Monday, November 22, 2010

We'll Muddle Through, One Day at a Time

I am a one-event-at-a-time kind of gal. In our family, we have 3 birthdays that fall within 3 weeks or so of each other, and I can really only tackle each one as it comes. I guess it is possible for me to juggle the details of several events at once, but I don't feel good about any of them when I do it that way. I do best when all of my attention is focused on one special day at a time. We do a lot of traveling in the summer, and I can only deal with the logistics and planning of one trip at a time. Otherwise I screw things up, like purchase airplane tickets for the wrong dates. One thing at a time. That's just how I roll.

It took me several years to figure that out about myself, and I think I've been apologizing for it ever since. But I don't think I'm going to be sorry for it anymore. This business (and that's all it is, commercial, money-making business) of Santa and Christmas bric-a-brac all over the stores before Halloween is ridiculous.

There are houses in my neighborhood with their Christmas lights up already...lit up! I mean, I can understand taking advantage of some of these 60 degree days to hang the lights, but for crying out loud, don't turn them on yet! What's the big rush? I can also understand that some folks just aren't like me, and they feel best when they can get all their shopping done by...whenever. Or maybe they must do the shopping early because they have to ship items across the country. Okay. I guess.

I can't think about Christmas until after Thanksgiving. I don't want it crowding in on Thanksgiving. And honestly, I end up dropping the ball somewhere along the way of I try to skip too far ahead. Jesus said, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today." (Matthew 6:34 NLT) He said that right after He explained that when we make His Kingdom our priority, He will provide for all of our needs. What does all this rushing around to get a great deal and being a slave to the "to do" list have to do with His Kingdom? I'm thinking not much. I'm thinking it's a trap designed to take our eyes off of our Savior.

This year, we are hosting Thanksgiving, and I'm really excited. I love to open our doors, love to cook, love it all. And I am not going to spoil the Thanksgiving fun with the commercial Christmas hoo-hah. I'm not going to wish the day of gratitude away so that I can rush on to the next big deal. One holiday at a time, thank you very much! Ha! Get it? Thank you? Wishing you and yours a blessed Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Same Object, Different Lesson

Our cats are spoiled rotten, and only eat big bits of food in their bowls. I've written about this before. I'd like to train them to eat till the dish is empty, but I can only hold out so long. They get in my way, bite my toes, follow me around the house meowing, and get so annoying, I finally give in and put some fresh food in the bowl. As I am typing right now, Greta is perched on the printer, looking down on me. I kinda feel like being a mom I do a lot of teaching and training in my life, so when it comes to the cats, I just don't have the energy.

So here I am today with new pictures that tell the old story of the food situation becoming dire to Thora and Greta, even though the dishes look full to you and me. I tell them, "You know, there are starving cats in Africa who would be very glad to get the little bits that just aren't good enough for you!" A couple of years ago, I saw this as a picture of a lack of trust. The cats don't trust me to see their soon-to-be-needs, and I do the same thing with God. Worry before I need to, fail to trust Him completely.

Today, I see something else. I see the cats with bowls of food and hungry bellies, but they don't want what is there for them. They want something else. And maybe it's not so much not trusting me, and more just plain old whining at me to make it different. And of course, I recognize myself in the dissatisfaction and complaining.

I look at what is on my plate, and sometimes, I think I'd like something different, or I'd just like more put on my plate. I am hungry, I am asking God to use me, but I'd really like Him to use me in a particular way, according to my vision. And I fuss and I wait around, but in an annoying fashion like two four-legged friends of mine. But fortunately, God has limitless energy to guide and direct me, to discipline me, and He doesn't give in.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hard Evidence

I just heard a brief interview of Sara Groves on the radio today; I have loved her music for several years now. She was on Midday Connection, which is a show on Moody Radio. It is official that I'm old, by the way, because I'm listening to Moody.... You too, can be old and listen by clicking here and selecting the November 12th program. Apparently Sara was or is doing a tour playing some of her older songs, and she said in this interview that all of her songs are rock-solid, hard evidence of her faith in God, of His love for her.

This really struck me today. My reasons for blogging are: 1) to be disciplined about writing regularly, to use the gift He's given me and 2) to share how I've seen God's activity in my life and around me. I really want the writing to be about what He is doing. This last week I've been fighting with a cold and demanding calendar, trying to carve out a little time to write, and when I had the time, I couldn't think of what or how I wanted to say anything. I don't have any clever stories about how I saw God's activity on my couch with my box of Kleenex. I should, but I don't.

Feeling better today, and the "I should be writing" chant has been going through my head. I heard Sara and feel like that was a nice little gift from God, to remind me that the evidence of what He's been doing is right here! There are 176 posts on this blog so far, and more to come! Each one is evidence of His work, because He is the One who gives me the words. Every time.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ups and Downs

Here at our house, we are the reluctant caretakers of a gecko. His name is Spike.

A friend discovered this poor gecko when she almost stepped on him (it?) in her garage. He clearly either broke free or was let go, because no geckos live round these parts on their own. So, she put him in a 5-gallon bucket and asked Luke if he'd like a new pet. She had an old fish tank and everything! Luke thought this gecko would surely not live long after such a harrowing journey, so he said sure, he'd take it. He was thinking that after the gecko departed, he'd be able to talk me into some other kind of icky lizard-y, reptile thing he really wants, since we would have already invested in a lovely reptile-y, lizard-friendly environment. But Spike lives on!

