Entering God’s rest…

In  the middle of life’s busyness & hectic pace, have you ever had the thought, “I wish I was on a quiet beach somewhere with no noise, no demands. Just the sun, a good book, & a loved one? THAT is where I’ll finally be able to get rest.”  I have… & I’ve been thinking more & more about what theBean & I going to do on our sabbatical when this quiet beach becomes our reality.

But I know me. It will do me no good at all to get away for 8 weeks, no matter how incredible the beach is or how isolated, quiet, & perfect the surroundings if I don’t REST. In my head… you know, find the relief, the mental & emotional tranquility that brings a refreshment to the depths of your soul. I know that the last thing I want to do is be laying on beach next to theBean, all the while going 100 miles an hour in my brain, preoccupied, distracted, worried, & stressed.

And so I’m trying to prepare myself, in advance… wrestling through Scriptures on Sabbath & rest, wrestling with God in thought & prayer, determining to find those “unforced rhythms of grace” that Jesus talked about in Matthew 11:28-30


 

One passage that I’ve been spending time in is Hebrews 3 & 4 – & I have really been digging into  Hebrews 4:1-13 & the specific wording about entering God’s rest & what it means. The authors of Hebrews talk about how Israel was unable to enter God’s rest (a.k.a. the Promised Land, the place promised to God’s people) due to their disobedience to His word & instructions. So, as I see it, there is a direct tie in between entering God’s rest & obedience – hearing God’s word, the Good News & receiving it (acting on it.) And there is a Sabbath rest promised to us…

…there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

For the word of God is living & active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul & of spirit, of joints & of marrow, & discerning the thoughts & intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked & exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.        

Hebrews 4:9-13 English Standard Version


As I’ve been pondering the question, “What do I have to do to enter God’s rest & to really experience the Sabbath rest this talks about?”, I keep coming back to verses 12 & 13 above. You know, the part about the power of the word of God – & its ability to cut through to the very core of our being, even weighing our thoughts, motives, & intents of our heart… & it makes me think that entering God’s rest (& finding true rest for my soul) is tied to time with Jesus… meditating on His words… allowing Scripture take root deep in my heart. Because it doesn’t seem to be about doing something – its about transformation of heart & mind… not striving… learning to BE & BE dependent on His word.

It reminds me of what Jesus said when He was tempted by the devil in Matthew 4:

“Man doesn’t live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

That’s my goal. That’s how I want to be becoming, more & more. And I’m gonna find rest.

Do I ever REALLY stop? & other musings…

Just looked at the calendar. Five Mondays from today, theBean & I will be on our first day of sabbatical. I’m trying to prepare for this time away, with the purpose of being as intentional as possible about what we’re doing. So, I’m revisiting some studies that I began about 10 years ago on the Sabbath & Sabbath rest. I’ll be blogging some of my thoughts, discoveries, wonderings, & questions here over the next several weeks…(If you’re interested, you can read more about WHY we’re taking a sabbatical HERE)


 

A couple of my favorite ways to study something in the Scriptures are to

  1. find the word in the original language, along with a working definition of the word;
  2. do a word-search & find the first place in the Bible the word is found…
  3. ‘popcorn’ around to other places the word is found, referenced, discussed, etc…

I looked up Sabbath & found the first time the word itself is used is in Exodus 16:23  & it shows up quite a few more times, most notably in Exodus 20:8 – the place in Scripture where God gives Moses the commandments (of the most famous “10 commandments,” the command to remember the Sabbath & keep it holy is #4. But I digress. Fun rabbit trail though.) The definition of Sabbath is “to stop; rest; come to rest; cease.” The more I dug, I discovered that though the word first showed up in Exodus, the first time the concept or practice of Sabbath appears in the Bible is in Genesis 2:1-3 as a part of the creation narrative. It says:

Heaven & Earth were finished, down to the last detail. By the seventh day God had finished His work. On the seventh day He rested from all His work. God blessed the seventh day. He made it a Holy Day, because on that day He rested from His work, all the creating God had done. The Message

Think about it. The final ‘act’ of creation was God creating Sabbath, Holy Time –This was so important that He built it into the fabric of creation by working six days, then on the seventh day, He STOPPED. And then He RESTED.


