Sunday, September 30, 2007

It Comes to a Close

It's been a good weekend. Yesterday ended well. Max and I reclaimed the living room (don't laugh - you have NO idea!) and then we enjoyed it. He watched football while I ironed and then we both took a long nap. The weather was windy and wonderful and I listened to it roar while I was in the safety of my house.

I worked on my Bible Study last night and got things ready for a friend to lead it while I was at a rehearsal this evening. I stayed up late, enjoying the quiet and then off to church this morning. Lunch with friends, home for a nap and then a joint Canticum Novum / Grace College choir rehearsal. Everything was fabulous and it is early on a Sunday evening and I'm about to relax and finish the weekend.

Random thoughts:

We're such dorks in this house. Max is a huge Cleveland Indians fan (baseball - ). He would love to watch the Cleveland Browns play football, but that will never happen in Omaha (unless he goes to DJ's Dugout - a Browns hangout. He watches Ohio State football (can you tell that he grew up in Ohio?). So, last night the Buckeyes won college ball, today the Indians beat the KC Royals. They're headed to the World Series playoffs - it's a big deal for him! And ... the Browns won again today, they don't really suck! Me? I enjoy Nascar, too. So ... the weekends are spent listening to or watching sports.

I love Kettle potato chips. And the best chips in the world are the ones that are folded in half or in multiple folds. Now, how sad is it that I have actually identified this! Carol, mom and I used to fight over the folded chips. Oh, and while I'm at it. I love eating pizza that was baked as a round pie, and then cut in squares, rather than triangles. Because, I love the corners - all that crust! Yum! I have to fight Fran for those. It's a good thing our husbands have learned that they don't get to eat the corners. Oh yea, and that reminds me. I like cake better than frosting, unless it's my cream cheese frosting, but even still - I prefer the cake. And I like cupcakes better than cake, because I don't have to worry about what size piece I might be taking - it's a single serving!

I'm an addict for stuffed animals. Really, it's just plain stupid. I have finally admitted that I buy the things for me and not for some random non-existent child. And I remember when I finally got past the point of having to have a child with me to go to a "kids" movie. That was such a good feeling.

I have a love/hate relationship with the telephone. I hate the stupid thing, but love having access to my family and friends. I would prefer that it never ever ring. In fact, I'm starting to shudder at all of my ring tones. How pathetic is this? Yesterday I finally turned it to 'silent' so that I could ignore it and not even think about it.

There ... that's enough random stuff floating around in my head. It's time to stop and go to bed. Oh, and SCRUBS is on right now - talk about random! I love the show.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

When it Stinks Being a Christian

Ok, I started this morning in a foul mood. I was SO excited about finally having a day that I could sleep in. I actually woke up at 5:00 this morning, took the dog out and came back in, turned the television on and watched a stupid movie until 6:30, knowing that I had plenty of time to sleep.

But, alas, it was not to be. Max got up at 8:00 and started moving around. He was gathering the laundry. I just looked at him.

D: What in the h*** are you doing?
M: Laundry.
D: At 8:30 in the morning?
D: Well, damn it. Now, I can't sleep.
M: Sure you can!
D: No, I have to gather up the rest of the laundry.
M: I thought you'd already done that.

I looked around - and could see articles of dirty laundry laying around. He obviously didn't, because he hadn't laid his hands on them and was ready to walk out the freakin' door. He decided it might be time to get the dog outside and away from my wrath. But, THEN he walked back in, picked up the laundry basket and stared at me. Are you kidding me with this?

D: Don't stare at me.
M: I was going to bring back breakfast.
D: I don't want freakin' breakfast at 8:30 on a Saturday morning!

Well, let's just say, that wasn't the best way to start my Saturday, and poor Max knew at that point that his Saturday was going to suck in a big way. Fortunately for him, he was gone long enough that God worked on me a little bit and reminded me that my attitude was actually the problem. See what I mean about being a Christian? I can't even hold a good 'mad' with justification!

So, I've been doing a bit of cleaning - not a lot, but a little bit and I will do some more and then, hopefully I will be able to settle down and do some writing and reading this afternoon while he watches football.

Note to self: On a Friday evening that you are planning to sleep in, be sure to gather laundry AND warn Max not to interrupt your sleep. Oh, and you might want to pray about your attitude today!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Weekends are beautiful

This has been a great week. They generally are in my world, but wow am I always thankful for a Friday evening. Especially a Friday evening with nothing going on. I knew that today was going to be a great day, but I had an awful lot of things that needed to be completed.

Consequently, I've discovered a new caffeinated drink! And I believe I may have had a few too many this week. Whoa! Scooters has a Vertigo Smoothie - ummm ... any fruit flavor (my favorite is mango/strawberry). What makes it amazing? Red Bull. Good heavenly days, I'm 48 years old! Am I nuts? I'm afraid so.

See the problem is, I hate coffee. I just really hate it! So, when we hit a Starbucks or Crane Coffee or Scooters, or any other coffee place, I have to be a little extra creative. I love a good Chai. Iced or hot, I love it. And I love some of the teas - but others are a little blechy (my own word). And I love smoothies. Adding Red Bull? oh my goodness! On Wednesday I got one going into work and then we had to stop after lunch for something and I got another! I tried to justify it by saying (to myself and anyone who would listen) that I had to be at church until 8:30 pm for music rehearsals. Yah ... whatever.

The last two mornings as I was driving to work, I tried to talk myself out of stopping. But, I found myself being annoyed because there was no Scooters on the way to work and I then found myself driving out of my way to get to one. Bad Diane!

We'll see what happens through the weekend - there's no reason to find a Scooters. Can I make it without my fix? It's anyone's guess.

But, my drink this morning got me going enough to start plowing through a very long list of tasks. I stopped long enough to have a nice lunch with Amy and Jen - and then I was back at it for the afternoon. It seems that Fridays are my "Remember Insty-Prints" days. I spend a lot of time on Fridays printing, cutting, folding, copying, on and on. I could whine about it, but this IS the reason I was hired into a job that I love. I generally try to have everything ready for the volunteers who come in to help us out. But, things get jammed up and I end up clearing my desk and finishing projects on Fridays.

I've been a vegetable this evening. Watched some television, laid around on the sofa, had Jimmy John's for supper. I haven't actually had a free evening for several weeks. I'm enjoying the heck out of it! And tomorrow? I've got nothing planned. So, I'm going to sleep late and then I'm going to do some writing. Maybe a little cleaning as well ... things tend to pile up when I run from 8:00 am - 10:30 pm day after day.

Max and I watched "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" this evening. At least the last 20 minutes or so. He gets so MAD when they don't get the answers correct! I though he was going to become apopleptic when the man said 'George Washington' to the question: 'Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826. What other president died on the exact same day?' Fortunately the contestant stopped the game before he answered incorrectly. Max is practically screaming at the television set: ADAMS, it's ADAMS!

