Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Headin' Out

It'll be a long day today as grandson, Kelly, and I make our way back to Arizona. He's headed home with me to lend hands to our many move-related projects, but mostly to just hang out. I like that!

On the other side (or should I say "on the scorchin' side"?) of this trek, I'll pick up where I leave off here, and now.

Until then, adieu ... (Why don't we use that word more often? It's synonymous with farewell, but it actually means, literally, to God).

Monday, June 28, 2010

Workin', Workin' & More Workin'

We are not here to work for God
because we have chosen to do so,
but because God has apprehended us.
~ Oswald Chambers

Oswald's direct hit greeted me today when I read the daily devotion from My Utmost for His Highest.

In truth, it's a truth that afflicts my sensibilities (or lack thereof). It's a notion I don't find easy to accept, though on the conscious level I give it my assent.

So why am I scratching my head as if to ask no one in general, and my own self in particular: Well, what am I here for if not to work for God?

It's a rhetorical question, if not a mute point as both Oswald AND the scriptures point out. Come to think of it, they're not MUTE about the distinction one bit.

However, to the man who does not work
but trusts God who justifies the wicked,
his faith is credited as righteousness.

David (Ps 32) says the same thing when he
speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom
God credits righteousness apart from works.
Romans 4:4, 6

My own designs and devices are, in yet another truth, suspect. Unless and until I'm content in whatever state I find myself, many (dare I say "all") of my designs have the look of a self-will run riot (though dressed nicely, I can assure you).

I can justify just about anything because it feels right, or because it gives me so much joy & satisfaction, or because it's so needed (I'm needed). Surely that MUST mean God's called me to do thus-and-so?!

There's a huge distinction between what we're called to do and what we advise God we'll be doing on His behalf, even though the line that separates the two is often blurred (no doubt, by my own faulty reasoning).

Just as it is said that faith without works is dead; so, too are works without faith - - the sort of faith born of reason: Faith comes by hearing the message, and the message is heard by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). (I could write a Gone With the Wind sized volume on what faith isn't, not the least of which is blind!)

I heard it said once, and it's never left me: We are not human doings, but human beings.

When I get that (and not just in intellectual assents), I'm much more content with my beingness, and a whole lot less enchanted with my doingness. Funny how the former begets the latter; but the latter rarely, if ever begets the former.

I just hate it when truth interrupts my biases.

But whatever was to my profit I now
consider loss for the sake of Christ.

What is more, I consider everything a loss

compared to the surpassing greatness of

knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,

for whose sake I have lost all things.

I consider them rubbish, that I may

gain Christ and be found in him,

not having a righteousness of my own

that comes from the law,

but that which is through faith in Christ

the righteousness that comes
from God
and is by faith.
Philippians 3:7-9

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Snippets from Life This Week

At the top of the list: time with Kole!

Spending time with my former, ten-year employer.

A day at Borders & Red Robin with the girls,
cousins Allie (12) Rylie (13).

Kole's favorite lady: Mommy (Katrina)!

Allie's favorite lady: Mommy too (Megan)!

Kole and his truly captivating eyes ...

Proud Uncle Brad!

Boys (cousins), doing what they do best:
computer game wars!
Erik (15 1/2), Kaden (11), Kelly (15 1/2)

"I see you, Grandma."

Forever my baby boy, Kelly.

Two of my favorite guys:
Hubby Terry and youngest son Kelly.

Awards ceremony: Rylie on the honor roll!

Saying "farewell" at the airport, Molly & Tom.
Off to the Caribbean!

Who's who in the Flanagan Clan: Parents/Kathleen & Terry, Oldest son Brad (wife Megan & children Erik & Allie), Daughter Molly (daughter Rylie, and special guy Tom & his daughters Meagan & Ava), Youngest son Kelly (wife Katrina & children Katie, Kelly, Kaden & Kole).

