Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday's Mocha on the Mount

I have started a study by Sandra Glahn called Mocha on the Mount. It is, probably obviously, about the sermon on the mount. I've been stuck on the concept of "blessing." I was really moved by the author's revelation that blessings are not what we typically think; money, health, anything else that we desire. Blessing "depends on being rightly related to God despite external circumstances."
When am I blessed?
When I am poor in spirit, when I mourn (over my sinful state), when I am meek (humble, gentle and lowly), when I am hungry and thirsty for righteousness, when I am merciful, when I am pure in heart, when I can be a peacemaker, and when I am persecuted for my righteousness.
Nowhere does Jesus say I am blessed when I have more money than I thought so I can buy a new couch, or when my day of fishing is good when I have a pantry full of food, or any other moment when I've received more than I deserve and choose to keep it for myself.
True, these things can possibly bring me blessing, but only if it brings me closer to my Savior.

In church yesterday, we had a visitor who spoke about the truly impoverished in Kenya. He spoke about how his ministry brought Jesus to children along with soccer and clean drinking water. He spoke about how these are the people about whom Jesus referred to when he last told his disciples to "GO!" These are the nations that need to hear about Jesus and these are the nations that are persecuted for righteousness.

Am I blessed? I don't really know. In my comfy American terms, yes. In my uncomfortable, low, persecuted terms, no. I have to be honest and agree in part with Ken Gire in The Reflective Life, as quoted in the study:
"But honestly I want to be like the Christ who turned water into wine, not the Christ who thirsted on a cross. I want to be the clothed Christ, not the one whose garment was stripped and gambled away. I want to be the Christ who fed the five thousand, not the one who hungered for forty days in the wilderness.... This is the dark side of Christianity, the side we don't see when we sign up. That if we want to be like Christ, we have to embrace both sides of His life. What else could it mean when the Bible talks about 'the fellowship of His suffering'? How could we enter that fellowship apart from suffering? How could we truly know the Man of Sorrows acquainted with grief if we had not ourselves known grief and sorrow?"

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. Matthew 5:10

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Big. hmmmm.

Yes. This large beast is now in my living room. Rather, it IS my living room. The "real" reason that we brought the beast home was simply because it was a fabulous deal and my musical husband wanted better sound than from our 25" older t.v. We simply cannot pass up a fabulous deal. Pay no attention to the rest of the mess in the room.
I do want you to notice that I am watching the History Channel. (disregard that the program was MonsterQuest!)
Suspense quenched.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Missed it Monday

Sorry, y'all. I can't do it today. I am so tired and it is too late for me to do more posting. I'll try soon and tell you all about my new favorite piece of massive furniture that I had prepared the perfect alliteration for today, but alas. It will have to wait. I'm also being severely sarcastic. It really needs a picture that I haven't taken, so we'll have to hold the suspense. I hope you are not too disappointed. O.K., off to bed!

