Friday, December 22, 2006

Fuel Gages and Other Things I Don't Understand

Did you know that there is probably an arrow on the fuel gage on the dashboard of your car that shows you which side the gas tank is on? Seriously most cars have one. This probably isn’t terribly useful information in your own car. However when you rent cars frequently as I do it is great! I never think to check what side the tank is on in a rental car.

I didn’t know this until the other day. My boss was talking about it. I thought, “My car must not have one.” The next day when I was driving my car I checked. Not only does my car have an arrow, it has a gas pump with the word fill under it. I was stunned to think that I have been driving my car for quite some time and never noticed that.

So yes I learn something new every day. But I also miss all kinds of stuff. I have to wonder if whoever came up with that particular idea ever stands at a gas bar shaking his or her head at the people who drive up to the pump on the wrong side. God does all kinds of things for me I don’t notice. And sometimes God does things for me I don’t understand.

Right now I don’t understand a lot of things. I know that God is with me. I just wish that He would be with me somewhere else. As I think of the arrow on the gas gage of my car I realize that perhaps this time in my life is just one of the many things I don’t understand yet. I pray that God will show me soon.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Saturday, December 09, 2006

If I Were To Write A Psalm






I have really been struggling to figure out what to post lately. So here it is. If I were to write a Psalm today. This is what it would say:

Lord you lifted me out
From the bed I had made on my own
You showed me the way out
You mended my wounded heart

Now my enemies advance
I am trapped in a corner
Why did You rescue me?
To allow my enemies to destroy me?

There is no rest
There is no peace
I wait for You
I call to You

But You are the One
Who came to earth
A helpless baby You came
Hope to a broken world

Lord set me free
I beg for Your help
You didn’t lift me out
To allow me to be buried

I praise You for your Glory
I praise You for your Mercy
I praise You for rescuing me
For it is already accomplished

Thursday, December 07, 2006

New Blog

Three years ago I started writing Christmas letters. It seemed that people enjoyed reading them so I have started to print more and more copies. I decided this year that I would post my letter rather than using so much paper (and printer ink.) Plus more people will have the opportunity to read them.

I haven't written this year's yet but I have posted the previous three. That is another reason I decided to post. If you haven't read the previous year's letter the next one might not make sense. So if you haven't been receiving my letters, or you have and feel like reading them again, check out this new blog. Start at the bottom (Christmas 2003.)

This year's letter will be coming soon!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Oxygen

The other day I was on the bus on my way home. I saw a man on the bus. He had an oxygen tube in his nose. There were no seats available so someone stood up and offered him a seat. He refused the seat. I looked at him and was thinking, “Are you kidding me? You are on oxygen! You need the seat. Take the seat.” Then another voice inside me said, “Yeah, you are kind of like that.” I am pretty sure that was the voice of God.

I have a lot of trouble asking for help. I have even more trouble accepting help. This week I was offered some assistance and I am struggling to be humble enough to accept it. You see, part of the reason I am in the position I am in is my own fault. I would have no trouble telling someone else that even when we have ‘made our own beds’ we don’t need to lie in them alone. God doesn’t want us to lie in them alone. Yet I somehow seem to think the rules are different for me.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Buried Treasure

Yesterday I received the kind of letter in the mail that everyone dreams about. Apparently some long-lost distant relative of mine died in the 2004 Tsunami along with his entire family. That’s very sad but I didn’t know him and it was really overshadowed by the next part of the story. My relative left $ 7.8 Million dollars in a box -- which seems very plausible because my relative was an expatriate engineer for a mining company and all engineers have $7.8 Million available to them to put in a box. All I have to do is contact this lawyer at his Yahoo account (because every legitimate lawyer only uses a Yahoo account) and he will generously give me half if I bring myself forward as a relative.

Of course I am being sarcastic and I know that this is a scam. I am so sick of stuff like this. A couple of months ago I had two different males approach me on MySpace to tell me I was ‘captivating’ and not to hurt them. One of them was still married but his wife died in a plane crash. Another one was in Nigeria right now for his uncle’s burial and was from ‘Canada.’

