Please Stand By…

Don’t you hate it when you experience technical difficulties? I do. Probably more because it reveals how easily annoyed I can be…by the most insignificant things.

Like…cleaning the bathroom thoroughly on a Saturday morning as a kid, only to have your dad come in and wash his hands after mowing the lawn and changing the oil in the car…Can you imagine? All the hard work, literally down the drain. You think I jest? Oh no, just ask my dad…

Or what about mopping your floors, getting a mirror-like shine and then have your dearly beloved children or grandchildren or most loved husband walk through with mucky shoes? No? Never happened? I believe you lie…

For me, the bigger annoyances are sitting down to write my post, that my readers are truly panting to read, only to be kicked off the internet. Over. And over. And over…

My need to save money is pretty deep. But my need for consistent internet access is deeper. So I fired my provider, and switched to a new provider. And you know what? I haven’t been kicked off all week. And I have been able to upload pictures SUPER FAST…So I am giving my blog a new try.

I had to make a sacrifice, though. Because I still had to save some money. So…I got rid of cable tv…No more extra channels. No more tv shopping…(yeah, never did those anyway)…no more DIY channels…Somehow, I think I will survive. Maybe.

Now I have a Roku device…Netflix, HuluPlus, Pandora…and a bunch of “channels” I have yet to explore. And you know what? I didn’t turn on the tv for viewing at all for a few days…I chose to just to listen to my purely customized radio stations on Pandora. I missed watching the FIFA World Cup, but…honestly I think we will manage JUST FINE without those channels. After all, I can catch up on Monarch of the Glen…or the English version of Sherlock…all those old movies…

But all those internet problems did get me thinking about technical difficulties, bad connections and other things that can frustrate us, and it made me think about what happens when I don’t have a clear connection in my relationships. If you have ever experienced technical problems, you probably checked the cables to assure that they were properly connected. You also probably checked the batteries, or the power button or a host of other possibilities. And then you checked the manual or called customer service to speak with an “expert” to “troubleshoot.” (I always like the “check to make sure the power is on” tip.)

So if my relationship with God is not what it should be, where do I turn? Interesting that there is an expert and a manual to address the problems I  experience. I can almost always connect my problems in my spiritual life to a common source…Me. I may ignore the relationship, perhaps I do not feed it a healthy diet, or maybe I have covered up sin rather than confess it…Basically, I disconnect myself from the Source.

It’s not that God abandons ME, but rather I abandon Him. I live my life unplugged (NOT like music) and do things on my own power rather than relying on His power. He offers me a static-free, always ON connection to an endless and abundant source. So why do I fail to use that Source? Why, after so many examples and assurances of His presence and faithfulness do I so easily forget? I do not have an answer to the question that is revolutionary. But, when I am withdrawn and cold, I know that it is worth checking on how secure my connection is to avoid more connectivity issues. And that means getting in an uncomfortable position…on my knees.

Tell me, are YOU plugged in securely to the true Source of life?

I Peter 1:3-9 (ESV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,  so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

 

It’s just a rock…

I am on vacation.

Just me.

No husband. No kids. No grandkids.

Superman thought it would be a great idea for me to get to spend some time with my sisters and my parents.

Without distractions.

For those of you who know me, or think you know me, or just WANT to know me…;) You know that my life is very full of little people with lots of “learning experiences” and “opportunities for growth”…

All of those opportunities tend to crowd out quiet time and time to write…I almost gave up blogging. It became so hard to find time to write, and I felt so guilty NOT writing, and the internal struggle was more than I had time to deal with…

So…I write infrequently. And it frustrates me.

Superman knew that I needed some true R & R, and off I went…to SUNNY SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA!

One of my sisters lives near San Diego, the other lives in tornado alley near Oklahoma City…fortunately, my parents live just ten minutes from my house.

But THIS week, we are all together…under one roof. The nephews tease about our cackling laughter when we get to be together. There is a lot of cackling.

We also have very serious conversations, though. We have each gone through some very hard times with some of our children. We cry together and encourage each other and share the joys and sorrows and glimmers of hope that God allows to foster hope in our lives.

