hello, my name is mud.

hello, my name is mud.

I realized something today about humanity…..and by extension, myself.

I am mud. We are all dirt. (it’s an analogy, work with me here, okay?)

God gives rain.  (“bad times” negative experiences etc…)

God brings sunshine. (good times, successes, mountain top experiences)

Seeds are planted in our lives by encounters with others and by reading God’s Word and hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit.

But those seeds need rain and sunshine to enable them to flourish.

If not for the rain, nothing would grow.

That growth has to happen for anything good to come of us.

We are the dirt.

We are not the plant. God planted the plant in us, the dirt men and mud women.

Nothing we do, nothing we are, is any good without God. This gets really simple to understand when we fully realize our dirt-ness.

Have you ever managed to make anything nutritious or yummy out of dirt?

Nope, I didn’t think so.

You can make good things GROW in dirt, but the dirt itself is not yummy.

Not. One. Thing that I do has any value apart from God.

Romans 3:12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Genesis 6:5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

There is nothing I as a dirt-woman can accomplish that has any value. But the plants, the seeds, the rains, the sunshine, the growth….these CAN Bless others and be used for God’s glory.

 

Advertisements

don’t wait

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere

just read that sentence and you can hear the song in your head.  Or if you can’t, click on the video.  Enjoy.  I’ll wait.

 

A concept that resonates with just about everyone.  We all get it.

Somewhere in the world, it just turned 5 o’clock, so its okay to let loose, party and perhaps consume an adult beverage or three.

Fun idea,  and not too difficult to understand.

Now I want you to consider applying this concept to a Bible verse.

yes, a Bible verse.

Lamentations 3: 22 & 23 (ESV)  to be exact

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end
They are new every morning
Great is your faithfulness

 

How many times have we heard people say “His mercies are new every morning” and mentally applied it like this:

“wow, I really messed up today, but tomorrow I can start fresh”

“ugh it’s only 9:47 a.m. !  Today has started off horrible!  So glad tomorrow will be better”

Why wait?

The earth is round.

You are on the earth.

the sun is coming up SOMEWHERE

so

DON’T WAIT

Claim it right now.  His Mercies are new right now.

You don’t have to wait till tomorrow for the Faithfulness and Mercy of our Living God.

This is one thing it is okay to be impatient for.

 

 

 

I can’t handle this!

“my life is rough right now, but I take comfort in knowing that God won’t give me more than I can handle”

I’ve seen this concept popping up a lot recently in statuses on facebook, twitter, google+ and it keeps cropping up in conversations as well.

Frankly it makes me want to scream.

NO!

I don’t care if Mother Teresa of Calcutta said it, it is NOT BIBLICAL.

God promised to give us MORE than we, as frail, fallible, fickle human beings could possibly handle.

Why?

So that HE could step in and show off HIS DIVINITY.

His POWER in our weakness

His HEALING in our extremity

His MERCY in spite of our biggest messes

You will ALWAYS be struggling against an overwhelming flood of something in your life.  But  you can trust that God is Good (I John 1:5) and that your purpose in this life is not to show off your own ability to get through the struggles but to point to your savior and say HE is the reason I got through it.

God wants to give you more than you can take so that everyone around you will see you weather the storm…and then they will ask HOW.  How did you get through that?  and you can quietly point them to your Lord.

with fear and trembling

I am posting this with fear and trembling.  I know it will be misunderstood.  I know people are going to say all kinds of ugly things to me about this.  But I just feel that now is the time and I need to post it. 

 

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient,
to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one,
to be peaceable and considerate and to show true humility toward all men.
Titus 3:1&2

Something about the structure of this verse really speaks to me.

If you look closely at it there is a progression from simple (and possibly teeth gritting) obedience all the way to a change of heart and mind.

First things first – nowhere does this verse say “only obey laws and rulers if you agree with them”

Now I know that is not going to make me very popular.  But in the wholehearted enthusiasm that Americans tend to have for the campaign season and the creation and destruction of laws and candidates we tend to lose sight of something very important. 

