Thursday, December 22nd, 2011
As I found at Easter, reflecting on the people who were there in the flesh can really make these holy days come alive.
Obviously, Mary is a big one at Christmas. But before Jesus was even conceived, she showed tremendous faith and acceptance of God’s plan. When an angel told her how she was going to fit into this miracle, “Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’” (Luke 1:38)
She didn’t take the time to make a pro/con list. She said, “Ok.”
Friday, October 28th, 2011
I know zero-sum economics is a fallacy. Lately, I am learning I need to apply that to the rest of life.
Blessings are not zero-sum. God may be blessing those around me in different ways, but that doesn’t mean there are fewer blessings available for me. He has an infinite supply.
When you see God giving someone else a blessing, do you ever feel like He is withholding it from you?
“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” – Romans 8:32
Saturday, September 24th, 2011
My friend AS lives overseas and doesn’t have access to a lot of the conveniences we take for granted. I think of her often as I mull what will go on this blog. Her birthday is coming up, and I’m putting together a few things to send her. For example, she can’t just go into a grocery store and buy any flavor of chocolate candy (can you imagine??).
I’m humbled by her selflessness. She serves others daily. She has a gift for giving wise counsel.
I’m thankful to know her. And one day she’s going to be very, very rich.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011
My Bible study recently read “Forgotten God.” I highly recommend it, as it will make you think about your concept of the Holy Spirit. Do you think of Him as a “ghost”? Have you ever felt definitively like you should pray for a certain person at a certain time? Having your mind wander toward specific needs is not necessarily random.
“…the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should…” Romans 8:26
Friday, July 8th, 2011
Isn’t rumspringa a fun word? I just felt it deserved an exclamation point.
It’s one of those words you can never remember, like the name of the thingy that hangs down in the back of your throat. Except in this case, you’re thinking, “What is that thing Amish people do, when they let their kids loose to act all wild and then decide whether they want to come back to the church?”
This fascinating book excerpt has a helpful definition:
“Rumspringa is a Pennsylvania Dutch term, usually translated as ‘running around’ and derived in part from the German word Raum, which means ‘space’ in the sense of outside or outdoors space, room to roam. ‘Running around outside the bounds’ is a more complete translation.”
I’m not Amish, and if you’re reading this you probably aren’t either. But I think most of us go through a time like this – where we go “outside the bounds” and then either come back or don’t.
Looking back brings so much perspective. I was telling a friend some stories yesterday and reflecting on the ways some of my “running around” shaped me and brought me to this point. I also read Holley’s insights about staying – when the world keeps saying you need to go out and find yourself.
Rumspringa is about deciding where you’re going to stay. You might wander at age 16, or 23, or 45, but the challenges are fundamentally the same and the stakes are still high.
I’m thankful for where I’ve been and where I stayed.
“I don’t want to go somewhere if I know that You’re not there.” – Avalon
“So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘You do not want to go away also, do you?’ Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.’” – John 6:67-68
Monday, June 6th, 2011
I’ve mentioned my husband several times on this blog, but today he gets his very own post, as it is his birthday.
I’ve been thinking today about that verse that says God can do more than we can even ask or think. People used to refer me to that verse when I was single, before I met this man. And I am here to tell you I didn’t really believe it.
There’s a line in a song from “The Music Man” where Marian the librarian is describing about her ideal “white knight”: “And if occasionally he’d ponder what made Shakespeare and Beethoven great… him I could love ’til I die.” I used to sing that song and sigh (overly dramatic musical romance? Yes please!).
Yes, wouldn’t that be loverly (ok, getting carried away with musical references ) – if I could meet a man who appreciated music and Shakespeare and had [insert list of other very important characteristics here].
Over the years, I kind of gave up on the Shakespeare and Beethoven thing, because let’s face it, there are far more important things. But something else started to happen: My list of other desired characteristics started to change. Some things I had thought I definitely wanted in a partner dropped off the list, and new ones emerged. This was just proof of God’s timing – I wasn’t ready to appreciate my husband’s unique combination of characteristics yet.
When he did come along, with him came that clarity that so many people had described to me – that this person was completely different from any I had met. His qualities were just right for me. The timing was just right.
And Shakespeare and Beethoven? He knows them better than I do.
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21
“Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been granted in what He ordaineth?” — Joachim Neander
Saturday, April 30th, 2011
The pastor who married us gave a homily/charge that was practically perfect. He zeroed in on John 15:2 – “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”
Pruning is painful. But sometimes God needs to prune us so we can grow. The shears might be a spouse, a parent, a friend, or circumstances.
I’m thankful for the pruning relationship of marriage, laced with patience and love.
Sunday, April 24th, 2011
I wrote about Peter earlier this week. This Easter I’m thinking of particular songs that inspire me this time of year and how they refer to the individuals who were living and breathing at that first Easter.
Yesterday’s was from Caedmon’s Call: “It’s like the long Saturday between Your death and the rising day, when no one wrote a word – wondered, ‘Is this the end?’”
A fantastic line. How devastated the disciples must have been on that day. Can you imagine? It brings new humanity to the story.
Another favorite of mine is from Glad: “Mary, Mary, don’t you worry. Jesus is not dead. He’s opened wide the gates of Heaven, just as He said. …You haven’t been misled.”
This song describes the scene when Mary visited the tomb on Easter morning – how she wondered what could have happened, and how Jesus appeared and spoke her name. “And when she heard Him say her name like a thousand times before, she could hardly wait to tell the others, ‘I have seen the Lord!’”
From Saturday’s devastation to Sunday’s rejoicing. What faith it must have taken to get from one day to the next.
Friday, April 22nd, 2011
It’s been sort of a churchy week here on the ol’ blog, but hey, it’s Holy Week. Today is Good Friday, and the Good Friday service has become one of my most favorite of the year.
The sanctuary grows progressively darker as we go through the story of the events leading to the cross. Candles are extinguished one by one. At the end of the service, it is completely dark, and the final candle is carried out of the sanctuary. It’s not extinguished – to signify Christ’s victory over death. In total darkness, the large Book is slammed shut (causing most of us to jump an inch off our chairs), reminding us that “It is finished.” (I learned this is called the “strepitus” – see more here.)
Then, the still-glowing candle is brought back in.
It’s extremely powerful.
“Ye who think of sin but lightly, Nor suppose the evil great,
Here may view its nature rightly, Here its guilt may estimate.”
Thursday, April 21st, 2011
Today is Maundy Thursday, the day that Jesus enjoyed the Last Supper with His disciples. I’ve been reflecting on Peter, the disciple who infamously denied any connection to Jesus – three times. He was probably afraid for his life, because at that point Jesus had been captured, and Peter didn’t know what was going to happen.
Despite his denial of having anything to do with Jesus, Peter was the man of whom Jesus said, “upon this rock I will build My church” (Matthew 16: 13-19).
Peter was certainly squishy on loyalty and that whole to-the-death thing. In other words, he was profoundly human. So I’m glad he was still chosen for leadership.