You know ... I have a lot of friends who scream and yell at their television sets during football games. I have a husband who screams and yells during simplistic game shows! Oh, it's always entertaining around here.

Tonight, I'm going to be thankful for a beautiful breeze flowing through the house, a dog that is always glad to see me - even when she's just been outside going to the bathroom, a husband who is absolutely wonderful and a God who brings me joy - joy that overflows. It's going to be a great night.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Names of God - Part V

There are many other names of God that describe Him in the Old Testament:

You know the next one quite well.

Jehovah Ro’i: The Lord is my Shepherd – from Psalm 23.

Judges 6:24. Gideon was afraid before God. Verse 22: “When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, “Ah, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!”

But the Lord said to him, ‘Peace! Do not be afraid, You are not going to die.’

So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it ‘The Lord is Peace’”

Jehovah Shalom. The Lord is Peace.

There are many more examples

El HaNe'eman - The Faithful God: (Deuteronomy 7:9).

El HaGadol - The Great God: (Deuteronomy 10:17).

El HaKadosh - The Holy God: (Isaiah 5:16).

El Yisrael - The God Of Israel: (Psalm 68:35).

El HaShamayim - The God Of The Heavens: (Psalm 136:26).

El De'ot - The God Of Knowledge: (1 Samuel 2:3).

El Emet - The God Of Truth: (Psalm 31:6).

El Yeshuati - The God Of My Salvation: (Isaiah 12:2).

El Echad - The One God: (Malachi 2:10).

And the one name of God that comes forward into the New Testament in the form of a child.

From Isaiah 7:14.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel.”

When Matthew retells the story in Matthew 1, vs. 23 – he finishes the sentence for us.

The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel – God with us.

Many of God’s different personalities had been revealed to His people throughout the centuries. I believe that He wants us to learn these character traits and know God through them. But, then one day, the prophecy from Isaiah came to pass. God lived among us again.

Immanu … el. “God with us”.

Of all of the characteristics that God showed to His people and of all of the names that God was named by, this is the name that changed the world forever.

Immanuel – God with us.

God became like us and lived among us. He communicated with us at our level. And things were never the same again. From a tightly-structured Hebrew community to spreading His good news throughout the whole world, God with us describes all that He wants.

God wants to be with us. He wants to be all sufficient for us – El Shaddai, to be our provision – Jehovah Jireh, to be the commander of all of the hosts of the universe and to lead those hosts in battle for us – Yahweh Sabaoth, to be the means of our victory, our banner – Jehovah Nissi, Jehovah Roeh – our shepherd, Jehovah Shalom – our peace.

Names of God - Part IV, Jehovah Jireh

JEHOVAH JIREH – The Lord Provides

Abraham called God his provider when God called him to sacrifice his son, Isaac. In Genesis 22:7-8, Isaac asks his father where the lamb was for the burnt offering. Can you imagine the sadness in Abraham’s voice when he responded?

Verse 8, “Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’”

Abraham trusted God so deeply that He did everything he was called to do. And when God stayed his hand, Abraham was grateful.

Verse 14, “So Abraham called that place ‘the Lord will provide.’ And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.’”

God is my provider. We say those words, but do we really believe them? Could we live our lives as if they were true?

There is no story that I’ve read that affected me like that of George Muller. He was born in 1805 in Prussia. He had nothing to do with Christianity until he was 20 years old. He had been a thief, a liar, a gambler and a drunkard. Even as his mother lay dying, he was known to be roaming the streets completely drunk.

In 1825, a friend invited him to a prayer meeting and he went. His life was profoundly changed. He was already in seminary, though only for the financial benefits. His father was paying his way, but incredibly enough, it was so that George would have a manse and his father would be able to live there.

After George became a Christian, he chose to go into missionary work. His father ceased paying his tuition and he became dependent on God alone. In 1829, he moved to England. He wanted to train as a missionary to the Jews. But, he met a man named Henry Craik, who began teaching him the scriptures and a way of life that George had never known.  He took a job as a pastor of a small church that would pay 50 pounds yearly.  He made a decision at that point to fully trust in God for every provision.

During his life time he received and gave away over 7.2 million dollars. (this was in the 1800s). He established 117 schools which educated more than 120,000 young people. He established orphanages and when he died in 1898, the church that he pastured had over 2000 members.

He believed that he was not to receive any fixed salary. God would provide all his needs. He believed that he was to never ask any human being for help, but to make his wants known to God. He took the command from Luke 12:33 literally, “Sell all that you have and give to the poor” And his final life belief was the literal interpretation of Romans 8:8 “Owe no man anything.”.

George Muller had an immense impact on England, but it was never a financial impact. He believed in God’s provision. He believed in Jehovah Jireh. And he changed the lives of thousands.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Names of God - Part III, El Elyon, Yahweh Sabaoth

El Elyon. We find this throughout scripture. It means God Most High. Remember, El means God. Elyon means “Supreme” or “Most High”.

Psalm 18:13: “The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty profound!

My father had a huge voice. I grew up fearing that voice when it came thundering my name. The problem was that not only was it a strong, big voice, but it was a well-trained voice. The baritone voice would roar through the house when we were in trouble and everyone would duck and cover.

One of my childhood embarrassing moments was because of that big voice. Since dad was a pastor, we didn’t generally worship in other churches. But, every summer we would go up to our cabin in central Iowa. Dad always took a couple of weeks so that we could work on the place and enjoy ourselves. The first Sunday that we were there, we would go to church in town. We had never been in a church with a balcony, so that is where we kids wanted to sit. It was fun for us. However! Dad would begin singing the hymns of the morning and I just wanted to crawl under the pew. His voice was booming out over the congregation. Over the tops of the heads of the congregation! They would turn around and stare at us and I would just shrink. But, Dad didn’t mind. He loved to sing, and he had a beautiful voice. He was not ashamed to be singing praise to God with all he had.

A couple of side notes to that story? When Dad retired, he moved to that community and made that church his home church. Even though he had Parkinson’s and it destroyed his speaking voice, it never affected his singing voice. His booming voice could be heard throughout that sanctuary until he died. And the other side note? I received that big voice and there is nothing more fun for me than singing praise with all I have!

I do have to tell you that God redeems everything. The little girl who wanted to crawl under the pew when her dad was singing, now sings with her heart and that thrilled my father when he would hear me sing.

YAHWEH SABAOTH. The Lord of Hosts.

Max’s very favorite hymn is “A Mighty Fortress is our God”. While I’ve always loved this hymn, it stirs him completely.

If you read through the poem, the second verse tells us about the Lord Sabaoth.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

The Lord of Hosts is the Commander of the Angelic host and the armies.

We see Him in I Samuel 17:45. This is the story of David and Goliath.

“David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.’”

And we all know what happens when the God of the armies marches against His foes. They are defeated!

