Thursday, March 25, 2010

...another love whisper from God

As I have mentioned, I'm becoming a bit frustrated with this wait for an answer regarding a couple of interviews I have done. This waiting is driving me crazy; and, I'm sure, I am driving God crazy with my relentless, reduntant prayers regarding my immediate need (not to be confused with a want) for a timely answer. I was reading my blog devotions this morning and this is what I found waiting for me at the Internet Cafe Devotions blog. This was written by Amy Bayliss:
"...I realized that we can wait on God’s perfect plan for us and simply walk in His will day by day or we can spin our wheels on what we assume His plan is for us... If we wait, and if we listen to Him, He will reveal it to us in due time. We must wait on Him... He knows best and He will deliver. Wait. Just wait."
I'm trying to be faithful without growing weary. I guess I just need to rest a while within His grace.

Thank you, God, for this sweet whisper of Your love.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 their midst.

I've been thinking a lot lately about prayer. I've been thinking about all the things it means to me and the logistics - the how's, what's, why's, when's, where's of it. And, the thing I've really been pondering is the power of praying and, specifically, the power of praying together.

I belong to a lay Order of women called The Daughters of the King. As a member of this Order, we take solemn vows to live our lives by a Rule of Life which includes prayer and service. I've been a member of this order for almost three years, now.  It has been a time of learning, a time of growth, a time of commitment and, on occasion, a time of accountability. The beautiful part for me has been the many times of rest and comfort that I have felt through the love and prayers of these women.

There are twelve members of my congregation that belong to this Order - women of different ages, different backgrounds, different callings and purposes in life. And, the one thing we share is a love for God and a sister-like love for one another.

We often communicate with each other through email. It is not unlikely that I will be sitting at the computer minding my own business and a message will pop up from one of these women - often something silly to let each other know we are thinking about them. The emails are always addressed to the whole bunch of us - and, then the responses fly back and forth - making us all laugh and realize that, for just a moment in time, we are bound together in the same thought - thoughts of each other.

My favorite times are when a message pops up with a subject line that says, "Time to circle the wagons" - and, I know this is serious business. A prayer missile has been delivered and it is time to pay attention. And, the responses are always full of love, of nurturing, of support and, sometimes, of tears.

Prayer is an incredible responsibility. I personally do not believe there is a better way to love a person than to pray for them. To love that person to Jesus knowing and believing that He understands and will take care.

How awesome to know the Holy Spirit prays on our behalf when we don't know the words to express our feelings. How awesome to know that God knows our hearts and yearns to love us in this way.

The picture above is of a figurine I have that means a lot to me. It is sculpted by Cindy Burden, a very talented artist. The name of her sculptures is Woman of the Way and each one is based on her particular experience and also scripture. This particular one is named - "In their midst" taken from the promise in Matthew 18:20, "...whenever two or three are gathered together in my name, I am in their midst". These women stand on a table right inside my front door. They remind me that the best thing about prayer is the powerful love that I feel just from holding hands with each other, the powerful love that I feel knowing I am being touched by God.

Friday, March 19, 2010

50 new things update

Time to update the list of 50 new things. I've made progress and have been pleasantly surprised by some things. So, here is a short list of new things I've recently attempted and/or completed:

I've read several new books by new authors and my absolute favorite was: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman. This is one of the best books I have ever read. I started reading Friday morning and was finished by 3 PM Friday afternoon - obviously, I didn't accomplish much else throughout the day. I was fairly captivated. It is a sweet story about acceptance, love, forgiveness and friendship. It's a fast and easy read and I was sorry when I completed it. It is funny, quirky and well-told. And, Beth Hoffman has a way of making me feel like she is writing about people I know and care about.

I ate Shrimp Nachos at our favorite mexican restaurant - absolutely wonderful. Fish and Mexican food are just not two things that go well together in my mind - Boy, was I wrong. Yum!

I went to a new Christian bookstore that recently opened near my house and spent a couple of hours browsing through the books and the music - nothing much better than that.

The past several weeks, my husband and I have started praying together every morning and it has been such a blessing. It is beautiful how close this has made us. And, I love that starting the morning this way greatly affects my attitude as I go through the day. Prayer truly is an act of being vulnerable with each other and I'm blessed we can love each other in this way. It is so comforting to feel God's presence with us as we start the day.

I continue my job search and am, again, awed by the support and love that continues to be shown to me through this experience - often, in unexpected ways. I feel like God is teaching me so many things through this ordeal. And, I am learning new things about myself everyday - things about my endurance, my sense of humor, my faithfulness, God's faithfulness and steadfastness, my trustworthiness. All these things are unfolding inside of me and I am realizing more than ever that God's arms are enfolding Joe and me every step of the way. We continue to pray we are brave enough to walk through the door of His will and to trust Him with our care.

