SOAP, Isaiah, family, & other musings…

A few months ago, I felt impressed to amp up (increase, broaden, deepen, expand) my Bible reading. I started adding ‘reading breaks’ of a few minutes several times during the work day, times when I might normally be checking my email, or practicing my vuvuzela… & then followed up each reading with reflection. Thinking on what I’d read. Asking the Holy Spirit to apply it to my life. To seek out all the places in my heart, mind, & life that need a touch from Him. To transform mindsets, attitudes, & behaviors that subtly (or not so subtly) stand against, resist, or even oppose God’s purposes for me.

And I’m seeing LIFE. I’m getting woken up before 5, no alarm necessary. Waking up feeling rested & restored, excited to take on the day, looking forward to my reading & reflecting. Looking for opportunities to interact with others about the stuff that God is stirring up in me. Feeling a renewed love & hunger for the Word.

Reading through Isaiah 25 this morning – a prophetic passage talking about the end times. These chapters of Isaiah have a definite Revelation feel & sound to them, with familiar themes like the fall of the nations that have resisted/opposed God’s redemption; judgment; the fall of Babylon; perseverance; salvation.

A section of Chapter 25 really jumps out at me:

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And He will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; & the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, & the reproach of His people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. And it will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice & be glad in His salvation. Isaiah 25:6-9 ESV

Very cool – God throws a feast to celebrate, with the best meats & wines, specially chosen & prepared by Him! And the recognition that this is God’s favor, His salvation come to humanity, to those who waited for Him.

Reminds me of the passage in Isaiah 40 that talks about ‘waiting on the LORD’ – & that those that wait on the LORD will renew their strength… And that waiting isn’t passive inactivity (like sitting in the waiting room of a doctor’s office.) No, its consistent, active obedience to the things I know to be doing. The confident expectation that God is at work, will be at work, & is acting on my behalf. Sweet.

Pasty has been in Cookeville, Tennessee with Alex & her family since 7/1. Kind of a senior trip, complete with a houseboat trip & a Florida vacation – before he comes back & starts college in the fall. He’ll be back 7/26. And I miss him this morning.

TheWeez is at Middle School Camp in Sonora, meaning theBean & I are down to 1 kid – IDoey. He’s got summer weights & football every day, so life for him revolves around sleeping, playing, & eating whatever he can get his hands on.

Last night before bed, he came to tell us goodnight. He grabbed both theBean & I & said, “Family hug!” He looked at both of us while he hugged us & exclaimed, “Isn’t this great!?”

I’m pretty sure IDoey enjoys the life of an only child.

For some reason I was thinking yesterday about the Christmas song “Away In A Manger”… there’s a part of the song that says:

the cattle are lowing/the baby He wakes/but little Lord Jesus/no crying He makes

That never made any sense to me – the cows are making a bunch of noise & wake up the baby… but the baby doesn’t cry. Of COURSE the baby cries. That’s what babies do when they get woken up, especially by cows.

I think we like the idea of a baby that isn’t like other babies; one that doesn’t cry when woken up suddenly… in the same way we like the idea of Jesus being a man that wasn’t like other men – who wasn’t subject to the same feelings, thoughts, temptations & frailties that we are, yet who persevered through them to be obedient to the call on His life to be Redeemer & Saviour to the world.

I think we’re uncomfortable with Jesus’ humanity.

NEWSFLASH! U2 has published the dates for their rescheduled North American tour. June 7, 2011. Oakland.


Preparing for the Spring…

Looking out across the valley, the last rays of sun leap out from behind the Sierras. Dark clouds streak the sky as a whistling wind rises & falls, reminding me that though this is the 1st official day of Spring, Winter hasn’t packed his bags & moved on. Yet.

The tease of the last few warm days have almost wiped away the memory of 2 feet of snow just 1 month ago. The ‘new-ness’ of life that comes with Spring definitely makes me think about change & transition. Wondering what new things are headed my way. What ‘new mercies of the LORD’ are coming towards me? Where am I going to be challenged to grow, develop, & lean into God in a new way…? To be taken beyond what I can see & know to the place of utter dependence. The place of “I don’t know about 2 weeks from now; though I’m fairly sure about today. And I know where to look tomorrow.” If that makes sense.

There is a temptation to stay where I am. In the familiar, the comfortable, the known. The places where my feet have marked a worn path, where I can almost walk with my eyes closed. A place where I feel competent. Strong. Secure.

