Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday Mumblings

Yeah, I've joined the ranks of having alliteration. Not sure if that one will stick. I thought of Monday: Musings, Memories, Madness, Masterpiece (a little presumptuous I thought).
Yes, well. Moving on.
This last week was such a lesson for me on Pride. I, comically, discovered I had developed a bit of a self-righteous pride in my reflections on how well I'd received my spiritual rebukes! I had the opportunity to share how I had evidently not conquered those prideful notions in Sunday School. You'd think I'd have learned. Oh no. God had yet to bring me down!
This Sunday our Youth Pastor was to give the message. His topic was known to me beforehand as I receive our church email. I wasn't thrilled. His topic was on the Prodigal Child. Now, I know there are such treasures to glean from this parable, but I was sure I had gathered them all. It's a good story, but I'd heard it from childhood an indeterminable amount of times! I had placed myself in all the principal character's shoes to try and see all the possible aspects of application that I could. I seated myself in anticipation of hearing something that if nothing else, would only confirm what I already knew. Oh, what a studied Christian I am, and this young youth pastor...well, I'll listen and even take notes, if just to keep myself occupied.
Let me back up just a bit. All my life I have wanted to be super smart. Intellectual. Gifted. When I was a little girl in elementary school, I begged to take the test to see if I, indeed, was as gifted as I presumed myself to be. My sister was, after all, and it's got to be genetic, right? It's not. At least not in my case! I am smart, and I did well in school, but I am not "gifted." I was devastated. They told me I missed it by 2 points. I was so close! Truly I cried and cried as my little heart just knew I wasn't special. Oh, my mom and other people I'm sure, tried to assure me that I was indeed special and smart. I remember people being so surprised to find out I was valedictorian. I was really proud of that, though the fact is somewhat muted since I had such a tiny class and I didn't have a perfect GPA! I digress...
I still desire to have a "gifted" intelligence. I am so envious of those who go to seminary. I would love to do that, just for the fun of it! I love to learn, and to study in an upper graduate level would be heavenly. One problem...I don't have a bachelors degree. I almost finished my business degree, but changed my field to horticulture and now only have an Associates Degree to show for my 4 years and lot's of money's worth of college. I thoroughly devour scholarly teaching and speaking. My favorite pastors and leaders have been those who challenged my vocabulary! I strive to read and learn, nonetheless, in my singular effort to improve my brainpower. I, apparently, still take some level of pride in my knowledge and God was about to show me I don't know as much as I think I do. Perhaps He knows that I would fight pharisitical
tendencies and bask in my pious wealth of knowledge...
Back to yesterday:
He began his sermon by reading the first part of the parable. Yeah, yeah. Oh, what? What did he say? The father gave the inheritance to BOTH sons? Let me look at that...oh. huh. Sure enough. I never noticed that before. So, the older son had his inheritance the whole time. That intensified the final passage of the parable when he [the older son] refused to party at the return of his brother. How had I missed that little tidbit? Gee, maybe I should really listen. Perhaps there is something else here that I missed.
"There will always be opposition when Grace is fully given." Huh. We do want justice, don't we? Is that just me? Do I oppose grace? Did someone oppose the grace that God has bestowed so fully on me? Wow. I guess I can learn more. I've not ever taken that lesson from this parable before. God has humbled me. I'm not as "gifted" in my Biblical knowledge as I presumed myself to be.
I'm so thankful that God's Word is living and active! It's a book that I never want to put down. It's a letter that I hope to reread over and over. I don't care if that last statement is redundant! I'm not gifted, so I don't have to act like I am ultra intelligent!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Photograph of lightning from Redoubt's 1:20 am March 28 eruption, courtesy of Bretwood Higman.

