Monday, December 31, 2007

A New Year

Well, it's time for that all-important trek down the reflective lane with hopes of changing a life so that the next year is better than the last year. Right? Sure ...

I am an old, old lady (you know that's my standard life-phrase, right?). But, I've been around this world long enough to know that New Year's resolutions generally fail and what is left is at best disappointment in oneself. What I've learned is that I can't resolve to change myself simply because a year is turning over.

What I can do is be thankful that God gives us new seasons for hope and change on a constant basis. "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Every single morning we receive the gift of a new day and the opportunity to make that day better than the one before. Tomorrow morning (New Year's Day) will bring the beginning of a new day, a new month and a new year.

I want to go just a bit further in the book of Lamentations (3:24-26) "I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.' The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."

There are a lot of things about God that are in total opposition to what we have learned in this world. We have learned to be a people of action, always doing, always achieving, always pushing forward to the next goal. And yet, God tells us over and over that we should allow Him to do the work and when we allow Him to be in control, things will be more blessed than if we were to do it ourselves.

Yet we don't seem to get it.

Luke 12:22-26, 28b-31.

Then Jesus said to his disciples: 'Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: they do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? ...

... O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.' "

So, what will my response be to this? Learning to survive without reliance on self? That's nearly impossible. But, if I were to make any resolution for this new year it is to keep myself open to the movement of the Holy Spirit in my life.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ends and Beginnings

Today marked the end of yet another Greenwood. We met today in Clarinda, Iowa for my Uncle Art Greenwood's funeral. While it was quite sad knowing that I would never see him again while on earth, the joy surrounding his life was pretty awesome. Uncle Art was the epitome of a true servant. He spent his life helping others. He never had much, in fact Dad used to worry over the lack of business prowess that Uncle Art had. But, part of Uncle Art's biggest problem was the money would never get in the way of him helping someone who needed him. Two of his grandkids today talked of the generosity and love that he taught them through his actions. His friends talked about the fun that he had in life and the generosity of his life. He gave of his time, his life and anything else that he had.

The most important moment of the day for me, though was what the pastor, Andy Rubenking said about MY father. And I think he was glad to be able to say it to my sister and brother and me. He met dad at a Holy Spirit camp at Wesley Woods in the 1970s. Oh, I was there, too - they were awesome experiences. At the end of one week, dad prayed for Andy to receive the Holy Spirit and that changed his life and led him into the ministry. Eight months after listening to people how Dad's life had impacted theirs and had changed their lives, I am still hearing the same story and it gives me goosebumps. There is nothing more that Dad could have done for people than to pray for them and lead them to a closer walk with God. He was ensuring their eternity!

These are the stories that make me proud, in so many ways, to be dad's daughter. Dad didn't invent great things, he didn't pen great books, he didn't write great songs. He simply led people to God. All of those 'things' will fade away, but what Dad did will live forever! He gave people the opportunity to meet the Creator of this Universe and the encouragement to enter into a personal relationship with the Savior of the World.

I never want to cease hearing these things about my father ... and my mother. These are the stories that make their lives worthwhile. The stories of lives that were changed by God because of the influence of one person.

It makes me consider over and over again that the things I believe to be important are not. It is not important for me to be 'right' or to be thought of highly or to be wealthy, or to be popular. In fact, it isn't even important for me to lead worship or to write bible studies or be the Oracle or give good advice.

If I am not encouraging others to approach the throne of God with confidence, if I am not telling people about the Good News of Jesus Christ, if I am not praying constantly for people to know Him as their Savior, I am not fulfilling the purpose for which I am on this earth.

I am proud to be Frank Greenwood's daughter. Not because of who he was or what he did, but because of Who he pointed to.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Time Alone

The last couple of days have been amazing. I've had time by myself ... extended time by myself. Max and I came home from Christmas at my brother's house on Tuesday evening and he went to work Wednesday morning. I was alone! I don't get much time by myself. Yesterday I watched movies and did some rearranging of stuff (including elimination of junk). It was great.