To me, walking with God means being led. Not being the one in the drivers seat of my life, dictating what I’m doing & where I’ll be doing it; rather, looking for where it seems He’s at work in & mostly around me, & seeing how I can jump in in those spots. It means humility, a willingness to not “know” with certainty the plan for the next 3-5 months, let alone the next 3-5 years. To invite the Holy Spirit to shine a light into my life, even into the dark corners where we’ve hid the dirty laundry, that escapes even the most well-trained eye. But not His.

Practicing repentance. Realigning with God’s purpose, plan, & direction.

Laying down the right to be offended. To put aside (not deny, but not hold onto) hurt feelings. False accusations. A character that has been assassinated yet again, leaving the defense of me to the One who knows me best. Even if it means appearing weak.

The last several months, I’ve been reminded that I need to be planting God’s Word in my life, heart, mind, & spirit. To read, listen to, & meditate upon the Bible. To get it ‘in me,’ so that it can bring about the life God desires for me, & to provide fodder for the Holy Spirit to apply as the Spirit sees fit.

Entering Spring, I reapply myself to the Process, to say “Yes,” to what God has for me & mine in this next period of my life. That His purposes, His mission would be my priority. That love for others would overflow in my life; that I would grow in knowledge & discernment, to know what is REALLY important; to be fruitful in Christ-likeness, living pure & holy in His sight, bringing praise & glory to Him.

Yep. Here comes the Spring. And I’m looking for the new.

on waking up & other Friday musings…

Woke up today feeling something was different. The early morning fuzziness began to fade & I went through the hazy mental checklist to try to determine what it was… nothing came to mind. Hmm. Deep breath. Oh! That’s it. My sinuses aren’t clogged, & I can breathe through both nostrils… & my ears are ‘open.’ Sa-weet. What a difference that makes. It feels like finally waking up after dozing on-&-off for days. And my head doesn’t feel 3 feet thick, meaning that my words are actually accessible.

And theBean says, “The Olympics are starting.” Hmm. There was a day that that would have been big news, & generated a lot of excitement. Those days went away during the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Summer Games, where I was first introduced to the influence of propaganda, political rhetoric, & posturing politicians. And was reinforced in the former U.S.S.R.’s boycott of the 1984 Los Angeles summer games.

And that’s not even getting into the snafu that is the television coverage. Heard that the Vancouver Olympics, which happen to be on Pacific Standard Time thank you very much, will be broadcast in the PST with at least a 3 hour tape delay. Marvelous.

More than a few times in the last 2 weeks, I have been reminded of my desperate need for the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in my life, & my utter inability to “do” or “be” good. It seems that I’m holding a mirror, reflecting back in my face the scripture:

“There is no one who is righteous, not even one; there is no one who has understanding, there is no one who seeks God. All have turned aside, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, there is not even one.” Romans 3:10-12 NRSV

Fortunately, there’s also the promise that the Spirit is at work in me, & also that I’m empowered to live & breathe to the praise of God’s glory. Booyah!

EllieG gave me a valentine yesterday. Cute little one with a watermelon sucker attached to it. She came into my office & held it up to me & said, “Here ya go, Tay-Tay.” I made a big deal out of it & said thank you. She interrupted me with the demand, “Give me the candy. Give me the candy NOW!” Turns out, I get to keep the actual valentine, but the sucker is hers.

And yet another reason I love theBean. This Sunday is Valentine’s Day. TheBean & I were discussing the Holiday, & deciding what we were wanting, hoping, expecting for the Celebration of the Day. Turns out we both aren’t so much into the Giving of the flowers, candy, bling, etc. (Please note: theBean does like bling. Just not enough to go into Debt for it.) And don’t have to go out to a Fancy Restaurant on the day. We’ll probably celebrate together with some quiet, face to face time in our getaway, with a favorite bottle of red & something spicy.

Watching GODTV today… because Dr. Chuck Missler is on. I love that dude. When he teaches, it’s like what he’s saying gets downloaded into my brain ala ‘The Matrix.’

I’m thankful for friends who stick with me through thick & thin, good times & bad. Who know me, strengths & weaknesses, the great things about me & my glaring flaws… who still offer grace, forgiveness, mercy, & the opportunity to share life together. Makes life richer.

I’ll end with that. Thank you friends.