Friday, October 29, 2010

Going Back

Is such a thing possible, going back? I wonder ...

In a few hours we'll board our U.S. Airways flight bound for Phoenix. On some level it feels like we're going back. On another level, the question dangles: Going back to what?

It's not meant to be enigmatic. It's just that I often conclude there is no such thing as going back.

Even if 99.9% of everything - people, places, things, scenery, weather - remain as they are or once were, at least 1/10 of 1 % changes. That factor of 1/10 means nothing is static.

Who said it? There's nothing more constant than change ...

  • People age.
  • Landscapes become overgrown or under-turned.
  • New things crop up; like roads and houses.
  • Babies are born.
  • The old ones (the ones my dear Elaine calls "the ancients") die.
  • Wisdom roots where the lack of it once dwelled.

Then there's me: I'm different today than yesterday; and I'm hugely different than six months ago, or last year. Even if everything else remained as is, I haven't. Or I sure hope I haven't.

So, we're not really going back to Phoenix.

What we are doing is taking a trip to a familiar, though altogether new place. It means I need to prepare to see things differently; in a new light. To prepare in any lessor way is to miss the fresh, and perhaps the best.

Something tells me the dangling question is exactly why life holds so much adventure, and meaning.

It's possible (and probable) that we never really go back or backwards, but forever forwards.

The best is always yet to come in the economy of the 1/10 of 1%, but only if we allow it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Poverty is Not a Virtue

It's true: Poverty is not a virtue; nor is being wealthy.

It's been awhile since I dragged out my soapbox. I'm typically not given to rants, or even to public outbursts. But today my soapbox is a perfectly pitched platform from which to pontificate.

Why is it we have this love/hate relationship with people of means? I can't answer that question, nor do I expect you to. I leave it dangling, confessing that I find it hideous to learn that football players & politicians make bijillions while teachers & train conductors make pennies by comparison.

I find it more hideous still to think that anyone, but especially a child, might be hungry, and living on any of America's streets.

These hideousnesses are followed by heartache when I consider how many believe that poverty - the having of little, or nothing - is a good thing. (I've often wondered who actually defines what, exactly that looks like, or how little qualifies for it.)
On more than one occasion it's sent me scrambling to the scriptures to see what, if anything, God has to say, or intended by His cautionary tone where material possessions are the topic dejour.
The fact is: it takes a tremendous amount of responsibility to handle God's blessings (in any form) obediently - be they creativity, prosperity, good health, opportunity, safety, family, friendships, employment, etc.
Let me be clear: I'm not an advocate of the Prosperity Gospel. I dislike the hucksterism that often props it up. But I also know that there would be no one among us able to obey God's command that we help the poor, serve the poor, feed the poor, love the poor if there weren't at least a FEW people with the means (either a wee bit, or a wow bit) to do so.

The mother of revolution
and crime is poverty.
~ Aristotle
As my post denotes: poverty is not a virtue - at least not that I can discern.
Certainly the poor in our midst are blessed in a unique way (they KNOW they need help), but nowhere in God's good Book can I find an encouragement to embrace poverty as a lifestyle. To give? Yes! To Share? You betcha! To feed & clothe others? A must! To look at one's possessions (and bank account) as a blessing? Absolutely! To walk humbly while holding lightly to one's "stuff"? Definitely!
“The inevitable consequence
of poverty is dependence”.
~ Samuel Johnson
Money, material possessions, and mammon are not in themselves bad, or sinful. Nor is the lack of them. It's how we view them, or use (or misuse) them that brings about their dangers.
Today's soapbox is, in truth, meant for me. This business of poverty has been bugging me for quite some time, but today's the day to ferret out the facts of homelessness & poverty in my community. I need to know about about it. I need to care about it. I need to do more than rant from my soapbox.
Words and rants are easy to come by. What follows them determines whether or not I'm rich, or stuck in poverty myself.
“No man can tell whether he is rich
or poor by turning to his ledger.
It is the heart that makes a man rich.
He is rich or poor according to what he is,
not according to what he has.”
~ Henry Ward Beecher
My initial ferreting produced this: In the span of one month, in one county, in one state we learn ...

