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Sunday, July 31, 2011

I Choose

I choose.

Increasingly, it is difficult for me to wake up.  It takes more coffee and more sitting before I can begin the daily routine.

Some of this is illness, but a lot of it is due to my own irresponsibility with making the right choices.

The simple choices to eat throughout the day, to get enough rest, to not push myself. The elementary choices I somehow make for my children on a daily basis but not for myself.

 And then there is the choice of finding gratitude amidst affliction.

The place I'm in is not restrained to the physical.  I do not have to be captive to my body's constraints. I can turn to God, go to the inner chamber and allow that to become my place.  My place of rest and refuge.

So, I'm on the floor listening to Misty Edwards.

Good.

The dog (who might be an angel) comes and lays by me.  The baby comes and snuggles up against me.  God comes.  He meets me there and there is the only place I need to be.

I choose.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

So the bad comes
and then the pain comes
because it's cyclical like that.
And I wish it wasn't
but I know
 that the physical pain
will bring me to my knees
more than the emotional
 because I've been hardened
and jaded
so, hungry for my weakness
so that He might give me strength,
He allows me to fall, unable to move,
with no recourse but prayer
 where I can find gratitude

Friday, July 29, 2011

Letters for Trinity

I received an invite on my Facebook page and it really touched my heart.  I had True and Annika write letters.  What a great way to encourage and bless this little girl while teaching our children love and compassion:

Hey Everyone, you know me and normally I don’t ask for favors but I have a HUGE favor to ask. I come from a small town back in Iowa called Lytton and in that town, we are like a family. Our neighbors back home (my parent’s next door neighbors)daughter, Trinity was recently diagnosed with leukemia and has been having a rough go of it. Trinity is 7 years old and is currently receiving aggressive chemo treatments and suffers daily pain and high fevers. She is also away from her friends and family in the hospital.

The one thing that Trinity looks forward to everyday is receiving letters in the mail. Our town has banded together to try and get each resident to send a card with words of encouragement. Our town has even set a goal of adding a $1 bill to each letter in to make Trinity smile and help her parents with medical bills as they have 5(!) kids. Even if you don’t feel comfortable sending $$, please take the time to send a card with words of encouragement to Trinity. She looks forward to getting mail so much, her father holds over a few cards every Saturday so she has cards to open on Sunday when there is no mail delivery.

The address is to her room at Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines. Please help and give a smile to a little girl with a big heart. It is a small request but you have no idea how it brightens her day. Also please feel free to pass this on to anyone you know who would be interested in being a part of this great cause or invite people to this event!


Trinity Jean Carlson
c/0 Blank Children"s Hospital 4th floor room 415
1200 Pleasant Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50309


link to Trinity's Mom Jess's blog-

http://www.caringbridge.or​g/visit/trinitycarlson?ref​=nl

Voices

Wednesday night, before the floor caved in beneath me, I went to church.

The pastor spoke the words, "God chooses people you would never choose, that I would never choose.  He qualifies those who we deem disqualified."

It didn't mean much to me at the time.

But yesterday, I realized that what I was feeling all day was 'disqualified'.  That heaviness was satan whispering  lies,  "Well, that's it.  You're done.  Guess it's all been a farce and you won't have anything to say from here on out..."

Yeah, well that's a bunch of you know what.  I haven't been disqualified.  Because God qualifies me, people don't.  And I am called to bear the burdens of others, but not to take on their sin.

How many times do we buy into the lie that God can't use us anymore just because our story took a turn we didn't expect?  My voice may have changed but I haven't.  My delivery might be different but His deliverance is always available.

In my early twenties I loved a certain singer.  Her angst.  As she grew her voice chilled out.  She calmed and I wasn't sure I liked it.  But don't we all have a million different voices?  I can scream angry and so long as I'm not sinning, God hears my true expression.  I can wax poetic, praise joy, whisper a million gratitudes, weep sorrow and He recognizes every utterance.  He never says, "Don't talk to me in that tone," or "Speak up, I can't hear you".  Eventually, He might say, "OK, get off your pity pot now and get on with life." but He says it gently and kindly and with understanding like a good father would.  Because He is a good father.  And whatever voice I use, if it is used as a means to seek Him, He will not silence me.

