Monday, February 27, 2006

Static on the line...

Recently I had a chance to test whether or not I was suited to a specific church and ministry or ministries. It seemed ideal: I liked the senior pastor and his philosophy of ministry, I could work flexible hours, they would sponsor me for ordination, AND they would cover part of my seminary tuition. Wow! What's not to like?? It was so exciting! (And flattering! They like me! They really like me!) I did my pro/con decision tree and then sat down to pray.


I went back and read more Scripture, prayed more. Asked for prayer from Godly friends whom I knew would beseech heaven for me.

Static on the line...

OK, I thought, I just need to persevere in prayer and wait on God's answer. I let it rest a couple of days, went about my daily routine, and tried not to obsess about it. My husband was praying. I was waiting and listening.


It seemed like a dial tone, but no response.

And then, I realized there WAS an answer. I was not drawn at all to minister to this congregation. I knew I could work with the senior pastor. In fact, I knew that I had much to learn from him in the coming years as I start my seminary studies. But I was not pulled to work with the people in that particular church. WHY LORD??? They seem so nice! They have a need for someone like me! I prayed for God to make it work, to help me be the person they needed.

His answer could not have been any clearer. No...

But Lord! Look at all the ways this would work SO well for me!

No... Be patient...

Jesus said:
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. [John 10:27]

It made no sense at all, but I did not accept the invitation to pursue ministry with that lovely, WONDERFUL group of Christians. I still don't understand exactly what the whys and wherefores are. But the Lord knows.

I am listening to His voice... and I'm following. That sounds so, oh, I don't know, out there, so Twilight Zone. But you'll just have to believe me - - He does lead. He does answer. And there is such peace in knowing that to be true!


From our home to yours -

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Temper, Temper!

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
[Proverbs 15:1]

I'd like to believe the best about Maryland MVA (Motor Vehicle Administration). Really, I would. Except that time after time, I have found it to be more of a bureaucracy that's intended to test how well I keep my temper.

Guess what??? I'm not doing so hot...

Every Maryland resident gets to have the experience of practicing self-control at the MVA every few years, whether for a driver's license renewal, or for vehicle registration. Stand in line. Get a number. Fill out forms. Sit and wait. And wait... And wait... And wait... Go to a window. Get more forms. Go to another window. Get another number. Sit and wait... Eventually, you get to pay your fees, take your paperwork and leave. All this in a large, loud room with constant DINGs announcing the next lucky number.

I thought I had licked that problem. PAY BY MAIL AND AVOID THE LINES! said the promo literature from the MVA. So we did. One vehicle's renewal arrived, and two weeks later, the other one was still missing. Every fool in Maryland knows you don't go to the MVA the last few days of the month, so I went a week early.

"Not our problem. Pay $5 for a duplicate sticker."

Say WHAT? Cough up $5 for a duplicate sticker? I did it the way you suggested! Why am I getting charged a fee? Who sat in the chairs and waited for 90 minutes? And why do I pay for this 'service'?

"Not our problem. Pay $5 for a duplicate sticker."

I paid the fee. I grumbled. I talked to a supervisor. I let them know I was not happy. They really didn't care. I (barely) kept my temper. After all, there's armed state troopers walking around the MVA like bouncers.

$5 bucks.
90 minutes.
Maryland MVA.
Keeping my temper. (sort of)
Not exactly priceless.

Cynthia Kavanaugh in the Mitford Series books by Jan Karon had a practice. Say 3 things you love when you say 3 things you hate...

So what do I hate?
Liver, cell-phone-yakking-drivers and the MVA
And what do I love?
A car that runs (!), cats that purr and a clean kitchen counter


Next time, I'll just stand in line...

From our home to yours...

Monday, February 20, 2006

A Fit of Organization

In a fit of organization over the weekend, we sorted through several boxes of 'Delaware stuff' from my husband's family home. My, my. The packrack gene is dominant on BOTH sides of the family. This could be vewy vewy scary.

We managed to part with several boxes of things which probably should have gone straight to Salvation Army. But at the time, that decision could not be made. It was too soon after closing the house; too soon after his dad's death. I understand this; time helps.

The whole purpose of this exercise is because we want to work on finishing the basement. There is no room to work on the room itself because we've used it as a dumping ground; we HAVE to clear it out first. Progress has been slow, but I see more of the floor, and the kids commented that we can actually WALK throught the room -- so I guess we ARE making progress!! Eventually, we will have to move everything out and start over. REALLY start over! Once the contractor is booked, the decisions have to be made. That day is coming soon.

I'm in the midst of a lot of decisions right now. Some I can make on the fly; others are taking more time and thought. And some - well, they are not my decisions to make!! The wisdom I am learning is how to tell the difference...

from our home to yours...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Brave New Verbs

It's a sign of the times...

"She's got a great chance to podium on this run" said the Olympics commentator.

SAY WHAT? Since when is "to podium" a verb???

