Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Drawers, Closets, and Unread Books

I love to read.  I spend most of my year as a teacher and by the time the work day is over my mind is so tired that reading is even difficult.  I put so much energy into my classes that when I come to a halt from the motion of the day I have a hard time focusing on anything that truly requires great thought or contemplation.  This makes me sad because I love to ponder and think about things.  So...when summertime comes I often look at the few weeks away from work as a time to be able to ponder, read, write, and use my mind in different ways that do not require strategy, conflict resolution, deadlines, frantic paced scheduling, and bells.  But this summer.....this summer has been different.

From the beginning of the summer I have had the most difficult time focusing.  I have picked up the same books over and over again, read the same pages repeatedly, and find myself closing the books and staring at the wall.  I feel stuck.  Wounded maybe.  I think that this past year wore me down in so many different areas that my mind decided that it "didn't want to play", much like a child who is tired of being bullied.  It wasn't one person, one incident, one place or circumstance.  I might describe it as a drawer that you seem to stuff things into as you are walking by or cleaning.  It is easier to just keep putting those things into the drawer and close it and walk away.  No time to really put it where it belongs, just get it out of the way for now so you can get on with life - survive.  Eventually the drawer won't close.  The "wounds" could also be described much like a piano lid I had years ago that would come slamming down on my fingers almost every time I played.  I asked over and over again for it to be fixed but no one ever got around to it and so my fingers took a beating - every day - mulitiple times a day.  While recalling the piano lid it reminded me of another way to describe the feeling of the "wounds".  Piano players will understand the feeling of playing a piece of music for performance and the air conditioner is blowing directly on your music and the pages keep turning.  You are unable to stop them and fix them because you would have to stop playing....and you can't.

I would love to say I have spent my summer cleaning out that metaphorical drawer.  I began my summer cleaning out my closet.  I saw the metaphorical drawer, but the closet was much more pressing at the time.  I cleaned out my closet and it has remained cleaned and tidy all summer.  I threw away and purged.  It felt wonderful.  I moved on to my chest of drawers and did the same thing.  Sadly, they did not remain as pristine as the closet, but nonetheless they have been purged.  The physical purging did wonders for a little while, but it was only a band aid.  I have learned over the years that I am very good at working hard to clean up things and "get life in order" in a physical way.

The drawer is still here.  I know that it needs emptying, sorting, and organizing.  I want so desperately to begin the drawer purge.  But, like any major cleaning project I know that once I start, it creates a huge mess. You either choose to finish it or stuff it back in for another day.  And so the viscious cycle of whether or not the drawer is worth tackling takes place within myself.    I sometimes wonder if I should just dump the entire contents of the drawer in a large garbage bag and just start fresh - take a match to it - burn the bridge so to speak.  Now there is a thought.  I do ask myself if it would be a band aid....or maybe, just maybe it is the best thing to do.  

I usually end up with a stack of wonderful books that I have read over the summer beside my bed.  Many contain new friends I have made through fiction and others contain wisdom and much loved contemplation.  But not this summer.  I believe many people have times in their lives when they feel this way.   I grieve the loss of my peaceful reading and contemplation.  Some blessings along the way this summer have been in different places.  I have spent some time writing to my daughter in a journal for her to take to college with her in a year.  Hopefully I will fill it completely over the course of the year.  I have also had coffee with a neighbor several times this summer and am so thankful for a friend nearby to talk to.  We have lived on the same street only separated by a couple of houses and have not had a relationship.  Shameful.  Life's busyness is a terrible barrier to friendship and companionship.  I hate the time that has been wasted due to life getting in the way, but I am thankful for new beginnings.  My neighbor is a lover of books as well and I am envious of her stack that I know she has been plowing through with passion this summer!!!  I know I'll get back to that eventually.  God is good that way!

Some people think that teachers have life so easy because "we get the whole summer off!"  I don't even try to explain away the stupidity of this remark anymore.  Only a teacher understands what actually happens in the summer....before, during, and after the decompression takes place from the intensity of what I would describe as the Wall Street of education.    

