Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sometimes you're just tired, and you don't know why.. and you feel your eye trying to twitch, both of them actually, and everyone seems to have everything together and you're still lost, and you just want to cry and you don't know why and you're not even normally 'a crier' and even a cup of coffee doesn't help.

And you realize how far you have to go and how uphill the fight and how you sometimes don't even know how to fight.  And you're not sure of anything much.

Except you know that your marching orders are to keep walking, keep marching, keep giving and keep receiving.  Orders to keep resting, depending, trusting, and keep on knowing that He is God.  One foot of faith in front of the other.  One deep breath of rest and trust after the next.  Every lie that says you are responsible to change anything or anyone by human strength, defeated with the simple truth that you and your circumstances are completely dependent on Him.

Then, the wretched neediness is a gift.  A gift because He promises to come in our neediness... it is not when we are full, but when we are empty that God-size miracles occur.  It wasn't until the Red Sea was an impasse that the Lord parted it, and it wasn't until they were out of water that it came from a rock and out of food that manna came from heaven.   

"Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?
"Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?

"So He fed them according to the integrity of His heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of His hands."   (Psalm 78:19,20,72)

God can and will furnish a table in the wilderness, bring water from a rock, and manna from heaven... but only when we are needy and dependent.

Then grace comes... and beautiful testimonies like these put everything into perspective:  This Was Grace

And then the neediness is seen as what it is:  a showcase for God's great work and glory.

Monday, August 22, 2011

-I've been just itching to sit down and write about nothing in particular for the past few days.  But since I knew I was trying to get sick and had long days this weekend, I went to bed on time (sort of) like a good child.  It's Sunday, but I refuse to be a good child even it is the sabbath; I've have had a nap and that makes me feel justified for staying up a bit later tonight.  Besides, people are still talking downstairs and that doesn't help one fall asleep anyway.  (now that my conscience is soothed, I can finish my post,)

-We have an out of town visitor this week.  It's a good discipline for me not to idolize my privacy.  Introverts do so prize the comfort zone and privacy of home, I think.  Too much, sometimes, I'm sure. 

-Time to work on my lesson for the girls group again on Wed... I haven't the slightest inkling what the Lord wants me to share yet.  The answer will come some time before Wednesday afternoon, this much I know.

-We watched "A Man Called Peter" tonight... I love that movie.  I love the testimony of Peter Marshall's life.  The book is even better than the movie, of course, but the movie is good too. 

-So many Godly and brilliant men die young it seems... have you noticed?  Perhaps it's because their impact is most felt after they are gone...?   I don't know.  I always feel so sorry for their wives having lost them.  Of course, then it makes me worry... I want to marry a Godly and brilliant man (at least one who God thinks is Godly, and whom I think is brilliant), but does that mean he'd die young too?  Of course, lots of Godly and brilliant men haven't died young, and besides, at the rate I am going, I may never need to worry about such things anyway, so why borrow trouble?

-Speaking of singleness, my recently widowed grandmother who is 87 years old got asked out recently.  She says she is scared to go.  This is the same grandma who told me on the phone the other day, "Marianna!  Hi!  Anything going on?  Any boyfriend?"  "Oh, noo, just really busy!"  "Well, this too shall pass."  "Well, singleness is a gift, you know!"  "Nah... this too shall pass."  All this from a woman scared to go out on a date.  ha!  To my two dear Italian grandmas, I think there are two main things to fear in life:  being ugly and being single forever.  Of course I've always given them lots of scares on the former, and Lea and I continue to give them reason to knit their eyebrows together about the latter.  Is it awful to find it rather hilarious?   Because I do.  We've decided if we ever wanted to spite our grandmothers (not that we do, but if we did) we would just be spinsters forever. 

-I'll probably regret admitting all that tomorrow... but, I'll live dangerously and leave it.  ha.

-A Peter Marshall quote that stuck with me:  "Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned."  I hope to keep that at the forefront of my mind this week.  Methinks it would help cure some of the procrastination I find myself stumbling over so often. 

-I'm thankful for:  a new week that is one step closer to September...  a friend that confidently says "I know God will give direction." and for the fact that they're right...  for discernment and wisdom that are promised to us, when we ask... for physical freedom and for those who've given and give their lives to pay the cost... for Sunday afternoon naps... for grace for this new week; I'll need lots and lots of it... 

-Pray for this sister in Christ:  http://www.callformercy.com/   and sign the petition.   If you're not familiar with Voice of the Martyrs ( www.persecution.com ), I highly recommend looking at their site.  These aren't just stories, these are sufferings of our own family, the Body of Christ.

-I read these wonderful words from Paul this morning, "And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.  But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."  (Acts 20:22-24)  I have so much to learn...