Psalm 24:10 affirms a universal sovereignty. This encompasses every force or army whether it is heavenly, cosmic or earthly:

“Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty – he is the King of glory.”

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Names of God - Part II, El Shaddai

The first name I want to talk about is one that was made familiar by Amy Grant. El Shaddai. This name means “God Almighty” or “God All Sufficient”. It’s found 48 times in the Old Testament. It is first found in Genesis 17:1.

“When Abraham was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

That verse fills my heart! The Lord appeared to Abraham and said. “I am the God who is sufficient for every need.” I am the Lord Almighty. I am El Shaddai. That’s what He was saying to Abraham.

We see the name again in the story of Ruth and Naomi. In Ruth 1:20, Naomi says, “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.”

When Naomi couldn’t understand why her life had been destroyed by the loss of her husband and her sons, she also couldn’t understand why the God who was to be all-sufficient would allow that to happen.

Now, this passage is also interesting in that it tells us something about her as well. The name “Naomi” means “pleasant”. The name “Mara” means “bitter”. Because of her anger at God, who was supposed to be her sufficiency, she went from being a pleasant woman to being a very bitter woman and she wasn’t afraid to say it out loud.

Anger at God causes many of us to become bitter. And we stop seeing His active role in our lives. The story of Naomi and Ruth doesn’t end with her being angry and bitter. She is restored in a way that only God can make happen.

We know the story of Ruth, she meets Boaz and marries him, yet keeps her former mother-in-law, Naomi with her. I want to read to you from the end of this book.

“So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. And the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi, ‘Praise to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.’

Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him. The women living there said, ‘Naomi has a son.’ And the named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.”

If you read Jesus’ lineage in both Matthew and Luke, you will discover that Obed’s name is there. Not only was Naomi’s bitterness redeemed as she held her daughter-in-law’s son, but for generations after that, her family was royalty.

God will redeem our bitterness and He is all-sufficient for us … if we just allow Him in to do that in our lives.

The last time we see this name used in scripture is in Revelation 16:7. “And I heard the altar respond, ‘Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.’”.

God Almighty. God All Sufficient. El Shaddai.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Names of God - Part I

Who Do You Say That I Am?

How much do you know about me? Do you know that my heritage is Scottish? Do you know that I was a music major and that I attended three different colleges, but I got through my bachelor’s degree in 4 years anyway? Do you know that I met my husband on the internet and that we were married within 4 months of meeting online? Do you know that I grew up in various small towns around Iowa? Do you know that I was planning to go to seminary but didn’t because my mom asked if I would start a business with her? Do you know that I love science fiction and would love to be able to write in that genre?

Well, now you know all of those things about me – but you would never guess those things if I were to simply introduce myself to you and tell you that my name is “Diane”.

We make a lot of judgments when meeting people based on what they look like, how they speak and how they interact with us. But, we don’t know too much about them until we get to know them a little more deeply.

What do we know about God? We actually approach learning about God quite differently than the early Hebrews did. Our names are not insights into our personality or our background. Some of your names might be family names, but they aren’t going to tell me much about who you really are.

In scripture, the names of God are like mini portraits of His personality and character. When people were given names in Scripture, that name meant something. Abraham and Sarah’s son, Isaac. His name meant “he laughs”. Sarah explained in Genesis 21:6, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.”

Ishmael means “God hears”, because God took care of Hagar in the desert. He heard her when she cried out to Him.

I could spend hours teaching you details about the names of God and all of the intricacies of how His name is used in the Old Testament.  It’s actually really cool and would be a terrific study to do.  But, tonight I just want to lift up some of the most important things that God taught His people about Himself.

Many of us know that the Israelites were not allowed to say the name “God”.  It was a sin. When it was written down, only 4 letters signified that name:  Y-H-W-H.  We actually have no idea what the pronunciation of that name is, but vowels were added at some point so that as the scriptures passed from Jewish hands into other cultures and into Christianity, we could actually say the name and write it fully.

YAHWEH – actually those 4 letters comes from the Hebrew verb “to be”.

In Exodus 3:13-14, Moses asks God a pretty deep question. Listen as they are speaking to each other:

“Moses said to God, ‘Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you”, and they ask me “What is his name?” Then what shall I tell them?’

God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.”

And God goes on: Verse 15

“God also said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob – has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.’”

When we use the word, “YAHWEH”, we are declaring God’s absolute being – the source of everything – without beginning or end.

It’s very exciting to me to see God naming Himself to Moses. But, I also get excited when I see this happen in the New Testament.

John 8:56-59. Jesus is discussing himself with Jewish leaders. They are questioning him and asking if he considers himself to be greater than Abraham. In verse 57, they say, “You are not yet fifty years old, and you have seen Abraham!”

Jesus’ response: “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!”

Jesus didn’t say that before Abraham was born, he was. He purposefully chose to name himself in the same manner that God identified Himself to Moses. “I AM!”

I’m going to turn over to Romans 10:9. Paul says, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Notice those words: “Jesus is Lord”. Paul didn’t say, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is a prophet, or even the Messiah, or a rabbi, or anything else.” Paul identified Jesus with God … the Lord.

In your Bible, if you see “LORD” (all capitals), you are actually reading the name YAHWEH, or another anglicized version is Jehovah.  If you see small letters “Lord”, you are actually seeing a different name – “Adonai”, which literally is a title of respect, “my lord”.  Almost as if you are saying "Sir" when addressing him.

God’s name appears as the fourth word of the Bible. “In the beginning “God”. Now this word is translated from the word “Elohim”. The word “El” – “E – L” means God. “Elohim is the plural form of the word “God”.

We miss so many intricacies of our scripture because it has been translated away from the original languages. If you or I had been reading the original Hebrew from a very early age, it would have come as no surprise that God is seen as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as far back as the creation stories. Just by reading that one word, Elohim, we would have immediately associated this with the words from John’s gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.”

We would have been able to recognize the plurality of God.

When you read the name “God” in the Old Testament, you are reading the Hebrew word “Elohim.” When you read the name “LORD” (all Capitals) you are reading “Yahweh” and when you read the name “Lord” (upper and lower case) you are reading the name “Adonai”.

We will find YAHWEH ELOHIM in scripture as well. “LORD God”. In the creation story, Genesis 2:4, we read:

“When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens …”

Psalm 59:5 “O Lord God of Hosts, the God of Israel, rouse yourself to punish all the nations; show no mercy to wicked traitors.”

Why have we been given so many different names for God throughout Scripture? Each name that I’m about to share with you reveals something more about the nature of God. Each name that we learn in Scripture does not change who God is, but tells us something more about Him.

(tomorrow we will begin with specific names - El Shaddai!)

Names of God: Preface

I spoke at the 6:00 service at church tonight.  I've done it several times before and I've always cheated.  When I wrote the Revelation study last year, I had to write 10 weekly talks.  So, I re-vamped those to fit a Saturday evening service and used them.  Not too much work, just a little preparation.