I wrote on my other Alaskan Blog when this first started. Today we had a cloud go over us and we heard thunder from it! I love, LOVE the sound of thunder. This picture shows how much is going on in those clouds.
We rarely hear thunder. Sometimes in the mountains in summer we will hear a little rumble. It just isn't the same as the huge, window pane rattling claps I remember growing up. Kansas can whip up some incredible thunder! For all Alaska offers, I still miss thunder! Isn't that funny? I'd like to go into some deep theological insight into that, but I really just want to enjoy God's gift of Thunder! Once in a lifetime, I imagine!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Such a time

Today has been another strange day for me. I am "supposed" to be working. Let me clarify. I'll start at the beginning since I'm so fond of typing and of general exposition!

I have always thought that I would work. I've never pictured myself or dreamed that I would stay home for any reason. After I got married, we "needed" my income but the tension started. My hours at the nursery were irradic and long during the growing season, particularly in spring. During my brief stint as a hairdresser, I worked weekends, naturally. Moving to Alaska did nothing to help these tensions that by this point, had become just a little more palpable. In fact, when we moved, Pat's income was greatly increased, and mine was greatly decreased which created an entirely new issue. I did eventually quit the hairdressing to commit entirely to the greenhouse, even if it was only a 6-month stint. This was a HUGE act of submission for me. Let me say this was not only a submission to my husband, but to where I felt God was leading. At this point, my mind was looking at the possibilities of my moving up in the greenhouse and solidifying my career there. Last year was such a hard year for me at work. I struggled so much with what I envisioned for myself with the tensions that were mounting in my marriage.

This spring, a good friend of mine simply suggested that I do what I need to do for my marriage as a first priority. This sounds so simple, and in effect it is. That was such a splash of cold water for my heart. Why was I so bound up in the work thing? I've thought it through and realized that I had a few issues. First, I was really not sure what people would say about me working part-time. We don't have children to keep me occupied, so what would I possibly do all day? I knew people would automatically think I was lazy and should do more to contribute to society. To my credit, I have had a couple interesting looks when I tell people I work part-time and have no kids! Is this really a good reason? Am I really more interested in what other people may think than what my husband feels? I take much better care of him when I have time to do so! I also take good care of our finances, if I do say so myself. I take better care of our home and dogs when I am home. I think these things are "givens" but aren't they important, too?

I have also realized that I had a bit of pride. I really took pride in my work and my position. Our society does not put as much of an emphasis on "stay-at-home wife!" In hearing my friend's advice, I realized I needed to put more value in my first job: Pat's wife. In feeding my work-pride, I was starving the place that needed feeding. It is still a struggle. I love my husband's praise for what I've accomplished during a day, but I still long at times for the public affirmation. I am so thankful for friends who will point out to me where I need to focus my needs. The Lord WILL give me the desires of my heart, but only when I seek His will for me! So simple...

O.K., back to the strange part. I "demoted" myself this year. After my refreshing splash of water, I talked to my boss and told him I would only work 4 days a week this year (for the 6 month stint), and would not be available on Memorial Weekend. This is our anniversary and for the last 2 years I have worked while Pat has had that time off. What peace! God worked this out before I even told my boss this, as he had already been asking a gal who worked for us for a few years to come in more often. She has been willing and able to work full-time. I have been so thankful that I did not put them in a bind for workers, and this gal is a great worker and person! It's been a bit harder for my pride again! I had put myself in the category of "necessary." I'm discovering that I was not necessary. I was wanted, and I still am, but I'm not needed in the same capacity. I am so thankful that I had not let my pride swell more than it had, for that may have led to a much more painful fall! Oops! I neglected to mention that I haven't been to work for almost 2 weeks! I'm the one to be left at home now unless there is enough work to be done.

My study of Esther has reinforced this quelling of my pride. I've seen how pride can fill someone to such horrible and destructive levels. Lord, keep me far from becoming a Haman! I've also felt that God has other plans for me. I don't know exactly what those will be, but as I fade back from working, I think He has other work for me to do. I have wondered why we are still in Alaska since we're long past our 3-year plan! For such a time as this! God has us where we are for a reason! I'm very excited to see where He takes me! I will share that I emailed my pastor about starting a women's group. I haven't heard yet, and I don't know if this is exactly what God is leading me to, but I have to see! One thing I have been able to discover is a renewed prayer life. It seems there are so many needs that I have been oblivious to, and it is such a joy to participate in prayer with others, even those I don't know.