I continue to seek God's will in discerning my call to Ministry. I'm still in the process of trying to figure out exactly what this call means. It has been a blessing to meet with my discernment committee, a group of seven individuals, whom I have chosen and trust to help guide me in this endeavor. They had no idea what they were committing to when we started this process and I am thankful for each of them and their willingness to walk this journey beside me. I think, sometimes, I may bewilder them with my thought processes...

God continues to take me, to mold me and to use me in ways I never imagined were possible. And, I am grateful.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Patience should be a four-letter word...

Image borrowed from Ironic Catholic (2007)

Would you mind waiting...just a minute, please...Can I get back to you on that...? Hold your horses...Can you hold just a moment...?

These are all vulgar phrases to me! I do not wait well, patiently, or otherwise. I mean, how long is "just a moment" anyway? But, it seems I find myself in this very position more often than not. I have to stand in line at the grocery store. I have to wait during phone calls - just to be transferred to a live person that will put me on hold. I have to wait in line at the women's restroom. I have to wait at traffic lights and while people cross the road in front of me...

Patience is a lost virtue and it is certainly not one I have ever claimed. For pete's sake, we now live in a "I want it and I can have it now" world. We have high-speed internet that delivers news to us almost as quickly as it happens. We have a TV where we can watch three or four channels at one time. We have a DVR so we don't have to miss a thing or wait through the commercials. We have phones we carry with us everywhere; and, I do mean everywhere - just so we don't run the chance of missing something - like, you know, a call from the President. And, we have credit cards. And, we all know how those things are patience wreckers.

Is it any wonder that patience is not one of my virtues?

I have recently noticed the Bible is chock full of stories about waiting? It is as if the entire theme of the Old Testament is about patience and God seemingly putting his people "on hold" or in "time out". I'm sure you are familiar with the stories. There are many others and these are just a few: Abraham and Sarah didn't have a baby until they were both very old. The Hebrew people had to wander in the desert for 40 years. It's in the New Testament, too - Mary and Martha had to endure an agonizing wait for Jesus when Lazarus was dying. And, don't forget, the entire book is a lesson in anticipation.

I have been without a job now for eight weeks. It seems impossible that this time has gone so quickly. I have been diligent in my job search and have had two really great interviews. And, now, I am waiting for answers - waiting on someone else to decide my future based on their own needs. Remember that control thing I wrote about a few blogs back - I like to have it and I don't do so well if I have to ride instead of drive? Well, here I am - in the passenger seat. It's hard.

However, I have learned a few things. I know that God is faithful. I have learned that whenever He has instructed us to wait it is for a good reason. I have learned that scripture tells us over and over again that each time God instructed someone to wait that, when the waiting was over, He always fulfilled the promises He made to them. And, I know that one of the hardest lessons I am learning is to "Be Still and Know that I am God."

Today I am claiming the words to this song as my own desire. It is based on Psalm 46:10 - Be Still My Soul ...

Be still, my soul! the Lord is on thy side; Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain; Leave to thy God to order and provide; In every change He faithful will remain. Be still, my soul! thy best, thy heavenly Friend thro' thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul! thy God doth undertake to guide the future as He has the past. Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake, All now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still, my soul! the waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.
Be still, my soul! the hour is hastening on when we shall be forever with the Lord,When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone, sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored. Be still, my soul! when change and tears are past, all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
Katharina von Schlegel
I believe that God is preparing me for something special and He is preparing something special for me. And, even though, I would like to have some answers and have them NOW, I know that delays are not denials. And, I am really, really trying hard to sit still!

Monday, March 8, 2010

This little light of mine...

Dorothy is our friend. She is one of our very favorite people - EVER! We met, several years ago, when my husband and I started attending the same church where Dorothy attends.

She caught my attention right off the bat. The lady knows how to dress and I immediately admired her sense of style. She accessorizes with the most awesome jewelry, shoes and handbags and always looks just so cute and put-together! She sometimes wears a jaunty little hat or a beautiful scarf. She told me once we'd have to go shopping for purses. I was thrilled. However, I'm still waiting for that opportunity. I have great hopes of learning her secrets about being a fashionista.

She has a great sense of humor, a great sense of fun and God's light shines from her heart and her life. Dorothy is in her 80s. I was so surprised when I learned this. She worked for the Social Security Division until she was 79 - how tremendous is that? As we got to know each other better, I learned, for several years, she rode the city bus to work downtown. She rode the same bus my mother rode and whenever she meets my mom, she always greets her and calls her Bus #69. It always cracks me up - They don't know each other's name but they know their bus number.

Until recently, Dorothy lived by herself. During the past year she has had a little challenge with her health and now she lives in an assisted-living apartment complex. She never complains. As usual, she has just found her circumstances provide her with a wealth of opportunity to share God's love and to be a source of encouragement for others around her. For instance, she had a male nurse caring for her during a hospital stay. The nurse had a tattoo of a cross on his arm and so Dorothy asked him what it was all about. She told him he needed to know the story of Jesus if he was going to wear his picture on his arm and then invited him to church.

