Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Shoo Fly

I hate flies. It is a beautiful and sunny day as I’m writing this. It’s warm and lovely. And there is one fly in my house and it’s going to drive me insane.
I hate flies and I want them to be dead. I can see why flies are the opposite of salvation.
Me and God hate flies.

Isaiah 51:6
Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Season of Hay Bales and Dry, Warm Grass

This is my Grandpa and myself back when I was about a year old. He passed away close to ten years ago now. A lot has happened in that time, perhaps most amazing to me is that life did indeed march on.
Since my Grandpa’s time I’ve returned to school, graduated, become a nurse and figured out who I am and who I want to be.
My boys who were just little guys are now planning for college, one starting this year and one next year.
I’ve lost over a hundred pounds.
Time does indeed go on.
This morning it was the first really warm summery morning of the year and I went to sit on my front porch with my cup of coffee as the Mr. cut the grass. I planned on reading a book as I sat down on the front stoop but the world caught my attention before I could find the page I sought.
The smell of the dry newly mown grass, the hot morning sunshine, the cracked pavement of my front walk, the birds hopping a long the driveway. I remembered my Grandpa then, like he was sitting there with me.
In this picture I’m sitting on top of hay bales at my grandparent’s second home, “The Farm”. It was never a working farm, never intended to be. But my Grandpa being of that Greatest Generation found leisure in hard work so he worked that vacation home of his harder than we work in our primary dwelling.
I am sure I can remember the hot sun beating down on my starched cotton bonnet. The feel of dry hay under fat baby hands and the smell of life and the outdoors; of pastures and sun- warmed fields.
My eyes can still feel the squint against the bright light and being ensconced in sights and sounds and smells and love and knowing, even at a year old that God is a mighty creator.
As I sat on my porch this morning I was glad for those soul memories. I considered it a wink from heaven, the warm dry grass of this first warm day. For that sweet inhale of summer, the smell of warm (and yes, warm does have a smell); somehow my Grandpa was still alive and my foundations were still being poured. All in an instant I was wrenched from a perch atop a hay bale to a step on my front porch and I realized; it’s all been intentional.
The Farm has no memory of me. Many seasons of hay bales have come and gone since that day when someone decided to snap a picture and capture this moment. Someday someone else will sit on my front porch with a cup of coffee in the summer sun and feel it is their own.
And they will be right.
But for me, I rejoice in the realization that in 1968 God formed a hay bale for me to sit on as He unfurled this marvelous life before me.
Someday I’m going to sit on another warm and dry hay bale breathing in the scent of heaven next to my Grandpa and tell him all about nursing school and little boys who grew up beautifully. In the meantime, I’ll sit on this stoop and watch life march on.
Days like grass that whither away are days to flourish like a flower in the field.
And we are formed with great intention.

Psalm 103:14-16
14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; 16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

Psalm 33:12
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.

To all who have served, thank you.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


Psalm 18:34-36
34 He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

35 You give me your shield of victory,
and your right hand sustains me;
you stoop down to make me great.

36 You broaden the path beneath me,
so that my ankles do not turn.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

In The Past 2 Weeks...

1. Bad times at work.
2. Happy times at a graduation party.
3. A few exceptionally good hair days.
4. Trying a new foundation/moisturizer/cleanser (not sure how I feel about it).
5. 5 people who love me have offered to beat up people who are not being nice to me.
6. One person who loves me has offered to wear a wire tap on my behalf.
7. I have eaten approximately 200 pounds of Mexican food.
8. Too many people to count have told me they are praying for me, sent me scriptures and just in general encouraged me constantly.
9. Tried a very cute new polish on my toes.
10.Turned a corner toward more trust in God and faith in His work in my life.

Friday, May 26, 2006


Are you ever afraid?
Sometimes I am.
I'm afraid I'm not doing things right. Not good enough, smart enough, strong enough, wise enough.
I'm afraid someone else could do the task better so I should just get out of the way.
I'm afraid I'll be embarrassed.
I'm afraid I'll let you down. I'm afraid you'll realize I'm not all I'm cracked up to be.
I'm afraid of rejection.
I'm afraid to try.
So let me just clarify this once and for all.
I don't do everything right, I'm not very good, smart, strong or wise.
I am embarrassed to admit this.
I will let you down if you hang around long enough. You'll also realize I'm not all I'm cracked up to be.
You or someone else will reject me if past is prologue.
I'm going to try.
I'm going to do it scared.

Psalm 56:3
When I am afraid, I will trust in you.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

What Time Is It?

I know this guy that I met about 24 years ago. I like him a lot. You know him as the Mr. Yeah, I married this guy.
I write about the Mr. pretty regularly and I’m going to do so again today.
This past weekend was our oldest son’s graduation party. The Mr.’s parents drove up from Alabama with his sister and her kids for the celebration. Wow, time flies by, huh? All of a sudden these two kids from the eighties were the hosts of their own child’s graduation party. Doesn’t seem real to me sometimes that here we are, all grown up.
I find myself at various times throughout the day thinking about the Mr. and how much I love him, how proud I am to be Mrs. Mr. I try to stop when I can to drop him a text message or a voice mail to let him know he’s on my mind. I guess that’s kind of what this is. But it’s also stopping in my day to give thanks for life and what it can do to us.
When we met, Dean and I were young with all the immaturity and lack of wisdom that goes with it. We didn’t know what in the world we were doing. So we became very good at making a fine mess of things.
Today we’re older and wiser and it’s better. I have no desire to join Cher in turning back time.
I watched my husband run all over creation picking up the best Mexican food from two different restaurants and several stores for our son who has dietary limitations so his boy could eat all his favorite foods. I watched him setting up tables and hauling cases of pop and making a hundred trips to grab the things we’d forgotten. This is the Mr. I’m used to and always grateful for.
Then I saw him greet his mom and dad, who are getting older and whose health is not great. I saw the gentle transition of Dean the dad to Dean the adult son watching out for them, making sure they didn’t stumble walking across the yard, settling them in with their food.
Twenty years ago I would’ve been on his back to mingle, greet the guests, keep an eye on the food. Not now. Now he’s more dependable, more aware, more of all the good things and less of the immature things.
Last night we took his parents out to dinner before they headed back to Alabama. His mom uses a walker. He helped her into the car, walked slowly with his hand on her arm to steady her. He recommended meals he knew they’d enjoy from the menu.
After we ate Dean drove us past the property our church will build on to share it with his mom and dad. Then we drove past a few houses they had lived in , where his grandparents lived and then to drop them at his grandmother’s home where they spent the night. He walked his mom back up the porch and into the house.
When he got back into the car he said he didn’t think they’d be back this way again, the trip was just too hard for them now. He said he worries about them, it’s hard to see them struggling.
Life sure does march on, doesn’t it? The 17 year old kid is now a 41 year old man and when I look at him it makes me say, “Look what God has done!” I’m thankful for this man, who has let God mold him into a good man. A good dad, husband and son. I’m thankful that the stuff he used to overlook or not deal with he now confronts with wisdom and insight. I’m proud of him.
Most of all, I’m thankful that the Lord uses the years to show Himself through us. I’m thankful that what we were isn’t what we are, and it makes me feel ready for what will be. I used to wonder if we’d make it, how we’d make it, what would become of us. But now I see that God prepares our steps and makes us ready.
I’d like to encourage you to not mourn time gone by, but embrace it. Ask God for eyes to see the ways He has changed you or those you love into a greater likeness of Him. Or maybe, ask Him to start that work now; so in years to come you can look back thank Him for time.
Thank you God, for the years. Thank you for your gentle hand changing us and making us into your likeness. Thank you for my husband. When I see this man standing between the worlds of son and father and doing both with honor and grace; I stand in awe of You. The glory is yours.