This morning, though, I feel a bit more thoughtful and feel like I want to spend some time in my thoughts. I'm not sure what I'm planning to find or even what I'm planning to search for, but I enjoy the quiet. I actually looked for movies to watch again today, but upon finding none, the decision was easily made to turn off the television. As soon as I take Leica outside and toast myself a bagel, I will pull out my Bible and begin asking some questions of God. Nothing too terribly probing, but I do have some things I need to spend time listening to Him about.

Last year I had been asked to write a study on death. Due to many things, I decided not to write that study. But, this year has been a year filled with the deaths of people I love. My father and his brother John died in April, my cat, Howard died in September. Max's mother died in September and in November a very close friend died. On Monday, my Uncle Art (Dad's other brother) died and just yesterday, Jennie called to tell me that her grandfather had been in a car accident and wasn't expected to live.

Now, all of that combines with other extreme losses - Insty-Prints closed just over a year ago - I lost my business and my daily activity. The day after Max's ankle replacement surgery, he found out that CompUSA was closing and he was losing his job. We have spent the last 8-9 months living on one salary and though it has been tough, God has been extremely gracious to us financially. Money has shown up when it was least expected and most needed. Our needs were more than met and generosity remained a part of my life.

It seems that we have been dealt extremes in the loss department this year, coincidentally the year that I decided not to write a study on loss, grief and death.

But, to be honest with you, this hasn't felt like a year of loss, grief and death. Oh, it definitely feels like a year of change, but I have never been disheartened. In fact, I don't know if I have ever come as close to God in the throneroom as I have over the course of all of these events. But, even then, those events have not been the catalysts for me to enter into the presence of God.

While I know that they have been significant in my life, the most incredible things that have happened to me over this last year have not come as a result from any of those losses. Ok, just one ... the closing of Insty-Prints removed 98% of the stress from my life so that I allowed myself to be at peace and to actually spend time listening to God and spending time with Him. I wasn't begging Him to help me with a floundering business, I was asking Him what it was that He wanted me to do.

And He told me ... over and over. Whenever I came before Him asking what I was to do next, I received an answer.

I do not believe that I am ready for the next steps on the journey with Him, but I do believe He is going to take me there anyway. I hesitate to call 2007 a year in the wilderness, but in the eyes of the world, I guess it would be just that.

When Moses was in the wilderness with the people of Israel, he spent an incredible amount of time with God. Wandering in the wilderness allowed him the time to receive instruction. For Moses, that had to be a treasured time. Though he didn't get to see the promised land, the people of Israel were given the opportunity to see the end of their wilderness walk. The crossed into the land of milk and honey. And while their human leadership changed, God never changed.

I have learned many things over this last year, not the least of which is what it feels like to actually be in the presence of God while I am worshipping, praying, interceding and learning from Him. I recognize that experience now and I remember it from my younger days when I constantly found ways to be close to Him.

God is surrounding me with people that are not afraid of proclaiming His work in their lives. We can affirm each other in what we are experiencing.

So, today I want to stop reflecting on what has already occurred and begin praying for the things that are about to happen. I am so excited. God is the creator of heaven and earth. He is the CREATOR! He is the King of Kings ... all of the rulers of this earth will bow to Him. All creation sings His glory. And yet, He cares for one individual person. Oh, thank you God!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Really? Again?

My uncle Art died today. He, my father and Uncle John were each other's best friends. His daughters say that his heart was broken when his two brothers died, but none of us were expecting this. This is a bit more difficult than I expected it would be.

However, God's hands are all over this family and I continue to pray that He will show His love to everyone that has been touched by my uncle's life.

Wow ... I've been sitting here for awhile trying to come up with words. I don't have very many right now and I've been simply sitting in silence. I'm awfully glad to not be alone there.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Senior Citizen Discount

Ok, I've spent the entire day complaining/laughing about this ... and I think I'm far enough past it that I can finally write about it.