How cool is this? This is one of the ash clouds from our eruptions. I was challenged by a friend to want my desire for Christ to erupt as such! Does my love for Christ ascend above the cloud of society? Oh that He will fuel the fire until it does!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


OK. The memorization.
I remember when I was a child and I memorized verses in AWANA. It was such a chore! I did, however, receive my coveted check in the box, and that was a good thing for me. Alas, I never did complete all the upper levels. Somehow as I got older, the reward for memorizing needed to be more than a check in the box. My dad tried to motivate me in a different way by adding a monetary reward to a challenge of memorization. Strangely, that also failed to be a strong motivator. My self-righteous side likes to think that I was above being bribed, but I humbly admit that I was just lazy and the amount I had to memorize in order to be rewarded seemed utterly unattainable. The mountain was too big to even try.
I tried again a number of years ago (can't remember when), with a plan to memorize the "Roman Road" verses. I tried to motivate myself with the desire to witness effectively with this method. I'm not sure when that died, but it went the way of the others. I've had very cute flip-card notecards that have been filled out with numerous verses I have tried to memorize, some successfully and others, not so much. I've tried to do a verse a week. I think that lasted a week. I finally gave up. God's word was so hidden in my heart, I couldn't remember where I'd put it. I just hoped that in His merciful grace, He would reveal it back to me when I most needed it!
God's word really shouldn't be a hide-and-seek game in the heart, though. I've been convicted of this many times in my life, and I know I will fail at attempts to memorize again, but I keep trying. I figure if I keep trying and ultimately succeed at a few verses, it isn't all for not. I really do want and desire to have God's word more fully available to me. I want to be able to use the Sword of the Spirit immediately if needed. If I'm under any attack, it won't do me much good to run to the closet and search for the sword under all the rubble. It needs to be ready.
I have learned some things about myself in the last few years that have hindered this readiness: I am not at all self-disciplined. I desperately need accountability in most of what I do. I only respond to this from people who are on my path. I usually do not seek accountability!
Moving on...!
I have been doing a study on Esther from Beth Moore. I recently went to her Living Proof Ministries blog and saw that she had challenged her "followers" to memorize with her. It was a year committment to memorize 2 verses a month, on the 1st and 15th. I was really excited since that seemed like an attainable goal for me! I tend to bite off a huge amount, tire of chewing, and spit it out. This seemed like a much smaller bite to take and that I could really enjoy the process. If you'd like to join, it all starts here.
I love to study. I don't know if I display that much, but I really do. I love to get into deep discussions, deep studies, and things that are hard to grasp. I love to learn something new. Beth's method involves a bit more than just picking a verse and memorizing it. I'll share: It's acronym is RENEW.
R: Read it! This is not just the simple command, but to really read it. Read it aloud, read it often, and read it slowly. Read it in context. READ IT!
E: Examine it! This is where I really like this method. This is where the context really comes in. I want to examine who is speaking, to whom are they speaking, whether it is in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person. I want to know the story around the verse. This also gives the opportunity to find little ways to make memorization easier. Examine the pentameter and if it would go with a tune I know. Perhaps it has an easy way to remember the order with key words being alphabetical or not! This could go on as deep or strange as you take it!
N: Need it! This is another one that I like. Instead of taking a verse that is next on the list, finding one that speaks to me at this moment. It's more likely that I will remember what I need! I know we need the entire Word, but at times we need more specific direction!
E: Echo it! This is where the memorization really starts. It began more with meditation. I had usually just used this step in my memorization efforts, and though it works, it works best for me within the entire method. This is pretty self-explanitory. Repetition.
W: Weild it! This is truly the Sword of the Spirit! My nephew has a "Bible Man" sword that when you push a button, it proclaims, "The sword of the spirit is the Word of God!" I think of that every time I pick up my verses! In her video tutorial on her blog, Beth explains more of how we are to use this weapon. It is our only proactive weapon we have to use against Satan and it is only to be used against him and his dark forces. We are not to use it against other people. I found that to be profound. Speaking truth through scripture is a wonderful tool, but not in a pharisitical manner. It's best used against the forces of darkness.

