Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Revive Me

We are heading into a weekend of revival meetings. I've been thinking about what it means to be revived. It's an action verb which means to restore to life or consciousness or to regain life, consciousness or strength.

I like the thought of restoring my consciousness of Jesus and His work in my life. I like that it is personal and that true revival isn't about praying souls into the kingdom, it's about Jesus working on me. Just me. He asks me to search my very own heart during these times and to ignore the thoughts and judgment of others.

I'm a critical listener by nature. I do not believe whatever I am told. I must first see good solid reason and proof from God's Word that this is so, whatever "this" is at the moment. To go to any meeting and listen to a pastor expound is often a challenge for me. If I hear too much personal opinion being shared as gospel truth, I grow skeptical, which is really unfair because probably no one has more personal opinions than myself. However, If you want to keep my attention, teach me from the Word of God. 

Most likely, if one wants to experience revival they need to ask God to do it for them. It isn't something one can conjure up and make happen. And I'm pretty sure God can reach beyond my skepticism and pour in a good dose of listening heart, listening ears, and praying hands. 


Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Week of Being Buried Alive and Valentine's Day

Happy Sunday... Not only were we buried in snow this week, we were also buried in Responsibilities and Doing our Duties.  I wore the t-shirt slogan on my heart "I can't adult today" all week before I realized I was wearing it. 

I really don't want to look at Responsibility and Duty as capital lettered words. I want to enjoy the moment and live purposeful and be intentional...those kind of worthy phrases sound so much better.

So after hours of shoveling snow both in real life and inside my soul; I find myself sitting in church this morning with this verse staring me in the face. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee." Isaiah 26:3

This week Bruce and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. Only, we already did in Mexico over Christmas. This doesn't mean we still aren't gonna think about it on Wednesday the 15th. Tho, I do I find it ironic how this time of year is often too busy just surviving to even think of celebrating. 

My outlook has been negative. This I have been told by my best and closest people. They love me like that. I think I am just being real about the harshness of winter, but it is coming across as Eeyore-ish.  All Eeyore lacked was vitamin D. Same as me. 😃

My best advice for marriage since we are on the subject...be committed...it can be nice just to have that much in the bleakness of winter...Seriously tho, be committed to your own personal growth with Jesus. When you do that, you won't have time to pick each other apart; you'll be too busy confessing your faults to each other and kissing and making up. Makes for great romance, all that kissing and such.

Here's to twenty years with this man...We studied 1 Peter 3 today in Sunday School and I am still learning what it all means. 

Bruce, I promise I will mess up more in the future, but I also promise I will do all I can to fix my messes as we go. Love you to the moon and back!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Winter Pleasures

It is definitely February. And winter. More snow is coming down, all fine and silty, settling into the tiniest of cracks. The icy driveways have a layer of dry, fluffy white stuff covering them so when I walk confidently toward the mailbox or car, I am liable to find myself on the ground.

I love winter though. In winter, I learn more about reality and the harshness of life. OK...Love might be too strong of word for this but its speaking to me... I love what I cannot like... sorta thing going on here...please stick with me.

I was asking God about this recently. To be more specific, I was asking Him to remove some of the pain involved around my heart during the everyday conflicts I have with my people... Honestly, it's a little like being fourteen again. Almost everyone is kinda stupid. And mean. And I know a better way and your way stinks. Ugh, remember?

Back to the problem at hand, asking God about the level of pain He inflicts on my soul is very revealing. Also asking God things is part of the process of coming boldly to the throne of grace. I shall not be ashamed of these bad feelings. He knows anyway.

Eventually, God reveals that snow and cold and harshness and irritations are all related, be it weather or people. Until you learn to love it, it will remain snow and cold and harshness and irritations.

 Somewhere under all those layers, there is my Great God who intends to teach me that realities of life are gifts from Him. He only wants me to see the little pleasures that are already there just waiting to be discovered even if they are buried beneath the snow. I might even fall on different kinds of ice. People will still say and do stupid things. Even the people I love the most will do this.

The pleasures found in winter are forgiveness and grace for others. Without the harsh things of life I would never get to practise the finer virtues of kindness and respect in the face of meanness and disregard for the things I value.

I might even wake up on a Saturday morning and make a pan of scones and drink a cup of French pressed coffee laced with half and half...this too is a winter pleasure. THAT I don't have to learn to love, I just do.  

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Hare and the Tortoise

A common problem at our age is finding out we have gotten a late start on our future. Maybe it's not a late start, maybe it's just how God planned it for us.

One night this week, Bruce bounded into the house from his short walk home from the hospital. I could tell he was pumped even after a 12 hour shift.

 I was not however, I was exhausted from having spent the day with 15 excited kids sledding, ice sculpting, and making hot chocolate and s'mores. So when Bruce sprinted into the house at ten at night my reaction was to go into my turtle shell mode. "I can't hear you...LALALA" and all that.

