Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hour 6 -- Carry over from yesterday: I read scripture from Streams in the Desert after God had encouraged me all day to keep my hand to the plow, and here is what those verses say --

"Arise...for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good; and are ye still? Be not slothful to go and enter to possess the land: for God hath given it unto your hands; a place where there is no want of anything that is in the earth." (Judges 18:9, 10)

God has such a sense of humor! I love God!

Here is what Cowen writes: "Arise! Then there is something definite for us to do. Nothing is ours unless we take it. 'The children of Joseph, Manasseh, and Ephraim, took their inheritance.' (Joshua 16:4) 'The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.' (Obad.17) 'The uprights shall have good things in possession.'

"We need to have appropriating faith in regard to God's promises. We must make God's Word our own personal possession. A child was asked once what appropriating faith was, and the answer was, 'It is taking a pencil and underscoring all the me's and mine's and my's in the Bible.'

Take any word you please that He has spoken and say, 'That word is my word.' Put your finger on this promise and say, 'It is mine.' How much of the Word has been endorse and receipted and said 'It is done.' How many promises can you subscribe and say, 'Fulfilled to me.'

"'Son, thou art ever with Me, and all I have is thine.' Don't let your inheritance go by default.

"When faith goes to market it always takes a basket." (Cowen 374)

In my examen yesterday I noted the positive, but did not come up with what troubled me until night fell. I had a troubling dream the night before. I had a rejection dream by the same acquaintance (a believer that I thought surely I had forgiven). I wondered could the enemy stir up trouble or am I unconsciously still holding people accountable? It bothers me that I might still be holding people accountable for situations I definitely want to forgive them of. So, I asked God to please enable me to battle false narratives, lies, that show up in my dreams and to glorify Himself even as I sleep. Providentially, I had watched a video of an examen in action which enabled me to have words to say each time I moved to a more awake state in the night. I asked God to send His grace into my dreams and whomever showed up there. Now, I admit to having a dream where I was asked to move my vehicle, but there were no people I knew rejecting me. :D

I love taking showers. I seem to hear God's voice so much more clearly in the shower. I have been pondering...and pondering...this idea of the good and beautiful life. I have struggled in my search to find what it is I want to write in my Dear Jesus letter. I am to answer a question on what the good and beautiful life looks like. In the shower, God illuminated the words "good" and "beautiful." How could I have not seen it before? The transcendental virtues of truth, goodness, and beauty are constantly singing in my head. This discipling apprenticeship I am going through is all negating false narratives and walking in truth. I know what I want to write. I want a true, good, and beautiful life. It looks like this: apprenticing with the Master as I learn how to appreciate and re-create beauty. May what flows from my hands and mouth be beauty. May I hear, see, touch, taste, smell beauty. In a true good and beautiful life, I learn from the Master how to do and be good -- good as He knows good to be -- good in justice, good in play.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hour 5 -- I am feeling a bit in a quandry; no, not quandry, just a bit lost. I realized one and a half weeks ago I had lost my addiction to teaching. I still have joy in it, but I've always operated out of this intense need for it. I am finding many activities I had an intense need for are dropping by the wayside. This is somewhat an answer to prayer.

Side trip -- How I let this specific prayer slip by, I don't know. The answer to a specific prayer a year and half ago led to such painful consequences , I decided I really do not know what to specifically pray for. I'm not sure if that is an excuse to not have faith or not (three "not"s -- I really am practicing writing badly!).

Instead, I pray for God to glorify Himself in each situation, person, etc. The answer to this prayer would be YES. (How can He refuse to glorify Himself?) The answer would be good, as He knows good to be, and it would be right because He can not be wrong. Isn't this type of prayer total reliance and a step of faith, too?

Quite a long time ago, when I read of George Mueller's way of prayer -- to not have any vested interest in the outcome as he brought each situation before God -- I made a specific prayer request. I wanted that for my life, too...I thought.

Now I find it was (is?) my passion, addictions, that motivate(d) me. I fear I know the answer to this quandry. I bet obedience is to be my motivation now, and my percentage rate of obedience has never been in the higher ranges.

