Monday, July 27, 2009

No Offense, But I Disagree

"The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce." -Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

Monday, July 20, 2009

One Small Step

Today marks the fortieth anniversary of astronaut Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. You all read about it in your history books. I watched it on television -- the one with knobs and tubes and an antenna, back when there were only three network channels and a lot of static.
I was just shy of sixteen years old, working two jobs in the summer. My dad was out of work and trying to start his own company. My older brother Bobby had just graduated from high school and trying his best to avoid being drafted and sent to Viet Nam.
I was sitting down in the basement, where the tile floor was cool on that hot summer's evening. And my three brothers and I watched that historic moment, "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." My grandmother, whom we called Mammy, sat down next to me, having just put in another load of wash. She was always moving, never sitting down, always busy, even though now at eighty she had every excuse. She had fought rheumatoid arthritis since she was 35, and her knees were as big as cantalopes. They didn't have knee replacement surgery in those days. She just kept pushing through her pain and would hit you with a stick if you told her to relax.
We watched Neil Armstrong on the fuzzy screen. I looked over. Mammy had tears on her cheeks. "What's the matter?" I asked.
"To think that I have gone from covered wagon to watching a man walk on the moon," she said. "Imagine that."
My life was about to change radically. In just a few weeks, my brother went away to college. And in just a couple of months, on her eighty-first birthday, Mammy passed away, as it says in the Bible, "full of days." Suddenly I was the oldest kid, Dad was traveling all the time, and Mom was trying to support us by giving violin lessons at 7 a.m. in our living room. I was a junior in high school, and life seemed so hard.
I remember so vividly that humid day in July. And it surprised me when I saw the headlines today, announcing the anniversary of the moon landing. I didn't read about it in the newspaper. I didn't see it on television. I read about it on the internet.
Imagine that.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Keep Wearing Those Socks

The timing of my mom's most recent post was really rather ironic.  That same morning, I had made an addition to my list of potential blogging topics.  The addition?  Why sometimes change is not always the best option.  Interesting.
Now, please don't misunderstand.  I completely agree with my mom in that sometimes, action needs to be taken.
But I think a significant difference exists between taking action and seeking out change.
And there will definitely be times when we seek change.  Times when we grow discontent with our current situation, and all we want is something different; times when we idealize various options, as long as they take us away from where we are.
Sometimes change is essential for our well-being.  I recognize that.  And sometimes it is exactly what we need to get us back on track.  I recognize that as well.  So I am certainly not opposed to what my mom had to say.
But other times, those blisters on our feet are exactly what we need to continue enduring for the sake of bringing God glory.  Because the truth is, there is a lot more to a relationship with God than finding the most comfortable pair of socks.  Discomfort is a part of the journey.
And in these times, by continuing in obedience with what He wants, rather than taking the easy way out, He is able to form us more into His likeness.
I have seen this repeatedly in the past couple of years.  Does my life look how I would choose it to look?  Not at all.  But I have seen God using so many of those "blisters" to bring me closer to Him.
Rather than seeking out change when encountering a difficult situation, why not turn to Him in obedience?  Why not trust in Him to use you in your current situation?  Because He can use you there just as much, if not more, than He can use you in your desired situation.
So instead of thinking "If only..." and how a change might enable us to comfortably enjoy our life more, our mindset should shift to how we can bring God glory by enjoying Him exactly where we are.  Blisters and all.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Change Your Socks

Over and over, the blisters would emerge after a long hike. They would then be irritated further by running.
I finally said, “I can’t do this again. I have to do something different.”
I reached into my drawer, and instead of pulling out my favorite thick white running socks, I chose an old thin black pair.
I ran without pain.
If we want things to change, we have to do something different. And why is it that it takes a personal crisis before we are willing to change? A blister, an “F” on a test, a pink slip, sickness, or ____(fill in the blank.)
What change do you want to see in your life? Be more organized, more efficient with your time, more sensitive to others, more consistent in reading Scripture, lose weight, gain weight, read more, write a novel, run a 5k, get married, learn to cook, speak French, make more friends, know God more, or make a difference for His kingdom?
The key to it is that you have to do something different. It won’t just arrive on your doorstep one morning like a Federal Express package. And no fair blaming your circumstances or those people around you. Back when I was a teenager a hundred years ago, author and friend Robert Wolgemuth told me, “You can’t change others. You can only change yourself.”
What are you going to do?
If you want things to change, do something different. Start with His Word. Daily. It will change how you look at life itself. And the transformation will affect every one around you.
Change your socks.