Things like this rob us of our dreams. I know that I am afraid to dream anymore. I am afraid to believe that good things like this can happen. There are no fairy tales anymore. I look at everything through a cynical lens. I wonder if I would see a legitimate miracle if I ever came across one.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Nosy Neighbor


When I was little we lived across the street from a house in which the kitchen was at the front of the house. The kitchen sink was right under a window that looked out basically right into our house. My mom and I used to comment on how it didn’t seem possible that one family would have all those dishes. The woman that lived in that house would frequently be looking out her window at our house. Basically we figured she was a nosy neighbor.

A year or two ago a childhood friend and I were talking about praying for people who didn’t know we were praying for them. She commented that she had run into my neighbor recently. The neighbor had asked how I was doing. When my friend commented that I was doing well and I had become a Christian my neighbor was very happy. She had been praying for me all these years.

For the past while I have been thinking about how much God is doing that we don’t know about. Even when I didn’t know Him, God sent someone to pray for me. I hold onto that when I can’t sense His presence.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Signs


One day I was talking to a friend in our church’s prayer room. I confessed some of the things I was struggling with to her. She asked if she could pray with me. We held hands and prayed together. Both of us cried. At the end of the prayer we both heard angelic music – as if heaven had heard our prayers and wanted to give us a glimpse of reality from their vantage point.

As part of the technical team I knew that the music came out of a speaker in the room that is designed to allow nursing mothers to be able to hear what is going on in the main room. I also knew that someone at the sound board had put the CD in as a way to set the mood for what was about to happen. I even knew who was doing sound that day.

All of that knowing did not diminish God’s message to me. He had heard my prayer. Just because He had used something ordinary to do that doesn’t change the divine nature of that moment. We said Amen and the angels sang.

For the past two weeks when I have been at church the earth has been shaking while we pray. Yes I know that the train going by is causing the building to tremble. I also know that the God who created all things could use a train going by to let us know that the earth is moving when we pray.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Belief

I have been thinking about the whole concept of Christianity. It is kind of weird. The premise of Jesus being the Son of God – God incarnate is pretty unlikely. Being redeemed from our sins by an act of terrible violence and sacrifice seems impossible. Often I am struck at how it just doesn’t make any sense.

Yet I still believe. I still attempt to live my life as if it were all true. I think it is because it is so unlikely, impossible actually, that I do believe. I want to believe in a God who would die for us. I want to believe that something that is impossible is possible for an infinite God. I believe partially because it is so unbelievable.

Monday, October 09, 2006

First Will Be Last


For the past couple of days I have been somewhat frustrated. I am sick of being weak and needy. I want to feel better yes but more importantly I want to be better. I want people to look at me and see strength. I want to be the type of person who people rely on to be there for them. Lately I have had trouble even taking care of myself.

I had thought that things would get better as this week came to a close. Yet I find myself waking up feeling the same way. There is still that struggle to choose things that are life giving. I am still tired. I am still weak.

This morning I felt lead to read a little more in a book I have been reading since winter off and on. It is called Jesus: Safe, Tender, Extreme by Adrian Plass. It is a wonderful book and the fact that it is taking me so long to read it is no indication of the quality of the book. Some books I just end up reading like that. I seem to get a leading to read certain parts at the right time.

The chapter I was reading quotes this verse:

But many who seem to be important now will be the least important then, and those who are considered least here will be the greatest then. (Matthew 19:30, NLT)

And then I also remembered this verse:

"God blesses those who realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them. (Matthew 5:5, NLT)

All of a sudden I remembered that it is not only okay to be weak but the Bible says that things are in my favour. I am not holding onto these verses because of the promise of a better life in heaven. I am holding onto these verses because of what they say about my life today. I have a certainty that where I am is okay. I am certain of this because I can feel God’s leading every day. I don’t need to feel better to be certain of that.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Choose Life


Over these past couple of days I have only been able to pray in bits. Most of my prayers have been something to the effect of “Help me choose life.” When I say this I don’t mean life as in the opposite to a literal death. I have just been asking God to help me find my way through all of this and to do it in a healthy way. I don’t want to live a life in the shadows where I numb all my feelings and hide away. That is the kind of death I am trying to avoid.