Last night Max and I went to Perkins for dinner. We had a wonderful waitress and ended up talking to her for a while after dinner. As we left, the manager went outside for a break and our waitress ended up checking us out. Now, here's the deal. The bill was $24.45. Max and I intended to give her 2 $20 bills and take $10 back - a good tip. So, she's messing around at the cash register. I have no idea what's going on, Max and I are just jabbering at each other, he has the cash in his hand.

She looks up at us, says "With your discount, that will be $19.31." Max looks at me, we're both a little confused and he hands her the 2 $20s. I gathered my wits about myself quickly enough to realize that this wasn't working correctly and asked her to give us a $10, $5, and 5 $1s for the tip. She counts the change out to Max and he is still a little stymied. He hands her a $5 and I tell him to give a single with it - the original bill was $24.45 and I tip on the original not the discount. I don't need to be stingy. I was, however, still looking around to figure out what in the world was going on - was there a sign for Tuesday nights around there? A Christmas discount?

She said "thank you" and we turned to walk out the front door. I think it hit us both about the same time. We got outside and started howling with laughter! Max looked at me, "That's our first senior citizens discount! And I have 6 more years!" Because yes, on Tuesday nights, senior citizens receive 20% off their meals. We laughed about it all the way home.

So, the deal is ... while I love the idea that the restaurant comped my tip last night, I'm not terribly comfortable with the assumption that I'm a senior citizen! I promptly called my sister, she laughed at me. I called my brother and got "Ouch. Ouch." A couple of friends enjoyed the texts that I sent to them. But, from now on? I'm only eating at Perkins with my very young friends.

I have several ... several ... years before I hit 55. While I shouldn't complain about getting a discount, I guess I'm not ready to get it at the expense of adding years to my age!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Dog's Life

It's 10:30 pm and I have had a 2 1/2 hour nap. Whoops! (hehe) The last 24 hours have been a bit stressful for this old lady and when you combine that with a complete lack of sleep anyway, you get a nap before you go to bed!

When I got home last night, I put my purse down ... on top of my dog. I have no idea what she was doing under my chair at my desk at home, but there she was. She yelped, but moved on. However, when Max tried to take her outside about 10:00, she was moving really slowly. Leica normally runs to the back door, leaping and leaping as she waits for one of us to get there. Not so much last night. When she came back in, she stood at the couch, didn't even want to attempt to jump up. I picked her up and she whined and yelped. What? I thought maybe a broken leg or something ... but, as I manipulated her limbs, that was fine. Then, I touched her back - there was pain.

While I was sitting at my desk last night, praying about what to do with her, I felt like God was telling me to lay hands on this little thing. It was a weird thing. It hadn't occurred to me at all to pray for healing for her. I figure that what will happen, will happen with my animals and I'll deal with it ... whatever is. But, there is no reason not to listen and obey, even when it sounds wild. So, I began praying for her and felt peace. She was in God's hands and all I needed to do was take care of her.

Since she was still walking, albeit a little slowly, I was determined not to spend money at the emergency room (yikes!) and get her to the vet first thing this morning. I slept on the couch with her all night and took her to our vet this morning. He's a nice guy and was trying to be pragmatic with me about the possible outcome. She was obviously in pain, he did a quick exam and told me that we could be looking at a ruptured disk in her back, or degenerative disk disease, anything ... these are very common in a dachshund with that long back.

I left her with him and went to work, knowing he would call me when he had an idea what was going on. I waited and waited and waited. We finally went to lunch. My cell phone rang. It was Dr. Tierney. No disk rupture, no degeneration in the spinal column. In fact, her back looks like the back of a 2 year old dog (she's at least 9). There was a wound and she needed to recover from it. I cried from relief. It was just confirmation for me that God had heard my prayers and was taking care of this little girl.

The doctor told me I could pick her up after 4:00 pm. Not too early and I discovered why when I got there. Have you ever seen a dog after anesthesia? HAH! They're a hoot! He put her on the floor to show me what was going on and she wobbled all over the place, fell on her butt, ran into the wall. But, she had absolutely no pain! I brought her home, called Max down from upstairs and put her on the floor so we could giggle at her a little bit. Then, Max stayed with her while I ran a few errands.