I waited patiently for the LORD;
He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the desolate pit,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the LORD.
Psalm 40.1-3

Press on!

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Waiting Room

It is Monday morning, and I am again waiting on workmen to show up. I love how they schedule their appointments -- between 9 and 12, for example -- and then either show up at 11:55 or call to say they are running behind. A couple of weeks ago, I had an appointment here at the house at 9 am. I moved my schedule around to accomodate the appointment. The clock zoomed past 9 am, 9:15, and finally at 9:30 I called the office. Oh, there must have been some miscommunication, she said. You were not down on his list. He can be there at 11. Eleven went by, and finally at 11:30 his truck pulled in. He was at the house for no more than 20 minutes.

Everyone of us is waiting for something. All of us are in the waiting room, whether it is 15 minutes until supper is ready or something years down the road. Sometimes we don't even know what we are waiting for.

The biggest question is how we are waiting. Are you figuratively flipping through old copies of Reader's Digest, passing the time? Tapping your foot,dozing off, watching the clock, or surfing the web? Or are you using that time? When my friend Leeba Curlin had seven young children, she went about her day with a briefcase of sorts, right by her side in her van. When she found herself waiting for any period of time, a few minutes or a few hours, she was ready. She did her bills, wrote letters, and finished who knows how many books. She redeemed the time and made the most of it.

Are you ready to wait? Are you redeeming the time? The time that we wait is also part of life. God will use it for His glory, or we can waste it on worthless pursuits. Don't just sit there. He has strategically placed you in time and space. There is purpose, even in this. And it may not even be about you.

Wherever we are placed is always a training ground for the next adventure.

Look carefully then how you walk,
not as unwise men but as wise,
making the most of the time...
Ephesians 5. 15-16

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Not on my agenda, Not what I ordered

When things seem out of joint, we must always examine ourselves carefully
and make sure that we have not run ahead of God.
If we are abiding in Him and in His plans,
not ours,
even when thing are not working out,
they are working out.
The problem happens when we pursue our desires
instead of pursuing Him,
and when we invite God to join our plans
and fit Him in the cracks
instead of letting Him direct our paths.
“I want this,” we cry at the first thing we see.
And we hold on with a death grip with both hands
and dig in our heels.
And oh, what could have been
if we had waited and listened.
God’s Will may not be what we want.
But it is always the best,
even when we cannot comprehend.
We want Him to show us the reason first
as if it is up to us to judge it
worthy of our submission.
Stop asking God why
roll up your sleeves,
and start asking Him what.
Stop seeking the answer,
and seek Him alone.
This is when the evidence of God
moves beyond the incremental depth of Sunday School lessons
to the cavernous reaches of the heart.
A relationship with God is as personal as it gets.
And it will cost everything.
Everything must go on the altar.
Cling only to Him.
He is not a part of your life,
but life itself.
That which drives you.
That on which you stake your life.

And that is why it is so absolutely vital
to stay daily in His Word.
Get to where nothing can throw you
because Christ is at your very core.

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary,
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might
He increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted,
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40. 28-31
Press On!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


With the current economy, investments seem a rather touchy subject for many individuals. They are hesitant in deciding where to put their money, unsure what is worth the risk.

Now don't worry, I won't get into that. After all, this is not a finance lesson.

The truth is, we have a lot more to be concerned with than simply monetary investments. As Christians, we also need to be focused on how we invest in other aspects of our lives. That says a lot more about a person than where their money is... What is consuming their time? To what are they committed for the long term? In what and whom are they spending their thoughts and emotions? How are they using their resources?

Are the investments in your life honoring to God? Toward what returns are you focusing? Are you using what He has given you to bring Him glory?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Don't Miss Summer: Have You Played Today?

Play should be an important component of summer. I miss seeing kids playing in their yards, riding bikes, drawing in chalk on the driveway, and getting dirty playing with trucks in the mud. One of our girls once purchased a slip n’ slide for a quarter at a garage sale. The girls and their friends just about tore up the lawn on the side of our house in Kansas City playing with it by the hour. And as Bill would explain to the neighbors, “We’re raising kids, not grass.”

