Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Clenched Fists or Open Hands?

Photo courtesy of PhotoBucket.com

Silence, Prayer and Meditation...

I've been thinking about these things lately as, during Lent, my church is hosting a day that will combine all three. First of all, that silence thing is for people needing a nap - mandatory silence drives me nuts. I have things to say, for crying out loud! Prayer and Meditation - OK, I'm thinking I'm going to find a room somewhere and take a much longed-for snooze until this portion of the program is over.

Seriously - Silence, Prayer and Meditation...Oh, My!

Intimacy with God - isn't that what prayer is really all about? Isn't it supposed to be a communion (holding in common) between His heart and mine? ONLY if I allow it to be. Intimacy requires two parties, right?

I like to believe I know how to pray. After all, I've been doing it since I was a kid. In fact, I remember learning my bedtime prayer when I was about four or five years old, "Now, I lay me down to sleep..." My Dad patiently worked with me until I had that prayer memorized and could say it by heart. Hmmm, say it "by heart", now, that's an interesting turn of phrase.

I was looking for some images of people praying and just about every picture shows the age-old posture of prayer: hands clasped or joined together and the head bowed. I got all flustered thinking about that. You see, I've learned, recently, that it is difficult to let go of the things I take to the Lord if I have my hands so tightly grasped around them. And, in turn, I cannot receive all that God longs for me when I don't have my hands and heart open to receive His gifts.

I want to run to God with open hands and outstretched arms reaching toward him and praying "by heart" - not a simple recitation - an honest offering to God of what and who I am, how I feel, who I believe Him to be. I want to cherish the silence so I am better able to hear His voice when he whispers "be still". And, I want to think on these things.. marveling at how God hears me, understands me and provides His will for me. Always.

Silence, a comfortable quiet where I may be able to hear His voice: Prayer, an intimate communion with the One who loves me most; and Meditation, time to think about All the ways He loves me.

Pretty sweet way to spend the day.  Maybe I won't take a nap after all.


In Preparation for Easter:

A Day of Silence, Prayer and Meditation

Saturday, April 2, 2011
10AM - 6PM
St. Michael's Episcopal Church
4000 Lee's Summit Road
Independence, MO 64055


Sunday, February 13, 2011

His Love Sings

I've redesigned my blog today and I'm just seeing how it fits. It's time for something fresh, new and with a little more creativity to spice up the page. I've been experiencing writer's block; so, it is my hope that this new "do", so to speak, will provide some much needed inspiration.

I've also changed the name of the blog to "His Love Sings". The new URL is www.hislovesings.blogspot.com. So, please update your info so you know where to find me. You will no longer be able to find the blog at the dipsydoodle-dipsydoodle address.

Transition. I think that is what I've been experiencing this past year. Transition with my body, my health, my outlook on life, my spirit, my heart. It's wonderful, though. Change is good and exciting - I never know what is around the bend. And,  even though I resist it with both feet spiked into the floor, I've been accepting it as it comes and it's been rewarding. Change scares me, though. I'm comfortable in my skin, my habits and my life. But, staying with the old can make me stale and I don't want to be that way. So, no more tight fists for me. I'm opening my hands to accept the changes that God is providing, trusting that He knows best.

I've been reading Ann Voskamp's beautiful new book, One Thousand Gifts. It has been life-changing for me. She accepted a challenge from a friend to write down 1,000 things she is thankful for; and so, she began a heart-transforming journey. And now, I'm going to begin my list of "1,000 Gifts" - and my heart's desire is to recognize God's love in the everyday things I so take for granted. And, maybe He will teach me to see His love more clearly.

Change, acceptance, gratitude,  love,  JOY! - I'm on my way to a happy heart. Want to join me?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Wash in Warm Water - Gentle Cycle...