That didn't seem right this time, so last week when I was in Ohio, I prayed about what I should speak on tonight and after some soul searching, I realized that "The Names of God" would be a great topic. 

It's been a busy week and I tried all week to get to it.  When Thursday came and I had barely started, I panicked.  But, I also prayed.  I still wasn't compelled to go to my backup stash of talks and knew I was supposed to teach this lesson.  I finally had some time yesterday late afternoon and early this morning. I did finish it and found some fabulous information.

Then, this evening I knew that I needed to be in prayer for what God is going to do tomorrow in worship.  And as I prayed, I realized that knowing these names of God was amazing!  I could call Him by name when requesting His presence!  Oh my goodness, I was weeping by the time I got into the middle of my prayer time.

Everyone should know the names of God and what He is called ... So, as soon as I post this - I'm going to begin posting parts of my talk.  There is some great information there and the sooner you know WHO God is by His name, the sooner you will be able to pray in that name!

Stay tuned - it was a 20 minute talk, there's a lot of information.  But, wow ... it's good stuff.  And honestly, not because I wrote it, but because God revealed Himself to us through the scriptures!  Ready?  Let's go!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Trying Windows Live Writer

Max told me this evening about a new blog editor.  So, I'm trying it and so far?  Totally easy.  I downloaded it, sent it to my blog location and I'm writing already!  Let's check a few things out.  Because I'm a weirdo, you have to put up with my psychosis.

Max and I have been laughing over Chris Crocker.  Have you seen this guy?

But, if you have seen that - you have to also enjoy Seth Green's parody of the thing.  By the way, if you haven't clicked yet ... it's not necessarily all 'clean' language.

Well, while you are enjoying those crazy videos, I'm actually pretty impressed!  It was a cinch to add them and to resize the video space on my blog.  Alright ... that was easy, now what else can I do!


Map image

Well, that was fun - I can insert a map!  And what I chose was the one thing that Max will never get me to do - traveling the Chunnel from England to France.  I will take the ferry, thank you very much!

Ok, and I can move entire paragraphs up and down or re-size each paragraph separately by using the handles. 

This isn't a terribly interesting blog to you - but I certainly had a good time learning about a new program.  We'll see what happens next!

Are We Done Yet?

Max asked me last night if I thought we were close to being done for the year. Done with loss and massive change, done with death. Done. My response was "I doubt it."

This is what I've learned about God. Things are always changing around Him. When I'm not changing, I'm not within His will. I've also learned that crisis brings me closer than anything else to God's heart. When I'm in crisis, I pray harder, longer and deeper than any other time. I'm beginning to think that God must 'miss' me when things are going well!

I'm also learning that every crisis or rough time or great change is tempered by God's mercy. As I learn to get through these times by relying on His strength instead of my own, I recognize that little bits of me are dropping away and more of God is entering in. I will never get to the point where people see only God in me. I'm too independent and God and I will probably fight over this personality until the day I finally die. I don't necessarily like it that way, but it's my reality.

Doesn't it seem like it would be easier to simply relinquish myself to God? Why, yes it does! And it's not like I don't want to.

So, no. I don't think we're done yet. Poor Max is married to me and God has a lot of work to do in my life. The only fortunate thing is that I'm married to Max. I've never met a man with a stronger, simpler faith. I'm guessing that God knew what He was doing when He brought us together. Max and I tend to balance each other pretty well. Even when it comes to working through our faith.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Another Passing

This morning as I was getting ready to go to work, Max's phone rang. It was his older sister. His mother died in the night. While we are really thankful that the period of waiting is over and that her life has finally ended here while beginning in heaven, I know that he is mourning.

Max placed the end of Rose's life into God's hands last week as he and his sister, Kendra laid hands on her and prayed for her. It was simply a matter of time until her body gave up the fight to be on this earth and released her. And now that has happened.

He'll be going back to Ohio for the funeral. We're not sure what day this is going to happen yet, the day will bring more answers.

In all things, God reigns as Lord. There is no time in our lives when this is more obvious than in death. The final victory, the final acquiescence to His Lordship.

Max will miss his mother, but he isn't sad at her passing. This is the hardest thing for me to explain! How something so sad and dreadful for so many people is such a joyous experience for us. She has left behind a body that was in constant trauma and a life that was a struggle. The throneroom of our Creator is her next stop. Now, really ... could it get any better than that?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Indian Summer

I lied last night in my post. I was so happy about fall being here and ecstatic over the fact that I no longer had to whine about the weather. Then, I took Leica out this morning at 5:30 and was struck by the humidity and warmth. Ack!

I just checked the weather online:

Monday - 90
Tuesday -81
Wednesday - 80
Thursday - 85
Friday - 88
Saturday - 83
Sunday - 85

I've decided to go back to whining.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

My own bed

It is a good thing ... that bed of mine. Ahhh .... We got home this afternoon and I took a nap. It was beautiful. Now, I'm preparing to enjoy a full night's sleep! In my own bed.

I'm leading Disciple I this year. It's going to be a great year. The Sunday night group is pretty terrific. There are close to 20 people participating. Needless to say, small group breakouts are important. I didn't do that this evening and it became quickly obvious to me that only a few people in the group were responding to questions and discussion. So ... I break them up and cause participation to happen. The only thing that I hope happens this year is that this group is able to catch a bit of the passion that I have for the Word of God and that they have some in-depth exposure to the Bible.

I'm also leading Disciple I on Thursdays with a bunch from the staff there. That will be another fun class.

We were talking to some friends this evening about restaurants. Last night at dinner with Max's siblings we were talking about how we spend too much time at chain restaurants and I had to beg forgiveness. We do not have a Bob Evans restaurant here in Omaha. The closest one is in Kansas City. I love that chain! Would it be that difficult to move into the Omaha market? I don't think so. The other place that I always try to stop at when traveling through Iowa is the Machine Shed. Fortunately I don't have to travel so far to eat there. The closest is in Des Moines.

Goodness, what a whiny person I am. And no, I'm not investing in a franchise to bring those to Omaha - I'll never do that again. So ... I'm going to keep whining.

Speaking of whining. My summer of whining about the heat is nearly over! The weather has been absolutely gorgeous around here! In fact, a little chilly! This is fabulous! Fall has arrived.

We still don't know anything new about Max's mother. She's hanging in there for some reason. I guess that's one of the things I love about being a child of God. I discover over and over (like it's new information each time) how perfect His timing really is. If I just allow Him to be God and I act like His child, things go so much better and I feel so content and peaceful about things.

Tonight at Disciple, we discussed "Wonder". What is it about God that is 'wonderful' and 'awesome' to you. Do you look at simple things and recognize the extraordinary creativity of God? Think about those things. ... Good night!

A quick update - HOME!

