Thank you all for your good wishes. Our anniversary was fun but hectic. The tournament took up 3 full days (hot days at that). We are home for a moment and soon off to Iowa to visit my husband's family. I love reading your blogs, and will miss you all. Be well, and God Bless You!
...A tale told by an idiot...
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary this weekend at a 3 day Lacrosse Tournament!! Our son will be playing, and our daughter - well, the liklihood is she will be bored out of her mind....Hopefully the hotel will have a great pool :). Love and Blessings Blogger Buddies. Keep us in your prayers. Peace.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Birgit's story is finished! Start here and work your way up...
Friday, July 15, 2005
I originally wrote this to MaryEllen, who shared some compelling thoughts on her blog. I previewed it and realized that I was way too long-winded (what else is new!). So I figured I'd spare her the space and post it over here. If you want the background scoop, you'll need to read this. (It's quite worth the visit.)
I have had similar church / religious experiences to those that you've shared in your post. I've gone from the more formal liturgical worship service that I was raised in, to the extreme charasmatic experience -- and in each setting I have met people who seem to really get it -- they reflect the Fruit of the Spirit, they are growing, they reflect God in ways I can only pray to see in my own life one day. And of course on the other side of that coin there are those that just don't seem to get it. (like the woman in your story who felt it was okay to have an affair since her salvation was "safe"). People can always take a good thing, no matter what it is, and tarnish it, mis-represent it, alter it, etc, etc, etc.
If I were to assess my walk, I'd say I've occupied the space on both sides of that line -- even on a day to day basis! I have "walked the walk" and "talked the talk" of the believer when inside I just wasn't in the mood - and the outcome of that was always icky. (and the "walk" and the "talk" can vary from denomination to denomination as you know!)
As I have grown older, my hope in my walk has become simply that my relationship with God will be authentic. That I won't jump on the bandwagon of whatever Christian fad is hot today (and gone tomorrow) -- but that I will pursue Him with all my heart. That I will listen before I act (I'm not always successful at this, as you have seen!) And that I will not say or do what I think is expected of me (what will meet the approval of the listener), but instead say what I believe He is calling me to say. This does not mean that I should blurt out whatever comes into my head (although sometimes I do), this means that I should meditate on my thoughts -- put my words before God, test them against scripture, and then act on what I believe is in accordance with His will.
There is a saying out there "eternal vigilence is the price of freedom". I don't think this was meant as a religious statement, but it invokes a religious connotation to me. I have incredible life-changing freedom in Christ -- but I must be eternally vigilent to pursue my connection to Him everyday. Without Him, it is all meaningless. Without Him, my "good deeds" are misguided, my efforts are all vanity, and I am just a "noisy gong" and a "clanging cymbal". -- And most horribly --As you have indicated in your post, at our worst, without Him -- we can and have gone so far as to commit atrocities in His Name -- How ugly we must seem to Him! How ugly to those who don't know Him!
But amazingly, Divinely, He finds them anyway.
++Thank You Lord that you met me where I was at -- that you encountered me on my own personal road to Damascus. I get in your way most of the time, I think. Help me to move over and just point to You.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
This has been one heck of a busy blogging week for me. After engaging in a troubling discussion a few posts back, I prayed the words of one of my favorite worship songs, Open my eyes Lord, I want to see Jesus. Since then there has been no end to the "input" -- I have linked to dozens of sites that have just knocked me over. So many different voices: male, female, young, old, conservative, liberal -- all pointing to and contemplating Jesus. I can't find my way back to some of them (sadly)! I have laughed, cried, praised and prayed with a huge number of people I know now only by a glimpse of their hearts. I am becoming a "Blog-o-holic"! I know I need to stop. But I am suddenly aware of this unusual answer to my prayer, and as always I am blown away by God's goodness and mercy.
I have to say this: I am not a theologian -- I'm not really all that great of a Christian. I'm stubborn, and hot tempered, and pretty emotional about everything, and frankly if I kept thinking about it I could come up with several pages full of the things about me that are not all that godly, so I'll stop now -- you get the idea. The longer I am in Christ, the further I am away from understanding anything. All I know is that God loves me with all my faults so much that He sent His only Son so that whosoever believes in Him will have Everlasting Life. (You too, but you already know that better than I could ever tell you.) Any time I try to defend Him, I fail. He doesn't need me to do battle on His behalf -- it's already done. He didn't make it complicated, as some would want you to believe. It's a fact. The Gospel straight up. What you do with that is really your own business.
And as if to quell any doubts that might have been lingering for me, this bible verse was on the cover of the program at the church we attended this weekend: John 6:37. (Now, I've read the book of John in the course of my 42 years, I don't know, maybe 400 times -- and this verse didn't really jump out at me until Sunday -- so there you go. You figure it out, because that kind of stuff is just miraculous in my book.) Here it is: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the ones who come to me I will by no means cast out”(John 6:37)". (emphasis mine).
I'm sure someone out there will know a bunch of reasons why this verse doesn't mean what it says. Here's the thing. I'm not all that bright -- so save it for someone who will actually want to wade through all that arguing. I'm done.