She has settled in for the night on the couch, I'm staying pretty close to her. I figure she'll need to go outside and I get to carry her out and put her in the snow. She's just adorable.

This passage was in my email last night:

Job 12:7-13 (NRSV)

"But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being. Does not the ear test words as the palate tastes food? Is wisdom with the aged, and understanding in length of days? With God are wisdom and strength; he has counsel and understanding."

God is so good ... I count on Him for everything in my life and He honors me by caring for the smallest things. I'm thankful for His mercy and grace.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Weepy Old Aunt

Well, good heavens, but I'm not going to make it through Matthew's senior year in high school in good shape. This afternoon, Carol and I drove down to Lincoln to hear his high school select choir perform for an afternoon of Christmas carols. I was doing fine through most of it. He was so handsome in his suit, all dressed up. The group (Impact) sounded really good, a beautiful blend of sound. And ... it was Christmas carols. They also had a treble group and several soloists.

Then, four boys came out onto stage (Matthew included). These boys had learned a barbershop-type arrangement of "Go Tell It On The Mountain" by listening to a CD track and transcribing the music. They were awesome! What did I do? Cried through the whole thing. I thought I was safe. I had my back to the rest of the family and I was far enough away from Matthew that he wasn't going to be able to see me weeping away. Then, someone (Janet or Emma or someone) asked for my attention and I had to turn around to them all ... so that they could see my tear-streaked face. Jim just hugged me. I was so proud of Matthew!

My kids are growing up - and growing up nicely. Jacob is nearly taller than his father, Emma is a beauty and so outgoing. I love hanging out with these kids! I am going to thoroughly love hanging out with them as they grow into adulthood! Ahhh ... this is so fun. Honestly, I don't really miss being a mom when I have kids like this around. I am a fortunate woman.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Really worthless day

I say that, and I don't suppose it was ... but, it shouldn't be celebrated as a day that I grabbed every moment and made it the best moment possible!

The choirs are doing the cantata tomorrow morning and had a dress rehearsal this morning. So, Max and I were up and out of the house before 9 am. I'm incredibly thankful for a vehicle with 4-wheel drive so that we can move around in the snow with no problem. There was a beautiful fresh snowfall happening while we were driving ... light, fluffy stuff. Did my bit at the rehearsal and headed for breakfast at Shirley's Diner. My goodness, but they have the best breakfast food in town! Home again and I sat on my butt, reading interesting stuff on the internet. Max took off to do laundry and I lay down on the couch. Pretty soon, I was out like a light and took a wonderful nap!

I woke up and realized that there was no amount of heat that was going to warm me up. Good heavens! I was cold. And I suffered and I suffered and I suffered. I finally turned the heat up a little higher and it didn't seem to help, so I continued to suffer. I kept complaining about it. I finally grabbed my yummy robe - and within moments I was cookin'!

I finished my Christmas shopping today. I'm proud to say that I have done it all online. I was able to get pretty creative gifts, really great deals and it is all conveniently delivered to my home. Max came up with some rather interesting gifts that he wanted to give to friends, and by golly, I was able to find them, order them and we're done! This was fun! And all in the comfort (or chilly discomfort) of my living room.

There was an online survey I did this week. One of the questions was about the level of stress that I am dealing with throughout the Christmas season. When I was growing up, Advent was one of the worst times of the year. Dad was so stressed out preparing for all of the activities in church, he unloaded at home. It was not pleasant. The closer and closer we got to Christmas eve, the uglier things got. I actually don't have many good feelings about Advent.

Mom probably didn't help his stress level. She was working so hard to make Christmas spectacular for the three of us kids that she was unavailable. She spent hours creating gifts for us, sewing, painting, designing, etc. Dad was a tightwad too. Spending money at Christmas probably drove him crazy. He and mom fought about it a lot. He wanted to be able to do it, but he didn't have much excess and that was just driving him crazy. It would also have been the end of the financial year at the church and he was managing all of that stress.

