Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dear Friend

Dear Bossom Friend,


Where have you been?
I have looked and looked but cannot find you in any corner of my world.  I have searched for you in the night and look for your porch light, but it is not flickering....lighting the path to your door.

Are you happy? Are you busy?  Oh how I long to share your days.  The exciting moments were always memorable,  but it was the ordinary days I cherished the most.

I long to hear you news and share in your experiences.  I long to share my news, my joys, my laughter with you.  I laugh and smile and wish you were here to share it.

Dear friend, I have left my own porch light on.  It burns every night. I fear the light will burn out soon.
Some nights I wonder why I turn it on at all.

You never come.


Once I shared my joys! Once I shared my hurts.  I listened with my heart to yours. I prayed for yours.
I fear mine were........forgotten.  No worry. I suppose mine really weren't that important.  You asked, though. So I shared. I shared from my heart.

You asked again, and again I shared....and you listened.......as if you'd never heard them. I wonder if you did.

Dear friend, I pray for you. I pray that we will one day share our thoughts and dreams.   I want to laugh and cry with you.  I want to be myself with you and accept you for who you are...faults and all.

Life is out of control.  We are on a merry-go-round that won't stop.
I wish we could be in a swing instead.  Swings are much more pleasant and peaceful.
They lend themselves to fellowship.  Front porches, too.  Have you ever noticed how many homes have beautiful front porches today?  But no one is sitting on them.  No one is rocking on them.  No one is swinging on them.  No one is visiting.  We are all too busy.  We also become comfortable locked behind our doors and walls.  Myself included.

Help us, Lord to slow down....and swing or rock.

So friend, I'll meet you in the swing or the rockers...
Will you be there?  I will.




Bare Naked

Stripped down.  Nothing left.
Just you and God.

No video.  No background music.  No snacks.
Just you in the silence...listening for God to speak.

No entertaining singers.  No charismatic speaker.
Just the spoken or read Word.

Would you stay?   Would you worship?
Would the silence make you uncomfortable?
Would the lack of luster bore you?
Would you be able to stay awake?
Would it "keep your attention"?

I have been asking myself lately what it is that beckons me to worship.
For every description of things that lead me to worship, others might argue that these things don't lead them to worship at all.  They might say that it isn't in their taste or preference.  What blesses me might not bless them.  What calms my spirit might put them to sleep.  What makes me look upward might make them look for the nearest exit.   You can flip the roles and find me looking for the nearest exit at times also.

But why is that?  I am convinced it is because the things that we claim help us to worship are preferences, not necessities.  So what would happen if we stripped our worship down to bare nakedness?

And therein lies the answer in my heart.  I believe we must remove the preferences from our minds and hearts..... 24/7....not just on Sunday.  Worship is 24/7.  If we are referring to worship as what we do on Sunday, then our preferences are already in the way.  We have "worship" in a box,  in a building, with a particular atmosphere.   Yes, we all have preferences.  Believe me....I do.  But I believe that if we really worshipped every day, all these things really wouldn't matter.  We would actually be longing and starving for something totally different than what the world gives us.  Satan has us right where he wants us.  We are so focused on finding our preferences and having our senses tickled that we aren't focused-- really focused on God...unless the song is right, or the preacher is entertaining or charismatic enough.  True worship should lead us to God.   It shouldn't lead us to a preacher, a church, or a service.  True worship happens in our hearts....."in spirit and in truth".  If we have been seeking Him without all the frills....we won't long for our preferences anymore.  We will long for the Word.  We will long for Him.  We will then be able to worship alongside other believers of all ages....

"And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Stop being rude and I'll take you for icecream...