Friday, June 25, 2010

Where Evening Fades

So I'm driving along Alaska Street and it occurs to me it's somehow different. It took a few minutes for it to register, but it was obvious then that someone had come along, without my permission and while I was living far away, and built an island smack dab in the middle of the road. Not only has someone moved my cheese, but roads and houses. They've added parks and parkways as well.

How dare anyone mess up the way I view what was ...

Thus has been my experience these many days of visiting the home of my childhood.

That's a fact: I'm a visitor. Yet soon I'll be a resident again.

Another fact? You never really go home again, nor can you time-travel in reverse. The course of time always advances forward, as does one's way upon it. Everything is always new ...

  • New sunrise
  • New adventures
  • New opportunities
  • New grace for the day
  • New memories (or old memories refreshed as in "deja vu")
  • New information ...
  • New knowledge ...
  • New understanding and, hopefully ...
  • New wisdom
  • New visage (where DO these wrinkles come from, anyway?)
  • New life- both physical and spiritual
Just as I've come to see everything as new again, I've come to appreciate how marvelous are those things & days now old (even yesterday). I cannot travel far without recalling them, including some that were hard and hurtful. They've lost their sting now; and that's new too.

Because of the LORD's great love
we are not consumed,

for His compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

great is Your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

O God our Savior, the hope of
all the ends of the earth...
where morning dawns and evening fades,
You call forth songs of joy.
Psalm 65:5, 8

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Starry Declaration

By the word of the Lord were the heavens made,

their starry host by the breath of his mouth.

Psalm 33:6

Do we really need the Hubble Space Scope to understand that mysteries still abound? For all man's knowledge and advancements, new things come into view, and old things are made more lustrous still. Man simply cannot fathom, let alone compete with the majesty of God's creation, or the very majesty of God Himself!

Could it be that formless voids yield starry wonders without a hand to guide & guild them?

Such silly questions. Such marvelous wonders.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where
their voice is not heard.
Psalm 19:1-3

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one
by one, and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty
strength, not one of them is missing.
Isaiah 40:25-27

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Adding to Merriam's Collection

It's time once again to scratch my head over the many & varied security words required to gain comment-access here in Cyberville. What's up with these corny configurations anyway?

My take ...

  • Glitzner - A chemical that removes bling from all things bedazzled.
  • Norbundt- A tactical maneuver for women attempting to get the remote from their husband.
  • Bigurtz - It's what happens after you "beget" more than 4 children.
  • Morvotni - A concerto on the harmonica.
  • Messot - A small varmint that nests in boy's sneakers.
  • Twednt - What happens to all the people that Tweet.
  • Hipthilis - Another term for large thighs.
  • Propic - What happens to the dentist when he's not gentle.
  • Zoosh - A well-know tactic used often by Dr. Seusse.
  • Luntrip - A Volga boat-ride in Russia.
  • Crisch - Like a croissant, this delicacy is served on National Doing Laundry Day.
  • Seratypt - Oh dear ... this is what happened to Sera when she "tipped" a wee bit too much.
  • Jurunta - A form of hunting while on African safari.

What about you? Do you ever laugh aloud when confronted with a scrambled word? Any favorites you can recall?

May this day be filled with the joys of laughter. Such a balm!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Defending Versus Defensive

I know YOU aren't guilty of this, but I certainly have been. Where my Christian beliefs are concerned, I have the propensity for defensiveness when someone attacks, or even argues against the truth of God's word.

Defensiveness does little good beyond ensuring a bloody battle. It's born in a stew of fear & conflicting emotions, not the least of which just MIGHT BE the need to be right at any cost. One can hardly deem that righteous. (Remember, it's me that's guilty here ...)

But what of Paul's admonition to us, the one in which he encourages us to be ready, to be "set for the defense of the gospel"? (Philippians 1:17)

As I read today's e-devotional from Days of Praise, that same question confronted me. I read this ...