-The wheels in my brain are grinding to a stop now and for good reason- it's late!  Grace, peace and goodnight... and thank you for reading my nonsense, if you got all the way through it. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What 'spikenard' is yours?

Most Friday nights I drive about an hour away to a Chinese ministry where I teach the class for tween and teen girls. I took over the class over a year ago when the former teacher had to leave for school.  In all honesty, it's a challenge sometimes.  It's very far... my brain usually starts winding down at the end of the day at the end of the week and I'm not always as sharp mentally as I'd like while teaching... it takes, like everything, preparation... and it's on Friday night.  Now, really by no standards would I be considered a "partier"... as a matter of fact, my idea of a fun Friday evening is really just having a family movie night at home with a well planned meal.  But, sometimes, social things do come up, there is a young adult Bible study my sister and I used to enjoy attending from time to time... now, I usually turn invitations down (if I can't miss it, I get a sub for my little class).  My baby sister says this is worse social suicide than when I was training for a marathon.  She's right in a way.

For whatever reason, it has been challenging for me to give up my right to how I spend "my" Friday nights.

"Most every Friday night you're out with Chinese families and girls, it's no wonder you're still single," satan has tried to whisper.   "You're tired, you've had a long week, this is hard," my flesh whines.

But these young ladies are precious.  I mean, really precious.  They have the distinct privilage of not being inoculated to Christ by over-exposure to American-Christiandom.  Many of them have come to Christ directly through this Chinese ministry, and many of their parents still are not saved.  Many of them are the only Christians they know of in their school.  They bless me, every time I see them.  I love the way they pray in simple English and simple faith.  I love the way an 11 year old girl shares that God has been showing her that when she doesn't read her Bible in the morning the day is all wrong.  I love the way they drink in Jesus.  I love the way they go back to China to visit their relatives, and they carry Christ with them.  I love the way the adults are learning about the Gospel while I teach their daughters.  I love the whole ministry and the other volunteers.  I even love the way the Chinese concept of matching clothes is so radically different than mine.

Yet, I don't attend these Friday night meetings for myself.  (This is a very good thing.)  I don't attend these Friday night meetings for the girls even, although I love them dearly.  I attend these meetings for Jesus.

I recently heard that the oil of spikenard that was poured on Jesus' feet by Mary of Bethany (Jn. 12:1-3) was likely her dowry.  She poured her dowry, her chance of getting married, at Jesus' feet.  That puts a whole other perspective on the story, besides an expensive bottle of perfume, I think.

When I heard that, I stopped and pondered what I had to pour out at Jesus' feet... my Friday nights... were they a worthy offering to pour out at Jesus' feet?  Some might consider my 'social suicide' part of my reason for not being married yet (my relatives would, I'm sure; but I learned a long time ago not to worry about what they think, because they are not a part of my Audience of One that I want to please)... But the reality is that where I spend my Friday nights has little to do with God's timing, yet the crux of the issue has everything to do with pouring out something that costs me, at the feet of Jesus.

Making the effort on Friday nights to make the trek into Big City cost me something (ie: rest, spending time doing something relaxing or recreational, etc).  A very small something*, but still a small something.  But isn't Jesus worthy of my all?  Would it be better to spend my Friday nights pleasing myself?  No, Jesus is worthy.  And when I think of it in light of this fact, it is an absolute privilege to have something that costs me, to pour out at the feet of Jesus.

Driving down the long dark country roads to home, I feel His pleasure, and the presence of my Prince of Peace fills my car, and there is no ache to the aloneness.  But even when there is, even the loneliness is a gift to be poured out at His feet.

One day I might be called to hand off the class, or get a teaching partner to trade off with, but the heart of the issue is that I keep my heart pure from having a "right" to "my" schedule.

Everything has value when it's poured out at Jesus' feet.

(we sang this in church this morning, and I just loved it)

Jesus is all the world to me,
And true to Him I’ll be;
Oh, how could I this Friend deny,
When He’s so true to me?
Following Him I know I’m right,
He watches o’er me day and night;
Following Him by day and night,
He’s my Friend.

Jesus is all the world to me,
I want no better Friend;
I trust Him now, I’ll trust Him when
Life’s fleeting days shall end.
Beautiful life with such a Friend,
Beautiful life that has no end;
Eternal life, eternal joy,
He’s my Friend.

*really nothing in comparison to what so many persecuted Christians give up, I am almost embarrassed to mention my little trivial battle within myself about this... I only do it to help remind all of us that we all have something, great or small, to offer.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

14DayChallenge: concluding with yet more late-night randomness.