I love rocks, and usually collect rocks wherever I travel to display in dishes around my house. The rocks are not special. They are just rocks. But I love them and can almost always remember where each rock came from and what I was doing when I found them.

My beautiful daughter...

My beautiful daughter and granddaughter…

My daughter, whose children are Froglegs, Dancing Eyes and Curly Top, doesn’t share my love of rocks. They are merely part of what she would call my hoarding disease.

But I love my rocks.

Yesterday, I had a call from my daughter. She sounded very animated and tense.

“Mom! Where is that verse about the husband cherishing his wife like a jewel???”

“ummm, do you mean Ephesians 5?”

I read her the verses.

Ephesians 5:25-30
(English Standard Version)

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.

“Nooooo. That’s not the right one,” she sighed. Clearly frustrated.

“Well, what about this, in I Peter?” And I read her the verses.

1 Peter 3:7-8
(English Standard Version)

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

“No. That’s not it either. On Sunday, the pastor preached about this and read these verses about how the husband should love and care for his wife like she is a precious jewel…”

“Well, Proverbs 31 refers to the virtuous woman being worth more than rubies…”

She looked it up and read it…

“Yes!! That’s it. Oh wait…” pausing as she read more…”No, that’s not it either.”

I suggested she call the pastor and ask him what it was. Oh no, she could NEVER do that. Of course, I told her she could, but she refused. Or his wife. Oh no. You just can’t do that. (Can someone please explain to me WHY one cannot do this???)

We talked a little more. She said she was so stressed trying to find it. I asked why it would be so stressful? And she informed me that she had been up until the wee hours of the previous night trying to find it, and her DAD didn’t know and if I didn’t know…well, she was stressed.

So, I suggested maybe Song of Solomon had something like that…She looked it up. Apparently for the first time. She started reading…

“Oh my goodness! That man’s a pervert!”

I started laughing. She continued to exclaim about the details she read. She was clearly SHOCKED that those verses could even BE in the Bible. She did not want to read any further.

“Well, in the context of marriage, it is beautiful,” I said.

I shared that maybe the preacher had used several different passages and created a composite of them with an explanation that she THOUGHT were actual verses, but were really his words.

Then I had an idea.

“Why don’t you check to see if the message was recorded and listen to it again? Then you will hear it again.”

“Oh, mom. You are so SMART!”

I almost fainted. How many years had I waited to hear those words! And NOT said dripping with sarcasm!

We got off the phone, and I started thinking about the conversation.

Superman and I have traveled a very painful road with our daughter. She has learned many lessons through a lot of pain that left a lot of scars. We have learned more about ourselves, and about God, as we have been on this journey. But mostly, we have learned how very much God loves His children, and works in our lives for His glory.

That God even loves us at all is such a gift.

That He is patient and long-suffering, well, that is just His grace and mercy.

That He doesn’t leave us is a promise I know I can believe.

So when my daughter was stressing over finding some verses, I could see how much God had done in her heart.

Kind of like rocks.

Diamonds and rubies and other precious jewels are not mined out of the ground in a condition to wear and show how valuable they really are.

diamonds

The rocks ARE valuable because of what can happen when a master stone cutter takes that raw stone and chisels away those things that detract from its value and beauty. As the stone is hammered and polished, it is transformed into something so beautiful.

That is what God does to a hard heart when it is yielded to Him. He loves that heart. He molds it. He creates a thing of beauty out of something that wasn’t before.

And only a Master can do that.

And I am so, so, so thankful that He chooses to transform us, day by day, moment by moment.

God is so good.

I REALLY Need a New Body!

I am waiting.

For a new body.

You see, my body is failing me.

I have a sore back. My glasses don’t correct my vision. I broke a tooth…well, technically, I broke the crown for my messed up tooth.

I have to take a bunch of medicine because different parts of my body don’t like to work the way they are supposed to without a little help.

Hey, I even have a cool, SWISS STAINLESS STEEL SCREW in my foot. Would YOU like a screw for your foot? Doubt it.

