Friday, October 26, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Thanks for the vent; I feel better now. :-)
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Ro 15:4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Visiting the bank recently, I noticed someone pull up to the ATM. I honestly can’t remember the last time I visited an ATM – don’t even think about asking me what my PIN is. The only place I tend to spend money is Walmart, and since they take debit cards, I don't often need to have cash on hand.
Thankfully, we’re fairly good about not forgetting to mark down those purchases, and with Darin's penchant for online banking, we usually keep the books balanced pretty well.
It’s funny how cash has become almost obsolete for many people. With the advent of direct deposits and EFTs, I suspect there are some who haven’t handled or touched coins or dollar bills in several years except perhaps to tip the bellboy, and they probably have "people" to do that. I’ve actually even heard some say that they don’t like handling the noisy, potentially dirty or germ-ridden stuff, and that it’s obtrusive in bulging pockets or billfolds. However, I imagine that if any of us found a $100 bill lying at our front door, we wouldn’t ignore it or throw it aside. It still holds value in our society, even if it is not excessively utilized.
I think many of us treat our faith in Christ like money, always a valuable commodity, but if someone leaves a crisis on our doorstep, it suddenly becomes more indispensable. We think of church or Bible study attendance as weekly “deposits” made into our faith “account,” expecting to withdraw anytime we want to “pay for” our sin with a debit card of sorts, as though God is the heavenly banker who levels out our accounts and notifies us with guilt-trips when we’ve overdrafted. And some haven’t handled their own faith in years. They’ve lived off the books, articles, songs and poetry of others – adopting those journeys of trust as their own. Perhaps in our consumer-driven society, we’ve decided that real, nitty-gritty faith is too dirty, too noisy, too obtrusive to deal with.
The truth is, faith in Christ won’t always be pretty and God is not a heavenly accountant tabulating your credit and debit columns, because, quite frankly, the debit columns will never be out of the red. We’ll always be overdrawn if the basis of our faith is our actions and thoughts. No amount of “goodness” or “credits” can balance out the death of his perfect, sinless Son on our behalf. Furthermore, a faith without feet to it is dead, James says. In other words, unless your faith is active in the lives of people, it’s still sitting in the bank of your heart – a non-interest bearing account.
I want my faith to be on a cash-basis, spending it like the wise servants of the rich man, only to bring back more in the end.
Maybe I should go by the ATM more often, too, as a reminder. Now, how can I get that PIN... ?
Monday, October 15, 2007
Yesterday, in particular, moved me to tears as I considered the truths of the consequences of marital infidelity, pornography, and premarital sex. From sitcoms to soap operas, characters are engaged in dangerous relationships with no apparent effects. But the truth is, those tales are merely snippets of the whole story. In reality, there are emotions that become scarred, trust that is destroyed, health that is put in jeopardy, and visual images that can never be erased. When Darin mentioned that the average age for a person to view pornographic material was 11, I wasn't shocked. Because, unfortunately, that's how old I was, too. I was innocently riding the bus home from school one afternoon and some kids had a magazine. They were throwing it to one another, and at one point it landed, open, beside me on the seat. I didn't want to see it, had not requested it, and truly freaked out when I realized what it was. One of the kids grabbed it up immediately (and of course threatened me to keep my mouth shut). But, just as I said, that image is still ingrained in my mind, no matter how much I'd like to remove it. At that young age, it had such a profound impact on my psyche, that I even remember exactly where we were on the bus route - that's been 22 years ago.
As a result of that experience, and its scarring effect on me, I've made it a habit that every time I see an "adult" bookstore, I pray a simple prayer: "Lord, please bring your complete destruction upon that place and its contents, and draw the people to yourself." By this, I mean that God alone can obliterate the building and materials inside. He can even work out technicalities with insurance companies so the place can never be rebuilt. And, I'm asking for all the people involved (employees, writers, actors, producers, owners, customers, etc.) to find hope, healing, and the affection and love they crave in the presence of God. Please feel free to join me in this prayer. Maybe together, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can abolish these garrisons of Satan one by one.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
I was so pleased and proud of our volunteers, too. From Billy and Flo's tent to Debbie, Katrina, and Gem's talented artwork and decorating, we saw so many people using their skills, materials, and personalities to reach out. Damon hauled hay and took pictures. Valerie, Debbie, Tracci and Franchot snapped photos. Eddie provided a tablecloth. Julie, Judy, Ruth, Jerry, Chuck and Irene greeted folks and distributed the giveaways. Gem, Flo, Billy, Rochelle, Brittany, Chelsea, Andy and Darin encouraged people to come to the booth. Chris helped close down and load up at the end. Ryan even loaned his dog, Tipp for a couple of photos! Even though they couldn't be there on Saturday, Roy provided drinks for all the workers, Ann helped us with tent decisions, and Joey, Ann, Jennifer and Charlie provided ice for them. So many did additional things or multiple tasks that I don't have space to mention.