God will work this out, and even if the answer to this specific prayer involves struggle and pain, the outcome will be good, just as the painful answer to my specific prayer a year and half ago was also good, because God is good.
Examen for today -- What stands out is that I was a bit lost trying to be motivated today, and I kept hearing "hand to the plow." So, I put on Lecrae's Rehab and started decluttering a back room. God was in this. Then, I put on Janna Adams' CD. God spoke to me through these two CDs. It is good for the temple to be filled with His glory.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hour 4 -- I saw Him in the green hills today and in the gorgeous black and white clouds with light emanating from within. Providentially, He kept me from running over a mother with child crossing the street. Obviously, I was not being in the present with the Lord to help me drive. Nonetheless, He broke through my inattentiveness to keep me from causing harm.

I walk in faith and trust that he had a reason for the events (or lack thereof) of my morning even though I couldn't see it. I was the only one at prayer group; it appeared that I spent a few hours this morning with no worthwhile outcome -- it didn't seem as if I had "redeemed the time." I didn't and still don't sense any wrongdoing on my part, so I choose to give my confusion to God and to see if it's okay to ask God to be in my times of confusion, depression, bafflement -- I figure it's best to have God's company, rather than my enemies.

There was no one available for coffee so I spent time writing. I think God is showing me (still!) that while I occasionally do well waiting on the complicated issues of life, I sometimes stumble over the little daily issues. Will I wait and trust that the email I sent will receive a reply in God's timing? I wonder if I haven't fallen into the same trap researchers have shown teenagers to have fallen into: email is now too slow: text messaging and constantly updated statuses are the expected means of communication.

So, I come back to the issue of trust once again.

I did go get coffee by myself and as I waited, a woman started chatting with me. I responded in kind and when we were done, I thanked her for making my wait so pleasant. She thanked me for listening to her. I hope it was Christ in me listening to her. In fact, it must have been. I'm not naturally given to chit-chat. I hardly think I "entertained angels unaware," but I think I experienced God's promise in Psalm 16:11 -- Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand pleasures for evermore.
Hour 3 of my requisite 10,000 hours to master the art of writing, and day ? in my learning to follow after Christ in everything 24/7 as saints of old have tried. Frank Laubach called this his "experiment of filling every minute full of the thought of God." People told Laubach it was impossible to even line up one's actions with the will of God every fifteen minutes or a half hour. Laubach questioned whether anyone was even trying.

I question how many of us who claim to know Christ even see His providential ways once a day! Ask a fellow brother or sister in Christ where they saw Christ today, and they're likely to hem and haw. Certainly I did before I was blessed enough to hear Bill Butterworth discuss how he and his wife teach their children to look for God each day: How did God save them from harm? How did God show them something beautiful in His creation? How did God keep them from sin? How did God forgive them of sin that day? How did God bless them that day? How did God lead them in a certain action or word to speak?

Sorrowfully, I have to admit to not operating that way day to day--still so full of "my rights" as I was, I would get too caught up in my plans or raising children that day that I didn't slow down long enough to think clearly. Still, the teaching was with me, and God broke through slowly until it was a habit of mine to look for God at work that day. God providentially brought other words into my life that solidified this desire. Henry Blackaby's Experiencing God Bible study; a pastor wondering why we refer to some action in the past when speaking of the power of God when we ought to have something daily.

Because I looked for God daily, I thought I was doing fairly well. At least better than those around me. Ah,pride and haughty attitudes...truly they go before destruction, or at the very least, a fall.

It makes sense to me to be transformed by Christ 24/7 even if I don't always succeed. I'm always talking in my head -- I talk to myself; I plan what I shall say to this person or that person; I plan what I will write here or there; I endlessly go over what I should have said or done. I would be so much better off talking to Jesus and asking Him to work through me as I...well, type this blog, drive down the street, pull books off the shelves for patrons who have placed holds on their books.

I did that yesterday (and the time before). I asked God to be in my finding library books that get sent out to patrons throughout my county and the next. I pray for the patrons. I particularly pray when I have to pull and send out the assisted suicide book. I pray for the folks who will be checking out books. I would love to know that someone somewhere is praying for my family as people who will be checking a book out, or a customer buying a product, or someone who will walk down the hallway of a particular establishment.