Everything today seems so shrink-wrapped for kids, pre-packaged with step by step instructions and pictures of how it should look. Guaranteed not to make a mess. I was once watching a friend’s children while she went to a meeting. Her children were playing with some old Legos that we still have, trying to build something from the little guidebook and getting rather frustrated that they couldn’t find the right pieces. “Well, you can make anything you want,” I suggested. “We can?” they said incredulously. That prompted almost two hours of incredible construction on the floor of our playroom.

Where are the muddy boys who play all afternoon in the creek catching frogs and capturing fireflies at night in old mayonnaise jars?
Where are the castles in the living room made of cushions, old bedspreads and every pillow in the house? Or forts in the backyard created from old refrigerator boxes?
Or “inventions” devised of old string and spools and dowel rods from the garage. Children’s bedrooms should be decorated with interesting rocks and maps and model airplanes made of balsa wood, and other things made of glue and old paint. Let them imagine. And if they make a mess, so be it.

Nostalgia aside, play is good for kids. Stuart Brown, a physician and director of the National Institute for Play (no, I did not make this up), says that in one of his studies, he observed play-deprivation in homicidal young men. Featured recently on National Public Radio, Brown says that play nurtures trust, promotes enthusiasm for learning, prevents violence, lessens stress, develops the capacity for problem solving, and invigorates the body. (And you thought it was just a waste of time). None of the murderers that he has studied had ever engaged in normal rough-and-tumble play.

And if it does that for kids, so much more for adults.

Why is play so important? I think because it is a component of life that God has hard-wired into our souls. Laughter and enjoyment. Sometimes we forget what they are. Last weekend, my husband Bill went for a long bike ride in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He was waiting for me to pick him up at a shelter at the conclusion of his ride. A man started to talk to Bill, curious about the bike and his outfit. The first thing he said was, “What are you training for?” “Life,” Bill replied.

Why is play important? Because it is part of the restoration of the world. In Scriptures, God paints a picture of the world restored. “And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets.” (Zechariah 8.5) ‘Cause that’s the way it ought to be.

Don’t miss summer. And ask your kids every night, “Did you play enough today?”
You too.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

So What’s On YOUR Plate Today?

It is the dawning of a new day, the birds begin to chirp before the light begins, and suddenly, the darkness has passed. The day is at my fingertips, so to speak, and I realize that it is not I who raised the sun. This is the day that the LORD has made. Psalm 118.24

Life comes at you fast at times. The urgent shouts to us from the other room. And as my mother used to say, “I didn’t have time to sit down today.” One thing that I have learned is to make Him first in your day, and He will redeem that time
in remarkable ways.

He will order your day.

At one point, I went from rushing headlong into the day to stopping first and laying my day before Him. But now, I see that from a different angle. It is not our responsibility to lay the day before Him, but to respond as He lays the day before us. His plans may be very different than we conceive, and ever more eternal.

Just last week, my plans were disturbed by a plumber who arrived earlier than expected, and I had to leave a meeting early. In the first few minutes, he found a break in a valve and quoted me the price of a new car to fix it. “Three hours labor,” he explained. I called another to get a second opinion. “Sorry, but I don’t do that kind of work,” the second man said. “Call Drew. He’s the best.” He gave me the number which I wrote down and dialed immediately. Drew answered the phone as he was walking across a busy street. “Hey, you know, right now, I am not too far away, and my next appointment was cancelled,” he said. He was there in less than ten minutes and had the valve replaced in twenty. Turns out he was a believer and was having a problem with his kid. We talked for a few minutes. “You know,” he said, “I could not have better engineered this conversation. If you had called me at any other time, it would have taken three weeks to get an appointment. God had you call right when you did.”

God’s day, not mine. I would have missed that divine encounter in my own schedule of events.

William Wilberforce, who God used to impact culture and dismantle slavery in the British Empire, believed that if he did not study the Scriptures “the most pressing claims will carry (my heart), not the strongest.”

Don’t give God your day. Follow Him in His plans for you. Dig deep into God’s Word, and it will change your life, one day at a time.

My times are in Your hand. Psalm 31.15

For those who are reading the Bible through in a year, congratulations.
Today marks the halfway point.
Press on!