Ecclesiastes 3:11, 12
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Psalm 27:3-5 (New International Version)
3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear, though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.
4 One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.

I was really just fishing around looking for a scripture, a thought or an idea that might inspire me to jot a few words down. Maybe I’d find something to meditate on for a day or two. I didn’t have anything particular in mind. Psalm 27 caught my attention and so here we are.
I was captured by verse four in particular, and specifically the words, “one thing I ask of the Lord”. One thing? If I had to choose just one thing, says the Psalmist, I only ask to dwell in the house of the Lord. That’s it? I don’t think David was saying he wanted to literally sit in church all day. So what was he saying? I think what the guy really wanted, if he could just choose one thing, was to see God in the middle of whatever else was happening. And in this case, it seems that there was an army and a war happening.
But just one thing God, don’t worry about giving me victory, don’t shoot down my enemies, don’t give me another bag of Goliath rocks. If I can be with you, I’ll be fine.
David had a peculiar perspective on the tabernacle or the temple. He really wanted to build one. He was kind of obsessed with the idea of building God a house. It wasn’t in God’s plan for him, so it didn’t happen in his lifetime. But he kept up the commitment by keeping that idea central, God would always have a place to dwell because David really wanted God around. One thing, just be here God. Just stay. Don’t go away God, I’ll build you a house, I’ll make you a temple, I’ll do whatever it takes but I have to have one thing; don’t go away.
I don’t have that perspective all the time. I have a temple heart; my heart is God’s dwelling place. He has my full devotion. I love God. But my mind is often mired in concrete and dust. So my prayers, my one thing prayers; usually become a request list. God help me! God fix this! God change that! God whack so and so in the head!
But David, David said just stay here. Just let me see you and I’ll make it.
Verse five says that if I can just be where you are God, I’m safe. Just by being with God I’m up on a rock above the fray. I need to get this in my head so give me a moment. It isn’t that God pulls me away from my battles. It isn’t that He mows down my troubles on my behalf. It is that if I am next to God; that is all that matters. Just being with Him makes the enormity of everything else smaller. Just getting up on that rock next to God gives the perspective of higher elevation, the stuff below is tiny by comparison. If I am with God; what else really matters? The only thing that can truly kill me is not being with God.
I want to be a temple-dweller. I want to look at my wars and believe that if God just stays close by I’m ok. I dream of the sweet release that I’ll find the moment I really get it. That I don’t have to figure, plot and plan my way to victory. I just need to stand next to God.
So for today God, here’s my list of ways to defeat that army at my door. You can throw it away.
For today I only ask for one thing; just stay.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Crucified Reflections

Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

How many of today's choices, actions and words truly reflect the Christ that I claim lives in me? I don't have a whole lot to say today, except that I need to reflect on the gospel to find the me that reflects the image of Christ. In the process, I also find parts of myself to crucify to make room for more of Him.
I have a deeper desire than ever before to die to myself. Yet it seems that the more of me I put the knife to, the more is revealed yet to be sacrificed. I lay this down only to find something bigger hiding behind it. I give that up only as a bargain to hold on to this. I'm not dead yet, but I'm working on it. Dead so that I can be alive.
Recently, the Mr. and I were talking about gas prices (they are a little high, you probably hadn't noticed). We're not political creatures, we two. So the conversation quickly ran to the philosophical and the spiritual.
Here's what we came up with, we get aggravated with high gas prices, or high costs attached to any necessity of life. But we have very little problem with the high cost of luxury items. We were having the great gas debate driving home after dinner at Ruby Tuesdays ($22/2 salad bars and an appetizer plus tip) and then driving through Tim Horton's ($5). In my Ford Expedition (not exactly fuel efficient).
So we don't really mind spending money, we just want to spend it on fun stuff, so we want the necessary stuff to be cheaper to make for more fun spending.
I was thrilled at this new insight into my own head. I had just found another part of myself to crucify. I'm so sure now of Christ's love for me that I'm starting to really love it when he reveals another part of the Sara that still tries to dominate me.
When he lives bigger in me, I find new wisdom. I see myself clearly and the world looks less scary. In life, there is much I cannot change; gas prices for instance. But by letting my own understanding fall away to His insight I feel empowered to rise above. What I cannot change in the world cannot defeat the crucified me.
When I stop to examine myself, I stop feeling like a victim of circumstances. I don't get angry at the world. I adjust myself to Christ and keep on going toward a higher calling.
Makes life easier. I think the truth of it is, if it isn't Christ who is living in me, I'm not really living at all.
I like His perspective so much better.
Thank you Jesus, for moving into this ramshackle heart to build your kingdom.
Live in me. Let me be crucified.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Seasons of Sara

Ok, so I have no idea if this will be interesting to any one out there. My guess would be no. But blogs provide a variety of platforms and one is certainly egotistic and so I’m going to take a side trip here and there to serve this side of myself. (Which by the way is the larger side, but I’m working on that.)
Something weird is happening. I am not altogether enjoying it although I believe it’s a purposeful season in my life. My son Jay is graduating from high school and like moms everywhere, I’m combing through old family photos looking for some to display at his party. And like moms everywhere (you know who you are) I’m taking a few extra beats to examine the pictures of myself. This is of course in pursuit of the eternal quandary, do I look better now? Do I look really old? Is THAT really what I look like?
Thanks to my parent’s photographic record keeping I have pics that date back to my birth so should I be brave enough, I can glance back over my entire lifetime. And therein lies the weirdness.
And therein lies the purpose. I am taken aback by the intensity of emotions the photographs are triggering as they force memories into the forefront of my heart. Things I had forgotten. Hurts I had thought I’d long forgiven. For instance, my husband and I nearly divorced back in the early days. Those times are settled and far behind us and today we are crazier in love than ever before. But I ran across pictures of that time and from the vantage point of 2006, I saw the desperation in my own eyes. And for a second I was angry again.
So here’s what I’m thinking you can expect a bit of in future blogs. Self-inventory. I have wondered how to really do this; look over my life and objectively figure out where I should be, where I am and where I should head. I have decided that the objective part is not going to happen. But the unflinching eye of the camera has, since 1967, recorded some reality caught not only by the lense, but in my face, my body and my eyes. So I’m going to go for it; if I don’t chicken out. I’m going to choose some pictures and do some inventory. Where was I then, and what have I done with myself (or more accurately, allowed God to do with me) since?
I think, I think, I think if I’m very brave about it I can find out what God’s been up to when I was too unwise to see it the first time around. I think there are lessons I learned that I’d like to revisit. I think there are blessings that slipped by unnoticed that I’d like to enjoy anew.

