Tag Archives: purpose

A Car Wreck and Possibly Alienating Coordinating Analogy

22 May

Just as the toddlers got settled in the basket outside our car at Kroger, we heard a car crash nearby.  Looking in the direction of the noise, I witnessed an SUV crash into a white car parked on the far end of the parking lot and then skid around before finally stopping.  I pushed the kids in that direction to get the license plate of the car that was making all the trouble, in case the person decided to hit and run.  The guy whose car got smashed up walked up and was wondering why the heck his new car was crushed in on one side.  I gave him my card as a witness.  Some lady had sped through the parking lot and a truck hit her before the part of the crash that I saw.

Corcovado jesus

Corcovado jesus (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

I don’t know what was going on with that lady, but what struck me was that the car that was way off on the end of the lot, supposedly safe from being dinged by other car doors, is the one that got badly damaged.  It got me to thinking about how all of our plans to “play it safe” are subject to fail.  And there’s one area where I’ve noticed all my Christian life that people play it safe, and that’s in choosing not to get overly enthusiastic about Jesus.

If you think about it, usually only preachers and missionaries live sacrificially and are sincerely head-over-heels for Jesus.  Not many everyday Christians can be accused of being more excited about Jesus than anything else.  Truth is, the overall “church in America” has more of the world in it than it does devotion to Jesus Christ.

Never will forget the deacon at a Baptist church who spoke up one Wednesday night at church during a Bible discussion.  He outright and unashamedly admitted that he chooses to please man rather than God.  As a person who has been lopsided about maintaining a God-focus, I can say it really does create friction in relationships.  The easy-going road that invites everyone to roll out their welcome mats is not the one which follows hard after God.

The way I see it is that people like that deacon play it safe like that white car at the end of the parking lot.  But in the end, they’re the ones that weren’t as wise as they thought.  There will be great reward in heaven for people who live for the things above rather than the things below.  And there will be great loss of reward for those who didn’t; talk about an inconvenient truth!  Even more inconvenient that having to deal with all the hassle of a wrecked vehicle.

Here’s my disclaimer: This post may sound a bit like I’m feeling spiritually superior, but I don’t mean to.  I’m so far from a perfect Christian it’s ridiculous, but no one who knows me can deny that I have a heart after God and obviously not after the world. 

Free-Falling into Cushy Faith

21 May
Eames Lounge Chair by Charles and Ray Eames

Eames Lounge Chair by Charles and Ray Eames (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you sometimes freak out over concern that a chair won’t hold your weight?  If you do, you’re either a very rare person or you’re struggling with extreme obesity.  The fact is that most of us sit all of our weight in chairs every day without a second thought, and the furniture holds us up just fine.  I believe that this “chair” principle is a perfect example of how life is meant to be lived when our faith in Jesus is genuine.

My situation recently got very scary.  I actually had good reason to believe that I had a limited amount of time left in which I would be physically capable of using my hands to work on a keyboard.  Every job I’ve ever had involved typing either on a typewriter or a stenograph machine or both.  With my elbows also problematic and my hands in bad shape, how many jobs fit my capability?

So between the chronic pain and the descent of a loved one into the proverbial bottom of the barrel, life has been extremely intense and stressful.  My response at some point was to simply jump off of the cliff I was clinging to and into the arms of God.

I’ll tell you right now that it’s safe to leap into faith feet first.  Jesus caught me.  In fact, He was with me through the entire ordeal and never left me.  What was missing was my complete trust that I can rest in the Lord as comfortably as I rest my tucas in my favorite reading chair.

My hands have improved tremendously, and I have two new employers who, together, are prepared to keep me working as a writer full time for good pay.  Wow!  And praise the Lord, right?  My loved one is the subject of prayers every day, and I’m trusting and resting in the Lord regarding the outcome.

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.

 

 

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.

Out of a Trance and Facing the Original Big Fear

12 Apr

”]Cover of "Matrix-Trilogy [Blu-ray]"Didn’t the mass population in The Matrix sort of go through the motions of life without truly living?  That’s how I remember it, anyway.  At this point in my life, with no clue where to move as we leave this toxic apartment, I believe God may be giving me a wake-up call, as though I’ve been just going through the motions without committing to living for Him the way I’m supposed to.  Do you know who I think has a much better grasp on living for God than most of the rest of us?  The Amish.