-Today I swam in our new above ground pool with my sisters, and my grandma too.  Suddenly, we were all little girls again, splashing around out in the country in our above ground pool, just like we'd done so many times before, long time ago.  I behaved better, usually, back then... today I was a perfect terror, I admit; I teased, and splashed people, stuck my foot in a face or two just to annoy (it's really easy to do when you're floating around on a princess-print float), brought the pool ladder to the middle of the pool when a sister got out, so she had to climb the pool-wall to get back in, sang songs, and then teased some more.  I can only blame it on the fact that my disney princess float made me feel 10 years old again.  Really, it was very immature behavior (so a sister informed me).  Sometimes one of those outrageous moods come upon me, but it's usually after I've had too much coffee and not enough sleep... today, I think it was just because of the sheer joy of re-living memories.  It's good to be 10 years old again sometimes.  Really good.

-I have two books on time management that I would very much like to read.  If only I could find the time. I'm sure it would help me to get to the bottom of my to-do list more often.

-A favorite quote:  A few friends and I were talking about moisturizers recently (I'm realizing that those sorts of convos become more frequent when you're closer to 30 than not), and my dear single friend Mirren piped up and said, "Well, I just see it as a part of  obeying what the Bible says about 'loving you husband all the days of you life.'"   ha!

-This nightly writing has started to become a habit.  I've completed my write-every-day-for-two-weeks challenge as of today.  As I said yesterday, the few but favorite bloggers that have cheered me on have been simply peachy (my client told me I was peachy the other day and I took it as a great compliment- I hope you will do the same) as I've blogged about nearly anything and everything.

I used to blog.. a lot... back in the xanga days... I loved knitting words together into a post.  And then, life became a fast roller coaster ride for a two or three years, and then finally plunged me down to a place that I lost any gumption to even want to write.  I was exhausted on all levels and burnt out from doing too much; I'd lost my business I'd started and poured my life, money, blood, sweat, and tears into; then, a relationship I treasured was very painfully and abruptly removed, and then the same person did the proverbial 'knife twist' a couple of months later.  I was beyond tired and felt I had nothing worth writing about.  But the Lord has brought restoration to my heart, and I am more in love with Jesus than ever, which is I'm sure why He allowed it all to happen.  Not that I still don't have trials, or things that still sting about all that; I do... but I am so glad I went through it all.  There is more to say about my spiritual winter, but this is enough I think for now.  I have learned the great blessing and gift of trials. Anyway, that was a very long rabbit-trailish way of saying that this getting back into the writing-habit is good and long in coming.  I still think what I usually write about is random and ridiculous, but at least, I feel, unlike Facebook where you are bombarded with details of people's lives, whether you like it or not, people can choose to read or not to read, and I don't have to worry about feeling like I'm wasting their time by putting it in their face.  I can be boring in my own little corner of the world wide web and not worry about it.  ;)     (I'm sure I don't know why I wrote all that tonight, about my little trials... I hadn't planned to... perhaps, one day, someone will read this that is going through a very dark winter where the Lord seems to be absent... and perhaps they will be reminded that Jesus is with them, and has a purpose for it for He promised that He will be with you always.)

-I am thankful for:  .... the fact that the Lord puts up with so much from me!  really, He is so patient and longsuffering with me.  and I'm so slow to extend that same grace to others many times!  what a blessing...  nighttime stillness and quiet... sunshine... grace... stamina to run The Race...

-Tonight, may you "rest your hope fully on the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1 Pet. 1:13) Goodnight and until the next time...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday's Musings

-I'm sitting in my car waiting for Becs to get out of her ballet lesson.  The sun has set, now, and through my moon roof I see a navy satin sky with a three quarter moon.  It's beautiful.  I'm listening on the radio to "Méditation, from Massenet’s opera Thaïs, played by Dutch violinist Simone Lamsma" from Live at the Concert Hall in the Netherlands on our local NPR station.  I adore sentimental and/or melancholy violin music.  A lot.  It's amazing how music can change an atmosphere, in both good and bad ways.  I suppose that's one of the things I like most about music... that it sets a tone to whatever you're doing, and being the atmosphere-enthusiast that I am, I have a great appreciation for it.   For example, right now I am sitting outside of an average strip center in the city watching young girls dance inside, and drinking a cup of coffee from McDonalds (their coffee is rather good, actually).  Nothing especially wonderful about it, but listening to such gorgeous music and watching the moon and sky make it feel downright luxurious.  And it is luxury at it's finest... peace, music, coffee, and creation are great gifts from the Father of Lights. 