It is the enemy who wants me to shut up.  Who employs fear.  I can't come under condemnation and fear every time there's pain.

Take your voice and "be of good courage".  Speak honor and blessings and pour out your hearts to the One who created your voice.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Making the Choice to See

I opened up my blog this morning to read my comments and there was my title from yesterday, blaring out at me with whole new meaning:  Coming into Light.

How is it that yesterday, I believed that I was beginning to see clearly and by last night I felt as though I'd been blinded?

 I'm afraid that as I wrote yesterday, God took my post and made it into a prayer, for last night more was revealed.

Light has more power than darkness, yes.  But the light exposes and it can hurt the eyes.  Revelations can be painful.  They can cause fear.  Sometimes that light can make us want to close our eyes and stay hidden in the darkness.

It's easier sometimes to hide.  To retreat and not deal.  I didn't want to come here today.  I didn't feel like I could, in any honest way.  Because I am not here to cast illusions.  I'm here to speak the truth as I know it.  But at the same time, there is a pain which can't be shared forthwrightly.  What to do with that?  The heaviness of yesterday's revelation can suffocate me or I can make a choice to leave my eyes open and see what's before me.   I can't unload my burdens here, but I can, through the process of writing, seek to find God's will.

I don't know at this moment the answers.  But as Susan, a fellow blogger pointed out:

 "knowing the God who is in control, and knowing that He will be with us in all things. 
"God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride ... The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold." - Psalm 46:1-3, 7 NASB

gives us the ‘right’ color of attitude to see the world – one that is vibrant, deep and rich!"
"Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken." -Psalm16:8

Ann Voskamp, says, "He asks me to accept".

No, I don't understand God's timing.  I don't understand why we are allowed at times to endure heartache at the very moment we are the most comfortable.  But I have to choose to trust.  I have to believe that light has more power than dark.

"In darkness there is no choice. It is light that enables us to see the differences between things; and it is Christ who gives us light." --Mrs. C.T. Whitemell

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Coming into Light

I sometimes wonder if I imagined Iowa.  It feels like a dream I don't know how to interpret.   We've been here not two months but when I try to picture that old, tired house in the Midwest, the wretched winters, the daily routine; it all seems hazy - ages ago, a barely audible whisper of a time long gone.

Maybe, it's that we came 'home'.  To the familiar.  Perhaps, if we'd moved somewhere new and strange,  I would find myself missing Iowa.  Iowa would then hold the title of 'home'... but I can't quite picture that. 

 It feels like for five years someone put my life on pause.  And now that I'm back, life has resumed. 

But how can this be? This disconnect with Iowa doesn't seem grounded.   Half my married life was spent in Iowa, I gave birth to two of my children there, we started our own business, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness, I started homeschooling.  A lot happened.  Why don't I remember it? 

Honestly, I don't have that figured out yet.  I wasn't terribly unhappy there.  Only slightly. 

I took a long course in contentment and I grew. Unaware, somewhat that I was growing.  And I know that I know that I know, I would not be who I am now had we not lived there.  I don't say that lightly.  That process of learning about oneself through heartache is priceless.   I learned about myself.  My marriage improved, because I improved, I began to better understand the value of friendship, within the lack thereof.  Where, in the first five years of my marriage, I was learning how to be a wife and mother and a hostess, in the last five, I learned how to be a Godly wife, a Godly mother, and a host for the Holy Spirit.

So here's the kicker.  Whatever was happening there, didn't feel like much at the time.  I was going through life one day at a time, trying not to cave to depression.  Sometimes I was successful, other times not.  But God was behind the scenes the whole time.  He allowed it to appear as though everything had been taken away.  My eyes, then, could not recognize fully all that He was giving me.

 I may not ever have this all figured out.  I may never be able to entirely see what exactly God's purpose and desire was for me but I know that He had one.  I know that He allowed it for His good.  For my holiness.