I think to everything there is a season. A season for braces and boyfriends and apparently a season for big butts and broken hearts. And I think I’m ready to take a tour of the seasons of Sara. I suspect you guys were walking similar paths so feel free to come along. Let’s explore. Bring Kleenex and take deep breath. Here's what you do; find some photos that give you a loose time line. Take it one at a time (and not necessarily chronologically) and let yourself remember, think, meditate, pray and find the person in the picture. Then learn her/his lessons from today's wisdom. Or maybe you still wonder why? who was that? what was I supposed to learn? am I ready today to learn it better? Write a few notes or an entire book about it. It's your Proverbs. And if you don't mind sharing, send it along. I'd love to hear about your seasons.
For the good and the bad and the laughter and the everything...a season.

Ecclesiastes 3
1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Psalm 113:2-4 (New International Version)
2 Let the name of the LORD be praised,
both now and forevermore.

3 From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the LORD is to be praised.

4 The LORD is exalted over all the nations,
his glory above the heavens.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

About Jay

1. He was so cute as a little guy he'd make you cry.
2. He is very smart, very very smart.
3. He is very, very, very lazy.
4. He's got a great smile.
5. He loves pizza.
6. He is hilarious.
7. His graduation party is today. Come on over!
8. He's going to the University of Michigan in September.
9. I gave birth to him in 1988; he's been showing me how to live ever since.
10.He is one of the two best things I have ever done.

I love you Sweetie!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Meet The Tookies

Psalm 126:2 (New International Version)
2 Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."

Today I’d like to celebrate my grandparents, the Tookies. In truth, my maiden name was Trent but at some point in my childhood my Grandma Trent revealed that my Grandpa Trent’s childhood nickname was Tookie and the name stuck for obvious reasons.
The Tookies consisted of my grandma (Diana),my grandpa (Harold Sr.) and my aunt (Kathy). In a fun twist of fate, Kathy was my dad’s only sibling but being a late entry was four years older than myself.

The Tookies were nuts. Not literal certifiable nuts but full on fantastically fun nuts. They loved me, man did they love me. They were the kind of grandparent nuts that truly and honestly believed that their grandchildren were absolutely perfect. They were sure that poor grades were the teacher’s fault, and that anyone who didn’t adore us was stupid. They believed in junk food and late night scary movies when I spent the night. They believed in Christmas gifts of expensive shiny toys and that it was ok to run outside in your stocking feet. They believed in building tents in the backyard out of the bedspreads from Kathy’s bed.
I must be forthright and tell you that I know this amazing belief system was my Grandma’s doing as my Grandpa spent my childhood sitting in a chair with a furrowed brow saying, “God Diane!” and my Grandma in general responded with “Oh be quiet Harold, we’re having fun.”
And boy, did we have fun!
We had dress up clothes and Kathy, having been personally trained by my Grandma in fun-making; had an endless list of schemes and plans for games and let’s -pretends. We made her canopy bed into a dreamboat and sailed around the world. My grandma kept a supply of Crayolas (the big box with the sharpener!) in her living room end table and would lay on her stomach and color with us.
And we laughed. We laughed ourselves silly. We laughed at each other and ourselves and the neighbors and often, at Grandpa Tookie himself (“God Diane!”). This made us laugh even harder.
We laughed silently with tears running down our faces when my grandpa worked midnights and was asleep in the next room. We laughed loud and obnoxiously when all crowded together in the living room.
We laughed ourselves through holidays and across Greek Town and over pizza and in general straight through the 1970s.
The Tookies had another side though. I mentioned their unflinching belief in our perfection. The Tookies were nuts on another level, they were family nuts. They laughed hard and loved harder. And nobody, NOBODY better mess with one of us or you were messing with all of us.
My Tookies wouldn’t let me suffer for a moment if they had anything to say about it. They were rocks, I always knew where to run if I was in trouble. I knew that with the Tookies, I didn’t have to explain myself or beg for mercy. The Tookies loved me and were ready to open a can of Tookie whoopin’ on anybody who meant me harm.
Sometimes the harm was at my own hand via my own stupidity. Didn’t matter. The Tookies were there to step up and pull me out of the hole I had dug for myself.
The Tookies remind me of Jesus. He doesn’t insist on making us pay for our crimes, He doesn’t sit back and let us squirm. He steps in and does battle for us. He saves us from ourselves and the world. He thinks we’re pretty much great the way we are.
The Tookies taught me to laugh and to love unconditionally. I think God likes that about us Tookies. I think that’s pretty much what the family (of Tookies ) and the Family (of God) is supposed to be doing.
Laughing, living, loving, and standing up to keep each other from harm.
Passion. The Tookies did it all with loud loving passion. I grew up between bookends of laughter and protection.
I’m proud to be a Tookie.

Zechariah 9:8 (New International Version)
8 But I will defend my house against marauding forces.
Never again will an oppressor overrun my people, for now I am keeping watch.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

With Eagles

Wow Lord, I’m really tired. I’ve had a long day and a long week behind me and there’s another long week in front of me and I’m just tired. I wish I was one of those really strong people, you now, with the metabolism of a humming bird. Endurance, stamina. That’s what I wish Lord. But you made this body like it is; and this body gets tired.
I need wisdom Lord, to take good care of this vessel I have to dwell in for my time here. So give me discipline and strength to choose what I do with my body. You know how I feel about food! And you know I hate exercise! But you also know, I’m really tired and I need to take precautions with my health. So I’ll rest myself and with your help, I will continue to watch what I eat. And yes, ok, I’ll take a walk now that the weather is nicer.
Lord, help my mind to wind down and be peaceful in the midst of chaos and stress. I know so well that you are the calm in my storms and the quiet eye of the hurricanes that swirl around me. Remind me, when I get too wrapped up in life; to find a place in my spirit to keep my lifeline to you tied tight. On those days when I let the dishes sit or the laundry pile up, keep prodding me when I’m tempted to let my time with you slip past. There is much that can wait until tomorrow, but my heart can’t hold out for another day; I need you today.
Train my mind to call on you when obstacles rise up in front of me or when I’m feeling trapped by problems and demands. Carve quiet moments into my hectic days to whisper love songs in my ear.
Thank you Lord, for being rest for my tired body. Thank you for a job and a family and a life that drains my energy and fills my soul with joy and purpose. Thank you for the privilege of walking through this week with other people that I might touch and love on your behalf. Use me this week Lord. Renew me and refill me so that I can be poured out again for you.
Thank you Lord.