-I've ran errands this evening while she's been in class.  Actually, I shopped, although this spring I'd decided not to buy new clothes for a year, with a few exceptions: 1) that I buy something I've been thinking about needing for at least 2 weeks (in other words, no impulse buying because something is cute and on sale); 2) It really is something fabulous and I'd be crazy to pass it up (there have been a few of those); 3) It's maybe not something I've specifically thought about for two weeks, but I carefully think through it, and if I need it and a good price, then it's okay.   I did this so that 1) I will learn to live with less; 2) see what current clothes I really do and don't need; 3) learn to buy only things that I love or need.  Anyway, it's been a very good discipline for me and I've enjoyed it.  Tonight I bought only items I went in to look for, and that was good.

It's good to lose the weight of too much stuff, schedulewise, mentally, and materially...  I want to try to travel light, this journey.  It's a constant battle, but one worth fighting.  

-You know, my every-day-for-two-weeks writing challenge is up after tomorrow.  It's been an enjoyable discipline, and your comments along the way have cheered me very much.  I have written about many ridiculous things pertaining to my every-day life in an effort to just write, and you all have been very very kind and gracious about it.  Thank you. 

I'm thankful for:  blogger friends; many of my good friends I have met through blogging (we are not all 'creepy internet people')... good time spent with Becs this afternoon... a client who decided not to pursue a 'short sale' (thankYouthankYouthankYou)... feeling well enough to work out for the first time in over a month...  living near a Whole Foods store... a sound mind (generally speaking- I do have my moments where it could be questioned, but I've been thinking lately about those who suffer from mental illness... it is sad.)... music that stirs the soul... a sky that brightens the heart...  physical and spiritual protection... peace... hope...

Sunday, August 7, 2011


It's been quite the busy weekend... I'm low on sleep and brain power, but it's a good sort of low.  I think Monday will actually prove to me more restful than the weekend this time around.

-We four sisters went to church this morning (Dad and Mom were tuckered out).  Lea and I went out to lunch with a upstanding group of young people from the church.  It was so... well, good in all the sense of the word.  Just a good wholesome time of both edification and laughter.  It is rare that I get to fellowship with people very close to my age and in the same life season, plus with similar convictions!  The Lord has been providing that a bit more lately and it's a blessing.

-You know you have found a good friend when you feel free to sample each others respective entrees at the restaurant.

-I know so many older single young women around my sister Lea's and my age- ones who are Godly and love the Lord.  Young women that I'm proud to be associated with by friendship.  I've wondered before why the Lord has not sent them husbands yet... but, I note that most of these friends are involved in ministry to younger girls through various means.  And I thought further, that wouldn't it be neat if God, in all of His wisdom, seeing the whole scope of time, and not just our life span alone, is allowing longer single years for us so that we all might leave a 'carbon footprint' (for lack of a better term) in the generation of women behind us?!  That's an exciting thought!  I don't pretend to assume that my theory is true, or to know all the purposes behind God's will, but I love that we all share the bond of desiring to be Titus 2 women to those younger than us (we can always minister to someone younger than us, no matter how young we are (within reason, of course).  And I appreciate that we can all encourage each other in that...

-A lunch today, we had to divide up into smaller tables because the restaurant, Chili's, couldn't provide tables bigger than for six, apparently.  So, at our little table we had five girls to one guy (girls always seem to outnumber the guys).  About twenty minutes into the visit the poor chap stopped us and explained that we had several topics of conversation going on between the five of us, and we all switch intermittently between them with no problem, but that he couldn't keep up.  I would have felt sorry for him, but I was too busy being amused.  The poor nuclear engineer had no sisters, so he was rather unversed on the art of women's conversational mental gymnastics.. and all five of us girls were from all all-girl families, so we didn't even realize what we were doing.  ha!  I so appreciate the differences between the male and female brains!  Neither is better, just different.  :)  But it's always interesting to notice the differences.

-The sermon today was about being a witness, as Christians, to the watching world... living above reproach in the practical things... to the people who see our credit scores and to the waitress we tip, in the way we drive and the way we talk when we're displeased.  It's all in the stream of what I've already been learning: strive to be blameless; tighten up the areas that are loose. 

-You can tell a lot about someone by what entertains them and what makes them laugh.  

-I am thankful for the little gifts of today:   the good sort of tears...  encouragement from unlikely sources...  dear dear friends that I got to see today...  the every-day blessings like food, water, safety, and life... songs sung with the family... grace for today... a promise of grace for tomorrow...