So, maybe, when it seems like not a whole lot is going on, that God's not at work, that we're in limbo, just waiting for time to pass, God is really working something on the inside.

 It's so hard to see clearly in the moments.  It's after the moments, however long those moments be, that slowly clarity emerges.   

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Apprentice

I experienced somewhat of a coffee-induced revelation late last night.  Because it was coffee induced and well after midnight, the revelation came in the form of an overtired but overstimulated rambling thought process.

My husband and I had just said goodbye to a couple friend of ours.  We'd had a wonderful night of playing cards while our kids played happily together. This is a weekly happening for us.  And each week, we all stay up too late.  It was twelve am when they left.  The kids were still up.

Prior to this point, at around ten-thirty or so, I had the great idea to make a pot of coffee.  My well-meaning husband advised me that this was not a good idea.  It wasn't a good idea to give the baby Spree and licorice that late at night either, but we were doing that, weren't we?  So, of course, I brewed the coffee. The men abstained while the women indulged.   When our friends left later and Brett was tucking the, by now, slap-happy kids in bed, I snuck out my laptop to write.  I say 'snuck' because just as he had not thought coffee was a real sound plan, neither would he think writing at midnight was.  When he caught me and called me out on it, warning me that I would be exhausted come tomorrow, I defended myself, telling him I had a deadline.  See, I had big plans to write a piece and submit it to a publication. But it has to be in by the 31st.

"I'm a writer.  Get used to it." I said,   "Writers stay up all night, writing."

 It worked.  He just shook his head and left me alone.

I finished my rough draft just in time to hear the baby waking.  I grabbed my little wet-faced child and brought her in to sleep with me, ready ( I thought) for bed.  We did not sleep.  Not a wink.  She tossed and turned.  I turned and tossed.  I got out of bed twice before three-thirty and both times, when I returned, there she was with her big eyes open.  The candy and coffee got us.  I never said I was grown-up enough to be a mother.

But as I lay there, restless trying to pat the restless out of the baby, my mind was racing.  And I got to thinking.  Is this what God wants for me?  I don't mean coffee late at night.  I'm not that much of a legalist.  I mean, I'm only, really, a writer if I have something to say.  Did I have so much to say last night that I had to sacrifice my energy for the next day?    In fact, I wasn't even really that excited about the piece.  I feel lately, like I've been scrambling to write.  But write, what?

  If there are words I'm meant to write, God will give me the time.  The avenues.  The places.  I don't need to go running around looking for opportunity.

Yes, I need to give Him time to work through me.  I do need that.  But because God has been working with me in the areas of perspective and priorities, I realized then, that losing sleep or lagging behind in schoolwork or forfeiting family time to write something might be a sign that I'm running on my own steam rather than allowing myself to be God led.    When I start identifying myself as anything other than God's servant, I tend to run amok.

Confession:  this Twitter world of linking up and guest posting; it's exciting and yes, it may allow me to reach more people, but goodness, reach them with what?  Blither?  I don't want to get so goal oriented that my goals are hollow, are not God's goals.

Here's another confession:  I'm so tired of school.  Of studying 'Beowulf', and Chaucer and 'The Faerie Queene' and Shakespeare.  It took me thirteen years to decide I wanted to study English Literature.  Do you know why I chose it?  Because it's the best degree to have if you later want to get an MFA in Creative Writing. But I'm so over Sir Thomas More, 'My lute, awake', Sidney and the like that I'm starting to fantasize about switching my degree to Family Studies.  I won't.  I fantasize about putting the kids in regular school sometimes, too, but I don't.

The point is that it's fine, even necessary, to set goals and work toward them but not if the goals are set out of wrong motives or are based on impatience.  

 So, I received a beautiful picture last night of God as the Master Artist and I, His apprentice.   Any art I produce is only by what he has taught me and I will never surpass His greatness.  If my words do not lead to His Word by which He breathed all into being, my words are pointless.  It would be like working for Michelangelo and trying to peddle stick figure drawings.  And I don't want to do this.  I'm learning from the ultimate Master. So, I will wait for direction and instruction and timing.  It's all His anyway.    

