Monday, May 10, 2010

A Childlike Faith

Today I ministered to a young mom friend of mine. I do home daycare and I invited her to come and bring her two and half year old over for a play date with the little guy that I care for. While the children were happily playing, Noah's mom and I partook in an online Christian W omen's conference via my laptop. Various topics were being discussed pertaining to marriage and it was a very timely discussion, due to the fact that we all struggle with one issue or another in this area.

Men and marriage it seems, can be such a big mystery, and there are so many how to books on that subject, yet the only true "MANual" we have to understand men and ourselves is the one designed by God himself. Well, the conference was humming along and the children were engrossed in v-tech toys and a video. All was going rather well. My friend, who is expecting number two baby was enjoying a much needed respite from caring for her little guy all day by herself. I, being home most of the time during the day was enjoying the company that she provided and we shared some of our challenges together.

The children were served their chicken nugget lunch at a little play table set up family room style, while my friend and I sat at the kitchen table eating quiche and fresh fruit, and sharing in the miracle of christian marital information via cyberspace. Moms with toe headed babies sat on laps all over the country soaking up on the good, Godly advice from these wonderful ladies. All was bliss then lunch was over and the children returned to the play room for a short period of time. Suddenly the relaxing atmosphere was shattered as toys began banging into walls, balls were being rolled down the hall and then the Lego tower tirades began.

My friend looked at me and I her and we both exited the kitchen to see what the two year old terrors were up to. We entered the playroom to find them amidst a scatter of big Lego's, cars and trucks, puzzles and books and the two were fighting over a red Barbie SUV. Each boy was trying with all his might to take the Lego crammed SUV away from the other and cram more Legos into the truck. When they could not settle the dispute, the Lego towers that were so carefully placed on the floor as mile markers began to feel the fury of little feet. First one boy would scream and kick a tower and yell NO! MINE! and then the other boy would throw a Lego tower and scream MINE TRUCK!

Lovingly, my friend and I attempted to split the boys up and help them to clean up the playroom. The whole incident reminded me how much we are in need of a savior. Even these two lovely little children, with all the adults in their lives, need someone to help to mold and shepherd their hearts. In the bible, Jesus speaks of being childlike [Mark 10 :13-16]. This happens to be one of my favorite visual scenes in Jesus' short, earthly, ministry.

Parents were coming to Jesus bringing him their little children to be blessed and touched by him. The disciples knowing that Jesus had a long day, wanted to give him some much needed rest. Despite his fatigue, Jesus, was readily available to the little ones created by him. We too must be like those little children with a childlike faith. Too often, our thoughts of the miraculous are marred by the world's perspective of how we think things should be in life.

We want to be our own savior and figure everything out, or worse yet, wrestle with the Lord about what we do not understand. God's word admonishes us to "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding". "In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." [Proverbs 3:5]. The only thing to remember when we get to the bottom of this life with all of it's struggles and triumphs, is whether or not we know Jesus and are truly a child of God. With a childlike faith, armed with this knowledge, we can go through life's journeys, walking hand in hand with the one who created the universe and ourselves.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Shape Shifters and Souls

I was recently looking over some email that a friend of mine had sent me. Attached to it was a You tube series on of all things "Reptilian Shape Shifters" Apparently someone has come up with a techinally witty way of taking an ordinary video clip and enhancing it with realistic special effects to make it look like shape shifting is taking place. I was watching this clip in disbelief and blinking my eyes to make sure that I was seeing it the way that it was truly happening. Yes the beautiful blonde reporter was communicating some terrible tragedy of disaster with the news anchorman, when all of a sudden, her eyes began to change shape, shifting back and forth from some reptillian creature to her human persona. I kept watching the video and then saw the scales and the outline of a reptile under the facade of the woman's countenance. I really found the whole experience rather unique and also disturbing.

I wondered what would happen if I were able to do that with my twenty one year old son, perhaps when he lets his laundry pile up in the kitchen or leaves his dirty dishes in the sink, that shape shifting act could really come in handy. Then, my mind began to drift to an incident that I encountered with my husband regarding an issue that has been irritating me for the last several months. I pictured him sitting in his usual posture on the sofa with the remote control in hand, and us engaged in yesterday's annoying and anger inducing conversation. I imagined my face serene and controlled with poise until he said the magic word that would provoke me to angst, now I added that clever little trick of shape shifting to my countenance and WHAM! my husband flies off the sofa and is doing everything he can to apologize, placating me and keeping me from eating his face off! Interesting to say the least.

