Tuesday, September 30, 2008


The other day I hit a bird--or thought I did. There was a thump, and no body in my rear view mirror, so I resolved to check my grill at my next stop. However, I forgot. Really forgot.

The next few days we noticed a lot of flies in our garage. And a funny smell. I thought maybe some milk had leaked in our trash container. Johnny thought maybe a toad had found its way into our garage and perished. We were neither one sure how to locate the source, and it wasn't getting any prettier.

Then on Sunday night we went to our community group (a church small group that meets at a friend's house). One of the guys walked in and said, "Nice bird on your grill, Johnny." We both looked puzzled, and he said, "You know? The dead bird on the front of your van?" At that point I remembered the bird incident, and voila, our garage-smell problem was solved.

Isn't it lovely to be part of a community? There are times that parts of your life just stink, and you don't know why and you don't know how to fix it. But when you regularly hang with people who care about you, they may be able to pinpoint your problem. I guess this close-knit group used to be called family, but in our fast-paced, splintered society, it seems to be something you have to consciously choose.

Thanks, Steve, for your useful observation!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Being female

Our church is currently in a sermon series about the differences between men & women. The teaching is similar to Jeff & Shaunti Feldhan or John & Stasi Eldridge, and I find it useful...to a point. I find myself continually inspired by the "men are warriors" messages, and somewhat uninterested in the "women are beautiful" messages.

Perhaps it is because I have heard this teaching before & absorbed what is useful to me, but I do not feel moved by the idea of femininity as presented in the sermons. Instead, I am recalling something Donald Miller said in To Own a Dragon. He struggled with all these men's seminars declaring what "real men" do. And when asked to speak at one himself, he carefully researched all of Scripture, seeking what the Bible would call real men. His conclusion: in the Bible, real men are those who have a penis. If you ever wonder if you are a real man, he says, sneak off to the bathroom & check your shorts. If you find male plumbing, then God has spoken: you are a man.

I think the same can apply to being a woman. Check your plumbing; God has spoken. And in the beautiful creation of womanhood, you are part of the song. Your note may be high and fluttery, or baritone and strong, or maybe you screech more than sing--but whatever you sing forth, you are helping to create the concept of womanhood. In fact, God is continually shaping the idea of womanhood through the variety of women He makes.

I think God is a bit ornery about categories. Think about creation. He made birds to lay eggs. All birds lay eggs, and in a variety of nests and with many patterns of care. He made mammals to bear live young, who feed on the mother's milk. There is a certain order to His work. But then there is the platypus, a mammal that lays eggs. Maybe that ornery sense that we humans have of wanting to buck the system just a little doesn't only come from the rebellion in the Garden. Maybe we are ornery in part resembling the nature of God himself.

What do you think?

Friday, September 26, 2008

What the world thrusts at you

"Deal as sparingly as possible with the things this world thrusts at you." - 1 Corinthians 7, The Message

The NIV translation of the Bible renders the same passage: "...those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world and its present form are passing away."

Not much to add to that, is there? Don't get attached to your stuff. Of course, there are times when your stuff is something God uses to get your attention or accomplish his purposes, and you have to parse when he is involved and when you are getting caught up in what the world thrusts at you.

And the world does thrust stuff at us, doesn't it? I have more filters & fences in place, now that I am almost 40, but I watch my kids. . . By definition, they are immature, and their brains simply can't filter our society the way I can. Even when they know "what mom & dad think", they have sex and greed thrust at them everywhere they go, like enticing candies offered free with "no strings attached!"

It is not enough to say, don't pursue this world. They must have something they can actively go after. I have heard all sorts of counsel about "get your kids involved in sports or some extracurricular activity" as a drug prevention or something. But that is an easy fix, involving them in an activitiy just because it is controllable and defined from your perspective. Behind it, you must have a strong sense of what skills God requires to live in this world. When is he involved in some earthly pursuit, and when is it going to be a distraction to hearing him?

Jesus himself wants you (and your kids!) to be safe as you navigate your life--but he's not going to take you out of the mess that is this world. He prayed for us, knowing himself what it is like to have the world thrust things at you: "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one...Sanctify them by the truth." Protect me, Jesus, from getting in on someone else's plan for me instead of your plan. Use truth to keep me awake to my choices.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The big picture

I work in our church's preschool ministry, placing teachers & tallying roll. We recently expanded our area, and now have two information desks at two different wings (North and West). In the old area, I used to place all the teachers, making decisions like "the 4-year-olds will have to get by with only one teacher and a youth helper because I need a set of hands to hold crying 1-year-olds." These decisions were easy to make--I could hear the one-year-olds crying, and since I was responsible for the entire area, I had to choose where to place the people I had.