"Here's how we are going to do the next two years!" This he said with finality and joy. 

"Who's we?" was my turtle response. I am not part of we if this was decided while I wore myself out with the school kids and also if it was decided while you were working your shift... I think these thoughts deep within my shell of safety. "Am I invited to this party?"  I ask waspishly as he goes to shower which successfully take the smile off his face.

A minute later, I am begging for the rest of the plan through the steam rising from the shower which he hesitates to give me now that I have in effect thrown ice water on him.

Cautiously, he gave me the rest of the plan: working weekends while he is in nurses training so he is able to still help with the cost of living and do classes at the same time. 

He doesn't mention it but my mind is reeling with doing Sunday alone. I have been brought up to attend church every Sunday morning. Together. As a family. Already I have gone through the sacrifice of Sundays being iffy because of the hospital and of him being an EMT. What will I do about my people who love us and call us family and will think all manner of critical thoughts about us for doing such a thing?  

The silence in our bedroom is stiff between us as I wrestle with my reactions and fears. I pray a little. I remind myself of the fact that Bruce is the leader in my home, that God is still on His throne, and that only HE can see the big picture.

Across the darkness I ask my husband if he feels peace about becoming a nurse and if he feels this is God's will for him; for us as a family.

I get a solid "Yes". 

That's my answer of course. I begin to quote the words of the song: 

God will make a way,
When there seems to be no way.
He works in ways we cannot see,
He will make a way for me.
He will be my guide,
Hold me closely to His side.
With love and strength for each new day,
He will make a way; He will make a way.

This is all we have to go on, but it is enough. Our hands reach out to clasps while we share these thoughts: If we are going to get through the next two years, we must be friends. We must be bonded and united that God will make our way clear. Worry about what others will think is a distraction. God is asking us to move forward one step at a time. Let's do it in faith, nothing wavering. 

Bruce, like the hare, is able to look at a two year period as a blip across a screen.
I must only do today. 
Maybe one little turtle step at a time but with my head held high; not inside my shell where it isn't really very safe after all. 
Also, it's lonely in there. 
And dark.
And cold.
I'd much rather be out here with the hare, watching him bound.

Monday, January 23, 2017

And Still I Write

Bruce inspired me last week with his views on talent in the arts. Paraphrased, he thinks the art world tends to be filled with ordinary people with over inflated egos. He is especially unimpressed by those who are able to make a lot of money by expressing their ordinary selves, and he claims that these regular people just happened to be in the right place at the right time to get their extra ordinary entrance into the world as "famous".

I like that my husband thinks. I also like that he's not afraid to say what he thinks even if not many agree with him. And even if I hear what he says and know what he means, I still wonder...Is that how it is? Think about this... 

 Dorothea Lange became famous as a photographer during the Great Depression. Most people have seen the photo of her subject, Florence Owen Thomson. This particular photo smote the nation with compassion for the plight they all mutually felt during that era. I have a hard time seeing that as chance.

Florence Nightingale didn't become known as the founder of modern nursing by things simply falling into place. There was hard work, persistence, and a lot of frustration on her part before she was actually noticed or recognized for what she accomplished. 

There are many more we could mention that became famous and world renown for their accomplishments, but as my husband pointed out, a lot of them were either dead or nearly dead before their talent was found out.

I am of the opinion, that anyone can be talented at anything if they decide to be. What makes the biggest difference is how deep your desire is to do that particular thing.

I took a mail correspondence course in floral design after I graduated from high school earned my diploma by getting a GED. I thoroughly enjoyed learning to arrange flowers, growing them, learning their names, and I loved the different style of design I learned as well. One thing I found while doing this is; anyone can arrange flowers if that's what they want to do.

Cake decorators, painters, artists, singers, writers... They all would claim this same thing yet anyone observing my pencil art can clearly attest that I can not draw. Also, my roses piped out of a frosting bag don't look so great. I guess it's the part about "if that's what you want to do".

 Being a writer, one can get tired of always being chased by thoughts and words needing to sort themselves out. Plus, the constant decision making if whether or not something should even be said. And then realizing that it really doesn't matter to most people if you just be quiet or say it already! Then, it's back to the old rerun of, I write because I like to. And if it happens to resonate with you that's nice and if it doesn't that's OK too.

Just for the record, anyone can write or cook or draw, if that's what they want to do. And about becoming famous? I still think it must have something to do with talent and timing and circumstances all in alignment and ordained by God if you are a believer in Him. Also, if you are a believer in God, the talent that could perhaps make you famous, will in turn glorify your Creator. If you are talented in any aspect, remember it's not about you in the first place...It's about God and He being your Gifter...You are only His vessel.

Now go make something pretty with your talent, be it music, paintings, designing, photography, writing or acts of serving. Do it unabashedly, boldly, and confidently; you're doing it for Him.