Many Christians today decry the use of apologetics or evidences in Christian witnessing, feeling it is somehow dishonoring to the Lord or to the Scriptures to try to defend them. But as our text (Philippians 1:17) indicates, the apostle Paul did not agree with this. The gospel does need defending, and he was set for its defense against the attacks of its adversaries. He also told his disciples that "in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you are all partakers of my grace" (Philippians 1:7)

Is it possible to be ever-ready with reason & grace in positioning and defending the gospel?

Apparently so.

I can be sure it doesn't include defensiveness, but the gentle & quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4) of the woman warrior.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

So Great a Gift

I heard a wonderful quote some years ago: "The greatest gift a father can give his children is to love their mother."

My sisters and I are the recipients of just such a gift.

Daddy's love-largess for our mother was a vast reservoir that spilled onto, and into our lives. I could write on-and-on about this amazing man of gift-giving; a man of faith, adventure (mountain scaling, fly-fishing & hunting at the top of that list), industry, warmth, charisma, gentleness and affections.

Suffice it to say, I cannot pass through this day without again thanking God for the man that gave me life, so Another could give me life eternal.

Any man can be a Father
but it takes someone special to be a dad.

~ Anne Geddes

Friday, June 18, 2010

UPDATE: gIRLfriends in Real Life - I'm In!!

Come join us at the ...

gIRL Gathering
September 24 - 26, 2010

This gathering will fill up fast. I know. Already my flight's booked, and so's Lisa's. And then there's Elaine and Beth, both planning on driving there.

So, if you live anywhere in on the planet, and especially near the Carolinas: Be there!

I've been Traveling the Road Home with Melinda Garman for quite some time now. In fact, it was just a few short weeks ago that she and I spent the better part of the day together when she came to visit Arizona with her hubby (click on the link to read about it). Because of that auspicious and wonderful meeting, I know a wee bit about the Black Mountain gathering. I can tell you it's going to be one amazing opportunity - - on so many levels!

YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly
Black Mountain, North Carolina!

Get all your details and register (NOW) at the gIRLfriends website.

God-willing, I'll be jumpin' the screen to be there myself - - for real!

Roosted With Roasted Coffee

Here I sit, in my daughter's kitchen sipping a cup of freshly brewed (Keirig) coffee. Upstairs I hear footsteps, which means we'll all soon be scurrying to deliver some to the airport, another to school, and yet another (me) to the land of new babies.

Molly & Tom are headed to the Caribbean for a wedding (poor dears), so my commission here is twofold: bunk in with Rylie while Mom's away, and make a beeline to son Kelly's house to get my hands on the newest addition, Kole (look to the right).

On Sunday, Father's Day, I'll prepare dinner for all the dads in the family - - the first such gathering since we left ten years ago. Can't wait!

Amidst all this I'm investigating, planning, thinking, strategizing, praying and hoping to register for the Girl Gathering at Black Mountain, NC from September 24th to the 26th.

For now, I'm simply content to wear my Grandma hat. It like it best.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lessons from the Desert

Never is there a day that we desert-dwellers needn't be on the lookout for the desert creatures that inhabit this land. They were here first, so it's apparent they have no intention of moving over to make room.

I've lived in the Phoenix area for ten years now. In all that time I'd never seen a Black Widow spider, a scorpion, or even a rattlesnake until recent years. But they were here.

I've learned a little bit about snake behavior - - which is a WHOLE LOT more than I even cared to. Even so, it's prudent to know what lurks. You just never know when you might meet up with the lurker.

I now understand that rattlesnakes are particularly unpleasant (and aggressive) in the summer when they're courting, and again in the late fall when they're hungry & getting ready for a more dormant existence.

It's bad enough to come upon one all stretched out on a golf-cart path, road or sidewalk where they languish to absorb the warmth of the asphalt. But it's an altogether different matter to come upon one in it's coiled position, or when it's wound tightly into a bush or shrub (I didn't know they did that!!).

Rattlers aren't interested in striking anything they can't eat, so - most of the time, anyway - they're polite enough to rattle their tales in warning. It pays to have a listening ear at a time such at this.

