Sunday, April 30, 2006

It's not a blog, it's a "Lifesong"

"May the words I say
and the things I do
make my Lifesong sing
bring a smile to You..."
[Casting Crowns]

I found it interesting when I stumbled across another blog which proclaims that it has the definitive list of "Christians who blog". Huh. I don't fit any of the uber-categories!

I'm not particularly into apologetics, nor am I writing a "metablog". While I care about the arts and being a life worker for Christ, I don't consider myself a "ministry", nor do I preach "sermons". This website declares that a Christian blog must have "compelling content". So, I looked at those blogs which supposedly DO! What I found were blogs that more resembled a Christian news ticker, republishing things I read on the front page of the paper, or in last month's Christian magazine usually with accompanying sarcastic commentary and self-righteous blather. THAT is "compelling content"? No thanks.

So, why DO I blog? Is it just for my family and friends? Not really. I could send them a daily email.

I blog because I am writing to affirm what I think is worth believing, worth living for. I blog to share the journey that I'm on, and what God is teaching me. I blog to encourage another Christian who just might stumble across my writing or a seeker who wants to stop and ponder something beyond the next material possession they will buy today. (Stranger things have happened!) I blog because there ARE more important things in this world (and the next) than politics, gas prices and techblogs. [GASP! Can I blog that? You betcha!]

I blog to share my "Lifesong". It's not an opera, it's a tone poem. And if I never make some fancy schmancy blogger's list somewhere, fine. (But they can drop in and read any time...)

The new verse in my Lifesong today is simply this: a rough application of Philippians 3...

"I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward--to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back."
[Phil. 3, 12-14; The Message]

Henri Nouwen in The Road to Daybreak wrote: "If I allow the urgent things to dominate my day, I will never do what is truly important and will always feel dissatisfied."

So, I'm putting behind me what would be considered urgent by some, and dealing with what is important today.

Let my Lifesong SING for You...

from our home to yours...


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Life really sucks now

... and all because we have a new vacuum. Wooo HOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! SO thrilling! (not)

OK, so I don't have a life. I'm fine with that.

But anyway, we have carpets that have an inch less crud on them. Amazing! I think that ol' Hoover was in worse shape that we realized. I guess we should have known. When a vacuum is so fried that it overheats, starts to smoke and stink and sets off the fire alarm, you'd think we'd have figured that out.

ANYWAY... it's working. And the crud that has been left behind for who-knows-how-long is gone from the carpet. It's ALMOST a different color!! And wait - is that a pattern I see on it??

So it got me thinking. When I lose perspective, and I don't see the trouble I'm in (or the sin-crud piled high in my life) it really does take a CLEAN SWEEP to show the difference. The initiative has to be mine, though. God doesn't join pity parties, but He will wait until we turn and ask for help.

Psalm 25: 16-18
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart have multiplied;

free me from my anguish.
Look upon my affliction and my distress

and take away all my sins.

Ah yes... He will do it every time.

From our home to yours...


Open and blatant suggestion for... (you know who you are...)

Please. Stop. Whining. PLEEEEEASE!!! Please??? Puhleease!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Couldja? Wouldja?

(And if you think this is meant for you, it is... so there. Are we still friends???)


Sunday, April 23, 2006

It seemed like a good idea at the time...

...but was it?? You decide...

An unnamed, multi-tasking family member left kitchen "for just a minute" to do a related task while the sink was filling with hot water. ...minutes later, the other family members hear shouts of surprise and "colorful metaphors" and a loud "I NEED HELP HERE!!!" from the other floor of the house.

Now we have clean towels. A clean floor. A clean kitchen counter. A clean under-sink area. A clean basement area under the kitchen. And a lovely working dehumidifier is helping remove all traces of this multi-tasking disaster.

Everyone is trying to look at this positively... no family members were named in the reporting of this incident. We all still love each other.

And you thought life in the 'burbs was boring!!!

from our home to yours...


Friday, April 21, 2006

I love my shredder...

Good old Montgomery County is keeping the shredder machine industry in business, at least on our street. The new super bins (which we have at our home) are dumped in the holding part of the truck. The operator, if unskilled, can leave some of the contents on the street, in the yard or just blowing in the wind. We've collected newspapers in other languages from our front yard, and a neighbor's personal items such as threatening collection notices, opened and tossed in the trash. (I am sure our neighbor did not intend we read it -- I put it back in their mailbox.)

I'm more committed than ever to shredding things I don't want the neighbors to read. See what happened to this guy when he didn't!! Chase MasterCard says to 'tear up' any credit card application that you don't want. Apparently this is a bad idea.

