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Archive for October, 2008

My mind wandered during family prayers this morning.

Somewhere between Michael asking God to bring helpers for our friends in China and his talking to Him about the upcoming election, I stepped out mentally for a few beats.

That asking God about needs in China sent my thoughts to asking whether or not I have been talking to God about the little neighborhood children I plan to invite to Good News Club (a weekly after-school Bible club in my home).  My mind began rehearsing what I will say when I deliver an invitation with some Halloween cookies, given in lieu of treats I won’t be available to hand out on Halloween night.  It was a short leap from there to mentally going over details of the first club meeting, which will happen next Wednesday afternoon.

Oops–back to the prayer.  In that flash of return to the place from where my mind had zinged elsewhere, I had a mental picture:  I am in prayer with my family, bowing before the throne of the King of Kings.  As I return to the place I’d left minutes before, it is not as my grown-up self, but as a little girl child, coming merrily back to the place from where I’d been distracted. 

By the time that picture had whisked through my mind, the prayer had ended, but I pondered with almost a smile:  Yes, I am that child before my Father’s throne.  I may get distracted, as little children sometimes do, and momentaraily wander off to the side, away from the main attraction.  But after a little bit, I return–and do I see a lifted head and a knowing nod from my Father as the conversation continues?  He has not missed a beat and I have not been out of His sight or knowing for a single second.

Whew!

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My heart is not proud, O LORD,
my eyes are not haughty.
     God, help me see myself, my place in Your plan, aright…

I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.
     I need Your help to stay focused, to keep my mind on my mission, so that I will not get sidetracked by politics, church affairs, or change.

But I have stilled and quieted my soul
     It is a choice, an act of my will, choosing pause or silence, or choosing to listen hard in the midst of the daily din.

like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
     How is a weaned child?  Still loved, in a state of maturing trust, trust having grown out of faithfully being provided for, still being provided for, only in other ways, ways according to the current need of the growing child…

O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, both now and forever.
How good is the God we adore, Our faithful unchangeable Friend!
His love is as great as His pow’r, and knows neither measure nor end.
Tis Jesus–the First and the Last–whose Spirit will guide us safe home.
We’ll praise Him for all that is past, and trust Him for all that is to come.
 (Those last four lines are not original with me–can’t come up with the author at the moment)

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Relatively Poor

Fall housecleaning is underway.  This is of the variety savvy house cleaners refer to as “deep cleaning”–the kind where everything is hauled out, sorted through, furniture moved and places that haven’t seen the light of day for months are exposed.  Dust bunnies are banished for the time being, windows are clean until the next rain after a dry spell, and finally that earring that fell under the dresser months ago is recovered.

This week, I’m tackling our bedroom.  Yesterday was the cleanout of the dresser and closet (mine–Even though we are one, Michael and I have separate domains when it comes to our dressers and closets.  If you opened drawers and doors you would see why–his are orderly, mine are usually not so much so). 

The result was more room behind the the doors and in the drawers, several stacks and bags of stuff relocated to more suitable places in the house, a large black garbage bag of trash, and a smaller garbage bag of clothes and miscellaneous to the Salvation Army drop box (Oops–I just remembered:  I forgot to drop it off.  Oh well, it’s on its first step of the journey–the bag is in the trunk of the car.).

I was in a ruthless mood yesterday.  As I was effortlessly, and without sentiment, pitching things, I was reminded again of how, in almost every other place in the world, I would be considered materially well-off–rich.  I wear the same several outfits to church every Sunday, but not the same one or two every day for every season.  I throw away as much paper in a day as some people have access to in a year.  I threw away a pair of shoes that looked bad but could have walked many more miles (on someone else’s feet–they never did fit me quite right).  Sometimes, the refrigerator and time get away from me and I end up tossing into the garbage some veggies that, properly cared for, might have fed a family in another place for several days.

With the current economic state, and now with a degree of uncertainty in our personal job/economic status (see yesterday’s post at this blog), we have talked about simplifying.  We have always lived rather conservatively, but there are many, many things that slip easily from the “want” category into the “need” category.  How do I keep it from happening?  Several things come to mind:

1) Think replacement instead of aquisition.  Is this item that has caught my eye “more” or is it to replace the worn-out or broken (not necessarily simply “old”) thing in my closet or on my kitchen shelf or in my living room?

2)  Does every meal I prepare have to have a full course of meat, vegetable, fruit, grain?  It is a new thought to me, especially now that I am more often than not just cooking for two or three, that a casserole with maybe a side of cottage cheese and or fruit, can be a nutritionally complete meal.  

3) Give stuff that is still good a second life.  This seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes it is just plain easier to throw something out than to bag or box it up and take it to the nearest Goodwill or Salvation Army drop box.  “Do it now” is a good plan–I am more likely to get that bag to SA now that it is in my trunk (I’ll eventually need the space for groceries…those many bags of groceries) than if I’d put the bag down in the basement awaiting “someday”. 

4) Restrain myself from the siren song of “new and improved”.  I have a perfectly good camera, only a year old.  As long as I am getting good pictures and it is working well  and compatibly with my other technology, do I really need to fix my eye on the next version that appears in the marketplace?  As long as I can accomplish what I need to, do I really need the fastest computer that is made?  If my 10-year-old kitchen gadget is serving me well, do I need to buy the updated model at the next Pampered Chef party?  Even the food on the shelves at the grocery can entice us in this way.  Do I really need to pay for the extra convenience of a different kind of container for my canned fruit when that in the can I open with my hand can opener is 40 cents cheaper?

