Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Don't put a face on God's blessings.

I was talking with a Christian sister... about 30 years ago, about dreams, plans and goals. I had hopes that God would bless me with one thing or another, I don't remember it all. She told me,"Don't put a face on God's blessings."

That's returned to me over the years as I would look around the corner, expecting God to answer my prayers according to my imagination. Now, why would He do that. Half the time my imagination isn't fit for mixed company. No, God is full of surprises.

Many times I blame God for His blessings, not seeing the value in His gift right away. When we started homeschooling, I felt like I was being punished for a wicked past and being sentenced to "hard time." What a lavish gift and blessing that ended up being. I had a different plan for those 15 years, and he gave me something far more exciting and valuable: 15 years of one on one time with my wonderful, loving children. How could I buy such a treasure?

Often in the last few years, He blesses me with a friend. It's usually someone I never would have guessed would be such a lovely part of my life. And that's just what I'm thankful for tonight. God gave me a friend who encourages me to grow spiritually. She's faithful and patient with me. She overlooks my shortcomings, and praises my little bits of progress which encourages me more than she'll ever know. She's the bit of sunshine that I look forward to each Sunday. But, she's not the partner I would have thought God would give me to get me moving forward again. I would have put a much older face on her. She just turned 13 this week! Who would have thought that Bekah B, (who I affectionately refer to as "Dot") would be my special friend this year.

Thank you, God, for all the special people you put in my life. You are kind and generous. And thanks especially for my Dot. She blesses my heart. Please bless her too.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Best Day

The fear of dying just seems like common sense. No one wants to get the bad diagnosis. I can't remember all the times I found some little lump or bump and felt that little panicky feeling. Begged for mercy. Started bargaining with God. Please wait until the kids are grown.. until the grandbabies come. The graduations. The weddings.

Tonight Pastor preached on what it will be like to see Jesus. Revelation 1. A picture of the Savior in dignity and purity, with all wisdom and the truth of His word, with all authority. God in the midst of His churches, not sitting as a spectator looking down from heaven. Holding his seven messengers, perhaps the pastors of the seven churches, in His right hand. The Almighty.

The sight causes John to fall down like a dead man. But Christ lays his hand on John, and His loving reassuring words to him are "Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." Our Savior, who tasted death for us and is alive forevermore. Fear not.

And the glad thought dawned upon my heart. Our lovely brother, Don Webb, went to be with Jesus this week. Don always seemed to have a twinkle in his eyes, and a smile on his lips. It looked like he had something cool going on with God that I just didn't know about. Sometimes, whatever was going on in his heart that week would leak out in bits and pieces, and his blue eyes would fill with joyful tears, and he would say something that I couldn't understand. I'd try to get it. Smile. Nod my head. And he'd laugh a little and shake his head, and his eyes would twinkle. And I'd be glad that he and God had something cool, some new truth, some joyful communion between them.

Tonight, as Pastor talked about what it will be like to see God, I realized that Don is experiencing His glory right now. The perfect conclusion to a life spent, partnered with a wife who also lived to bring glory to the Master and bring souls to meet their Savior.

My heart is with my sister, Ferne. I can't imagine that pair separated, and I can't imagine the pain. Everyone who knew Don will miss him. There is the sting.

But why do we fear our own death so much? It ushered Don into God's presence. That is what he lived for. That day, for each of us who know the Savior, is probably our best day ever. Our loving Savior holds the key of death. What does it unlock? Fear not.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Just about the time you think you're lookin' good...

One day I want to write a book entitled "So, there was this time when..."

So, Sis and J and I decide to have a girl's night out. I put on my best shirt. Got on my groovy jeans. Finish off with my nice red hoodie (not a teenie bopper hoodie, an adult hoodie). Sis usually looks professional. Julie (the former cowboy girl) wants to go shopping and purchases a teale colored cotton scarf to acessorize with. As she's checking out I notice a man also checking her out, not in the learing sense, but in the taking another look sense. Then I check her out. She's not dressed provocatively, just looking good with her curly hair and layered shirts... MY BABY.

