Friday, August 29, 2008

A Hope Journal

In 2Chron 2:5-12. Jehoshaphat is still focused on the Lord which ought to be our first response to fear of any kind. Yet pay attention to what he does in this prayer. He is not looking forward, stating his fears of what might happen. Instead, he is looking back at the past, recounting the times in Israel's history when God stepped in and helped them pull through very similar circumstances that were no less hopeless.

How many times in our pasts has God stepped in and done a mighty work on our behalf when everything appeared hopeless? He is just as actively involved in our lives today. Shamefully, too, we often thank Him in the moment but then forget what He's done for us. So then later, when we've faced challenges we've found it hard to remember that He has already proved Himself to us. This is one reason every believer should keep a journal ... a written record of God's faithfulness to us in our daily lives. During times when we feel hopeless, we can look back and gain encouragement from our personal histories. We can review times when He has intervened and worked in our own lives.

It may take some time and effort to establish the discipline of journaling, but the rewards will be great. We may think we don't have time to journal. Are we kidding? Have we no time to make a record of God's goodness in our lives? Well, if this is so, then we need to make time!

When we record blessings, we begin to view God's work from a new perspective. Then we'll be able to perceive how He's weaving the individual "threads" of our lives to create a beautiful tapestry for His glory.


I can see it has been a while since I wrote this devotion. Back when I was journaling everyday and loving it, feeling blessed at every turn. Now I'm doing all I can to work in a journaling session every couple days. Not so much because I don't have the time but mostly I don't have anything to journal about; or I think I don't! I haven't been doing as much reading lately (I used to write about what I was reading) because I've gone back to keeping the house clean enough to be presentable if anyone were to stop by for a few minutes. (This post is going to deal with that issue and since it's a weekend I'm not going to worry about it running long. You can read it in two sessions or whatever.) But it took me less than an hour to get all my Friday chores done. Except for the laundry and it's in the dryer. I made up the bed before I remembered that it was the day to change the bedding so I'll do that tomorrow. Cleaning my range was on my schedule today being as how it's an odd Friday. And that wasn't a lot of work because I have the oven scheduled for another day and I do down under the burners just once a month, or is it every two weeks. I can't remember. So really it was just a matter of cleaning the range top and the overhead hood, the front of the oven and there where all the knobs go. I let the knobs soak in hot sudsy water while I got the range cleaned and polished. Then I scoured all the knobs and replaced them. So really, that wasn't a lot of work and didn't result in using up a lot of time. I got the floors vacuumed and the kitchen counters wiped down. Did my PU/PA (Pick Up/Put Away) for the day and presto! the house is still clean. I have one chore out in the garage that needs to be taken care of and maybe I'll just go out there now and get that taken care of before it gets any hotter. There, that didn't take long. I have bowls of dry cat food on a large piece of carpeting out in the garage and they had succeeded in creating a very big mess out there. When they push in from one side to get a bite they end up pushing cat food off the back of the bowls and that area was just a mess out there. So I got that all cleaned up, the carpet vacuumed, my vacuum cleaner taken apart to unwrap the beater bar that had been put out of commission by some nylon threads from the carpeting edges. I changed the size and style of the bowls to hold the kibble and I'll see if that solves the problem. That and that I put that area down for cleaning every even Saturday from here on out. This cleaning system allows me to keep up with chores. I know that area will stay tidy from here on out because at the very least I will tend to it every two weeks. Otherwise it's just a chore to put off or completely forget about until it gets totally out of control. And if every two weeks doesn't work, I'll just change it to a weekly chore. This cleaning system is great!

So here I sit with my chores done just waiting for it to get hot. Did I say "waiting?" It's already hot. When I had to take apart my vacuum cleaner I had sweat dripping from my face down onto the vacuum cleaner. I stopped and took a paper towel to my face and then went back to work. Last week I already had the bed make up like this week but I went ahead and tore it apart to put down the clean linens. Today I've just decided to let it ride until tomorrow. Occasionally, in months that have 31 days, the every other week format (the evens and odds) will need to be adjusted. On those weeks I will make a decision to do them two weeks in a row or to skip them again that week. Some things might go three weeks just fine while others might need to be done for two weeks in a row to stay caught up. I know I've made this system seem so hard but really, it's the easiest way to keep a house presentable. I have certain chores I do every day, some weekly, and then some monthly, or even every other month. I decide the cleaning schedule so everything is tailored to suit me and my moods and my house. I sing it's praises! And if I'm sick for a few days or a week, I just pick up where I left off. Short, simple and sweet.

I got my Decision magazine in yesterday's mail and I managed to read the entire thing before putting it down. There were two or three articles about stewardship. Whenever anyone hears the term "stewardship" they immediately think of their gifts on the altar (as these articles talked about) and it certainly does mean that, but it truly means so much more. If we stop and think about it, everything we do is a type of stewardship. I think of our tithes, there's the stewardship we most often think of. Do you tithe out of your gross or your net? Do you tithe weekly or monthly or annually? You know all the debatable points. But I really want to talk about another type of stewardship today. Every single thing we have really belongs to God. Our house: God's. Our car: God's. Our yards... and the list goes on and on. It is important for us to understand who really owns everything we have, use, or come in contact with in any other way. These are the areas where we need to recognize ownership. If we think of it as God's house, we'll keep it clean. I mean if Jesus just suddenly dropped in for a cup of tea, would we need to leave Him standing on the doorstep while we hurry and take the basket of laundry out to the other room? Would we need to pick up the morning's paper and fold it neatly in the chair? These are just two things but I think you get the point.

Our homes are Christ's homes and we are to take care of them for Him. We must remember that, as Christians, we are put on display and everything about us is under scrutiny by the unbelieving world. "Well, she may be a Christian, but have you seen the inside of her house?" "Have you taken a glance at her yard?" "She calls herself a Christian, but just look at that car!" Now, don't get me wrong. None of these things have anything to do with our salvation whatsoever. We can live in a pigpen and still be saved. But whether we like it or not, we are put on display for our entire world. We represent Christ to this world. And the way we look reflects on our risen Lord. Do you have one of those little fish on your car? The ones that tell the world you're a Christian? If you do, you best keep it looking clean. And notice I said "keep it looking clean." Maybe all we can afford to drive is an old, beat up, relic (like my car). That's fine but let's keep it clean. Anyone can do that. You can have no more than a penny in your pocket and keep your car clean. Do you ever offer someone a ride and then have to clean up all the food wrappers and drink cups out of the way before they can even sit down?

We need to remember, we represent Christ whether we like it or not and there is a responsibility that comes with that fact. We can't all drive brand new Cadillacs or BMWs but we can keep whatever we drive neat, clean, and orderly. What about our yards? Are they clean and presentable, or are they eyesores on the block? If you knew Jesus was about five minutes out, would you feel comfortable with Him seeing the way you have kept His lawn? Or would you lament and really wish you had time to mow that grass? All this is so superficial when it comes down to the bare basics of our relationships with the Lord, but they still matter to me because how I live my life reflects on my Lord. Another thing, if you have one of those little fishes on your car, or a WWJD license plate holder, you best realize that that person you just cut off is going to notice that little fish or that license plate holder.

Anytime we put something out to advertise our relationship with the Lord we must do our best to be courteous at all times. See, the thing is, we should be courteous at all times day and night whether we have fish on our cars or neon whales because that's just how Christians are supposed to live. But when we take that extra effort to call attention to ourselves and advertise that we are Christians we must be extra mindful of how we reflect our relationship with the Lord. The point to all this is that while none of this has anything at all to do with our salvation, it does reflect His image in other people's minds. And we need to ask just how we want to carry that image. So while we tend to think of monetary donations when stewardship is mentioned, it's good sometimes to look even closer than our casual glance. This morning I added a chore to my list (the cat bowls in the garage). How many people are really going to notice that that area is a mess in my garage? Chances are only one out of a hundred people will ever come into our garage and see how I keep that area. But, God sees it. He sees it every day. It's His garage. I added another chore to my list the other day. On every Sunday now I have the front deck and doorway listed to be cleaned and swept. Are there a million little fingerprints on your front door? How many pairs of old shoes are piled up there at the door? It's just little things but they say this is who we are. It's realizing that everything we own or use reflects on Christ as our Lord. Chances are no one cares about shoes and toys piled up there in a corner by the door, but God's going to see it and we're going to see it. We can never be encouraged enough to represent our Lord as He deserves to be represented. So many things we do and don't do are just between us and God. But understanding to whom everything belongs, will help keep us neat and presentable at all times. Now, I'm not saying that every little things has to stay perfect. But I am saying that we need to understand that we are Christ's face to our neighbors.