Furthermore, it's a fact: there's no such thing as a rattlesnake whisperer!

So, as I sauntered along this morning with both eyes and ears alert, another of life's lessons attended my steps.

If it's prudent to beware of what danger lurks in the physical world, it is equally prudent t.o beware of dangers on all paths - especially those spiritual in form & context. Just because I feel safe doesn't mean I can take my ease. Nor does it mean I need to go out, or return with fear.

On July 24 I'll leave the desert for the rainforest of the Pacific Northwest. The life lessons won't change with the climate, for the lurkers continue to lurk.

Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.

Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze directly before you.

Make level paths for your feet
and take only ways that are firm.

Do not swerve to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:23, 25-27

Monday, June 14, 2010

Gitty on Up

The weapons we fight with are not
weapons of the world.
On the contrary,
they have divine power
to demolish strongholds.

We demolish arguments and every
that sets itself up against
knowledge of God,
we take captive every thought
to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Have you ever attempted to round up your thoughts? Every thought? Not just the disturbing or worrisome, but even the good ones?

In the referenced text I am again reminded that it's a process for which I'm responsible. It's a process identified as a "weapon"; one placed decidedly within my reach like a rope, or prod.

Too, and in keeping with man's free will, God isn't about to ride the range of my mind, shuffling little thought-dogies back into the safety of the herd. That I must do, or not.

The "or not" part is easy. I might label it as being open-minded, or an expansive-thinker, or free-spirited. I can justify just about any position, any rambling notion. In truth, it's an indulgence (one I all-too-often grant myself). Pure and simple, it's disobedience.

... you were dead in your transgressions and sins,
in which you used to live
when you
followed the ways of this world ...

All of us also lived among them (the world)
at one time,

gratifying the cravings of
our sinful nature

and following its desires and thoughts. ...

But because of his great love for us,

God, who is rich in mercy,
made us alive with Christ -
even when we were dead in transgressions -
it is by grace you have been saved.
Ephesians 2:1-5

Throughout the Gospel accounts we hear it said, " Jesus knew their thoughts ..." On the conscious level I know that. I further acknowledge that I know that I know that, even at the subconscious level! Even so, the implications get clearer-and-clearer as I age.

The fact is, what goes on between my ears is as telling as what goes on in my daily life, which - in turn - makes it all the more imperative that I insist those thoughts are rounded up.

I dare not permit the little strays to wander onto the precipices of life. BUT, if I find one or more there, it falls to me to dispatch the hound to nip at their heels until they are safely herded again.

For the word of God is living and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword,
it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit,
joints and marrow;
it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

P.S. This content has been stirring in my heart a lot of late. Then, in today's reading of My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, it was driven home (pun intended) even more dramatically. Ever wonder if God wants you to "get" something?

Off to saddle up ...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Where Joy and Sorrow Meet

I know the many of you will relate to this beautiful song. It has long been a favorite, and one often attendant upon my life at various junctions. When the road is rough and steep, the joy remains. In fact, it trumps sorrow every time!

There’s a place of quiet stillness ‘tween the light and shadows reach

Where the hurting and the hopeless seek everlasting peace
Words of men and songs of angels whisper comfort bittersweet
Mending grief and life eternal where joy and sorrow meet

There is a place where hope remains
In crowns of thorns and crimson stains
And tears that fall on Jesus’ feet
Where joy and sorrow meet

There’s a place the lost surrender and the weary will retreat
Full of grace and mercy tender in times of unbelief
For the wounded there is healing, strength is given to the weak
Broken hearts find love redeeming where joy and sorrow meet

There’s a place of thirst and hunger where the roots of faith grow deep
And there is rain and rolling thunder when the road is rough and steep
There is hope in desperation there is victory in defeat
at the cross of restoration where joy and sorrow meet.

Friday, June 11, 2010

What a Shame About Re

From the previous post wherein I reflect on the demise of the once-great Pharaoh Amasis (and the entire Egyptian culture), I find my way to this noteworthy item: the demise of Egypt's god(s).