We just got home - and I'll officially admit we're nuts. We lay in bed last night - unable to fall asleep. Both of us were worrying about going to sleep when we knew we had to get up early to get on the road. Finally I said, "let's just start driving". Max jumped in the shower and I packed everything up. We were on the road by 1:30 am. I drove and he slept. I 'power-drove' through Ohio and Indiana and stopped when we were at the bottom of the gas tank - Danville, Illinois (border of Indiana and Illinoi). Max woke up, we gassed up and prepared ourselves for another drive. There are weird people out and about at 4:30 in the morning.

I curled up with Leica and a blanket and Max drove us through Illinois. We stopped at the Machine Shed for breakfast in Davenport, gassed up and headed out again. A few rest stops and another driver transition and we're home.

Rose is hanging in there. We have no idea how long she will last, but I'm glad to have Max home in time to prepare for his interview and get things ready to go back to Ohio for the funeral. Southwest has some great prices on flights.

I'm going to crash and burn - then head to church to lead Disciple I tonight and back home to sleep the sleep of the exhausted tonight. I can't wait!

The cat is really glad to see me - and I'm glad to see my bed ...back later!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Prayer and Study, Peace and Quiet

While Max is spending time with his family, I've been hanging out here at the hotel. It's a pretty wonderful place. They even have a small garden area. This afternoon I took Leica out to the grassy garden area and discovered the garden with picnic tables and beautiful flowers and trees. I took my Bible and enjoyed the beauty of the day while Leica nosed around and curled up in the sunshine. Glorious!

I'm glad Max got here last night. His mom knew that he had shown up and by the time he got over there this morning, she was fading even more. He and his sister, Kendra, laid hands on her, prayed for her and invited her to move on. Pretty cool, eh? Kendra really needed him to be here for that. Their older sister is pretty emotionally cold. Their older brother has eliminated himself from most of the emotions of the family and while he was pretty broken up while in the room with Max, won't involve himself in the business of death. Kendra has worked with Hospice for many years now, death doesn't freak her out. Death doesn't freak Max out either. So ... the two of them were able to take care of each other this afternoon.

Now I'm just waiting for him to call me or come back to the hotel. His mother is pretty near death - we'll see what happens.

So ... it doesn't take much to make me cry. Why do I say that? Well, my husband laughs at me because I cry at the drop of a hat. In fact, I just cried at an episode of "Monk". Sheesh. I'm glad he's not here to watch that.

What makes you cry?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

On the Road Again

I'm settled in. And much as I hate to admit it, this is going to be a glorious weekend for me. Not so much for Max. The poor guy has a lot ahead of him. My only job is to do whatever I can to support him through this. I don't have to make any family decisions, I don't even have to be part of the plans. I just have to be here for Max. Now, that's just the coolest thing ever. I can do that!

We actually ended up leaving last night about 9:00. Max had gotten another desperate call from his sister, begging him to hurry out here. So, we took off. Was I packed and ready? Of course not. Why would I be? I had planned to get everything together last night, sleep the sleep of the righteous (hahahahah) and get up early this morning to get on the road. We dashed home after Soul Seekers, threw things into bags (oh, I hope I have everything. I made sure we had underwear and socks ... and Advil) and loaded up the car. Off we went.

We drove to the big I-80 Truckstop just west of Davenport and the Illinois border. And we slept ... in the car ... We got there about 2:30 - did the bathroom thing, pulled into a really wonderful space beside a bunch of other sleeping drivers and snoozed. Max was actually out for about 3 1/2 hours. I finally woke him up at 6:00 am. I had been fully awake since 5:15 and was tired of waiting for him to figure it out. We drove onto the interstate and headed east.

This trip is not the most fun trip in the world. You think I say that because of the circumstances? Ummm ... well, ok. But, driving across Iowa is a little bit better since they increased the speed limit to 70 mph. Illinois is 65. And as soon as you cross the border into Illinois you are assaulted with signs telling you of all the things that you can do to ensure immediate imprisonment and/or huge fines. They even warn you about cigarette smuggling! Did I miss the point where we actually lived in the UNITED states? Goodness.

The best thing about Illinois is the Bob's Big Boy restaurant in Danville - just on the Illinois/Indiana border. Max loves that place, so we always make a point to stop. We got there just at 10:45 am. He ordered the Big Boy sandwich (a burger). Such a nut. But he loves it.

Indiana raised the speed limit to 70 mph. While this might sound terrific, there are a few issues in Indiana. One of them is Indianapolis. The other is incredible construction. Any of you Omahans who think we have it bad have no idea. This was nuts! And some of the worst construction is around Indianapolis. Oh good heavens, but that is an ugly city to try to circumnavigate. It is only 164 miles from Danville to Richmond, Indiana (on the Indiana/Ohio border). Oh, and the other issue was that we lost an hour due to the time change as soon as we crossed into Indiana. The trip seemed to take forever!

We reached the Ohio border and back to 65 mph we dropped. Plenty of policement in the medians ready for excitement. So, we had to stay legal.

Actually, as I figure it out, we did just fine on time. We were so exhausted from the wierd night that it just seemed really painful. I was so tired of being in the car, I wanted to scream. Poor Max was getting awfully sleepy - and we only had 45 minutes to go. We were grateful to see Columbus.

Westerville is a suburb on the east side of Columbus. This is where Max's mother is right now. Max also has a sister that lives here. We are staying at the Baymont Inn. What a great spot! Ethernet access to the internet - so, I don't have to worry about intermittent wi-fi access, a fridge and microwave, front door access so I can get Leica out to potty in the early morning and they had 'drive-through check-in'! What a riot! That made things really easy.

We got here, Max took a shower and then a nap. While he was sleeping, I made some calls, got the internet working, worked a bit from here at church (I love and talked to Carol and Jennie. Then, I ordered pizza to be delivered. Really different - kind of like LaCasa in Omaha, but simply amazing! Max woke up for the pizza and has taken off to see his mom. We'll see how things go and I'll be sure to let you all know here. I'm staying with the dog and will go tomorrow if he wants me to. I know that, more than anything, she wants to spend time with him.

He's here now ... and knows that if she was waiting for him to get here so that she could say goodbye, the end might be really close.

This has been a very strange year. Death and loss have been a big part of our lives. Two jobs lost, my father, a cat and now Max's mom. I could stress about this and feel really sorry for myself. But, that just doesn't seem right!

You see, I KNOW that death is the natural end to life and change (job changes) is nearly always for the better. And I KNOW that God is the one in control of life. The more than I can allow Him to control my life, the easier it is to accept the changes and flow through them. God is so amazing. I can't begin to describe the joyous occurrences that have happened for us this year, but God is always there to care for us.