Are we really to care what we look like, how we present ourselves to the world? Is that really all that important. Maybe not, and I'm not saying in anyway that someone with a messed up house isn't as good a Christian as someone that keeps a clean house. That's not what I'm saying at all, but I am saying that we are to care about how we take charge of Christ's things. If He were to come back tonight, would we feel ashamed at how the house and yard and car look? I would hope not. This is all part of the Christian character we are building up in our relationship with the Lord. Part of our sanctification. It's all about our attitude toward God's things. This is a measure of how sincerely we carry these tasks forward, how sincerely we handle His belongings. My hands are Christ's hands in this world. When I am cleaning the toilet bowl, these are still Christ's hands and they are cleaning Christ's toilet too! It's all an attitude . It's all about respect. These are all God's things and as long as I am in charge, they are going to be properly taken care of. I don't have to have every thing spit-shined but I do want to be able to open the door and invite Jesus in, should He come to call tonight. Now I realize there are a lot of people who will want to argue with me on these points and that's fine. I come to these beliefs on my own, for myself. God is not going to cancel your ticket to heaven if your entryway is cluttered with old shoes and broken children's toys. Jesus isn't going to say, "Sorry, you can't come in; your car isn't washed." And I'm not trying to say that all these things are any more or less important than anything else. I'm just saying that for me, these things ring true and therefore I will do my best to live up to these beliefs. Am I still going to care so much a year from now? six months? next week? tomorrow? I don't know. I just know that right now, at this moment in my walk, He has led me to believe these things. So to that end, every Saturday I will wash the car and every Sunday I will clean the front entry way and every two weeks I will clean up the spilled cat food in the garage. I will do these things because they are a small way for me to serve my Lord. Because, they reflect to everyone around me (and to my Lord especially) that I am different. I am vastly different from the world around me. I have Christ! And while we all know that it's what's going on in the inside that matters, that's what is most important, we still need to think about the impression we leave behind with every step we take.

I used to have a fish on my car and I drove my car around town with a good kind of pride. I believed in Jesus; I had a fish on my car to prove it. "I'm a Christian," my little fish shouted, "stop me and ask for my testimony." I was prepared. Then came the day when I realized that I'm not the only person who drives that car around town. And because I can't know how someone else is going to react when they get cut off, or someone takes their parking space, I decided it would be best to not advertise my standing with the Lord in that way. Someone else who drives my car has been known to shake a fist or two at other discourteous drivers. And then, of course, until just a week ago, none of these things mattered much in my brain. No, they always mattered, they mattered a lot; I just chose to disregard them. But now God has brought them up front and center and this is my new reality. This is who I am in Christ today.

I have been called to a life of poverty but that doesn't mean that my old car can't be clean. It doesn't mean that I can let my housework go (remember, it's not my house). And it doesn't mean that I am terrified because my salvation is at stake here. That's not it at all. It's just a matter of being good stewards of God's possessions. It's recognizing that everything I have belongs to the Lord and He has left them in my care. When He comes back suddenly, I don't want Him to catch His floors unmopped and while He may find the usual clutter in His house, He won't find that it's been thoroughly neglected. And I can take justifiable pride in these areas.

Last time I looked it was 116.2 outside and about 83 inside. (The inside temperature reading on my thermometer does not show the tenths of each degree.) That's pretty uncomfortable. I'm sure glad I got everything done this morning and didn't put it off until later. And, can you believe it, I'm sitting here drinking a mug of hot, hot coffee? Where is my brain?? It's just that my thermos only holds so much. See my hubby drinks regular coffee while I drink nothing but flavored coffee, which right now happens to be Hazelnut. We have only one coffee maker so I pour his coffee out into a large container and then I'll make myself a pot of my coffee. When that's done I pour myself a cup and the rest fits perfectly in my thermos. Then I carefully rinse the pot and the maker parts, reassemble it, and put his regular coffee back on the heating plate. I am seriously considering buying another coffee maker but that would mean giving up more of my limited counter space so I think we'll go with the thermos routine for awhile longer. But I would like to have another coffee maker. Not only would it give me fresh, hot coffee anytime I wanted it but it would put less wear and tear on this one coffee maker. And this is a wonderful coffee maker we have. Very expensive. Hubby got it as a Christmas present a couple years ago and it makes absolutely delicious coffee! I really hope making that extra pot a day won't wear out the maker too soon. But besides limiting my already limited counter, we can't afford for me to buy a good coffee maker anyway. So I will just stop worrying about it. But a pot of coffee in this maker fills up one mug and my thermos. I store the thermos and drink the mug. And there is no better coffee than that first mugful out of a fresh pot of coffee. So I sweat, but I don't waste that first cup of coffee! Well this, I'm sure, has been just a wonderful post with lots of insight and encouragement. Right? Wrong! It's Friday! And sorry it's a long post but I gave you a little warning. Guess what? I'll see you on Monday unless I decide to post over the weekend, which I probably won't.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Feeling Helpless

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt absolutely helpless? Can you remember a time when you felt totally powerless? It isn't a pleasant experience for any of us. Even people who claim to have relinquished their full lives to God still like to feel like they have some control over their circumstances.

Jehoshaphat faced a moment like that and we can benefit by considering his experience. In 2Chron 20:1-4, the good king was given travailing news: there were three different armies that had joined forces to lay waste to Israel. Even as the king listened to the report the armies ... "a great multitude" of warriors ... was already on their way to attack (v2).

What was Jehoshaphat's reaction to the news? Verse three says that he was afraid and understandably he felt totally powerless. But even so, in the moment of helplessness, he knew exactly what to do to save his country. The Bible doesn't tell us that "Jehoshaphat was afraid and ran away," or even that "Jehoshaphat was afraid but charged his enemies head on." No, Scripture says that "Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the Lord (italics mine.)"

We can learn from Jehoshaphat's perfect response in a helpless situation. The king knew this was not the time to give up, nor was it time to take drastic action motivated by his fear. Instead, he did the only wise thing to do: he prayed! Short. Sweet. Simple. And more than that he got other people to pray, and quite suddenly, the entire situation changed for him, because he had brought God into his helpless situation.

When we feel powerless and our situation looks hopeless, the first word out of our mouths should be "Father." From that point on hopelessness ceases to be an issue, because God will work every thing out according to His great plan and He will provide all we need.


Don't worry. I won't bombard you with another 10,000 word essay into what's going on inside my head today. Monday I just had a lot of things on. Monday's blog from Heather was depressing because she has to struggle so hard at times. Not to be obedient, but to just carry on. Eric was only 41 when he died and they had just finished fully adopting two children from Liberia. All of this just at times seems so wrong. Like God made a mistake when He took Eric home to live with Him. Her blog was saturated with sorrow and tears and it rubbed off on me. I too struggle with God's purposes and timing. I know it was the right thing, no, the perfect thing at the perfect time. Help me, Lord, to really see that in her situation.

Then Ginny had a blog that make me cry for an entirely different reason. They had to put down their dog as old age just caught up with her too soon for their liking. Lot's of death in cyber space lately. And I'm not saying that putting down the dog was on the same level of sorrow as Eric's death. There is no comparison. It's just that life seems so hard lately yet I know that God is good. All the time. And lately I've had to keep reminding myself of that fact. This morning in Stacy's blog she informed us that her next to the youngest is suffering from something, maybe cerebral malaria and they had had to take him to the hospital for a blood transfusion. So there's just a lot of sadness out there to deal with lately. And those questions surface: If God is a God of love, why is Heather grieving from such deep wounds? If God is a God of love, why do we have to put our animal companions down long before we want to? Why do babies, pure infants who have never done anything good or bad have to suffer such debilitating illnesses? Because God is Sovereign and as sovereign, He alone sees everything. He alone knows all the answers. But as a Christian, I have to be prepared to answer each of these questions for I never know but what they might be tossed up for me to answer and defend my faith. If God is so good, why do people die before their time? If God is so good, why do babies suffer? And if God is so good, why to we have to suffer such painful losses of our dear animal friends? I don't have the answers to these questions. I've asked them and tried to answer them in two different ways and I have not yet found an explanation that fully satisfies me. I don't think that we are meant to have all the answers for there must come an element of faith in our walk with the Lord. If we had the answer to every single question, and it was all down in black and white for us to see and analyze and understand, where and how would our faith enter that picture?

Hubby and I splurged and bought Chinese take out for dinner last night and I'm sitting here eating a bowl of left over rice. So good! To be truthful, I like my rice better but then I have to go to all the work of cooking it. Take out is almost as good. It's a good think I like rice because I will probably eat more of it for dinner tonight. We used to buy take out and have it cost us only $15+ for the rice, pork chow mein, and sweet and sour pork. Last night it was $19+ for the same three dishes. The cost of every thing is going up. When you have escalating gas prices like we've had and every thing is shipped by truck, you have to expect the prices to go up. But it would be nice if our income would go up too. It was a luxury to buy the take out last night but we'll eat on it for two or three days, so that makes the cost more tolerable. Well, that bowl of rice just made me want more! The fact that I have had enough for lunch hasn't yet caught up with my brain.

We're supposed to be really hot again today. Yesterday's high was 104 and today is supposed to get to 104 in the valley and when it's 104 in the valley it's about 110 up here. [Added later on Edit: Today's high temp reached 113.4. How's that for summer time? Ugh, I hate it!] Hubby put the cooler on early today in an effort to ward off the hot temps this afternoon. I got in and got my housework all done while it was cool and now all I have to do is write or read or nap or study. Whatever it is, I'm all set to go. I have decided not to go to the luncheon tomorrow. I'm not sure exactly why but I just decided it would be better if I didn't go to this one. If it were close here in town I might still think about it. But it is out in the country and is quite a ways away and I'd have to ride with somebody and I just decided to stay home.