I think I find books faster when I ask God to be doing it through me, but, really I don't think I can prove that scientifically. I suppose I could set up a time when I didn't and a time when I did -- control groups, control situations, etc. But, what about when I fail to keep God at the center of the activity? Or, what if God intends for me to see a certain book and stop to explore what is inside. I think asking God to be in my eyes and hands cause me to be more in the present which in turn causes me to find the books faster. However, the non-believer could easily say the action of simply being more in the present causes the efficiency.

As I am writing this the following day, only three situations from yesterday stand out in my mind: the one up above, a time of exploration of whether there were areas I was having difficulty surrendering to God, and an occasion to be in the company of my former community.

As to surrendering, I wrote: I find difficult to give up -- for lack of a better name -- discretionary time. Obedience! I don't sit down and do my Russian studies because I think I am in charge of my time! Oh dear! my actions indicate I still want to be in charge of my time. Thankfully, even as I confessed this missing of the mark, my psalm reading allowed me to confess what God is doing and will do in my life:

Psalm 143:8+
Let me experience Your faithful love in the morning for I trust in You. Reveal to me the way I should go, because I long for You. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord; I come to You for protection. Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God. May Your gracious Spirit lead me on level ground.

Also, while I was at the library, God gave me not only an opportunity for obedience but to experience and put into practice what I have been saying to others: "How is God directing you? Where are you seeing God's direction?" I have been offered an opportunity to tutor a student, but it would mean that I would not explore offering a Bible study. I am walking in the shoes of my friends because I was not immediately sure of the direction.

I went back to my morning scriptures and saw the studies from Proverbs about ants, hydraxes, locusts, and lizards -- think ahead for strength for the future, build up for the storms, live in community, live the kingdom life. Most of that could apply to the individual tutoring, but I could also see the Bible Study. I know from the psalms God will lead me. I know what my husband would say, and certainly that is direction. I kept seeking God's voice. Finally, I feel God led me to look at how He has led me in the past as I asked Him to glorify Himself and lead me away from paths of temptation. I will explore this new opportunity trusting that God will close doors that lead away from Him.

Lastly, as I drove to a fun event, I asked God to allow me to see Him in each person I would run into. I trusted that the situation would not be awkward if my focus was in meeting the needs of the others. I don't think I managed to totally look with the eyes of Jesus, but I did not experience the awkwardness of the past, and I enjoyed myself. God led me to invite someone who was very blessed to be a part of this event, so that in turn blessed me!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Come let us adore Him!

Resurrection, Refiner, Refuge, Righteous,

Radiant, Renewer, Ransom, Refresher, Receiver,

Road, Rewarder, Restorer, Rock, Rest,

Son, Servant,


Monday, December 20, 2010

Come let us adore Him!

Maker, Most High, Meek, Merciful,

Majesty, Nigh, Nourisher,

Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnipotent, Only-Begotten,

Overcomer, Prince of Peace, Patient, Protector, Provider,

Praise-Worthy, Precious, Pardoning, Pure, Prayer-Hearing,

Queller of Storms, Redeemer!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dec. 19, 2010

Come let us adore Him!

King, Kinsman, Keeper, Kind, Key,

Lamb of God, LORD,

Light, Life, Love, Leader,

Long-suffering, Lowly, Mighty,


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dec. 18, 2010

Come let us adore Him!

Our Guide, Guardian

Good, Great, Glorious, Gracious,

Gift and Giver, Gatherer, Gardener, Goal,

Holy, Hallowed, Humble, Habitation, Hiding-Place,

Hope, Healer, Hand, Home, the I AM!

Incarnate Word, Instructor, Immortal, Incomprehensible,

Incomparable, Infinite, Invisible, Infallible, Invincible, Intercessor,

Joy, Jesus!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Celebrate Jesus -- December 17, 2010

Come let us adore Him!