I kept pondering the usefulenss of shape shifting and then the realization came to me that I am indeed a shape shifter of sorts. I carry the image of God inside of my soul and when I speak to others , I reflect his image to them. I am made in the likeness of God, and my responsiblitly in this life is to get to know him on a deep level and to have a satisfying relationship with him and to communicate this to others. Unfortunately, in this life living for God is a foreign concept to those who don't know him, and we are aliens in a strange land. Liken that to the shape shifters that supposedly inhabit the population that we know nothing about, and you have the complete illustration of Christians in today's modern society. As a Christian, I have experienced firsthand those who are lost and don't know it, and they look at me like I am an alien when I tell them that Jesus thinks that they are amazing and he loves them madly and that God has a wonderful plan for thier life. Jesus was truly alien even though he was fully man . He also was fully God and people had no idea that the Kingdom of God was standing right next to them when he walked the earth. He had the body of a man and the heart of a King. He saw the beginning middle and end of the story. He was God travelling incognito to a lost and dying world. He revealed himself to the ones who truly longed for him and made it their desire to follow him and place him first in their lives. The bible says "I am a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my own mother's sons." (Psalm 69:8) Jesus said that he came to divide families against one another and parents against their children. (Matthew 10:34) As Christains, we walk as aliens in a world that rejects the unfamilliar. We must remember our responsiblitiy to God and his kingdom. Regardless of how we are viewed to those we meet, we are image bearers for the Lord and his image must be clearly viewed in our lives so that that those lost in the darkenss can finally see the light and conform to the image of Jesus Christ that they see reflected in our souls.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Limited access? NOT! You can't put a limit on GOD!

It has been quite a long time since my last entry, and it is funny how we let life's difficulties get to the bottom of our souls sometimes. I was attempting to connect to the internet today to do some much needed writing and found that I had no connection or so I thought to my router. So I, being the computer savvy high tech twenty first century mom that I am, attempted to venture into the "matrix" of my computer. Doing so I believed, would determine the malfunction that was causing my issue of not being able to connect to the super information highway in cyberspace.

I went over to the router, and shook it, made sure that there was indeed a connection . I sputtered from the cloud of dust that arose from the bottom of the little blue box, and then scurried back to my laptop. Intently, I began searching in earnest to inspect all of the connections, crawling around on my hands and knees to see if I had lost a cord somewhere under the sofa. My dogs were curiously sniffing my head and licking my ears, as I got up off the floor. With knees cracking, as I stood up, I swept the dust bunnies out of my hair. I could not see any spare cords floating around. All connections appeared to be good.

Now I was puzzled and as I scratched my head, I got the bright idea to go into the connections menu in my computer to see if I was indeed connected. Because, you see, as I previously mentioned before, I am a high tech computer savvy twenty first century mom! I clicked on the icon in my tool bar and the bright green bars that read internet connectivity to my system were strong but the little blinking window showed a sad picture of a computer with input going in and nothing coming out and a caption that read "limited access" By this time I was beginning to get extremely frustrated with my lovely laptop. I clicked on one trouble shooting window after another and still came up limited access and had entertained visions of throwing my laptop through my sliding glass door.

In my discouragement, the Lord started to show me how we think of his ability to help us in times of crisis and difficulty. We see all the sorry issues of our lives as a cut off to the Father, yet this is where God does some of his best work and is connected to us closer than we could ever imagine. Life happens and we feel that God is silent and not listening to us, or he is angry and punishing us. We cry "when will you save me?" " Why did you do this to me? " When in fact it is quite the opposite. I am not saying that God does not discipline. Nor does he not correct or judge wicked people, but he does create circumstances in our lives to bring us back to him, especially when we create limited access to him through our own choices and sinfulness. Sometimes we get on a path that really takes us "out there" into lost cyberspace, and God, in his infinite mercy, patiently trudges along in the bumps and ditches of our lives and seeks us out and he firmly,yet lovingly brings us back by the scruff of our rebellious necks. We think he has abandoned us when it is really the other way around. Yet, no matter how far we may wander away, how limited we make our access to God, he is always ready and available when we call out to him and he re -routes our connection to his ever loving arms by way of his son Jesus Christ.