Now I simply place teachers for the older group of preschools, ages 3-5, in the West Wing. Three weeks in a row, I have received calls from my director, asking for teachers for the younger classes. Yes, you heard me: she has been taking teachers away from me to work in the North Wing holding babies. MY teachers. The ones caring for MY preschoolers. How audacious. I am sure you are as equally affronted as I.

This past Sunday, the director was gone, and after I had placed teachers in the West Wing, I moved to North to check on their situation. Because I could see that they needed a teacher, I pulled one from the West Wing to make things work...and promptly laughed at myself. Sure, when I can see the Big Picture, I play like a team. Put me in my own wing, and I become introverted and selfish.

Long set up to say--don't you think God is the Big Picture guy? I'm down here moving my people around and making things work in my own corner, but for the sake of the Big Picture, he will sometimes take things (and people!) away from me. And he never vacations for a weekend and puts me in his place--I don't really get to see things from his perspective. I have to trust. I have to believe that there is a Big Picture, and that sometimes it is more important than my corner.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Boxing God

People like to keep their God in a box, which
I never seem to have on hand, either
for religion or that gift needing
to be wrapped. So I use a zipper seal bag,
and despite the advertising, it leaks,
and God spills all over my refrigerator.
Perhaps I should try a decorative tin or
one of those accordion folders with
tabs, to help with easy reference.

He doesn’t seem willing to be contained,
always turning up in the bottom of my purse
with pennies and old receipts. Once I found
the Lord beneath the cushions on the couch,
and one time late Sunday the children left him
out with their toys. I spied him through
the kitchen window as the rain began.

You have heard the Lord is like the wind,
which I might try to bottle and sell
at roadside stands or home-based parties.
I have labels in coordinated colors, and
on my birthday I received a little gadget
that prints my name, over and over.
God smiles, and affixes my offering
across his workshirt pocket.

Not feeling it

I love church, but yesterday I was not feeling very hyped when I entered the service. The music was already going, and since my church is contemporary, I had the feeling of walking into a rock concert for a group I just wasn't very excited about. However, church is about worshiping God, and I do love God, so one would like to feel more...adoring.

This is where my understanding of grace comes in: God knows me inside and out, and His expectations for me are pretty low. On my own, I don't have a lot to bring. So here I was on Sunday, entering the very throne room of God Almighty. I give a small wave and say, "Hi, Daddy. Not feeling much today, but I'm here, and I'm just going to go sit in the corner."

He smiles at me. I am welcome. Wow! He is truly holy and awesome, and He welcomes me that easily.

Now I feel adoring.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


When I hear the word lament, I think of being sad. In Beholding & Becoming, Graham Cooke defines lament as worshiping God when our circumstances are bad. Here is an excerpt:

God does not ask us to deny the existence of our suffering. He does want us to collect it, stand in those things, and make Him an offering. The Holy Spirit, our comforter, helps us to do this: He aligns Himself with our will and says, "I will help you to will to worship God." The glory of the majesty of God is that He helps us will and do.

Too often, we either back away from our grief when we come to worship, or we quit worshiping at all in the face of the pain. We feel like we have to come to Him at our best, highest point. But God's heart is to accept us as we are. He wants us to step into that pain and worship him with it.

. . . .This worship isn't done in order to have God remove the pain. It simply recognizes that God stands in the moment with us. Lamentation elevates God in the presence of our enemies. It brings out a side of God that other forms of worship simply cannot touch.

He calls this "though/yet" worship. "Though" (and you fill in the blank), "yet" (and then you worship God). He comments that if life is going good for you, then rejoice and skip this section, so initially I did. But I find that it is a powerful tool. Last Monday, I was just feeling BLAH, and so I began to lament. Though I feel emotionally flat, yet I will sing a song to you, Lord. I find this powerful because it does two things: it brings your heart to God in complete honesty, and it moves you to worship (which we often talk of but don't always DO).

Friday, September 19, 2008


Everything in my life comes in snippets.

I write poetry because it is short. I make biscuits (as opposed to yeast bread or three layer cakes) because they are a quick bake. I call friends only if they understand that I may need to get off at any minute.

My life is very interruptible. Why? I suppose because my kids are a priority to me, and I like to be able to stop whatever I am doing to attend to them.

For example, I must now stop blogging to take my daughter to church.