I have joined in the "Siesta's" on her blog in this goal of 24 verses this year. I have already come across some rather negative blows on my quest, mainly that it is not enough. I have chosen to know that God is pleased with this effort that I desire to not only memorize, but to meditate on His Word. If I am moved to do more, I can always do more, but my goal is to do this much. I have started with:
1. Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. Psalm 86:11
2. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8
3. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
4. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Psalm 1:3
5. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:35-36
6. Do not repay evil for evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:9

Fascinating that choosing scripture can be so reavealing...!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Double Meaning!

Yes, I'm starting a new blog. Pat recommends many of his friends to our blog, and I wanted a place to share and do my therapy sessions apart from all eyes!
I love the Autumn theme. It has always been my favorite season. I love the color changes, the refreshing coolness in the air, the changes in the menu's! It is also part of my actual address, so it seemed fitting.
I'm writing this in part to keep myself accountable. I figure if only one person (me) ever reads this, then I have a written account of what I have done or am doing to reflect upon. This seems to help me and I've virtually given up on trying to hand write a journal. I try. I have many half-filled notebooks of simple to lovely designs that have tried to entice my hand. I even have a couple that have been filled, giving me an incredible sense of satisfaction! Since I like to check the boxes, I see the unfilled journals mocking me from the shelf. I dislike mocking. I think I'll box them up...
I assume most who read this will know who I am, but I will likely share things at times as if you don't. I think it helps my "therapy" sessions to explain myself, if only to dig deeper and possibly discover something new of my motives. I will also try and keep things that need to stay private as such. I won't reveal names of people, places, etc., without permission in case someone else may come upon this blog.
I feel the need to blog my journey more openly to encourage myself to become more open with others. I desperately need the friendship of women, and sadly, I find myself lacking. I don't say this to be critical of others. I believe others have tried and I've simply closed the door. I didn't think I was so difficult to be around, but I do believe that I don't stick around long enough to develop much deeper friendship than the shallow pool. I have a sneaky suspicion that I'll be here a while!
I have recently been having a little revival. For the last 6 years or so, I've been slowly sinking. Very slowly, and only recently have I realized how deep I've gotten. I had such an amazing experience of grace and renewal 8 years ago and it's affect lasted quite a while. Since then, I've had my up's and down's, but nothing monumental. In fact, it seems like since then, nothing has been monumental in my spiritual life. I keep plodding along, and though many monumental things have happened IN my life, positive and negative, I just keep plodding along. I've been feeling a need to revitalize my walk with the Lord for over a year, and I think my little steps are beginning to bring me closer. I am praying that I develop an insatiable desire for God and His Word. I want to be passionate in my walk, not just plodding. I don't want to mislead anyone that I have fallen away, just slowed down. It's time for renewal and I'm EXCITED! I wanted to share this with anyone who'd listen or just for myself!
I've recently been motivated to memorize scripture. If you know me at all, this is not a new phenomenon. I've been motivated to do this multiple times with little success. There is a little difference this time in that I have a goal as to when this will be "completed" and what I want to accomplish. I'll share more of all that another time. I did want to mention it though!
I've also been thinking of starting a women's small group. I'm not sure if I want to do it through the church and use some of their resources, or keep it to myself. I'm leaning towards the church avenue, not only to use their resources, but also for accountability. I am not so bold as to think I have all the right answers. I've talked to a couple gals about it and have gotten some positive feedback. I was going to wait until I was finished with my Sunday School class, but I'm feeling a sense of urgency. Maybe it's just my excitement. Maybe it's my personal need.
Well, I just have to end with the funny thought that I spent a nice moment outside and felt a 90* moment! I was in my greenhouse and it was wonderful, even if it is just filled with slowly thawing soil still in their pots from last fall. It smelled heavenly. Then, just before my body began it's freakish reaction of perspiring, I stepped back out into the 28* sunny weather. I marvel at how I relish those 90* moments.