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tangled

I, seriously, need to learn to prioritize my time.  

Yesterday, reading from Dear Jesus by Sarah Young, she writes in His voice saying, "By gazing at Me, you gain my perspective on your life.  This time with Me is essential for untangling your thoughts and smoothing out the day before you."

God, how much I need this.  


My thoughts are a tangled mess, ratted like the girl's hair and it's painful to let You brush it all out.


My school, the kids' school starting soon, tending to the family, the house, the budget - it's too easy to push You out. My mind seems so crowded that it's hard to gain perspective.

Young talks about that morning time and I am learning how essential it is to lay in bed awhile.  To just look out the window and pray before I rise.  Ask God to lead my steps... but then, when I get up, where do I go?  I go straight to the coffee and my phone. The Bible is two steps away and I walk right past.  How is checking my messages more important than listening to God's voice and direction?

Thank God for His grace.  It was today's devotion by Young which reminded me that God looks "for persistence - rather than perfection".

Lord, keep my thoughts on You.  Thank you for honoring my attempts and for being patient.  

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Foggy brain today, so just a quote, maybe:

"I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.  I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.  I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.  When my child kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now get washed up for dinner."  There would have been more I love yous, more I'm sorrys, but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute, look at it and really see it, live it, and never give it back."

 - From Erma Bombeck's "If I Had My Life to Live Over Again"

Yes, God, friends and love and moments, please.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

In Place of Me

In the place I'm in....it's my place.  But it shouldn't be, really.  For I am a temple.  And I am hidden in Christ.  This mystery, this beauty is what will take me out of myself and allow me to feel the True Presence.

Today, I am itchy.  I am irksome.  It's one of those days, created by me.  I'm rushed, lagging and behind in homework, writing poetry rather than analyzing it for my assignment, praying the baby will stay asleep a little longer and annoyed that my kids are addicted to television though I've quickly become addicted to Twitter.

So; quiet.  I need the whir of the fan above, the feel of the bedspread beneath, the view of the backyard where my kids are playing and above all, a peaceful quiet in my heart, not in my surroundings, to hear His voice.

I want to be aware and unaware.  Unaware of real life long enough for true awareness.  Unhurried enough to spend the time I need right where I am and where He wants me.  At His feet and in His grace.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Addendum

I haven't done this before.  But I need to do it today.  I need to add to my previous post.

As I was writing about my 'dilemma' earlier,  I was hoping something brilliant would come to mind.  Something which would make it easier to carry out that which I needed to do.  By the end of my post, I felt determination but not conclusion.

I still haven't had 'the talk'.

The talk I need to have with a loved one which may include conflict, which may hurt, which I'm scared of screwing up.  I need grace.  Both to possess and to give.

But not a half hour after writing that last post, I checked my mail (the real mail) and found I'd received a card from another dear friend.

And wouldn't you know it.  Confirmation and encouragement.

Just as we can easily be drawn into the time suck of technology, we can be drawn into a place of emotional draining by other people.  Some of us, maybe more easily than others.  There may be people in life that you completely love and appreciate but know that at the end of the day you will never be all that they want you to be.  Donna Partow calls them 'bucket ladies' but there are men who are this way as well, I'm sure. My friend in her letter called them 'greedy needy'.

It is not unkind to realize that we cannot be all things to all people.

It is not mean to guard your heart.

The card my friend wrote, spoke to my heart.  She told me the truth in love.  The brilliance in my friend's letter was when she wrote, "We are just a mirage where they think they can find water.  But Jesus is the Living Water!  They will never thirst again when they drink Him in.  We must both keep pointing ourselves and them in that direction."  


She wrote exactly what I needed to hear.  On the day I needed to hear it.  When people seem to want more of you than you can give, perhaps it is because you are the only example of Jesus that they have.

Jesus spoke the truth without fear and without sin.

  "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." NIV 1 John 4:18


I am called to love. I am called to speak truth.  If I find myself, in these two things, afraid, I have not yet been made perfect in love.


God, perfect me in Your love.  Thank you for Your answers, Your timing, Your discernment and the words of a friend, spoken in love.  