As the summer comes to a close I find myself asking God to clean out the cobwebs and dust the crevices where I have not been able to.  Those cobwebs and dust-filled places are usually clean and fresh by now.  I am going to have to soley rely on His perfect cleansing power for this one.  I read back over this post and chuckled because the words are still as jumbled and foggy as my mind has been this summer.  I find in trying to put my feelings into words they are still so hard to articulate.  Ready or not the pace will begin again and I will need to be ready to love and live what I've always known.  He is always faithful and shows me that I have a purpose and am teaching to make a difference even in the life of one.  I love the students!  They fuel my fire and deserve every ounce of energy and love I have for music and singing.  I will wait for Him to show me that I'm ready because He is there to ignite the fire, fuel the creativity and passion, and marry the words and music in my life into a song once again.  

Some lyrics from an old song I love:

Sometimes life seems like words and music
That can't quite become a song.
So we cry inside, and we try it again
And wonder what could be wrong.
But, when we turn to the Lord at the end of ourselves
Like we've done a time or two before
We find His truth is the same
As it has always been
We'll never need more
Chorus:
It's not in trying But in trusting
It's not in running But in resting
Not in wondering But in praying
That we find the strength of the Lord.







Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Meet me here, Lord

I woke in the middle of the night once again gripped with fear.  Fighting frustrating feelings within myself for several weeks I have been trying to find comfort in the scriptures.  Comfort comes and then it quickly slips away as I take back the reigns instead of remaining in the yoke.  My emotions spill over, uninvited, and settle in as if they belong and are quite comfortable.  It is as if they are quite familiar with their surroundings and have their own key.  

Today I sat down with my Bible.  I prayed for God to meet me in my mess.  I decided to write a few words down in my journal before I began to read my Bible.  I decided to put on paper in single words my jumbled heart.

fear
scattered
bitterness
emotional
sadness
shame
anxiety
desperation
loss

Writing down these things is hard.  My life is great.  I should be ashamed to even have these feelings.  So I write that down, too.  The list just grows as that line of thinking continues to take over.

I closed my journal and cried.  Then I opened to the balm of the Psalms.  The place where David and others poured out their heart to God.  The Psalms are honest, transparent, and leave nothing unsaid.
I turned to Psalm 27 and underlined in my Bible was the following verse:  "My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk with me."  And my heart responds, "Lord, I am coming."  I turned back to the beginning of Psalm 27 and began to read.

The Lord is my light and my salvation-so why should I be afraid? (v. 1)

fear

And right there He began to chisel away the list.  The list is long.
Lord, do your mighty work in me.

Have Thine own way, Lord, 
Have Thine own way.
Thou art the potter, I am the clay
Mold me and make me, after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.  (Pollard Stebbins)




Wednesday, July 13, 2016

His yoke is easy

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Why is it that we carry our burdens around until we are so weary we can hardly stand?  We become spiritually dry, physically worn out, emotionally drained, and the list goes on.  I think we often think of "casting our burdens on the Lord" to mean that we should give them to Him and go about our business as usual.  I'm tired of dealing with this, you take it, Lord.  Now I can get on with my business.  As I was reading this passage recently I focused on the phrase, "For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light."  What???  Give me a burden?  But Lord, I am trying to give the burdens to you!  I don't want anymore burdens!  
I am realizing the older I get that this isn't what Jesus meant in this passage at all.  What is this burden that Jesus says is light?  The Greek word used in this passage is the same one used in the gospels when Jesus is speaking of marriage.  "What God has joined together, let no man separate." (Mark 10:9)  People even refer to being married as "getting hitched". If we are joined or yoked together with Christ, he promises that his yoke is easy to bear and the burden is light.  We have to take up our cross.  That is the burden.  The burden of sin we were once under is too heavy a weight to bear.  We will be crushed, bruised, and dead in our sin.  Picking up our cross, yoking ourselves to Almighty God, we are able to navigate the burdens of this side of heaven while "married" to our Lord and Savior.  He will never leave or forsake us. He will never divorce us.  He will never discard or overlook us.  He wants to teach me.  He could just do it all and never give me a second thought.  Instead, he humbles himself and is gentle.  He teaches me every step of the way.  I am stubborn and lazy and would give up if I were not yoked to Him for life.  Humble and gentle, forever teaching me despite my stubbornness and sin.  