Monday, July 13, 2009


Today, I hurt.
Could be worse, but I am sore.
People who pay to work out should move here. There's more to do up here that will kick a person's heine and you can save some dough doing it!
Yesterday a friend of mine had invited my husband and I to join them in the adventure of dipnetting. Dipnetting is a subsistence only form of "fishing" for residents to fill their freezers/cans with salmon. You literally dip a net into the river and scoop up the fish. It sounds a little easier than it is.
First let me share that I tried this fascinatingly ludicrous sport a couple years ago. I joined our Pastor's family and one other family on the banks of the Kenai River, right at the mouth where it empties into the Cook Inlet. We were fortunate to have connections and plop ourselves on private property to avoid the "combat netting" that ensued on the public beach. I was amazed at the amount of people who converge on "my" backyard to scoop the fish. This particular day was not so lovely and I stood up to my chest in my chest waders (only a few inches to spare) in the surf, yes surf, with a long net in my hands hoping to catch a Sockeye, or Red Salmon. To make an ingloriously long story short, it took me 4 hours of standing there to catch one stupid salmon. Oh, and I did get wet. I didn't exactly want to repeat that experience.
Two years later we enter the most recent past when my friend B calls, super excited, and asks if we'd like to go dipnetting! I think excitement is contagious, and I found myself wanting to go! I talked to my man and he even wanted to go! We called back and confirmed our intent to join them in this adventure!
We met them and made it to the river by 8:15 AM or so. It was cool and foggy, but perfect weather when you are wearing rubber rain gear. It didn't take long before Pat landed our first Red. I hadn't known exactly how this worked in a boat, but it was pretty simple. You lower the net as far down as possible (7' depth was our lucky depth) and try to keep it about 6" above the river bottom. Keep in mind that the Kenai River is not a little creek. This is a pretty solid river system that is capable of carrying large numbers of large fish! To hold a net while the boat is slowly purring downstream is an odd feeling to this previously landlocked lass. It was also harder than I thought. My triceps started screaming within a half hour. I started to prop the handle of the net against my body and now have an odd bruise on my stomach. Note to self...use the legs.
We stayed out on the river through the low tide, tide change and then up to the next high tide. This was a long time, but was fascinating to learn how the river works on the tides. The five of us on the boat ended up catching 19 Sockeye, 1 King Salmon, a few Pinks, and a million Sole. Sole is a flat bottom fish that looks like a skate or halibut with prickly scales. We kept a couple to try and discovered that they don't taste bad, but lack a bit in texture. No wonder everyone kept tossing them back. Bummer, though, since they were super plentiful.
I personally caught a few Reds, and many sole, but mostly some rays. My face is burnt. I normally protect my fair skin, but forgot the spf that day. I paid for it. Not only are my arms, shoulders and back telling me of their every move, but I have some seriously tight, dry skin on the face. My moisturizer today was Aloe Vera!
One thing I realized throughout our dipnetting adventure, was that it is so much about the friends, and less about the fish. We had a lovely time getting to know R, B, and E. We were blessed by their procalmations of God's blessings and the way they saw the positive in situations (yes, there were a couple "situations"!). I hope we are able to bless them as much as they blessed us. I also hope we all get some seriously good sleep tonight!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Monday's Meat

Have you ever seen something so lovely? This bridge was on a hike I took with my fab husband and dogs a couple weekends ago. It was such a pretty sight. Then my husband happened.
As we were walking across the bridge, he started to shake it. Bella seemed unaffected, as usual, but Rowdy squatted, lowering his center of gravity and slowly stepped across. It was actually pretty hysterical. We tried it again with him and he did it again, but not a third time.

Yesterday, my bridge was shaken under me and it made me step more cautiously. It was a good shake. I was in Sunday School and one of the gals said something that really struck me. She had observed that there seemed to be a very "me" attitude in worship at times. Prayers and songs that ask for many things like filling of the Spirit, comfort, peace, etc., but then they stop. She said that these things are only good if they prompt us to act. WHY should the Spirit fill us? So we can feel better and good about ourselves? The next question should be "then what?" What is the purpose of being filled in the Spirit or any other desire? The motive should be to further the Kingdom, not to feel good.
I was suddenly compelled to pull out my memorization pack and flip through what verses I had chosen. Had I done the same thing? I quickly looked and, to my relief, several verses were not one-sided, and many were praises directed to the Lord. I was not completely without a "selfish" verse, as my most recent is 2 Samuel 22:34 "He makes my feet like hinds' feet, And sets me on my high places."
I was moved to figure out why God would do this. Why would He give me the stealth and steadiness and grace required to succeed in difficult circumstances? It is not for my glory. I have heard and seen more often over the last couple months the exclamation that God will not share His glory. All that He does for me and through me is for me to direct the focus to Him, not for my personal comfort.
I listened in church so intently and cautiously. I was on my bridge and it was a little shaky. I didn't just sing the words of the songs, but really chewed on them. I was so caught by the notion that I could fall into the cycle of asking for good things, but then stopping. I was so aware of my part in the story. The story that's not about me. I'm still chewing!