My laptop works by way of a router and God works by way of his word. When a router is properly synched with a computer, a lovely miracle of connectivity happens between the cyberpal and the computing device. When we are following the Lord through consistent prayer and communion with him by reading the bible, our lives will be full of the blessings that God has promised us through his inerrant transforming router; the living and breathing word of GOD. The bible says in Luke 19:10 "For the son of man came to seek and to save what was lost." Ezekiel 34:16 "I will seek the lost and bring back the strays." God is in the business of creating pathways where there seems to be no way. He cares about every single minute detail of our lives. We always want his assurance and his confirmation that he is connected to us. We think we are in disconnect to God when things in our lives spin out of control, yet God is there, reconfiguring our connection to him and all we have to do is call upon the name of Jesus and he hears us and our connection to him becomes stronger and clearer than it was before.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Peace amidst Chaos

I recently house sat for a friend of mine. Her home is tucked away in an outer suburb of the city of Rockford. Sitting on her front porch, all that can be seen are the few homes surrounding hers. Gentle, sloping hills and cornfields nestle the little subdivision. I enjoy the opportunity to house and dog sit for my friend, because it affords me the luxury that I seldom get to experience in my own home. I can eat whatever I want, do whatever I wish, go wherever I please, and set my own hours. Except for letting the dog out, bringing in the mail and watering the vegetable garden and flowers, nothing else is required of me.

One evening as I attempted to retire for the night, I was pondering the peace that this little mini- vacation provided for me. I had brought my own dog with me to play with my friend's pup and was preparing to get us all ready for a restful night's sleep after our late evening stroll. I turned out the light and settled down in the luxurious four poster pillow topped bed, and that is when the sound began. A whistling, singing tea kettle like sound that pierced the restful darkness of the evening. My friend's dog, Harley wanted to be up in the bed with me and my dog.The tea kettelling repeated itself several times. Harley being about twenty pounds heavier than my little dog, could not get up in the bed without assistance. His nasal serenade alerted me to this fact. I refused to attempt lifting him as I had recently had my gallbladder removed and lifting thirty something pounds of pup would have been disastrous. I attempted to ignore the whistling and rolled over to face the other direction, my dog snuggled at my feet, already snoring away, sighed from the disruption.

Harley was not satisfied with sleeping arrangements alongside the bed on the floor, and decided that he would have none of this nonsense. He wobbled around to the other side of the bed where I was laying and proceed to gently tug at the covers hanging over the edge. I pulled up the excess blankets adorning the empty side of the bed, only to find that Harley already had the corner of the bedspread firmly clamped in his jaws. Now, it was tug of war with me being on the losing end. I was to say at the least, getting slightly perturbed by this canine companion and hastened him out to the hall with an old bed sheet and his shabby, fuzzy Mr Happy toy. I closed the door with a determination to get back to my slumberous bliss.

I clicked the light off on the bedside table and Harley began to howl, and scratch the door with his forepaws. The noise started out small at first, with him sniffing underneath the door and then it began to build in some kind of a crescendo like fury as he attempted to scratch the varnish of the bedroom door. I leaped out of the bed and let my woeful friend back in the dark room, scolding him for making such a mess of the peaceful night. I retrieved a dog treat from the paw printed " yum yum jar" on my girlfriend's dresser, turned on the light and proceeded to coax Harley up on the bed. Now there was my dog, squinting in disbelief as I attempted "circus tricks" with our furry friend trying to convince him that he could indeed get up on the bed all by himself. Unfortunately, those attempts were unsuccessful and I realized that this could go on all night.

