Thursday, September 6, 2018

A LITTLE BIT OF HEAVEN

Old picture, but...

The Japan contingent is home for a visit! And this evening, while Daddy put the little girls to bed, the sisters sat down at the piano together and played and sang.

It's been going on for about an hour now. One of the sweetest sounds I know.

I think this is a little hint of what heaven will be like.

Monday, September 3, 2018

OBSERVATIONS ONE MONTH INTO THE NEW JOB

Observations one month into the new job:

* I miss mornings on the porch swing. Evenings on the porch swing are a pretty sweet consolation, though.

* Ladies, we really cannot do it all. Whoever tells us we can is lying.

When I stayed home, my days were full. I rarely felt like I had enough hours in the day to do the things that needed to be done. Running a home was/is a full-time job.

Now that I work outside the home several hours each weekday, running a home is STILL a full-time job. So, what does that mean? It means there's an awful lot going undone on the home front. I don't like the situation, but the alternative is for me to work all day at the lab, then come home and work all night at home. I can do one or the other and still make time to sleep, eat, shower, etc., but I can't do both.

* When I stayed home full-time, a house fairy apparently did the laundry, mopped the floors, cleaned the bathrooms, swept the cobwebs off the ceiling, bought the groceries and cooked the meals. This house fairy stopped doing magic the day I clocked in at the lab. I keep hoping she/he will show back up, but so far, that hasn't happened.

* When I stayed home full-time, home was my workplace, but it was also my refuge. Home feels less like a refuge now because all the undone chores clamor for my attention. "Let it go! Let it go!" may be a great coping strategy for a Disney ice princess with magical powers, but it has not proven to be an effective way to create a pleasant home environment or foster peace of mind for me personally.

* There are so many beautiful people in the world. My co-workers at the lab are all very different from me, but they are delightful people to work with. I appreciate their expertise, patience and humor, and I am thankful for and enjoy each one of them. These awesome people make my job fun.

Now, the sun has set and the mosquitoes are biting. Time to head inside and wind down for the night - 4:50 tomorrow morning will be here before I know it. Rest well, friends!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

BACK TO THE BASICS

"There is absolutely no shortcut to holiness that bypasses or gives little priority to a consistent intake of the Bible." - Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness

God is holy. If we want to grow in holiness, we can only do so by growing in our knowledge of and in our relationship to our holy God.

While a general, vague knowledge of God is available to us through observation of the created world, God reveals himself to us explicitly through his written Word. Time spent in God's Word is time spent in God's presence. If we desire to grow in holiness - in obedience and likeness to our Creator and Savior - we must spend time consistently in Scripture.

In an age of magic diet drinks, fitness-while-you-sleep programs, get-rich-quick schemes, and "3 Easy Steps to Instant Success!," ordinary means of grace and growth and ordinary obedience seem pretty radical.

Why is it so difficult for us to do the simple thing that God asks?

A young friend complained to me recently: "I can't afford to tithe."

Familiar with this person's challenging financial situation, I replied: "You can't afford NOT to tithe."

I have witnessed people struggle for years financially, all-the-while commenting that "Once I get things straightened out" or "Once I get past this crunch I'm in" they would give to kingdom work. I am all-to-familiar with this trap, because I have spent way too much time there myself!

And yet, Scripture is clear that tithing is the beginning of financial discipline and freedom - the very same financial discipline we need if we're to dig out of this hole, weather that next crisis, etc. To presume that we can figure out how to manage God's money well (because it IS all God's) without following God's financial guidelines doesn't make sense.

Likewise, determining to lay behind us a particular sinful habit or to develop a particular spiritual discipline before we seek God - in his Word and in prayer - makes no sense. It is foolish to think we can conquer sin or pursue holiness without a knowledge of God, as He reveals himself in Scripture, and without the presence and power of God's Spirit, promised to us in Scripture, for Scripture is the basis of our entire relationship with God!

So, back to the basics...