Perspective

I was debating whether to blog or clean.  Blogging won.

My, how my perspective has changed since I have moved.  In Iowa, I would never have been able to sit down and write, knowing the house was messy.

Okay, anybody who ever saw my house in Iowa knows that by 'messy', I mean trashed.  My house is always a little messy.  I'm not exactly a neat freak.

But still, I think I'm learning more and more to quit trying to be perfect.  Learning how pointless that is.  I'm learning to break my own stupid rules.

So, I'm putting off cleaning .

But I'm also putting off something else that needs to be done.  Something which may involve conflict.  And I hate conflict.  I'm not exactly assertive, either.

 I'm also not good with boundaries. Doesn't that word make you cringe?  I'm much more inclined to hope a problem will go away than deal with it head on.

But as my perspective changes, I'm starting to see real issues waiting to be dealt with. Boundaries which seriously need to be set.   Word which need to be spoken - by me.  I need to tell the truth in love.

I need to get on with it.  Dragging these things out has a way of worsening them.  I should know this.  I'm experienced.

So, today, I will make intentional choices for my family and me.  Today I will be honest and loving, though there may be pain.  Today I will do what I know I need to.

  I'll clean and then I'll do it.....

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Trickle Down Effect

Lately, I find myself chiding my children for the way they talk to each other.

They're taking the task of 'instructing' each other far too seriously.  In fact, they're abusing it.

I do a lot of handing off duties.  Meaning, I ask the older ones to help with the younger ones.  This responsibility is good for them.

 But, recently, I've noticed that I'm having to preface each delegation with, "Nicely", or "Kindly".  Meaning, "Could you please, kindly, help the baby get dressed?"  "Would you nicely ask your sister to put her shoes on?"  This is my softer way of saying, "Get the baby dressed without making her scream."

Because the older ones make the younger ones scream.  A lot.  And when the babies are mad....everyone's mad.  

Case in point, I hear some screaming at this very moment.  Yikes.  What has happened?  Why do my older ones speak so impatiently and harshly sometimes?

I'm afraid it may be the trickle down effect.  Could it be that I respond impatiently to them?  That I snap?  I would hope that if this is the case, my children are adding some angst of their own rather than downright imitating my tone.  I hope.

Convicted, I am working, intentionally, on demonstrating patience even when in a hurry, calm even in chaos, kindness even when someone is in trouble.

So there you have it - my confession of the day.  My children listen to me.  They imitate me.  God, allow me to be imitate worthy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Art of Intention

Practicing still the art of intention.  It is an art.  A habit.

I find it harder and harder in the noise of this packed world to pay attention to the simple.  But the simple may be profound.

As the artist studies its subject before lifting the brush, let me study the movements of these little ones, as they still are small enough to glory in space and run and twirl,  the expressions of my husband's face when he shares his heart, the comforts and blessings in the surroundings God has bestowed upon me.

And I have experienced, at different seasons in my life, periods of awareness.  Weeks, where I feel alive and everything else seems alive, purposeful, noteworthy.  It's intoxicating, to be aware of these moments.  To take the time to pause and mark the wonder in your child, to allow their laughter to infect, to twirl with them because they are noting the breeze. Sometimes it is the small things that cause us to catch our breath and remember how quickly the years go by.

And yet, how easy to forget this.

Think, maybe of how that first child never could cease to amaze you.  But by the last, perhaps, weary, we forget to indulge ourselves in that same awe.

Brennan Manning, in 'The Ragamuffin Gospel' says, "By and large, our world has lost its sense of wonder. We have grown up...."

 But is it that we've grown up?  Or is what Abraham Joshua Heschel says more accurate? "As civilization advances, the sense of wonder declines."

The time suck of social networking, television, iPhones, whatever it might be - could this be what deters us from reveling in real moments, engaging in physical conversations?

I love Manning's statement that, "We get so preoccupied with ourselves, the words we speak, the plans and projects we conceive, that we become immune to the glory of creation."