But, then, Christmas morning finally arrived. Mom put over-stuffed stockings on the ends of our beds at some point in the night. We woke to those knowing that we weren't allowed out of our rooms until mom and dad called for us. They were stuffed with candy and little toys and games, anything to keep us occupied and quiet until mom and dad were ready for us. (have I told you about Carol and the 1 pound Hershey's bar? The silly girl ate the entire thing before we were out of our rooms. Let's just say she didn't make it through Christmas morning without a quick trip or two to the bathroom to purge all of that chocolate.)

The three of us would come flying out of our rooms with our hands clenching some of the fun things from our stockings. There were loads of gifts under the tree, more than we could have imagined. Gifts hanging on the tree from our grandmothers, gifts from congregation members under the tree and Dad in the rocking chair with a Bible in hand. Before we could open gifts, we always read through the Christmas story and then sang a few Christmas carols. I think we were all fine with the reading of the Christmas story, but we prayed for short verses and only a few carols.

Finally we were allowed to start with the gifts. Carol was our Santa. The poor girl couldn't stand it - she had to be moving and going. She began handing out gifts and after every one was distributed around the room, we went around, one by one, opening gifts. Dad slowed it down as much as possible so that we could enjoy the actual unwrapping of the gifts. But, by 10 am, we were all trying to figure out what to do with ourselves.

Advent was difficult, Christmas morning was great. Christmas eve was great. I look back now and am thankful for the traditions that Dad instilled in us and wish that I could have helped alleviate some of his stress. As the years passed, Dad was able to move past most of the stress of the season, it did get better and better.

How do you handle the stress of the holidays? Do you even have stress over the holidays? It's a wonderful thing to avoid, if possible. I think about the first Christmas eve. You know, there had been a lot of stress in preparation for that evening, too. Joseph had to deal with a bride who came to him pregnant. They had to travel with her as a very uncomfortable bride. They had to deliver a child in less than optimal surroundings. Then, there's the whole thing of being responsible for the Son of God! Angels showing up and shepherds wandering in to see the child. Wise men from the east come in to honor this child, Herod wanted to kill Him.

But those moments that Mary held the child in her arms had to have been precious. Can you imagine looking at the face of God in the form of an infant. For you mothers out there, I'm sure you remember the precious, peaceful moments of gazing upon your sleeping infant. But, imagine adding the peace of the Creator to that face. Peace ... peace ... peace. Amen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Snow Day!

Well, today was an official Snow Day for me. It's been years since I've had one of these with no guilt. I wasn't quite sure what to do with myself, so I ... slept until 11:00!!! Ok, now to be fair, I was up until after 1 am last night working and writing (yes, for work). My friend, Leonard called me at 6 am to tell me that UNO was closing until noon. I called work to ensure that it really was a snow day at 7 am and at 9:15, I was talking to Jennie to let her know that it was official. But, I did not crawl out from under the warm covers until 10:47 am, when my bladder began screaming for relief!

Poor Max had to go in to work, but it sounds like he had a really good day, so I don't feel too terrible about the whole thing. He assures me that he's had 7 months off and is more than happy to be working. Ok ... I can live with that.

I had recorded "Tin Man" from the Sci Fi channel (a 6 hour miniseries). What a fun show! I began watching some of that last night and watched the last four hours today. Then, since I had time, I watched the last 6 episodes of "Heroes".

I have to admit something about this. I was writing a study on "The Lord's Prayer" the entire time that I had these television shows playing. I know, I know ... this is just sick, but I have the absolute worst time doing only one thing at a time. If I'm just watching television, I have to be doing a few other things at the same time. I read my RSS feeds (blogs, news, etc.), I read my email, I check Facebook, I play online games and I'm generally chatting with someone on Skype at the same time. And while all of these things are going on, I've got internet windows and tabs open while I'm researching whatever topic I might be writing about.

No wonder I kill computers - I run the poor things to death.

I will be the first to admit that this probably isn't the best way to run my life. Multi-tasking is necessary in some areas - just so that I can get through my days, but it isn't necessary in all areas! In fact, it more than likely works to my detriment.