Pierce County Homeless Survey, January 2010
According to those surveyed, in 2010, there are 1,807 homeless men, women, and children in Pierce County. Including

  • 1,110 individuals in 333 families
  • 677 children under the age of 18
  • Single individuals comprised of 410 males, 126 females and 18 (no gender) for a total of 554 singles
  • Of the singles, there are 160 chronic persons on the streets or in emergency shelter
  • 16 individuals identified themselves as being chronically homeless before being housed in transitional housing
  • 57 veterans were chronically homeless

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Isn't it fascinating how families often pass down certain interests or traits that would, at-a-glance, seem to have nothing to do with DNA? Musical inclinations come to mind, as does dancing, or gardening, or pretty-making (like my friend Judy does at her e-house, Just a Little Something for You).

Well, in this family the love of nature - specifically bodies of water & fishing - fits into that category. Whether by nature or by nurture, the lot of us can't get enough of the outdoors.
I used to think the family's affinity for the wilds had something to do with my Dad's fondness for the fishing pole, but I now believe it goes even beyond that. Those not even born into our gene pool seem to have it, as if overcome by a virus unique to this clan.
So-o-o-o, it comes as no surprise to me that hubby decided to purchase a boat; one he hopes will be used often and well, and one that'll make for umpty-umpty family gatherings, and memories.

Saturday was our Maiden Voyage, and the first batch of family showed up for orientation (code speak for big boat ride).

Come rain or shine, I expect we'll be seeing a lot more of these sea-smitten voyagers.
This post cannot close without my affirming the generous heart that resides within my husband. Never has he loved his family more; and ever is he given to ensuring the ties (or is that fishing line?) that bind us all.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Oral Surgery

In the days to come I'll be laying low following oral surgery. It's nothing major, but for sure it'll be tedious.

Several years ago I had two implants. One has failed, which means it has to come out. Such an extraction differs from it's routine counterpart in that it has to be unscrewed from the bone. Ugh. This particular procedure requires a tooth adjacent to the failing implant come out too. Double ugh!

Well, I'd rather spend my time and money doing something radically different, and fun. Can I get an "amen!"?

I've not ruled out a miracle, which would negate the need for tomorrow's procedure.

Either way, I'll see you on the other side of this newest adventure.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Tendriled Lass

Her doe eyes flashed in recognition as, once again, our steps intersected.

I slowed ... as I am often want to do when I know it's her. It is then that I catch a glimpse of the flecks of green that make of her eyes a portrait of familiarity. Sometimes I laugh aloud at the wispy blond tendrils that have been permanently wind-blown about her tilted head; most of them into her eyes. Her cheeks bear the rosiness of much-outdoored youngster; a grin is firmly fixed.

She stares at me too sometimes, as if trying to place me. I wonder if it's my wrinkles, or my gnarled hands, or even the grey at my temples that baffles her? Or perhaps it's a lack of gaiety, a seriousness in which I'm robed sometimes that seems altogether unfitting, even strange to her?

It really doesn't matter, because she is always quick to take hold of my hand and, when she is able, lead me to a place of sitting, of resting, and often of laughing (though sometimes of crying). She insists that I listen; that I look.

Quite often I balk, deferring to busy-ness, or due to a disdain for folly. It does seem a waste; a folly at times.

But mostly I make the time, because I absolutely delight in seeing the world through her eyes. She has the uncanny ability of taking a near-dead, as yet red Maple leaf and making it alive with the memories of another time, another intersection of life. Her abilities in this fashion are fresh in my memory because she brought them to bear just this morning.

We're an odd pair, this tendriled lass and me. But oh do I love her; and oh do I look forward to meeting up with her again-and-again along my way, and hers - - even when the last hints of the Maple's leaf color have dimmed to drab. What remains cannot be diminished; no can she.