The more I roll this around in my head, the more I see how tied together the two are: you cannot rest until you stop. So I think about what it takes to stop, to REALLY stop. And I think about myself & my own life patterns & pace of life. I reflect on our cultural norms, behaviors & attitudes that are normal, at least until they are held up to the mirror of God’s Word. And I ask myself, “Do you ever really stop? Do WE?”


We live in a 24/7 city – in a country that celebrates busyness, activity, & multi-tasking. We rarely think about let alone embrace the fact that we have limits – on our time, our physical/mental/emotional capacity, & on what we can do & do well. We often push ourselves & our schedules to the limit, cramming as much activity into our days & weeks as possible. We usually don’t get enough sleep & survive/re-engage with life because of coffee/energy drinks. (An interesting fact – in 2006 when I began my studies on Sabbath, I researched the caffeine, how much was consumed in the US, & how much money was spent on it. Here’s what I found: In 2006, more than $12 Billion was spent on coffee, & another $1.1 Billion was spent on energy drinks, most of which were consumed by people in the 18-25 year old range. Fast forward to 2014 – close to $40 Billion was spent on coffee last year & a staggering $13.5 Billion was spent on energy drinks, a figure which is estimated to rise to at last $21.5 Billion by the year 2017. And the reason more than 60% said they drank coffee/energy drinks? In essence it was, “I need it to get going & keep going. Can’t do what I do without it.”)

When we have time off, we use it to get everything done that we couldn’t finish during the work week, &/or we pack our free time with all sorts of activities. Technology doesn’t help us out here – the modern conveniences of ‘staying connected’ through our smart-phones, computers, omni-present wifi, mp3 players keeps a constant barrage of stimulation & noise bouncing around our brains.

No wonder silence seems strange.


 

Do I ever REALLY stop? When was the last time I took a day, set apart as Holy Time, & didn’t work… didn’t get preoccupied/distracted with something… just intentionally set myself up to BE?

The defense mechanisms kick in quickly. Countless reasons for WHY I do what I do, & WHY taking much time (let alone a day) is just about impossible with all the things that fill my busy schedule come to mind.

And then I think about what I read last week from Matthew 11:25-30, especially the part about finding God’s rhythms of grace for life… & I contrast that to the driven, life-sucking pace & practices that lurk around me… And I want that rhythm, God’s rhythm for me. And so I invite Him in to the mess of me… & I trust He will FINISH what He starts.

Ready? Set? LISTEN…

At Hillside, we just finished up our most recent series, “Who am I REALLY?” (You can listen HERE & HERE if you’re interested.)  It was an exploration of WHO God says we are, in Him, & WHAT the ramifications of that are in our lives. I really enjoyed it, & got to hear lots of feedback from others on the things that they were learning & hearing from God as He did work in helping them grow in Him.


My process for deciding where we go next involves prayer, planning, looking at the calendar, & thinking… all of which usually happen (& are completed) in advance of needing to start another series. Not this time. Finished the series yesterday – no idea where we were going next… that is a bit of a feeling of desperation, exacerbated by the fact that theBean & I are starting a sabbatical June 22 at the strong ‘urging‘ of my district supervisor, Ron. In a nutshell, here’s how it went down:

Last Summer, theBean & I had a conversation with Ron, & he asked very specific questions about our lives & about our time in Reno. And when we affirmed that we were celebrating year 15 in our city, he said, “It’s time for you to take a sabbatical.” I knew what those were… And my mind raced. And he continued: “And it needs to be at least 6 weeks. Preferably more. Make it happen.”

And when one’s supervisor says such things, you does them.