No part of me believes for a second that I could exist as an Amish person because I’ve always been such a staunch individualist and entirely too impractical.  But I aspire to change my daily routine and my consistent actions as a parent raising these two young ones in my care.  I’m responsible for raising two grandchildren, ages 8 and 3; have I mentioned that?

I’m facing such a dark time right now, since where I’m supposed to live is so uncertain.  And it’s ironic because when I first became a Christian part of the reason I chose to marry the man I did (the wrong man) was because of the security of having a home.  He had established a career at a young age, and he was more responsible than any young man I’d ever met.  (Enough about the unfaithful ex.)

One of the first things I came to an agreement with God about was that, since I’ve always loved “home” and could easily panic about problems related to where home is, I would trust Him completely as regards every place I live for the rest of my life.   (This was after realizing that my marriage was a bit of a nightmare.)

And yet here I sit in a toxic apartment in which all kinds of personal turmoil with other family members has got each of our three lives reeling.  It’s like we aren’t on sound footing.  The toddler has taken to nervous eating, though I’m not going to let that continue, for her sake.  We’ll get more active together starting tomorrow.  And my 8-year-old has been consistently on his worst and most defiant and disobedient behavior.

The Bible talks about rejoicing always, and I believe we really are supposed to do that.  And right now, in spite of the yuckiness of the place I’m currently in, I am excited knowing that God is going to use this experience to set me on a better path to serving Him in the home.  An improved “me” will emerge from this creepy juncture of my short stay on the earth.

And while many people may think that living the way the Amish do is a bit creepy, I think it’s a great example.  I believe God intends us to be intentional in our separation from the ways of the world and in our devotion to Him.  And one of the most wonderful aspects of the Amish life is community – home and family and community life is very strong.  None of the faithful would ever have to wonder where they’re going to be laying their head for the next year.

Oh, wow, it just came to me that Jesus once said he had nowhere to lay His head.

You see how all over the place I am?  That’s one of the effects of not knowing where my place in the world is.  Very disconcerting.  Good thing God is so very faithful.  All will be well.

7 Ways to Be at Peace When World News is Depressing

1 Apr

You don’t have to listen to the news very long to hear something that may be upsetting and probably too hard core for a young child.  In my area this week we have a toddler who wandered away from his home while mom napped, and he drowned in a nearby pond.  Andrea Yates is in the news regarding her request to visit church on Sundays; she’s the Houston area mom who drowned all five of her children in a bathtub about a decade ago.  And nationwide upset over the death of Trayvon Martin is alarming not only because of the needless loss of a young man’s life but in the way the shooting seems to be creating further racial divide.

Trayvon Martin Protest - Sanford

Some people are so busy today, they literally may be tempted to organize a community awareness campaign about how easy it is for children to drown, protest the weekend release of Andrea Yates, and then organize a fundraiser to provide assistance to parents of murdered children.  There are a million and one daily opportunities to be involved in the world.  So how do you keep from being overwhelmed by both the sadness and the urge to take action?  I will share my secret, but it’s actually advice that I got from the Bible.

God created you; He understands that life can literally knock your feet out from underneath you.  He instructs you and me (all of us) to:

  1. Simply take life one day at a time.  (Matthew 6:34)
  2. Keep your eyes on things above and not things below, which means to dwell on God’s Word, His promises, His instructions, His goodness, heaven, etc.  (Colossians 3:2)
  3. Get in tune with God and listen for His voice because He will tell you what your part in the world is intended to be.  And when you do what God has for you to do, you can be sure that it will be effective.  (Isaiah 30:21)
  4. Be thankful!  A genuinely thankful heart is a happy heart.  (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
  5. Be generous.  You can’t solve world hunger.  But you can buy canned goods for the local food pantry, donate the clothing your family doesn’t need anymore, and help a friend in need.  (Luke 6:38)
  6. Treat others the way you wish you were treated, and that alone could change the world by starting a domino effect of people being good to one another.  (Matthew 7:12)
  7. Delight yourself in God and in the other good things of life, such as family.  (Psalm 37:4)

The Christian life doesn’t mean we walk around with our heads in the clouds, but it does mean that we can dwell in the peace of God no matter what the bad news of the day is.

An image of Psalm 23 (King James' Version), fr...

An image of Psalm 23 (King James' Version), frontispiece to the 1880 omnibus printing of The Sunday at Home. Scanned at 800 dpi. Français : Illustration du Psaume 23 (version autorisée par le roi Jacques), en frontispice de l'édition omnibus du Sunday at home. Version numérisée à 800 dpi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)