Thank you, sweet Jesus for your gentleness.  You did not say there would be no burden, only that it would be light because You are guiding and teaching me.  


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Come and see

Angelika Kauffmann - Christus und die Samariterin am Brunnen
Can you remember a time when you were dead in your sin?  As one who has grown up emerged in the church and Christian faith I don't have an earth shattering testimony of my salvation.  I used to be reluctant to give my testimony because I thought others would think it boring.  I would hear tremendous stories of those who had been saved from horrible circumstances and rock-bottom places and I would step aside and think, "No one wants to hear about the pastor's kid who went to church in the womb, heard about Jesus every day and became a Christian at age 6."  Over time and through Christ continuing His sanctification process in my life I have become overwhelmingly grateful for my testimony.

I was reading about the Samaritan woman this morning.  I know that many people who are living without Christ are outwardly boastful about their self-sufficiency and lack of need for a Savior.  Then there are those who are so openly embarrassed by their sin they continue to run and hide in shame.  Both are running.  One runs through outward shame, the other because they don't want to be confronted with their sin.  The closer one gets to the Savior- to Holiness- the more we see our sin and unworthiness.  That's certainly not a place that anyone wants to find himself.   But what about the Samaritan woman's response to Jesus?



"Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did!"  John 4:29a
What?  Come?  Come and see?  Actually come back with me and meet this man?  I was thinking that if a total stranger looked at me and point blank told me how many husbands I'd had and that I was currently living out of wedlock that I would run alright...run away and hide.  I thought about her response for awhile and came to the conclusion that this must have been the most freeing moment of her life.  Not only did Jesus actually KNOW her sin, he was a Jewish man speaking to a Samaritan woman.  The whole scene is bazaar, but Jesus does not conform to society's rules.  So instead of running away, she ran to her people and wanted them to talk with Jesus, too.  Only someone who has experienced a relationship with Jesus would understand the freedom that comes from Christ knowing everything I have ever done.  The Bible tells me that I cannot hide from God.  

Psalm 138:8 says, "I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there." 

Jeremiah 23:23-25 says:




“Am I only a God nearby,
declares the Lord,
    “and not a God far away?
24 Who can hide in secret places
    so that I cannot see them?”
declares the Lord.
    “Do not I fill heaven and earth?”
declares the Lord.

There are days when I am so thankful that Jesus knows every single thought that goes through my mind.  Yes, I am ashamed by them at times, and the Holy Spirit immediately rebukes me.  I can confess these shameful things to my Savior who already knows everything I have ever done or will do.  He still loves me.  He is shaping me, growing me, molding me, and making me into something of use to Him.  My sins are no less grievous than those of this Samaritan woman.  Mine are as dark and worthy of death as the vilest offender's.  Jesus still wants to redeem me and make me into something beautiful.


Running away from God is what our sin and shame compels us to do.  When we see God and understand His holiness in the light of how much He loves us and want to redeem us through the blood of His son we are compelled to run to Him.  The realization of how much God loves us despite our sin should spill out of us in every part of our lives - seen and unseen.  When I am not walking closely with God, reading His Word, praying and seeking after Him I become complacent and lose my "amazement" and the Truth of who He is.  The Samaritan woman was amazed.  She was amazed and could not help but run and tell others.  And many believed.  


"Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, "He told me everything I ever did!"  When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village."  John 4:39-40



 
 





Saturday, May 7, 2016

You can't be beautiful if your words are ugly

I am increasingly amazed at the decline in the femininity and modesty of school-aged girls and women in general.  With the rise in social media usage and "text language",  I have seen many girls take on the acronyms that would make you blush if you heard it come out of some one's mouth, especially a young lady's.  I have told my own girls that when someone writes or texts an acronym for profanity or an inappropriate phrase you can't help but hear the words in your head and even more in your heart.  They might as well go ahead and write it out or say it out loud.  Sadly, many girls are saying these things out loud.  Where are they hearing these things?  Among friends?  At home?  In movies and television?  All of the above? 