Two moms were standing in the shade talking at the pool today.   The son of one of the ladies got out of the pool and walked over to the table and began tearing through the pool bag.  After a brief, but wild attempt to find what he was looking for he yelled, "Mom!  You REALLY need to clean out this pool bag!"  I was really shocked at his attitude and tone of voice for a child of what looked to be about 9 years old.  His mother turned around and saw the mess he'd made and said sarcastically, "Thanks for taking such care of the things in the bag and putting them back so neatly."   He answered her very loudly again, "Mom!  This bag is mess!  You REALLY need to clean it out!"   (I had visions of myself picking up the bag and dumping it all over the ground and telling him to clean it up)   The other mother steps in at this point and says, "Don't talk to your Mother like that.  That is very rude.  Now put the things back in the bag correctly and speak respectfully to your mother."   The boy's mother replied, "See, even she thinks you are rude.  I've talked to you about this a hundred times and you just don't listen."   The other mother then proceeded to go over to the young boy and say, "Let's try an experiment.  For one day, try and speak kindly and respectfully to your mother.  Do you think you could do that?  Would you try?  Just for one day.  You'd be surprised at the response you might get from her.  When my children are nice to me, I respond with taking them for ice cream.  See, if you give it a try---just ONE DAY of speaking kindly and respectfully to your mom you'd be surprised what she might do for you.  Just answer 'Yes Mom' all day.   Do you think you could try?  If you can last all day for one day, I'll give you $5!"

 I was totally speechless.  Oh, I had a lot running through my head....but I was stunned.  He is NINE YEARS OLD for goodness sake.  What is wrong with these women?  It is obvious who runs the show in this family.  After he got back in the pool, the boy's mother shook her head and mumbled something about how she has to deal with his back-talk and rudeness every day and it just doesn't get any better.  The lady's friend began to sympathize with her and tell her that she just couldn't stand by and let him talk to her that way.  At first, I was impressed with the friend stepping in to tell the boy to speak respectfully, until I heard her try to bribe the boy into being nice to get ice cream and $5.  Basically what he heard was, "Be nice for ONE DAY...just ONE DAY....and you'll get ice cream and $5."   That is what he learned. 
The sad thing is....I don't think he will make it for an entire day anyway---not even for ice cream and $5.  It's too hard.  He'll then realize that he'll most likely get the ice cream anyway....and doesn't really need the $5 because his mom will buy him what he wants to keep him quiet.

And sadly, that is what a lot of kids learn.
And then they send them to school for teachers to deal with.

Thank you, Lord, for summer.  I really need it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pace

It's summertime.

Just saying it today makes me breathe a little more deeply.

I've been thinking about pace a lot the last couple of days...trying not to hurry at my chores, rush through my errands, or show impatience with others. Why? Because God has given me summertime. I have the blessing of time. During the regular "school year" I don't really have much time to relax and do what I want to. Sure, we all have down-time. We may say that we have NO TIME to do anything, but that's not true. We really do, it's just not at our leisure. We have to take it when we are not on someone else's clock and schedule.

I have read several Facebook status updates that use the word "bored". It amazes me. How can one be bored? I think that we are too accumstomed to having others (work, school) organize our time. We are also over committed and over scheduled. We fill every available space with an activity. When we are not on a "schedule" we tend to become bored because we are not involved in an organized
activity. We can still use our time wisely and schedule ourselves a bit while on vacation, but we should not schedule and organize things so tightly that we miss the joy and ease of free time. You know...the old "I need a vacation from my vacation" mistake.

Instead of becoming bored, we need to cherish the time we have that is unscheduled. David says in Psalm 23:

"The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul."

There is a reason that this is the first thing mentioned in Psalm 23. God wants us to lie down in green pastures....lead us beside quiet waters........so He can restore our souls to righteousness. Until we take time to just "be".....be still.....be quiet.....be unscheduled....be relaxed.....be unhurried.....we won't be able to hear God and listen to His wisdom and direction.

I have heard God in the last few days. I have heard Him speak to my heart and show me how I speak harshly when I am interrupted by my children. I am so used to being in a hurry, that when I have a task or something that I am doing and get interrupted by my children, I react with a short fuse. God asked me "Why?" I have time. I need to realize that I can go back to my activity or task when I am finished being interrupted. No need to get anxious or hurried.

I have also realized that boredom is a sign of my lack of creativity and my inability to see things around me that need attention. Sometimes it isn't the dirty kitchen that needs my attention....sometimes it's my children or my husband. God wants my attention.
I cannot get to know Him without taking the time to read and study his word.

I have the time.

It's summertime.

Who can be bored when talking with the Lord.
IN THE GARDEN
I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The son of God discloses
And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known
He speaks and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet that the birds hush their singing
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

We need to tarry.
We need to hush.
We need to stop.
We need to listen.
We need not be bored when God longs for us to know Him.