Once the votes are counted, it is time to set aside the differences and work together.

This is not just a civic (and civil) duty…..it is an instruction from GOD himself.

And lest you think that God might not approve of THAT PARTICULAR candidate having won and that gives you a hall-pass so you don’t have to obey…think again. 

God changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.
Daniel 2:21

So, no matter who wins.  No matter what the temporal laws are, God is the one who put them there.  Yes, we can fight against injustice, but stay within legal boundaries.  Bad laws and poor rulers do not excuse the sin of disobedience. ever.

Ahem.

Back to what I was saying….the structure of this verse moves from teeth gritting obedience, to a change of heart.

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities,

Subject.  This indicates an understanding that we are indeed supposed to obey.  We must think of ourselves not as being above human laws and regulations, but as being subject to the law, just like everyone else.

to be obedient,

here again, obedient.  People who are obedient are not conforming under threat, they obey because they choose to obey.  In order to be called “obedient” you need to display a pattern of regularly obeying.  Sounds obvious, but we tend to want to be called obedient based on a single instance instead of a long term pattern.

to be ready to do whatever is good,

For me this line indicates a mindset that has moved beyond naming names and caring which “party” or stance a particular ruler belongs to or espouses.  Understanding that all good deeds are done for God, no matter who is the earthly leader. So get out there, and do good. 

to slander no one,

if it isn’t campaign season…keep your lips closed firmly over all forms of mud slinging and other hurtful words.  They do no-one any good, and they harm both yourself and your listeners.

to be peaceable and considerate and to show true humility toward all men.

I can’t think of a much greater compliment than to have someone say “I really like being around her, she is just so filled with a sense of calm….peaceful.  You can tell she trusts God”  How many of us can honestly say we have a sense of peace about anything political?

Try this

Trust God.

He is in charge.  He is the one who determines the outcome.  He has a plan.  And He doesn’t make mistakes.  If you disagree with God on who He has allowed to rule in any given span of time, take it up with Him while you continue to obey.

oh and you might try Praying.   Pray for the God who created us all to flood the minds and hearts of the people in power so that no matter who they are, they end up doing what God wanted them to do in the first place.

very slightly sick

okay, moms of this world, back me up. 

By a show of hands, who here actually enjoys it when their child is just slightly sick ?

I’m not talking about barfing, or anything disgusting.  I’m referring to those times when your child is just not feeling quite right. They need rest, fluids and quiet.  But mostly they need to snuggle in your arms all day.

Maybe it is wrong of me, but I love that. 

Or when Ginny falls and gets a scraped knee.  Or stubs her toe.  She needs comfort, she needs me.  Does it matter to me that just half a minute before the fall I was telling her “don’t do that honey, you are going to get hurt !”  ???  Nope.  Has no bearing on that moment when I get to hold her close and lavish love on her. 

While I am sorry that she is hurt,
secretly, in my heart of hearts
I am rejoicing that she turns to me and wants to be held. 

Ginny is at an age where she is trying to accomplish tasks that are beyond her.  She grabs some tasks out of my hands that weren’t meant for her to even attempt yet.  Some are things she will learn to do eventually, others are things she shouldn’t even try.  Often she won’t let me help her….until she has achieved a high level of frustration.  I don’t want her to be frustrated, but I do have to watch her till she gets to the point of turning to me and saying “help me please?”

I don’t like seeing her frustration,
but I love it that she knows that she can bring her frustrations to me
…… and that I can still fix them. 

Sometimes she is just exhausted.  Ginny is still young enough that when she is worn out she prefers to be held.  I know when she is older she will just lie down and go to sleep on her own.  But for now, when she is plain ole worn out, she would rather be held.  And it feels fabulous to be the one to get to hold her.

she was so tired she fell asleep while we were drying her off from her bath

My heart rejoices that this beloved child needs me…
is it just possible that God feels about us the same way that I feel about holding Ginny ?   