Do we listen or do we wait to talk?  Do we worry about how we are perceived?  Are we taking God's plans and demanding that they become our own?  All the while, missing out on the thousands of tiny revelations of God's immense love and beauty?  Working on a paint by number rather than a masterpiece?

As I write here, now, I look out my bedroom window and I see my daughter in a bathing suit,  hair falling all to one side. She sits on the trampoline, practicing some coy look for years later and mentally, I pick up my paintbrush....

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Paradox of Rest and Work

"Is it nap time yet?"  Yes.  Yes, it is.

In fact - confession: we are skipping swimming lessons today because the baby needs a nap, more desperately than usual and because mommy needs her to take a nap more desperately than usual.

 Exhaustion is a way of life for me.  That's okay.  I think it is for most moms. But some days, fatigue rules my choices.  And that's okay, too.  Most of the time, I can drink some extra coffee and power through, but on occasions, it's better to call a halt to normal activity and rest.  Because if I don't, that 'normal' activity can quickly turn to chaotic activity and I can quickly turn into my own version of a desperate housewife, an emotional, nervous wreck. And that is good for no one.

So, today, in lieu of swim lessons, I picked my dad up in true emergency fashion, said, "The baby needs a nap.  Can you watch the others while I do my homework?"  Okay, so I'm not doing homework. I'm blogging.  That's okay, too.  I am in okay mode.  Otherwise known as survival mode:  "Yes, you can have candy.  Yes, you can watch Wonder Pets.  Yes, you can act like wild banshees so long as Baba watches you and I can go in and blog."

Mama, said there'd be days like this.

And blogging is my intentional, quiet, processing, reflecting, praying time with God.  It really is.  As I write, I learn.  What I learn, I write.  I'm fed here.

My work in this life is to grow a family.  I can't work if I'm starving.  So, I find nourishment through this intentional time 'away'.   And then I can intentionally turn the television off, hand out markers rather than candy and supervise the kid's craziness on the trampoline rather than allow them to jump on their beds because I'm too tired to tell them to stop.

I read a blog yesterday called, "If This Was My Last Blog Post".  Funny, that in the beginning of my blogging journey, I wrote every post as though it might be my last.  There was so much trepidation involved with not only sharing my thoughts but birthing them as well, as by nature, I can tend to neglect the inner.    That "Publish Post" button got me every time, as did the "Share" button. I was afraid of the 'reverse narcissism'  Danny Brown talks of in his 'last blog post' exercise. But now that fear has lifted.  As I continued to come here, I grew more confident.  I grew, period.  I continue to grow.  I don't mean in my writing, I mean in my person.  God has used this opportunity to bring me closer to Him, to convict me, to cheer me on, to prompt me in my learning.  I've realized that it's humility, not pride, that is allowing me to share.  To confess.  Obedience is the tool by which I have found an open, willing 'platform' to admit that I'm not perfect.  To share both my struggles and my joys.  To, hopefully, along my journey, freely give to others what has freely been given to me.

So, here I find rest and here I find work.

This, intentionally, will not be my last blog post.

Monday, July 18, 2011

On earth as it is in Heaven

I wrote on Saturday, a paper for class answering the question of whether I would like to live in, Sir Thomas More's 'Utopia.'  I had answered that I believe we all yearn for 'utopia', were, in fact created to, yet it is unattainable here on earth.  

On Sunday, while worshiping, I was struck with both confirmation and revelation.

 Praise is the closest to heaven we can come while here on earth.

There is something about the Holy Spirit's presence in a room full of worshipers, which is both peaceful and moving.  I feel at once that I am alone with God and yet also my own spirit quickened and in awe witnessing the body of Christ in union praising the same Lord that I am.

When the Spirit is upon the people, I am able to just a bit feel how it must be on that day when Christ comes.
Really, the feeling is indescribable.  The song, "I Can Only Imagine" is such an anointed piece of music and the writer puts into words so eloquently how powerful that moment will be.

As I look around a room full of God, arms raised unabashedly, grown men wiping tears from their eyes, I can feel Heaven.