Thank you bloggers. I have had a great week taking a peek into your hearts. Our God is an awesome God. May you find Him in the simplest places.
** and just in case you have some time on your hands, check out this, and this, and this (hilarious), and this, and this, and this might be my favorite if not for this. And believe it or not, there were SO MANY MORE that I just couldn't find my way back to.
Lord, how I thank you that time and time again you pick me up and show me your goodness. I am SO SORRY that I buy into anything less -- but I do, even though I know better. Keep my eyes on you, Jesus. Thank you for the many voices you have shared with me -- the words I have read this week live on in me like the whispering of angels. I will be still now, and know that You are God.
Monday, July 11, 2005
As some of you know, we've been shopping for a church for over a year (I've lost track of how long now...). I can't even remember when our old church closed, but no matter how many places we've been since, we still refer to it as the old church. There are so many really great churches in this area, so this quest has been daunting, but not completely discouraging. This week and last, the kids and I re-visited a small local church at their request. We attended this one for most of the summer last year, and may in the end be the one we stick with. We had a plan to visit each of the churches for a month or so, but agreed not to make a commitment until we had a chance to visit several.
If nothing else in all of this, I've seen God at work in every one of the churches we visited, large, small, traditional or non-denominational. People are worshipping, loving one another, doing God's work -- it makes me so proud to be a part of the Body of Christ. This, I find, is different than what I would be left to believe if I bought into everything I read or heard on the radio. I am relieved, and blessed by what we have found. I have been making a point of linking when possible to churches that I have visited, or that are visited by people who have blessed me in some way. You will see them on my sidebar.
No matter what might be said of any of these churches, what they do speaks volumes more than what is said. I remember reading a study of Isaiah 52, where the writer pointed out that it is not "how beautiful is the mouth of the person bringing the good news, nor how beautiful the eyes that saw the good news, but rather how beautiful the feet that actually took action and brought the good news. Buechner states, "If you want to know who you really are, as distinct from who you like to think you are, keep an eye on where your feet take you."
Lord, I pray that you will make me a woman of action. I am often an observer, but not often enough a participant. Help me be your hands and feet in this world. Help me to bring You with me wherever my feet take me.
I am moved once again by the verse from Isaiah 52, "7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"
God Reigns, my brothers and sisters in Christ. He is in control. May you have a week full of evidence of His grace :). Here's Psalm 8 for your reading pleasure.
1 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.
2 From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:
7 all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
9 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Sunday, July 10, 2005
The last couple of weekends have been really awesome. It's amazing how the simplest things can bring such joy.
We spent the 4th of July at home this year. We rode our bikes to the beach in the early morning and came home in time to play croquet (3 games!!)in the back yard. We found a peaceful, secluded spot to set up our chairs for the fireworks, and though we missed our families in New York and Iowa, it felt so wonderful to be together - just the 4 of us.
Yesterday, my husband and my kids tiled the outdoor patio with beautiful slate tiles while I worked on an audit. Today after church, we all helped my husband with the grout. It was sunny and hot and we giggled and sang along with the radio. We were filthy with grout and sweat and sunscreen. The puppy discovered his tail and entertained us the whole time by chasing it and occasionally catching it. We ate an early dinner before my son had to go off to Lacrosse practice. It was just a perfect day. Everytime I look at the patio I will remember.
Thank you Lord for perfect days.
Saturday, July 09, 2005
Thursday, July 07, 2005
I sit and stare at my empty screen, a thousand words swirling inside of me, but none appropriate to this moment. I am so sorry, London.
The worst part is that the sight and sound of devestation no longer shocks me. I expect it. I turn on the news in the morning and anticipate the disasters. When they don't come I find I am waiting. Expecting.
I am told this is evidence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I am skeptical. That would mean I am on my 4th year of Post Trauma. Come on. I think this is more a reflection of the reality of the way things are. A coping mechanism in our Brave New World.
I know that people come into and go out of this world every moment of every day. I have gained some and lost some over the last couple of years -- illness, accidents, self inflicted injury -- we cannot know or control the appointed hour of our death, or the death of those we hold dear. But nothing seems such a travesty to me as a life lost as a result of a deliberate act of evil.
In "Wishful Thinking", Frederick Buechner defines Evil as follows:
"God is All Powerful
God is All-good
Terrible Things Happen
You can reconcile any two of these propositions with each other, but you can't reconcile all three. The problem of evil is perhaps the greatest single problem for religious faith. There have been numerous theological and philoshphical attempts to solve it, but when it comes down to the reality of evil itself, they are none of them worth much. When a child is raped and murdered, the parents are not apt to take much comfort from the explanation (better than most) that since God wants us to love him, we must be free to love or not to love and thus free to rape and murder a child if we take a notion to.
Christian Science solves the problem of evil by saying that is does not exist except as an illusion of mortal mind. Buddhism solves it in terms of reincarnation ad an inexorable law of cause and effect whereby the raped child is merely reaping the consequences of evil deeds it committed in another life.
Christianity, on the other hand, ultimately offers no theoretical solution at all. It merely points to the cross and says that, practically speaking, there is no evil so dark and so obscene -- not even this -- but that God can turn it to good."