The Bible certainly says so

“the LORD your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing”
Zephaniah 3:7

Why do I waste energy in self condemnation?  When my mind has been a little bit sickened for a while, and I need to be renewed, why do I fight against God?  Why do I try to raise my own mood?  Or strengthen my will on my own?  Why don’t I accept that He WANTS to comfort me? 

How often do I fall?  Everyday.  And what do I do?  I feel ashamed of falling.  I caused the hurt that is happening to me through my own stubborn actions or impetuous mouth.  So I mentally run away from God.  I say to myself “God must be so disappointed in me.  I messed up again!” 

How often do I run myself ragged trying to do or be too much to too many people?  I refuse to stop and take time to just rest in the LORD. 

Often I try to do things that are beyond my strength.  I fight and fight to accomplish things that God wanted to do in His strength, in His timing.  Why does it take me so long to hand things over to God?  He has been standing right there, waiting to happily take over the tasks that He meant for Himself, knowing that they weren’t intended for me to DO.  He meant all along for me to hand it to Him and give Him the glory.

When will I get it through my thick skull that God feels the same way about me that I feel about a slightly fevered toddler…..

I’m sorry you are hurting honey, but oh how I LOVE holding you.

renewal

In this fall season, renewal is not a primary focus, but something just jumped out of a verse at me this morning and I wanted to share.

I am having a rough day at work.  Actually the last two days have been rough.  And when this situation began I reacted poorly.  Not as poorly as I have in the past, but not perfectly either.

A spirit of fear, defensiveness and anger took hold of me.

This morning, as the tension mounted…..I found myself winding tighter and tighter.  In desperation I looked around my cubicle walls and started reading the scripture memory team cards posted there.

Those who look to the LORD are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
Psalm 34:5

Well, that doesn’t help.  It only makes me feel worse, since I didn’t keep my eyes on God.

Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things
Colossians 3:2

*sigh* here again, I didn’t keep my mind focused where it needed to be.  I feel like a failure.  And then my eyes found the verse that delivered the help I needed after a failure…

Create in me a clean heart oh God, and RENEW a right spirit within me
Psalm 51:10

The word RENEW jumped out at me in a way it never had before.

I had always thought of this verse as a plea for God to create a clean heart and right spirit in me and then I was supposed to be able to keep it clean and pure and right.  Through my own human effort.

But the truth is that I simply can’t.  I can’t keep a clean heart and right spirit on my own. 

I need to be renewed….probably about once a minute or so.

Even the psalmist felt the need to have a right spirit renewed.  So logically we can conclude that even the psalmist failed to continually have a right spirit.  He had, at least occasionally, a wrong spirit.  And yet he had complete confidence in God’s love for him and willingness to rescue him.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

Though I don’t normally advocate deriving comfort from the failures of others, today I found a great deal of comfort in the failures of the psalmist.

and the answer is….

42

Yes that’s right.  I am forty two this year and I am perfectly fine with it.  To celebrate, here are 42 good things about my life.

