but together they tell a complete story that they can not, separately.
"Two halves, don't make a whole..." when it comes to marriage. But two wholes, make a better whole.
We may not need the other person, but the other person makes us better for it.
Saturday, February 15
It appears as though God did not want to appoint a king over Israel, until Israel begged God for a king. Something about needing to see it in the flesh, or perhaps to have someone else speak and hear God for them so they no longer have to worry about a relationship with Him. Who knows...
Friday, February 14
I have always been a bit on the weird side of things. I love being alone, dating myself (as some call it), deciding when I want to do something--or skip or procrastinate--and knowing immediately whether it will fit in my schedule or budget, etc. It is nice.
I, of course, am accountable to people for things that are important. But things like whether I swept the whole floor today, or just did a cursory sweep, or none at all. Who is to care or know when nobody else is around? Of course I ca not stand something being left undone for too long (my near-OCD kicks in), but I have the option to leave it if I want.
I can get an art project out (like scrapbooking) and know that nobody will complain if I leave it out, unfinished, for however many days in a row I need to finish it. Nobody will find fault with it, either, or ruin it because they did not see it laying there when they threw their coat across the dining room table.
Yes, being single, having my own apartment, has soooo many advantages.
Aside from events, or social outings I go to or plan and host, I can pretty much do what I want, when I want. Go to bed, get up, eat, clean, whenever. If the fancy should strike me, I might dust at 2am.
When I feel like seeing a certain movie, I only have to check the ratings to see if its something I would like, without having to think about who else might see it or dislike/disapprove of it (ie. I can finally watch LOTR again!). And if by some misfortune I start watching something on Netflix that half-way through, I find I can not stand it or it takes an unexpected, go-against-my-moral-boundary twist, I can turn it off without having to deal with complaints as to "We have watched this far, lets finish it" or needing to explain myself. I can just turn it off in the middle.
I can plan one of those "self-dates" and change my mind at the last minute. I went once to a theater for one movie, and decided to do two in a row, skip the dinner afterward, but get popcorn instead--it was a special deal-day at theater where drinks and popcorn were just a $1 anyway.
Since I already know myself, I already know how I think or reason or the why's and why-nots. So no complaints or explanations that most would not understand anyway.
I have even worried about what I would do when I married, since I love alone time as much as socializing! Marriage, while having its benefits, I am sure, has always seemed a bit restrictive to me. Having someone come home to me e-v-e-r-y evening after work? Really? Argh! It would mean only a few hours to myself, and those would be hours I would probably use to clean or cook so the house would be perfect for him each evening, except how then would I find time that would be just mine and nonrestrictive? To use how I wanted?
Yeah, I am sure there are perks to married life, and someday I am sure I will sing a different tune. But for now, I have always loved being single, being alone, having my own domain.
I have spent many a holiday alone, even, and not because I was not invited to something, but just because I prefer it!
This last Christmas I told all my relatives I wanted to spend alone. I did end up Skype-ing a sister in the early morning, though, but then without any other scheduled event, I could go back to bed and sleep way in. And I wrung in this last New Year's by marathon-ing cheesy romantic Christmas movies on Netflix, keeping an eye on the clock, and texting a sister to make sure she was still awake.
Lonely? I do not even understand the word, usually.
Alone, yes. But lonely? Never. I can be quit an amusing person!
In the past, I used to tease my single friends as Valentine's day would creep up on us, because of how emotionally distraught they would get over being single on such a romantic holiday. Or whatever it was they used to say.
I did not understand what the turmoil was all about.
Valentine was a guy who died without ever being with the love of his life. So if anything, it is a holiday celebrating unrequited love, in my opinion, and who wants to celebrate that? Getting engaged, dating, etc on such a holiday just seemed like a bad idea, not to mentioned cliche and over-done! My thought was that a couple should pick a day for themselves, their own holiday, and make it special...