We didn't get pictures of everybody, so please forgive me if you were left out! And, by the way, that's Billy, Jennifer and myself in the 2nd photo from the top. That was early in the morning and we were still adjusting to our lighting issues!
Thursday, October 11, 2007
I'm terribly excited about the opportunity we will have this Saturday for promoting the life and ministries of the church as well as hopefully exposing members of our community to the love and gospel of Christ. To do this, we'll be managing a photo booth. Digital pictures will be taken of families and friends in front of backdrops painted by some very talented church volunteers, and subjects will be invited to download the pictures for free from our church website or pay $5 to have them printed on site. As a bonus, we'll be distributing ink pens and mouse pads with the church logo and web address.
We don't have any idea what kind of response to expect, but at least we're just about ready for whomever should happen to appear. We've got a great group of volunteers to help with the day, doing everything from greeting and arranging people for the pictures, to photographing and distributing the freebies. I guess the thing that's got me so excited is seeing how many people are using their various talents and abilities to serve God and further his kingdom. I think this is what Paul meant when he wrote about the many gifts used by believers, but all by the same Spirit!
God, please use us this Saturday to be authentic rays of hope and love to everyone we encounter.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Yesterday, in Broomfield, CO, a 6-year-old boy was hungry and decided he'd go to Applebees. So he grabbed the car keys, took his from his grandmother's car, placed it in the driver's seat, then made a go of driving himself to the restaurant.
He made it about 75 feet. Unable to take the car out of reverse, he backed across the street and into a transformer and communication box, knocking out electricity and phone service to dozens of townhomes.
No one was injured, and the boy got out of the car and told his grandmother what happened. But investigators still haven't solved one mystery... How did the kid reach the accelerator?
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Don't worry, I got up and went to school this morning to tutor, and there was nothing at all to complain about there. The kids were as great as ever. But, after I came home and had some lunch, I still didn't wanna do much of anything. Especially iron, which is what I need to do. I didn't even wanna go out to the mailbox to get the 4 credit card applications that were there. (If I'd known that was all that was in there, I might have stayed inside anyway!) I summoned up the energy to shred them (whew), and now I'm ignoring the ironing board standing in the corner calling my name. Ju...lie... (Pardon me while I put it in the closet.)
I'd probably write more today, but you guessed it...I Don't Wanna.
Monday, October 8, 2007
But our fairy tale isn't brought to fruition until we have been rescued by our Hero, the one who passionately pursues our hearts, and ransoms and restores us to our rightful role as heir to the kingdom.
Here's something to consider: Adam was made in the image of God, right? The Eldridges suggest that just as women have three desires (believe they're beautiful; play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure; and be swept up in romance), men have three desires too: (1) have adventure, (2) have a battle to fight, and (3) have a Beauty to rescue. (If you consider these in connection with the men and boys you know well, I'll bet you'll totally agree.) Anyway, since men are also made in the image of God, isn't it possible that God desires these things, too? Think about it. Every day is an adventure for God (he just has the bummer of knowing exactly how it's going to turn out, good or bad, but still creates and acts anyway), he daily fights the spiritual forces of evil, and he has and continues to rescue his creation to salvation and relationship with himself and away from the destruction of sin. See, you have a Hero who has and will continue to rescue you, the Beauty, from the Villain (Satan).
And why does the Hero always rescue the Beauty? Because she is the one thing he cannot live without. He desires a relationship with her, not because of what she can do for him, but because of who she is. He is captivated by her.