  1. I don’t really have the answer to the question of life the universe and everything, but am more aware of where to find the answers
  2. I’ve actually really been enjoying my 40’s so far.  Lots of pieces of my life have changed quite drastically in the transition from my 30s to my 40s. and yes, that counts as a “good thing in my life”
  3. The most obvious is Ginny.  Nothing can shake up your routine quite like a child. 
  4. I am grateful to my heavenly father for granting us financial stability even with two layoffs in two years.  Martin’s came first, and mine was just a year later.  But God took care of us even when we had no idea what to do next.
  5. There has been peace even amidst surgeries and my dad’s cancer diagnosis.
  6. I love my grey hairs.  Yes, you read that right.  I see the silvers as free highlights, courtesy of God.  Now I’ve just got to figure out what to do about the change in texture…..
  7. Ice Skating.  After a 25+ year break,  I have gone back to the rink and I am loving it.  I’ve found something that will keep me active and healthy and vibrant for a long time. And yes, I see even this as a blessing from God.
  8. There has been a sense of renewal  in my marriage (in part due to the shakeup of the aforementioned layoffs and Ginny)
  9. I’ve found that I have a real friend next door.  Not just the mom of Ginny’s best friend.  But a real live girl friend. 
  10. You almost have to have been in the skating world to know how unusual this next one is –   I have a Christian woman as my coach.  Previously my coaches were almost all men and across the board they were all completely anti-church.  They all expected their skaters to practice on Sundays.  Not a one of them understood that God was important to me.  But my current coach not only gets it, we can actually talk about God and church topics over lunch.  What a blessing!
  11. Being an adult skater brings up a completely different coach/student dynamic.  And yes, that too is a “good thing”
  12. This year, so far, I have been able to lose 40 pounds
  13. Martin has lost at least 30 pounds (he’s catching up to me…I’m gonna have to work harder!) 
  14. I love my job.  Through the course of my layoff I had a chance to really explore what my real working style is and to look for a work environement that meshes with my style.  I was unable to find that blessing on my own.  God hit me over the head with my current job and I love it.  I have impact on peoples’ lives and across campus in a way that I never could have foreseen. 
  15. I was blessed to be able to return to a campus I love and whose mission I believe in- Emory University
  16. This is a Siesta Scripture Memory Team year.  I love learning my verses. (though I am a bit behind in memorization…)
  17. My job allows me to post my memory cards as artwork in my cubicle.  Thus providing me with an artistic outlet, spiritual assist, open devotional and memory aid all in one!
  18. My home Bible study group has chosen “to Live is Christ” as our study this fall.
  19. My husband is amazing.  He is Mr. Mom during the week and cool technical director for our church on the weekends. He does it all.
  20. My brother is back in college.
  21. My boss understands what makes me tick and we communicate well.  Don’t knock it, usually that takes years to figure out. 
  22. I enjoy my co-workers….
  23. …More importantly, I enjoy the job itself.
  24. I am learning new skills through volunteer work at church.  Maybe I’ll learn how to run the sound board next year….
  25. I am young enough to still be active…..
  26. ….And old enough to know when not to push
  27. I’m not in such a hurry anymore
  28. The highlight of Ginny’s day is when I come home and play horsey with her
  29. …..Which makes playing with Ginny one of the highlights of my day too.
  30. I have actual fans of my blog who push me to write more often.
  31. Life is fun – I accidentally volunteered at the face painting booth last night at ginny’s school Fall festival and rediscovered how much I love painting!
  32. Sitting on the back porch with the neighbors, watching our children run and play together.
  33. Discovering fantastic local restaurants.
  34. Café d’Alsace’s currant and port chicken liver pate.
  35. Three blind mice’s entire menu…
  36. …Especially the sticky toffee pudding
  37. My parents live close enough to sometimes have impromptu evenings together at local cheap Mexican restaurant.  Or just hang out and watch football on a Sunday.
  38. Reconnecting with a friend from grade school (!!!!) through facebook and getting to hug her in person was a real treat.
  39. I met Beth Moore.
  40. My Ginny and Martin have also met Beth Moore.  And she told them that she knows who I am!  How cool is that?  And kinda intimidating to be honest….
  41. I got to stay in the home of a dear friend in Houston that I met through blogging.  And our husbands enjoyed each other and the kids all got along!   And they are foodies!  Missy found an amazing Cajun restaurant out in the boonies that we are going to go back to when we see them again in January.
  42. I really enjoy my neighbors’ kids.  They are active, happy kids that play well with Ginny.  It is such a huge blessing to be right next door to Ginny’s favorite playmates.  And most of the essentials of child rearing…we agree on! 

I think Douglas Adams got it right.  42 turns out to be a very good number.