-'You word is a lamp unto my feet and a Light to my path. ... The entrance of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.' ~Ps. 119:105, 130

The Response

Today my family and I attended The Response... it was both an event and an invitation issued by Governor Perry.  It was a corporate gathering with an invitation to respond to the need and scriptures calling for repentance, responding specifically to the promise that if God's people will turn from their wicked ways, He will heal their land.   Our nation is in crisis and I believe it's largely due to the state of the anemic American church.  Sin is running rampant and eating away our witness to a watching world, and most importantly, our right relationship with God.  30,000 people answered the call and gathered for day of prayer and fasting, many more at other locations.   Most of the event consisted of speakers, music, and corporate and individual prayer (I would have preferred more speakers and less music, and for that matter, a bit different music at times, but that's just my taste)... some of the people who prayed and spoke were Governors Perry (TX), Scott (FL), and Brownback (KS); Tony Evans, John Hagee,  Vonette Bright (widow of Bill Bright), David Barton, Dr. James and Shirley Dobson, Mr. and Mrs. Tim Wildmon, and many others.

I dearly love this country but I worry for it and I hate that the majority votes pocketbook before values.  We're in a bad spot to say the least.  A 'crisis' they called it today.  It's true.  Morally and financially... but the moral decline happened first.  And that's what must be remedied first.   If each of the 30,000 folks who call themselves Christians (assuming they all do) who were there today would go home and heed two words "Obey God", can you imagine the ripple affect it would have?  Oh my!!  I pray it starts with me and all of us there... I've been feeling strongly that it's time to tighten up the loose ends and be blemishless and ready for whatever Jesus brings us in these uncertain times. 

I have great expectations of what God can do... but our response beyond today is vital... one day of repentant words isn't enough... it's got to be like this: you're going on the freeway to destruction (sin); you exit (confession); you go over the overpass (God's mercy and grace); and you go the other way (repentance), as per Dr. Tony Evans who shared today.  (I liked it the analogy :) )   I hope most people will do that after today... but...   I wish I didn't feel jaded about it though...  Sometimes you see too much, know too much... I want to be discerning and wise, but not cynical, you know?

Anyway, it's been another very long day and another early morning.  I'm sure I don't know if any of these thoughts connect in a cogent manner in the least, but I'm too tired to care.

But, I am not too tired to give thanks... I'm thankful for:  a Governor who openly professes that Jesus is his Lord, and who called the nation to a day of prayer and fasting (despite all the attacks that are sure to come when you stand for anything)...  leaders who approach God at His terms, not their own...  for those older Christians who have fought  hard battles, yet not caved, and now lead by example, my parents being some of them... walking up the the stadium from the parking lot along with hoards of people and hearing the name of Jesus over the loud speaker (they were broadcasting what was being spoken on the inside at the event)- I almost lost all my mascara right then and there- it was just so precious to hear the name of Jesus being boldly proclaimed across a loud speaker while looking up at the sky that He's going to come through one day...  I am so thankful that I love the name of Jesus more than I did last year; He brought me to a low and hard place so that I could know and love Him more, and that's what it's all about...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

-We bought a new coffee maker today.  Exciting!!

-Some people and friends have suggested to my sister, Dad and I that real estate is a glamorous job.  They're wrong.  Showing unairconditioned homes in triple digit temps, climbing through the occasional window, working for free most of the time, getting double crossed by the general public often, getting asked to reduce your commission, contending with the stereotypes of "rich Realtor" when nothing could be further than the truth for most, and getting portrayed in movies as the 'used car salesman' type, and much much more.  But, still, the job has it's high points... at least that's what Dad always tells me.  He's practically a real estate reference book with legs... he's been in it for almost 30 years!  He is valiant, I have to say.

-Sometimes in real estate you meet some really wonderful and sweet people... like the couple I showed today.  The husband has an incurable kind of bone cancer and wants to get the wife settled in a home so she'll be secure.  They are so sweet and gracious- no self pity at all.  It puts things in perspective should one start complaining.

-Tonight I taught "my" Chinese girls at the Fri night meetings in downtown... I'd been out for about a month when I was sick; it was good to be back.  There were two girls there, cousins; one had been in the US six months, the other just got here yesterday.  They spoke hardly any English and neither know anything about Jesus (at all!! that I could tell).  It's a struggle for me to present the Gospel to people who don't even, perhaps, know the first thing about anything spiritual.  The 'Christianese' terms go out the window along with any religious jargon you know, and you grapple with trying to find the words to tell someone they are in desperate need of a Savior and that One came.  For them.  Pile on top of that, they don't even understand much English...  it's hard.  I need to study up on a way to present it more clearly and in extremely simple English. Thank God for the two girls who are Christians and knew Chinese to boot- they helped!

-"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled.  And they realized that they had been with Jesus."  (Acts 4:13)  That has got to be one of my favorite verses.   I read it this morning.  Reading it again tonight gives me hope that maybe the just-in-from-China girls could tell that I had been with Jesus?  I pray so.

-Did you know there are a whole sect of Muslim Chinese in China?  They terrorize there too... but with machetes; suicide bombs are just getting introduced there.  You don't hear it in the news, but some of 'my' girls mothers hear about it from the Chinese news and friends.  I didn't know about that...

