Archive | April, 2012

I’m In a Pickle Jar, And God’s Unscrewing the Lid

30 Apr
Barney, Andy, Aunt Bee, and Opie in "The ...

Barney, Andy, Aunt Bee, and Opie in "The Pickle Story" (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I switched to a healthy eating regimen a few years back; and I still remember how exhilarated I was, as though I had been released from a mind control prison.  Energy returned to me, and my eyes and ears that had been dulled were sharper.  I was convinced that I had actually been in the captivity of my flesh, and it felt amazing to be free.

Here I sit in that same prison, but it’s worse this time.  I’m aware that I’ve been entrapped by the things I routinely put in my mouth.  In other words, I know how to get out.  So why don’t I?

Television is actually much like food for me in that it’s a mild addiction.  I can get caught up in the absolutely time-wasting activity of watching what Stephen King refers to as a “glass teat” in his book On Writing.  Every weekday morning I’m watching all the early episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, when Opie was a kindergartener.  And I don’t like to miss Columbo on Sunday nights or Monk on Fridays – and there’s more.  If you put together all those hours I waste in front of the television, I could have written the book series I dream of by now.

I’m tired of being comfortable with my complacency.  I want to be a better example to the little ones, too.  Life is so much better when I eat right and have a sense of health and well-being pumping through my body as a result of adequate exercise.  I feel like such an idiot, and rightly so.  Because what I wish for isn’t some lofty thing out of my reach, like getting to witness to Mel Gibson face-to-face.  I simply want to do the very best I can with this life and this body God gave me.

Again I ask:  So why don’t I?

It just came to me that focusing on these issues daily in fervent prayer will be the catalyst to turn all of this around.  I’ll do it, and I’m pretty excited about unexpectedly receiving this answer from the Lord.  And earlier today I had the idea that when I do start exercising, I could pray for friends I know who also need to get in shape for the sake of their health.  This makes so much sense.  It takes prayer to crucify the flesh and be free of its relentless demands.  Duh!  It’s a spiritual battle!

And all this time I thought it was about me acting stupid.

Not Caring is Like Falling Off a Log

29 Apr

My goal: Get back to glowing health.

Not caring is so easy. For instance, if I don’t really care that I’m overweight, I don’t have to go through all the bother, sweat, and sacrifice to lose weight.  However, I believe I do care; but apparently not enough to get started today or even first thing tomorrow with a proper diet and fat-burning exercises.

I was asking myself what in life I truly don’t mind bothering about.  What would I go to any lengths to do?  And I was relieved to discover that I had an answer.  There is one thing I will always go out of my way to do, and that is to ensure that my heart is free and open for communication with God.

So while I think I may get heavenly kudos for caring about my relationship with God above all else, I’m starting as of now to pray desperately for help in desiring to be fit.  I need the kind of desire that motivates me to take action.

I’ve posted a photo of me when I was at my top physical shape, and I don’t believe I’ve ever looked better in my life.  That has sparked a bit of motivation to lose weight.  And then some female friends from the neighborhood I grew up in contacted me recently, wanting to get together.  I don’t want them to see me like this; in my opinion, I look like a hot mess, in a bad way.

It’s time to rouse myself with daily pep talks about establishing new eating and exercising habits.  Before it happens, God’s going to have to answer my prayer and inject me with a mind that sincerely gives a care.

 

Caught between Dorothy’s Joy and a Wicked Witch’s Demise

26 Apr
Cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the tr...

Cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the trailer for the film The Wizard of Oz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My spiritual high Monday, which involved an irresistible urge to pray all day long, was a day which produced an unexpected miracle  cluster.  My daughter Maddie is like the lion in the Wizard of Oz who found his courage.  She was hired for a position which represents a significant raise and promotion; she earned it by working hard far below her pay level for years.  My daughter Emily — like the scarecrow who had a brain, after all —  landed a high-paying job the same day she quit a job in which she was unmercifully used and worked much like a slave in management.  Funds I’ve been waiting for were released to me, and I got hired by a generous employer who actually believes writers should get paid well for the difficult job of writing.  It was a river of relief that seemed as simple as a snap, like when all Dorothy had to do to get her heart’s desire was to tap her slippers three times and say, “I want to go home.”