I will ask for a couple of prayers. 1) God will let us know what is happening with Rose (Max's mom). You see ... we're coming back on Sunday to Omaha if she's still alive. There are so many convoluted things with this timing stuff. Max has an interview on Tuesday. He's been out of work since ... well ... May. We really need him to be working. BUT, if she dies tonight or tomorrow and they have the funeral on Monday, we'll both be able to attend. If she dies later, I probably won't come back with him for the funeral.

1) Timing to be in God's will. I know that His timing is perfect. So, I need patience to wait and see what He will do.

2) Max's interview - that it happens - that it goes well -that it leads to a job. And if this isn't the job that Max is supposed to have, then I pray THAT job shows up soon! {hehe}.

3) Max's family and all of the 'stuff' that happens when death is occurring or has occurred. There's a lot of garbage to handle.

4) A peaceful death for Rose. She's had an amazing life. She is 86 and her body is worn out.

Thank you all for prayers as we traveled. I'll write more later!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

No time to breathe

The last few days have been absolutely nuts. I've been moving through the days so quickly, I barely have time to be nice to my friends! This is not how I like living my life. But, this week, it's my reality.

Max and I are taking off tomorrow morning to head to Ohio. His mother has been placed in hospice care and he has to take the time to head out there to see her. We always have a good time traveling together, so it will be nice to hang out with him.

Getting out of here is the insanity that is my life. Things at church are so overwhelmingly busy that I have a lot of work to do. But, while I have all that work, I have all of these things in the evenings that preclude me staying late to do it. Argh! Now, you might want to tell me I could have planned better, but I'm not taking that . I had planned quite well, to be honest. What I didn't need was everyone else coming up with emergency projects that needed to be done before I left. For heaven's sake, I'm only going to be gone two days! At this point, I'm just going to be glad to get in the car tomorrow morning.

If you'd like, now is the time to look at me and say "Whine, whine, whine!" And you'd be right. What a whiny girl I'm being. I have a great job, I love it and I have time to head out of here to get to a family emergency. At least I have something to whine about!

We did end up putting my cat to sleep Monday morning. Monday was kind of a tough day. Max and I just stared at each other Monday night. The house was a bit emptier. Now, I still have a second cat and a dog, so at least we had small warm beings to love us. In fact, my big, fat, mean, grey cat was pretty odd that evening. He yowled at me when I got home - which is usually a demand for water or food. Those were both full, all he wanted was attention. I sat down at my desk and before I knew it, he was sitting in front of the keyboard trying to nestle into my arms. So, I held him and sobbed for a bit. He's not generally that affectionate, but I think that all of the emotion in the house probably affected him. He's going to have a rough weekend. I'm taking Leica with us to Ohio and he'll be here alone. Carol's coming in to ensure food and water, but she doesn't like him much, so probably won't spend much time with him. I suspect that when I get home, he'll be awfully glad to see me!

Today and tonight will be another insane day for both me and Max. Lots of things to do before we get out of town. I figure I'll rest in the van tomorrow and will sleep in on Friday. Yea!

I'm taking the laptop with me, so hopefully I'll make time to blog!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Too Young ...

Nope, this blog isn't about me. I'm writing a quick one to get it off my mind.

One of my cats is dying right now. He's my orange & white tabby. I was up really late last night, so I slept on the couch. Max came down this morning, woke me up at 7:00. I asked if he was ok and he had to tell me that he found the poor guy stretched out on the floor, not moving. He had voided himself and was lying there. But, the poor thing is still breathing.

This cat is diabetic. It's really difficult to control diabetes in a cat, but we do what we can with insulin. The poor thing has been taking shots from me for over a year. He seemed to be doing pretty well.

Max has put him on a blanket in a tub - we're leaving in a few minutes to go to the vet. I'm just going to put the poor guy to sleep all the way, remove the pain and the stress from his life.

It's going to be a weird morning ...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

When God shows up ...

Do you see that huge pause before I began my first sentence? Oh ... probably not, but I had to stop and just bow before the Lord. In fact, as I type ... I'm thankful for being a touch typist because I can hardly lift my head. God has been so present this day.

He was in worship ... moving and pouring out. There aren't words to describe what I experienced, but because I am a communicator I will try.

I know that Jennie had really been praying for the worship service this morning - trying to feel the flow of things in her heart and her mind. She called me yesterday to tell me a little bit of what had been going on - and to ask me to pray. She didn't see the ending of the service. And when she began stressing about it, she heard God telling her that He would take care of it today - she just needed to remain open.

In my ears, that tells me to be ready for anything. I woke up this morning and began praying for the day, for the praise band as we led the music, for Dr. Delp as he preached the Word, for the people that I could see sitting and standing in their pews. I walked into the church praying for all of this. And as I walked into the sanctuary, I knew that I needed to be praying. I sat in the front pew as the scurrying about on the stage began and shut my eyes. More than anything I wanted God to be present.

We began our first song and I amped up immediately. "Turn it around, open the windows of heaven, pour out a blessing, let it flow." We were pleading with God to join us ... did the people know what they were asking? Oh, I hope so.

There was a beautiful baptism of a father and his baby daughter. Oh, how God loves seeing families gather together before Him!

We sang again, "We fall down, we lay our crowns at the feet of Jesus. And we cry 'Holy, holy, holy'!" You see, that's where God wanted us to be - crying out before Him that He is holy. He is holy!! Dr. Delp taught on the passage in Isaiah 6:1-8. During the reign of King Uzziah, Isaiah was in the throne room of God - the train of His robe - filled the temple with glory! Angels were all arond singing "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty" They were calling that back and forth.

The sermon was amazing today. Simply amazing. I was in awe as I listened to Dr. Delp try to help us grasp the incredible holiness of our God.

As we closed the service with the song "I see the Lord, seated on the throne, exalted. And the train of His robe, fills the temple with glory. And the whole world is filled with His glory. Holy, holy, holy, holy. Holy is the Lord!', I became aware of the awesome presence of God. I have to admit that my very bad knees kept me upright in a time where God was doing His best to drive me to my knees. At points, I had to stop singing and just drop my head.

I was talking with a friend later on ... and I recognize that people are so resistant to God. Patterns have been built up in their lives and fears. anger at the church or people that have hurt them in the past. All sorts of things happen to wound us to a point that we can no longer accept the reality of a Holy God. We come to church simply to be seen.

But, God is drawing every person to Him and right now I sense that His movement is more intentional. God is preparing our church to become a focal point in His revival of our hearts. I pray that if your heart is not filled with the holiness of God, you can find yourself a place and a way to be open to that.

Lord Jesus, Come Quickly!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

15 Minutes Left

Ok ... it's 11:45 and I think we might make it through this day safely!

Today was my birthday. For the last 12 years, something 'bad' has happened around my birthday. Last year I was ready to give it up completely.

I'm old enough to be content with ignoring the significance of this date completely. There is no particular reason for me to celebrate a date that reminds me that age is creeping up on me. My friends insist that I celebrate the day and I do my best to ignore them.