BTW: Here’s a SUM UP of what a sabbatical is (it’s wikipedia – don’t sue me:)  – & here’s some INFO on why sabbaticals are helpful to pastors:  – & here’s MORE.  


I had to take a 2 hour drive this morning (1 hour each way.) Time in the car + a car with a broken antennae = lot’s of quiet time. My time was filled with prayer (open eyes… I didn’t ask Jesus to take the wheel) & pondering something deep in my gut. It was a couple of verses that I have a lot of history with:

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me & you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me & work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me & you’ll learn to live freely & lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 The Message

And it hit me – a strong nudge from God – “I want to you come to Me & recover your life, & as you prepare for your sabbatical, bring Hillside along in the process.”


 

This might sound to you like a no-brainer – if the pastor’s going to be gone for several weeks, wouldn’t it be a good idea to talk quite a bit about it & to prepare the community for it as well? I would say, “Yes. Yes it does.” And, to be fair, I have talked about it. A little. And so I repented. Asked God for forgiveness for getting caught up in the speed & race of life. And for dis-remembering what it means to live life at God’s unforced rhythm of grace. Cause a sabbath (& a sabbatical) are not just meant to be a recovery time so that we can jump back, helter-skelter, into the out of control mess of life. Rather, they are to form a pattern for how life is lived the rest of the week/month/year, etc… a life lived at God’s pace, with His values, purposes, & goals directing every step. It’s counter-intuitive to the world-system (& even church-system) & requires both LEARNING to walk at God’s pace & REMAINING dependent upon Him for what comes next… Here we go!

 

Deutschland #7+

DAY 7 –
I have to confess, I’m a little discombobulated & am not really sure what day it is… either of the week or the # of days I’ve been in Germany. I do know that this day was my last with Julia’s family. Woke up early & drank coffee & spent the day with Julia talking about everything. And nothing. Made our way to a favorite spot of hers in beautiful downtown Achern, the RatKeller, which literally means, “the advice cellar” as it used to be a place where the local politicians gathered to share information. I ordered “Grandma’s potato soup” & a salad. The soup was inedibly salty – when I told the waitress, she shrugged & said, “The cook must be in love,” which evidently is an acceptable explanation as to why it was ok for me to be served the Great Salt Lake with potatoes… & pay for it.


The family Kern came home just in time for me to depart for the train station. What a special family. Saying “goodbye” is tough – it makes me sad, but thankful to have such wonderful people in my life. Pia (Julia’s mom) told me next time I come to their region, I will have to stay with Julia & her husband, who is not currently in the picture :). Yes, that would be nice. I’m praying for him right NOW. And if I need to export an American who wants to live in Germany & marry a beautiful, smart, & confident woman, I will do it. :)


The train trip from Baden-Baden to Frankfurt was fast & uneventful. Jumped on the U-Bahn & made it to the grocery story meeting place where Alex picked me up so I wouldn’t have to walk in the rain. We made it home just in time for a phenomenal dinner Linda made for us – it was several different types of sweet potatoes baked with peaches, chilis, shallots, & radishes, along with some red-wine vinegar & balsamic, acoompanied by carmelized bacon-wrapped dates. Dessert was a coconut milk-vanilla pudding with rose-water & Johannes berries, a tart berry that added a great kick to the dessert. Fan-TASTIC. Alex & Linda usually eat paleo-style, & Linda is ultra-creative when it comes to making great-tasting & very healthy foods. Alex & Linda remind me a lot of Colby & Claire in so many ways, (interests, gifts, personality, etc…) & I dream of eating a dinner prepared by Claire & Linda one day. It shall happen, I declare.

I was pretty wiped out from staying up so late the previous night celebrating the German victory that I headed to bed fairly early for a night of fitful sleep.


 

DAY 8?

Woke up this morning just in time to wish theBean a good night’s sleep. Sigh. Coffee & good talks, along with another great meal – omelette, proschutto, salad, a corn muffin & banana-crumble. Goodness.