But my financial relief and physically taxing relief aren’t quite here; and, sparing the details, the pressure on me could be compared to being that wicked witch that was unfortunate enough to have a house land on her.

In moments like this, though dramatic, I think of all that Jesus suffered when he was beaten and hung on the cross.  The movie The Passion of the Christ gives a glimpse of what our Savior suffered through.  But the result of all that horrific difficulty and pain was a glorious resurrection and the opening of a stairway to heaven for all who believe in the Son of God.

Through my wincing, I believe that on the other side of this trial is an even bigger breakthrough than what my family experienced on Monday.  God is good, and He doesn’t let His children suffer without good reason.  The life of a Christian is a life of purpose which puts an anticipation of joy into every sweat drop of human suffering.  My rejoicing by faith doesn’t look like much on the outside right now; but on the inside, I’m giving God and His goodness a standing ovation.

 

 

Spiritual Urges are Way Better Than Fleshly Urges

23 Apr

I’m often struck with various urges. Mostly, I get the urge to eat a bit of chocolate.  My love of the outdoors is why I believe I get the urge to take the kids to the zoo on a regular basis (if you’re going on a long walk, why not go where the scenery is engaging?)  But today I’ve been struck with an ongoing urge to pray.

What a great reminder — as I move from living mostly with my mind on earthly things to keeping my mind mostly on the things of heaven – that the Christian life is a supernatural journey.

Imagine if you were part of an entourage for a huge celebrity and as such got to see and experience things the throngs would consider once-in-a-lifetime thrills.  Now imagine being in the entourage of the most powerful Being in existence; perhaps the throngs don’t see the excitement in it, but I certainly do.  I’m trying to draw a distinction between earthly thrills and heavenly pleasures.

When I commune with God as a person who is free from unforgiveness and habitual sin, life is anything but commonplace or boring.  Experiencing the nearness of God is like turning my human existence into what in fleshly terms would be the equivalent of enjoying a chocolate sundae with homemade Blue Bell ice cream (available mostly just in Texas and the best in the world).

Indeed, today I find the urge to pray stronger than the urge to eat.  What am I praying about?  I’m not even certain why there’s such a powerful pull on me to drop to my knees.  I know that two of my children have job interviews today for positions which would improve upon their current work situations.  I also know that my second move in approximately a month is one week away; definitely need prayers for that.

It’s been a while since I’ve felt such a strong spiritual pull of any kind.  I’m not using a lot of words other than agreeing that God’s will be done in the situation prompting my Spirit to pray.  Whatever God is up to, I’m just grateful and excited to be in his entourage.

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Romans 8:26

New King James Version (NKJV)

26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us[a] with groanings which cannot be uttered.

How to Be Electrifying

22 Apr

I’m currently taping a concert by Adele which she is performing live for a public television program.  If you aren’t familiar with Adele, she is a singer/songwriter who has been breaking all kinds of records with her platinum albums.  She writes about the heartbreak of a breakup; my favorite song is “Someone Like You.”  Ironically, that title (though not the song’s meaning) is what I’m writing about here.  You are the only someone like you, just as I’m the only one like me.  There’s a place for us in this world which I believe makes the same kind of impact in some realm or another as Adele has made on the music world and in the hearts of millions who are enraptured by her songs.

There have been moments in my life which stand out because I was so aware that my life was making an impact on others as I was a part of a team.  Nothing I’ve ever experienced compares with being prayed up for my calling and fulfilling that calling with passion and focus.  Most of this type of experience occurred when I was ministering in prisons.  It was absolutely incredible to be used as an instrument of God.

And yet I believe that in my life right now I’ve been given the opportunity to create an even bigger impact on the world than all those times in the prisons put together.  These children I’m now raising are my mission field.  If I raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and with all the love and wisdom I can muster, they’ll grow up to make significant contributions to other lives.