We'll see what happens with the Lord's Prayer study I'm writing. It's nearly finished - well, at least the work on it is nearly finished. It's all in long hand (I started it when I was computer-less on Sunday) and I tend to slow my thinking down when I write in long hand. I'll get it typed in tomorrow, add all of the references, flesh out a few things that need to be a little deeper and get it ready for proofing, approval and finally printing.

Since we are planning to focus on 'prayer' for 2008 at FW, there is a desire to see some things published about prayer. I can honestly tell you that no one else is going to take the time to ensure these things get written in a timely manner. It was a wonderful exercise for me these last two days. Really forced me to get fully into scripture again. This stuff just gets my juices flowing! I've missed being able to do this. I haven't had this much time alone since I started working in February.

Now, I just have to design a logo for the year "Lord, Teach Us to Pray", get some cover art created and pull the piece together. It's going to be a good year. I'm looking forward to it!

Tomorrow ... I'm back up at the crack of pre-dawn heading to work again. I'd like to say I was looking forward to it, but a person could get really used to working at home. I get an awful lot of work done when I'm here and I don't even have to get fully dressed! But, off I go ... I shouldn't be complaining ... I can't imagine anyone has a better job than I do ... I'm awfully fortunate!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Doublemint Dog Breath

No, not mine ... the dog's!

Max picked me up at 4:00 and we ran a couple of errands, stopping at the grocery store. I got home, put things away, started supper and came into the living room. I looked at Leica and there she was, gnawing on a large pack of Doublemint gum. She'd only gnawed the top of it, but for the first time ever, she had minty-fresh breath. Stupid dog.

Well, it's been another interesting computer weekend in the Muir household. Good heavens, but things tend to fall apart around here on a regular basis. Remember how I told you that I woke up to a bad video card on Friday morning?

Max replaced it Friday night and we thought we might be good to go. Ummm ... nope. Same problem. I made it through Saturday and by Sunday afternoon, I was a bit concerned. Things were bad. We just figured we would end up buying a new motherboard for the computer - it was probably the slot for the video card. Ok, that's not terrible, we can do it.

Max came back downstairs after checking products online with some bad news. I can no longer replace this motherboard without replacing the processor as well. Argh! I don't have that kind of money.

Now, the good news is that Max has a brand new MacBook Pro laptop. He offered to rebuild his computer for me. After many machinations and much insanity, it began to happen. He used Windows backup - hoping to restore all of my files. By 1:00 in the morning, the computer was up and running and we were asleep. But, alas, the restoration from the backup didn't work as smoothly as we wanted it to work. He's going to have to call Microsoft tech support and get this thing going. I know the data is sitting there - it's a 48.5 gigabyte file. Ah well ...

I have email and internet working. That means that I can do almost everything I need to do.

You know ... for the computer / internet addict that I am, I seem to have a lot of problems with my computers. Am I beating them to death? Hmmmmm ...

Oh! And for all of you out there that have been laughing at me for the last several years about my internal heating processes? I'm afraid that the furnace is winding down. I'm frozen! I have had the hardest time getting warm the last few days. Unless, of course, the heat has been running for several hours and I'm also running steam from the stovetop. Socks on the feet (or lambs wool lined slippers) pants, robe and a blanket as well.

I'm tearing apart the Lord's Prayer today. This is really cool! I love associating multiple scriptures with the things we seem to know so well. I'll let you know what happens when I'm finished.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Too much on my mind ...

I should be sound asleep. I've been up for a long time today and it's been a very long day. I fell asleep about an hour ago, but then ... Max talked to me and woke me up. I'm still awake. Yikes!

This morning when I got up at 6:00, my computer gave me a rather distressing message ... the video driver was gone. Oh dear. But, I didn't have time to deal with it - we had to get in the car and get moving. Max and I got home about 7:00 pm and he started messing with it ... downloading new drivers, etc. Nothing doing. Well, there's a good reason for that. The video card was dead. Oh, for heaven's sake. Argh. So, I'm on the laptop at this point. Oh well. At least I have internet access, right?

