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Archive for January, 2013

156148312051762778_tvv1QTVo_bJanuary is (finally) at it’s end. A dark month, both physically and emotionally.

There has been one thing that I have been reminded during of this month of ebony … we aren’t there yet.

There being the life that waits for us once our life here on Earth has come to an end. There being that place where the streets are paved with gold (Rev. 21:21), where there will be no more death, or mourning, or crying in pain … no more tears (Rev. 21:4), where there will be no more night (Rev. 21:25), where we will dwell with God (Rev. 21:3).

There being the existence that we were originally created for, back in the garden.

I am no detester of this Earth, or this life we live. This IS my Father’s World …

and He created all that is good in it. But the world He created changed in it’s totality when sin came into His perfect, flawless, self-sustaining creation, and the effects of that sin are all that weighs us down in this life … sickness, floods, starvation, money, lies, hurts, death.

In the absence of the perfection that God intended for us to live, is the longing for … more. That more can only be found there.

“There’s a day that’s drawing near
When this darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes”
Chris Tomlin “I Will Rise”

As we trod this earth as believers in the Triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) we wish that we had such great faith that it is our eyes. We wish that we could see those around us with the faith of full belief, but we cannot. It is only in the presence of our Creator that our faith specs are able to see fully.

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Walking on my favorite trail with my beast, I came to this realization.

A few weeks back I took the photo above and to the left. It was a chilly, bright, clear day. If you look really closely you can see the snow covered mountain in the far background. It was a beautiful view!

Then, this past weekend I took the photo above and to the right. It was a cool, damp, cloudy, rainy day. The walk was equally beneficial, but not so beautiful. There is no mountain in sight, as it was hidden from my view by those rain-filled clouds.

You now know, because I shared my pictures, that behind those gray clouds are beautiful mountains. If I had just told you about them, you might have trusted my telling, and, with faith, believed that the mountains I shared with you are truly there, and beautiful. But, because you are able to see them for yourself (albeit with a magnifying glass), your faith has been made sight!

“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

1 Corinthians 13:12

And that is what awaits us. Faith that has been made sight!

“For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less. That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming. But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing (OR, in the NIV: “for we live by faith, not by sight”). Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-9 (MSG)

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got_pms_ad_2-400x586When I am having ‘one of those days’ almost no one in my path is safe!

Hubby is likely to get his head bitten off like a gingerbread man at Christmas. The kids are likely to be forced to clean something or do homework (whether they have homework or not is of no consequence). Really, only the beast is safe … and that is because she (wisely) never talks back, and she adores me no matter what kind of day I am having. And I am likely to put myself to bed early … in hopes that I will awaken freed of this syndrome … the itchy-B syndrome!

Now you are smart enough to read between the lines (or re-organize the letters of itchy-B) to know what I am really saying!

These days happen to us all (men included … just sayin’).got_pms_ad_3-400x586

The days when the planets are all aligned, the moon at it’s fullest, the tide is in, and we awaken with feelings similar to those of a rabid animal, a psychotic killer or a woman with PMS and no chocolate in the house (this could be the main trigger to itchy-B syndrome).

PMS, now we are getting to the heart of itchy-B syndrome!

It is as though our inner evil twin emerges with the vengeance of a genie who has been cooped up in his bottle for hundreds of years! And if you think that experiencing itchy-B syndrome vicariously through your wife, friend, mother, sister, co-worker, etc. is bad, try being the one with the syndrome!

To experience it yourself is like having an out of body experience, where your mind and body have been taken got_pms_ad_4-400x586over by some unseen, but very real force. Kind of like invasion of the body snatchers, but the mind is included as well.

The worst thing is that you are completely aware of all that you are saying and doing, but your brain is operating as though it is no longer operated by yourself.

It is as though your mind and body were being controlled by some sort of remote control apparatus …

as though your words and actions are in the control and hands of another person …

as though …

someone you live with were forcing you to say and act the way you are …

as though …

Heck, it IS our husbands fault!

Like we didn’t know that in the first place!

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As I was preparing (mentally) for a high school homeroom activity, and a staff retreat, I was drawn to a title for a TED video, “The Power of Introverts.” I knew that in both the homeroom activity and the staff retreat the goal would be from the perspective of “group think,” meaning that the goal was for mingling, connecting socially, getting to know each other … and all within groups that have been pre-assigned, scripted and designed for the extrovert that we should all aim to be in this life … blech!

Susan Cain’s TED talk inspired and encouraged me greatly … to be me … who God created, empowered and desired me to be.

TED introduces Susan Cain in this way:

“In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.”

This video is a daunting twenty minutes long … please, please, please click on the link, and watch just three minutes! The first three minutes are the ones that any introvert could relate to, and any extrovert needs to know.

caring for introverts

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108930884708051549_nUBeMLyR_bIt is a Monday morning, a 90% chance of rain, it’s the end of January … ugh!

I received a note from my mother recently, mentioning that my blog posts had seemed rather ‘dark’ of late, causing her to read between the lines, and ask if I was okay. Moms have this ability to read between the lines.

As, I pondered her words, I remembered that I had, just that morning, led a devotion with my homeroom from Lamentations …

Lamenting

Dark

Mom was right (Mom is now more puffed up than my beasty when someone tells her that she is beautiful)! For one, it is January, and the dark of this month can get me down like nothing else (when will medical plans cover sunny holidays for those who live in the Pacific Northwest … heck, I would take freeze-your-but-off  sunny Edmonton over this weather). For another it is a month of past reflections that some years hits harder than others. Then there are all of the other complications of being married, having children (our own, and those of another mother and father), work with all it’s demands, finances, decisions, and so on, and so on and so on. All of this has a different effect on me in July, when the sun is shining, work is paused, schedules are relaxed, school is out and did I mention that the sun is shining?