As women of God we must lead by example and teach our young women to be lovely in words, actions, thoughts, and outward appearance.  We are supposed to lead people to Christ by our lives.  We are to be image bearers of Christ.  I know many moms out there who are doing this daily.  They check social media regularly, they pray with their daughters, they lead by example and they talk about true beauty and share scriptures that encourage these behaviors.  None of us are perfect individuals.  None of us are perfect parents.  None of us have perfect children. Together we can lead our girls to become strong women who are beautiful inside and out and who model Christ-likeness.  Grass and weeds can quickly grow under our feet if we do not stay on top of the social media piece of this growing problem.  

Mothers unite.  Help one another.  Pray for your daughter and her friends.  

Check social media.  It is not an invasion of privacy.  It is our job to teach and train our daughters to be responsible and mature in public, in private, on paper, on screen, on text, in life.  

Check responses on social media.

Check acronyms and if you don't know what they mean (like me) then ask or look it up.  Like fashion changes over time that invite girls to be more sexy, speech trends are out of control.  God wants us to be feminine.  We were created to be beautiful, and that begins in our hearts and minds.  

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.   Luke 6:45

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.  Proverbs 4:23

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  Philippians 4:8








Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Jesus Loves Me, this I know!

I spent a lot of time in the church nursery when I was a baby and a little girl.  Some of my earliest memories are of plain brown wooden blocks, graham crackers, saltines, and apple juice being handed to me in the nursery.  I still love those things today, especially when served together.  I remember beautiful murals on nursery walls, pictures of Jesus and his disciples, pictures from the stories of the Old Testament of Noah, Moses, Abraham, David and Goliath, Mary and Joseph, and  young Joseph and his coat of many colors.  These were the stories that I grew up hearing from my parents, my nursery workers, and my Sunday school teachers.  I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for this deposit paid into my life at such a young age.  It grounded me in a belief and faith that has always been threaded and woven through my journey and life story. 

I have no earth shattering testimony.  I have no riveting story of being rescued from a horrible life – a horrible life by the standards and definition of the world.  My faith story is one of persistent and consistent love and purposeful teaching given to me since birth.  According to God’s Word and the reality of sin, I have been rescued from a horrible life – a life of eternity separated from God.  

So what is one to do when asked about your “testimony”?  I used to shy away from the question because I had heard some really fascinating stories of people coming to know Christ.  I surely didn’t envy their prior circumstances, but their testimonies were inspiring to say the very least!  When I was a young child of about 6 our church had a ventriloquist as a special guest in our services.  She gave her testimony.  I don’t remember in great detail what she talked about, but I do remember that I was very moved by her experience and that she came to know Jesus through an accident that crushed her face.  She endured many physical issues in her life and was able to use her injury to become a ventriloquist as the muscles and bones in her face limited its movement.  She used her gifts for God’s glory, instead of being angry and bitter.  The Holy Spirit stirred me and I made a decision that I wanted to follow Jesus forever – no matter what.  I felt I already knew Him, and in a sense, I did have quite a bit of knowledge of the life of Jesus.  The difference was that on that day the Holy Spirit spoke to the heart of a 6 year old and said “Follow Me.”  And I did. 

There were no earth shattering turn of events in my life - no story that people would go home and tell others about and say, “You have GOT to hear this testimony I heard tonight!”  I was just a 6 year old girl who had been loved and taught from birth about a man named Jesus who was God’s only beloved son who came to earth as a baby, through a virgin named Mary, and was born in a lowly stable so that He could walk this earth and experience pain, suffering, and temptations and overcome them without sin.  He would die a horrific death on a cross – the ultimate punishment and suffering – bearing all my sins and the sins of the world so that I might call on Him to save my soul and reconcile me to a holy, sovereign and powerful God.  God loved me enough to do that for me.  I am so thankful for all the people in my life that spoke truth and taught me about Jesus.   I am thankful for the hours they spent preparing lessons, singing songs, watching me in the nursery, and telling me through their lives that Jesus loved me.  I am thankful for parents who took me to church every time the doors were open and prayed and spoke truth into my life every day.  Some of my fondest memories are in the walls of a church, the Sunday school classrooms, the church kitchen, the hallways, the church lawn, the choir loft, the church office, and the wooden boat in the nursery. 