Yesterday was a particularly dark day. I found myself questioning how bad things were going to get and whether I was going to make it through all of this. I started to assume that my life was going to get much worse before it got better. I forgot to take care of my physical needs. I started to feel really sick. Then all of a sudden God spoke to me. He said, “Choose life.”

Now it was 11 pm and it is pretty hard to do something tangible at that time of night to choose life. I did send out a couple of logistical e-mails and went to bed. When I woke up in the morning I didn’t feel much like choosing life. I felt like staying in bed. I slowly got up and got ready. I managed to make it to the second church gathering about ten minutes late. When I arrived I seriously thought about turning the car around and going home but I pushed through.

You know what? I feel better right now. It’s not like the teaching specifically addressed where I was at. I didn’t have a profound ‘ah-ha moment.’ I feel better. I think that God has helped me to draw a line in the sand and choose life. I don’t really deserve credit. I don’t even deserve having God speak to me through all of my anger about where I am at right now. But there it is. God spoke to me last night and told me to choose life. I am grateful for that.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Storm

The other day when I got off the bus I noticed a teenager standing outside. It was about 3 degrees outside and it was windy and raining a little bit. He was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Then I looked over several feet across from him and a woman was standing there wearing ski mitts, a toque with ear covers, and a parka. As I chuckled to myself at the contrast it occurred to me that seemed to be a metaphor for the ways people handle pain.

Like the teenager, some people stand there stoically. They either deny that anything is going on or that acknowledge something is going on but act as a pillar of strength. Others hide and bundle up. They protect themselves from everyone and everything. Their life is about whatever bad thing has happened to them. I have been at both ends of the spectrum.

Sometimes I live my life as if nothing is wrong. If I can’t hide that something bad has happened I use the opportunity to demonstrate my strength. Other times I just hide myself away. I don’t want to talk to anyone because it might hurt. I don’t want to do anything because it is hard. I go through life with a mentality of merely surviving it.

As I ride out this current storm I am struggling to be somewhere in the middle. Perhaps I don’t have to do everything right now but I am going to choose not to ignore what is happening either. I suppose it would be a polar-fleece in my analogy.

I think that when Jesus promises abundant life this is partially about how we ride out our storms. I believe that if I live on either end of the spectrum I am not living a full life. If I go outside without a coat I miss out on the comfort that could be gained by relying on my friends through my pain. If I wear a parka I might be comfortable but how do I know when it is safe to come out.

My prayer right now is that I choose life instead of survival at either end of the continuum.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Reflections of Prayer


The day I wrote my last post I opened my prayer journal. The date on the last entry said August 8th. That meant it had been almost a month since I had any dedicated prayer time. It was a huge wake up call. How could I expect to be spiritually alive if I didn’t live spiritually?

So I started praying and guess what? Things haven’t really become much better in terms of life circumstances. In fact a few things got a little bit worse. But I am working on being more consistent in my prayer life. So is my praying changing anything?

Well I will say that I haven’t had any profound answers to prayer. Or at least I can’t link anything that has happened lately directly to things I have been praying about. I have had miraculous answers to prayer before. I believe that God does answer prayer and intervenes in our daily lives. So what happens when I can’t see anything changing as a result of my prayer?

What I have noticed is that God has given me just enough over the past couple of weeks to encourage me to move forward. I have seen small signs that I am doing the right thing. He has also sent some people to walk beside me. I had a lot of calls and support after the last post. That in itself was a huge encouragement. I wonder if I would have noticed the signs if I had not been spending some time praying.

Monday, September 04, 2006

light out


Normally I write about some kind of insight I have had. I try to write about stuff that I think will be helpful for others. I don’t generally use my blog as a journal as much as I use it as a way to express what I have learned and think will speak into other’s hearts. I am not trying to be arrogant about it. That is just what I have chosen to do.

I have lots of ideas of what I could write about today but I don’t feel like writing about any of them. Frankly I feel like if I post about anything other than where I am at right now I will be full of shit. If I wait until I feel better who knows when I will post again. So here I am. No big wisdom. No neat package. Just me feeling like I need to be real about where I am at.

As the summer has moved on I have struggled. This is not an unusual thing for me. I often feel like this at the end of the summer. Work has been absolutely crazy. I am gearing up for ministry in the fall and that just seems overwhelming. I don’t feel like going to church. I am not talking to God as much as I should. I am not reading the Bible. I give into temptation way more than I usually do which is too often to begin with.