The lass, as well as the photo is me ... the child that continues to live within.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Insufficient Funds

Have you ever had an overdraft? Me too.
The cause of an NSF notice being issued is bad enough when it's merely a matter of not having transferred funds from one account to another; or because a deposit missed a withdrawal by seconds. Both are easily corrected, though they might still be costly given a bank's swiftness in applying penalties.
Yet an NSF scenario is downright miserable when it's the result of a sum having been added or subtracted incorrectly, and there are NO funds to transfer; NO deposit forthcoming. Corrections won't be easy, or inexpensive.
Under such circumstances, the insufficiency in one's checking account has no bottom. Under the best of those circumstances, the fix will entail some scrambling. Under the worst of those circumstances, it could easily spell:
So, where insufficiencies are concerned, it never hurts to have a fallback position (and I seriously doubt that would include a government bailout). .
When you were dead in your transgressions ...
He made you alive together with Him,
having forgiven us all our transgressions,
having canceled out the certificate of debt
consisting of decrees against us,
which was hostile to us;
and He has taken it out of the way,
having nailed it to the cross.
Colossians 2:13-14
So let each one give as he purposes in his heart,
not grudgingly or of necessity;
for God loves a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make
all grace abound toward you,
that you, always having all sufficiency
in all things, may have an abundance
for every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:7-8
And we have such trust through Christ
toward God.
Not that we are sufficient of ourselves
to think of anything as being from ourselves,
but our sufficiency is from God,
who also made us sufficient
as ministers of the new covenant,
not of the letter but of the Spirit ...
2 Corinthians 3:4-6
As you may have surmised (a much better deduction than guessing), the dot I've connected here has little, if anything to do with checking accounts.
It's to say that I need reminding over-and-over again that my debts (the truly monumental ones) have been paid - fully and forever. I need not scramble to cover for them, nor do I need to proclaim a state of bankruptcy. I need not hire myself out as slave in order to satisfy them (aka perform, or work).
In both the macro and the micro senses, my debts are already fully satisfied - past, present and future! (Oh, that that were true of my checking account!)
The funds used to cover my account are incalculable; sufficient. They are paid up beyond my ability to use them up.
I sleep a whole lot better given the fact of the largess that is mine - sweet grace that it is!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Worthy Read by Dr. David Jeremiah

It was never my intention to blog about books. Like most of you, I enjoy reading a variety of subjects, and none more than those devoted to deepening my understanding of God's word. A heap of them come-and-go from my life, but rarely do I feel compelled to recommend any one in particular.

Except this one ... "The Coming Economic Armageddon"

This is Dr. David Jeremiah's (ministry & bio info here) newest collection, and I encourage you to grab a copy (here). What a chilling, though hope-filled read!

In the span of a finely researched, well-documented and biblically cohesive 263 pages, Dr. Jeremiah delivers a non-extreme framework for the economic context in which we now live.

Nothing about the material will come as any great surprise. What it will do is shatter any illusions we might harbor about the dots connected between geo-political intrigues and economic mayhem. Those same dots are at the very heart of God's prophetic purposes.

I'm all for the grace and light (and light-weight) sides of life. I doubt anyone relishes levity & laughter more than I do. But sometimes I feel inclined to heft the weightier edges of life.

Dr. Jeremiah has placed in my hands a lead anvil.

I hope to place it in yours.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Little Indulgences?

excessive or unrestrained gratification
of one's own appetites, desires, or whims
Like some gather teacups, or guns, or cars, or rare coins, I collect words. They're a lot less expensive than most collectibles, so my attic's full of them; my basement too.
Most of the time I absolutely treasure them; words. They give life it's luster, story-telling it's savory flavor, and dialects their dimension. Words shape things.
Even so, sometimes I discover a word among the many stored in my personal collection and wonder how it got there. Surely I didn't save it for myself? Isn't it possible that I placed it there by mistake, or intended it for SOMEONE ELSE'S collection?
Indulgence is just such a word. And "little indulgence" is the epitome of an oxymoron.
Oh, no doubt I grabbed it whilst (= one of my favorite collectibles) in a hurry one day, tucking it among the others with little or no thought to it's deeper meaning. But why on earth it refused to remain tucked away is anyone's guess; specifically mine.
I do just fine with the part about appetites and desires (disclaimer: EXCEPT where ice cream, and fresh bread/butter are concerned, or shoes), but when it comes to whims I'm in trouble. Big time.
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to justify a whim?

