Monthly Archives: September 2009

Taste and See…

I love to watch my little girl eat dessert. If there really is such a thing as a sweet tooth and if it can be passed on like eye color, then she inherited hers from me. I inherited mine from my dad. I’m not sure who gave him his.

My girl doesn’t just eat her dessert. She relishes every single bite slowly and with great enthusiasm, especially if chocolate is involved. Many times I’ve looked across the table to see her little face turned toward the sky with her eyes closed and the spoon in her mouth. She’ll sigh with complete satisfaction and then dip her spoon in for another bite. A particularly good treat can take at least half an hour to consume. And you can be certain that she will leave nary a crumb or the slightest trace of any sweet stuff in her dish. If her mom would let her get away with licking her plate clean at a restaurant, she most assuredly would. Invariably when we’re watching her relish an after-dinner sweet, either my husband or I will remind the other of this scene from “What About Bob?”:

I would only be exaggerating slightly if I told you that watching that scene is a lot like watching my girl eat her dessert.

The last time we had dessert, this verse popped into my head:

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” (Psalm 34:8)

The Message says it this way:

“Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him.”

When I was looking for that verse, I ran across these verses several chapters over in Psalm 63:

“1 God—you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you!
I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God,
traveling across dry and weary deserts.

2-4 So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open,
drinking in your strength and glory.
In your generous love I am really living at last!
My lips brim praises like fountains.
I bless you every time I take a breath;
My arms wave like banners of praise to you.

5-8 I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy;
I smack my lips. It’s time to shout praises!
If I’m sleepless at midnight,
I spend the hours in grateful reflection.
Because you’ve always stood up for me,
I’m free to run and play.
I hold on to you for dear life,
and you hold me steady as a post.”

Have you ever noticed how many Bible verses compare our relationship to God with eating, especially in the Psalms?  Psalm 19:9-10 tells us that the rules of the Lord are sweeter than honey. Psalm 81:10 says that to open our mouths wide so the Lord can fill them. Look at Psalm 119:103:

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”

I’ve been thinking this morning: What if I relished God’s Word like my daughter savors dessert? What if I craved time with Him as much as I crave an ice cold Coke or candy corn mixed with peanuts? Wouldn’t it be great if I consumed so much of Him that I became spiritually fat? The food from His lips are the only treats I can enjoy without worrying about overindulging. You just can’t get enough of the dessert that he offers. So bring it on. I’d like seconds, please. And instead of gobbling it down so that I can check off my “Spent Time with God” box before I rush on to the next activity, I want to take my time and enjoy every single morsel. What about you? Want some dessert?

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What Difference Do It Make?

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I finished reading What Difference Do It Make? last night and was reminded why Same Kind of Different As Me is on my list of “Books You Should Read If We’re Going to Be Friends.”  One of the reasons I loved Same Kind of Different is that it is a multilayered book. One chapter convicted me about my blindness to the need around me while a few pages over I was praying for a deeper commitment to my marriage. What Difference Do It Make? has just as many layers. I was excited to catch up with the authors Ron Hall, a successful art dealer, and Denver Moore, a former homeless man. This book tells what they’ve been doing since the first book and adds more details to some of the stories we first heard in Same Kind of Different.

What Difference Do it Make? also includes accounts of people who read Same Kind of Different and were moved to make a difference. I was excited and convicted to read about people who did more than just read the book and pass it on to a few friends. Instead, they let the message of the book transform them and allowed God to use them as agents of change in their worlds. One of my favorite parts of the book details practical, step-by-step ways each church could make a significant difference in the problem of homelessness and provides counter arguments to many of the excuses we use to not get involved.

What Difference Do It Make? is available today. If you’ve read Same Kind of Different As Me, I’m certain you’ll want to read the sequel. If you haven’t read Same Kind of Different As Me, why not? While you’re buying it, pick up a copy of  What Difference Do It Make? because when you finish the first book, you’ll be left wanting more. What Difference Do It Make? is a great follow-up.

Go forth and read!

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I Didn’t Want You to Miss This

My friend Kellie (the one who wrote one of the posts I sent you to read) left this comment on the “Who Were You Born to Be?” post and I knew a lot of you probably wouldn’t see it. I told her that I wanted to copy and paste it here because I loved what she had to say and wanted you to see it in case you missed it.