I finished 1Corinthians yesterday evening and got a good start on 2Corinthians and I'll probably finish with it tonight. I go out in the evenings after the sun goes below the ridge line and sit in my chair on the deck and read until it gets too dark to read anymore. I know I've said it before but I'm going to say it again, I love this translation. It has been such a blessing to me. It's the New Living Bible. Very well done. It actually tells a better story than most of the translations on the market. I found that The Message makes me too uncomfortable. It's just so radically changed from other Bibles. It is way too flippant. Way too casual. The Message doesn't even sound like a Bible and I want my Bible to have an authoritative sound to it. The New Living Bible is great!!

My hubby just brought my shoes (thongs) over for me to look at. I had torn that particular thong or the strap that goes between the toes that is, when I first fell and sprained my ankle/foot back a couple months ago. Then yesterday I caught the tip of the shoe on a nail out on the deck that was sticking up and completely pulled the strap loose. So he put it all back together for me using epoxy glue and clamps. They were just a cheap pair of sandals but I really liked them. I get lots of compliments about them so I'm happy to see that he has it all back together and they look as good as new. He said not to wear them until tomorrow so I will stay in my platform strawberry thongs for today. I am so blessed by having a husband who can and will do most anything. He seems to thrive on doing little things like repairing my thongs. He enjoys doing little things for me. And he even does a lot of big things for me too. I thank my God for him every day.

I think it's time for me to lie down and take a short nap. I usually only nap about a half an hour but it's enough to make me feel rested. [Added on edit: I slept 30 mins.] I really don't like to take long naps. But I've got all my chores done and my blog typed so I may as well take advantage of the situation. I was actually supposed to mop my floors today but they still look great from the other day so I decided to skip the floors until next week. I need more floor wax anyway. Well I think I will publish this and come back and make my corrections and additions or changes when I go back on edit. Again, I apologize for the last blog being so long. I'll try to watch that a little closer from now on. Until next time...

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Vast Divide

When we picture Jesus as our bridge to God, it is natural to think of all the things that stand in the gap between us. There are many things that cut us off and separate us from the Almighty Father. Therefore, let's look at three illustrations that picture for us the barriers between us and God.

First, we are separated by height. The Bible speaks of the Father as "Most High," and Scripture describes Him as being "high and lifted up." He is way above creation and totally unhindered by space, time, or gravity. Therefore He says, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways" (Isa 55:9). Without a doubt, God is higher than us.

Next, we are separated by distance. Moses experienced God through a burning bush but even in that holy moment he was warned not to come too close (Ex 3:5). Later, when the Israelites had built the tabernacle and the temple, they were warned by God, not to enter into the Holy of Holies except for a specific time each year when the High Priest was allowed in under strict circumstances. There is a distance that exists between God and man that simply cannot be breached. And well that we are shielded for it would be impossible to venture closer and yet still live.

Third, we are separated by light and fire. We know that staring into the sun can cause blindness and getting too close to a fire will burn us. In a similar way, as I alluded to earlier, we know that if we stand in the pure presence of our Holy God we might be consumed (Deut 4:24).

Why did the Messiah leave heaven and come to earth? He came because only the perfect, sinless Son of God could stand in the Father's presence. But through Christ our Savior we gain entrance and can share His intimacy with Father God.


Another weekend has gone by. They seem to go by so fast any more. Frightening really if we think on it too long. We have such a limited time span in which to live our lives for the Glory of God. And we have but one life to live. It is so important that we not lose track of the time and waste it away rather than glorifying His Eternal Greatness.

I have a friend, another blogger, that I check on every day, for she has been enduring one the most agonizing aspect of our humanity. Her husband died six months ago. They had a wonderful relationship and a wonderful marriage and family. We wonder why tragedy visits us if we are truly God's children. Why He doesn't protect us from all harm. And why He leaves us to walk this walk this way. Oh, if we could see beyond the veil for just an instant we might see the answers to the questions we lament and anguish over. We would perhaps see a time and a place through our tears where there are no longer tears of any sort allowed. A place where true peace abides. In His glorious Presence. In His glorious garden where flowers bloom eternally and the river of life runs continuously. If we could but reach that place we think we'd do so much better. But as I assured my friend this morning, she will not grieve a moment longer than she is meant to. Our days are ordained of God. He places the boundaries and the borders and while we are allowed to go right up to them, we are not permitted to venture past the veil until it becomes our time too to pass beyond that point. Being left behind hurts. I want so much to reach out and take away her pain but her days are all written, sorted, and labeled in the Book of Life. Surely she feels that if he can't come back to her maybe she could step up to him but God says, No, it's not your turn yet. Time is such an agonizing thing. There's always too much of it; or sadly not enough of it. So I pray for God's guidance for her and I pray that in His loving mercy she might make it through another day. Another endless day. For that is what it must feel like: one long, continuous day without end. Lord, let Your peace fill her broken heart today while You hold her in Your arms, allowing her to make the connection once again to her Source of strength. Build her up with your strength so that she can be there for her children. Why on earth would You say it's the right thing at the right time? There were children to raise, a mate to fulfill, a life too quickly ended, and for that my heart is heavy today. I cry for Heather as she struggles through just another day of agony, just another day of sorrow, just another day of a grief-filled moments so palpable she can reach out and touch them. Why Lord? Why Eric? Why now? When will this devastation of her world resolve itself? So many questions, Lord. And there's only one answer: You willed it.

Now on to something less painful my cat. Mulder, my cat, has lost so much weight recently. I'm very concerned about it. He seems hungry all the time but never eats much when I put a plate before him. He's constantly trying to climb up my legs seeking something and I haven't been able to determine what exactly. I got the idea yesterday that maybe he has a bad tooth or something because he's not eating the crunchies I keep out at all times. I mean, maybe there is a physical reason he's lost weight and it's not just that it's summer. All my cats lose weight in the summertime. I don't know why. They just do. But this feels like it's more than that. So finally last night I got the idea that I need to feed him more than once a day. So before bed I gave him some leftover pork and he managed to eat it as long as I kept the pieces cut really small. Then I gave him a bowl of milk and he drank about half of it. This morning I opened a can of human tuna and he just about ate the entire can (he was in heaven as people tuna is his favorite of all time treat). I may have to scrounge up the money and to take him to the vet and have his teeth checked to see if maybe he has a bad tooth or something. But it's always difficult with my animals. I know full well that I have been called to a life of poverty and that's fine. I don't mind. For me. But I hate it when it comes to my animals. It's not their fault that I can't afford to take care of them the way they should be taken care of. But I will watch Mulder a lot closer as he eats and I'll make sure that he's eating enough by feeding him several times a day. I always just thought his climbing was him demanding attention but maybe it's been hunger all this time. Oh, I feel like such a dunce. Why does it sometimes take so long for the possibilities to "soak in" to my pea brain? Mulder has been an indoor cat since he was about 3 months old and that was about seven years ago. He was out of the last litter so I know his age. This isn't just old age problems. He escaped once a year or two ago and managed to stay "lost" for nine days. I went out several times a day and called him over and over again. A few times we heard him meowing but by time I got outside he was always gone. But since finding him and bringing him back home he's had no desire to go outside at all. He learned his lesson well. So I have history with this cat. I will watch him more closely and feed him more often and see how he does. I can't stand the thought that all this time he might have just been hungry! Duh!!! So far today he has had two meals already. I'm such a dunce.

The last two days have been really, really uncomfortable weatherwise. It's been hot and muggy. Saturday the air was so heavy you could almost cut it with a knife. I thought I was going to die. Then Sunday, yesterday, the humidity wasn't as bad but the temp was even higher than the day before. We got up to 109 yesterday and I burned my hand on the car door handle just trying to get inside. We had Diana's funeral yesterday afternoon. I'm glad she didn't linger and die of some painful malady. I don't know what the autopsy will show but more than likely it was her heart. Mark went by to check on her and found her dead on the laundry room floor. But she will be sorely missed at church. She was quite a humble servant. Doing her volunteering in areas others wouldn't serve. The ones behind the scenes where there was no recognition of her efforts. Librarian. Prayer chain coordinator. Sunday School teacher. Funny thing, I had always thought we were about the same age but she was 16 years older than me. She aged well, either that or I'm aging badly. Maybe both.