My father has always been my "Valentine," if I ever counted anyone, because from the time I started college and ever since, he has given me a carnation or two to stick in a vase, or a small box of my favorite chocolates, or some other favorite treat, or any combination of the sort. He was my "Valentine" even before movies like Courageous said that the father should be their daughter's first Valentine/date, and thereby set a standard/idea of what the daughter should look for.
I have always enjoyed my single-ness.
So why am I writing, then?
Simple...because this year it bothers me.
I know, I have turned into a cliche...or worse, become just like every single person from any cheesy romantic movie...
I do not know if it bothers me because my hormones are all out of whack; if it is from being unusually snow-bound so much this year. That in about seven months I hit the big uh-oh (3-0) for a single person. That I have gone through a mental list in my head of all my former-single friends and it keeps reading like this "married, significant other, dating, married, married, engaged, married, married, oh and married." We will not even think about the fact that way too many of my married friends are on their what, fourth kid, already? Anyway, whatever it is, this year as Valentine's day sneaks up on me, it actually bothers me!
This year I actually feel sad that I have never gotten to know what it is like to even date, let alone be a couple on any holiday. I watch my friends, hear about their plans, and while I am happy for them (some of them are just down-right straight-from-a-movie adorable over it!), but I actually wonder what it would be like from the inside--their side--of things.
I have never dated, never had a boyfriend, never courted, never been engaged, etc (I am sure you get the point)...but I have never minded...
Because now as midnight ticks up, and Valentine's Day starts -- for many other's in a few hours, when they wake up-- I am curious to know what it is like. Is it like Christmas morning for a child? Are you giddy to know what your spouse has planned for you? Excited with anticipation for work to end in the afternoon to find out? Does the day just seem to crawl by until then? Or does everything seem airy and better, like floating on a cloud, just from waiting? Or are you the planner, and thinking through every detail, just waiting with glee to see the look on your spouse's face when you give her that little thing she has been wanting? Or when you tell her you got someone to babysit the kiddos so you could have a simple evening out?
I am curious to know what it is like...and despite all the stories I hear or read or see, nothing will be the same as when I have actually stood on that end of things...and this year, I really wish I was standing over there.
The Christian radio station gave a good suggestion in that it was reminding people to not forget their single friends on Valentine's Day; perhaps by taking them out for dinner, or just dropping by to give them a little something--even just a hug--and let them know you appreciate their friendship, etc...And if I had a car, I would totally be all over that...Besides that, like I said earlier, I do not have any single friends that I can recall; nor can I figure out why a married person, friend of mine or not, would want to take time from the one day a year for the married people to celebrate being married to their best friend to spend some of it with a single friend.
My married, or otherwise engaged, friends, go and have fun this Valentine's Day. Enjoy yourself and your significant other. That is what the day is for...Just, for me, when the day is past, do not forget to tell me about it and perhaps, remember me in your prayers so that maybe next time I will join you with stories to tell, too.
Sunday, February 9
What am I saying? Why would I say that?
Let me back up and explain a little about myself for those who do not know me too well or have not known me since infancy.
At eighteen months old I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA). It is a painful disease that has even tried to kill me twice in my early childhood. I've had years, though, where I did not know pain; years when I could almost be 'normal'. But it never seems to last.
What? Where's my faith?
That's a question I've been asking myself for the last couple years, because as you've probably noticed my blogs and missions trips just haven't been happening and perhaps it has led y'all to wonder what's going on? And where have I been?
I was healed from a wheelchair, just in time for college and missions trips--living my dreams. And while the affects on my joints (subluxation and several fused joints) nor ont he muscles (JRA sometimes wears out or 'eats away' at the muscles near the joints it attacks), the pain was gone and I believed that God had healed me from JRA and it was only a matter of time before He would finish what He started and fix the after-affects on my joints, too.
And then a couple years ago that all changed when the pain started coming back.
First I questioned acknowledging the pain. Questioned medicine. Questioned my faith. And ultimately what people would say or think, knowing my testimony, if I ever said I was in pain or that "it's back".