At this point I'm not feeling old. Julie's just growing up and Sissy is a professional. I'm lookin' good too, right?? So, we go off to see our movie. I had put something in my pocket in case it turned out to be a tear jerker, but it wasn't. Just funny. Afterward, as we strut to the exit, through the lobby of the theater, I notice J's scarf streaming over her shoulder. Nice effect. Then my hand brushes something at my side, and I notice a plume, about 3 feet long, of toilet tissue billowing in my wake.

And that's how your can tell when you're old. J acessorizes with scarves. I acessorize with toilet tissue.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Stuck in a bad spot.

Okay, I'm conscientiously counting my calories. Drinking my water. Working out as often as life will permit. Trying not to overdo so as to injure myself. I've learned to wrap my problem wrist. I'm wearing my knee brace. I'm doing all the right things... and I've gained 2 pounds in the last month.

I'm going to need some mighty prayer in order to radically change what I put into my mouth and how often I do it (like MORE often). I'm going to step up the exercise by going in earlier (that I can do). But those who say, "Just count your calories and move more."... for some reason that works for you, because I've seen it. I'm going to jump into Amy's book again. Last time I immediately got a cold, which is typical for me. The Grandmaster has lost probably 30 lbs just by counting calories and working out.

So. I will stay in the wagon. My frustration equals "the flesh". Self-control and patience are in the wagon.

Hoping that God calls us today... or is that just hoping for a calorie free banquet.

Monday, March 2, 2009

How I became a snail.

When I was a new Christian, I became determined to read through the Bible. There was a lovely tool called the Daily Walk, from the Walk Through the Bible ministry, that helped me to accomplish just that. It provided helpful bits of historical and cultural information and overview stuff so that this very foreign information made more sense. I read through the Bible in a year, compulsively reading all the names out loud to make sure I didn't skip anything. I did this again several years in a row which gave a good Bible foundation.

Another helpful growth tool was the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts (IBYC), commonly known as the Bill Gothard seminar, which came to Long Beach in spring and autumn of each year, and gave instruction in practical Bible application. I found a new challenge each time I attended, though the material was basically the same each time.

One of Gothard's spiritual habits (a challenge to us) was to fast and memorize a passage of scripture regularly. (Our pastor preached on fasting yesterday, which brought this to mind.) He assured us there was deep blessing in practicing both disciplines at the same time, so I decided I'd give it a try one year.

I chose Psalm 1 for my passage and began fasting on a Sunday night. (I ate REAL good Sunday afternoon!) I got up and went to class at El Camino on Monday morning and left the campus famished! "I really don't think it would be so bad if I had a little nibble God..." As I turned onto Redondo Beach Bl, on my way to work, the girl in the car behind me began honking wildly. I looked in my mirror and she was smiling largely and giving me the christian finger! (The nice index finger that communicated that Jesus was the "One Way".) She'd seen my bumper sticker. God had given me a helpful nudge. So, with renewed determination, I prayerfully, thankfully went off to work with my giant water glass and my Bible to take up the memorization challenge with a 4 day fast. My real challenge was to keep the fast secret from my workmates and my roommate (so I shouldn't be like a Pharasee- because I really, really wanted God's blessing!!)

One phrase at a time I memorized and meditated on Psalm 1 for four days. By God's grace, as my tummy would rumble for food, God would fill my soul with blessing. The night before I was supposed to break my fast I was so full of God's joy (Blessed is the man!!) that I didn't want it to end.

I have fasted for weight loss since then (which doesn't make me spiritual, it makes me crabby). The real blessing that I took away from that week was the joy of memorizing and meditating on a passage of scripture, one phrase at a time. What unexpected blessings I have received! Isa 53, Phil 2, Eph 1, Rev 5, Rev 19- one phrase at a time. One verse at a time. Phil 3... one verse at a time, prayerfully, one phrase at at time. I think it was Gothard who called this meditation "thinking God's thought's after Him." (If not him, I don't know where I got it, but it gave me a method of meditation.)
Next, I'll tell how I put a little rabbit in my snail.