Heaven is in those rooms where God is invited.  Heaven is God's will for us and when we submit, when we pray and intercede, when we worship then it is;"On earth as it is in heaven"

When I am worshiping this way, when I am face down spent but still praying, when I am obeying through a difficulty, I am doing on earth as it is in heaven.  And the presence of the Lord is so strong that I can't wait for an eternity of worship.  We  will worship in Heaven.  We will want to.  We will not be able to help ourselves when faced with His glory.

I don't want 'utopia'.  Utopia means, 'no place'.  I want Heaven.  A home for eternity with my Father.

Over at

Sunday Song Linky Party ~ Pack up those Suitcases!, too. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Intention

Today I want to live intentionally.

 I want to live with intention every day.

It occurred to me this morning how easy it is to not do that.  To wake up, traipse into daily habits which are not neccessarily thought out or expedient.

So my prayer is that God show me moment by moment in the day what it is He's calling me to. That His calling and will might be manifest in my parenting, my love, my writing.

Maybe He calls me to something small, like taking time to tickle the kids or sending my husband a quick 'thinking of you' text.  Maybe He's calling me to shush long enough to hear a calling of something on a larger scale.  

But rushing through the to do list does not induce the intention I am supposed to have.  Nor does allowing my thought stream to become infested with tweet streaming or status updates.  Which brings me to the fact that...

(as I wrote in my new (groan) twitter account) I am a reluctant social networker.  Which sounds oxymoronical when written inside a bio of a social networking site.  I realize this.  I push through paradoxes every day. And I have the ability to make choices, wise or unwise, every day.  May I intentionally seek God's will in these.

When I read Jonathan Acuff's, Longevity is the new Sexy, I was turned off.  Checking stats, building platforms, being in clever status flow rather than Spirit flow, is not sexy.  But as I continued to read Acuff's blog, he struck me with his words, 'sustainable' and 'spreadable'.  God's word is sustainable.  Spreadable.  If the words He gave me can point some people sometimes to His Word, I will write then with intention.  I'll share because perhaps writing, as my friend told me yesterday, is not based on what I have published but rather is my birthright.  I love this.  I may write that down and put it on my mirror.  

I'm not called to prove myself, or to prove God for that matter.  I'm not called to draw attention to myself.  And I'm not called to filter all my thoughts through social networking sites.  But I am called to do all I do for the glory of God.  And as God has sustained me, given me by birthright a gift by which to spread His grace, I will.

With intention.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Utopia


The Problem with ‘Utopia’
            When I was a young girl, first learning the ways of consumerism and just beginning to grasp the idea that there were many living in poverty while I lived in plenty, I suggested to my father that everyone ought to live in villages and trade.  One person could be the farmer, another could make cloths, one would cook, etc.  This, I believed would eliminate both want and greed.  My dad would jokingly call me a ‘communist’ and then try to explain to me why this would never work.  Secretly, I didn’t believe him.  It wasn’t until adulthood that I put down my communist bent and began to see things through a more realistic view.  Politics aside, I believe we are all born with a desire for utopia.  We were created to desire peace and love but we were also born with a sin nature which prevents us from ever achieving the perfect world on this earth.       At first glance, when reading Utopia by Thomas More, the question might be, “Who wouldn’t want to live in this make believe world of perfection?”  Yet, soon, this piece of literature begins to show signs not only of lofty fantasy but also elements of realistic flaws.  Governmental control is essentially what ensues when perfection of a people is sought.  In a fairy tale city like Utopia, the author may well write of dealing with overpopulation by simply moving adults out of overcrowded households, families out of overpopulated cities and weave stories of natives and settlers who, “gradually and easily blend together, sharing the same way of life and customs…”(Greenblatt 554).  Real life has proven time and again, that despite reason and religion, much work is needed to achieve a peaceful blending of cultures. 
            Humans deal with pride.  We fight the urge to feel that we are better than others.  This is why the Bible says “…but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (NIV, Philippians 2:3).  It appears More is of this belief, yet he contradicts himself by writing that the slaves of Utopia, “do the slaughtering and cleaning in these places; citizens are not allowed to do such work” (Greenblat 554).  Were slaves less than human?  Were the sick and elderly less human?  In Utopia, when one is severely sick or quite old he is reminded that “he is now unfit for any of life’s duties, a burden to himself and to others; he has really outlived his own death”.  Government here has become God.  Ironically, earlier in his book More criticizes the argument that “God’s law against killing does not apply where human laws allow it” (Greenblatt 533) when speaking of the death penalty for thieves.  Yet, here we see in Utopia euthanasia encouraged as a matter of convenience.  This reminds me of Proverbs 14:12 which states that, “There is a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to death”.  ‘Utopia’ is an example of man’s good intentions and desires twisted by his own limited understanding and faulty wisdom.  An absurd example of human ego in this story is that of how those who wish to marry are allowed to view each other naked prior to the wedding, the thought being that perhaps one or the other might possess a deformity which would cause the other to ‘hate’ their spouse for the duration of the marriage.  More seems to try to clean it up with the honest admission that humans truly do care about more than character, yet this also exemplifies what happens when people are not transformed by the renewing of their minds (Romans 12:2).
            To live in Utopia, one would have to believe in the good of mankind.  One would have to live out this good.  Utopia is a world where the leaders were pure of heart, no one sought for more than they needed, members of the church were always of good motive and war was only waged when absolutely necessary. Would I want to live there?  I believe I will some day when I arrive in Heaven.  I would not, however, wish to live in a place on earth which was trying to achieve Utopia, as the cost would be too great.  My trust is in God, not man.  When man sets himself up as God and attempts to create his own version of perfection, which belongs to God alone, the result can only be a misguided and false trust of authority which truly can lead to death. 