I ache for how I felt in May and June. I want things to be awesome and full of life but they aren’t. I have some things to work through with God I think. Today my accountability partner is coming over and I am hoping that will help. For those of you that read the light articile I posted, I would definately say that at least one of my lights is out!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sad


When I want to do good, I don’t. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway (Romans 7:19, NLT)

A few days ago I was hanging out with my friend and her two and a half year old son. After a little bit of an event where he thought he shouldn’t put his pajamas on, he came out of his room crying a little bit. He said to me, “I’m sad.”

I said, “Why are you sad?”

He said, “Because I am not cooperating.”

Now it could be that he was just sad because he figured that his un-cooperative attitude meant that I wouldn’t be reading a story for him. That was probably part of it. But I think that there was also a struggle within him. He wanted to please his mom but he also wanted to assert his will. He was frustrated by that process.

Oh boy do I ever identify with that. I so want to please God. Sometimes I mess up badly. I don’t listen. I don’t do what I am told. I come out grieved. Not just because of the consequences of my actions but because I have sinned. It is a really terrible feeling.

I think about how I felt so bad for my little buddy. My heart broke for him. I actually got choked up. His mother also instantly forgave him because she understands his struggle. If that is our fully human reaction I can’t imagine how God feels when we are grieved about our own sin. I am comforted by that.

I also imagine what it would have been like if my friend's son would not have been sorry for his actions. Yes we still would love him. We would understand his struggle and that he was very tired. But we wouldn’t have shared that moment together. I wouldn’t have been emotional and grieved with him. I think perhaps that also must be what it is like for God.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Me too!


I have been thinking about the importance of the phrase ‘me too.’ It is amazing how when you share something about yourself or what you are experiencing, many times you will hear a ‘me too.’ Think about how important that is for you. If you take a risk and share something about who you are, don’t you want someone to say ‘me too?’

The problem with ‘me too’ is that someone has to go first. Often it is very hard to share what you are going through. We usually assume that the other people we are talking to will not understand. I have had a number of experiences when I am being vulnerable that I have been shocked when someone says something to the effect of ‘me too.’

I have also been touched when someone else goes first. Some of the most profound experiences of my life have been listening to someone else’s story when they are sharing something I identify with. All of a sudden I am not alone in my experience.
Whether or not we hear ‘me too,’ I have found it rewarding to share my story with others because they can help me carry that burden. I know it sounds selfish but we are not meant to be alone. Having someone to journey through our stuff with us is how we are built to live. That said I know it is really hard to disclose stuff. I honor people who are willing to go first.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Friends


I was watching a program about the things we should do to take care of our bodies. One of the suggestions was that we should go out with friends six times per month. It turns out that laughter is the best medicine. Of all the health ideas, this is my favourite.

It seems like this should be relatively easy. But how many people do it? In order to go out with friends or a friend six times per month you would need to go out with friends more than once a week in the average month. In the summer that isn’t very hard but I think that in the fall I would have to work at it.

In our busy lives have we lost perspective? It seems like we all spend so much time ‘doing’ stuff that we have lost the experience of just living together. Now we need to make appointments with each other. And we struggle to fit six play dates into a month. I mean think about it. Somebody had to put it in a book.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Content


I think that God has been teaching me about being content. For the last little while I have felt a somewhat stuck. I don’t know if you understand what I mean. It’s not like anything is wrong. Nothing is particularly right either. Not much is happening. My faith life isn’t moving forward. My fear is that unless things are moving forward I am moving back.

I met with a friend and we talked about this feeling. Maybe it is just okay to wait for God to lead me. I can work to make sure that I am open to God’s leading. Other than that perhaps it is okay to be in the same spot for a while if that happens to be where God wants me to be.

I prayed that evening and I believe that God told me that being content is not the same thing as being complacent. I got the sense that God was trying to teach me about being content. Perhaps I need to learn to wait for Him. I need to learn to be in the same spot for a while. Today I came across this verse:

Each time he said, “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NLT)

If Paul, the writer of Corinthians, can be content in the pain and suffering of his life than perhaps I can be comfortable with mine. I by no means can compare my life to that of Paul’s. However I can say that I do understand a little bit about pain. If Paul can be content in his weaknesses perhaps I can too. Maybe God is asking me to wait because I have a tendency to push forward without Him.