The 'horror' of my birthday began September 8, 1995. Carol had scheduled her first gynecological exam with my doctor, a wonderful woman. She left work and we continued throughout the morning. I got a telephone call that morning from a completely freaked out sister. She was sobbing and nearly in hysterics. Something was terribly wrong. During her exam there was terrible pain and a lot of blood. They had scheduled her for an immediate ultrasound. I just left the shop and headed up to the doctor's office.

The ultrasound showed a mass in her abdomen - attached to her uterus. They couldn't tell her whether or not it was cancerous. We scheduled surgery. Within a few short weeks, Carol had surgery to remove a muskmelon sized fibroid tumor from her abdomen. No cancer - the fear passed.

September 8, 1996 came and while we were thankful for Carol's recovery and return to complete normalcy, we were waiting for a baby to be born to one of our employees. She came to work a little freaked out - she hadn't felt the baby move within her over the weekend. We sent her to the doctor immediately. The baby had died and the poor girl had to deliver the infant that day.

The next few years brought all sorts of trauma - mostly related to Insty-Prints. 2001 came and I thought it was going to be ok, but 3 days later, well ... we all know what happened that day. I don't know what it was about September, but things got insane and every year, there was something. Max was starting to worry for me.

Last year, Insty-Prints was closed on September 4th and I was out of work. My birthday wasn't much to celebrate - but my friends insisted. I lived through it.

Now, I know that this all sounds quite whiny. And I apologize. I suspect that the intensity of the issues that happened over the years was enhanced because I was concentrating on them - things that would generally be ignored were made much bigger.

This year, though, everyone was beginning to wonder about the day. 2 weeks ago Max's mom fell and cracked her skull. He got a call from his sister that if he ever wanted to see her alive again we had to get out there immediately. She was transferred last week from the assisted living center to a nursing home. She is confused, the doctors are concerned and the kids are worried.

We're heading to Ohio on Thursday. She's still alive and nothing traumatic has happened today. I really think that Max, Carol and my friends were praying for me to get through the day so that I would quit complaining about it!

The clock just chimed midnight. My birthday is over. Praise the Lord. Though the date on my birth certificate indicates that I've just aged another year, I don't feel any different. I don't want to hear about it. I don't want to think about it. But, I can live through it. That's what happened today.

God's grace is amazing. I have made up a series of insane connections over the last 12 years. I do try to recognize my own insanity. And I am awfully glad that God forgives the craziness inside us!

To be a teacher ...

I'm awfully proud of my sister. She is teaching 6th graders this year - after 20 years of running a print shop. She finished her second bachelor's degree last spring and was ready to leap into the classroom. Leap she has! And in many cases, she's feeling pretty overwhelmed! But, she's doing great!

I offered to help her grade some of her papers. Am I nuts? I love that stuff! (grading papers). When I was in upper elementary, I remember helping some of the younger grade teachers grade their papers. I always wanted to teach.

She brought me a week's worth of math papers to grade. Whee!!! This is stuff I do well - the math is still fun for me! And I love coming up with ways to help the kids figure out why they gave an incorrect answer. Just working through these papers, I'm seeing how their little minds work. It's fascinating!

I love that she lets me help her out with this stuff. I wish I could be more available to get into the classroom to help her, but goodNESS I stay busy during the day. She really needs people to be in there with her. She has an incredible number of 'tough' kids in that classroom. Kids that desperately need personalized time - time that she doesn't have when dealing with 23 kiddos all at one time. Boy, if anyone ever wants to spend 45 minutes a week in a classroom - she'd certainly love it! And I'm betting you would too!

And I'm going to start praying for mentors for her. Of course I'll check out Teammates - we'll see how that all gets set up. But, she definitely needs at least 3 mentors in the classroom. For one little boy whose father beats the hell out of his mother. This little kid has picked up on that abusive relationship and has no concept of what a healthy family looks like. He's bright, but will probably fail throughout life because he can't function in a proper manner around other people. A little girl whose father is in prison, and whose mother is either dead or in jail - they just don't know. Now, how do you prepare a little girl like that for a successful life? Her grandmother is doing the best she can, but this little girl is just angry all the time - do you blame her? Or another little boy whose father is in jail and whose mother can't hold anything together. They're about to lose their home and he see no reason to try to succeed. He doesn't understand the concept. How do you encourage him to do work in the classroom - why should he bother?

The other sixth grade teacher in her school has been there for years and years - and is a terrific teacher. But ... she pretty much chose the kids she would have in her room, leaving Carol with a lot of trouble. In fact, there have been outsiders walk into her classroom, see who is in there and offer much support and sympathy. It seems Carol has the worst class in the entire school. Now, that just cracks me up! She's naive enough to believe that she can handle it. She's old enough and strong enough to make it happen and offer success to as many children as possible.

I look forward to supporting her this year. Not because I want her to be successful, though that will be a bonus. I want to see these kids that she is falling in love with be successful throughout their junior high and high school years. Can we touch 23 kids and change the world? Not alone, we can't. But, God can. I can't believe the amount of time I've put in to prayer for these children. Individually as Carol tells me about their lives and corporately as I pray for the classroom.

Do you have a teacher you should be praying for - or a classroom of kids that you know?

I was talking to my nephew Matthew today - he's 18. If he lives to the age of 88 - that's another 70 years. That makes the year 2077. That's 100 years after I graduated from high school! My nephew will more than likely be alive 100 years after my high school graduation. These kids are the future of our world - what kind of world and life will we give them.

This is why I pray for these kids. They can transform things. God can transform the world through them. Don't believe for a moment that God is not in control of this world. I'm thankful for the power of prayer and the amazing power of God's grace.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Got nothing done today

Ok ... good heavens, but this day was nuts. I don't think I was ever alone in my office. It was full of people today. Now, generally that is a wonderful thing, but today - all it meant was that I didn't get anything productive done. Ack! I'm going to have to work late tomorrow to make sure everything is ready to go for the weekend!

But, it's all good - and I shouldn't complain.

The new youth director was in this afternoon. He's going to be a riot. Why, you might ask? Well, he's a good guy, but we've just added yet another opinionated Christian to the staff. And, he has a bit of seminary education to back himself up. He's a Calvinist - a good ole' Presbyterian. If you want some entertainment - look up (on Google) the arguments between Arminians and Calvinists. This discussion (argument) has been going on for centuries. I'm looking forward to the insanity. It's going to make me do some studying - and that's a very good thing.

Cody (my office mate - and the Tech Director at church) has a fairly 'Reformed' background and loves (no, I'm not kidding - he loves this!) to debate theology and philosophy. It gets him all charged up. This isn't arguing - it's debate and discussion. I think I'm going to enjoy the noise. When it all comes down to it - the debate is nonsensical. The only important thing is telling people about Jesus Christ and encouraging a life dedicated to discipleship. But, we all know this. The debate and discussion only stretches the mind and forces good thought.