Not after we get our lives together, but now, because it is here that we find life.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

THROUGH FIRE

"For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance." Psalm 66:10-12

* * *
This past twelve months...it's been a rough year. It has also been a very good year.

Today - this particular day on the calendar - is a special day for me. I have reason today to look back and consider all that has transpired over the past twelve months.

So much joy. So much delight.

So much hurt. So much sorrow. So many tears.

So much growth.

God is ALWAYS good. God is ALWAYS faithful.

We can ALWAYS trust God.

ALWAYS.

But honestly, in seasons of ease and delight, we do not even begin to understand the depth of God's goodness or how unwavering his faithfulness to us. That kind of deep-root growth, that kind of soul refining happens only in the fire.

So, I want to end this special day with this:

Dear One,

What a year! You have indeed been crushed; men have trampled you with evil words; you have walked through fire, and much dross has been burned away. But GOD in his great faithfulness has, by the mercy that is yours in Christ, brought you through the fire to a place of abundance.

Today, I praise God for the work He has already done and for the work He continues to do in and through you.

You have been tried as silver, and come out shining.

Today and every day, I am thankful for you, sweet child.

* * *
"In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith - more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire - may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 1:6-7

Friday, August 10, 2018

DON'T YOU JUST LOVE IT WHEN GOD GETS ALL UP IN YOUR BUSINESS?

Trying to juggle all the things clamoring for my attention and energy during this new season of life, I have to fight to keep Bible reading, meditation and prayer part of my daily routine. It's a battle, but I am not giving up!

When my prayer group met this past Tuesday evening, my friend Sue prayed that God would provide time in my busy schedule for me to spend time in His Word and to pray.

If my prayer ladies pray for you, you'd better watch out!

I got into bed late Tuesday night after an awesome prayer session with my sisters. Exhausted from a long day of work, a late-night meeting and too-little-sleep the night before, I fell asleep thinking I would delay the next day's getting-up time by fifteen minutes.

Instead, I woke up at 4:00 in the morning.

Seriously, God? I thought when I rolled over and looked at the clock. Seriously?! Don't you think I deserve a little more sleep?!

Well, sleep was NOT going to happen, so I began to pray instead. An hour later, I stumbled to the shower to begin another long, exhausting day.

* * *

On my lunch break, I reviewed this week's memory verse for the Wednesday night Bible study at church: "But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified" (1 Corinthians 7:27).

We are working our way through The Pursuit of Holiness, by Jerry Bridges. The book is about personal holiness. About pursuing personal holiness, which is hard work. The discipline of personal holiness requires effort, perseverance and sacrifice.

Because of our sin nature, we are not naturally inclined to holiness. The world distracts us and lures us away from holiness. Satan opposes our growth in holiness in too many ways to count, and he is subtle, persistent and ruthless.

As folks drifted in for the study that evening, my friend Dana asked how I was doing.

"I'm still adjusting to this new work schedule," I replied. "Plus, I was up really late last night, and I hoped to sleep in a little bit this morning, but then it was like God woke me up - wide awake - at 4:00 this morning and wouldn't let me go back to sleep because He thought I should be praying. I am SO TIRED!" I went on to relate my struggle to keep Bible study and prayer a priority during this new season of life, and to describe how this week's chapter had been particularly challenging and convicting for me.

We began the lesson Wednesday evening by taking turns reading through all the verses referenced in this week's study. The verse that fell to me? The verse I got to read aloud to our group?

"But make sure that you don't get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can't afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don't loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!" (Romans 13:11-14, The Message).

By the time I finished reading the passage to the group, I was laughing. This is ridiculous! I thought. Can God be any more explicit?!

So, Sue and Brenda: God answers our prayers. (But we already knew that, didn't we?)

Thankfully, He has not waked me up at 4:00 every morning this week. He has, however, been all up in my business, and He has made sure I had ample time to spend with Him each day.