Monday, July 10, 2006

frogs


Do frogs really turn into princes? Yes, they do.

So now you are waiting for the anecdote where I met someone who was ugly on the outside but turned out to be beautiful on the inside. Or maybe you are waiting for the story about an annoying coworker that I learned to like when I found out the reason they were annoying was because they stayed up late every night taking care of the sick in hospital. Nope. I am going to tell you to look for your inner frog.

Inner frogs are the things you keep hidden from others. They are the parts of yourself that you don’t think are good enough for other people to see. You keep them hidden because someone taught you need to be perfect or at least fairly competent at something in order to attempt it. Or maybe you don’t want to look foolish.

I think writing is something that was an inner frog for me. One day someone asked me to write about one of my experiences. I did that and people kept asking me to write things for them. It took a long time for me to realize that I was actually pretty good at writing. I didn’t think I was that good because of the years of being in English class and seeing red ink.

Keeping special parts of ourselves hidden stifles us. We no longer live out our dreams. I know that I still have a lot of inner frogs. There are many things I was confident I could do as a child that I no longer do now. Grant you one of those things is doing cartwheels and that is probably not a good plan but I wonder how I began to think of myself as being so incapable.

When most people think of the story of the Princess and the Frog, they think of recognizing inner beauty in others. I am starting to wonder if that story is as much about the Prince as the Princess. Maybe that fable is really about the Frog remembering that he is a prince.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Expectations

I have been thinking about expectations lately. Many people don’t want anyone to tell us how to act. I am one of those people. I don’t want anyone to expect certain behaviour of me. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to be a good person. It just means that I want to decide.

Then I thought about it a little further. Think about the people you don’t have any expectation of. What are those people like? I know for me when I think of people I don’t have expectations of I think of… well… losers. Do I want to be the type of person no one expects anything of?

As uncomfortable as it is to put myself in a situation where people have permission to hold me accountable for my behaviour the alternative seems worse. I don’t want to live in bondage to other people’s expectations. I won’t let people hold me accountable for things they shouldn’t be. I also know that even when people have reasonable expectations of me I might not live up to them. But I want to be worthy of other people’s expectations.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Abundance

Every day I take the bus I past this house. The back yard is mostly vegetable garden. Predictably the garden gets cleaned up and the plants go and they start to grow in uniformed rows every spring. Once the plants are growing visibly, an older gentlemen seems to enjoy sitting there watching them grow.

Each afternoon when I go by the house after work I notice the man sitting on a lawn chair in the shade that his garage affords watching his garden grow. I am not the only one who thinks this. I have heard other people on the bus mention this phenomenon too. Part of me thinks this is sad. This poor older man has nothing to do but sit there. Another part of me romanticizes this notion. Perhaps he gets joy out of watching his garden grow.

I think that maybe there is something inherently cool about watching something you created mature and grow. I also think that taking the time to enjoy the process of seeing the fruits of your labour is awesome. I know he is probably watching us as much as we are watching him. What does he think about us while he is sitting there watching the daily commuters make their way home? I wonder if he thinks we are stuck in the daily grind. Is he grateful for the simplicity of his routine? I know that I look for him almost every day. I miss him in the winter. I lament when I see he has cleaned his garden out that I won’t see him until next year.

I am beginning to ponder if there are ways I can gain some of this simplicity without going to the extreme of quitting my job and becoming a vegetable gardener. I don’t think it pays well enough to pay the mortgage and I am not much of a gardener to begin with. However I do enjoy witnessing life. I like to notice stuff. I guess that is what makes me a writer.

Sometimes when we think about the abundant life God promises we think about the big stuff. Some people are looking for big flashy material things. I have to admit that I like my stuff as much as any one else. But stuff is not how I define abundance. I look for events. I look for the impact I am having. I look for the friends I have and the life we share together. I look for a life worth living.