Isaiah 40:29-31 (New International Version)
29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Jesus Store

Have you ever been browsing through a store and had a sales person basically stalk you?
“Can I help you find something?” “We have some great sales over here.” “You’d look really good in that color.” “Have you been in before?” “All of our thongs are 50% off with $100 purchase.”
You know what I’m talking about. Does any of the above inspire you spend your money? It doesn’t for me. It makes me say rather testily, “I’m just looking around, thanks.” No eye contact. If said person continues to follow me at 5 paces, I’ll leave before completing my look-around.
Here’s my perspective, if there’s something here that is worth my time, something I want, priced right, etc., you won’t have any impact on my decision to purchase said item. If not, you will not bully me into buying something I don’t want. Your attitude and demeanor however, will keep me comfortable and in the zone, or push me out the door.
I think there’s an allegory here for my Christianity. I have wondered at times about my evangelistic skills. I’ve battled within my mind, do I say something, do I quote a verse, should I carry a Bible in my work bag...How do I impact the world for Christ. I think I need to take it a little easier in some ways and a little more seriously in others.
When browsing around my life, I don’t want to drive away the people around me with aggressive sales tactics. I don’t want to trick them into buying my wares with special deals and limited offers. I don’t want to tell them what I have to offer is perfection, no problems, an ideal fit. I don’t want to make a sale so they can get away from me or push so hard they avoid me altogether.
What I want is to just put my stuff out there for the world’s consideration. Here’s the stuff that I’m working on, here’s what I can tell you about the deal, here’s what I really don’t know but I can direct you to Someone who would be happy to give you the answers.
We can make a difference just in the being of it. If I’m pretty consistent, open, honest and let Jesus shine through He’ll make the sale.
Sometimes it’s the person representing the company that gets in the way.
Lord, get me out of your way.

John 12:32 (New International Version)
32But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Why Me?

Why me? Insert foot stomping here.
How did I get wrapped up in this mess?
I’m in the middle of a fine mess. I spent quite a bit of time this week trying to extricate myself from the wreckage. This involved discussing things I wish I didn’t know and defending my own integrity with not much besides my reputation to speak on my behalf.
It's been a rough week with a side of tension headache and some anger, righteous and otherwise.
Want to know the details? Not right now. Probably later when the dust settles.
My emotions have flown through the spectrum. Anxiety, anger, fear, anger, worry, anger, indignant, anger, defensive, anger....
Finally I've settled down enough for my prayers to become a bit more coherent and a little less ranting. In my prayer time I managed to ask God a question and then shut up long enough to hear an answer. This is a nice bonus when I am rational enough to do it.
Why God, am I in the middle of this? I was way on the outer edges, just a spectator really. And now I’m dead-center. How did this happen? Shouldn’t you have had my back? Shouldn’t you have been keeping an eye on things? Did ya get distracted by Brittany and K-Fed?
Then this, “Nothing touches you without my permission, you know that.”
Then whhhyyyyyy? Whiny inflection.
“Because if you weren’t invested personally, you wouldn’t pray as passionately.”
“I know you, Little One. You’d pray in passing and go on with your day. But now you’re in it up to your eye balls. Now you’ll really intercede.”
Not fair!
“Oh, it’s fair. You’ll be fine. You’ll sweat a little, be uncomfortable, be stretched. You’ll have a little bit of sleeplessness. But you’ll be fine.”
It’s not fine! I would’ve prayed regardless!
“No, you wouldn’t have prayed like you will now. Now you’re in it with her. Now you have to get past your anger at the one who wronged you to do the real work I have for you. Now you will pray for her. Now it can’t slip your mind.”
But it’s true. I was aware of something happening just out of my bubble of self-interest. I didn’t really pray that much about it. But when it involves us, it really does get our attention doesn’t it? So God will see me through unharmed, I really believe this. But there will be a path from here to there that will be uncomfortable. An opportunity to let myself be stretched into a finer reflection of Christ. To forgive someone who doesn’t deserve forgiving. To believe I’m safe in Him. To become invested in someone else’s life so that I’m driven to my knees on their behalf, and my own.
It’s a new lesson for me and it hurts a little.
I’m ready Lord, for the lesson. I’m willing to be your servant, to be caught in the cross-fire. To be the innocent bystander grazed by the bullet. To believe you’ll keep me safe.
I’ll pray for the one who is far from you who pushed me into the battle against my will.
I’ll consider it my privilege to be used in this situation.
Thanks for the opportunity God.
And, you do have my back; just like always.

Jeremiah 39:17-19 (New International Version)
17 But I will rescue you on that day, declares the LORD; you will not be handed over to those you fear. 18 I will save you; you will not fall by the sword but will escape with your life, because you trust in me, declares the LORD.' "

Monday, May 15, 2006

Lord Of The Dance

Chain, chain, chain, chain, chain, chain, Chain, chain, chain, chain of fools
Five long years I thought you were my man, But I found out I'm just a link in your chain
You got me where you want me; I ain't nothing but your fool
You treated me mean oh you treated me cruel....
Chain, chain, chain, chain of fools

Hello, my name is Sara and I have a problem I am an impulse dancer. I can’t seem to stop myself, largely because I don’t try to.
If the downbeat of the above song is heard at any time, any location; I will immediately begin my imitation of John Travolta in “Michael”. This has happened in grocery stores and at work (where I am a professional nurse).
I have danced with the poles in my basement. We will say no more of this.
I do the butt dance in my car. I shimmy across my living room. I do the “Night At The Roxbury” head bob at the drop of a hat.

At weddings I always say I’m going to sit quietly like a dignified woman and watch the younger folks dance. Then I start feeling “it”. The funk. It’s in my Caucasian blood. The African Americans at work call me soul sister. I start tapping my hands on the table. I start the butt dance again. Pretty soon I’m out there with whomever I can drag along.
I will do the chicken dance, the Macarena, the Cha Cha slide, the Hustle, the Hokey Pokey, polka, slow dance or if so inspired, the Elaine Benis kick dance from Seinfeld.
I should admit at this juncture that I am not a good dancer, but I am an enthusiastic one. I dance a lot at work. A lot more than a nurse should dance whilst at work. Some of the patients dance with me. I think it’s therapeutic. The doctors have grown accustomed to it and just smile and keep on walking, they rarely join in. I think they could use a little boogie in their oogie. I once had a room full of schizophrenics doing the Cha Cha slide when I was supposed to be conducting group therapy. It was a very successful group once we got going in the same direction. I have led a giant Electric Slide down the hallway with people who claimed they were too depressed to take a shower.
I’m telling you, dancing is better than any medicine I know of. . It’s pure joy. It’s all the muscles and tendons doing what they were meant to do. It has nothing to do with talent. My husband is the worst dancer I have ever danced with, but when the lights go down and he takes my hand to lead me in a slow dance, he’s got me wrapped around his little finger at the same time he’s crushing my instep. I don’t care about his skills, it’s just perfection to be in the moment.
So next time you’re feeling a little down or bored or scared or confused, I recommend dancing your way through. Just crank up the stereo and get down with your bad self. If you’re from around here, people won’t be alarmed because they’re used to me. If you’re not from around here, I’m sure your area could use a little impromptu monkey, mashed potato or pony. If you don’t know what those are, you need to get moving; you’re falling behind.
Still not convinced? Click on the link below and then get jiggy one time.
Dancing Man

Psalm 30:11
11 You turned my mourning into dancing...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day!!