My dog was now wide awake and seeing that I had treats he attempted to stand on the bed and twirl with his little paws in the air begging for me to give him some yum yums' too! Exasperated, I sat on the edge of the bed at 1:00 a.m., while I watched the two dogs play, mine jumping around the bed and Harley playing "tag you're it" with my dog from the floor. As I sat there bleary eyed something occurred to me. How was I going to get this bleeping dog into the bed without straining myself to oblivion? I then noticed my suitcase on the floor. I slowly walked over to the suitcase and pushed it up against the bed. I then prompted the Harley monster to jump up on the suitcase and from there up onto the bed. With one swift move, the dog leaped up onto the suitcase and effortlessly sailed through the air onto the foot of the bed. Now I was so overjoyed to have both dogs on the bed, I nearly cried as I eagerly climbed back onto the bed, diving under the covers. I reached over and turned out the light for what seemed like the tenth time.

I lay down and started to feel my body relax when Harley decided he needed to crawl underneath the covers and sheet. Burrowing down to the foot of the bed, Harley finally went to sleep. All was relatively quiet until about one hour later, when I was awakened by an overpowering odor. Apparently, Harley was having some digestive challenges and he needed to release some gas from his intestines. I thrashed around in the bed trying to move as far away as I could from the fragrance of dog gas that permeated the room.

As I lie there in the bed after opening the window looking out into the night, I started thinking. We do so many things to serve the Lord, in our churches, homes and workplaces as well as our communities, yet we rarely take time to be alone with our creator on a daily basis.There is something to be said about being by yourself, perhaps it is the soul's ability to hear from God. Whispers of the Holy Spirit, penetrate the deep recesses of one's heart when time is set aside for communion with the Father.

Tranquility is lost in the bustling frantic activities of our day to day schedule, and it is only in the aloneness that we are able to begin to see the image of our creator and his hand on our lives. The bible talks about how Jesus would arise early and steal away in a quiet place to be alone with the father Mark 1:35. Sometimes the Lord will isolate us so that we have no choice but to be alone with him. It is then that we begin to hear his voice and realize the importance of quiet time with God. We often fight this quiet time out, yet our hearts and minds crave an opportunity to rest.

We must depend upon peaceful time, to walk with our maker and hold his hand as he speaks tenderly to our hearts. How many times did Jesus long to steal away and be alone with the Father, yet there were lepers to heal, children to bless, blind needing sight restored, and disciples needing tending. Jesus was everything to everyone, yet he never failed to look up to the Father in quiet contemplation from some isolated place. Our relationship with our Father must be like that as well. We have to take the time to steal away to fix our eyes upon God regardless of the interruptions and insane moments we experience in our day to day lives. It is only in peaceful moments amidst the chaos, that we truly experience God's peace at work in our soul.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Special Delivery

Recently, I experienced an event that was most unusual and definitely most amusing. Earlier in my posts I stated that I am recovering from surgery and have been quite disabled although it is only temporary. As I was resting the other day, I had a strange encounter with my new neighbor. He knocked at my front door, unaware of my current medical condition. Slowly, like an injured tortoise, I managed to make my way to the door dragging my walker and hobbling on one foot. My lovely little doggies defending me every step of the way, barking to announce my arrival to my neighbor.

As I opened the door, I noticed my neighbor was a bit perplexed with a situation that he attempted to explain in broken English, as he is German with a rather thick accent. "Oh excuse I did not mean to disturb," my neighbor said as he greeted me. Apparently he did not notice my physical appearance, I, looking as if my hair and clothes had been caught in a tornado. Physical upkeep is something currently of a challenge for me. I introduced myself as we had not formally met, hoping that he could not smell my sweaty persona through the screen door. "I feel so stupid", my neighbor stated, "You see, I was out here working in my yard and, oh! do you have ladder"? "Ladder? "How in the world did he expect me to get a ladder for him when walking for me is almost impossible. "Why on earth would he need a ladder?" I thought to myself. He then went on to explain that he could see it on my roof. "See it?" I said, "What is it that you see?" By this time I was becoming concerned about this prospect of something sitting on the overhang of my front porch. My neighbor went on to ask me "Do you have chair?" I could stand on chair and reach, perhaps." Now, I was beginning to get nervous. Visions of my neighbor standing on a chair and falling and breaking his neck came to mind. "Oh I don't think that is such a good idea", I replied "You could fall and get hurt". In my head I was thinking sure then you might sue me and I could lose my home and be living in a cardboard box. My imagination tends to run away with me at times.