Loving a child doesn't mean
giving in to all his whims;
to love him is to bring out
the best in him,
to teach him to love what is difficult.
~ Nadia Boulanger

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Living Again, for the Very First Time

I simply cannot listen to this amazing song without crying, or without resisting the urge to stand up and shout: Yes!!!!!

Each and every morning, it feels like's I'm born again; it feels like I'm living ... for the very first time.

What other god, and what other worldview offers such an incredible promise?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Some Days Are Like That

Unplanned. Unexpected. Unwanted.

There are a lot of things I could say about those words; those conditions. They fit any number of scenarios past and present; and probably future as well.

But today's telling has to do with an upstairs wash machine run amock.

The day was pleasant enough, and promising. We'd already enjoyed family while attending our grandson's football game; and were now preparing to head out again to celebrate that same grandson's birthday. But there was just enough time to toss in a load of laundry, and then run to the grocery store ahead of leaving.

So far, so good.

When I returned from the grocery store I thought it odd to hear what sounded like the vacuum running upstairs. "Odd", because I'd never known hubby to vacuum at his leisure before. Come to think of it, I'd never know hubby to vacuum!

I went to check it out when, low-and-behold, he had our carpet shampoer (with a powerful retrieval vacuum of it's own) sopping up a vast sea of water.
Apparently the wash machine decided to bilge it's contents through BOTH the wash and the rinse cycles onto the floor instead of the drain.
I'll spare you the details of the drama (it's not over YET), but suffice it to say that it was not at all what we'd planned, or expected, or (much less) wanted.
But it's what we got.
Some days are like that.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Deliberate Devotion

Devote yourselves to prayer,
being watchful and thankful.
Colossians 4:2

Be devoted to one another ...
Romans 12:10

Our people must learn to devote
themselves to doing what is good ...
Titus 3:14

Is it something we are, or something we do?
Whichever it is, how is it conceived?
How is it born?
What does it look like in my life?
How is it sustained?.
.In some Bible translations the word is an adjective that's associated with kindly affections, or love. It is also a shapeshifter able to become a verb; and then it means something akin to maintain, or engage in.
I bring it up today because I've been rummaging around in the trunk that stores my motivations. Some are a bit dusty; they reside deep down, near the very bottom of the trunk. That's where I found devotion.
  • To whom, or to what am I devoted, and why?
  • Is such devotion conscious on my part, or subconscious, subliminal?
  • Must it be recognizable (to myself and/or others), or can it be vague?
  • Is all devotion equal?
  • Can I be devoted to something or someone I ought not?

In the scriptures the concept of devotion is used in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons. It carries the connotations of consecrating, setting apart, capturing. .

Add to the word the modifying "ion" so that it becomes devotion, and it's swept away into the realm of worship. Think of devotionals, and we all nod in agreement.

All is holy where devotion kneels.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Merriam says it's to commit by solemn act; to give over. .

Taken all together, I have to conclude that anything worthy of such a thing, such devotion - be it adjective or verb - ought to be pretty darn special.
It reasons, then, that if I devote myself to something or someone, it had better be an intentional act derived from pure motives. Why?

I'll let you answer that - and all the other questions - for yourselves. I'm still straddling the trunk and working on my own answer(s).
... they (certain believers) have devoted
themselves to the service of the saints.
1 Corinthians 16:15
You cannot serve two masters...
he (a servant) will be devoted to the one
and despise the other.
Luke 16:13
... we will devote ourselves to prayer
and to the ministry of the word.
Acts 6:4
... (be) devoted to prayer,
Romans 12:12
... devote yourself to the public reading
of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.
1 Timothy 4:13
P.S. Where being devoted is concerned in my life, just know that I'm wrestling with habits and patterns (including seemingly good ones, like blogging, or house-keeping) that may well need an overhaul.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wrought in the Rent