1 Samuel 1:27 (New International Version)
27 I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what
asked of him.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

About My Mom

1. In The Garden
2. Hellzapoppin
3. Homemade meatloaf
4. Search Engine
5. Crying laughter
6. The Gabor Sisters
7. Hungarian
8. Dressy winter coats for church
9. Mittens for neighborhood kids

Friday, May 12, 2006

Dear Jay & Mac,

Psalm 112:1-2
1[a] Praise the LORD. [b]
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands.
2 His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed

Dear Jay & Mac,
Wow, how time has flown and how life has changed. Seems like I’m still trying to figure out how to raise little ones and you guys are adults.
Life is so different now. Some of it easier, some harder, mostly I’m forever working out how to do this part of life now, today, and do it right. Sometimes I feel like I should just ask you, what do you need from me? What do you need out of your mother now? Now that you know so much, now that you can basically care for yourself, what do I do?
Time was that keeping you healthy, fed, relatively clean and concussion free was a day well spent. It sure seemed hard at the time but now the tasks before me are less clearly defined. More and more often you say or do things that make me realize, you’re passing me by. You’re smarter than I am. You’re wiser and kinder and a better person than I am. You have much to teach me and I have little to teach you any longer. But we have a few years left to live under the same roof. What can I give you in our time here in this house?
I’ve been thinking and praying about this lately and I believe I have the answer, my sweet boys. I give you what I always have, you can depend on me and I will depend on God. When I have food poisoning and you come home from school and announce that you need four home made cakes for National Honor Society to take to a homeless shelter tomorrow, I will drag myself off the couch and make four home made cakes, Jay. And when you are packing for a cruise and you announce that you can’t find any of your boxer shorts I will go to Wal Mart and buy you all new underwear, Mac.
When you apply for college I will find a way to pay your tuition. I’ll be the loudest voice in the football stands. I’ll be your safety net and your soft place to land.
I won’t do any of this on my own, as you well know. And this my boys, is my greatest offering to you. I will daily lay you before the throne of God. If there is a blessing to be given, a healing to be had or a request to be made; I will be on my knees for you until my final breath.
So I guess things really haven’t changed all that much, have they? To everything there is a season, and yet the constant remains. You can depend on me and I will depend on God.
And you my sweet boys, will be mighty and blessed.
Happy Mother’s Day guys.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I Am A Gifted Mother

The kind of mother I wanted to be:
Always patient with a gentle smile. Dressed casually but neatly with a bit of a flare. Maker of healthy goodies, often shaped like bunnies or flowers. Reader of Bible stories and teacher of scripture. Keeper of a largish house on several scenic acres with ducks and perhaps a pony. Favorite mom of teachers due to my constant willingness to volunteer and ability to connect with all children. Neighborhood mom of the year, welcoming all to my bright and sunny home. Kisser of boo-boos and wiper of tears.
Minimal television in my home because my children and I would be too busy making our own furniture from lumber harvested from our acreage. Bedtimes with prayers kneeling at bedside in immaculate little-boy bedrooms, sheer curtains fluttering on gentle breezes, starlight illuminating peaceful faces.
Daily time in personal Bible study and prayer on behalf of my family. Lovingly prepared meals on beautifully appointed dining tables, centerpieces of the seasonal variety.
Reader of classic literature and listener to classic music.
A beacon of inspiration; spiritual, emotional, academic and social.

The kind of mother I turned out to be:
Mostly fat until a few years ago dressed in elastic waisted pants. Sometimes a clean shirt, sometimes not. Chips and dip on paper plates, cans of Coke to go with. Bible stories, yeah. Also stories that included boogers and pirates. Sometimes in the same story. My house is small and a mess. My children shared a bedroom smaller than the trunk of the car they now drive. We took away their door when they knocked it down wrestling and they were sans door for many years. Our yard is a restroom for our dog. We do clean it occasionally. One particular summer daboyz and said dog dug a giant hole right next to where their dad parked the car so when he got out he’d fall in. He did. It was hilarious.
I volunteered at school alright, because Mac was a criminal and needed a personal prison guard to keep him from going over the wall.
The neighborhood kids were rotten, smelly, foul-mouthed and ate all of our chips and dip. I hated them.
We watched television only when awake. We never made furniture. We did make waffles with ice cream for breakfast once.
We prayed at night with them already tucked into bed, I think that still counts. The bedroom was a minefield of “guys” and inevitably the Mr. would trip or stub his toe and the threats of total toy loss would over ride the gentle bed time prayers.
I prayed a lot, this much I stuck to. I prayed in the car, in yard, at school, around the house. I prayed I would not lose my mind, kill these children or leave their father. I succeeded with two out of three.
Meals were prepared with overwhelming anxiety trying to please three spoiled males and lose weight while grocery shopping for four on $85.00 a week. Paper plates were standard. Do backpacks count as centerpieces?
We read a lot. Give me a point for that. I tried to read Tom Sawyer to them but they wouldn’t listen. I enjoyed it though. Classical music? Uh, no.
I was a yeller and a laugher and a tickler and a “I can’t do this anymore-er”.
Inspirational? Time will tell. At the very least, they were inspired to be better parents than I was!

The kind of children I wanted:
Compassionate, generous, loving, cheerful, funny, confidant, smart, and most of all in love with Christ.
The kind of children I got:
Compassionate, generous, loving, cheerful, funny, confidant, smart and most of all in love with Christ.

I’m pretty sure that was more God than me.

God, thank you for these children and for the gift of motherhood. All, so undeserved.

2 Corinthians 9:15
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I Couldn't Have Said It Better...

Maureen Hawkins:
Before you were conceived I wanted you
Before you were born I loved you
Before you were here an hour I would die for you
This is the miracle of life.

You couldn't fool your mother on the foolingest day of your life if you had an electrified fooling machine.
~ Homer Simpson

My mother said to me, 'If you become a soldier, you'll be a general; if you become a monk, you'll end up as the pope.' Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.
~ Pablo Picasso

"There is so much to teach, and the time goes so fast."
~Erma Bombeck

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people,
promptly announces she never did care for pie.
~Tenneva Jordan

A mother understands what a child does not say.
~Jewish Proverb

When a woman is twenty, a child deforms her; when she is thirty, he preserves her; and when forty, he makes her young again.
~Leon Blum

Charlotte Gray~
Becoming a mother makes you the mother of all children. From now on each wounded, abandoned, frightened child is yours. You live in the suffering mothers of every race and creed and weep with them. You long to comfort all who are desolate.