I think those things are worthy of desire. Yet I wonder if I am missing out on the small stuff. I am beginning to think that abundance may partially be about watching my garden grow.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Everyday Burdens

How do people do all of the stuff they are supposed to do? Pray, read the Bible, meditate, worship, serve. That’s the spiritual disciplines. Then there are everyday things like cleaning, cooing, yard work and paying bills. Oh and we’re supposed to take care of ourselves, exercise, and eat right. Not to mention working and all the stuff that goes with it. Then of course there is hanging out with friends, and having fun. Oh yeah… sleep!
Maybe I am just exceptionally lazy, or inept, or who knows what but I am overwhelmed by the thought of all of the stuff that I should be doing that I am not. I was talking to someone else and she pointed out to me that I needed a saviour in this area of pain. I think that even if I didn’t have painful stuff going on the thoughts of all the things I have to do is convincing me that I need divine intervention – I need a saviour just to get through the day!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Lent


This year is the first year I have observed lent. I think I tried a few years ago and quickly abandoned the idea. The reason I didn’t do it is that I didn’t really think that I could ever hope to come close to the suffering that Jesus did on the cross by giving up 'blank.’ That and the people around me weren’t part of a tradition that participated in lent so really I didn’t even think about it that often.

I came across an article on the web (I’d give you the link but the article has since been removed) that described lent from another angle. It suggested that lent was more about shaking up your routine. It also explained that not observing lent (or actually doing what you gave up) on Sunday was a key part of the process because Sunday is about celebration. It sounded intriguing to me so I decided to give up baths.

I have to admit that part of the reason giving up baths sounded like a good idea was so that I could say that and watch people’s response. I didn’t give up bathing. I still showered. I just saved my baths until Sunday. People that know me are aware that baths are a central part of who I am. I tend to take long baths. I hardly ever shower. I do some of my best thinking in the bath.

So here I was not taking baths. No it wasn’t a profound sacrifice but you wouldn’t believe how many times I thought about it. I found that mixing up my routine in this little way made me think about Jesus more often. I found that giving up baths forced me to find other ways to take care of myself. I also found that I kind of liked taking showers more than I thought.

What was really great about this experience was Sunday. I looked forward to my bath. It was no longer just bathing, it was a celebratory experience. I actually did make it all the way to the end of six weeks only taking a bath on Sunday. This was before things started to turn around for me. I wonder if this was preparing me for the change that I was about to undergo the week after Easter…

Sunday, June 04, 2006

light


Lately things have been going really well for me. After I realized that I needed to be changed about a month ago, things have been changing at a fast pace. I know that I can’t change myself. God is doing his work in me. I see things completely differently.

This is a huge contrast to how I have been feeling the past couple of years. Everything was a struggle. I couldn’t figure out why my spiritual life seemed like it was lost to me. Whatever I tried didn’t seem to work. I was fairly unhappy most of the time. I felt like a part of me was dead. Now I have come alive again.

I know how I came alive but what I don’t really understand is how I got to where I was. How did I allow that to happen? Are there ways I can stop it from happening again? I know that bad stuff happens but I don’t think that means that I have to struggle spiritually the way I was for so long.

In my bathroom I have a light fixture over the vanity with four bulbs. Today I replaced three of them. I was taking a bath looking up at the bulbs thinking about how it got so far. In terms of bulbs it seems to go the same way every time. When the first bulb burns out I barely notice. There is no perceptible difference in the amount of light in the bathroom. In fact I never notice until I am taking a bath. I vaguely think about changing the light bulb but when I am somewhere that sells these types of light bulbs I don’t bother. I wait for the next one to burn out.

Then the second one goes out. There must be a change in the amount of light but since I have been living with three bulbs for a while I don’t notice. Now when I sit in the bathtub the two bulbs lights that are burned out really bug me. I stop where the light bulbs are but since it has been so long since I purchased one I can’t remember what kind to buy. Yesterday the third one went out.

I could notice the difference of only having one bulb as soon as I walked into the bathroom. I knew it was urgent that I purchase some light bulbs or it would be pretty dark in the bathroom soon. I went to the store today and purchased six light bulbs. Now when the next one goes and the two after that I will be prepared.