Could there be anything more exciting?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kitchen Lessons

I took the car in to the dealership today to have it serviced.  The girls and I planned to head straight to the movie theater for the free summer movie they show every Tuesday and Wednesday.  Going to the movie in the middle of the day is so fun.  What was supposed to be a routine oil change and tire rotation turned into a two-hour wait to fix a recall on our vehicle.  Our first lesson in patience for the day.  And yes, we missed the movie.

I decided that I wanted to make a homemade pound cake for a dear friend of mine who recently did a huge favor for me.  I was out of few of the basic ingredients (well, all of them actually---since I bake so frequently during the school year--cough cough).  I called the girls down and we headed to the grocery store to pick up a few items.  As soon as they found out why I was going to the store the conversation went like this:

"Oh, Mommy, can I help with the cake?"
"Oh, me, too, Mommy!"
"Oh, hey, I have an idea!  Why don't we make different types of icings and flavors! I want to make some strawberry cake."
"I don't like strawberry!  I want mine plain."
"Mommy, can we make two cakes?--one for each of us!"


And so it goes......


My first thoughts were to say "no" and do the cake myself.  After all, it was my idea in the first place and I wanted to do this for my friend.  It was my plan.  As they girls kept chattering away (and my head continued spinning) we finished our shopping and arrived back home.  I was trying to think of a way to talk them out of wanting to bake because what would have been a half hour project would now turn into a much longer one.  I had flashes of all the super moms out there who talk about their wonderful cooking  moments in the kitchen with their children, how the perfect mother would JUMP at the chance to dirty up her kitchen.  She wouldn't give a second thought to the fact that she'd mopped the floor yesterday and that flour and sugar WOULD be spilled on the floor.   The wonderful sugar-filled memories would all outweigh the trouble---and to the perfect mother---the word 'trouble' would have never come out of her mouth.

I decided to give in and let them cook.  I knew that my own cake would not get finished today.  Pound cakes take a long time to cook and cool.  All the pans would be dirty, too.

The girls began the tasks with excitement.  I was trying, really I was.  I just wasn't being very successful.   I was put out and irritated that my own project had been interrupted.  As the girls began the very first task (washing their hands) an argument broke out over who was taking too long to rinse their hands.  I knew this was going to be more trouble than I wanted to deal with.  I intervened and began the discipline.  I felt my tension rising.  As the child in the wrong reached into the drawer to get a dish towel to dry her hands, I told her that she needed to admit her fault.  She did with a huff as she proceeded to throw the dish towel back into the drawer and close the door (or slam it in my opinion).    This has been an issue.....the drama.....the over-reacting----playing the total victim.  I had had it up to my eyeballs and told her she was finished in the kitchen.  She turned (surprisingly quiet---of course that meant tears were coming) and walked out of the kitchen.   God stopped me in my tracks.  My whole attitude was one of impatience and quick tempered reactions.  What a horrible example I had set.  How could I send her out of the kitchen when I was guilty, too?

She is always remorseful.  Always.  That is one thing about this child.  Her remorse is quick and true.
I apologized.  She apologized.   We started all over again.   All of us.   And this time, we had no issues.
Even when the sugar and flour spilled on the floor, we just smiled.   Even when the eggs dripped all over the counter, we just wiped it up.

The cake is in the oven.   The girls are playing.   The fragrance is filling the house.  I hope it smells as sweet to the Lord.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Don't Stop Believin'

"What will it be?  Door #1, door #2, or door #3?"
Do you ever feel like church has become a really bad episode of Let's Make A Deal?  Which door is the "real" Jesus?   Or....the old version of Wheel of Fortune......"I'll take the Wednesday night suppers over there for $25, Pat.   I'll also take the youth program over on the other display for $50.  And I guess I'll take the Bible study class over there for $35.  Oh!  But I'll take worship for $500 over there!!!"   There are so many choices.  Sometimes they are so enticing, that you find people going to different churches for different pieces of their experience.  Families are even divided.  Parents go one place, kids go another.  It grieves me.