George Eliot~
A mother's yearning feels the presence of the cherished child even in the degraded man.

Elizabeth Stone~
Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.

Mothers are all slightly insane
~ J. D. Salinger

A mother is not a person to lean on but a person to make leaning unnecessary
~ Dorothy Canfield Fisher

“I want my children to have all the things I couldn't afford. Then I want to move in with them.”
~ Phyllis Diller

And my personal favorite..

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis~
If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do well matters very much.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Patricia Carol GerhardsteinTrent

Psalm 34:11
11 Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

I come from a long line of mothers. Well, I suppose we all do at that. I’d like to honor mine today with Mother’s day upon us.
My mom taught me much, handed down from her mom. Precious lessons that just in my generation have grown antiquated. It’s a sad loss for generations to come.
My mom was a homemaker, as was her mother, as was I for as long as I could pull it off. My mom was at home when I left for school and at home when I returned. Dinner was a family of four around the kitchen table every evening. We were not busy. I attribute this largely to the role of mom, who was about the work of our home during the day to create evenings to just live and be and become. A few nights of the week we visited my grandparents homes for an hour or two. Church was presumed into the schedule. And that was all. Evenings were for dinner times, school work and playing outside until street lights came on.
We lived in a structured environment that appeared effortless. Bedtimes and bath times. Sunday school and birthday parties. Diet was healthy and portions were controlled without talking and reading and battling our bulge. We wore boots and mittens and hats in the winter time because it made sense and not because it was or was not fashionable.
The phone didn’t ring late at night because evening was for winding down and preparing for sleep. Daily my mom talked with her mother on the phone and family connections remained constant without having to “find a minute” for one another.
My mom and her mom and myself for a few years in the beginning had a job to do, and did it. Children knew what was expected of them and had someone to hold their hand while they did it. Food was a matter of love and nourishment and not of last minute grabs at the end of hectic days. Stuffy heads and sore throats meant staying home and sipping tea on the couch because my mom had a job to do; and it was to watch over me and nurse me to health when I needed her. I had warm clothes and warm meals and high expectations at the hand of my mom.
I could list forever the tasks and talents my mom poured over my life but I believe it all comes down to wisdom. She had an instinct that drove her toward the care of myself and my sister. It was a direct connection to God. I learned that lesson above all the others. That life may not work itself out in the manner that you would choose, but God will lay His hand over it all in the end. My mom didn’t have a large and luxurious home or a bottomless bank account to fund her attempts at creating a home. If school work was too hard, if we were sick, if times were bad there was a common answer for us. Let’s pray about it. That was the lesson of my childhood.
I wish I could’ve been a homemaker forever. I wish time and society hadn’t marched forward demanding second incomes just to survive. I wish I could’ve spent my kids’ entire time at home as mine was spent, with a mom making them a home that appeared effortless. Most of the stuff of my mom’s child-rearing days was obsolete when it was my turn to raise children. Most, but not all.
I too, knew that bad times call for prayer. So do good times and sad times and confused times.
So for the dinners for four around the kitchen table, for the cupcakes for my classroom on my birthday, mittens in snow storms, visits to grandparents, sick days on the couch and a home made for me; thank you mom.
For the lessons of Jesus loves me this I know; let’s pray and being steered by God through thankless loads of laundry and baked chicken; I owe you my life.
For Patricia Carol Gerhardstein Trent; thank you God.
Happy Mother’s Day, to us all.
(p.s. that's my grandma with daboyz in October 1989 in the upper left and my mom with me in June 1967 lower right!)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Untouchables

Proverbs 19:23
The fear of the LORD leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

Hi Guys!
Well, we’re home after a busy weekend of resting. Does that make any sense?
Anyway, for a quick recap we took off for Frankenmuth, MI about 10:00 Saturday morning. Rolled into town ‘round noon, checked in to our hotel and headed to Zhender’s for an unspeakably delicious family style dinner with all the fixin’s. We had this server named Andy who started off telling us about how very sore he was from roofing 12 hours a day during the week, and then working as a waiter on the weekends. Being the snot I am by nature my first instinct was to bury my face in my menu to send Andy a message, “Just take our orders and move along Spanky.” But the Lord is bigger and better than I am and after about 30 seconds I was seeing a sweet hard-working kid who I wanted to spend a little time talking to. I was interested in Andy and thinking to myself, Jesus is interested in him too. A little God shining through this silly heart to show me His love for the waiter with the sore muscles. By the time lunch was over, we had heard about Andy’s dog who had run away that morning (Andy was certain he’d return on his own) and the fact that wiener schnitzel smells really good when you carry a tray of it on your shoulder and turn the corner really fast. We took his picture before we left and he encouraged us to come back because “basically all the food here is great.” Andy, you are a wise man.

We did some bumming around town and some laying around our motel room. Lots of giggles that turned into snorting doubled over crying full on laugh fests. Silliness. Wrestling. Eating fudge and left over chicken in bed. Buying fattening snacks. Taking pictures in the same places we’ve been taking family pictures since I was a little kid.

I fell asleep to the sweet sounds of the Mr. and Daboyz playing games and being silly. Woke up at 5:45 to the sun peaking through trees blowing in the wind and soft snoring from the three main men in my life. We packed up and hit the road, Mc Donald’s breakfast in the car. Rode home listening to worship music and smiling on the inside.
Sunday afternoon we hooked up with my mom, my sister and bro-in-law for a final party planning session for Jay’s grad festivities in two weeks. We spent the first four hours eating too much barbecue and fudge and trying to learn how to play Texas Hold ‘em (I gave up). And the last hour nailing down details and laughing hysterically at what a terrible party planner I am. I was unable to figure out for sure if I’d invited 120 or 400 people to the party having sent, e mailed, called and hand delivered an untold number of invites. So if you got two or got none and you’re reading this, please just let me know if you’ll be there so I can have enough food. I’m pretty sure my mom was ready to slap me and my husband was ready to leave me by this point. My sister just sat with her head on the table and laughed at me. Pretty much typical stuff.
So it was a restful busy wonderful silly thoughtful planning eating smiling celebrating thanking joking playing reveling in God kind of a weekend. I highly recommend it. Can’t say I’m there yet like the verse above, “untouched by trouble”; but then again, I sure feel bullet-proof right about now.
And please, somebody tell me how many people are coming to the party?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Brief Outage For System Maintenance

It’s gonna be a two fer one weekend here at the old blog. Being busily ensconced in life and all it’s demands and joys; we’re taking a weekend to do some Smith System Maintenance. So here’s the Saturday and Sunday posts. We’re taking off Saturday and spending the night in Frankenmuth, MI. After eating as much as possible and just enjoying each other, refreshing, refueling and rejoicing in all God has done for us; it’s a Sunday barbecue to finish out the grad party plans for Jay and a sweet Sunday afternoon planned for us. So have a great weekend, stop and smell the roses and I’ll see you on Monday!