I'm very proud of myself. I got all my morning chores done before I started blogging today. Yea, for me! It's amazing how little effort it takes to keep a house looking good when you set your mind to it. But it is not good for a Christian woman to let her house go. My house is not my house. My house belongs to the Lord and it's important that I take good care of it. Whatever I do toward the upkeep of this house, I do unto the Lord. This is Jesus' house 100% of the time and I need to remember that. The thing is, I've always known this. Why has it taken me so long to be obedient? That's the question. It's not why did I get so lazy there for awhile? But, why did I go through such a long phase of sloth and sin? It was pure and simple disobedience on my part. I believe my hands and feet are God's hands and feet. Do I? I mean, do I really recognize that fact? Yes. Then why was my disobedience allowed to take over for so long? I don't know. It just seemed like it took me such a long time because I couldn't get my act together. I needed my list of daily/weekly chores. Which is silly, because you can actually start this system with total chaos and in a week's time have it back into the shape it should be in. That's what's so marvelous about this method of housekeeping. You never have to do any more than one day's worth of chores every day and within a week, everything is done the way it should be and it will stay that way as long as I continue to keep up with it each day. Some days are harder than other days but it's designed that way because some days I have more energy than other days. Mondays are always hard for me so rather than fight the system, I intentionally made Monday a lighter chore day except twice a month when I vacuum the furniture.

I have been invited to a luncheon on Thursday but I'll need to line up a ride because my car would never make it. It's too far. My car would over heat way before I could get there. So I'm going to need to call around and find someone with whom I can ride. Thursday will be a pot luck and I think I'll make a macaroni salad. Dessert and drinks will be furnished but we'll each be bringing a dish. Hopefully someone has some really good dishes to bring along so we won't end up with all salads. But you know, I think most of us could make do on salads and be just fine. Evelyn's salad she served at the last luncheon makes my mouth water just thinking about it. I can always eat salads. I'm trying to make myself get out and do more things. I tend to not get involved with groups because it's so hard for me to hear what's going on around me. But I need to get out more. I need to socialize more. So I'm planning on going Thursday.

My flowers are blooming beautifully in their planters hanging on the deck railing. Makes sitting out on the deck such a pleasure. But it's too hot out there to sit today. I need to get busy and fill the hummingbird feeder and then make a dash out to the Post Office. My granddaughter's birthday is in just a couple days so I need to get that card in the mail. I wouldn't want it to arrive too late. So I think I'm going to let this be it for today and get those things done because by the time I finish them, I will be ready for my nap. Isn't it wonderful to have your own nap? It's my nap. Just like it's my shower. Or it's my walk. I'm a bit possessive at times. Boy, this paragraph traveled a little distance there. Started out talking about my flowers and ended up discussing my possessiveness. Talk to you next time...

[Added on Edit: I am very troubled today. Very near tears several times. For some reason I think Heather's blog touched me more deeply today than it has other times. I just feel her pain on a deeper level today. I have lifted her up in prayer but nothing resolves this grief I feel. I want so much to put my arms around her and have a good old-fashioned cry session with her. I want to bear her pain for her today. To give her a rest. But I can't do that. Instead we grieve separately for the same sorrow. The truth is that I don't want her to ache today the way I know she is. And if I'm going to be miserable today, I may as well be miserable for the both of us. The thing is with Heather, her reality has changed forever. Things will never be okay as she has always known okay to be. Eric is gone. Nothing can ever make that okay again. Something inside of me wants to cry out about fairness. It isn't fair that Heather is suddenly alone with six children. It isn't fair that the other side of her bed is now empty. It isn't fair that her world has been turned upside down when she liked things just the way they were. It isn't fair that her heart is broken. It simply isn't fair that Eric died. Somehow it feels unfair when someone's trip into glory is taken at the expense of other hearts left behind. But then, did God ever promise us "fair" in the first place? I don't know. I'm pondering that question right now with you. Did God ever really promise us fairness? He's promised us justice and mercy. Surely justice reaps fairness, doesn't it? Or are they two separate things altogether? How can I hope to comfort my friend when I can't even comfort myself. If I dwell on Eric too long, my pain becomes my own. My life will never be okay again. Nothing over time has made my life okay since Rich's passing. Nothing over time ever will. Death is such a hard taskmaster. But you see? That's the thing about death. No one can get to heaven without having first died. Except for Enoch no one has ever gotten to heaven without passing through death's door. So if we wish the best for them, we must be willing to suffer the worst for ourselves. These are deep thoughts that humans can sometimes think. Does it mean we lack faith? Does it mean we're filled with doubt? I don't think so. I think it just means that we are human. Lord, take Heather into your arms and hold her for a little while. Let her feel your closeness as one feels the radiant heat of burning logs in the fireplace. Comfort her in all the ways I can't, for Father, You can heal from the inside out while even on my best days I can but cry for her. You alone can satisfy the ache she feels. But, see, the thing is I want her to know it doesn't get any easier but I don't want to be the one to have to tell her. Her life has forever changed. It doesn't get any better. Normal isn't normal anymore. I want her to know so she won't be hoping for it to get better ... waiting for normal to be normal again. I have walked my painful walk now for 20 years and I can still cry at the drop of a hat. I can still be startled when I think I hear his voice in a crowd. Right after Rich died I saw him everywhere. Everyone looked just like my son. One man I felt certain looked exactly like both my sons though they were so far apart. Ken, tall and fair. Rich, short and dark. But during those first months, maybe a year, I saw Richie everywhere. Once I was so sure I called out his name. You see; grief never really goes away. It only changes somewhat. It becomes more tolerable. But where our loss was in a heartbeat, our normal takes time to catch up, to fill in the hole that's been created in our lives. I want Heather to know all this but I don't want to tell her. There will come a day when she will speak his name and it won't bring tears to her eyes but there'll never be a day when she will not be aware of her loss. Even if she marries again. There will always be a hole in her life. It has taken me these past 20 years to learn these few things. I want to spare her the long lessons but she must learn them on her own. I want to grieve in her place but only she can live her own private grief. Lord, I lift up Heather to you right now. It's been six months. Soon it will be a year. Then two. Three. Four. It's like the day it finally came home to me that Rich was never coming back. I was standing at the sink and without thinking I cried out, "I've been good..." Meaning that I deserved to have him come back because I'd been good for however long it had been. I want to spare Heather all these lessons that I had to learn on my own. I want her to know but I don't want to be the bearer of bad news. I want to bear her grief but I can't do that. I want to spare her the hard lessons I had to learn alone. But I am helpless here. These are my frustrations that I share with you. Grief is never over. Grief is this thing that holds us up at times and lets us down at other times. Grief is her new reality and I don't want her to spend the next 20 years learning that fact. But I guess it takes us all time to learn life's lessons. Lord, ease her sorrow for today. Hold her up where I can't. Give her the inner assurance that You will always be there to hold her up. Let her know You are only a thought away.

Well, it has taken me all day to write this blog. Can you believe it? I keep going away from it and coming back to it. It's been a lot like pulling teeth today. To get a single thought out of my brain has taken incredible effort! Just thought I'd tell you so if it seems disjointed or malformed, you'll know why. There were so many things I wanted to write about but today just wasn't the day for it. I'll probably publish this and wish I could edit it all back out. Sorry. The pains of a writer are very similar to the pains of childbirth. Anyway, I don't know if I'll publish a post on Wednesday or not since it took me all day for this. Maybe I'll skip a day. We'll see how the week goes. ]

Friday, August 22, 2008

Our Bridge to God

The Lord makes a powerful, unquestionable statement to us at John 14:6. Without a doubt Jesus clearly says, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through me.

People have been trying to argue that statement for 2000 years. Some say that the Lord wasn't to be taken literally. Others just out and out reject His authority to even make such a claim. However, we believers in Christ's lordship take what He says as Truth. So let's take a moment and consider the picture this presents to our minds.

It is easy to think of a one-way street when Jesus says that He is "the Way." We can take this to mean that there are lots of roads to be taken but that His road is the only road that will get us to God the Father. This is a good illustration of what Jesus had in mind but I think we can do even better than this.

We can think of Jesus, not so much as a road, but as a bridge to God. Paul's warning at Romans 3:23 comes to mind: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (italics mine). The picture here is of a great chasm of empty space between us and God. A chasm that is so wide we hold no hope of ever crossing it on our own. We are unable to "bridge" the gap and we fall.

So what, we ask, is the only way for us to cross this chasm? A bridge, of course. And our bridge is Jesus Christ, the very Son of God. He alone stands in the gap, and he alone provides safe passage across the open void and into the loving arms of our heavenly Father.

We need to meditate on this illustration and make it real to us, because with eternity across a vast divide, just out of our reach, we can truly appreciate the bridge Jesus makes. We are not hopeless and lost. Jesus took the cross and turned it into a bridge.


Well, no one really said they wanted to hear more about marriage so I took that to mean you don't have any loose ends to tie up on the subject. Actually, I guess I pretty well summed it up anyway. I thought Ginny's comment was great, that the Bible pretty well tells us what marriage is in the first place. (I think it was Ginny that said that, if not I apologize for my poor memory.)

I think it's great that the gold for both the women's and men's beach volleyball went to the Americans. The men's game was really close. The women's was close too but not like the men's. They just kept going back and forth on the men's games. I think it's neat that Rogers turned his back yard into a regulation beach volleyball court. And I think it's great that Mays-Trainor, and Walsh are going to take some time off and have babies. Can anyone remember if the girls won gold last year. Seems like they did to me but I'm just not certain.