Counselor -- "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)

Creator, Carpenter, Captain, Conqueror, Chosen One, Companion, Cornerstone,

Compassionate, Comforter, Dayspring,

Dwelling Place, Deliverer, Defender, Delight,

Desire, Door, Emmanuel, Everlasting, Eternal,

Expert, Encourager, Example, Exalted,

Friend, Faithful,


Thursday, December 16, 2010

O Come Let Us Adore HIM!

Alpha -- Alpha and Omega, the first and last, the beginning and end (Rev. 22:13)

Almighty, Awesome, Adored, Advocate -- "And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." (1 John 2:16)

Ancient of Days, Anchor of our souls, the Answer and the Answerer,

The Amen -- "Jesus is the great 'Yes' to all God's promises to us...Come to Me so that you can see yourself as you really are...Yes, you can be glad to die to self for My love has more for you than you can see or think..." (At the Name of Jesus)

The Anointed, the Author and Finisher (Perfecter) of our faith

Our All in All, Atonement, Abounding Authority, Bread of life,

Breath, Brother, Bridegroom, Blessed and Blesser, Beloved

Burden-Bearer, Barrier-Breaker, Boundless, Bountiful, Christ.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My eyes caught of this plaque hanging on my wall, and I thought the words on it might encourage you all as it encouraged me. There's a lot here to celebrate!

At the top third of the plaque are these words:
"I heard my Father say..."

All over the rest of the plaque are these statements from our Father:

I love you with an everlasting love.

I am your Provider.

I call you by name. I have placed My hand upon you. I hold you with my hand.

You will dwell in My house forever.

Your times are in My hands.

Do not be anxious about anything.

You are My child.

I will bless you and make you a blessing.

I will give you good gifts.

I will teach you and instruct you. I will guide you with My eye.

I discipline you, not to harm you, but to free you from every enemy of righteousness, peace, and joy.

I know you, and I'm familiar with all your ways. My thoughts toward you are precious. They outnumber the grains of sand.

NOTHING can separate you from My love!

With Me, all things are possible.

Nothing that is good will be witheld from you.

There is nothing too hard for Me.

I am for you, who can be against you?

Rest in My love.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Today, I'll start with explanations (and/or caveat). First, I am aware of the issues some folks take with Renovare (the organization with which Richard Foster and James Smith are associated), in particular to the Renovare Bible. My reply: If I only read works by infallible men, I will only be able to read God's inspired Bible (KJV, as that was good enough for Paul...old time joke for those who have never heard it). I hold everything up to the plumbline of God's Word, and if it does not match, I blow it away like chaff. But, I believe all Truth is God's Truth, and I keep the wheat. Be forewarned: I'm sure I'll have my share of chaff you will have to blow away as well.

Secondly, what to do about Laubach's label as a "mystic" and some of his more controversial entries? Mystic: a person who attains or believes in the possibility of attaining insight into mysteries transcending ordinary human knowledge. May I suggest Jonathan Edwards' "Divine and Supernatural Light"? (Yes, the same Jonathan Edwards who wrote "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.") Edwards points out that Jesus himself tells Peter (Matt. 16:17) "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee [that Jesus is Christ, the Son of the living God], but my Father which is in heaven." Edwards' thesis is that "a divine and supernatural light immediately imparted to the soul by the spirit of God [is] shown to be both a scriptural and rational doctrine."

As to Laubach's more controversial entries, the experiment in telepathy being one, I can only suggest two situations: 1) He used the inadequate words available to him to describe what was happening; 2) He really believed in telepathy, and, in that case, I'll leave it in God's hands and not let it lead me into an obsessive focus on either the gift (if true) or the foolishness (if false).

Third, after writing my first "soul adventure' entry, I could hear the voice of a former student: Mrs. Lang, I don't get it. Could you put that into concrete images, please? So, today, I shall try to stay concrete.

The question is where to begin? How far back do I go in my history to show concrete examples of why I believe God speaks to each of us daily? I think I would prefer to bring up examples as they fit a specific topic since there are far too many from which to choose. Instead, let me give an example from yesterday.