There were few limits to the number and kind of gods worshiped in Egypt, of that we are certain. But the god that garnered the loftiest locale was none other than Re, the sun god. The early Egyptians believed that he created the world; and the rising sun was, for them, the symbol of creation.

Where Egypt's god Re (aka Ra) is concerned that fact is particularly poignant. After-all, to have worshiped something or someone so fervently for so many decades, building an entire culture/worldview around it, and then to have it/him fall into disrepute or death is a tough pill to swallow.

What DOES one do when their god ceases to exist?

I can imagine the stark incredulity as Re's adherents cry out from antiquity: You mean my god's dead?

Re was thought to be the creator of the universe - - the original master, or lord. At some juncture he was made to share his god-ness with Egypt's king (Re's FIRST mistake), and then later with other gods, like Osiris.

What was he thinking?

Though Re lived on in various forms into the Greco-Roman period, his worship gradually deteriorated during the fist millennium. This decline was probably due to the weakening of the kingship under various foreign rulers; and while he continued to be a part of Egyptian theology, he was no longer a part of the peoples living faith.

This god, and all like him, fell out of favor. Seems people like their gods to stay in step with the times!

Don't those gods realize if they're created they can be un-created?

What a shame about Re. To have been god, and then to fall into the same Netherworld you once ruled is terribly disconcerting.

So do not be ashamed to testify
about our Lord ... Who has saved us
and called us to a holy life—
not because of anything we have done
but because of His own purpose and grace.
This grace was given us in
Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,
but it has now been revealed through
the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus,
who has destroyed death and
has brought life and immortality
to light through the gospel.
2 Timothy 1:8-10

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Last Great King of Egypt

There's a hidden part of me that has long longed to be an archeologist.

I know, I know ... at 62 it's probably unrealistic, albeit idealistic. But the mysteries of ancient civilizations captivate me, and none more so than the Egypt of antiquity.

With rapt attention I have often dialed into National Geographic and other specials concerning the days of the Pharaohs. It's no secret that brilliant minds and equally mysterious intelligence forged the once-great culture romanticized today.

Egypt is hardly the stuff of lore. It's history is well-documented, with many texts and relics in existence today that flesh out the mummified memories of it's glorious past.

In one seemingly innocuous, insignificant collection of Biblical texts (Jeremiah chapters 43 & 44) I've been reading about the plight of the Jews about to be banished to Egypt for their steadfast affections for tradition & false beliefs above their love of God. First summoned out of Egypt & delivered from cruel slavery by Moses, they are now sent back there in a punitive measure to get their attention.

Their reverse-exodus from Israel occurred during the reign of various Pharoahs, among them the last great Pharaoh, Amasis. It is his name, along with that of Hophra that caught my attention as I read through Jeremiah's bleating texts.

So today I donned my khakis and headed out for an archeological dig from the ease of my recliner & laptop.

Back to Egypt I go, dialing in on it's last great Pharoah, Amasis.

Having failed in his bid to oppose Nebuchadnezzar, Hophra turned his attention to his country's western border. In 570 BC he led an army into Libyan territory, in an effort to stop an invasion of Greeks.

The Greeks made short work of his army and sent him back to Egypt in disorderly retreat. A mutiny broke out in the
ranks, between native Egyptians and foreign mercenaries in the Egyptian army.

A bold and respected general named Amasis declared himself Pharaoh Amasis II
. By most accounts, Hophra fled, gathered an army of mercenaries, and then tried to recapture Egypt.

Amasis, whose name means "H
e who embraces the Heart of Re" , met him in battle at Memphis, and Hophra was captured, taken to Sais, and afterward executed by strangulation.

Amasis buried Hophra with full military honors at Sais, and continued as a puppet king, paying tribute first to Babylon and then eventually to Medo-Persia.

What's the point here?