My neighbor then held up his left foot, clad in only a gray holey sock. Now, I was totally confused, because I still did not understand what he needed or what he was trying to explain to me. He then explained he was out raking his yard and kicked a rock. I tried to picture my neighbor of slight build, outside, sending a rock sailing so hard that he lost his shoe, only to land it special delivery to my porch roof. I had a rather difficult time keeping a straight face as I slowly deciphered what my neighbor was explaining to me. "Hmmm" I thought "He must have a pretty bad temper, I mean if he could do that to a shoe, I can only imagine what else he could send sailing through the air, if properly provoked." Finally I suggested that my neighbor try using the rake he had in his right hand as he kept repeating that he could see the shoe, hanging precariously on the overhang of my front porch.
His face turned a deep red and then after a few swift sweeps with the rake, the shoe triumphantly appeared. After a few more brief words and introductions, we parted with an invitation to have a neighborly cookout to get to know people in the neighborhood this summer.

As I closed the door, the Lord impressed something on my heart about the whole situation. Life is like that shoe on the roof, one minute everything is progressing at a pleasing pace, and the next thing we know, we might become sick, lose a job, becomes injured, or receive unexpected and unwelcome news. How do we handle those moments? We try to fix the situation or deal with it on our own, without realizing Jesus is the perfect manager for all of our problems. We try to get a chair then a ladder and when we have run out of ideas, and we are stranded on the roof of our problems, we finally succumb to defeat or retreat to the Lord for help. The bible says in 1 Thessalonians 3:3 " so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them." Yes, we are destined for trials in this life, but Jesus told us "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace." "In this world you will have trouble." "But take heart!" "I have overcome the world!" John 16:33. The decision is up to us to either soak in our troubles, and let them weigh us down, defeated, or to bask in the peace that Christ offers. Difficult times are for a season in our lives, an opportunity for us to stand back and see just who is this mighty God we serve. Deuteronomy 7:19 highlights this picture of our God ,"You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the miraculous signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm with which the Lord your God brought you out." During the hardships of our lives it is important to remember this promise. With Christ handling the "special deliveries" that life has in store for us, we can be assured that he will help us to come out of them victorious.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Trails, Trials, and Trust

I was on an outing the other day with my parents. Now this was not your average everyday go out and walk around the forest preserve. This was not exactly a picture perfect postcard outing, but it did attempt to resemble one. This was a let dad push me in my wheelchair sight seeing flora and fauna excursion. You see, I am currently quite disabled, but it is only temporary thank the Lord! Going anywhere out of the house right now is an ordeal. Trips outside entail an entire process of packing up the wheelchair, assisting me with Wilma (my walker,) getting me into the car and onward to our destination.

When we arrived at the preserve I began to feel total peace, just letting the serenity of the moment soak into my weary being. Dad decided to take me for a stroll around the lake. As he was pushing me into the deep green woods along the trail, I noticed something. Here I was, a relatively young woman with two senior parents and I was being pushed in the chair. "Shouldn't this be the other way around? I thought to myself. The Lord certainly does have a wry sense of humor does he not? As we went further along the trail I could hear my dad getting winded as well as my mother. I implored my dad to find a bench and have a seat before he had a coronary thrombosis.

Dad turned my wheel-chair around and proceeded down a sloping path to the nearest picnic table. Up ahead, the path began to take on a life of it's own, with its dips and angles and a steep drop. Suddenly, Dad was picking up speed and I with my good foot, was attempting to help him steer the chair. I had this vision of myself, tipping over chair and all,and my father, God bless him, turning me upright like a turtle on it's back, off the ground. I could see it now , me arriving at a social function in neck brace and body cast, holding a package of permanent colored markers, and all my friends doodling notes of encouragement all over my plaster clad being. "Tell me again, how did you end up in a body cast if you were being carted around in a wheel- chair?" Thankfully that image disappeared as quickly as it came. Now, as we were moving along closer to our destination at a pretty good clip, my dad shouted to me, "Don't worry I got ya, I won't let you fall!" Oh joy, famous last words!