Now this gives me a great idea!! What if I develop a new kind of targeted pamphlet? Fill my super bin with leaflets and Christian tracts and let the wind blow God's Word where it may???

No... I don't think so... It is the equivalent of the well-meaning guy who stands in the middle of campus in dirty jeans and bellows through a bullhorn. Yick.

Shred that thought...

from our home to yours...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Being faithful...

I received my acceptance letter to Regent Div. School this week. (Time for another Happy Dance???) There's a lot ahead of me, that's for sure. Ken and the kids are excited for me (imagine a teenager thinking it's "COOL" that her mom is going to be a pastor?) I'm still processing it all. That's why tonight's reading spoke to me...

From Henri Nouwen's The Road to Daybreak:

I feel a tension within me. I have only a limited nubmer of years left for active ministry. Why not use them well? Yet one word spoken with a pure heart is worth thousands spoken in a state of spiritual turmoil. Time given to inner renewal is never wasted. God is not in a hurry.

God may not be in a hurry, but I am!!!

Time to stop. Listen. Keep praying. Not anticipate. Just watch God work... and He is!!

From our home to yours...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

It's time for a... HAPPY DANCE!!!!

Spring Break is almost here!!!!

OH YEAH, time for a HAPPY DANCE!!!

(Yes, parents look forward to Spring Break too...)


Things Moms learn... part 2

Feel free to disagree...

  • Moms learn that babies aren't born knowing morning from night, a "reasonable" hour from an "unreasonable" hour. They will learn. And then they will forget this when they are teenagers. [grin]
  • Moms learn that their children might need them in the middle of the night. They learn to give comfort and loving arms. They help their children learn how to go back to sleep. Going back to sleep after night waking is a skill to learn, not something to be punished.
  • Moms learn that they won't be marked for life if they let their children share their bed occasionally. In fact, if the kids are sick, they ALL might sleep a little better. Co-sleeping has been slammed by all kinds of folks as being weird or abnormal. Huh. Western culture is in the minority on this practice...
  • Moms learn that sometimes you need to H.A.L.T. and evaluate what's going on. (See Zig Ziglar's book in a previous entry...) They H.A.L.T. and ask are they - Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired? What part of it is a parenting mistake? (Were you out too late? Was dinner delayed? Are they sick? Have they been away from you for a while? Did you ignore them rushing to get your stuff done around the house?)
  • Moms learn not to worship a "schedule"! It's OK to try to live by a schedule, as long as you learn how to flex. It's not OK to forget that it will affect everyone who lives in the house when you don't plan ahead a little. And it's also NOT a good idea to stick to "the holy and inspired schedule of Mr. Whoozit and his wife Nurse Doozy" -- who does not know you, your spouse, your life and your kids. Trust your judgment.
  • Moms learn that there is NOTHING in the Bible about sleeping schedules and infants. Period. Anyone who teaches that there is has to be doing some serious Scripture-twisting. (There is stuff about sluggards... But I don't think that applies to babies!)
  • Moms learn that there are times when we ALL need help. Help with meals, or cleaning, or just trying to figure out what is "normal". (Sign ME up for that last one!) Tell someone. Tell ANYONE! And get the help you need. BTW - you might discover that your 'baby' is 2 or 22 years old and you need help. There's no age limit on parents needing help.
  • Moms learn that you don't have a regular sleep cycle with a baby in the house. When your kids are teenagers, they won't wake you up in the middle of the night when they're puking or have diarrhea. They'll tell you about it in the morning.
  • Moms learn that when you don't have enough sleep, are too tired to cook and eat right, and your body is still recovering from whatever it has gone through (illness, childbirth, emotional stress, houseguests, parties, too many hours on the job) that you need to give yourself a break. Go catch a flick with your spouse, or have coffee with your best friend. Ask someone you trust to pray with you.
  • Moms learn that parenting is not a sprint; it's a marathon. Results come over years, not days. And you will never be out of a job; parenthood requires a lifetime employment!

As always, your mileage may vary...

from our home to yours...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Tree Topping

One of the blessings of having a home that's 35+ years old is having mature trees on our lot. It's also one of reasons we have a good relationship with an arborist...

Today is the second of three (planned) days that the guys are here trimming and taking out trees. Taking out trees is part high-wire ballet, part physics. It's as interesting as it is scarey. I watched, fascinated, as first low branches are trimmed, then the higher and higher ones until it is time to 'top it' and send the highest limbs to the ground with a big THUD.

Some would consider it a personal hell to have to climb 3 or 4 stories high, up a tree trunk, with only spikes on one's shoes and a 'safety rope', and dangling a chainsaw at one hip. I am completely in agreement! It was spellbinding and petrifying, all at once.