When Dorothy first moved to the apartment complex my husband and I went to visit. Her apartment is not too large and is very quiet. She told me she doesn't get bored, really, because she is very good at entertaining herself. She likes to read and she likes to do her Bible Study. My husband, Joe, plays the guitar at church and Dorothy always shares how much she enjoys it. He thought he would maybe bring his guitar with him the next time we came to visit; so, he asked Dorothy about her favorite type of music - thinking she would tell him a favorite traditional hymn or chorus - something he could play for her. Dorothy looked at Joe and told him she just loves jazz - the Charlie Parker variety. I think Joe may just buy her a CD. He doesn't know much ragtime jazz.

The Episcopal church we attend offers our facility to another group for Sunday worship. This Pentecostal church meets in our space on Sunday afternoons. Dorothy and Joe, not my husband - another member of our congregation, often visit this service, as well. I asked Dorothy about it and she told me she loves the enthusiasm of the worship. She says, "They know how to let loose".

Dorothy is always about sharing God's love to everyone she comes across. The apartment complex has a bus she rides, on occasion, to church on Sunday mornings. She tells us, as she walks through the lobby to get on the bus, she always invites the people visiting in the lobby to join her  An older gentleman tells her he may just take her up on the invitation. But, not if there will be any "wailing" going  on. She just smiles and invites him to "come along and see".

I love that about her. She has such a sense of who she is and who God is. She has lived her life for Him for a long time and knows Him well.

I hope I live my life certain of who I am and who God is. I hope I live my life in such a way that my light shines brightly with God's love - that I am so full of Him that the light just spills over and shines on everything and everyone around me.

Joe and I took Dorothy home from church one Sunday morning. The image is still with me - of her climbing out of the back seat. Joe is standing outside her door, helping her to stand and making sure her bright red walker is placed steady and ready for her. She takes hold of the handles, tosses her scarf over her shoulder and tells us her little red horse is ready to go.  She tells us we are a blessing to her and then she is off - scooting her way to the front door. That is Dorothy - on her way to share God's heart. And, for some reason, that old song - "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine..." is running through my head.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A different perspective

I woke up yesterday morning with a stiff neck. I mean this kink is a real doozie. I can move my head to the left. I can look forward. I can look down. I can look up. And, that is about it. If I turn right, I have to turn my entire body and keep my head in a just-so position in order to see anything. Seeing that my peripheral vision isn't all the great to begin with, this little situation makes for some interesting walks down the hallway. I need bumper pads or a big inner-tube to wear around my middle to keep me safe.

In addition, I can walk up steps without any issue. However, to walk down steps makes me feel like my head is being pressed into the floor. I heard somewhere that the human head weighs something like 52 lbs. (well, maybe 7 lbs. is more accurate). I believe it to be true - the 52 lbs., that is. Anyway, this stiff neck business is crazy, frustrating; and, it has slowed me down.

I had plans the last couple of days to actually get out of the house and to do something fun and relaxing. I was going to browse my favorite little boutiques and antique stores. The sun has been brilliantly shining after 40 days of gloom and, by this crazy twist of fate, I am now stuck in this house - that is full of steps. Good Grief! I don't feel like it is safe for me to drive - I can't see to my right (without great pain and moaning) and I'm sure, turning the car that direction would involve hitting some curbs.

So, I have been nursing this condition along with heat, muscle relaxers (that are two years old and, most likely expired, that I found in my medicine cabinet) and with the cure-all for any muscle injury - Tiger Balm. Yeeoooowwwyyy! It's like fire gel. The theory is it is supposed to get hot after it is thoroughly rubbed into the skin, then it cools down a bit and works its magic. A few hours later you are supposed to be right as rain. I don't believe this particular description of how it works is truth in advertising. I put it on at 7:30 AM and it is now 10:32 AM and the skin on my neck is still steaming heat vapors. Plus, it stinks!

Last night, Joe and I were going to Arby's for a quick drive-thru dinner. I walked down the stairs to the garage - OUCH - and then proceeded to get into the car when I hit the left side of my head on the door jamb - talk about OOOUUUCH! I cried and cried and cried like a baby. All of my neck muscles revolted. Then, Joe asked me, "Are you OK?" - Interesting question, don't you think?

Anyway, this whole episode has provided me a new perspective and better posture. If there is something I don't care to see I can just position myself for it to be on my right side. I don't suppose this is going to last very long - at least, I can only hope.

A new perspective - I believe I could use one. Or, maybe just a good long nap filled with dreams of a flexible neck, answers to prayers and a big piece of chocolate cake with white icing. Or, maybe I should just remember that it's not necessary for me to be able to see the whole picture at all times and that as long as I can look up - it's all that really matters.