Despite our neglect and complete lack of knowledge regarding his care, he has been with us for several months now. Every so often I remember he's here (he lives in the boys' room) and think, "Gee, maybe we should get some crickets," and several days later I get around to buying those crickets. He's got to be starving to death, but I guess these desert creatures can live on very little.

Admittedly, I know next to nothing about geckos, but I've observed that when it's been a while since he's been fed, Spike has trouble catching those first couple of crickets. Is he going blind? I don't know, maybe. But it seems like once he's had a few, he's better at catching them. I have a theory; I think he needs the strength from the first bit of food to be able to catch more food. Or maybe he's out of the habit? Needs to relearn how to use those skills?

I can be a bit like Spike. When digging into the Bible is neglected, it's that much harder for me to establish the habit of doing it. When I haven't been writing regularly, it is so hard to get into the groove. I have to look at the world differently, notice God's activity all around me, think of how to share it. And, once I do get going, I can keep it going, just like Spike. I'd rather live a more 3 meals-a-day, regular diet of Scripture and allowing-God-to-use-me-everyday kind of life. This letting myself get to a point of near starvation, then struggling to survive is just not ideal. But my selfishness and laziness pull me away from what is best. Ugh.

And so, taking the step of obedience to day, and looking to take it again tomorrow and the next day....

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day

Before I left the house to vote today, I was a bit discouraged, feeling like all I was really doing was going out to cancel out the vote of someone I disagree with. It felt like the whole thing is silly, that the idea of me getting to have a voice is kind of ridiculous; it's really just a bunch of us canceling each other's voices out. Not a glass-half-full point of view. But I went to vote anyway, if only so that I could answer my children in the affirmative when they will surely ask me tonight if I've taken advantage of my civic opportunity.

Upon entering the polling place, I felt kind of like I do in the airport security line. This is not a place to make jokes, and here, in this place, at this time, you don't have the freedom to say anything that enters your mind. I filled in all my circles and turned in my ballot, and as I walked out to my car afterwards, I was overcome with a swoosh of emotion. (Isn't "swoosh" a word Nike invented? Bear with me. The writing muscles are a little rusty. ha! Metaphor mixer, am I!) Something about the seriousness of the election judges, the lack of freedom of speech in a polling place just made the freedom to vote so powerful to me. I AM so proud to be able to vote. That sticker rocks! I am so blessed to have been born when I was, where I was. It just struck me anew, walking through that parking lot.

When I think of being careful to notice the gifts God has given me, and to remember what he has done, how can I take this gigantic one for granted? I do, so easily... LORD, help me to be aware of You, and all You are doing.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Whadya Get?

As of this afternoon, our house has officially recovered from Halloween. We usually have a big group that trick-or-treats together every year in our neighborhood, and we have something warm to eat afterwards. Now the dishes are clean and put away, the candy wrappers and bits of candy and crushed leaves have been vacuumed.

I think my favorite part of the whole deal is the candy sorting and swapping that takes place after trick-or-treating. The rustling of the wrappers, the kids thrilled with their haul; everyone's a winner, giving away what they don't like, and getting piles of what they do like. After everyone was gone last night, our three kids were down in the basement, still counting, sorting and sharing with each other. They even made a bucket full of candy for us, with a few of our favorites.

There is something about a big pile of candy to call your own that brings out the best in us all, right? They were so happy, getting along so well. There they sat, surrounded by what they'd been given, running their fingers through the piles of loot, and the kindness and good will overflowed.

Makes me think of 1 John 4:19, where it says "We love, because He first loved us." In those moments when I get a glimpse of what He's done for me, what He's given, what I have because of Him, when I take a minute to run my fingers through it... then the love overflows for others around me. I'm really trying to be aware of God's activity around me, to take note and remember it!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Back in the Saddle

Writers write. That's what they say. I haven't written in forever. I've been reminded this week of the concept of a long obedience. It's the idea that obedience isn't always a one-shot deal. Many times, life as a follower of Christ requires obeying today, and again tomorrow, and the next day, and so on. It comes from a quote by Friedrich Nietzsche that goes something like this: "The essential thing "in heaven and earth" is...that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living."

Writing is a weird thing for me. It's a gift I've been given, I think, and so, I'm supposed to use it to build up and benefit the body of Christ. I haven't been using it, for lots of different reasons, but I think they all boil down to really not being obedient. I'm a gonna' get back on the horse. I'm going to try to obey in that "long obedience in a same direction" way... today, and again tomorrow, and so on. Except not actually tomorrow, ha! Monday through Friday, so there ya go. That's my explanation for why I'm back. And since I created this blog long ago to be a place where I share God's activity in and around me, I guess I'll get to it.

Earlier this week, we had some serious weather. Wind, mostly. 70 mile-per-hour gusts. It was positively spooky to be outside; things that were supposed to be still were flying all around, trees down, construction barrels rolling this way and that. Luckily for Lily's teacher at school, this was the week they were studying weather in science. Lily made a beautiful chart where she tracked the wind speed and temperature. She thought it was so funny to see completely different things outside depending on whether you looked out the front window or the back window. In the front, the tree has not one single leaf left, and the branches don't look like they move much in the wind. In the back, wow, could you see the weather! The big maple, whose leaves haven't even changed color yet, looked like someone with crazy hair blowing all over.

My, how appearances can deceive. The wind was windy everywhere, front and back. But it didn't look like that when you looked out the front window, because there wasn't much catching the wind. How many times, and in how many ways do I think I know what I'm seeing, forgetting that I have a limited perspective? Changing our perspective, where and how we look at things makes all the difference. We make decisions based on what we see, from our perspective. And God's perspective? Right, He can see everything, front and back.