In the same way, God desires a deep, intimate and personal relationship with you. He's not looking for what you can offer him or who you think you should be. "He wants your deep heart, that center place within that is the truest you. He is not interested in intimacy with the woman you think you are supposed to be. He wants intimacy with the real you."1
Whichever of your three needs is/are going unmet, look to him for the answer(s). Let him be your Hero. Allow him to tell you you're beautiful; take a risk and follow his calling toward your irreplaceable role in a great adventure; and be swept up in his romance of you.
The Villain seeks to steal, kill and destroy, but our Hero has come to bring you abundant life. Your fairy tale begins again today. Once upon a time . . .
Thanks, God, for being my Hero today and for eternity. The escape from sin and fears can seem so risky, but the freedom in a love relationship with you is so worth the unknown. Help me to trust your faithful character, and offer you all I am.
1. Captivating:Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul, p. 121.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
The first men to fill that role in our lives, should, ideally, be our daddies. I am so grateful to the Lord that he blessed me with a father who, because of a committed relationship with God and my mom, showered his love upon me. I never had to question whether or not my dad wanted me around. Sure, I got in the way sometimes (a six-year-old can be a pain when you're trying to build a house), and there were many times I disappointed him (oh, I'm not supposed to punch my sister?), but I never doubted that he was glad I existed in his life. Unfortunately, too many women grow up without that assurance and as a result, they live with a quiet fear that they are undesirable. This ends up manifesting itself in many ways. Some women become reclusive and fearful, others reach out for anyone who will give them a sense of value. Still others overcompensate for the emptiness by being "strong," even masculine (I don't need anyone to need me.)
In a perfect world, for those who are married, a husband should assume this role in a woman's life. But, let's be honest, it doesn't always turn out that way. I have a friend who believed her husband would be that kind of man, but instead he became more interested in nurturing their pocketbook and less interested in nurturing her soul. Married less than7 years, they filed for divorce a few months ago. It took longer than I would have preferred to find Darin, who offers that sense of belonging to me, but it was certainly worth the wait.
But what about those women who have never married, or are not yet married? Are they destined to live neglected in this area of romance? Absolutely not. Single women have a unique place in the heart of God, I believe. Consider for a moment the ministry of Jesus as related to Mary and Martha. Whom did Jesus allow to anoint his feet with tears and dry with her hair? Who's meals did he apparently enjoy eating from time to time?! Who's brother did he raise from the dead so that in a culture dependent upon male relationship, they would be safely provided for? A single woman has the opportunity for a unique relationship with God that has no parallels for a married woman.
Single or married, we as women must begin to recognize that "the truest thing about [God's] heart toward [ours] is not disappointment or disapproval but deep, fiery, passionate love. Faithful obedience to God is vital, but it is not all God draws us to. It is not sufficient for our healing, no more than doing the laundry is sufficient for a marriage."1 If we'll open our hearts to the possibility, we'll find that God has been wooing us ever since we were little girls. "The story of your life is the story of the long and passionate pursuit of your heart by the One who knows you best and loves you most."2
Consider every song, memory, and moment that moves you to holy tears as having been given from the One who has been pursuing you from your first breath. "God's version of flowers and chocolates and candlelight dinners comes in the form of sunsets and falling stars, moonlight on lakes and cricket symphonies; swaying trees, lush gardens and fierce devotion. He knows what takes your breath away and makes your heart beat faster."3
Let the Great Romeo romance your heart, Juliet. It will be an affair to remember for eternity.
1. Captivating:Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul, p. 113.
2. ibid., p. 115
3. ibid., p. 116
Friday, October 5, 2007
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Confession: I am a huge fan of "chick-flicks." But not just the mushy ones. I want the stories where the heroine plays a vital role in the plot that no one else could have played. I'll even pick on a couple of my favorites. When Lucy rescues Peter from the tracks of the on-coming train in While You Were Sleeping, she was the only person available to save him (if you don't count the guys who mugged and shoved him onto the tracks in the first place). Her life was never the same again as a result of that moment. Not only did she find love and companionship in Jack, but she had opportunity to see a dream fulfilled by visiting Florence, Italy. And in Beauty and the Beast, lonely Belle, in spite of her initial fears, defends and fights for the beast against the angry mob. Because she found companionship, trustworthiness, and love, she also became the only one who could precipitate his change from beast to man.