We look to you Father for the Peace that passes all understanding.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
I have recently engaged in a discussion regarding Mega-Churches, specifically Rick Warren and Saddleback Church. You can find my comments and those of others here. This topic reminded me of a post I wrote a long, long time ago. You can take a peek at that entry here. I didn't intend to revisit this topic, but here I am. Up to my eyeballs.
+++Open my eyes, Lord. I want to see Jesus.
(Click here for another old post on Church History. Nothing new under the sun...)
Monday, July 04, 2005
Happy 4th of July!
Sunday, July 03, 2005
I have a real problem with the concept of Emminent Domain, as has been discussed of late in the Kelo vs. City of New London case. I know there are voices on both sides of this argument, but I can not imagine anyone in favor of this decision, nor can I come up with a single example of a circumstance when this practice would be okay. I invite you to tell me your point of view. Perhaps you can soften my position on this issue.
I am not a complete stranger to this concept, by the way. My husband's childhood home and property was purchased by the school district to expand the neighboring elemenary school nearly 10 years ago. My inlaws were not broken hearted over this decision. The City paid them a fair price for the property. It offered them the opportunity to buy a new and better home in another community. On the down side of this scenario, the property was a 10 acre parcel that happened to be adjacent to my husband's grandparent's acreage. Father and Son had their homes on the far ends of about 20 acres of land at the edge of the town. My husband's grandparents (Grandpa in his 90s) still live on their portion of the land. The school now occupies the place where his son used to live.
I have another friend whose family built a dream home on an acreage in New Mexico. The interstate took their property -- and they were not happy about it. They battled for quite some time, wondering why the heck the road couldn't go around the house. After all, this was a fairly unpopulated area. They had carefully chosen a piece of land with the right view and sun exposures -- they put all their energy into planning and building this home. After 10 years (I think they were there for 10 years) they were informed that they were in the path of the road and they had to go. They would be given market value for the home. (sometimes the sum of the parts is worth more than the house would get in the open market. In some places (unlike California and New York) property values are surprisingly low.) They fought long and hard, and lost.
Emminent Domain is very clear in both these cases -- roads and schools are the top reasons any community can and will commandeer a private property. I don't necessarily like this, but I understand it. The new twist on this unsavory issue is that now big business will be allowed to do this. This is just utterly sickening to me. I can not understand how we could permit a private citizen the right to take by force another private citizen's property. I don't care how much you pay them! Some things must have a value far greater than that which can be counted in dollars and cents.
In California, property is at a premium. Coastal neighborhoods are especially inflated. This fact may actually protect private property owners, since the commandeering of a coastal home would cost the developer over a million a home to buy out. But say the developer decides that they want to buy an entire neighborhood to put up a luxury hotel -- or worse, take down an older neighborhood and replace it with a bunch of luxury homes? (This happens every day around here, by the way, without the need for "emminent domain" and government intervention. Money does the moving and the shaking. Somehow, developers hold all the cards all the time -- but that's another story for another day...). In CA, the property tax locks in with the sale price, so for arguments sake, it is ALWAYS beneficial for the government to push you out of your home. The taxes can only go up when someone new moves in. And how about fluctuations in the real estate market? What if I spend $500,000 for a home that is valued at $350,000 5 years from now? Then some developer decides that my property would make a great strip mall -- so they will buy this from under me at the current market rate. Would I have any recourse? Or do I lose everything?
I know the liklihood is that our high end properties are not in danger. As always, those with much, keep much. No, the likelihood is that those people that have little, that struggle much, that battle every day for their piece of the American Pie, that love with pride the piece they have managed to hack out -- those are the people that stand the most to lose.
I cannot help but think of our earlier policies of "Manifest Destiny". Perhaps I am infusing too much drama here -- but I can't sit silent awaiting this New Age Trail of Tears. I am reminded of Nathan's rebuke to David (2 Samuel 12:1-4) -- and pray to the God who really sees. ++Help us be a nation of good people. Turn the eyes of our leaders to You, and rebuke them for their unrighteousness.
Friday, July 01, 2005
Man proposes Seizing Souter Property
"A California man wants to take advantage of a recent Supreme
Court decision on seizing private land -- proposing a hotel
on Justice David Souter's land. Souter, a resident of
Weare, N.H., joined in the majority opinion that allows
governments to seize private property and turn it over to
a private developer if the action would benefit a community.
Freestar Media Chief Executive Officer Logan Darrow
Clements Tuesday faxed a letter to the Weare Town Hall,
proposing seizure of Souter's property for a hotel that
would "better serve the public interest," the Concord
Monitor reported. City officials say they are taking the
letter seriously. "Am I taking this seriously? But of
course," said Charles Meany, who handles building requests.
"In lieu of the recent Supreme Court decision, I would
imagine that some people are pretty much upset. If it is
their right to pursue this type of end, then by all means
let the process begin. ... I have to allow the law to take
its course." The Monitor said Clements has dubbed the
proposal the Lost Liberty Hotel. It will include the Just
Desserts Café. Souter's two-story farmhouse is assessed
at $100,000. He pays $2,895 a year in property taxes."