Today, in most of the world, I am a rich woman.  Someone has said that contentment is not so much having what you want, but wanting what you have.  I think the key to perspective is gratitude, recognizing that what I have is a gift–the very breath and mobility that enables daily earning power isn’t anything any one of us can work up on our own.  When I begin to see myself as a humble recipient of anything that I call “mine”, my grip on it is loosened.  I can enjoy what I have and joyfully share with those whose needs are greater than mine.  

It might not be a bad way to live.

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Yesterday, my husband’s place of employment announced it will essentially close its doors at the end of this academic year.  http://fw.taylor.edu/home/news/news_detail.shtml?inode=77392   After having worked there for 23 years, needless to say, this translates to big changes ahead.  Once the initial “trickles” found their way down my cheeks (there may be more tears to come, possibly of the dam bursting variety, but I am just one of those people who emotes via my tear ducts–poor Zach!  He is distressed by it, but I realized yesterday that maybe I should tell my teenage son that this is a good husband training opportunity–learning how to handle a woman’s tears!), I began to reflect.  I am encouraged that the thankfulnesses, the glass half full moments, the little glimmers of exciting times that just might lie ahead have been able to break through the initial potential for despair and, at least at this moment, seem to be tipping the balance toward hope.

Reasons for hope in place of despair?

1)  We are in the same boat many have found themselves in–only ours is much bigger than some have had.  We have eight months of employment ahead of us–time to pray, to seek, to plan.

2)  We have a support network.  An almost instant email after the announcement became public, a call from one of our small group friends, comments on Facebook–all words of encouragement, assurances of prayers.  And we don’t travel the journey alone–many have expressed their sadness at the death of a dream, the feeling of loss, yet in the same breath comes an expression of confidence because…

3)  The God who brought us to Fort Wayne Bible College/Summit Christian College/Taylor University (same institution of higher education, three different chapters of its history) is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made.  Though we did not see this coming at this time, He has known it from eternity.  He has been shaping us in ways we haven’t realized, getting us ready for this exact crossroad.  He will show us which path to take, has already packed our bags with what we will need for the journey, and has promised to be our guide.

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85 Days to Go

“..and there are 85 days left in this good year,” says the classical radio station’s morning voice in my ear as I navigate my way through the Rudisill Boulevard lane change to accommodate a water main break repair.  (I like the way the announcer always call this year “good”–very optimistic words to hear every morning.) 

Wow!  Is that all?  That means winter is coming and there’s yard work to do and fall house cleaning and those handyman jobs that we didn’t get to this summer and then there are the holidays and I was just thinking this morning that cold weather will be here soon and my winter coat is a rag so I really need to shop for another which I hate to do and…

There are certain times of year that a word or a thought sets me into panic mode.  It’s usually because I have, grasshopper-like, fiddled instead of following the diligent path of the fabled ant.  A deadline looms and I am not ready.

Putting those thoughts into words sets my mind in several different directions.  I could think about the rambling to-do list above.  I could think of the fact that I am not getting any younger and what is there yet to accomplish in the next 5-10-15-or-20 years God may grant.  I could think of the people who live around me whose greatest need is to know Jesus loves them and died to give them forgiveness and hope and a place to belong forever–but they don’t know it and who knows how many days they have left to find out.

In any one of those scenarios, a sense of urgency is a positive, not a negative.  I think I may have integrated the idea of a little booklet called The Tyranny of the Urgent a bit too extremely into my life.  The premise of that writing is that we too often swerve from our purposes and goals to follow the urgent demands of life.  We end up living on bunny trails instead of on the main road. 

There is, though, the danger of being so one-track in my endeavors and pursuits that I elbow out the Holy Spirit when He would take my elbow and gently, but in the urgency of a moment, turn me to see: the little household job that is not on my schedule but that would encourage my husband and children more than five that are on my list; the bigger purpose for this season’s annoying or disheartening struggles that are, in reality, preparing me for the next mission in my life; the conversation opportunity with my little neighbor child that may not present itself ever again.

So rightly the Apostle Paul urged us to “walk in wisdom…redeeming the time”–whether there are eighty-five seconds or eighty-five days left in which to do it.   God, Help me to live in the moment with my heart and eyes to your future.  Amen.

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A Few Questions…

My thoughts don’t seem focused on anything big for very long these days, although there are MANY threads of thought weaving in and out of each other in my brain.  Some of my wonderings i(some are prayer thoughts) nclude:

1.  Who will be my teammate in hosting a Good News Club for neighborhood children?

2.  When should we turn on the furnace for the winter?  (Trying to hold off on that one as long as possible…)

3.  Do we pay off the house or invest?

4.  How can I be more faithful in prayer for all those people I love?

5.  How can I better connect with SSHS moms who might desire to pray in a Moms in Touch group?

6.  What is the most efficient way to get some form of fall house cleaning accomplished before the holidays?

7.  Where did we stray from truth and honesty in the governing of this country and how do we get back there?

8.  Why doesn’t someone see the positive qualities and abilities of several of my young adult friends who are job seeking?

9.  Would anyone purchase one-of-a-kind jackets from an online business called “Just Jackets”?

10.  Do I go visit that frail but recovering friend, which might tire her out, or do I send a card with a heart-felt note, which she can read over and over when she feels like it?

Question of the Day:  What’s on YOUR mind?

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