The world is changing.  I don’t know many people who spend that much time in church anymore because they are busy doing other things.   It’s sad.  Even when I wasn’t there for an organized event I was being taught about Jesus simply by being inside those walls.  Yes, I know you can see Jesus everywhere and that you can learn about Christ in other places.  I am simply stating the fact that Christ’s church is an important part of His story.  Not only the universal church of God’s body – the people – but also the physical place where we come together with other believers to worship, study, encourage, and equip ourselves to do life. 

Jesus loves me, this I know.
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong.
They are weak, but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

(Lyrics: Anna B. Warner; Music: William Bradbury)

Jesus loves me, this I know.
For many people told me so
While changing diapers and building with blocks,
I learned he loved me around the clock.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
So many told me so.
(Allison Twigg)




Thursday, June 11, 2015

"Would you turn with me in your Bibles..."

There are so many things about my childhood church that I am forever grateful for.  I am very grateful that my parents took us to church and that it was not a negotiation but an expectation.  There are many things I remember about those years that formed me, and the words, "Turn with me in your Bibles..." is one of them.  I grew up hearing those words on a regular basis in Sunday School, Sunday worship services, and Bible studies.  I would hear the rustling of pages all around me.  I realize that Bibles are now on iPads and eReaders, but taking my Bible with me is something I enjoy.  I always loved (and still love) having my Bible with me, ready to open and follow along.    

As a little girl my church had the offering envelopes that had boxes to check on the front.  Some would consider those "legalistic" today, probably because we are so sensitive to being held accountable.  I remember filling out my envelope every Sunday when I would put my offering inside.  There was a phrase with a box that read, "Bible read daily".  I remember the guilt I would feel when I would want to check that box but could not because I had not actually read it "daily".  Maybe that was a wrong type of guilt.  Maybe I was feeling guilty because someone might see that the box was not checked.  Maybe I was feeling guilty because I had not read my Bible every day.  I think partly it was the accountability that was out there for anyone to see.  There were times when I read almost every day and was good about doing my quiet times that week, but could not honestly say I'd done it "daily" and therefore could not check the box.  Though I hated that box, I still remember it and it brings back a different kind of conviction to me now.  I am thankful for those little white offering envelopes and the accountability that it instilled in me to want to be consistent.  I may miss a day, and in all honesty I should feel guilty.  I have plenty of time for other "more important" things.  So whatever one may think about those little envelopes, they do serve a purpose and I choose to be thankful for them.

Bringing my Bible to church is a practice that it is important to me.  Over the years churches have tried to meet people's needs and especially the needs of those who didn't grow up "churched."  People may not own a Bible (highly doubtful).  For all good intentions many churches purchased pew Bibles.  The church I grew up in had them also.  They were available to anyone who did not have the Word with them so that they could take part in the service and read along with the pastor when the scriptures were being read or preached.  Our Sunday School quarterlies provide the scripture for us so that we don't have to go look it up.  The Word is being made available in many ways in the church today.  This is a wonderful offering, and yet it can also hinder people from bringing their own Bible to church.  Some may not think it is necessary.  "One less thing to carry."  I have on occasion used my Bible app at church.  I love having all the translations easily accessible.  But...I miss when I don't have my actual Bible in my hands. 

I recently heard a sermon online and the first words out of the pastor's lips were, "Would you turn with me in your Bibles to...."  I was shaken because it has been a long time since I've heard those words.  Those eight words touched a place inside me that has been thirsty.  
Maybe it was a thirst for yesterday.  Maybe it was a thirst for change.  Maybe it was a thirst for spiritual growth.  Wherever the thirst comes from (and it is probably all three) I plan to drink to quench the dryness.  I do long for yesterday more than I want to admit.  The world and our churches are moving in directions unfamiliar to me.  Some good.  Some not.  I am not afraid of change...just don't change the Gospel.  We need to stop looking for people to quote.  Quote God's Word.  Scripture should be our FIRST source for Truth.  Christians need to be studying God's Word.  I am reminded of the song, Ancient Words.  