It's a beautiful day today. The temp is just about perfect. I was quite leisurely in my Quiet Time this morning. It was just that it was so pleasant, I just wasn't in a hurry to finish it up and come back inside. Isn't it strange the way some days we wake up raring to go and other days we wake up just dragging? I'm just dragging today. I don't know if I just didn't sleep well or what the problem is but I'm just really tired. I guess I will do my chores and then spend the rest of the day reading. I just took a couple Aleve, that usually works better for me than anything else.

There is definitely stubble on my bald head so I think that means it's growing back in. One thing for sure, I will never take my hair for granted ever again. I will cherish my hair. We learn many things by going through trials. To think that I used to complain about my hair all the time and now here I am without any hair to complain about. I am anxious to get at least some of my hair back. I went to the doctor yesterday morning and she said she wasn't convinced that this was an allergic reaction in the beginning. She gave me a big bottle of cortisone with two refill on it and said she'd see me in three month and if this hasn't gone completely away by then I'll have to go on oral drugs to try and get rid of it. But she wanted to give it every chance in the book to clear up on its own before going to the oral meds because they can adversely interact with some of my other meds and will require close monitoring of my liver. I'd just as soon not take it, if possible. My hair dresser was surprised at my bald head but she went ahead and gave me a hair cut around the ears and at the nape of the neck. I felt perfectly at ease sitting there with no hair on my head. At least now I know that if I ever have to have chemo it won't be a big deal to me for my hair to fall out. Been there, done that; no big deal. She also gave the the name of a place down in Lodi called The Wig Palace. They specialize in the needs for women who are undergoing chemo and they know all about wigs. They will sit you down and really help you pick out a good color and shape for your wig as well as the style and they will teach you how to care for it. I'm anxious to try a wig and see how I look. I just still don't know if I want to go to the trouble and the expense in buying wigs when the bandannas and do-rags seem to work okay. I didn't want to see anyone spend money on a wig if it wasn't going to be absolutely necessary. But Tamara had already ordered one for me when she showed it to me. I just hope she didn't spend too much money on it.

I got so sleepy watching the games last night that I think I actually dozed off a time or two while I sat there watching them. And I'm not much beyond that today either. Tomorrow will be my day to wash the car. It is such a mess. Where I park my car there's a big oak tree reaching over the spot. And during certain times of the year it will drip tiny specks of sap, I guess, don't know what else it could be. But these little specks are sticky as well as tiny. It sure turns my car into a mess in no time. But I like to wash it on Sat so that it will still be relatively clean for church on Sun.

Well, I just made a quick trip down to church. I suddenly remembered that I was supposed to be down at the church this morning at 10:00 to help set up for the funeral. I had a feeling I was going to be too late and I was. I just hate forgetting something like that. I must remember to tell Joann to call me if I don't show up somewhere when I'm supposed to. I feel just awful. That was just about the time I was out on the deck with my quiet time. I don't forget very often thank God! But I always feel bad when I do. I will call her later and apologize. It sounded like there were plenty of people there to help when I talked to Kim about it. But I don't like saying I'll do something and then not do it.

I'm going to keep today's post short as I need to get in and get my chores done. Theoretically I'm not supposed to blog until I have them done but I forgot about that and was deeply into my post by the time I thought about them. But I do have the bed made; does that count? Today I am to do the laundry, change the bedding, and vacuum the floors again. It kills me to have to unmake the bed (especially since it's the only chore I've already gotten done) just to change the bedding but that will teach me to look at my chore list before I do something. Actually I'm hoping that I will get so used to doing these chores on specific days that I will not need my list every day except for those odd things that aren't don't regularly every Fri. Like I have it down to clean under the burners on the range top on Fri but EOF (Every Odd Friday) so I don't have to do it today. I see no need to clean under there every single week. But I may end up changing my mind about it.

This has got to be the most boring blog I've ever written and I apologize for it. But I just don't have my thoughts together to write. I have some great quotes by Watchman Nee but I'm not ready to share those. Watchman Nee, Oswald Chambers, and Andrew Murray are my three favorite authors. Probably followed by Max Lucado even though you can't even begin to compare him to the previous writers. But Max Lucado touches my heart while Nee, Chambers, and Murray teach my heart. I have to be in a receptive mood for Nee and that just isn't me today. I best get to my laundry or I'll be doing it all day. I'm hoping to finish the letters to the Corinthian church today. I am on chap 14 in the First letter and I'll get that done and then start the Second letter and I expect to finish it just reading between tasks.

Hubby has on an old COPS show on TV and the little kids were just screaming and crying and carrying on. It makes me so mad that people can't see that their behavior can have adverse effects on their children. Don't break the law so you won't have to be arrested in front of your children!! I can't think of many things more traumatic for a child to have to endure than watching his parents get arrested. Poor kids! Speaking of COP, do you know where the name COP comes from? It comes from early English and stands for Constable On Patrol. Bet you didn't know that. Okay, this is it for today. Really is a nothing blog. I pray for all my readers daily and will pray for you too and I apologize for the lack of substance to this blog. Now my hubby has on the America vs Cuba baseball game for the Olympics. Much better than COPS. Take care and since this is such a bad post, maybe I'll post again tomorrow. Until then...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Thoughts on Marriage

I've decided to write a few words on Debi Pearl's book, "Created to be His Help Meet." This book is very popular right now. It seems like everyone I know has at least heard of the book. I read the book about a month ago and had some issues with it. You may have read it and loved it or hated it or didn't care one way or the other, but I thought I'd write about the thoughts I have on the book. First off, Pearl talks about staying in a marriage relationship because it provides us with the opportunity to be a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. The first part of her book is dedicated to that premise. My problem with it is that the motivation is all wrong. If we are in a relationship that is not all we would like it to be, we are to stay in that relationship because of the promise we made to God. Remember those vows? We are not to stay just because it makes our lives more to our liking. Call me an old stick in the mud but I still believe in love. I'm not talking about the fickle and romantic love everyone seems to strive toward. I'm talking about the love in the Bible that is all about others and all for others. I'm talking agape love. God's kind of love. This is the love we promise our husbands on our wedding day. To love him forever for better or for worse.

Agape love is all about the other person. It is wanting the very best for that other person for our entire lives. We stay in a marriage because it is a commitment made before God to love, honor, cherish, and obey. And both parties make the commitment. It is a total emptying of ourselves for the other person. For his best. For his good. For his health. For his pleasure. For his desire. For his needs. For his sake. It is the giving of everything that makes us us to the other person for his use. A marriage is the beginning of the life-long commitment to love the other no matter what. It doesn't matter even if he is unlovable we are called to love him. Oh and it works the other way too. Everything that is true for the woman is true for the man. Giving and taking. Agape love is working toward giving the other the best, the most fulfilling, the happiest life possible. It is totally unconditional. It is the yielding of our way to his because we want the best for him. If we work at keeping our marriage alive only because we gain something out of the equation, we have a sick relationship. We are not giving our all for the right reasons. Even the heathen will stay in a relationship when it makes her feel good for her efforts. It's nice to feel good and there's nothing wrong with that but it shouldn't come from our efforts at making ourselves happy. It must come as a result of doing everything we possibly can in the life of our husband to make it the best for him.

Our happiness and contentment should come to us only as a by-product of loving him. We aren't meant to make it the best for us. We are meant to make it the best for him. Everything we do should on some level stem from wanting the very best for our husbands. And if we benefit through that process, so be it. But we aren't to enter into a relationship striving for the best for us. We are to enter into it striving the very best for our husbands. Remember we vowed to love, honor, and obey. (I realize that a lot of vows have deleted the "obey" part but I choose to leave it in because we are to obey each other in the context of this marriage arrangement.) I do nice things for my husband, cook the food the way he likes it, keep his house clean and orderly, iron his shirts without being asked, etc., all because I wish the best for him and not because I get something out of it. And the blessing is that I do get something out of it. I get to experience the joy of doing something for the other simply because I want to make him happy.

Marriage is a complicated thing that we've over the years made even more complicated. But I can say quite emphatically that I don't keep up my end of the bargain so I can be a stay-at-home mom. In fact, I wasn't a stay-at-home mom. I had to work and keep up with everything else at the same time. And I did this because I loved my husband. I was a single mom when I met my husband and he expected me to continue to work and for that matter so did I. But if a family can get by on just one income I say "praise the Lord," stay home and be a great mom and wife. But I've sort of gotten off my main point here. The point I'm trying to make is that it's complicated enough, we don't need to spend an ounce of energy making it more complicated. Whenever I am unhappy all I have to do is think back on my wedding vows. I promised to love, cherish, and obey and no where is it written in that promise that I would do these things for as long as my husband made me happy. In fact, my happiness isn't even entered into the equation! I promised to love my husband, to cherish my husband, and obey my husband. This is agape love, the giving of my all for the sake of another. And in this case the "other" is my spouse. The cherishing is to carry that agape love one step farther. To cherish the little things about him. The way he always walks on the street side of the sidewalk when we walk together. The way he comes around and opens my car door. The way he makes me giggle when I'm trying to be miffed at him. Yes, and even the way he leaves his dirty socks on the bedroom floor. And the way he never rinses out his milk glass. Everything about him is to be cherished because if we truly love our husbands the dirty socks are trivial, the milk glass is a non-issue. It is good to cherish everything about our spouse. He is a unique person because he is mine and I am his. When I really agape my husband it does a strange thing to me. It makes me happy and I feel fulfilled. I want the very best for my husband too. I always give him the best chair. (He doesn't always take it by the way.) I watch the TV programs he wants to watch. I cook his eggs the way he likes them cooked. My duty is to love my husband with all my heart and with my every action. My duty is to agape him. And I fulfill my duty with an eager heart because I like nothing else so much as making my husband happy. And this is why I work at my marriage. I don't work at it for what I can get out of it. Rather I work at it to give him the very best I can give him.