It's actually been an insane day. I had a million things to do, met with a friend from long ago, then there was the Pizza and Poetry event in the Creative Suite over lunch, I spent time with the Conference Communications Director (Kathryn Witte), had a spontaneous meeting with other directors and the list didn't seem to end! I was a bit overwhelmed today. Thank heavens for a weekend.

Max got some interesting news today. CompUSA is closing the rest of their stores around the country. It's been acquired by an investment firm and they're closing down stores after the holidays. Good heavens, but I'm glad Max is at Omaha Public Schools and no longer in retail. And just so you know - I haven't seen him this happy in years. He loves his job! Oh, God is good.

I haven't spent any time writing about the events at Westroads Mall on Wednesday. In fact, it's been really difficult to process on the whole thing. It's impossible to really understand what happens to a young man that sends him over the edge and causes him to kill others while destroying himself. Oh, I fully understand depression and all of the mental breakdown issues, but I'm having a difficult time getting through this.

Families are dealing with intense grief, coworkers are confronting incredible loss, people are finding that there are a lot of connections between either the shooter and themselves or one of the victims and someone they know well. Omaha is a good-sized city, but it is still small enough that we are quite connected. How do we deal with the shock of having something like this happen so close to home? We wonder if we will ever be safe again. After the events of 9-11, living in safety is a sensation that seems to be an illusion.

I guess it puts our lives on this earth into perspective. 1 Peter 2:11 says, "Dear friends, I urge you as aliens and strangers in the world ..." That's exactly what we are. We will never be safe in this world. We don't belong here. Though it may seem trite and over emphasized, our home is in heaven - spending eternity with God.

How long do you suppose we have on this earth? Are you absolutely confident that you will be here tomorrow? Are you ready for eternity? Oh, I pray that you are. And please, if you don't think that you are ... talk to me. I want to help you gain that confidence!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Deep Calls Out To Deep

You know, I've said these words and I've sung them and I've even tried to explain them to others. However, I've never processed on them and tried to make them personal.

Earlier this afternoon I was reading Beth Moore's blog and she said something that triggered a lot of thoughts in my mind.

Her words: "The need for adventure was sewn within our souls by divine hands so that deep would call out to deep and we’d drive our insatiable selves straight to the One and Only God who can sustain it."

You see, I began to consider the depths of that sentence. The verse comes from Psalm 42 (verse 7). The Psalmist's soul is crying out for God. It's a very familiar Psalm and begins with: "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?"

The depth of God is calling out to the very deepest parts of us. As we respond to that call, we are drawn along a path that leads us to our greatest adventure. Nothing about God is shallow or uninteresting.

Romans 11:33 say, "Oh the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out."

Now, what do you do with this promise? "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God." (I Corinthians 2:9-10)

This gets more and more exciting to me. I love a good mystery. I love learning things. I love the fact that no matter how much I learn, there is always something out there that I don't know. It excites me that no matter how much information is on the internet, in dictionaries and encyclopedias, in scientific journals and in the minds of the most brilliant scientists, thinkers and scholars, there will always be something yet unknown.

In February of this year, scientists discovered a vast ocean inside the mantle of the earth beneath Asia (article here). In May of 2006, the BBC reported that a 3 week voyage on the Atlantic discovered thousands of new species when they plumbed depths that had never before been achieved (article here). NASA has discovered a liquid ocean on one of Jupiter's moons - Ganymede (article here). No matter where we look, no matter what we do - there is always something that can be discovered and explored.

One of my favorite verses in scripture is found in Jeremiah - 33:3 "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."

I'm the person that wants to explore those unsearchable things. The thing is, I will never even be able to comprehend what they might be! I am constantly fascinated by physicists who are plumbing the depths of all sorts of phenomena. They are searching for those mysteries. I love mathematicians that see patterns in the numbers that we interact with every day. Cosmologists that are trying to understand the grandeur of our universe entrance me. The mysteries that God has placed in our midst are there to remind us of the glory of His creation and the incredible depths of who He is.

Now, while we're at it, I want to look at Ecclesiastes 3:11. "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end."