We pulled a quick lunch today - headed to Brueggers for sandwiches and then a rush trip to Parables. Israel Houghton's new CD - "A Deeper Level" came out this week and Jennie and I were insane to get it. I just love his stuff - I love it! But, the fun thing is that Jennie was in Houston at a worship conference last spring - where they recorded this CD! How cool is that? (it's way cool).

So ... it's 10:45 pm and I'm tanked. My bed is calling me, I'm yawning and my eyes are bleary. See you later!

Monday, September 03, 2007

What does God want from me?

Now, while the title of this blog could easily begin a whining rant about how tough things are in my life, I don't plan for it to turn out that way.

I really am curious - and I guess that I spend way too much time thinking about that! Before you tell me that I could better spend my time doing something else, please know that I simply spend a lot of time thinking and this is something that a lot of us really would like an answer to. We believe that we hear God's call on our lives and we move forward according to that call. When we don't feel anything or 'hear' anything from God, we tend to keep moving in the last known direction, hoping that we're doing what it is that God is wanting from us.

I have a couple of friends that hear from God on a regular basis. He is present within their thoughts and their hearts nearly all the time and when He is quiet within them, it's painful. I've never had that activity going on inside me. When God is quiet around me, I sense that it is because I'm too busy and have allowed things around me to press in on all sides. My mind can no longer process on the things of God.

Does God ever wear you out? Oh, He does me. You have to be at the top of your game to be in constant contact with the Creator of this Universe. Now, isn't that an interesting statement! Because I know that when I am weak, He is strong and that through my weakness, He is able to be so much more within me.

But, in so many ways that is interpreted incorrectly. It doesn't mean I have to be a weak 'pray-er' or a weak studier, or a weak giver, or a weak worshiper. It means that I have to turn my will over to Him. To spend a lifetime on earth in His presence, I have to be ready for this! I have to learn to pray with His strength. I can't do that if I don't have the fortitude to go before Him and actually pray at the foot of His throne. To worship Him, I have to have a broken soul, a soul that is ready to pour out everything I have. To study His word, I need to be willing to learn all that I can regarding that Word - and you know what, that requires me to be at the top of my game!

I refuse to offer a half-baked Christian attitude to God in order that He can use me. I need to learn to pray as an intercessor, I need to learn to study His word. For me personally, that means that I read everything I can when I am studying a passage and that I may need to learn Greek and Hebrew so that I can understand all of the nuances fof a passage - not just the English translation. In order to worship and to lead worship, I need to not only rehearse and be prepared for the event, but I need to come before God and allow Him to be everything that I worship.

And He wears me out. What other thing in my life do I have that should require such an investment of my life and a sacrifice of all that I've been given? What else is there? My husband, my family, my job ... none of these things are as important as the Creator who gave me life. I would set aside everything for Him. (Don't worry, I'm not being crazy - trust me, there would be some massive whining and screaming if I was really asked to do any of that.)

As I've been writing this and praying while I wrote this, I realized what it is that God wants from me.

Singleness of heart and mind and soul. It occurs to me that God wears me out because I move back and forth between accessing His throne and playing in the world. I'm a terrific multi-tasker. You will rarely find me only doing one thing at a time. If I can set several projects into motion at the same time I'm quite happy. I knit while I read. Sometimes the television is on as well and I'm absorbing that information. If I'm playing a game online - I also have a video playing online.

But, God doesn't want me to multitask in His presence. Singleness of heart, mind and soul.

Now ... what God really wants is for His church to be united on that same front. He's tired of us battling each other. He's calling us to focus on the only important thing - Him. You see, we don't have to do it, we don't have to cause things to happen in His church, we don't have to work that hard. All we have to do is trust Him ... together.

He still wears me out. A day will come when I no longer move back and forth from His throne to the world. When it does, there will be no more tears or weariness ... there will only be God. But, until that day, I'm going to embrace God's weariness, because when I'm worn out ... I know I've been close to Him and He will sustain me in that weakness.

Oh God! Hear the groanings of my heart ... let your people be united ... let us hear from You and do Your will.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Football is Back!

This was a terrific day! I love football season and I can't believe how much I was looking forward to it this year!

When I was in high school, I was in the marching band. We wore hideously hot woolen uniforms and the first few games of the season nearly killed some of us. I played the flute in concert band and played the base drum in the marching band. Yes ... I was insane. But, playing the base drum put me right in the middle of the drum section and that was the best place to be! However, that was one nasty heavy thing to be carrying around. Parades were the worst. A lot of marking time and standing up straight with that heavy thing hanging off my shoulders. Oh well ... as football season progressed, the temperature cooled off and rather than bolting for the locker room after halftime, we just stayed in our uniforms and climbed into the stands with our instruments, planning to make as much noise as possible. We were always ready to play our fight song when we scored.

The football team did pretty well those years. And I had a blast. After the home games there was always a sock hop in the cafeteria. Several members of my class had a rock band ... they were pretty good and managed to cover everything that we were listening to. Those nights were just a load of fun. I fell in love with football.

I didn't spend too much time watching football in college. I quickly lost my love of crowds and when I was at the University of Iowa, there was no way I was putting up with that insanity to watch a football game. At Coe College, the team stunk and I had no reason to waste my time watching them - there was always something better to be doing.

My brother played football in West Liberty, but he was the only one I knew on the team, so I didn't have as much fun watching them. Years passed ... high school football was a thing of my past and I really didn't have a pro football team to watch. So ... no football in my life.

Then, I married Max. I thought it was weird, but I wasn't going to make a big deal about it. Max never really watched football. He didn't make a big deal about it on Saturdays or Sundays or Mondays. I finally quit thinking about it. Until one day a few years into our marriage, I asked him about it. "Why don't you watch football? I always used to like it. Dad loved college football. Why don't you?"

I knew that Max's family were rabid Ohio State fans. He grew up just outside of Columbus.

Max's response to me floored me. He didn't want me to feel like I was a football widow and so he had just chosen to stay away from it.

Oh my goodness! I just giggled at him. "Honey, I love football. Turn the game on."

He didn't get too crazy. The first year we watched a few games on the weekends and every once in awhile he'd turn on a pro game. Over the years we've really built football back into our lives.

Now, I don't completely pay attention to every game that he watches. But, I love football season. It means he hangs out on the sofa in the living room with me. We talk during the game. When it gets cooler, I will curl up in blankets on the couch with him. I knit or I read or I watch the game.

I love spending time with him. I get the game of football for the most part and what I don't understand he enjoys explaining to me.

So ... football season is here. I'm so excited. Today was a great day. We probably watched 5 games today - bits and pieces of them. I learned interesting things while we were watching about the different locales. Max has an incredible knowledge of things and it's always entertaining to listen to him. I also did some knitting, read a few books (really ... it's a sick thing the way I consume fiction) and enjoyed the day.