Friday, August 3, 2018

TRANSITIONS

I love learning and I enjoy interacting with people. At the new job, I get to do both. 🙂

Plus, I get to wear comfy, cool-looking, easy-to-maintain scrubs. I'm not very big on fashion sense and I don't like shopping, so the uniform is definitely a plus.

Things I have learned my first week on the job:

If I am going to juggle home, a job, and writing, I need to make good use of my time. Oddly, having less time to work with (or rather, a greater number of things to accomplish in the 24 hours I've been given each day), I seem to get more done. Guess I'm super-conscious of the fact that time is precious and I'd better not waste it! That said...

The housework and yard work are still going to suffer. Sure, I could spend evenings tidying bloomed-out flowerbeds or washing woodwork, but...nah. Clean woodwork is over-rated.

I need to schedule time to mentally process everything that's going on in my world. If I don't have consistent time to sit quietly and THINK, I start to feel like I have ping-pong balls bouncing around inside my head. At the end of Week 1, I'm a walking bingo-ball tumbler! Thank goodness for a restorative, meditative yoga session with Erica tomorrow morning.

This new arrangement is not only an adjustment for me - it's an adjustment for the people I love, too. I am thankful my youngest updates me on her plans and works with me to co-ordinate our schedules. I miss frequent afternoon visits with the in-laws next door. I HATE that I was not free to spend several days with my son and daughter-in-law when they welcomed the newest addition to their family last week. The outside claims on my time definitely require an adjustment, but I'm confident we'll figure this new "normal" out.

I am more grateful than ever for the prayers, support, and encouragement of family and friends. You all have helped make what could have been a difficult and stressful transition into a delight and an adventure. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

SUN, SAND, SURF...REST

Melbourne Beach, Florida

Wow! I haven't checked in here at the blog in two whole weeks! I stepped away from writing assignments, laundry, and kitchen duty to enjoy a much-needed break from routine chores and deadlines.

I haven't had a do-what-I-want, when-I-want, at-my-own-pace, kick-back-and-relax vacation in...well, in so long that I can't remember. I figured it was time for a holiday, before stepping into the harness of a new job.

Some people are late bloomers. I am fifty-four years old. This summer, for the first time ever, I planned a vacation: booked lodging, planned transportation, budgeted for meals and gas, the whole she-bang. The entire process was an adventure - and I enjoyed every bit of it!

My youngest son is living near the east coast of Florida this summer, and my youngest daughter (the last chicken at home) has long wanted to experience a beach holiday, so a beach vacation seemed the natural choice. It. Was. Awesome. I understand why folks with the time and the money make annual visits to the coast.

I love the beach. I love the sun, the sand, the sound of the water. I love the people. I love the nothing to do but PAUSE, breathe, rest. I also love swimming. I am very buoyant even in fresh water, but in salt water...well, let me put it this way: if I were an animal, I'd be a manatee.

Sunshine, surf, and good company.

Our second day in Melbourne, we met up with a friend from nearby Orlando for some brain-stimulating conversation and a short road-trip to Vero Beach for sushi.

Sushi date - yum!

Sunday, a day of soul refreshment, worshiping with brothers and sisters at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Melbourne. In the afternoon, a stroll along the boardwalk at Turkey Creek Sanctuary in Palm Bay.

According to Ben, it rains EVERY afternoon.
Should've brought a bigger umbrella!


Monday, the youngest and I packed the car before daybreak and headed to the beach one last time, to watch the sun rise.














Sunrise over Paradise Beach. It amazes me that the God who creates this kind of enormous, powerful, heart-swelling beauty every single morning - that same God knows me and loves me and He hears and answers my prayers.

Finally, with full hearts and refreshed bodies, we turned and headed west toward home.

Today, CATCH UP! Laundry, grocery shopping, writing assignments...but work is a pleasure after such sweet rest. We are both looking forward now to our different jobs and to school. And already, we are planning our next adventure.