Honestly, I read this post earlier and it has taken me all afternoon to think on it…
Mostly, because my dream was to be a dancer/performer…and I had to let go of that dream.
And I know that’s not what this post is really about, but sometimes (specifically, some certain-times-of-the-month times) I still ache from the loss of that dream.
But the cool thing is that that wasn’t God’s dream for me.
I dreamed of stardom, beauty, and grace. My dream was to be center-stage.
God’s dream for my life? One that is robust, and full, multi-faceted. It certainly wouldn’t have fit into my tiny, limited, romantic notion of what I thought I wanted my life to look like and be.
The life I live is His dream for me. And, now I wouldn’t have it any other way. Being a wife, mom, friend, and teacher is far more fitting than the slim picture I had envisioned for my life. Sometimes I still dream that pink, tulle-y, self-focused dream and I forget that God has called me to a deep and filling life. A humble life that isn’t supposed to hold ME at center-stage.
His dream for me is worth earthly dreams set aside.
The Lord reminded me of His call to this humble service this morning when I flipped to 1 Cor 1:26-31.

(This is the passage she’s talking about: 26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”)

Yes, I agree. There are times in life when God calls us to stop “doing,” especially when the “doing” isn’t the “best” for us. But often the “do/be” is one and the same: to sit with our faces lifted to Him, watching, waiting, listening for Him to tell us who we are, and who He purposes us to become.
And the good news? As long as we keep our eyes focused on the Lord, there are no worries about what we want to be when we grow up, cuz we’ll always be growing in Him.
Until one day…we will be right where we want to be, doing exactly what we were made to do, gazing face-to-face with the Person we want to see…
Dream fulfilled.
Love you.

Love you, too, Kellie!  Thanks for sharing your heart.

By the way, I have a friend who is the mother of a tweenaged girl. She asked me how to find a blog written by a mother with a tweenaged girl to maybe gain some insight and ideas. I asked the Tweeps and they suggested Vicki Courtney’s blog and http://www.RaisingFive.com. I also know that at least three of my Tweeps, Gretchen (www.jewelsinmycrownsomeday.blogspot.com) Lisa (www.lisaslittlesliceoflife.blogspot.com), and HisGirlAmber (www.hisgirlamber.com) have tweenagers. Do any of you know of any other good blogs my friend should read? Do any of you have tweenagers that I didn’t mention?

One more thing before I go….Marla Taviano is giving away a book about marriage that sounds like a good read. All you have to do is swing by and tell her your husband’s favorite food/restaurant and movie. She’s not stalking your husband. I think she’s just making conversation and trying not to get a hundred comments that say, “I would like to win this book.”

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Shows You Won’t Be Seeing During the New Fall TV Season

After weeks of repeats and lame summer shows, the new fall TV season has finally arrived. Now I could attempt to make you believe that I don’t watch TV. I could say that I’m usually reading Tozer and studying systematic theology but that would be a lie. I have a DVR and I’m not afraid to use it. Plus if I tried to make you think I’m too good to watch TV my Tweeps would probably call me out, especially since yesterday afternoon I engaged in a lengthy discussion with them about all things new-TV-season-related. I normally start the season attempting to watch way more shows than is actually possible. I don’t sweat it because one of two things usually happens. Either the show will turn out to be incredibly lame and I’ll quit watching or I’ll fall madly in love with the show and the network will cancel the show to punish me (Ed, Eli Stone, Life? I’ll always remember the times we had together.)

I think it would be fun to be one of the people who thinks up new ideas for TV shows. I’m sure those peoples have official titles but I don’t know what they’re called. Developers, maybe? I’m pretty sure they don’t write “Person Who Thinks Up New Ideas for TV Shows” on the Occupation line of all the forms they have to fill for their kids at the beginning of the school year. Then again, maybe they do.

If I were a Person Who Thinks Up New Ideas for TV Shows, I might create shows like this:

“Why Not? to Wear”:  Mom tries to explain why every red shirt doesn’t match every pair of red shorts, why wearing the same shirt three days in a row is….gross, and why putting clean clothes in the laundry hamper and dirty clothes back in your drawers makes Mom do that funny cry-talk thing.

“What’s That Smell?”: This is a competition show. Each week a team of players tries to figure out where and what that funky smell is. Did someone forget to turn the disposal on when they scraped the dinner plates? Did someone throw a banana peel in the recyclables can? Did someone forget to put the load from the washer into the dryer? Or does someone need to be a contestant on another great new show….