1519615_f260So, I went to my past blogs, searching for the post with my lamenting song … don’t we all have one? And as I read How Long Oh Lord I was struck with how good that post was! And I thought, wow, I should share this one with my readers because you might not have read it before, and I have to say that (in my opinion) it is one of my better posts!

I was also impressed with the scripture that I had reflected on, Psalm 13, a lament of David, that ends in hope (doesn’t every lament in the Bible also offer hope?).

So, if you are feeling rather … January, check out How Long Oh Lord … and may it give hope to you as well.

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The guest post for today came from a story that I read on Facebook. The story touched my heart, encouraged me and reminded me of how sweet, and how rare stories of integrity are in the media of today.

This is the story of a race, where the one who wins does so because another was willing to give up their rightful place, for the success of the one who was coming up short (hum, this might even have a parallel to the redemption of humanity through the Savior … oh, how I love a story where the theme is redemption! But, I digress 😉 ).

IVAN+12_redimensionarMeet, Ivan Fernandex Anaya, a Spanish runner, who might just be the best athlete to encourage your children to follow. I will not give his story away, just click on his name and enjoy a real, authentic feel-good story.

This is also a story of the power of social media over traditional media. Traditional media has done little to share this good news story, and we need to remember, as discerning individuals, that the traditional media has it’s own goals, it’s own worldview, it’s own agenda. Thankfully, through social media, we, the people, have the opportunity to share the stories that we believe need to be shared. I think this is a good reminder that not all that is new is bad.

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“Although limping, Jacob walked away from the battle blessed.”

Jacob+wrestling+with+God+1I do not know where the words came from. I heard them, I wrote them, I saved them, and now I go back to where their story originates, in Genesis.

Israel, previously known as Jacob, was a wrestler from way back! The earliest recordings of his battles come from his months in his momma’s womb, where he wrestled his hairy brother Esau.

Jacob comes from a fine lineage, as his father was Isaac, and his grandfather was none other than Father Abraham, the father of many nations. Abraham had done his share of wrestling as well, although his wrestling was not so much physical as it was in his heart and soul.

There are many fascinating components to the life of Jacob … his mother, Rebekah, being childless (reminiscent of grandma Sarah), finally pregnant it is twins, and very active ones! The Lord speaks to her before they are born, giving a heads up to their future. Jacob is his momma’s favorite, but Esau is Isaac’s. Oh, there is so much to those early years of Jacob’s life! It is truly worth heading back into Genesis 25 to read of his earlier years! But, for now, I am concentrating on the wrestling match with God.

“So Jacob was left alone,and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.” (Genesis 32:24)

Jacob is all alone, and it is night. The next thing we know is that that he is wrestling with a man.

“When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.” (Genesis 32:25)

Jacob was one good wrestler! He was winning, and his opponent was aware of the strength and determination within him. So his opponent, with just the touch of his hand, permanently injured Jacob’s hip.

“Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” (Genesis 32:26)

Jacob was a man with a mission. He was willing to wrestle until he got what he wanted … to be blessed.

“The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,”he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome … Then he blessed him there..” (Genesis 32:27-28)

The man asked his name … he asked his name? This was God! He knew his name, given to him by his father … but his heavenly Father had a new name for him, and Israel … strong, persevering, overcoming, with a goal to fight for was to be his name at his battle of christening.

“The sun rose above him … and he was limping because of his hip.” (Genesis 32:32)

Jacob was blessed … the sun was rising on a new day, he had what he was born to be blessed with, his very own blessing, not from an earthly father, but from the father of every nation.

And, although he was limping, he was blessed.

And, although we are all limping, we are blessed.

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“My heart will choose to say273875221061192505_k4upYWa7_b
Lord, blessed be Your name”

Worship is a beautiful, action to participate in … in the sanctuary, under our roof, out in the open of God’s creation.

Some days our worship is ritualistic … I do it because I should.

“When I’m found in the desert place”

Some days our worship is intimate … I do it intimately, even in a crowded room.

“In the land that is plentiful”

Some days our worship is robotic … I do it, hoping the outward becomes the inner.

“When the darkness closes in”

Some days our worship is joy-filled … bursting from every cell in our body.

“When the world’s ‘all as it should be”

Some days our worship is loud and proud … I do it with a party in my soul.

“Where Your streams of abundance flow”

Some days our worship is silent … I am a face in the crowd, but I cannot open my mouth.

“On the road marked with suffering”

Some days our worship is against our will … through the clenched teeth of an angry heart.

“When the darkness closes in, Lord”

Some days our worship is saturated by the tears of our heart.

“Though there’s pain in the offering”

Worship is not limited to where we are, when we are there, who we are with, how we feel or the circumstances of our lives at that specific time. Worship is an act of love, respect and honor and it is received as that. Worship is good when things are going well, but it is even better when we can worship our Creator through times of difficulty, suffering and pain.

As I sang the words,

“You give and take away”

It, that which I lost, that which I loved, came clearly into my mind, and for a moment the sorrow of loss weighed heavy on my heart. For a moment that common heart response emerged into my thoughts … why?

When we lose something we love, when our life takes a u-turn, when plans change, and loss is what we feel most profoundly, it is then that why comes crawling back. The word without a consoling response. The word with no bandage effect. The word that causes festering, more pain, more sorrow.

Then came the next line, the one with the salve that gives healing, comfort, consolation …

“My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name”

To choose to say, in the pain, in the suffering, in the darkness, in the sorrow, in the loss,

Lord, blessed by Your name

That is the only covering bandage that will make what is lost to not be the end of the story.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Job 1:21

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