-I'm thankful for:  perfect songs that come on the radio when I'm driving home alone at night... cell phones...  GPSs... God's provision that is never too late.. nice people to work with... bobby pins... banks that stay open until 6pm... safety...

-I'm tired.  The secretary of my mind is complaining of too much overtime and is refusing to pull any more data for me.  I am going to stop before I say anything disgraceful.  Besides, I have to get up early in the morning. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

~thursday thoughts~

-I volunteered Lea and I to build a chicken coop tonight.  I don't know the first thing about building a chicken coop. Neither does she.  I'm not sure if this is going to be a volunteer project we'll be able to follow through with or not...

-I've always wanted a horse... I would like to get one still.  I should.  I just don't know much about keeping a horse, unfortunately.  I could learn though...of course, there are several other issues besides my ignorance that work against this idea.

-While I worked, I listened to an audio about keeping bees today; that seems like it'd be doable, with just a bit of guidance.  How nice would it be to have fresh raw honey from your own bees?!

-We made another batch of jam; strawberry-lime this time.  It's rather good, if I do say so myself, and they all sealed properly.  Canning salsa is going to be my next adventure.  This stuff is fun... you should try it sometimes.

-The fam and I watched Roy Rogers "My Pal Trigger" tonight.  Roy, Dale, and Trigger are all adorable.

-I long for a more wholesome era when people appreciated sweet entertainment... where little boys could pretend to be Roy and no one said they shouldn't be playing with toy guns, and more little girls aspired to be mothers when they grew up.

-My prayer lately is that each gift of a day might be a gift back to Him.   I'm trying to be intentional about it.

 -The world's noise and everything that calls for my attention is so loud... the invisible things are easily drowned out.  It's a constant battle. 

-I'm beginning to see more and more every day, with each new report of a Christian leader falling and setting a bad example how lethal compromise is.  It reminds me of the story I heard as a child about the the little dutch boy and the dyke... how he kept his finger in hole of the dyke to prevent sure flooding and destruction.  I see Christians walking away from their vigil so often; they're compromising in a small way first, but it ultimately leads to destruction to their testimony and often, I believe, their souls.  Jesus said, "keep watch".   {Lord, please send whatever it takes to keep me from compromise!}

-I am thankful for these gifts that filled my day:  ceiling fans... breezes on hot days... homemade peach pie and homemade ice cream... a pool that finally got put up (August is better than never)... a beautiful cup of coffee this morning... a fun family... time spent with said fun family... a bedrock of promises to on which to cast the anchor of my soul... because of that, I will rest peacefully tonight and wake up with joy in the morning...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Today was one of my girls group meetings, the one I meet with monthly.  It was a very small group today, lots out of town for summer.  They are such unique and precious girls... and they all seem to love the Lord very much.  God's grace was so sufficient, as always.  I felt scatter brained and not focused, but He was strong despite that weakness.

I hate it when I'm fixing to speak to a group and I feel unfocused.  I used to hate a lot of things about my ability to lead the monthly group I call Vessels of Honor (2 Tim 2:20-22);  I would study for the lesson and waves of inability would crash over me, over and over again and I'd feel the entire part of a failure even before I began.  Getting the bible study lesson, the home ec lesson, and the house ready was so overwhelming sometimes and my abilities were/are so small compared to the task.  Yet, I knew it was a task I was called to.  I expressed this in an email to a group of praying friends once, my friend Ryan replied with some invaluable advice  (Ryan just wrote two very good books, btw!  www.themanwhowouldbeknight.com ).  In a nutshell, he kindly but honestly told me that I shouldn't despise my weaknesses, but I should be thankful for them, because our weaknesses are opportunities for God's strength to be shown.  That was the beginning of a years long lesson about learning to be grateful for my shortcomings, inconveniences, and lack- all are an opportunity for grace to abound.  A new weakness to boast in, so God's strength might be showcased.  Abiding in Him is nothing more than total dependance (to a branch, abiding has the simple meaning of utter and complete dependance on the Vine- Jn. 15).  Dependance, that is one of the main roots of Christian life, perhaps the root.  Dependent on Christ in every weakness and in every trial.  Now, when I'm struggling with my lesson, a bad day, circumstances beyond my control, getting lost while driving (this happens to me a lot), (etc etc) or even the stubbornness of my own heart, I simply tell the Lord, it's so obvious that I can do nothing without You; You've promised to be strong in my weakness, so please be strong in this weakness.    And He always comes through.  Now I thank Him for my weakness or trouble, so He can be strong on my behalf; and besides, there is no room for pride in the heart of an utterly dependent person.  It's such a restful way to live. It really is 'tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.'