Holy words long preserved 

for our walk in this world, 
They resound with God's own heart 

Holy words long preserved
for our walk in this world,
They resound with God's own heart
Oh, let the Ancient words impart.


Words of Life, words of Hope

Give us strength, help us cope
In this world, where e'er we roam
Ancient words will guide us Home.



CHORUS:

Ancient words ever true
Changing me, and changing you.
We have come with open hearts
Oh let the ancient words impart.



Holy words of our Faith

Handed down to this age.
Came to us through sacrifice
Oh heed the faithful words of Christ.


Holy words long preserved

For our walk in this world.

They resound with God's own heart
Oh let the ancient words impart.

We have come with open hearts
Oh let the ancient words impart 

So why don't we go get our Bibles and "turn with me."  Turn to Truth.  Turn to Christ.  Turn to God's precious Word.  


Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.
112 
Psalm 119:111




Thursday, June 19, 2014

On Customer/Client Satisfaction

I received a gift card to my favorite day spa for Mother's Day.  I have saved it to use when I had time to myself and wouldn't be in a hurry.  Today was the day.  I have had massages at this place a few times and have never been disappointed.  They are top-notch when it comes to listening to the customer.  I have always been able to completely shut out the noise and just "be" while receiving a wonderful massage.  These times are very infrequent, so I love it when my husband or kids surprise me with a gift card.  It is definitely a treat.

Over the years I have become a believer in whole medicine.  I often wish we had more physicians that treated the body as the magnificent miracle that God created.  I believe in both eastern and western medicine, but prefer to have a balance between both.  I think different ailments and situations call for different ways of treating our body.  I go to a regular physician, but I have also had acupuncture and other treatments in the past.

Today I decided to try reflexology.  I have read about it and though it sounded like what I needed for what "ails me".  I also think it is fascinating to think about the body and how it is all connected.  God is very big after all, so don't knock it unless you've tried it, right?  So I made an appointment at my favorite place because they have options for exclusive reflexology sessions or even adding it on to a regular massage treatment as a "bonus".  I decided to go for an exclusive reflexology treatment.  I had been looking forward to it all day.  I love new experiences, especially at my favorite place.

I arrived and checked in, went to the room and the nice woman had me get in position on the wonderfully comfy table.  (I wish I had a table like that at home!  But...then I'd need a masseuse.  So much for the table.)  She asked me if I preferred feet only or would I like her to include my hands.  I asked what she would suggest since it was my first time.  She then proceeded to say things such as...

"Well, some people just like to have their feet done because they've been on them all day and they are tired."

"I don't personally like to have my feet fooled with, so I would probably like some on my hands." 

My little radar alert popped out and began surveying the situation.  I got in position and she started off by saying, "I am not certified or licensed in reflexology, but I've had some experience in school touching on it."  Beep, beep, beep  Then she said, "I guess if you are one of those who believes in that sort of thing you might enjoy it.  You know, that this toe right here is connected to your spleen or that this area of your foot might be connected to your kidneys."  Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep    She began applying small amounts of pressure to my feet.  I liked the sensation and was hoping I'd have positive reactions like I'd read about in my research.  I was just starting to relax (a very common feeling while in this wonderful day spa) when she spoke up again.  "Do you want me to continue doing this or would you prefer me to just massage your feet?"  BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP!!!!!  The radar alarm bells were screaming by this time.  She kept on talking and talking about how if one really believed in all that stuff or not, etc....and then said, "I've never had reflexology myself."  I finally said, "Just massage my feet and hands."  I figured that is all she knew how to do and didn't know anything about reflexology nor did she believe it.  If the person doing it doesn't understand or believe in its benefits, I will not receive any benefits from the experience.  DRATS!   I had to make a decision.  Do I enjoy the experience and try to get my money's worth, or do I get upset and be disappointed?  I'm tired of being disappointed, so I decided not to allow her inexperience and lack of ability to deliver client satisfaction ruin my treat.   The foot massage was lovely.  She moved up to my hands and then began to talk again.  "Is it okay if you stay on your stomach?  I mean if you roll over I'll have to hold your hands up to massage them."  That's fine.  The hand massage started.  "See, if I were doing that reflexology all I'd be doing would be pressing your hands."  That's the point, and you'd understand and know that if you were trained.--no I didn't say this, only thought it to myself as I tried to remain in a quiet relaxed state.   Another minute passed and she started in again.  "I mean, when I normally do massages I massage the arms a lot but don't usually spend much time on the hands. "  FAIL.    At this point I decided to just remain silent and try to enjoy what time was left.  She kept talking...trying to tell me what kinds of massage I would benefit from, etc....and I just remained silent.  It was a nice foot massage and a short, but okay hand massage.  The lady at the hair salon does hand massages and does a better job.