It's an epidemic. I hear it in my kids' use of words all the time. In my growing-up years, it was strictly verboten to use words in any manner except for which Webster's Third International Dictionary defined them! The ultimate punishment from my dad for the mis-use of words was to be sent to the dictionary to "look it up". And of course, in correct prose, we would be wrong.

I remember an argument one evening over whether or not "a mini" was a noun. "Absolutely not!" was dad's thundering response. "It's a PREFIX!"

Some of the best (and worst) discussions at the dinner table were over spelling, pronunciation, grammar and syntax. As you might have guessed, this meant that we ate dinner around a table, without the TV or radio on in the background. If our biggest disagreements were over parts of speech, I'd have to admit we got along pretty well as a family!

Like it or not, words change meaning or lose punch in day-to-day use. What was bling, hip, cool or rad is replaced by words like phat, tight, peeps or a'ight. And once adults learn what they mean, they go out of use right away! (Maybe this blog will help?)

Dad's probably having a great chuckle over this. Truth be told, I am too.

But, being that is is Valentine's Day, it's time to re-visit another Brave New Verb.


Dare we live in a way that shows LOVE? Not mushy gushy sentiments on cards (though hey, I love the gifts of words from the heart of hearts of those I love.) It's not sex and unrequited love (sorry to all you wanna-be Desperate Housewives out there!) It's God's Love. Real Love. Love that goes beyond the expected, that lavishes down on us day after day, unearned and undeserved. Love that isn't contingent on whether we get an "A" in the school of life... It just IS.

We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands. The man who says, "I know Him," but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys His word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did. [I John 2:3-6]

May my "love life" live up to His life!

From our home to yours...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

stage fright

Why am I such a dusty window for your light to shine through?
Why am I just a tiny star in a sky already blue?
Why do I offer everything with my heart closed like a fist?
I want to love You better than this...

[Avalon: "Renew Me"]

That ugly old friend of mine is back in town.

You may have met him: his name is "stage fright".

Every time I think I have figured out how to cope, I discover I haven't. When I think I have learned how to lean on God and revel in His strength through my weakness, I feel utterly terrified. Down to my toes, I'm nervous and preoccupied. Not mean to my family, just a bit,, snarly. (I guess that is better than some adjectives I could think of...)

So as I pray (and cry) and have a small round of panic (and it doesn't help that I've had an asthma flare up today), I've come to 2 conclusions:
  1. Even though I know it is not about me, I still have to grapple with my feelings and my body's reactions to fear. A friend reminded me to "let Jesus crush me into His heart". I love that mental picture. Every time I sing Jennifer Knapp's song "Hold Me Now" that is what I picture... and remember Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 12: "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
  2. He wants me to open my hands and take my fingers off His work in my life. I am loving Jesus with "my heart closed as a fist". He neither wants me to be lackadaisical nor overly controlling. He wants me to be whole-heartedly invested in offering my gifts, without giving Him meticulous directions for the outcome. I vacillate between being nonchalant or hyper-sensitive, introspective to an obsessive degree or flippant. And I think that He wants me to fall somewhere in between.

It's time for me to rest in the Father's love for me - - and know whatever the outcome, it isn't about my stage fright (or even if I totally blow it!)... It's about the One who gave me the music in the first place...

So renew me, remake me, undo me, unbreak me;
Come into the empty spaces of my broken places,
And consume me, complete me, pursue me, redeem me.
Let Your Holy Spirit living through me
Renew me...

Send over a kleenex, I just finished a box...

from our home to yours...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Shield Your joyous ones...

Watch, O Lord,
with those who wake, or watch or weep tonight.
and give Your angels charge over those who sleep.
Tend Your sick ones, O Lord Christ.
Rest Your weary ones.
Bless Your dying ones.
Soother Your suffering ones.
Pity Your afflicted ones.
Shield Your joyous ones.
And all for Your love's sake.
-attributed to St. Augustine of Hippo

"...Shield Your joyous ones..."

This was my prayer for a friend who had several biopsies in the last few days and who was facing multiple surgeries and cancer treatments. She is one of the most joy-filled women I know. While those of use who were waiting to see what the medical results would be (and were worrying FOR her), she was laughing, relaxed and at peace.

Some thought she was in denial. "Not at all!" she said, "I am believing that whatever the results are, they are for my best. I serve a good God, a merciful God." "Even if it's metastatic cancer?" I asked her. "Oh yes, even that."


I prayed for God to shield this "joyous one" from any severe illness. Why? Because I see her effectiveness in our world. I have watched as she reaches out in love to those around, affirming, encouraging, and exhorting them. I have benefited personally from her wisdom and prayers. I just enjoy her! So I guess it was a selfish prayer.

When the "good news" came, I was delighted, and surprised. I asked for total health and well-being in her whole body, in fact, I BEGGED Him for it... and God said 'yes'. Why am I surprised?"

Why indeed.

No answers to the unfathomable - just thanksgiving and faith...

From our home to yours...