I have gone well beyond the stage of feeling invincible. I feel extraordinarily VINCIBLE. (I know, that isn’t a real word, but it works better than my body does…)

Several of my Facebook friends (yep, I have them, too) were sharing their physical ills and the need for divine intervention for relief from an array of bodily failings. Some serious. Many annoying. All impacting their quality of life.

Some of the comments were humorous…we are a funny group of women, after all. And it reminded of a cartoon I saw MANY years ago…

There was a long line of women in angelic robes…they were discussing their brand new heavenly bodies. One of the ladies muttered to the woman behind her, “I thought that my heavenly body would AT LEAST be THIN…”

As we commiserated with each other, several voiced the same desire…for that new, glorified, heavenly body we will receive when we are finally home with the Lord Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:1-3

English Standard Version (ESV)

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked.

The promise in scripture about our old bodies being replaced with new bodies that will no longer become ill, or broken, or sinful is our great and confident hope as we wait for that great reunion, face to face with our Savior.

But as I considered that thought, of having a brand new body that would never break down and get old, I was again reminded of another spiritual truth…Jesus, although in heaven with a glorified body, still bears the scars of Calvary in His own body.

Why doesn’t He have a perfect, unbroken body now that He is in heaven, seated at the right hand of God, the Father? Why does He still have scars in His hands, feet and side? Why is His face still marred from the beard that was torn from His face? Why are the marks still on His head from the crown of thorns that He wore?

Because Jesus, in His great love for each of us, chose to be the eternal Lamb that was slain for sin. While His believers look forward to those new bodies…we will also be seeing the visible proof of His love for us borne in His body through out eternity.

His love for His children is endless…so many times He could have chosen to leave us on our own without a remedy for our sin that separated us from Him. Yet, He left His throne, descended to this earthly realm and took on human form. The God-Man, Jesus, willingly separated Himself from His rightful home in heaven in order to physically make a way of escape for mankind from certain eternal death.

And He chose to continue to bear those scars as a reminder to us of His great love, so freely offered to us, yet at such a great cost.

In the Silence of Beginning
(The Lamb, Eternal, Slain)

By Chris Juby

In the silence of beginning
Spoke the love prepared to pay
So the wellspring of creation
Was the Lamb, eternal, slain
In the glory of the Godhead
As the universe was made
Was the promise of redemption
In the Lamb, eternal, slain

From the blood of righteous Abel
As the world gave way to hate
Every sin cried out for vengeance
For the Lamb, eternal, slain
By the code of temple worship
Sacrifice of blood was made
In that sacrifice, the shadow
Of the Lamb, eternal, slain

On the cross, in desolation
As he bore our sins away
Hear his prayer “Father, forgive them”
See the Lamb, eternal, slain
Through his blood we have forgiveness
For he died to take our place
Death itself has been defeated
By the Lamb, eternal, slain

Now alive in risen glory
Though the wounds of love remain
Holding out the Father’s mercy
Know the Lamb, eternal, slain
When that final kingdom trumpet
Heralds his triumphant reign
We will worship him forever
Hail the Lamb, eternal, slain

Froglegs Had a Dream…

Froglegs is growing up. Fast. Way too fast.

The boy is seven now, and tomorrow is his last day of First Grade. I know…such a huge milestone. Do you remember all the things you learned in First Grade? What was the most important thing? For me, it was READING.

And for Froglegs, learning to read has been liberating and validating as the Big Brother.

Sean and Cadance

Somehow reading is a lot more fun when you read to your little brother…do you see a little bit of hero worship here???

Froglegs used to be a little stinker. He still CAN be, but he has adopted a new role…man of the family. Without a dad, he feels a lot of responsibility for his brother and sister. He almost panics when they are out of sight. That is an awful burden for a seven year old. But Froglegs is adamant about watching out for them and making sure that they tow the line on staying safe.

And how he loves his brother and sister…when he isn’t trying to throttle them for something. But somehow, he just needs to let them go to Sunday School without him…seriously, they will be ok.