This morning was even more amazing because there's a pretty stiff breeze (about 15 mph with gusts nearly double that!) The lead tree topper is probably 40-50 feet off the ground taking down this tired old Norwegian spruce. Over 60% of the tree was made of dead branches and browning needles. The branches were rotting in the middle and there was nothing I'd call a secure handhold on the whole tree. If Fear Factor offered me a million bucks, I still would not climb up a tree in what amounts to boots with stilleto heel spikes!!

As the tree was lopped to the ground in large pieces, it started looking more like a totem pole than a tree. Now it's just mulch in the back of the truck! What was an insurmountable job in my hands was mulch in less than 30 minutes in the expert's hands.

A lot of my faith walk has been like this tree topper. What seems impossible, is not. I have come to see the impossible become possible ONLY when I put it in the Expert's Hands. What seems permanent and lasting forever will be "mulch"... "in the twinkling of an eye."

I love that big of a God. Pretty amazing...

from our home to yours...


Sunday, April 02, 2006

Notebook Evangelism

The last notebook I had was a 386 and could run DOS. Sort of. I could do word processing on it, though everything was a combined keystroke. (To show my age, this was black and white, and 'pre-mouse'.) The puppy had a power supply issue and died a horrible death. Since then I've either borrowed laptops from school or work, or done without. (Hard to believe, but it is possible.)

Now that I'm looking to start back to school, it's time to invest in one. I've spent a couple of weeks surfing trying to pick out a notebook. I've been to and Read various trade mags... And felt ready to go shopping IRL.

My head is spinning. It is beginning to drive me crazy. I feel like I am buying a car. Every salesperson (aka "purchasing counselor") wants to be my new best friend.

[The conversations you are about to read are true. The names have been changed to protect the stupid and prevent lawsuits...]

BigBox Electronics Store #1: The Jaw-Dropping Gall Award

Me: "Hi, I'm looking to buy a laptop."
Salesperson (SP): "Today?"
Me: "What does it matter? If you have what I'm looking for, I'll buy it from you and you'll get the commission."
SP: "Oh we don't get paid a commission."
Me: "Right. I forgot. It's called a 'service assistance credit'."
SP: "Well, if you aren't buying today, then..."
Me: "Never mind. I'll find someone who can answer my questions."
SP: "I can answer your questions. But if you aren't buying today, it's not worth my while..."

BigBox Electronics Store #2: The Land of No-Name Brands
Me: "What's your price on these models?" (already scoped out at Store #1)
SP: "I'm sorry. We only carry Unknown Brand #1, Unpronounceable Name #2, and Unreliable Brand #3. They are the only reputable laptops on the market right now."
Me: "OK, I'll bite. Tell me more about them."
SP: (goes into long spiel about each one and then tells me I should buy their 'store warranty' for further guarantee my complete satisfaction.)
Me: "What? These notebooks have a warranty for 3 years, and I need to buy your warranty too? Why?"
SP: "Well, then that way you'll get the repairs done quickly."
Me: "How frequently do they need repairs?"
SP: "Oh, laptops need repairs all the time."

What am I looking for? A neon sign in the clouds would be nice... The saga goes on... I've made no decision yet. (Feel free to offer your opinion, which I will free to ignore, unless you're buying!!)

This is a lot like the experience that people have when they investigate Christianity. It seems to me that there are parallels that we can draw with the way that churches or individuals 'do' evangelism...

BigBox Store #1: Make a commitment today, or else...
I've never been a "fire and brimstone" Christian. I've tried to listen and respond to someone's felt needs when they ask me questions about God or Christianity. I don't care if they never visit the church I go to... but the f&b types are fixated on getting the visitor to believe their version of things. As with BigBox #1, there is little concern with what the person is searching for, and more of a desire to meet the quota.

BigBox Store #2: No Name Brands
This is what has crept into mainstream faith. They are so open-minded their brains fall out! There's nothing in these discussions that represents anything I know of in Christianity. This is like BigBox#2. These evangelists offer everything from a cooking class to "Jesus and Buddha as Brothers". Well, I can't deny that taking care of my body is a God-given responsibility, but after a while, it begins to feel more like a community center or like a place where "a god" is worshipped. Jesus IS God, not some good dude! The Lord's Prayer doesn't start "Our Holy Dude who art where we experience him or her.."

BUT - - I also don't want to be: The Brand Name Loyalist
"We've always been _______________" [fill in the denomination] "That's why we look for a ____________ Church whenever we move." Never mind that maybe the brand they are looking for has outsourced all of their mature believers...

So, if you ask me, I'll try to do better than the BigBox evangelists...

From our home to yours...