10 Reasons to Go to Frankenmuth (a.k.a. The Muth)
1. It’s just so dang pretty!
2. It’s not too far to drive.
3. Noodles.
4. Potatoes.
5. Cranberry relish.
6. Gravy.
7. Chicken.
8. Plastic monkeys on your ice cream.
9. Fudge/Cheese/Sausage Hauses
10. We just need to!!
(11.Bronner’s, but don’t tell daboyz; they made us promise we didn’t have to stop there. But we are.)

3 John 1:2
Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.

Friday, May 05, 2006

I Don't Wanna Grow Up!

Hebrews 4:11-13
12For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Yesterday I posted about growing up in God and the struggle between rules to guide the child and relationship to inspire the adult. I thought a good follow up question is this, so how do we grow up?
Far as I can tell, there’s only one source of graduate Christianity and that’s the Bible. Let’s just be blunt for a moment and admit that most of us love the Bible and enjoy talking about how much we love it; but there’s a much smaller number who actually commit themselves to being students of the Word. I say this not to criticize but to just put the truth out there so we can deal with it.
Joyce Meyer on the radio or Sunday morning sermons are wonderful resources but if we really want to grow deep in God; they just aren’t enough. Life groups, devotional books and inspirational books are also great but still not enough. It’s not enough until we take the Bible in hand and decide to understand it with our hearts. And when we do that, we realize that there is really never a point where we can have enough of the Bible.
The Word of God, says the scripture at the start of this; is like a surgeon to our souls. It doesn’t allow anything to remain buried and hidden. It acknowledges that God already knows it all and sees it all and it allows us to see ourselves more clearly. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Do you see anything there about the rules and by-laws of the church?
There’s a very good reason for that; the right-standing heart lives not outside of the rules but beyond them. Have you ever done something nice but kept a little bit of attitude in the back of your mind while doing it? Ever given a gift while feeling the recipient didn’t deserve it? The revealed heart recognizes that attitude and then goes a step further to realize that I myself am the recipient of undeserved gifts. The final realization is my own position, not the other guy’s.
The rule follower pats him/herself on the back for giving a gift to someone who doesn’t deserve it. The student of truth thanks God for His gifts on their own undeserving life; beginning with salvation and thanks God for the privilege of following in Christ’s footsteps to continue giving gifts undeserved.
It’s only through personal pursuit that we reach the point of the revealed heart. No one can force it through lessons or rules of behavior or laws. A seed planted on a Sunday morning will never come to bloom unless it is tended on Monday and beyond. We are too often like soil, seeds sown but without attention to bring about a harvest.
Are we our own gardener? No, Christ continues the process but only with our permission. If we lock the gates of our heart, He will not force His way in. And we deceive ourselves with rules, like seeds planted with no heart to water and fertilize the soil of life.
The Word of God applied personally is the only way to exceed the Christianity of Minimal Requirements. It is the only path to break free of frustration with a world that disobeys the rules to an attitude of compassion and mercy to share the relationship we have with Jesus.
You and I need the Word of God in quiet times to do a personal inventory. We need heart surgery. We need to grow up.
We need to take it personally.

2 Timothy 2:15
15Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Oh Grow Up!

I’ve been wondering lately about growing up. Not passing chronological years so much as leaving behind the toddler in my spirit to become an adult Christian. It isn’t achieved by happenstance.
Lately I’ve heard more than one debate about tithing or entertainment choices or politics that have fueled high emotions and high frustration. Interestingly, no one could seem to find that one verse in any of the above to prove the point. It got me thinking; what are the rules of Christianity?
I’ll step up to admit that I’ve often fallen back to a Christianity of minimal requirements. If you’re in an organized church for long enough, it becomes easy to do.
Side note: This is not a criticism of the church. You need to go to church!
Moving along. In any organization something of a subculture will develop, be it co-workers, family or church-goers. We all develop a sort of language, an understanding of commonalities, and the guiding principles of behavior that make us a part of the group.
It’s much like going to kindergarten. Do you remember that book from a few years ago, All I Really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten (Robert Fulghum)? That’s really the truth of Christian growth. Think about kindergarten for a moment. Lots of rules. Lots of grown-ups standing by with hands on instructions. Stand here. Make a straight line. Eyes front. Hands to yourself. Raise your hand to speak. Don’t eat the glue. Etc.
Now my kids are approaching graduation from high school. I myself graduated nursing school a few years ago. You don’t hear those kind of instructions in high school and beyond. If a high-schooler in art class must be instructed not to paint his neighbor’s eye lids; that student has some issues that need immediate intervention.
So at the start of entrance into the group, we need those rules and guidelines. We come with no baseline of understanding and someone has to take responsibility to teach us how to conduct ourselves. What are the values of the group? What are the values of the church? Rules are those guidelines. But there is a fundamental flaw in the system. The person making the rules has to know the values he/she is trying to instill. If not, you promote only rules and not values. And you end up eating paste in your senior year of high school. And you are not invited to college. And your chances of success become slimmer as your frustration grows greater. Read any social commentary on adolescents; the ones who fail to understand and embrace their education become the ones who give up. The rebels. The disenfranchised.
There are too many disenfranchised Christians out there. These folks have been introduced to a system of rules they never matured beyond or they never got that solid foundation of values to promote healthy growth. Either way, they didn’t have a good kindergarten experience and it’s dragging them down instead of pushing them forward.
Where does this apply to church or Christianity? You can’t grow up on rules only. The rules are the kindergarten of Christianity. It was the before of the Old Testament without the after of the cross. It’s not the whole story and it’s just not enough.
So throw away the rules? No. Live and die by the law? No. Ready for the golden ticket? As my children like to say...
“HOORAY!! Responsibility!”
Yup, it’s your own responsibility. To not just find the one verse to attach a rule to but to understand the depth of the entire gospel. To reach further than the black and white. To reject the Christianity of minimal requirements. To grow up.
I know of a recent conversation about tithing. Tithing means 10% given to the church/tabernacle/temple. Folks wanted New Testament proof that they had to do it. One verse in black in white that requires it. Christianity of minimal requirements. There is not a New Testament verse that demands your 10%. There are just a whole stinking bunch that require 100% of your heart. Let me tell you, 10% of your wallet is easier to part with.
When your whole heart is in it; you want to give more than the minimum. You respond with such awe and gratitude and love that you want to give your money, your time, your home, your possessions and then some more of your money.
Jesus pretty much said, “What does your heart say?” And then He taught that your actions would reveal your heart.
My easily offended, slow to forgive, tight-fisted, judgmental, self-righteous, pious, looking for a reason not to, Christianity of minimal requirements reveals my heart? Ouch.
It appears that even if I put my 10% in the bucket, I may not be the grown-up Christian I thought I was.
Christianity of Minimal Requirement or Christianity of Maximum Response.
Rules or relationship?