But my desire to impact children goes beyond my immediate family; I was powerfully reminded of this last night when I helped a lost little boy who was about 4 or 5 years old and wandering in a Walmart parking area by himself, looking for his mother.  I’ll probably never forget that encounter.  As I first saw the boy and realized he was definitely lost, two men were attempting to take charge of him; sorry, I just have a problem trusting that strange men will definitely do what’s right for a lost little one.  I stopped right there in the drive, put on my hazard lights, and made sure that a person in management at Walmart took charge of the boy, who only spoke Spanish.

The lost child, who my heart goes out to, served as a reminder that I believe God will give me the inspiration I need to write books for children that will bless, encourage, and empower them.  Most of all, the books will, in a subtle way, prove how incredible God is while making it clear that the children are highly valued and loved by God.  The books will make Christianity even more cool than Harry Potter made magic out to be.

I believe that the devil works very hard to help us forget that we have a thing we’re equipped to do unlike any other person.  If we don’t get off track and we do plug into that divine purpose, we become lights in a dark world.  Sometimes as we’re walking in obedience to God we’re actually giving off the most light while completely unaware that our lives are positively electrifying.

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Proverbs 22:29

New King James Version (NKJV)

29 Do you see a man who excels in his work?
He will stand before kings;
He will not stand before unknown men.

Note to Self: A Really Big Storm is A-Comin’

21 Apr

raining sheets

After bringing the little ones to the zoo today, we all took a nap.  We were awakened by a crazy storm that dumped hail and sheets of rain while lighting up the sky with lightning and booming thunder.  Within a few minutes, the sidewalk surrounding my apartment became a small stream a few inches deep.  In the midst of it all, I put raincoats on the toddlers and pushed them in a stroller to the car so we could pick Logan up from school.  How quickly the world changed completely!

The storm reminds me of the very first rain storm, which was when Noah had finished building an ark and had loaded two of every creature on board.  Everything changed as it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, killing every living, breathing thing that wasn’t on the ark.  A similar event is due to come someday, when the rapture occurs.  Believers will go up and things on earth will get very volatile after that.

Ultimately, the earth’s purposes will be finished and all of humanity will either go to heaven or hell.  And this very thing is what our existence on earth is about.  It’s so easy to forget that, what with the world offering so many engaging distractions.

What would happen if we lived every day with a stark awareness that an eternal tempest of judgment is coming upon everyone who rejects Jesus Christ?  I don’t know about you, but I believe it would help to nudge me out of my complacency and find creative new ways to share the Good News that Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sins.  And we can pass from this tumultuous journey called life into a place of eternal peace and joy.  There, we’ll probably never have to slog around in soggy shoes.

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“And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man.”  Luke 17:26

Saturated in Garbage, Not Glory

20 Apr

Heart of Gold by Robin Lee Hatcher

Today I had a rare break from the children, and I took the opportunity to read a very well-written book.  Robin Lee Hatcher is one of my favorite Christian romance authors; I read a new book of hers called Heart of Gold, which I checked out from the library.  I devoured it within a few short hours.  Anyway, the preacher in the book reminded me of an important principle in Christianity which I call saturation.

Why do you suppose preachers are paid to preach and visit really sick people and, at least in the old days, not much else?  It’s because they need to spend as many waking hours as possible in the Bible so that they can pass the revelation they receive from God onto the congregation.

But here’s the catch.  All Christians are called to live like preachers.  We’re all supposed to saturate ourselves in the Word of God.  I have most definitely not been doing that for a while.  For most of my Christian life I can honestly say that I did saturate myself in the Word of God, prayer, and seeking the Lord.  But raising young ones as a grandmother has been the thing that shifted my focus.

I’ve written a lot here on the blog about being crabby.  That’s not even my normal nature as a non-Christian.  I’ve always mostly been just an all-around sweet and bubbly person.  I guess what’s happened is that I’ve got too much of the world getting on the inside of me and not enough of the spiritual things of God.

The idea of being alone with God and focusing wholeheartedly on His Word excites me as much as anything the world has to offer.  I’ve been depriving myself of what’s best in life, and as of today I’ve thoroughly realized it.  This is one rut I’m particularly excited to pull out of.

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“…you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”  1 Peter 2:5 NKJ