“You CAN Flush”: This is a motivational show led by a team of psychologists who work with young boys on their quest to become good flushers.  Episodes include “You Are Strong Enough to Push Down That Lever” and “No One Really Wants to See That.”

“Bedtime Survivor”: A battle of wills between parents and children to see who can Outwit, Outplay, and Outlast bedtime. Kids employ techniques such as One More Drink of Water, I Have to Go to the Bathroom, I Forgot That I Need an Egyptian Army Made From Popsicle Sticks and Felt for School Tomorrow, I Think I Have a Hangnail/a Tummyache/Coalmikinosis, and I Think a Dwarf is Trying to Break in Our House and Kidnap Me. Parents resort to Manipulation, Threats, Bribes, and sometimes Tears.

The Dinnerist: This show is a lot like the Mentalist, except instead of trying to help the police solve crimes, the Dinnerist helps Desperate Housewives (the real ones, not the ones who play them on TV on Hysteria Lane) know what they should cook for dinner. In the pilot episode the Dinnerist saves the day by creating a casserole from the only things the housewife had in her kitchen: old sandwich meat, half-and-half, marshmallows, and a can of cream of something.

Twenty Items or Less: We have enough lawyer, crime, and hospital shows. Why not set a show in the place where most moms can relate? The Grocery Store. The show could follow the lives of a group of shoppers who meet weekly in the store to discuss kids, laundry, and which laundry detergent smells the best.

If you were a Person Who Thinks Up New Ideas for TV Shows, what shows would you create?

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Who Were You Born to Be?

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My sweet little girl loves to dance. She never walks anywhere. She gets from Point A to Point B by way of a twirl, a skip, or a pirouette. She’s always creating new dance routines that she can’t wait to perform for us. Last week our school had Back to School Night. To begin the evening, we attended chapel together. All of the students stood on stage and led us in several songs. After chapel, we visited each little Snoodle’s classroom and then gathered together for an ice cream social. The next morning, we were eating breakfast together and the Princess said, “Last night was the best ever. I got to sing on stage and eat ice cream.”  Her needs are simple. She loves to perform and she loves chocolate.

I usually refer to her here as Princess Diva, but I’m afraid that title lends itself to a negative connotation where none is intended. She isn’t conceited or demanding. She is a little girl who loves her God, her life, and others, and has a healthy love of herself. She’s comfortable being the person God made her to be. I want to be just like her when I grow up. I pray that I will not pass down to her my own insecurities and struggles with liking the me God made.

Last Wednesday the Princess spent the afternoon with her best friend Ruby Jane. Ruby Jane is the one on the right in the picture. The Princess was pirouetting through the living room and Ruby Jane’s mom said, “You are such a graceful dancer.” Without missing a spin, my sweet girl said, “Yes. Did you know I was born to be a ballerina?”

We told that story to friends and family several times over the weekend so her comment has been always close to the front of my thoughts. Then yesterday, while I was trying to make a dent in the 700-plus blog posts that accumulated in my Google Reader last week, I read this post by one of my new favorite writers, Sarah Markley.  She actually wrote the post on the same day my girl had declared the purpose of her birth. The post isn’t long, so go read it now and when you get back we can discuss. I’ll wait here.

What did you think?  I know! Me, too! That last question has been setting up camp in my brain ever since I read it.

“Do you feel like you have to DO to BE?”

Yeah. I do. It’s a huge struggle for me. I’ll take it a step further. Not only do I have to DO in order to BE, I have to do it perfectly or it doesn’t count. That’s why my CoffeeGal Kellie’s post about her own struggle with perfection struck a nerve with me. I mentioned that post last week but if you haven’t read it yet, you really should. (Welcome to my blog. I don’t write new stuff here, but I do send you off to read really great stuff that other people have written!)

I believe this may be why I’m almost forty years old and I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up. I’ve tried being who I thought everyone else wanted me to be. I’ve learned that you can’t live dreams that never belonged to you. I also learned that I’m not a very good judge of exactly what everyone wants me to be and that it’s impossible to be all things to all people.

This is not a new struggle for me. I’ve talked about my disquiet in this area on this blog before. This blog’s very name was born out of my quest and heart-felt to know and to be who God created me to be.

Which brings me back to my big white board. Maybe being who God made me to be is a byproduct of my acceptance of God’s love for me coupled with my learning to love Him in return. Maybe what I have to DO in order to BE is as simple as being loved and loving back.

Look at this:

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:4-10. I added the italics for emphasis.)