1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Let Freedom Ring

When daboyz were small I was a much tougher mom than I am today. This is inverse to what I would have expected. Teenagers, after all, are evil and should be ruled with an iron fist.
The Mr. and I did what is known amongst church types as “dedicating” our babies to the Lord. This involves something of a ceremony in church shortly after our babies were born where we stood before God and the congregation as the pastor prayed over each boy and promised to raise them in a Godly home. In my mind, it was a giving back what God had given me. I never thought of my children as mine, they were His; and I was temporary guardian.
This was a scary thing which only occurred to me in its enormity after I had them. I didn’t know what to do once they were here. I knew I had to keep Christ central, I was determined to raise them into servants of Christ. Just didn’t know quite how.
So I did the traditional Sunday School and church thing. Which as it turned out, was right on the money in terms of raising them right. They had great mentors and teachers in the church who not only committed themselves to weekly lessons with flannel board figures but committed themselves personally to my kids and remain close to them to this day. Score.
We kept Jesus at the head of our often troubled home life which is the only reason that they were not products of a broken family. Score again.
Grace before meals, check. Christian-friendly entertainment often with scriptural sub-text, check.
Involved in their lives, teaching them about God, loving them, bedtime prayers, praying for them; check, check, check, check.
But it wasn’t long before I felt I was following all the God rules and still feeling I wasn’t really nailing it down; these lives I was shepherding toward heaven.
Then I realized what I’d been missing. They were individuals. Not carbon copies of their dad or myself, thank the Lord. I had a tendency to want to mold them into something grand and glorious. Good grades, well-behaved, cute hair cuts. But now what?
If you’re a parent or hope to be, I think I can pass on some wisdom here. The now- what? was the letting go even as I held on. God meant something for them but I wasn’t in on all the details. At some point in their lives it had to become Jay and God; Mac and God. Mom couldn’t be the advocate of their souls forever. My role had to fade into the background as God did the molding, the forming and the shaping of their hearts.
I had to let some personality traits develop that I would’ve like to tame, (by tame I mean beat out of them). I had to drop my influence over their interests when it was my agenda I was pushing. I had to choose my battles. I had to focus on the God relationship and believe that if I could just get them to touch Him, He would touch them in ways I couldn’t imagine. Believe it or not, it was hard for me to let God take control over their lives. I suspected I would make better choices.
And let me tell you something, one of the first better choices I would’ve made was molding them into the pursuit of high-paying careers. But when I turned away for just a second God stepped on my toes and made them into passionately loving, creative funny people who serve and worship Him but are not interested in becoming a doctor and a lawyer. God got all up in my grill and started talking to my kids behind my back!
So I have one kid who wants to be a writer and one who wants to be a middle school math teacher (clearly not under my influence!)/youth pastor.
And I have two kids who talk to God and listen to Him more than they listen to me.
It’s a letting go thing. It’s a letting God thing. It’s a trust thing. It’s a thing I promised to do in 1988 and 1989 and then learned to do in the years since.
So they aren’t really mine. But I’m sure honored to have had a little slice of time with them. They’ve taught me a lot. I always thought a little freedom was sure to be a bad thing. I was wrong. A little freedom releases some great potential.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (New International Version)
16But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect[a] the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Best Laid Plans...

So this time yesterday I was at work thinking, just eight more hours and two days off! I had big plans for my Tuesday and Wednesday. Graduation party plans. House cleaning plans. Reading, shopping, self-maintenance plans. It was gonna be a good two days.
I glanced at my schedule on the fridge and OH NO!; I'm only off on Tuesday! That changes everything. So I made new plans, streamlined plans. Prioritized plans.
At 12:30 this morning my son Mac woke me up. "I just puked". Oh crud. Much puking ensued.
Jay has had a headache and sore throat for two days.
So this morning 2 sick kids + 1 less day off = all my plans kaput.
Looks like a day of toast and hot tea and cleaning up around two teenagers with creeping crud.
Oh well!
In the larger picture, I think I'll survive the change of plans. I'm going to blindly assume that God has some purpose for this and just motor on through my one day off. I was going to have a lovely two days that would certainly have reflected the goodness of God. Now to find Him in this mess! He's here I'm quite sure. There was a time this would've really irritated me but today, it's all good.
So have a great day and think of me as you go about your business. And pray for daboyz.
And just flow with whatever plans you make that He changes. Honestly, what choice do you have anyway?

Proverbs 16:3
Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Alien Invasion

There are things I intend to do, thought I’d do, will never do, don’t care to do. There are also things I think I should care about and often pretend to care about; but don’t give a rip about.
Welcome to the freak show. May I present the incredible square-peg-in-a-round-hole woman.
I think I should want more stuff but stuff gets lets interesting to me all the time. Oh, I have my weaknesses (most of them edible). I do likes my Sketchers. I like fashion, cheap jewelry, pretty stuff for my house. I like good coffee and can justify unjustifiable prices to get it. I like cool mugs to put my coffee in and never feel I have enough.
I like books and will buy as many as you will let me, and then a few more that I’ll hide. I want to own them and I think when books are thrown all over the house in corners and under furniture and on tables it’s the ultimate home decor accessory.
I pay an embarrassing amount of money regularly to try to make something acceptable of this stuff on my head that God tried to pass for my hair.
I wear Levis jeans given my choice. I like to buy new scrubs constantly. I don’t, but I would if I could. Then after I have several sets, I decide I don’t want to wear scrubs anymore and they hang in my closet for months.
So you see, I’m not a poster child for living simply. I will never be the Amish Woman of the Year.
But less and less stuff catches my attention these days. I used to long for a new house. Now, if you gave me one I’d move in tonight. But the longing part is gone. My house is what it is. And what it is; is a temporary shelter.
I would like to Tai Bo my body into a kick boxing bikini worthy piece of art. But I won’t. My body is what it is. And what it is; is a temporary dwelling.
I have dreams of a stellar career that I won’t pursue. Because my career is what is. And what it is; is a temporary means to provide for myself and my family.
Are you seeing a pattern? I don’t care as much about the stuff of life as I used to. I don’t worry about remodeling or replacing things that are not part of the grand scheme. Yeah, I still want stuff. I have my moments of wanting and wishing. But fewer than before and farther between.
I’m not built for this side of life. I have purposes and plans but if they don’t carry over; they are only a tiny blip on my radar. It isn’t something I’ve really worked at so much as something that God is working in me. Call it priorities.
I don’t care if my kids have neat bedrooms. I care if they serve Christ.
I don’t care if I understand why some people don’t like me. I care if God is pleased with me.
I don’t care if I have a big bank account, I care if I use my finances with honor and ethics.
TV? I can take it or leave it. Movies? Sure, but they better be good! Books, well yeah, as I said; I do have my weaknesses.
But God? Can’t get enough. Worship, music, the Bible. Fascinating, compelling, riveting. The air I breathe, to steal a quote.
I’m letting go of earth although I’ve no reason to think I won’t live here for several more decades. The stuff I long for is off in the distance. But I can see the outlines.

Hebrews 11:13
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.