I had occasion to go to an event which would place me in the company of my former community -- the community from which I was not sent out with blessings, but sacrificed (with my permission) for the sake of others. Living sacrifices that are still present always make for awkward reunions even if the sacrifice tries to make it easy for everyone. I felt I needed prayer, but also felt a little guilty that I would need prayer, and who should I ask anyway? The Lord took care of the situation. A friend thought she saw me speeding on the freeway and called to tell me to slow down. Laughingly, I told her I was sick at home. She then asked if she could do anything for me. She was the perfect person to pray for me -- she knew and had experienced exactly what I was going through. I have experiences like this every day. What Laubach stretches me to believe is that I can receive divine and supernatural light every minute 24/7 -- and I don't have to be a monk to do so.

As to my "dance card," my "teams," my "too many notes" running together in the song of my life, here it is in concrete details: I am a child of God in whom Christ dwells, a wife, mother, grandmother, walking prayer partner, sitting prayer group member, library volunteer and library book group discussion leader, visitor of an elderly friend, teacher to ten English students, cook and server once-a-month for the homeless and once for Sk8 Church, in community and worship Sunday and Wednesdays, in Russian class on Mondays, but not getting to my studies, not getting to my writing, not getting to decluttering my house.

The small "not getting to" activities bother me (The big "not getting to" vision activities used to bother me as well until I held open my hands and realized if God wants them to come to pass, they will.)

Now, for the concrete why I needed to Stop. Think. Listen. Here are two examples: Librarians get overwhelmed with work after holidays. My family does not travel for holidays. Since the hours were not filled in on my calendar, the Monday of Thanksgiving week, I started to volunteer to come in. The Lord nudged me, "Wait! What are you doing?" I did not go in. Secondly, I was asked to re-join a prayer group (which I have missed) on a new day. I looked at my calendar and thought I could do that...until the week before the meeting date when I remembered I had a student coming later on that day of the week. I would have been driving down the grade at noon, back up for the afternoon, and back down again for the evening, and back up again to go home!

Distractions is a new category for me. I have decided to let God tell me what my distractions are. For the most part I find the same activity can be a distraction or it can be a calling. I have the freedom to read books but the Lord laid on my heart that two (perfectly appropriate) books I was currently reading were distractions (one from the library -- yay!; one I had bought because I got a second book for 50% off -- sigh). Facebook is sometimes a distraction, sometimes not. Social events are sometimes distractions, sometimes not.

So! Concrete version of first entry is now finished. From now on, I shall try to include concrete details with my metaphors.

Friday, December 10, 2010

So begins my grand experiment...well, not so cliche as all that...what begins is trying to write down what has already occurred (hopefully, what shall continue to occur), but only occurred in snippets and bits in the past.

Frank Laubach's book Letters by a Modern Mystic first came to my attention in a book entitled Devotional Classics (2005)edited by Richard J. Foster and James Bryan Smith. It wasn't until 2009 that I was still enough (losing one's job does that for you) to let the eleven excerpted passages speak to me. Basically, I was an Amen audience. I could say to Laubach: "Preach it, brother" because daily God was speaking to me. But then, just as today, when I am sitting here sick in bed, I wasn't going anywhere. I mourned the loss of community because of the loss of my job, even as I knew my decisions were led by God -- I had laid down my life for my friends. I mourned the passing of that life, but God was there every step of the way turning my mourning into dancing.

Within a year I danced with joy and gratefulness; my dance card filled up (for the non-classical readers, in pre-21st century times, ladies had dance cards with times alloted to each dance. The gentlemen would ask for a dance and the ladies would fill their dance card time slots with the names of the gentlemen).

Now, I find I have too many dances to choose from. With freedom from my job came freedom from certain time constraints. I had the freedom to choose. I think I must change my metaphor to a sports one (a decision some of you may cheer) to give a clearer picture. God has many teams and He does not intend for us to be on all those teams; yet, a great many of those teams clamor for our participation. At this moment in my life I feel the thrill of being the watergirl here, the captain there, the goalie here, and the equipment manager there -- many of those chosen by God, but somehow I find myself missing practices, attending games irregularly, and double booking meetings.