Loving my husband comes right after loving the Lord in my list of priorities. So if your marriage allows you to stay home and care for the house and the kids say thank you to the Lord (and your husband) and work as hard at being a good wife and mother as you worked for your boss in the secular world. Your secular boss didn't want you to spend the day letting the chores go and watching television all day instead. You should work at your marriage no less than you would have worked for a secular employer. So we don't, under any circumstances, work at our marriage because we get something out of it. Rather, we work at our marriages because of what we can put into it. And we gain a happy marriage as a by-product to our efforts of making the very best happen for our spouse. Ladies, if we work at our marriages for what we can get out of it, well, that's prostitution.

Pearl, in so many ways, says that we are to stroke our husbands egos and make him feel good about himself. I disagree. We are to do everything we can do to make it easier for our husbands to say no to self, no to the flesh, and no to the carnal man. As Christians we aren't even to have egos. Christ is our life! As a Christian, it is the Lord's desire that we give of our selves and submit to Him and Him alone. This applies equally to both spouses. If we do nothing but praise our husbands, how will he keep a good balance? Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that you can't tell your hubby he's a terrific man because chances are he is. But what I am saying is that we tell him he's great because he is and not because it makes him happy and when he's happy he doesn't care that I just bought another pair of shoes. It's the motivation that counts ladies. My husband is a miracle worker. Present him with a problem and give him a few minutes to think about it and he will come up with the solution for the problem. He's incredible that way and I tell him he's great about that because it's the truth and because I want him to know that I appreciate that quality in him. Not because I'm going to get anything out of it and certainly not so that he will get puffed up and satisfy his ego. We must above all things keep the marriage bond honest between us and our spouse. We give compliments because they are deserved and not to stroke his ego and not because we're going to get anything out of it. Marriage must be built upon truth or it won't succeed.

We are to be our husbands helpmate. That is biblically clear. The sexes are arranged to need each other. Most women need a man. And most men need a woman. Men were created to protect and care for women. Women were created to finish or complete men. Does that seem strange? Are men truly incomplete on their own? No. It's not so much that we complete him as it is that we satisfy him. My husband is constantly creating some little something to do a particular task. And most of the time I am at his side to help him. Even when he goes out to do something by himself I will usually tag along. Sometimes I just sit out there and watch him work. And the funny thing is that I'm usually not there very long before he asks me to hold something or go get something for him. I enjoy this part of our marriage. I love doing things with him and for him. I am submissive to my husband in this way. I learned it from my mother. She demonstrated this quality in her life. She was always there to help my dad do anything he was trying to do. It only feels natural to me to do things for my husband. If he drops something, I will pick it up. If he needs something, I will go and get it for him. If he can't find something I will help him find it. I get great satisfaction out of being his helpmate. I feel fulfilled when I am doing things for him. It's all about the motivation. What motivates me to be his helpmate? Spending time with him. Doing things for him that are easier for me to do than for him to do. I get incredible fulfillment from doing things for him. I am always trying to think of something that will make his life a little easier. I want to help him. I want to serve him would be the Christian way to look at this. It is a joy to give of myself in this way. I'm serving him but I am being fulfilled at the same time. If you can just humble yourself to ask what you can do today to benefit your husband, you'll see that before long you will be doing all kinds of things for your husband and you will be reaping great rewards in the process.

But this all stems from wanting the very best for your mate at all times. It is the yielding of ourselves for another. It is agape. It is loving with God's kind of love. And it's what marriage is all about. We are to submit ourselves in this way because it's the way the Lord arranged it. Does this make us into doormats? Quite the contrary, my friends. Our husbands will have the desire in their hearts to love us unconditionally as well. And we will find that rather than a doormat, we are his cherished possession. What if he doesn't, you ask? Well, you are still indebted to do the very best for your spouse regardless of the way he treats you. (Now, I'm not saying you should take beatings and other abuses.) The one thing we must remember is that we made a promise before God and we must honor that promise. We are to love, cherish, honor, and obey because God says so. Period. End of conversation. We don't need to know what "type" of man we married. We don't need to know what sign he was born under. We don't need to know if he is from Venus or Mars or Neptune or the Jungle Book. The only thing we need to know is what our obligation is before the Lord. All we need to know is that we promised to love, cherish, honor and obey him.

And then there's that nasty little word. Did you catch it? It was the next to the last word in the previous paragraph. Yeah, that's it. That ugly little word there: obey. Well what exactly does this mean for us? I don't claim to have all the answers. But I know what it isn't. It isn't asking for permission to write a book! It isn't following orders. It isn't giving up everything we hold dear. But it is a total yielding of ourselves to our spouses. It is caring for them more than caring for ourselves. It is loving him enough to give of ourselves one hundred percent. To do things his way when you can't decide between the issues. It's realizing that your mate matters and your marriage is a sacred arrangement and there can't be two alpha dogs in the pack. It's being a good wife and mother and companion. It's being to him all you want him to be for you and more.

I know a woman who is always at church. She's there every day and I'm not exaggerating. She is there every single day. Some days she's there from 7 AM to 8:00 or 9:00 PM. Her husband has a drinking problem. Which I can thoroughly understand. I might have a drinking problem too if my mate was gone every day and was never home with me. This falls under obeying. We are to be a good wife and companion. We are to cherish our time with our spouses. It's great that you can go to every activity at church as long as you aren't neglecting the vows you made when you got married. My husband is a believer but not an active one. I make it a point of letting him know that he's welcomed to go to any event I go to at my church. But I don't go to every event! He would never complain about me going. That's just not the type of person he is. But I pick and choose the events and I certainly don't go to them all. Not if he's not going. I am his spouse, his mate, his companion, his friend. How can I possibly be at church for hours and hours every single day, going to every meeting and activity, and fulfill my obligations to my husband at the same time? I can't. Therefore, I pick and choose what activities I attend. I would love to go to them all. But am I really being a loving spouse if I am gone all the time? No, I'm not. The obeying part of our vows simply means that we are to put our husbands first. This was the way God put marriage together. When there are two members one of them must be the submissive member. To obey is to accept this as coming from the Lord because it is coming from the Lord. If my husband and I disagree about something I may stand and argue my point but if it comes down to the wire, I will always submit to his choice. He is my head as Christ is his head. But this submission doesn't mean that we have to ask for permission to go to the store. Heavens! We are not children who can't direct our own steps. And our husbands didn't marry us so that they would have someone to boss around. Or at least we should hope they didn't. I can assure you of that! If we are giving our best to our husbands that is all that's required of us. But the motivation has to come from an honest and pure heart. Yes, there are many benefits to being married and we will reap those benefits constantly if we are putting our husbands first. If we agape him. If we want the best, the utmost for our spouse, there are no problems when that pesky little word rears its frightening head. Obeying is a joy when it comes from a pure heart. If we are giving everything we have to our husbands to make him as happy as we can because we love him, and want him to be happy, obeying is not pesky, it is not ugly. It is pure and chaste and loving and commendable and it is what God wishes for us.


I think it is time to lie down on the couch for 20-30 mins and refresh myself. I always need a few mins on the couch to make it through the day. Especially since we're staying up until midnight or later watching the Olympic games. What fun those are!! I hope you're enjoying them as much as we are.

Today was a little warmer than yesterday. I had to turn on the cooler mid-afternoon. I do get so tired of listening to the roar of it though. Hubby's asleep in his chair. He's so funny. He doesn't consider that napping. He only counts naps as naps if he goes in and stretches out on the bed. But I know a nap when I see one! Right not he's got Olympic boxing on and I don't care for that sport so I've got my hearing aids turned off and you know, it gets rid of that roar from the cooler too!

My hearing. Have I ever explained what happened to my hearing? I lost my hearing overnight. I went to bed a normal hearing person and woke up the next morning totally deaf. I stayed totally deaf for 4 long, miserable months and then some sounds began to filter back in again. I have about 50% hearing with my hearing aids on. No doctor has ever been able to explain why I went deaf and none of them has been able to assure me that I won't go totally deaf again. I was in my late 30s when I woke up deaf. I can remember the first thing I did was run and pick up the phone. I was going to call my husband and tell him to come home because I needed him. And I put the receiver to my ear and realized I couldn't call him. I couldn't call work and let them know I couldn't come in. But then I figured it didn't much matter because I couldn't do the work I did without good ears. I did have my husband call the next day though and I eventually went in and cleaned out my desk because there was no way for me to do my job without hearing. Truth be told, I really didn't like that job anyway, ha! My biggest loss by far was losing my love of music. Music used to surround me and fill me up. I loved music. Music was a big, big part of my life. But I no longer enjoy it much. I can hear it now with my hearing aids but I can't understand any of the words so music has had to take a back seat for me. It's no longer the enjoyment it always was. Bummer.