It’s about 11:27 a.m. & I will be heading out in just a few minutes. My appointments today include Levent & Ines this afternoon, then Steve Greenhill this evening. I am looking forward to meeting Levent & Ines’ 2 kids for the first time, & celebrating their anniversary with them. And I haven’t seen Steve since he got married. I’ve got a feeling today is going to be great.

Talk to you soon – many blessings to you, & thank you for praying.

Rosarito, Day 4

Today was our designated “Rest” day, which meant sleeping in a bit, pancakes & bacon, & a slower pace for the whole day. To me, a rest day on a mission trip isn’t a “waste” of a day – rather, it is a celebration of the fact that even when we ARE on a mission, we benefit & are strengthened by stopping from our labors, resting, & enjoying ourselves. Plus, its a reminder for all of us for when we return home to our local “mission from God,” we need time for rest, recreation, & reflection.

After breakfast, we meandered down to the local flea market (it’s not a flea market, but that word gives you the idea of the atmosphere) for people to buy trinkets, ponchos, jewelry, & handwoven backpacks & the like. I didn’t buy anything, but I did walk around & make sure nothing hinky was going on, accompanied by my new friend Alejandro. His nickname is “Tiny” which of course means he would fit in in any NFL locker room at the defensive lineman meetings. Goodness. And I’ve loved hearing his story of redemption – how God took his heart, full of hate, mistrust, & violence, & healed it so he could love & trust again. Gentle dude.


When the shoppers had had their fill of acquisitions, we walked across the street to Paisans Tacos. It was our 2nd trip there in 3 days, & this time, there was barely anyone there. Which meant we could get seconds if we wanted. And I wanted. I ate carne asada tacos & 2 asada burritos with some of the best homemade salsa on the planet. My body revolted against the yummy goodness after burrito #2, but it was nothing Mr. Tums Antacid couldn’t get me through.


Rest day also equals a day at the beach. It’s not really the kind of ocean you just go swimming in – it looks & feels a lot like Santa Cruz, where you’d only head out if you were a) surfing or b) silly. I was neither today, so the closest I got to the water was walking down the beach holding hands with theBean as the water rushed over our feet. Being around living waters (rivers, lakes, & the ocean) feeds theBean’s soul, so you can only imagine the smile on that girl’s face as we walked up & down the beach, talking about everything & nothing, plotting together for next summer when we get to go to Puerto Vallarta. Boom.

One of the highlights of our day was when a school of dolphins appeared in the surf less than 100 yards out from our spot on the beach. We watched them do X-Games-style stunts, jumping & sailing through the oncoming surf, dancing on the surface, splashing around & generally entertaining anyone who happened to be on the beach at the time. It was one of the coolest sites I’ve seen in person. Yes, I’ve seen trained dolphins at Sea World, but man, this was dolphins doing what dolphins do “For Love Of The Game.”


If the sun & surf really took it out of us… the activity back at the place we are staying finished the job. Actually, Tony Mac & I read, a couple others worked out, & the hoopers played hard for a couple of hours, until we decided it was time to end our feeding for the day with chili nachos. All of us were fading as we headed to our daily debrief, but talks about our day’s highlights revived us enough to get us through til bed time.

It’s relatively quiet now (10:27 p.m.) save for the barking dogs outside, the occasional drive by truck with a megaphone announcing a sale on propane or pizzas, or the sound of Jordan being… Jordan. The sea breezes are just about reaching us & are making the rooms almost cool enough for sleep.

Tomorrow, our main activities are heading to the Vista Marina church, about 15-20 minutes from Rosarito, where we get to do our special dance again, set to “Every Move I Make.” And a couple of people will have the chance to “tell their story.” After a sack-dinner, we’re heading back to the beach to meet with the Hope Chapel Youth Group for a bonfire & S’mores. Yes. This is a rough life.

Thank you for your prayers – we feel them & appreciate them.