Now that I've rambled about that (unexpectedly), I'm sure I'll probably be tested severely in it this week.  Oh dear.  That's what always seems to happen. ha.  Oh well, no matter- more opportunities to see the Lord work, right?!  of course right!  ;)

Today I am thankful for:  grace for the meeting today, despite a brain that felt out of focus... beautiful clouds across the huge Texas blue sky... the fact that one day Jesus is going to come through the clouds!... an opportunity to share with the girls today about the invisible things that are most important...  a kitten asleep in my lap at this moment... one of "my" girls that I'd prayed so hard for, she's doing so so well with Jesus now...  those who are staying on the straight and narrow road; it seems more and more rare these days...  realizing that one of the hardest things you've dealt with in your life was one of the biggest blessings- not only because of the character building experience of trials, but that He was protecting through the severing...
 for this song:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XTO4WiP8Bw  it sums it all up so well...

now with patience in our suffering
perseverance in our prayers
with good reason this hope is in our hearts

hallelujah hallelujah
Christ our joy and strength

...for good reason joy is in our hearts...

Yes, and amen.  Goodnight and may God's peace and joy be with you.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's already August... how did that happen?  But it always seems to happen that way these adult years.  And by the time August roles around I am desperate for autumn to come chill the air and paint the trees.  Everything out of doors, and sometimes in, seems to be languishing under the triple digit temperatures we've been bearing all summer long now.  I'm thankful for air condition though... really really thankful. 

I have a Small Town Tale again... tonight, my grandmother wanted to take us sisters out to dinner; so kind of her.  Grandma wanted to go to Small Town, she hadn't been there in so so long.  Okay, great.  What do you want to eat?  Chinese?  Oh, well, there is "Hong Kong"... we'll try it.  

I knew Hong Kong was going to be an adventure when we drove up and saw, parked right in front so you couldn't miss it, a big truck (Texas is just overflowing with huge trucks) with "Hillbilly Deluxe" written on the front bumper.  Oh yes, this was going to be interesting.  And did I mention this place used to be an old gas station?  The car port that used to cover the gas pumps are still there and some cars take advantage of the shade and pull up underneath in lines around the concrete medians.  Perfectly normal and sensible, but of course.

Anyway, we walk in, and Mr. Hillbilly Deluxe Truck, living up to his name, is seated inside with Hillbilly family.  Hillbillies like Chinese food too, apparently.  Or at least this particular restaurant... here, the decor is quite... unique. There are no lights on yet, even though it is after 6pm, and it's noticeably warm inside.  All along the back wall are curtains.  Curious as to why the curtains were there, I saw that a silver handle stuck out of one of them: the curtains "hid" what used to be the refrigeration section of the convenience store.  Clever...?  Above the said curtains was a dead vine (apparently they forgot to water their potted ivy plant that it all trailed down to) stretched all the way across and above the line of curtains, held up by red yarn.  There were red velvet bows placed above some of the Asian pictures on the wall and here and there about the dead vine.  I would say they were decorating for Christmas in July, but I think they just forgot about them.  Country music played from a boom box behind the register.  On the wall was a poster board, bold sharpie letters indicating to please let them know if you're allergic to anything... with childrens stickers outlining the poster.   A lap top and printer sat at one of the booth tables; presumably that is there they conduct their bookwork. Our little waitress brought us each a blue plastic folder, all marked on the front with sharpie, "Hong Kong".  Inside was page protectors with printed pages of the menu, all held in, not by brads, but by various things, like yarn (they obviously adore the functionality of yarn), wire, and curly ribbon. 

After dinner, as we walked out, a couple-- the man with shaggy unkempt hair to his shoulders and baseball cap, and the woman sitting with her feet propped up on the opposite chair-- waited on their to-go order.  I tried not to notice their unique appearance, and I think they tried not to notice mine (I've decided that 'homeschool girl skirts' on young women aren't too popular in Small Town).

The food was decent though, and little Mexican lady who waited on us was kind; I think she may have been owner.  Between bites of eggroll, Michelle had whispered that she felt like she was on a mission trip- it was such a unique atmosphere.  But cultures are just so different as to what is considered acceptable, you know?  And we're dealing with two cultures at this little restaurant:  Mexican (who own a Chinese restaurant- ha!) and Hillbilly/Redneck (I assure you it is a culture in and of itself). And it's not that I think I'm better somehow because I would run a restaurant differently (although I certainly wouldn't charge for lemons!) I don't!  But you really just have to take joy and amusement from the differences.  It really was most amusing.   Red bows and rednecks, all in all, I really do like the town.  It's just so downright interesting and amusing whenever I visit there.

