Monday, January 30, 2006

Back to the Basics

I never thought I'd be back to basic floor scrubbing. I mean, YICK!

In the days of SwiftersTM and battery-powered floor cleaners, I had to ask myself, "WHY??" I just spent quite a bit of time this afternoon on my hands and knees, removing ground-in dirt off of the kitchen floor. The floor DOES look a lot better after all that "elbow grease"! It seems that no time saving device that I know of is able to really do the job (not even the latest gadget).

Scrub. Rinse. Repeat. Yup. That's it.

Lots of stuff in life has to go "back to the basics". A figure skating coach starts with edges and balance. An equestrian has to think "head, heels, hands". A musician must focus on counting (one-and-two-and...), scales, arpeggios and music theory. If you don't start with the basics, you end up going back to un-learn bad habits. And that is NO fun!

In my life with God, it's the basics that make the difference! The mundane stuff I know I need (my spiritual vitamins?) are the basics that keep me going on the right path. I could say that I "don't need" to do all that basic stuff any more - but I would be very wrong. The "basics" in my Christian life are simple: prayer, the Word, fellowship and witnessing. (Any of you Navigator disciples out there will recognize those four spokes of the wheel!)

I'm keying in on my Scripture memory again. Practicing all the things I know I'm supposed to do: read it, write it, say it, see it, review it... Back to the basics. And you know what? It's not drudgery at all! There's joy in the journey.

"Therefore... let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us" (Hebrews 12:1b)

From our home to yours...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Therapeutic Ironing

What were you doing this afternoon? asked a friend as we traded IMs.

Not much. Just some therapeutic ironing, I responded.

Whoa, girl! she said, if you need therapy, just come see me ANY time! I've got loads of ironing for you to do.

Gently, I had to explain that I was not doing just ANY ironing. I had pulled out some old linens from a family inheritance and was strategizing how I could use them beyond the obvious family holiday meal. I had found a container of old tablecloths, some with a few weak spots, darns or holes, there were a couple which were perfect, (except that they needed ironing...)

I had spent a quiet afternoon working on my lastest memory work from the Sunday sermon (Phil. 2:14-15) Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe...

Soo.. what does IRONING have to do with the memory work? It's not that clear to me either. But, as I starched and folded, creased and stacked the linens, I noticed a couple of things...

  • the linens fit into a MUCH smaller space when they were ironed, about half the space, actually

  • once ironed and starched, the inner beauty of the woven linen really stood out; you could even say it was SHINING?

Living the way I'm supposed to (as someone who claims to love and follow Jesus) one would hope you'd see a difference... that things 'stack up' differently in my life than you see in the lives of others. I hope that's true. No doubt (!) that there's lots of room for improvement. The other thing that I am pondering is simply this - caring for myself in the way that I know is best for my body, my mind and my Spirit is not just a good thing for me, it's good for those around me. They can see where I'm going, what I'm about. Oh I suppose I will look like a wrinkled wrag from time to time... but more and hope, my goal is to reflect the beauty of the One who created me. You'll find stains and holes in my life, just like these "vintage" linens I've ironed. He is changing and making me new - inside and out...

Time to go iron and pray some more...

From our home (a little better ironed today) to yours...


Friday, January 13, 2006

Patronizing and Judging

"Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Luke 6:36-38

I suppose I shouldn't let these statements bother me... but they do...

Well, if I only had two kids I would have lots of time to do all that you do...

You don't understand what it's like. YOU don't work.

Many people with your lack of life experience think that.

I can't believe anyone would be so _________________ (fill in adjective) that they would vote to _______________. (fill in political issue)

The more these comments get to me, (and, truthfully, the more I formulate snappy comebacks to them in my head!) the more I realize that it is not just a lack of understanding each other. It is a predetermined opinion about someone, based on assumptions, not really listening to each other. Yes, I am including myself in the equation here, because my annoyance at other's assumptions about me (or my children, or what I 'do' all day!) contributes to the problem.

For instance, a friend recently told me that she "didn't have time" to keep her house as neat as I keep mine. (And trust me - the dust bunnies population is growing just fine here!) It was a judgment that she was busy, and I had all this free time to houseclean. Actually, we both have projects and hobbies we would rather do than clean house. I'd rather write. Or read. Or cross-stitch. She'd rather watch TV. Or go to the gym. Or quilt. Both of us put our priorities for the use of our time in different places than perhaps where it could be more visibly seen. We have the same 24 hours every day. We just don't get the maximum use of those hours.

But I'm still left with this dilemma, or misunderstanding, or miscommunication. Call it what you will, it means that we have not made the transition from judging (or prejudice) to mercy.

I will keep working on this... How about you?

From our home to yours...

Saturday, January 07, 2006

It's a Story of Forgiveness and Hope

Advent Devo Part 6: The Week of January 8

When the other children woke up next morning (they had been sleeping on piles of cushions in the pavilion) the first thing they heard from Mrs. Beaver was that their brother had been rescued and brought into camp late last night; and was at that moment with Aslan. As soon as they had breakfasted they all went out, and there they saw Aslan and Edmund walking together in the dewy grass, apart from the rest of the court. There is no need to tell you (and no one ever heard) what Aslan was saying, but it was a conversation which Edmund never forgot. As the others drew nearer Aslan turned to meet them, bringing Edmund with him.

"Here is your brother," he said, "and there is no need to talk to him about what is past."

From "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", Book 2 of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Have you ever wondered what Edmund and Aslan said to each other that day? You could assume the words "I'm sorry" and "you are forgiven" were said, of course, but something much deeper happened. The forgiven Edmund was not groveling. His love relationship with Aslan was restored and stronger than ever before. And, by the directive of Aslan, no one asked or brought it up with Edmund again. It was a time of new starts, of restoration and of hope.

The depth of Edmund's inner change was later proven through his actions in the battle against the White Witch. He was the only one who knew that in order to defeat her, he had to smash the symbol of her power -- her wand! Healed from his battle wounds, he looked even better than before! And there on the field of battle Aslan made him a knight.

Daily Scripture Readings
Day One:
Psalm 9, I Chronicles 29:4-21, Acts 2:22-33
Day Two: Psalm 25, Proverbs 10:27-29, Acts 26:1-23
Day Three: Psalm 31, Proverbs 23:17-19, Romans 5:1-11
Day Four: Psalm 33, Isaiah 38:16-20, 2 Cor. 3:7-18
Day Five: Psalm 39, Isaiah 40:28-31, Ephesians 1:3-23
Gospel: Luke 2:21-40

make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon,
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much
seek to be consoled as to console,
not so much to be understood
as to understand,
not so much to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning
that we are pardoned,
it is in dying
that we awake to eternal life.

St. Francis of Assisi


  • It has been said: "guilt is like the red warning light on the dashboard of the car: You can either stop and deal with the trouble, or break out the light." This week's theme of forgiveness and hope is linked because there is no possible way that you can have hope, if you don't know you have been forgiven! Is there a "warning light" in your life that is blocking your contentment and peace with God? Seek His forgiveness, and rest in the hope you have in Jesus.
  • The more you understand about your own need for forgiveness, the more you can love and forgive others. Thank God for the depth of His mercies, they are "new every morning" (Lam. 3:22-23). Then be certain you are not harboring an unforgiving spirit towards someone else. Ask God for clarity of thought and a renewed heart.
  • Rev. Jack Hayford says that "in the middle of our time, our space, our problems, Jesus is here." Despite the struggles you may face in your own life, the fact that Jesus was born, died and raised from the dead for us will remain true forever. You can put your hope in something that is truly eternal!

Unless otherwise noted, ©2005 by Deb Vaughn.