Rosarito, Day 3

We started our morning at the children’s home, with breakfast & devotions. Made a sack lunch & packed up our bags for the transfer to our new ‘home away from home, then made our way out past the “Cliffs of Insanity” to Joseph House. Joseph House is a home in the making, sponsored by Hope Chapel Rosarito – it’s purpose is to provide a safe haven, a place for deported men to stay, live, & be discipled. There are currently 5 men living in the home, & many of them have jobs (a rarity for deportees.) Our tasks for the day were simple:

  • Paint the 2-story front of the house, as well as 1 of the 2-story sides. No ladders, just extension poles. (Light baby blue. It was nice.)
  • Assemble a corner desk – without instructions, & perhaps without all the necessary pieces.
  • Rearrange the home so that the 5 occupants could better live life in it. After all, dudes are dudes & we need help organizing & designing stuff.
  • Clean the kitchen (see above)
  • Dig holes for a fence to establish the Joseph house property boundary. Make the fence. Using only reclaimed wood, scrap metal & nails.

Boom. We did it. Finished all of the projects with the help of some skilled labor (Mario & Alejandro, 2 of the once-baddest-but-now-big-softies-for-Christ-that-I’d-want-walking-with-me-on-any-street-in-the-world type of guys) & a lot of sweat. And sun. It was hard work, & took a lot of ingenuity on the part of Tony Mac, who rigged two extension poles together in order to finish painting one section of the house, & of Janelle, who came up with the idea of hanging out the upstairs windows to paint other parts of the 2nd story. Good times.

An added benefit is that we met a family from the US that just relocated to Rosarito. Jason & Dulce have 3 kids, & the funny part is that Jason went to the same high school theWeez currently attends in the greater Reno-Sparks Metro area. Small. World. Jason is a photographer & videographer working in Baja, & he’s been shooting a bunch of pics for us.

At the end of our work day, we took time to pray for the house & for the men who do (& will) live in it. It was very moving to know that this place is (& will be) a refuge for men who have lost everything… & that they will become men who have found everything again when they find Christ.


We were dead tired (& dirty), so we made our way to our new home, the House of Rest. It is sponsored by Calvary Chapel & is a world-class place, with room for 64 people & some really great features. The best one so far was the SHOWER because I was covered in baby blue paint sprinkles.

Freshly scrubbed, we made our way to Grandma’s House, a Baja restaurant specializing in (wait for it….) food like Grandma used to make. Ate to our hearts content. And with eyes glazing over & people starting to nod off, it was time to go home.

Wrapped up our day with a brief discussion, a song, & prayer, & the promise of PANCAKES & BACON for breakfast in the morning. Another happy thought is that we will be sleeping in & having a rest day. Without a rest day on a trip like this, it would be easy to lose focus, get burned out, & turn into virtual zombies. With the demands of our schedule Friday-Sunday, we can’t afford that, so Thursday is rest day/beach day/buy a poncho day for those that so desire.

And it will be grand. Thank you for praying. It makes a difference.

Life, right side up, & other musings…

Friends@FenwayI never thought I would have the opportunity to go to Fenway Park… Boston is on the other side of the country, a mere 2,888.2 miles (by car) from where I live. And then some dear friends moved there to take the pastorate of a church just outside the city… & then there was a hope that somehow, someway, we’d be able to visit them. One day.

One day happened. Jason & Alyse (our theWeez’ namesake) invited theBean & I to come be with them, their family & church for a week in early August. And, Jason said, if we came then, the Red Sox were in town. BOOM! It took me about 3 seconds to consider the invite & we accepted. It was a fantastic trip.