It's that pharaohs and kings and rulers with a heart after Re (anyone or anything other than The Creator God) will be found as Amasis - - the last of their kind, with little more than sand and script to profess their greatness. Better to have a heart after God's own!

That, and the fact that God's word stands true & certain.

Now there's a mystery worth digging into!

May the Lord direct your hearts into
God's love and
Christ's perseverance.

2 Thessalonians 3:5


The bust of Amasis
Egyptian Symbol for Amasis

Phoenix Examiner
Tour Egypt
Table of Egyptian gods
Encyclopedia Britainnica

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Packing Wisdom

These days find me rummaging through cupboards & drawers, closets & crannies - even as my house and garage abound with boxes. All this in preparation for the move to come.

It strikes me odd, this decision-making effort to distinguish between what's valuable enough to make the move and what's not.

Among the "what's not"s are items too worthy to send to the dumpster; items that will be useful or needful to someone else. So another level of decision-making runs parallel to the first one. Do I sell these worthy things at auction? Do I post them on Craig's List? Do I give them away to someone in need? Do I haul them to Goodwill?

It's equally odd to me how many times a day I utter, either silently or aloud: Lord, help me with this. I need Your wisdom here.

Why wisdom? Why not decisiveness, or prudence, or humility, or some other characteristic?

Truth be told, little of what I've packed, and none of what I've relinquished makes my life or home livable, or lovable. Keeping that fact in mind requires wisdom which, in turn, provides much needed equilibrium. Otherwise sentiment (not bad thing) or greed (a bad thing) rule the sorting process. In fact, sorting between those two requires a bucket of wisdom as well!

Besides, wisdom encompasses discernment, perspective, humility, and the like. Pack wisdom, and you've packed it all!

One day soon, as I unpack on the other end, I'll have a better sense of how much wisdom I actually packed into today's sorting process.

Mmmmm ... it seems to me that such a context works not only in this life, but in the life hereafter as well.

Lord, help me with this. I need Your wisdom here!

Blessed is the man who finds wisdom,
the man who gains understanding,

for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.

... The wise inherit honor

Proverbs 3:13-14, 35

Christ - in Whom are hidden all
the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

2 Colossians 2:3

If any of you lacks wisdom,
he should ask God, who gives generously
to all without finding fault,
and it will be given to him.
James 1:5

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Training the Ear

And though the LORD has sent all
His servants the prophets to you
again and again, you have not listened
or paid any attention...

"But you did not listen to me,"
declares the LORD, "
and ... you have brought harm
to yourselves."
Jeremiah 25:4, 7

There's a huge distinction between hearing and listening. How well I know!

I can actually hear something yet not listen to it; not direct my mind towards the understanding of it.

Such is the brilliant mechanism of the ear - to hear, or not to hear. It lies at the root of my teacher's admonitions: "Kathleen, you're NOT paying attention!", and my mother's (as well every mother's) woe: "What did I say, young lady?"

Seems my ear was want of wander as far back as I can recall.

Listening. What an amazing art it is, or - rather - can be. As if a powerful cosmic antennae, all manner of sound comes and goes from the receptacles or filters my ear applies. Thus my awareness, at least on the conscious level
, is awarded to those noises I actually want to hear, while all others I intimidate into standing at a distance, or to be silent altogether.

Great is my propensity for hearing what I want to hear.

As I make my way through Jeremiah's woeful truth-telling assignment, I am reminded (repeatedly) that I bring about much of my own harm because I hear and don't listen; or I listen and don't hear. Seems I've trained my ear to tune in, or tune out both the noble and ignoble.

Without ruminating through the luggage of past journeys, I only need to reflect on the mis-steps of my life to know that my ear profits when I exercise my vertical listening device before engaging my horizontal one.

"Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,'
and do not do what I say?
Luke 6:46

(Jesus) said, "The knowledge of the secrets
of the kingdom of God has been given to you,
but to others I speak in parables, so that,
" 'though seeing, they may not see;

though hearing, they may not understand.'

Luke 8:10