Both heroines were (1) needed; (2) willing to take risks; (3) bold in the face of danger, though vulnerable to attack; (4) conscientious of the relationships involved; and (5) desirous of a new hope and fulfillment. Every woman wants these things for her life. We want to be needed by others; we are willing to take risks and be bold, knowing all the while how vulnerable our hearts really are; we are acutely aware of the health of the relationships around us; and we all have hopes and dreams we desire to see fulfilled.
Women need the reminder from those we love that we are indeed irreplaceable, that no one else can be to the people in our lives what we can be to them. That what we have to offer is of value. But every woman also wants to know that the hum-drum of life doesn't have to be "enough." Why else would we want to start businesses, swim the English Channel, go to school, travel to other parts of the world, or, yes, take tap dance lessons? Those are our "adventures," great or small.
So what adventure is God calling me to today? What role does he need for me to play that no one else can do just like I can? Will I say with Mary, "I am [your] servant, and I am willing to accept whatever [you] want. May everything you have said come true." (Luke 1:38)?
God, help me to believe with assurance that I am uniquely designed by you to touch lives and accomplish your purposes, and that to fulfill these roles will be the adventure of a lifetime.
While that may sound rather fairy-tale-like at first, when I examine my life more closely, I find evidences of those desires in day-to-day living. Over the next few days, I'm going to explore again what that means in my life. I'll start with the first one: (1) wanting to believe I'm beautiful.
When I got up this morning, I showered, dressed, fixed my hair and put on make-up. Three days a week, I spend time exercising. Most days, I don't indulge in 10,000 M&Ms. (Most days!) Do I do all this because it's fun? Not really. Do I neglect any of these from time to time? Sure! There are a million reasons why I do or don't do these things, but the bottom-line truth is that I want to do what I can to feel and believe I am as beautiful as I can be. Nobody dreams of being the haggard witch in Snow White; even her alter-ego was fair to behold.
But just being beautiful externally isn't enough for any woman. I've met women who could model in Paris, but their personalities or general aura were so uninviting that their beauty was diminished. Yet I also know a simply dressed, unadorned, wrinkled elderly woman whose beauty absolutely overwhelms me, for in her presence I am welcomed and accepted, just as I am in the presence of God Himself.
What makes a woman beautiful, then, is confidence in who God has made and is shaping her to be, coupled with the humility that honestly recognizes she hasn't achieved that completeness yet. It's a careful balance - this confidence and humility. If I'm overly confident (arrogant), I accept myself only as I am (with no vision or hope for my own future) and I believe that my opinions are always right, so I never accept change about anything (e.g. I wore leg-warmers and big hair in the 80s so it's right for me now, too). However, if I'm diffident, I may never take risks that challenge me to become more than I knew I could be (e.g. I wouldn't have signed up for tap-dancing lessons or even begun this blog at the risk of others' disapproval).
The ultimate question, therefore, is "Does God find me beautiful, today?" The Sunday School answer is, "Of course, he made and formed me to be like I am." But the honest answer must be reached deep in the soul: Is my heart cleansed of unconfessed sin? Have I been disciplined with the body and mind he's entrusted to me? If I can answer in the affirmative to these questions, then I can claim Psalm 45:11 as God's words to me, "[I, the king, am] enthralled by your beauty." Sometimes, that's all the encouragement I need to know I'm beautiful. Other times, he says it through Darin or through someone else who simply says, "You look nice today," or "Your smile touched my heart."
God, help me to humbly rest in confidence in who you have made me to be and be your tool to let other women know how beautiful they are to you, too.
Monday, October 1, 2007
Some moments are deeply meaningful, aren't they?
This week, I've corresponded with my friend Lupe, whose daughter, in only a few weeks, will be marrying and moving more than six hours away. As Lupe's emotions run the gamut between joyful excitement and maternal longing, I was blessed to learn that when she met the man's family, she found an immediate spiritual connection with some of the women. Lupe knew that the Holy Spirit was present in them, and that gave her a peace that surpasses all her understanding.
Lupe will be the first to tell you that change is not something she runs to embrace. But that encounter gave her an assurance for her daughter's sake that she didn't have before. And it only took a moment.
I hope and pray that the next days will be filled with joyful memories and intimate moments of conversation and laughter as her family (as its defined now) interacts together. After the wedding, things will never be the same again, so I hope that they will live and drink in every moment of now, to bring those memories with them into the new and thrilling future.
God, help me recognize those meaningful moments, and make them count for now and for eternity.