There were a lot of highlights from our time there – here’s a few:

  • walking the streets of downtown Boston in beautiful weather
  • visiting the park known as Boston Common, a place that I saw the whitest human beings in the history of the world attempting to add color to their skin through exposure to the Glowing Orb, which evidently doesn’t make many appearances in the great Northeast
  • watching theWeez & iDoey ride the trains like pros.
  • dining at the fabulous Regina’s Pizza in the North End
  • spending precious time with theAge & Sandra Nell, & getting to check out their new place
  • entering Fenway Park from the crowded street lined with vendors, getting a little weepy at the realization of a dream I’ve had since I was 10.
  • trying to squeeze into the oh-so-small bleacher seats in right field.
  • the anticipation of the space between the top & bottom of the 8th inning – its the time Fenway faithful erupt in a Boston rendition of the Neil Diamond classic, “Sweet Caroline.”
  • Singing “Sweet Caroline,” & catching the experience on video. It was SO GOOD, SO GOOD, SO GOOD!
  • Hanging out, doing nothing at our friends’ house in the forest.
  • Touring the Sam Adams brewery with theAge & Sandra… (it’s free, & if you go, you will enjoy it.)
  • Getting the opportunity to spend an intensive 3 day period with another church family… & rediscovering the commonality & bond that we have because of Christ.
  • hearing one of the people who attended the conference we spoke at tell us that the speech that evening was “Wicked Awesome!”

Happy sigh.


Our time invested in family, friends, & fun stands in stark contrast to a big section of the life I have lived up to this point. I haven’t vacationed much, relaxed much, let down much. Instead, I work. Study. Pour myself into my tasks. Something in my brain tells me that this is how life is supposed to go, working & producing, & yet I have found that in doing so, I have robbed my family of time that would have been better spent doing nothing. Somewhere fun. Something simple, time away, not working, being together. I have lived a portion of life Upside-down.

Rather than bemoan the messed up priorities & practices of days passed, I’m making changes – turning life right side up. Saying a resounding “No” to the voices & inner clock that drives to dominate my mind, & saying “Yes” to the things that matter. To the pursuit of abundant life, life in all of its fullness. To the taking on of the yoke of Christ, the One who promises rest & restoration of our souls.

It’s not too late.

And as long as I have breath, I will continue this pursuit.

Wind and fire, a return to school-ness, family, & other musings…

Oh LORD. Have mercy.

Fire is one of my favorite things – candles, camp fires, a back yard fire pit. Fire. In moderation, under control, providing ambiance, warmth, cheer… Sigh. I’m sitting at my desk looking out my window at the smoke filled sky… yet another wind-blown rager has descended upon the Reno area, consuming at least 10 houses in the Pleasant Valley-ish area. Oh LORD. Have mercy.


Sunday evening marks my return to my Master’s program & with it a 6 month deluge of reading & writing before my next break. I find myself wanting to drag out the days until I go “back to school” as long as possible. Its not the work – its the stress that keeping my school schedule in the context of an already full life – puts on my attempts to live “in rhythm,” balanced; to not only have a good day off, but to Sabbath. To cease. Rest. Celebrate. Reflect. Deadlines, assignments, pressures have taken me & my resolve to Sabbath to the bending point… bending to the point of recognizing a great need for an iron backbone and a forehead made of flint that, for the good of me & mine, will enable me to navigate the next phase of life & school. Oh LORD. Have mercy.


It has been exactly 5 months & 7 days since #1 son, the Pasty Gangster, moved to Knoxville, TN. He is doing well, has a great job, is prepping for a return to school in the fall, & his relationship with Alexandrea is going gangbusters… (He inherited from his Papi the uncanny ability of having a beautiful, talented, compassionate, caring woman fall in love with him. 3 words: Jedi mind tricks.)

I miss him something terribly. There’s a part of me that is so happy for him – the prayerful choices he made to get where he is, the hard work he’s put in to excel at his job, & set himself up for the next phase of life… And there’s a part of me, that is still grieving, missing him; it is so close to the surface that merely thinking on it moves me to weepyness, & I find myself “dad-gumming” the dust in the room that has gotten in my eyes. Oh, the joy of feeling one’s emotions… Don’t have a date to see the boy yet, but I’m hopeful. And praying for him. And us. And asking the LORD for mercy on our lives, and favor upon his.