Works Cited
Greenblatt, Stephen and Abrams, M.H. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Vol. A.         New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006. Print.
Life Application Study Bible. Ed. Ronald A. Beers. Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.,           1984. Print.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Life as Life

Well, life is just life.

  I mean that for as comfortable and content as one can feel for any length of time in this world,  inevitably a day will dawn, ( a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad move to Australia kind of day ) as a  reminder that life is just that.  Life.  We are not exempt.  We shouldn't want to be exempt.  We should embrace what is presented us.  But how often do we do that?

 And actually, I haven't even had that horrible of a day since I've been back.  I've only had a blah day.  The kind where I'm surly for no real good reason.

 I noted it because of it's contrast.  I've been walking on  clouds for the last month, teeming with gratitude, free of the burdens I'd become accustomed to in the previous season.

We imprint, you know.  So, when I came back, I was walking on air.  I felt paradoxically that purpose of newness and also the persuasion that I was stepping into an old pair of snug, soft slippers. Here - Phoenix - this neighborhood -it all became my 'cloud'.  Loneliness lifted, the sun shone, proverbially and otherwise.   I had that anticipated, energized excitement from being in a 'new' environment, was feeling uncommonly stress free - forgetting that a lot of that probably has to do more with it being summer vacation and a somewhat clear to-do-list, rather than the place.  

I imprinted all my joy right here. In the physical.  

So when grouchiness set in I felt confused.  I had to remind myself that I moved to Arizona, not Heaven.

And the familiarity that is making me feel so cozy?  It can present itself in less welcoming ways as well.  Familiarity is not always good.  "The word familiar is from the Latin familiaris, meaning a "household servant," and is intended to express the idea that sorcerers had spirits as their servants ready to obey their commands. "

So sometimes, the familiar haunts, terrorizes, or even just reminds.

And it's hard to discern, sometimes.  Sometimes the familiar lies.  Old habits, old mindsets, anything which we've been delivered of can crop back up to entice.

The pastor said Sunday that "our past will never be greater than our future".  God would not leave us with only the past.  We need to step with Him into the greater future. Even if great things were done in the past.

So, cozy, yes.  But let me not become so comfortable that I don't move forward.  That I become entangled in the past.  This is not my home - the physical.  The spiritual realm is where I've been called.  The comforts here are nice but the clouds will not hold me and the air I need to seek is from God.

Bad days will come as sure as taxes.  Familiarity can be a trap.  But the Good and the Truth are found in God.