I have no idea how reflexology feels.  I don't know if I would benefit from it.  I still have unanswered questions.  And.....I'm pretty bummed.   I am so bummed I am not even going to spell check this post.  (Gasp!)

Maybe one day I'll try again, but it will not be at my happy day spa.  I'll stick to what I know they do well.  I am composing a review to submit about the service.  I think businesses should understand and be competent in the services they advertise.  If you want to know where not to get reflexology, I'll be happy to tell you privately.  If you happen to know of a great place to experience it or have had it done yourself and would share your experience, I would appreciate it!

Onward.  I will shake this small disappointment off and move forward and be thankful for the foot massage.






Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Call me extreme

I recently posted on Facebook that I was reading the Duggar daughters' book, "Growing Up Duggar".  The world views this family as very abnormal.  19 children.  No TV.  All home-schooled.  The latest subject of their extreme views of parenting is in the area of courtship vs dating.  Despite society's ongoing discussion of their family choices, they remain steadfast in their parenting and beliefs.  I understand that even though they have a reality television program, they do not watch television.  Technology is very much a part of their lives.  Computers are necessary in their education with so many children.  They live with modern conveniences like most people, but not "extreme".  They choose what is necessary and helpful and in alignment with their parenting choices.  Isn't it ironic? People call them "extreme", yet they live a fairly normal life, making choices in agreement with the commitment they made as parents.

I often wish I could turn back the clock and make some different choices.  I mourn over time wasted.  I am sure my own daughters would cringe at what they think would be "limitations" placed on them were I to radically move toward some of these practices.  "Pulling the plug" and cleaning out their drawers and closets would surely win me "Mother of the Year" and they would "call me blessed".  ha  Still, I think baby steps could make a difference.  Then I panic and think I don't have time for baby steps!!  Time is running out!!  That is exactly where Satan wants me.  He wants me to live in a state of panic and fear.  Carpe diem!  Sure, I'll seize the present moment and day, but I don't want to think little of the future.  There must be a balance.

I look around me at people who are chasing their children all over.  They have them involved in so many things that consume every waking moment of everyone's lives.  We all invest somewhere.  My husband and I have been talking a lot lately about what we are investing in our girls and where we seem to be placing the most emphasis.  I remember the old saying, "Where are you writing your checks?  That will tell you what's important to you."  Checks could represent money or time.  Where am I writing the checks of time in our family?  What would my girls say is most important?  I believe in asking them their opinions and finding out their dreams and desires, but hear me when I say I do not believe they are old enough to write the checks.  If you place a cookie and a piece of celery in front of your small child you know what will happen.  If you show them a picture with vibrant color and sparkles and one in black and white, unless they are color blind they will instantly move toward the one with sparkles.  Why wouldn't they?  We as adults are guilty of the same thing.  We give our children too many choices.  We also assume that because it's the latest and greatest thing on the street, then we'd better get on the train or we will be left at the station and our kids won't get into college.  Why?  Because "someone" or "they" said so.

What do I want for my girls?  Am I planning where they will go to school?  Nah.   I've seen too many spend hours and hours planning this.  There is a school for my girls if that's what God has planned for them.  There is just the right place.  It may not have a shiny sticker (colored jersey) recognizable to everyone within 100 yards of it, but a phase of their life will be lived where God has already cultivated the soil, preparing it for them.  Yes, I will plan.  Yes, I will encourage and help them make decisions as they move toward this phase of life.  But I pray that God will free our family from the chase.  God already has this.  He already has a purpose and a plan.  The tyranny of the urgent is not necessarily the right and good thing.  I want to reclaim my time.