Joey, aka iDoey came into our room last night, and laid across the foot of the bed. The whole thing. He was even hanging off the edge of it. What HAPPENED to that kid? When did the little man turn into the tallest member of the family? His drivers license tells me he is 17. I don’t believe it. I still see the 2 year old boy that used to try to sneak into my room in the morning (if 4 a.m. is the morning), dodging pillows that I’d toss at him, trying to make it to his mom’s side of the bed so he could alert her to his need for food & drink: “I’m hungry, and thirsty, and hungry!” Always the same words. The same intensity and desperation.

iDoey is passionate. His personality is reminiscent of my brother Johnny’s – super strong, articulate & well-expressed. I have oft been tempted to counter his strength with my own tidal wave of forcefulness, strength, & power… but that’s been shown, long ago, to be ineffective. Meekness, controlled strength, patience and perseverance is what was required. Oh, so many times I blew it in a blow up, only to repent later, asking forgiveness of my God & my boy. There’s not much time left before the world we live in calls my son an adult, challenging him to move out on his own to pursue life, dreams, & God’s plans for His life. I resist the temptation to control, and find myself praying for this boy/man. Oh LORD. Have mercy.


Alyse, theWeez, Princess Weezer-brooks just had birthday #15. She takes great joy in tormenting her father with stories of her dreams of getting married in just a couple more years… Oh theWeez, you can wait a little while, can’t you? I will spoil you something terrible, & you will get to have your mom & I all to yourself…

We, she & I, picked out a ring for her birthday – its special, with her birthstone – we call it a “getting a vision for sexy-time with her husband and only her husband” purity ring. To save the specialness of intimacy for marriage. Because my girl is special, & worth waiting for. Oh LORD. Have mercy.


Thankful for the peace of God that transcends understanding & circumstance, filling my heart & mind with the comfort of KNOWING that I KNOW that He is with me. Is sufficient for me. For my life situations. And my kids.

So say we all.

Monday musings on March Madness & other stuff…

I think I watched one complete college basketball game this regular season. Yet I still found myself glued to “Selection Sunday” – the several hour long ‘epic’ discussion of which teams would actually be selected by the Committee, thereby gaining entrance into March Madness

And I’m going to fill out a bracket. One.

And as Selection Sunday came to an end, the whining began in earnest. From where, you ask? From the supporters, advocates, & coaches of teams that didn’t make it into the Dance, that’s who. Somehow, someway the Colorados, Virginia Techs, & St. Marys of the world fill the air with tales of woe, mistreatment, aiming blame at a long list of people…

Ultimately, they didn’t get in because they didn’t win their conference tournament. They didn’t win quality road games. They didn’t win. Enough.

The airwaves (radio & TV) will resound with the “woulda, shoulda, couldas” all week… or at least until Thursday when the ‘real” games begin in earnest.


All the whining & blame shifting reminds me of how common it is to point the finger for the wrongs, injustices, relational faux pas, & unmet expectations at others, instead of looking in the mirror & considering what role I have had in sowing & reaping the consequences I’m experiencing. Cause really, my choices to act/not act, invest in/ignore, feed/starve habits can & do affect me far more than the vast majority of choices others make. And if/when people don’t meet my expectations & gasp! let me down, throwing a tantrum, taking my proverbial ball & going home, whining & crying to all that will listen is a pretty tired, ineffectual way to live.


My brain feels silly this morning… the trip to LA last week (Monday-Wednesday) left me scrambling to stay afloat with school/work/family, so by the time I stopped to catch my breath, I realized that my brain was not in its usual place, & was demanding a respite from GOing.

Sigh.


Got reminded yesterday that its my responsibility to keep hope alive in my heart, even if its just tending the glowing embers & making sure that there is enough space for the hope-fire to burn. And a hope that is firmly rooted in my Living Hope, & my Hope that doesn’t disappoint, is a hope worth contending for.