But the reason I am blogging today is because of his dreams. For a little boy, he has some pretty mature dreams. And that is not really a blessing…

Last week, he had a very bad dream. Not the monster kind, or the zombie kind. No. This dream was very realistic and very bad. He dreamed that his little brother died. I know. What an awful dream, no matter how young or old you might be.

He was moaning and thrashing in his sleep, and breathing really fast. His mom was afraid he was having a seizure, but he woke up and out spilled the description of the bad dream.

My daughter tried to comfort him, but he was not to be comforted until both his little brother and sister were in bed with him.

He told his mom, “Put Dancing Eyes in bed, right next to me, not by the edge. I want to be able to check on him.”

So, all four “slept” the remainder of the night in that not-so-very-big bed…and Froglegs continued to check on Dancing Eyes until morning came.

When Froglegs woke up, he told me about his dream. This Nana gave him an extra big hug and reminded him that there is Someone else who truly watches out for all of them…his Heavenly Father.

Froglegs is learning that even in the absence of his earthly father, he has the perfect Heavenly Father watching out for him. He is omniscient–He knows and understands everything. He is omnipresent–He is everywhere. He is omnipotent–there is no end to His power. Those attributes bring a lot of comfort to a little boy with a big heart with a huge chunk of hurt.

As we discussed his dreams and how much his Heavenly Father loves my dear little Froglegs, he said very softly, “But Nana, I really want a dad.”

And I just hugged my little grandson a little tighter and didn’t say anything else.

A little bit of this and that…

I have been MIA for a few weeks now. Illness and other things just seem to come between me and my computer…

Like Froglegs and Mario…

Like Dancing Eyes and Luigi…

Like Curly Top and ABCMouse…

And a bunch of other interruptions….

BUT, although I have not been writing over the last few weeks, I HAVE been busy…

Taking my first ride in an ambulance…yeah, I am ok, but it was scary for awhile. Nothing like respiratory problems in the middle of cold and flu season in a house full of germ magnets and spewers! I am researching my own bubble suit as a preventive measure…

(You know, it is a good thing to be friendly to the EMTs and paramedics…they stick you with needles in the back of a moving ambulance and you really want them to do it right the first time…thankfully, my guy did a great job on the first try…)

After several doses of steroids and other medicine, I am now back on my feet, and not coughing like I swallowed a fur ball.

Once I started feeling better, I began working on some very special projects around the house that have been taking shape in my brain for…oh, a few years. (My daughter is glad to see some of the fabric leaving my storage and becoming something else)…it’s kind of like a wedding…something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue…I will be sharing pictures over the next few blog posts.

And I have been reading…catching up on the flight out of Egypt by the children of Israel in Exodus…I have a number of thoughts percolating in my brain that have not quite taken shape yet, but a few verses in particular have really caught my attention:

Exodus 36:1-2

“Bezalel, Oholiab, and all the skilled people are to work based on everything the Lord has commanded. The Lord has given them wisdom and understanding to know how to do all the work of constructing the sanctuary.”

So Moses summoned Bezalel, Oholiab, and every skilled person in whose heart the Lord had placed wisdom, everyone whose heart moved him, to come to the work and do it.

These were craftsmen, highly skilled in their trade. But more importantly, they were filled with God’s wisdom and understanding. The construction of the tabernacle required more than just skill. It required the correct heart-itude…

It is a wonderful thing to be skilled to do something special. But that really isn’t enough, is it? God wants more from us than just our abilities. He wants those whose hearts have been moved and who have come to do the work HE has laid out…

I am continuing to think about these verses and will spend a little more time fleshing out my thoughts and before sharing them with you. I know there is a big lesson for me and I don’t want to take a short cut…

There is something familiar about Mr. Monk…

We got rid of cable several months ago. Somehow, paying for TV seemed a bit much as I watched the bill get higher and higher.

So, we went cold turkey and hooked up an old-fashioned antenna, got a Roku little doohicky and signed up for Netflix and Hulu Plus.

WHO KNEW all the cool things you could watch without waiting for them to air?

I watched all the Psych episodes, beginning with Season 1, Episode 1…it was so cool to watch the story lines systematically, without waiting. And without COMMERCIALS!