Set times with God are still regular -- slowing down, silence, nature (let's call them Team Presence of God) -- all these are part of the rhythm of my life. It's just any minute not doing these practices was/is irrhythmic (oh dear, I can't find that in the dictionary; I guess I have to settle for rhythmless)...skewed. I thought God wanted me on Teams A, B, C, and brought teams D, E, and F into my life. And, of course, Teams Wife, Mom, and Grandmother are givens.

Since I've used letters for team names, may I switch my metaphor once more? There are only seven notes in music, A through G, with many variations. Yet, even with those variations there needs to be beat, melody, and harmony.

My instrument is out of tune and I need my composer to choose the notes because I'm the type of instrument that helps out other instruments when I shouldn't. Or, for those of you who preferred the sports analogy: I'll be playing soccer when the basketball coach next door runs up to me and says, "I need your help. Just be my fifth man," and I go. I am learning to Stop, Think, Listen now before I plunge headlong into a game God never intended me to play.

The other area I'm working on is distractions. I recently came across this reflection by Henri Nouwen: "Imagine your life as a cup overfull of opinions, ideas, and activities. Make a list of the many distractions that you might want to ask God to prayerfully to remove..."

In sports terms, I'll be sitting on the bench during the soccer game and find myself wandering over to the basketball game. After all, I wasn't busy at the time, right?

In musical terms, my instrument doesn't play for a while and I get so wrapped up in what is going on with the rest of the orchestra that I miss my cue (Miss my cue? -- That's drama, right? Miss my beat? My entrance? My note?)

All of this brings me back to Frank Laubach who wanted every minute of every day to be concious of God. In this new season, through spiritual direction, God has turned my eyes back to Laubach's writings, this time to twenty-seven pages of his writings (free online; although, I think there is a new book of excerpted letters out, also)instead of just five pages.

What I am looking for is for God to choose my dances, for God to choose my teams, for God to not only compose the song, I as His instrument plays, but to direct each note and every pause so that my life sounds like and feels like the equivalent of the Hallelujah Chorus and not sometimes a beautiful melody, sometimes a wondrous harmony, sometimes a cacaphonous mess!

On January 26, 1930, Laubach wrote: "In defense of my opening my soul and laying it bare to the public gaze in this fashion, I may say that it seems to me that we really seldom do anybody much good excepting as we share the deepest experiences of our souls in this way. It is not the fashion to tell your inmost thoughts, but there are many wrong fashions, and concealment of the best in us is wrong. I disapprove of the usual practice of talking 'small talk' whenever we meet, and holding a veil over our souls. If we are so improverished that we have nothing to reveal but small talk then we need to struggle for more richness of soul. As for me I am convinced that this spiritual pilgrimage which I am making is infinitely worth while, the most important thing I know of to talk about. And talk I shall while there is anybody to listen. And I hunger -- O how I hunger! for others to tell me their soul adventures."

Here then is the first entry in the writing down of this (my) particular soul adventure.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lessons learned lately (two of them today):
1) Warm brownies cut best if you use a plastic knife in a gentle sawing motion.
2) Viz. is the abbreviation for videlicet, pronounced we - day- li - ket in Latin, or vi-del-i-sit in English. It means "that is to say" or "namely" (used especially to introduce examples, details, etc.)
3) I tend to panic first if I think I have too much to do and not enough time to do it; yet, the Lord comes through again and again (if we're doing what the Lord calls us to do). All I could think today was "How am I going to get the house cleaned, the lessons ready, and the last pan of brownies made for Sk8 Church tonight?" God had it all figured out: my two late afternoon tutoring students did not come today. I actually have time to spare. Well, not's time I didn't think I would have, but now that I have it, I need to use it wisely.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fixating on my own plans (and the lost papers needed to carry out those plans) blocks the Holy Spirit from getting through to me with creative ideas. Once I released my ideas of how the next day's lessons must go, inspiration flowed freely. Why do I think it (whatever activity "it" happens to represent at the time) has to be the way I planned it and the way I've always done it? This new idea may turn out to be the better lesson of the two.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Responding to Sandpaper People (from Pastor Tom Morris):
1) Remember that I may be a sandpaper person to someone else!
2) Realize God is working on me
3) Refuse the easy road -- run to the guns! (That doesn't mean to be violent!)
4) Resist retaliating.
5) Reject trying to please everyone.
6) Respect the ideas of others.
7) Relax; I don't need to fix sandpaper people. Speak truth into their lives, but let God do the fixing.
8) Redeem the untapped gift within them.
9) Return to gospel thinking.
10) Rejoice that God is not finished with them yet.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Looking at the written lines indicating recent posts has made me keenly aware of the importance of opening lines. I've always known an introduction is important, and a few authors come immediately to mind when I think of giftedness in this area: Austen, Nabokov, Wolfe (no, not that Woolf; although, her writing is exemplary as well-- Gregory Wolfe from Image magazine), James. Definitely not Trollope, poor fellow...or, rather not so poor as he was so prolific. He starts out boring as...well, real life, I suppose. Then, if we persevere, we are rewarded. Trollope's had a resurgence of popularity of late, but, in general, we like to be hooked from the beginning and you'd best keep on hooking us or we shall rip the hook from our mouth and move onto prettier hooks, leaving bits of our flesh as we go.