Simple things can make all the difference. Like fitting into a pair of pants that one hasn’t been able to wear for 6 months. And having room to spare. THAT is a good thing.

I’m not on a diet. Just avoiding the refined sugars & refined flours again. And 3 weeks in, it’s working.

jetlagging on a Friday & other musings…

Ahh, jetlag. The 12 noon feeling of blah, where my body is telling me that its really 3 a.m. Fought it hard both in Germany, & now at home. Not that I have a great ‘fixall’ short cut or method for dealing with jetlag; I’ve been trying to fly under the radar for the last couple of days to give myself time to rest & recover from my trip.

There’s a lot of temptation to try to hit the proverbial ground running, but it just didn’t seem like a good idea. Part of the reason is that I came back with a bit of the crud – seemed like everyone I interacted for the last 2 weeks was sick with a cough. Mine hasn’t gotten bad, though I can feel the war within my body, & also have the sense that it wouldn’t take much ‘pushing through’ & ignoring my physical limits to open the floodgates for sickness. No thanks.

I’m almost feeling normal in the morning.


I love to read, especially when I’m traveling – this last trip, I was able to make it through Lord of the Rings, Kidnapped & Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, 4 George MacDonald shorts (The Princess & the Goblin, The Princess & Curdie, The Light Princess, & There and Back.) I read Tolkien on every Germany trip, (it just makes sense to me :) but I haven’t read MacDonald for years & years. Glad I revisited him; especially loved the Princess & Curdie. Felt like I spent time with a couple old friends, & came away refreshed with a new appreciation for them.


Traveling by myself provides lots of opportunity for reflection, thought, & introspection. And people watching. I think that you get to see the best & worst of people when they travel; the self-less & the selfish. The impatient & the gracious. The compassionate & the callous.

A picture that stands out in my head is from the Frankfurt to DC leg of my trip home. A young mom had a 12-15 month old little girl with her, & the baby wasn’t happy… the kind of “baby unhappy” that comes from an interrupted schedule, a lack of sleep, & unfamiliar surroundings. Mom tried all the tricks in the book to keep her girl quiet, but the little one had had enough, & was past comforting.

I watched as some in her vicinity went out of their way to make comments to her about getting her kid to shut up (if not directly, then loud enough for her…& me… to hear…) as though she wanted her baby to be in total meltdown. And I got to see a person volunteer to help with the baby so mom could go to the bathroom. Eat her meal. Have a good cry & regain her composure. Hmm. It moves me even as I type this.

Challenges me to think & rethink my own life & viewpoint, how I see people & situations that are unfolding in front of me. Trying to remember that the world around me isn’t a movie set for a movie that I am the STAR of, with the rest of the human population serving as the supporting cast & extras… that there’s more going on than just what I see. Feel. Hear. Experience.

This is especially true in the context of church & functioning within a church family. It’s possible to be ‘saved & redeemed’ self-consumed, self-focused, grumpy, petty individualists with no patience, & to treat those around me with indifference or frustration when they’re not doing what I’d like them to be doing. And when they’re not considering Me & My feelings, which are Real, Important, & Significant, don’t you know?

Umm. My filters are on the fritz.


Eddy picked up the new Samuel Harfst CD for me (us) while i was in Frankfurt. I have listened to it over & over for the last few days. Unlike audiotagebuch, this one is all in German.


TheBean has been more than patient with my slow ‘rest & recovery’ pace of the last few days… so I agreed to go to Costco with her, with the provision that we’d go to Starbucks afterward… NEWSFLASH: Christmas is coming. Just in case you didn’t know.

It was crowded (even at noon on Friday,) & there was so much noise, so much stuff, & so many people that I was wiped out after only 20 minutes. By a great feat of strength & skill, I managed to make it another 10 minutes, then we headed to the car, just in time. Fortunately, the Grande Americano revived my soul, as did looking into (& getting lost in,) the deepest blue eyes Ever. Sigh.