'We sense uneasily our failure to do what was really important.  The winds of other people's demands, and our own inner compulsions have driven us onto a reef of frustration.  We realize that quite apart from our sins, we have done those things which we ought not to have done, and we have left undone those things which we ought to have done."  (Charles E. Hummel, Freedom from Tyranny of the Urgent)  

What do I admire about the Duggars?  A lot.  I think what I admire most, is the fact that they believe that investing in the hearts of their children surpasses everything else they could put their money and time into.  Their children are thriving where GOD wants them to thrive.  They are not easily entangled in the web of keeping up with everyone else.  They are also human.  They make mistakes just like everyone else.  I do not hold them on a pedestal, but rather admire them for being true to what God has called them to.

Jesus was extreme.  He was certainly not average and lost in the moving crowd.  He wasn't found in the places one would expect him to be.  People chased Him.   Who and what am I chasing?  What am I modeling to my children?  When they look back on our home and our life what will they remember most?

I know what I want their answer to be.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Let Them Go

"Why don't they want me?"  "Why don't they love me?"  These are two age old questions that have been around since sin entered the world.  We'd be extraordinarily rare if we say we've never asked one or both of those questions in our lifetime.  

We may have journeyed down this road in our childhood, teen years, and even in our adult lives.  No matter how old we are, the feelings of loneliness and abandonment are very real and do not feel any less painful.  As adults we have the responsibility of coming alongside our children when they ask these heart-wrenching questions.  And we know the pain.  We feel it all over again. 

I've never understood blatant rejection.  You give your heart to a friend, try to be honest, and they totally reject your attempt at a genuine relationship--one that requires communication.  Someone you thought was a forever friend becomes what may seem like a figment of your imagination and you ask yourself if it was all a dream.  You realize that what you thought was a friendship that had taken root and was healthy had no roots at all.  Maybe there were roots on your side, but the other side pulled up and left without need of any gardening tools--no cutting necessary.  And there you are...still partially rooted in the ground with the bare ends of your roots naked, exposed, and gasping for the rich soil you thought was friendship.  The person walked away without ever looking back.  We don't have to look far to see this around us.  Spouses leave.  Friends leave.  Parents leave.  Children leave.  

I ran across a blog this morning that quoted from a sermon by T.D. Jakes:


There are people who can walk away from you. And hear me when I tell you this! When people can walk away from you: let them walk.

I don't want you to try to talk another person into staying with you, loving you, calling you, caring about you, coming to see you, staying attached to you.  I mean hang up the phone.  When people can walk away from you let them walk. Your destiny is never tied to anybody that left.


The Bible said "They came out from us that it might be made manifest that they were not for us. For had they been of us, no doubt they would have continued with us."  [1 John 2:19]

People leave you because they are not joined to you. And if they are not joined to you, you can't make them stay.

Let them go.


These are powerful words.  I plan to share these with others, and also heed them myself.  I know there must be something freeing about arriving at this place of release.  I am praying earnestly that someone dear to me will reach this place very soon.   I pray also for the countless others who find themselves asking the heart-wrenching question, "Why don't they love/want me?" I pray God will fill in those empty places with His binding and forever love.  

He knows the feeling of rejection.  Jesus was rejected in his own hometown.  He was rejected by the religious leaders.  He was rejected by his own followers and closest friends.  Even God the Father, for the necessary brief time, turned His back on Jesus when he took on the sins of the world.  JESUS KNOWS REJECTION.  And He lives.  He lives to give us freedom from this horrible feeling.  Because of His suffering, the believer will NEVER be rejected by God.  

Though these words won't always ring loudly to a young child or a teenage girl, they need to be said over and over again.  It is our responsibility to write scripture on the walls, the foreheads, and the hearts of our children.  We can also be a light to others who are hurting and need to hear these words.  The Word of the Lord will not return void.  We may not see it blossom.  We may not see it take root.  But we must sew it on dry, starving, and hurting souls.  God will take care of the rest.  

Let them go.