According to my handy Bible commentary, the word “workmanship”  means “work of art” or “masterpiece.” We are His masterpieces. We are His “Water Lilies”….

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or  His “Starry Night” …..

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or His Sistine Chapel….

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….but even more glorious and more beautiful.

And the works that He has prepared for us that we should be walking? Those aren’t works we do for Him. They are works He performs in and through us when we get out of the way and let Him be God in our lives. I don’t want to oversimplify this, but again, I think if we could really let the knowledge of His love permeate every molecule of our being, we could not help but love Him more and our lives would be open vessels that He could use to pour out His love on this world. When we aren’t completely open to His love, it not only can’t fill us, but we stop the overflow that is meant to run from us to the places He has put us to live. Living out my faith means living out the love I have been extravagantly given from my Creator and the way I learn to love Him more is by getting to know Him more.

Am I missing something? Have I oversimplified this? Do you think this is the way to stop DOING in order to start BEING? Do any of you struggle with the DOING or do you really know who you? I’d really like to hear from you today.

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Happy Birthday to Me

It’s my birthday today. Not the anniversary of the day that I was born, but the anniversary of the day that I asked Jesus into my heart.  My dad has been a minister for longer than I have been alive so for a long time I didn’t know that people could actually decide not to go to church. I don’t remember not knowing Bible stories. I don’t know when I first heard that Jesus died on the cross,  but on September 18th, 1975, when I was five years old, my first grade teacher told that familiar story in a way that my heart heard for the first time.

For the first time, I realized that I was actually part of that story even though I wasn’t there when it happened.. Jesus died on the cross, not because He had done anything wrong, but because I had. He died for me. He wants to have a personal relationship with me. He wants me to live with Him forever. That day, I knelt with my teacher at her desk and asked Jesus to forgive me for my mistakes and I entered into a forever relationship with Him.

It’s been a wild and crazy ride.

Today I was thinking about all that has happened in that relationship that started thirty-four years ago. I was thinking specifically about the last nine months.  As I was thinking, I imagined a giant white board on which I had written all the information I know about God and my faith….my theology, if you will. Over the past few weeks and months, I feel like  a giant eraser has wiped the whole board clean. I have re-thought and questioned every thing I’ve ever believed….from Creation to the  End of Time.

Having your board wiped clean is scary. And unsettling. And a little frustrating. Several times I’ve started to rewrite what I think I believe and know on my board, but I just can’t. Instead, I’ve handed God my marker and I want Him to write on it whatever He wants to write. Want to know what He’s written so far?

I

LOVE

YOU

So simple, so basic, and yet those three one-syllable words are beyond my comprehension. I could spend the rest of my life trying to scratch the surface of what that one sentence means. I thought that by this point in my spiritual journey I would be pondering deeper, loftier truths, but right now I can’t get beyond the knowledge that God loves me. I thought that after almost four decades as a Christ follower I would be a little more together, but honestly, I’m a mess. But that’s really okay with me because I know that God is working in my life. Like I told a friend yesterday, I’m a peaceful wreck.

Why?

Because although not being in control of my own life was scary at first, the crazier life has become, the more relieved I am that I’m not the one in charge of this mess.

I resisted strongly at first. He has drawn me closer and closer to Him and I have pushed Him away. Why would He continue to pursue me? Why, when after all this time, I’m so far from who He created me to be, wouldn’t He just leave me to my own devices?

Why?

Read my board.

He loves me.

I’m so glad His love is true. I’m so glad that I’ve had thirty-four years in His family. I don’t know what else He’s planning to write on my board, but I’m ready. As my Jewish friends observe Rosh Hashanah today, a day of remembrance and repentance and the beginning of a new year, I am also remembering what God has done in my life, returning to the path He has made for me, and am expectantly awaiting His touch in my life as we begin this new season together.

I was so excited when I  heard Kirk Franklin’s remake of the Earth, Wind, and Fire song “September” because first, I love that song, but second, it fits my birthday perfectly. In celebration of today, I’ll leave you with this song to get my birthday party started. I double dog dare you to be still while you watch this:

Happy Weekend! and Happy Birthday to me!

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Post-Op Progress Report

This is the third time I’ve tried to post this only to have everything I’ve written disappear when I hit the “publish” button.

So to sum up, my dad’s surgery went very well and he may even be discharged this weekend!

Thank you so much for your encouragement and mostly for your prayers!

I love you all!

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