Where is my faith? What did I do wrong? Or what can I do to make it right?
And especially, "how can I still find myself drawn to pray for another, when obviously I'm in serious pain?"
How could God use me, if I am broken?
But then today in church, as we were worshiping, I was thinking about a child who was recently diagnosed with a debilitating disease and how much I wanted to give her some advice, some faith, and hope. Help her to know the Love I have come to know through my own pain.
And then as we sang the above song, I found myself bawling as all I could think about was how grateful I am to know pain! How it shaped my childhood in a way nobody else, perhaps would ever know or understand. How God blessed and spoke to me through it; a relationship I am not certain I would have today if not for the pain giving me pause, time, to just be...with Him.
When a person is in pain, the first thing one does is search for a relief.
"Where is that bottle of Tylenol?"
"Where did I leave that cold compress?"
"What of the splint or brace?"
"Would you give me a foot-rub, please?"
Essentially, "How can I relieve this pain? Instantly?"
But those who know pain, know like I do that some pain cannot be 'ride of'. Some pain can only be muffled or suppressed, but is still very much there. It's still screaming, even underneath the "blanket" or behind the "gag". It's still kicking and fighting against the ropes of pain relievers, compresses, and rubs that hold, temporarily. It's still there, just a little bit quieter.
When I was a child, one of my earliest memory is hearing my body fight to breath as the disease gripped my vocal chords and thwarted each attempted breath. yet, I do not remember the pain nor fear of that moment, but rather the comfort, peace, and ultimately Love as I sat above the ambulance in my Father-God's reassuring embrace.
He took over where humans and all our "advances" fail.
He never left me, nor forsook me.
When I would crawl into bed at night, and the pressure of the days' activities would release from my joints, leaving me in such unbearable pain. When it hurt too much to be touched or held, and I would cry myself to sleep, unable to find relief. I can say that I know what it is like when the very second I would close my eyes, I would see Jesus' comforting face before me. To experience love so deep, it could touch the depths of my soul where nothing, not even pain, could. When no one else could, He would hold me in His arms and rock me to sleep, leading me to a place of peace despite the pain in my joints.
I have had Him hold my hand in church services and take me to a garden, where we would dance together and laugh. And yet all the while I was in a wheelchair and my hands ached too much to even shake another's in greeting.
If there is a blessing in pain, if God can truly work all things for His good, then it is this: that I have known the depths of His Love. And yet, even know, I am still learning more of just how deep it goes. Of where it reaches. How...I wish I knew.
This I have learned. This I know from having experienced pain. From having it again. It constantly draws me back to God. And gives me plenty of time to just sit in His presence as it resets the priorities in my life...
You may be fortunate to have never experienced such pain that could make a person scream out in their sleep...but then are you really fortunate?
I have laid hands on the sick and seen them healed. A cross-eyed, partially blind little girl has suddenly looked me in the eyes. All while my knees were aching so much I could barely stand as I prayed.
And it has nothing to do with me. How broken or crippled I appear.
It has everything to do with...
Saturday, February 1
I was petting Lance and a thought suddenly struck me as I was observing his markings...
See, Lance has a birthmark that, to me, sets him apart and makes him adorable (a brown patch near his rump), yet it would disqualify him from being a show-dog. But does he even know, or care? Or, for that matter, in everything I've read about understanding dogs, when have they mentioned that dogs talk among each other and complain about their abnormalities or differences? Their noses are too long, or short? What of the length of their hair? Color or closeness of their eyes? Etc? ...Nope...Instead all I hear about is how the dog's first thought or concern is pleasing it's "parent"/owner...
And I wonder...what it would be like if we as Christians stopped focusing so much on our outward -- the spots, speckles, and flaws we can't really change (like the Davis-ski-slope some call a nose?) -- and just focused on pleasing our Father God?
I wouldn't change a thing about Lance's appearance...from his floppy ears, to his bluetick legs, or the brown patch, or...