I wonder if I take care of my spiritual life the same way I take care of the light bulbs over my vanity. I think that I could do a better job of paying attention. Perhaps I could do the spiritual equivalent of checking the light bulbs from the bath. And if one of my spiritual light bulbs goes out I need to practice the same urgency to address that as I did today when the third one went out. I am not sure what the spiritual equivalent to having an extra three light bulbs in my cupboard is but I pray that God will show me that.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Accountability


A few weeks ago I went to a retreat with a friend. We both had a profound experience and we wanted to make sure at the weekend would bring lasting change. We decided that we would be accountability partners for each other.

Accountability is scary stuff. We give someone else permission to call us on our stuff. It took a pretty big wakeup call for me to want to do that. It has been an amazing experience for me.

My friend and I have been either calling each other or meeting once a week. We talk about how our weeks went. We offer to pray for one another. We talk about our impressions of what we are hearing. Really we just intentionally support one another.

I have noticed a couple of things. First it is great to have someone to consistently pray for besides yourself. God can really show himself by answering your prayer for another person. Second, if you say you want to exercise three times this week it gives you incentive to know that at the end of the week you will be able to celebrate doing that. Related to this is a sense of sharing not only who you are but who you want to be. Having someone else know that and pray for you in that is amazing.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

MINE!


A lot of people (myself included) walk around with this sense of entitlement rather than gratitude. I deserve nice clothes, a nice car, to be treated with respect. In other words I can sometimes act like a toddler who holds another child’s toy to his chest and screams ‘mine!’ I don’t believe that God intends us to act like this.

To combat this I have been keeping a gratitude list. The very first day I started my gratitude journal I spent some time with my friend and her son. A few minutes after they left my house my friend called to say her son was very upset because he hadn’t been able to give me a goodbye hug and kiss. So he called out, “Bye Misty I love you!” After responding in kind and hanging up the phone I burst into tears.

I had just finished a weekend where God had shown me some of the ways I had been acting that were not so nice. I felt horrible about it. I felt like God was using my friend’s son to illustrate the love of Jesus. I accepted it but I didn’t feel entitled to it. My tears were tears of gratitude.

Since then I have still been keeping my gratitude journal. I have had times where I forgot myself and got wound up in my sense of entitlement (like when I thought the hotel I was staying at should have compensated me somehow for the broken lock on my hotel door that made it so I had to change rooms.) I have been doing better though. I don’t have something terribly unusual to be grateful everyday but I have found that the habit of writing down what I am grateful for is changing my attitude over time.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Message


Last week I got a ‘word’ for someone. I was praying for them and I had some insight into their situation. I was traveling at the time and I didn’t feel the urgent need to share it with them right away. Actually to be honest I struggled with whether or not to share it. I don’t have the gift of prophecy or anything. Sometimes I will get an impression that God wants someone to know something. This has always been people who are close to me.

Most of the time God just prompts me to speak some words of encouragement to someone. That has been really rewarding. There have been a few times though where I feel like I have an actual message and that I am supposed to frame it as such. Those times are harder. I know that I am pretty leery when someone tells me they have a word from God. The key for me is that these are relationships of trust.

The other day I shared with this person what I believed God had told me. Her response was, “That is totally amazing. You can’t believe how much I needed to hear that today.” She went on to tell me what she had been wrestling with and it WAS amazing. The timing was perfect; the message was perfectly worded for who she was. My friend couldn’t miss that God was at work.

I have had a chance to reflect on this and what is even more amazing is that God spoke to me through that message too. It wasn’t the message itself that was important to me but how perfect it was. I couldn’t miss God either.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Journey




“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11: 28-30 MSG)

I was reading The Message version of Matthew a couple years ago. I was going through a time where I wasn’t sure what I believed. I came across this passage and somehow it carried me. I was tired and worn out. The unforced rhythms of grace sounded well… nice. It felt like something to hold onto. If that was what Jesus could teach me I wanted some of that.

Have you ever met someone for whom kindness and faith seem natural? I know it may not actually be effortless for them, in fact I know it isn’t. But there is a difference between moving forward and pushing forward. I want to be the kind of woman who lives in unforced rhythms of grace. I am not there yet. Perhaps I never will be.

My intent is to invite you along for that journey. Be forewarned that it will be a road with lots of bends and perhaps a little bit of traveling in reverse.