Did I tell you my daughter-in-law ordered a wig for me? I'm sure I must have. Anyway, it hasn't gotten here yet. Of course she only ordered it a couple days ago. I hope I like the wig because I'll have to wear it whether I like it or not after her doing such a sweet, unselfish thing. She was so loving to do that. It's not a style I would have picked but that's okay. I'll let Nancy buy one of my choosing. That way I can have two wigs. The one my daughter-in-law ordered had shoulder length hair and I would have ordered one with a short, short cut since that's closest to my real hair. Or what my real hair was, I should say. Tomorrow I have a doctor appointment and I'll see what he says about my hair falling out. And I also a couple hours later have a hair appointment. I called yesterday and left a message for her that she wouldn't need to block off time for a shampoo and style that all I want is for her to shape it around my ears and clipper the back. I'm also going to have her shave my head just to the point that it's all the same length. I don't want her to shave it down to the scalp but I just want it all about 1/8th of an inch long. Some of it is close to 1/2 inch and some of it is about the 1/8th length. I just want her to leave it as long as possible but to get it all the same length.

As you've plainly seen, I went ahead and took that leap off the cliff today and just stated my opinions on marriage and submission. That took a lot of courage so be gentle with me, ha! I have more to write but I thought maybe I should break it up into manageable bites so I don't choke anyone on it. But there are a lot of good things in Debi Pearl's book but the biggest problem I have is with her motivation. For her, giving is so we'll get. For me giving is so I can give even more. It will be interesting to see what kind of comments my readers will leave me. Just remember that these are my own opinions on the way I see the marriage arrangement. I don't claim to be an expert by any stretch of the imagination. I just thought I would give my opinion on Pearl's book. It just seemed that her entire premise was to do something so we'd get something in return. And I feel that premise is wrong. We give so we can continue to give and if we get in the process, Praise God! But that's not where we're coming from.

Well, it is time to feed my beasts. (I'm surprised Mario is climbing all over my computer keyboard demanding his cat food right this instant.) So guess I'll let this be it for this time. I will be back Friday if everything works out okay. And if you like what I wrote and want to hear more let me know in your comments. If you don't like it and don't want to hear any more please state so in your comments too. Either way.
Take care my friends and don't get mad at me over this post. These are just my opinions and you don't have to agree with me. I love you all just the way you are. All I ask in return is that you accept me as I am. Okay, I'm gone. Bye...

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Alternative to Patience

Have you ever felt God calling you to something big? Somewhere to go or something to do? Maybe it's a task that seems impossible or something that would take you years to accomplish. Has a God-given goal come to mind? Most likely an incident of some kind has come to your mind. As you think about that incident let's consider a few common courses of action that people use all the time.

First, we can take a shortcut. A shortcut is most often the course we will take if it is available to us. After all, if God makes us a promise or gives us a goal, wouldn't He want us to achieve it as quickly as possible? Doesn't that make the most sense to our way of thinking? But our answer to the question isn't necessarily God's answer. God most often makes His promises to us years, even decades, before He brings them to pass. And He doesn't usually tell us why He took so long! But it is when we play around with things and try to manipulate them into conforming to our thoughts and desires on the matter that things get confused and out of order. It is when we try to "help" God fulfill His promise that circumstances become all twisted into knots, and we find ourselves out of God's will and standing directly in the way of all the blessings He has in mind for us. Remember the journey is often the majority of the blessing. There are often big rewards in the waiting alone, such as faith and wisdom that we can only gain in the time spent waiting on God.

Second, we can simply give up and quit. How many of us want to wait 10-15 years for the blessing? Time is such a human short fall and in light of that we often just quit and walk away and try not to think of it any more. Can you imagine listening to God's promise and then just saying, "No thanks, I don't want to wait that long. Surely there's another blessing just as good that won't take nearly as long." That would be a tragedy.

Third, we can wait patiently and trust God for the blessing in His time and in His way. This is quite clearly the best option available to us but it is sadly the course of action we most often avoid.

What if someone were to offer us a million dollars, payable in 10 years, what would we most often reply? "No thanks, I want it now or never?" Of course not. That would be pure foolishness. Why is it, then, that we say this to God. He has incredible blessings in store for us if we'll just be patient and wait upon the Lord to bless us in His perfect timing. The best option we have is to rest and watch and wait upon the Lord.


Our company left this morning and although we hated to say goodbye we now find the quietness of the house very comforting. The problem I have is they love to talk and because I don't hear well I have to struggle to stay current in the conversation. That and the TV has to stay on every minute of the day and night. But we love them so much. Now, Lord, see them safely home. It's a long drive for them to make.

John was very helpful while he was here. He fixed the passenger's door on the bus and now I can open and close it myself from the inside and outside and it won't try to fall off. He also fixed the right front area where the turn signal comes out. That area was all rusted and the signal light was just in there temporarily. Now it's all fixed. And, finally, he discovered our gas leak was not in the tank. It was the gas line itself that had a hole in it. So they replaced that and now we can put gas in the tank and not have to worry about it leaking out. So at least now we have one vehicle in shape enough to go across the river and do our shopping every month. It was so nice of John to do all that for us. We were going to see if he could fix the lock on the driver's door on the cad, but there just wasn't enough time. The thing is that John can fix anything. He's like my hubby in that regard. Present him with a problem and within minutes he's figured out a way to do it. I admire anyone who can do that.

We grilled burgers for dinner last night and ate down in the yard on the table. It was so nice sitting down there. It was fairly cool by the time we ate and there wasn't a single fly or bug to bother us. John had put chunks of blue cheese in the meat mixture and it made the meat juicy and delicious. We only had two days to worry about and we made spaghetti for Saturday and they picked up the things for Sunday's burgers but they still spent $184 on groceries. I don't know how they possibly spent that much either! Of course they bought a lot of snacking foods that we wouldn't have bought like, cheese, salami, smoked oysters and clams, dips and chips, pies and sweet rolls, and everything needed for breakfast (I had forgotten about breakfast) but I thought with us taking care of Saturday the kids wouldn't have to spend as much as they usually spend when they come up here. All I can say is those were expensive burgers! But there was a lot of food they took back home with them too. They had bought eggs, bacon, margarine, etc., and they took it back home with them and used our eggs and things. They also slipped us a $20 to cover the cost of the motor home's A/C while it was parked out front. I was very grateful to see that because I had, quite honestly, worried about the extra expense that was going to run us. When you are on a tight, fixed income every little thing matters.

Cathie had brought up boxes and boxes of photo albums and they all sat there at the table for hours looking at all the old photographs. It was really funny because my family was trying to identify the people in a 1940-era photograph that my cousin had run across. And our emails were going back and forth between California and Texas, Georgia, and Missouri. It was just funny that we were doing that at the same time M and the kids were doing the same thing. There must have been three dozen emails over that one picture. I couldn't get over all the pictures of me in Cathie's albums. Back when I was young and skinny. Oh, I miss those days.

My cousin, Betty, slipped on some wet concrete and broke her ankle in several places so if you would please pray for her I would really appreciate it. Betty is a strong Christian that is always doing things for the Lord. She goes on several missions a year. Last year they went to Russia, and New York, and I can't remember where else, but I'm afraid this is going to slow her down for a bit. She is in the hospital and will undergo surgery tomorrow there in Georgia. My ankle/foot that I sprained so badly awhile back still causes me problems. I can just imagine what she's going through. The thing is she had to wait 5 hours in the ER without getting anything for pain! Poor thing!

My daughter-in-law took it upon herself to order a wig for me. Bless her heart. I had just planned on using my bandannas and do-rags unless my hair wasn't going to come back in. I just hope she didn't spend too much money on it. She came over yesterday and showed me a picture of a woman with gorgeous hair and asked if I like the hair. I had the feeling she was thinking about ordering something for me so I told her not to buy it that I was fine with what I had. But I was too late, it was already bought and shipped. It's coming from Hong Kong so I don't know how long it will take to get here. And I hope it's already styled because it is really cute in the picture. I don't know what color she picked out for me but hopefully it's close to my natural color. I have done very little coloring of my hair all my life. I used to keep highlights in it but my hair grows it all out so fast and it's $60-80 each time for highlights so I gave up on that years ago. And then about 15 years ago I thought I'd color my hair the same color just to give it some texture and body since my natural hair is limp and baby fine. Well, my hair ended up with more texture and body but it also ended up orange instead of the color on the box which was as close to my natural color as I could get. I don't know how they can sell something with a color that isn't the color advertised. You see, I didn't understand that you can't go by the color on the box. Don't ask me why not but I only discovered that fact after I tried to color it and bright orange was just not my color. So I had to call my hairstylist and ask what I needed to do. (I was lucky she felt in the mood to help me because I hadn't gone to her to color it in the first place.) So I ended up having to go a shade or two darker than my natural color but I was so grateful to get rid of my orange hair that I didn't even care that it was darker than I wanted it to be. The closest to my color is Medium Ash Brown. I hope the wig fits me and everything. I don't think she's even aware that they come in different sizes and I have a very small head. I rarely find a hat small enough for my pin head.