Then I watched both seasons of Downton Abbey…like a British soap opera, but very interesting to watch in conjunction with the history of the time.

And now…we are all watching Monk. My husband has never laughed so hard in his entire life. And that in itself is a reward for watching that poor, neurotic, multi-phobic person trying to master his fears while solving heinous crimes AND making us laugh.

Curly Top comes running at the beginning and the close of each episode. She has choreographed the theme song, “It’s a Jungle Out There”…I know, I know…

But I have been working on a series of crafting/sewing projects while watching the episodes, and as I was squaring up fabric to cut into smaller squares, I got to thinking about Mr. Monk and the “fun” he would have with some of the fabrics…especially the ones that are flawed and screened off-kilter…or the ones that attract lint…or the ones that were cut unevenly…

Can’t you just see him? Writhing, almost as if he were in pain? I can.

And then I started thinking about what Bible story would best sum up Mr. Monk. It took me awhile, but I think I found the perfect parallel story for Mr. Adrian Monk.

Naaman. Remember him? That king, such a valiant warrior. But he had a little problem. He had L E P R O S Y. Yikes!

This king was afflicted with a definite  celebrity-kill affliction. It wasn’t a disease that would remain hidden. Not for long.

It was contagious. People would flee from your presence if you had it.

King Naaman had a mighty big problem. (And I can just see Monk…with his wipes and disinfectants and assortment of sanitizers…poor Natalie!)

King Naaman had his own Natalie…or at least his WIFE did…she had a little Hebrew girl as a servant.

This child was a child of faith. She knew what was wrong with her master, and she knew who could help him. The prophet of Israel.

King Naaman went for his consultation with the prophet. Let’s just say the king was underwhelmed.

II Kings 5

So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.

IMG_9729

Yep. That’s how we are. We are all set for the magical wave and the abra ca dabra. The idea of dunking seven times in a filthy river just doesn’t seem like the cure we are seeking. We are, after all, prisoners of our imaginations.

The story could end right there. Monk writhing with the idea of such filth. Naaman preparing to lose his reign because of his disease–mostly his pride, at this point.

But the story doesn’t end there…

Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.

Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”

The prophet answered, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.

Naaman submitted to the prescription. And he was healed of his leprosy. Was it that the water was miraculous?

No.

Naaman stepped into the water by faith, believing that God would heal him, not the water.

In the television series, we see Monk being forced to confront his fears. He actually is a very brave man, but all he can see are his weaknesses. And like Monk, all Naaman could see was the dirty water of the river Jordan, not the One who used the water to heal.

Naaman ultimately recognized the Source of his healing. That is was an act of God in response to Naaman’s step of faith.

I am just like Naaman…wanting some wild miracle when all God is waiting for is my tiny step of faith…How often do I insist on the magic instead of that simple seed of faith needed?

Are you paralyzed by your own imagination? Is the muddy river Jordan waiting for you to take a step?

 

Today would be a great day if…

Remember this? Just give it a listen…

Do you have an ear worm now?

Well…that is how this day has been. It just has gone on and on and on…

Even now, it’s still dragging on. This will be one of those nights when I will ask if it’s late enough for me to go to bed. (And there will be a unanimous “Yes” from my family…)

Some days are like that…

Kids that just won’t cooperate…

A calendar that is just too full of “stuff”…

And a whole lot of “holiday cheer”… that really isn’t so cheery…

It is one of those days that a career change comes to mind…RETIREMENT in a seniors only community! Or living off the grid in an RV…

But then I think about it…do I really want to understand shuffleboard? Am I ready for my husband to wear white leather walking shoes? Do I want blue hair? (Actually, my son-in-law has a blue mohawk, so maybe blue hair isn’t so bad???)

But in all honesty, some days are just a huge reminder of the glorious future awaiting me in the presence of my King and Redeemer…far away from the trivial and irritating things that sneak into my day and try to steal my hope for the future and joy for THIS day.

I am hoping that I can correct my course now and try to end the day well…kind of the way I would like to see my life’s course at its end…ending well. Achieving that “well done, good and faithful servant”…

How do YOU handle those not-so-great days?