Friday, October 15, 2010

My reflection questions for my apprentice group this week were as follows: 1) Were you able to make a list of your blessings this week? If so, did you find it difficult? Why? 2) What, if anything, did you learn about God or yourself through the exercise? 3) What were some of the things that made your list that surprised you? Why?

First of all, I learned that I don't read questions any better than my students do! I made a "What I am thankful for" list followed by a page of what I noticed. It would have been a lot easier to make a list of blessings. Which may beg the question how are blessings different from what I am thankful for. Nonetheless, just so that I try to build a habit of blogging each day, and since I am not ready to blog on "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," I shall write here what I noticed. I noticed:

That I want to analyze why I am thankful
That I don't want to just write down whatever my eyes see and say I'm thankful for _____.
That I tend to say, "I'm thankful for ____________, even though _____________.
That I want to know what it is I'm not thankful for and why...and why I'm thankful for the things I'm thankful for.
Is what I'm thankful for also what I like? (And, is it because I don't like something that it causes me to not be thankful for it?)
Is there anything I'm thankful for, but I don't like it?
And vice versa: Is there anything I'm not thankful for but I like? (I think that applies to coffee, except I don't necessarily "like" coffee -- I like its effects...or I started out liking the effects and now I don't like the effects if I stop drinking it.)
I didn't like being laid off, but I was thankful (more so now than then).

What about thanking God in all times and circumstances? I think the emphasis is on God, not necessarily thanks for that particular thing, situation, person, etc.

Well, tomorrow I will try to do my homework the right way and see where it leads.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I am the oldest of seven siblings, so I grew up looking for that occasional place where I could retreat. If I was reading a book, the world could fall down all around me, and I would never notice. It was a shock to my system when I had children--four of them! Moms aren't allowed to escape. Now days I can lie still for five minutes of quiet in the morning or five in the evening, but back then I read to the children at night--everyone had to take a turns on whose bed I would sit and read. I would soon find myself asleep. Quiet time in the shower is also a good place (yes, I know there is the sound of running water, but it really is a good place for God to talk!) The best way, as a mom to be with God and nature was at the back of a stroller. I might not be still, but I could be silent.

I am blessed to have a big backyard with lots of trees, and I also live up the street from a small lake where I walk for exercise, prayer, and contemplation. Last week a night heron was sitting on a rock up close to the path. I have learned to enjoy sights such as this, but my tendency is to look for a lesson in everything.

I've always believed in seeing God at work daily, and that really became important to me last year when I was laid off from teaching. One day He encouraged me by having a red bird sit on my mailbox (so Hallmark card!!). I paused from driving my car down the driveway to contemplate what lesson God had for me in that bird sitting there. And, it was as if God said to me, "For heaven's sake, Debbi; it's this amazingly intensely red bird sitting on your mailbox making a beautiful picture for you to see and enjoy! I'm showing you beauty and grace because I love you. That's it! There doesn't need to be some hidden analogy, allegory, or allusion!"

So here I am. I enjoyed that night heron immensely, but I've turned that red bird into a lesson that there doesn't have to be a lesson. LOL!
Testing, testing, testing....