But still... you won't find me writing "Hillbilly Deluxe" on my littls car's front bumper.  It's kind of like, you gotta be in Redneckville, but not of, you know?  ;)

Monday, August 1, 2011

-This Monday morning started out stressful.  But the Lord was so gracious to reverse the trend after I asked.

-I worked from home until noon, and then again some this evening.  I got to tell someone the landlord would allow them to lease the home they wanted, despite bad credit; I adore being the bearer of such good news. It almost makes up for all the times I've had to be the bearer of the bad.   Almost.

-When I wasn't working from home, Mom and I took a jaunt to Small Town for some groceries.  It was such a great afternoon... in Small Town there is a slower pace of life; people are kinder and more humble.  Luxury cars don't line the parking lots like they do in Big City, the people have time to stop and chat.  It's relatively not far from Big City, but may as well be hundreds of miles away- a different world entirely.  Mom and I love running errands there, and during out shopping, I'd so often 'lose' my mother as we'd branch apart to get things faster, and I'd find her chatting with some clerk or fellow customer.  Fellowship time, right there standing next to the tortillas, or praise report time right there with the other ladies in the checkout line.  So great.  :)  That's one thing I so appreciate about my parents: they love to talk to strangers; they are always kind to whoever the Lord puts in their path, whether it be store clerk, waiter, or fellow shopper on the baking aisle.  Not only are they kind to them, but they are always quick to share about the Hope that is in them.  Just the other day I came driving down the driveway and Dad was standing there talking to the man who'd brought us our load of driveway-gravel.  When I got inside, I looked back outside through the window and saw both men clasping hands, heads down, praying, right out there in the driveway.  This is typical of both of my parents; I so appreciate that.  They are missionaries wherever they go.  Anyway, back to today, Mom and I spent longer than planned in Small Town running errands at the small Wal-Mart and old fashioned little grocery store, we were just having such a great time.  We always feel like we stick out a bit in Small Town, we don't really look like a local; we don't mind, as long as the stares aren't of the rude variety.  We even made a drink and snack stop at Sonic; behind Sonic is someone's yard where they keep a horse, and the biggest longhorn cow I've ever seen.  Seriously, he is mammoth.  Where else can you go and eat fast food and watch a ginormous long horn at the same time, I ask you?

-My favorite part of the trip was a dear little lady at the grocery store.  She was fixed up with her beaded necklace and blouse, but was so frail that during the time we were there I saw at least five people ask her if she needed help with something or another (to which she would so kindly and sweetly reply that she was fine, but she sure did appreciate the offer).  We too, asked her at one point, as she struggled to shut the freezer door and hang on to her cart at the same time, if she needed any help, and also asked her about her shoes.  You see, during the course of filling up a grocery cart high, right by the potatoes I'd seen a pair of black house slippers, abandoned, as if their owner had suddenly been raptured into thin air.  I'd assumed they were hers, and told Mom about it.  Mom told her, "Now, you know that your shoes are over there by the produce, right?" (said in the most warm southern way possible)  Oh yes, she replied, arthritis kicks in and it's just best to leave the durn things, she informed us.  She went on to say that she was not standing in the line of people asking the Lord to let them live to be 100.  She wanted to go to Heaven and rest.  Besides that, eating carrots and mashed potatoes wasn't her idea of living, no sir.  She likes spicy foods,  by golly.  This beautiful soul bore her physical trials with so much grace and so much joy; she just lit up the whole store hobbling around, clinging to her basket, smiling the whole time... all in tan little socks.  What a blessing in my day her joyful spirit was.

-Beyond these fun happenings, I did something tonight that I've been wanting to do for a long time.  Like for my whole 26 year career as a human being (practically). I made my very first batch of jam.  That's right, I CANNED SOMETHING.  AND THEY SEALED FIRST TRY.   I have always wanted the satisfaction of jars on the counter, filled with something I'd canned.  And tonight, after dinner, Becs and I set our hand to it, and we did it!  Five gorgeous jars of strawberry preserves now sit on the kitchen counter cooling downstairs, and my homemaking heart is happy and proud.  I make no apologies for getting excited about this, even if it does sounds oldmaidish.  I foresee many adventures ahead with this; so many recipes to try (all my friends will get a jar come Christmas- haha).

-Also today, I knocked on a door regarding a possible career change.  I'd been waiting months to do it, until I had perfect peace about it.  Today I did.  I sent the email, and now I'll wait to see what God does.

-This is a very long post, and I should stop now.  It's good to journal these every-day-joys-in-the-journey though... it's like showing off a gift to bring glory to the Giver.  All these things were some of the gifts of today.  The beauty in the ordinary-everyday... I don't want to let it go unnoticed or unappreciated.  Gifts of grace are worthy of lingering over.