Back to Let's Make A Deal.  I woke up this morning out of a deep sleep because I was having a dream.  I became so agitated and upset in my spirit that I had to get out of bed and find reality.  You might find the scene funny in a way, though the longer I sat there spinning in my dream in this scene, the more panic-stricken I became.  I walked into what I suppose was a worship service.  There were people everywhere on the stage.  The music was loud and exciting and they were playing, of all things, Don't Stop Believin'.   There were some very intense guitar players working on their solo/duet and they were playing while moving up and down the aisles of the venue.  I asked the person I was with why they were singing this song.  It didn't fit a worship service.   The person explained to me in a loud voice over the roar of the music, "Oh, they changed the words!  Just listen!"  So I tried.  I heard the chorus:  Don't stop believin'.  Just hold on to that feelin'.  There was a very organized routine going on up on stage.  A very "Glee"-like choreographed routine.  But I couldn't understand any of the other lyrics.  Everyone was caught up in the excitement of the song and dance and guitars.  They were having a blast!  I still couldn't hear the "new" words.  I remember being very confused in my dream as to how this was appropriate worship.

Then, as most dreams do, right at the climax of the moment the scene snapped to another place.  It was a mobile upload to Facebook from a worship service.  Someone was taking a mobile picture from out in the audience.  The picture was of the stage where the worship leaders were leading.  There were two yellow spotlights.  One was positioned on the right and the other on the left.  The two lights sent simultaneous beams of light to the center of the stage, illuminating the worship leader.  The rest of the audience was in the dark.  I saw no one singing.   Everyone was standing and watching.  It looked like a concert of some kind.  The picture was being taken from within the audience DURING worship.  The caption read, "Worshipping."

At this point I sat straight up in bed.  I was literally sick.  I just couldn't imagine being in the middle of true worship and popping out my phone and getting a quick shot of the band.   I got up and had some breakfast and tried to stop my heart from racing.  (this really disturbed me)  It scares me to think that there are people out there looking for something that is missing in their lives.  They are looking for something to fill a need that only Jesus can.  Do we as a body of believers lead people to Jesus?  I see many of us working very hard to meet people where they are....give them what they like.  We wouldn't want them to think that Jesus is different than what they enjoy and experience every day, would we?  Would we?  If they are looking for something missing in their life, will they find it in what looks familiar, or in something different----something "set apart".  Yes, there are many people who come to church because it is comfortable and inviting.  In some instances it has been decorated to make them feel relaxed and invisible---"in the dark"---so that no attention is brought on them or anything required of them.  They don't have to sing, they don't have to give, they don't have to participate....just come observe and watch worship.  I wonder how many times we think about these people while we are worshiping.  I think we (the church) have been so busy making the church and worship look like the world that we forget that there are people who are looking for a void to be filled.  Are we doing these things to "attract" people...or to make church into what we want it to be.  Are we so busy filling people up with Starbucks  that we forget the Living Water?  I mean, when you are at Starbucks do you choose water when there is a vanilla latte or a mocha frappuccino as an option?

There are literal readers who will get hung up on the specifics of my dream.  I'm not.  I don't presume to say whether or not one is a worshiping in spirit and in truth.  That is what God determines when He looks upon our hearts.  This is not a contemporary -vs- traditional argument.  It's not a denominational dispute.  I just know in my heart that if someone needs a Savior, they are looking for something different that what they already know.  Are we set apart?  Or are we so similar to the world that the nonbeliever is having a hard time deciding which door to choose?

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.    ~Matthew 7:13-14

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My Chair

This is my chair.  It is quite "girlie", I know.  If it were covered in a plain "manly" fabric, I'm sure it wouldn't be my chair...but since it's covered in pink flowers I can claim it.  I am looking forward to summer when my chair and I can become acquainted again.  This last month of school my stamina has worn thin and I have missed my early mornings of hot coffee or tea, my Bible, and my chair.  One more ingredient to my special mornings in my chair is my sweet old friend, Lucy.  She is thirteen and gets up every morning with me and sits on the arm of my chair.  She likes this chair as much as I do.  So don't worry, Lucy!  I'll meet you in our chair very soon.  I can't wait to pour me a cup of green and white tea and meet Jesus in my chair.  Now, I talk to Jesus every day...all day.  I've even been reading my Bible.....just not in my chair.  So, I can't wait.  One more day!!!
Maybe I'll go buy a new kind of tea to celebrate!