And when Jesus had cried out
again in a loud voice,
He gave up his spirit.
At that moment
the curtain of the temple
was torn (rent) in two
from top to bottom.
Matthew 27:50-51
To Rend
1: to perform an act of tearing or splitting
2: to become torn or split
Numerous dimensions attend the word rend, many of them associated with violence. I could certainly travel that course as it pertains to this subject matter, but instead I'll stick to the leg associated with an equally dynamic theme: where we find ourselves because of that rending.
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul,
firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary
behind the curtain, where Jesus,
who went before us, has entered on our behalf.
He has become a high priest forever ...
Hebrews 6:19-20
Amazing isn't it?
To think of all that was, and is wrought because of that rent curtain - because Jesus "entered on our behalf" - simply boggles the mind.
Sometimes I wonder if, even now, I truly comprehend on a personal level all that was wrought in the rent for me.
  • The curtain itself was a constant reminder that sin renders humanity unfit for the presence of God.
  • It's having been rent signified that now the way into the Holy of Holies was open for all people, for all time, both Jew and Gentile.
  • We are now invited, and welcome to enter the Holy of Holies through Jesus.
  • All now have access to the throne of grace, through the one great atonement and mediator, the Lord Jesus.
  • No longer is anyone (mediator/confessor) or anything (works) required for us to stand righteous before the Father. No more atoning sacrifices, and no more personal atoning attempts. It is finished! We've been "made to stand".

.Now it is God who makes both us and you
stand firm in Christ.
He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us,
and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit,
guaranteeing what is to come.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22

Wow. No wonder it's called Amazing Grace!

We've all heard it said: We can do nothing to make God love us any more. We can do nothing to make God love us any less. The torn curtain affirms the veracity of such a powerful fact.

I don't know about you, but believing THAT didn't come easy to me. For too many seasons I felt I had to add this or that to my salvation as if some missing ingredient was necessary. I'd grown up with heavy doses of the "shoulds" and the "guilts", so how under God's blue sky I was ever to give up the personal works was beyond me.

Worse, I had the sense that I could not truly know - not here, not now - that I was fully accepted by the Father, or that heaven would be my home. I'd have to wait and see, as they say. Mine was religion, but mine was certainly not a relationship that was firm and secure - one lived behind the curtain - for far too long.

What was wrought in the rent by none other than Jesus Himself is the absolute certainty of the destiny of those that are truly (BIG caveat) saved by Him, and Him alone.

All that the Father gives me will come to me,
and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.
For I have come down from heaven
not to do my will but to do the will of him
who sent me.

And this is the will of him who sent me,
that I shall lose none
of all that he has given me
but raise them up at the last day.

For my Father's will is that
everyone who looks to the Son and
believes in Him shall have eternal life,
and I will raise him up at the last day."
John 6:37-40

It is always a worthy exercise to ask oneself: On which side of the curtain am I living?

Material Resources:

Got Questions

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Worst in Me

The words were no sooner out of my mouth when I realized how important it was that I consider them again. And again.

My neighbor and I were discussing a particularly difficult situation he had faced with someone in his life. I could only nod in understanding, for certainly there have been people or situations in my life that fall into the "difficult" category.

Then the words passed my lips and were spoken ...

"Yes, I know those feelings well. Truly there are people in our lives that bring out the worst in us."
In the next breath, the first thought was followed by this second one:

"Then again, how else might we know the worst is in us were it not for such people?"

He blinked then, as if something had gotten into his eye; and as if he wasn't quite sure how to respond.

I did likewise, which meant the two of us looked a wee bit puzzled for several seconds (that seemed more like an hour).

It struck me that there was now a provocative ponderance dangling mid-air; one to be dissected and digested.

In truth, I'm not exactly sure what it was that actually struck the blinking neighbor (flippancy? ... wisdom? ... dullness? ...)

I realized immediately that I was going to have to develop the thoughts associated with the worst in me further.

In the days since here is what I've derived thus far:

  • What a blessing is given when the worst in me surfaces.
  • When I'm aware of the worst in me, it simply means I have some; and it may well be time to deal with it.
  • Unless and until nothing brings out the worst in me, I need work.
  • No one and nothing can bring out the worst in me without my permission.
  • It's possible to see the worst in someone else without use of a critical eye.
  • I may well be the agent that brings about the worst in someone/something else.

I doubt I'm through with "deriving".

Likely you're blinking now too.