The writer of Ecclesiastes says in 8:17 "When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe man's labor on earth - his eyes not seeing sleep day or night - then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it."

God put eternity in our hearts. That's unfathomable! Eternity = Infinity. In our hearts! No wonder we are constantly searching for the answer to a mystery. And though God has put this in our hearts, we still cannot fathom it. We can't discover its meaning ... we simply can not.

While Beth Moore relates our desires for the unsavory things in life to this constant searching for the depths of mysteries, I am much more prone to see the desire for knowledge and exploration as an outgrowth of this searching. The serpent tempted Eve by offering her the power of knowledge which would be the same as that which God had. From the beginning of time, mankind was trying to comprehend the knowledge of eternity that was set inside them.

Job 5:9, "He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted."

Job 11:7-8, "Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens - what can you do? They are deeper than the depths of the grave - what can you know. Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea."

I think we all know about this connection between our soul and the depths of God. God has given us a curiousity about it. We are impelled to constantly search for God in this world.

Blaise Pascal (mathematician and philosopher) said, "What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself." (from Pensees)

We have heard this spoken of as the God-Shaped hole that is inside us.

Augustine said in his Confessions, "You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are rest-less till they find their rest in you."

I've been working on this thought for quite awhile this afternoon and I've written way too much about it. It looks like this might have the makings for one of my Saturday evening sermons. But, I'm not sure I've done what I set out to do. However, I'm already at the point where this is probably much too long and therefore unreadable.

I'm having a difficult time describing with words that which is indescribable ... the depth of God and the yearning that my soul has for Him. My mind is trying to comprehend the vast gulf that is between God and me, yet can be crossed simply because He continues to call out to the deep places of my soul. There are mysteries in the vast gulf and as I explore the journey towards God, I will encounter these great mysteries.

Proverbs 25:2 says "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings."

Over and over, we are told that God has set things in place so that we will have discoveries ahead of us. The journey is ours to take. There will always be a yearning to get to the end of the journey, to see that light at the end of the road, to go through the open door which John speaks of in Revelation, to see God on the throne.

And then, I Corinthians 13:12, "Now we see but a poor reflection; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

The depths are too great to comprehend, but those depths are calling out to the depths of my soul.

Saturday morning

The ice prevailed and we didn't have a dress rehearsal this morning. That's cool. We'll get it covered tomorrow afternoon, albeit a little earlier than originally planned. For me, that meant that I didn't have to trade the warm terry cloth robe and slippers for a shower (no, you don't want to hang with me right now), sweat pants and shoes (ok, I'd wear all of the appropriate coverups).

Poor Leica was NOT happy about being outside this morning. She slipped and skittered down the back stoop to the grass, went as fast as possible and dashed (slipping and skittering) back into the relative warmth of the house (the temp is set at 65 degrees). While she dove under blankets, I checked email and watched the news/weather. Then, I waited for the call from Matt, our director, telling me that I didn't have to move out of the house today.

Fran and Leonard were at Hy-Vee last night and picked up hot dogs and buns for us (I love my friends). But, Max and I left those in the car. I'm wasn't worried about them staying cool, the outside temperature was taking care of that, but I did realize this morning that we had to get them if we wanted lunch. Max had to use iodized salt to start some of the melting - we were not prepared. Stop giggling ... you do what you have to do!

I've read the "Golden Compass" because I'm so annoyed with all of the stupid emails out there trying to get people to boycott the movie. Good heavens! I finished the first book in the trilogy and have started the second book. His writing is good, I'm enjoying the book.

Hmmm, I thought I had blogged about this already. I've certainly said plenty about it! There are plenty of well-reasoned things on the internet regarding the author, the book and the movie. If you have received one of the emails warning you that it will destroy your child's faith or some other such dreadful thing - toss the email. If you care about what I think about it - ask me, I'm glad to share information.

This morning, something in Beth Moore's blog triggered my mind to begin processing on some things. I'm hoping to do some thinking and writing about it later on today. If I don't get it done - well, that's because I found other things to process on (bad Diane).