Those words echoed in my head even as I proceeded to take control of the chair with my only good foot. Hey, if I was gonna fall over in the wheelchair, I had to be the one in control of the fall!
That is when the realization struck me like being hit with a ton of bricks. Our journey with the Lord is somewhat like that. We go along the pathway of our life just fine until we hit a difficult spot in the trail. We try to gain momentum and make it over the hills or carefully navigate the deep trenches and valleys.

We don't want to admit we need help from our heavenly Father, we would rather do it our selves. Rather, we don't trust our Father to take over the navigation process and the steering wheel. This is the where we need our Father's help the most. We need to trust him knowing that he will help us in our journey on the pathways of life. We need to be confident that he is with us and will never let us go. Proverbs speaks of this type of trust in chapter 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." You may you ask, what does type of trust look like?

Have you ever been in a desperate situation with no hope, not knowing where to turn? Perhaps you have experienced the tragic loss of a loved one, or have been delivered a grim report from your doctor, or you may have lost your job. There you are, stuck on the path, in the dark woods, afraid, bewildered and feeling abandoned. Perhaps your calls for help seem to fall on deaf ears. "Is my Father really listening? Doesn't he see my need for his help? At times like these, it seems as if it is all we can do, to blindly grope along life's trails. Yet, it is here in the deep dark desperation of our lives that our Father is here right beside us, holding our hand Psalm 139:10 "Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast." We all have times that we may feel as if we will slip down into the black pit of our own fears, worries and anxieties. Psalm 56:3-4 David speaks of this type of trust; "But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you". "I praise God for what he has promised." We trust in God, why should we be afraid?" Are you willing to trust our Father and rejoice in the expectation that he will deliver you from all evil? No matter what it looks like in your natural world he is there, working in the undercover scenes of your life. He is steering you in the direction of his will for his glory. Through your trust in Christ, you can be assured that the Lord will lead you on the right road to arrive at your ultimate destination, the Father's heavenly kingdom. So, perhaps the next time you find yourself lost and swerving on the slippery slopes of life, remember God is in the driver's seat, so sit back and trust that he will take you to the place of his choosing, safe, sound and upright.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Whats on your soul?

I am a doggie mom, aka; parent of pooches. I have two adorable fur balls that leave "behind" evidence of their presence all over my yard. Frequently I or my hubby, and occasionally my twenty something son take turns scoopin' poop. Recently it was my turn to hold the golden shovel and go digging for buried treasure. So there I was a poop scooping away in reckless abandon. Unknowingly I was up to my instep in the brown messy muck. I roamed from one spot in the yard to the other aware that the undeniable fragrance of eau de doggie was becoming stronger no matter how fast I scooped the poop into the pooch poop pickup.

I looked down and much to my dismay, there it was all over the sole of my new white tennis shoe. Now one of my biggest pet peeves has always been doggie doo on my shoes. I sat down in the carefully surveyed plot of grass and commenced to removing the doo with a stick, while holding my nose with my free hand. As I sat there digging into the intricate little grooves on the sole of my shoe, I began to think about sin and Jesus. Now I truly don't know how the connection was made so swiftly in my cerebral cortex, just know that there is a lesson to be learned here.

Life is full of sin! We try to avoid it, yet it always gets stuck on our soul leaving dirt and muck in it's wake. Some of us diligently walk through life trying to avoid the piles of muck while others just give up and settle to wear "hip waders" and some just wallow in the stuff. What we fail to understand is that no matter how we try to stay clean and shiny, our souls will get dirty. Jesus is the ultimate in scooping the muck off our lives. The bible says in Psalm 103:"He does not punish us for all our sins he does not deal with us harshly as we deserve".

We don't have to scoop the poop off of our souls before we come to Jesus, we come to him and he cleans us up with his "special whitening brightening power". Jesus lets us get dirty. He is patient as we struggle on our own, he knows eventually we will tire of trying to clean the mess up alone. When we finally do come to him for help, he is willing to help us clean up and forget our past mistakes Psalm 103:12 "He has removed our sin far from as the east is from the west".
Exhausted we come to Jesus as little children, he is right there waiting with the scooper, clean shoes and a great big hug!