M is down for a nap and I stopped and laid down and rested for 20 mins and then decided I better get this post finished or I'd end up losing it to a power outage or some such disaster. Well, I know this isn't much of a blog but it's Monday, after all. Can't expect much out of me on a Monday. Especially a Monday following a weekend of guests. Especially these guests. I have never seen visitors just come in and take over all the rooms, food, TVs, etc. They just spread out and take over. In no time they've got their stuff scattered throughout the house. And this time they almost had a disaster because Cathie forgot her laptop. We called John's cell phone the moment we found it but we had to just leave a message. As luck would have it they were still gassing up here in town and they got our call but the voice mail didn't work for some reason but they were able to know we had tried to call and they knew there would have to be a good reason for us to call them so soon after their leaving so they decided to come back by our house to see what we wanted before heading on out for San Francisco. Then M tried calling them again and got an answer and they were already on their way back to see what we wanted. Cathie had not yet realized what they had forgotten. But they really lucked out because the company they work for has a couple people flying in today from Chicago for a big important meeting tomorrow and all the price quotes, etc., are stored in the lap top. Whew! I'm just so glad I noticed it on the floor there by my desk, thank you, Lord. Someone would have had to drive all the way back up here (about three hours each way) for it before that meeting in the morning with the clients from Chicago!

I will be busy part of this week working on the funeral and reception for a dear sister in the Lord who went home to be with Him just a couple days ago.
She had been talking on the phone to someone at the church about something and she happened to mention that she hadn't been feeling well. They tried to call her back after awhile and she didn't answer her phone. The church secretary's husband was on his way home from up the mountain so she asked him to swing by Diana's house and check on her. He found her dead on the floor in the laundry room. She was 78 years old but was as active in the church as anyone, and in her secular life too for that matter. I had no idea she was that old. I thought she was about my age, 60. Diana was our church librarian, prayer chain coordinator, and 3rd & 4th grade SS teacher. She was always doing something. Well, we will miss her but she's at home now getting to taste the sweetness of heaven before any of us do. Can you just imagine the incredible delight she must have felt when she first saw the Lord? Wow! Sometimes I can hardly wait. But she is enjoying her eternal life and basking in the glory of God. I don't know when the rewards are due to be handed out to the saints but I'm sure she'll get plenty whether they were immediately given to her or whether she has to wait until some time in the future to get them. I seriously doubt she'll mind waiting if she has to. I find that as I grow older I also grow more confident in the future promises for all of us. Won't it be glorious to see her again with a perfect heavenly body standing there to greet us into heaven when the time comes?! There will be so many there for us to hug again. I certainly don't have a death wish but I look forward with great expectations toward that day in my future when I will see the Lord face to face as well as all those who have gone before me into the blessed promises of our Lord and Savior. God, through the apostle Paul, promised us that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

The weekend was hot and still. But today we haven't even hit 100 degrees yet and there's been a nice breeze blowing all day. It's making for a nicer day for us. Do you realize August is more than half over? When I realized that this morning I almost fell off my chair! Seems like August just got here and September is around the corner! Fall is almost here. I want to enjoy winter this year and I'm going to do all I can to do that. I keep thinking fondly of wearing my scarves and gloves again, bundling up against the cold. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are coming straight at us as fast as they possibly can! Seems like I was just wishing for Spring. Where does all the time go? Time is a funny thing; either it goes by too fast or it lumbers along too slowly to fit our schedules. Timing is rarely ever just right for our likings. But I will be glad to have the summer heat over with and get back to a quiet house. The roar of the cooler is trying on my ears. It just makes it so much harder to hear conversations. I pick up the low frequencies so much better than the human voice. For me it's a lot like trying to converse while standing under a waterfall. But I will definitely miss the sense of openness, just open space that enlarges our worlds when we don't have to keep things closed up tightly against the cold weather. And the clothes of summer: shorts and sleeveless tops, bare feet, etc., will be greatly missed. I'm not even sure if I'll still be able to fit into my jeans this year. I think I will. At least I don't feel like I've put on any more weight; but keep your fingers crossed for me. I haven't tried on my long pants for months now. Wouldn't it be nice to discover I've actually lost a few pounds?

We're going to have burgers again for dinner tonight. There were six patties left over from dinner last night and John split them with us, so I won't even have any dinner to cook tonight. We've got a lot of potato salad to eat. M made up a big batch and we barely made a dent in it while the kids were here.

I was able to stay caught up with my devotionals while there were here. I wasn't sure I would have the time and opportunity but I found that if I went out onto the deck I could usually have enough privacy for them. I also finished Acts, read all of Romans, and have started First Corinthians in the New Living Bible (NLB) while they were here. I just love that translation. It is the most readable Bible I've ever had the pleasure to read. It's so casual that it is truly like reading a letter from a dear friend. It accomplished what The Message tries to do but fails so miserably. The Message is just too casual; it has too much slang in it. I found that I couldn't take it seriously. I would recommend the New Living Bible to everyone. It's just fun to kick back and read. I still prefer my NIV for studies but the NLB is so wonderful for casual reading. I find that I am always doing at least one study at a time and that's fine. But I feel empty if I'm not reading it at the same time too. I am constantly reading and rereading the New Testament. I know the Old Testament deserves my attention too and I've read it several times, but there's just something so special about the NT. It's all about Jesus. I've read the NT so many times now I can remember where to find certain things. Quotes from Romans sound like quotes from Romans. Hebrews sound like Hebrews. Philippians sound just like they belong in the book by that name. I've been able to put flesh on the bones of the NT, something I haven't always been able to do. But it makes it nice when there's something I want to look up but have no idea where to find it. I think about it a little bit and I'll get a "feeling" of where it belongs. I just finished reading Job and the prophets a couple months ago. And last winter I read all the other books in the OT so I feel I'm doing pretty well with it. I did some reading of Watchman Nee's writings yesterday while they looked at old family photos and, as usual, I was blessed. I marked some quotes in my book (Secrets to Spiritual Power) and one of these days I'll post some. He is so good!! If you haven't read The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee you really need to do it. I have read it several times as well as a couple of other books. He's about on the same level as Oswald Chambers in style and content. You kind of have to pause every few words and let his writings soak into your brain. Or at least I do.

I know this hasn't been much of a post but I'll try to do better as I progress through the week. Also while they looked at photos I was able to finally get myself a schedule written out for doing my household chores. It's just a matter of taking all the things you want to do in a week and spreading them over the course of the seven lists, one for each day of the week, and then incorporating all the monthly chores spread out too. It's hard to explain but if I'm true to it and follow my schedule, my house will always be clean. And spreading the chores out over a matter of days, allows me much free time. I try to schedule enough chores for each day that will require me to work no more than an hour to an hour and a half. I used to have this all made out on 3X5 cards and kept in a file box. (I mean I had everything scheduled into my lists. Car washing. Garage cleaning. Leaf raking. You name it, it was on my schedule. This schedule I just made is much, much less thorough and encompassing.) All I did yesterday was simplify it to just seven days instead of doing a whole month at a time. You know, on Mon, Wed, Fri I vacuum everything, on Thursdays I scour the baths, on Fri I mop and wax, etc. And I did that for all my chores I need to do to keep my house clean. Anyone can do an hour of housework a day! For monthly chores I just enter it and label it. For instance I vacuum under and behind my refrigerator every month so on Mon (a day I had already planned on using the vacuum) and I entered it with a note to do it on the "first Mon of the month." To factor in something I only wanted to do every other month, I wrote it down and then added "even months" or "odd months" and something done just twice a year I found a time slot for it and then wrote "Jan and July" or whatever. That way I can have every task assigned to a particular day and I know if I will just do those few chores every day my house will stay clean and all those "do once in a while" chores are factored in too. There's no more forgetting to do something important. I've probably got you totally confused by this time and I apologize if I have. But it's a system that works incredibly well for me, if I stick to it. I successfully used it for years but it was custom-designed for a particular house I lived in and it was very, very thorough and when we had to move away, I never did update my chores file. I always wanted to and always meant to but it was just one of those things that kept getting pushed to the back burner. This chore list isn't nearly as detailed and is not structured around this particular house. It will work for me no matter where I live.

I want to thank all my readers for leaving comments and encourage those who don't normally comment to please do so even if you just comment with one word. That would let me know you've visited my blog and I will know you're too busy to leave a comment. We all love to get comments. Okay, this is going to be it for me for today. This has been the latest in a day that I think I've ever blogged. I will go ahead and publish it and will come back and edit it later so if you get to it before I get back to it, there may be any number of mistakes and I apologize.