I believe I have been cold since 1960 - that is the year I was born. Seriously, in the past several years I struggle to stay warm - even in the summer. I have been to the Dr. and she has run all battery of tests to see if there is a medical issue causing this temperature mishap. To no avail. She finally determined I just have an internal thermostat that doesn't register correctly and, for whatever reason, the cause is still unclear. My husband tells me I am wired wrong. I've come to the same conclusion.

It's a chore for my body to try and keep itself warm. The body's natural response is to hold itself tightly and to shiver to create heat. This results in some fairly trussed-up muscles and some rickety and stiff bones - and, no heat. Throughout the day, I find myself yearning for a hot bath or shower. To sink into a hot bath is bliss. The muscles loosen up and I know I can hear my bones sigh.

Whenever I am so cold I have to retreat to the bath, I'm reminded of this story told by an old friend of mine.

Don was in Special Ops when he was in the Navy. He was a "frogman" - I believe that is what they call them - an amphibious unit that did special covert operations.

He said his unit used to train in the dark, in the cold and in freezing water. Even though he wore a wet suit and the only thing directly exposed to the elements was a bit of his face, it was still unbearably spine-rattling cold. The freezing temperature seemed to seep into every part of his being - sometimes making feeling and moving difficult.

Don told me that when he came out of the cold water - where he may have been for several hours, He would be freezing. Then, one of the guys in his unit would pour warm water over him to warm him up. He said it was indescribable the way his body felt as the water would start at the top of his head and trickle down and envelope every part of his body.

He was telling me this story one night when we were talking about how we came to Jesus and what a difference Christ has made in our lives. It's a story I have never forgotten.

Don told me that when He finally gave his life to Christ, after many years of running from Him, that it felt exactly like that warm water flowing from the top of his head and over his body. The warmth of the Holy Spirit completely consumed him, wrapped him up, warmed his heart and brought him to life.

I think about that story just about every day when I come home cold and I step into the shower or dip into a warm tub. That warmth touches my skin and it is nice and cozy, comforting and makes me feel comfortable and, finally, warm inside. God's love is like that, you know. He pours it over us like warm and gentle water and then wraps us tightly and keeps us safe. It allows us to feel and to move and to live God's grace.

Warm Water, Gentle Cycle...I love the way He loves me.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wednesday

Photo Courtesy of Photo Bucket
I have spent the ENTIRE work day, today, thinking it was Wednesday. It is not - It is Tuesday.

I received the great news that this is Tuesday about 3:30 PM today - when I was pushing and fretting about meeting a Friday deadline for a project I am coordinating. Whew, it was a relief to learn it was Tuesday instead of Wednesday - I'm hopeful I won't have to fret all over again tomorrow when it really is Wednesday - that would be a drag!

I'm completely befuddled as to how I could lose an entire day and not realize it. It's not like I didn't look at a calendar all day - that point of reference somewhat goes out the window, though, when you are not actually looking at dates, but days. I kept looking at Wednesday - because I thought it was Wednesday - even though it was Tuesday.

I wish I had learned it was Tuesday earlier in the day - I probably would not have acted any differently; however, I would not have felt so silly!

So, here's to Wednesday - It's going to be a great day!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I played my best for Him

Photo courtesy of www.photobucket.com


This past Christmas I experienced the best gift ever. One so totally unexpected that it brought me to my knees.

Joe and I went to church Christmas morning and, as we walked through the front doors of the church, I noticed a harp standing near the back of the sanctuary. I had never seen a harp at our church before and I didn't know of anyone in the congregation who played a harp. So, I was curious.

I just could not imagine what that harp was doing at our church and to whom it might belong.

Since there were only a few of us at the service Christmas morning, I immediately noticed the middle-aged woman sitting all alone on the back row. She looked a bit timid and very uncomfortable. She was dressed in many layers and was wearing a somewhat worn coat with a heavy scarf wrapped tightly around her neck. She was also wearing a hat and gloves; and, it was obvious she was going through a rough time. However, I noticed her heavy boots were new and polished to a shine.

It's not unusual for our church to have visitors that may be a little less fortunate than others. Our church hosts what we call the "Necessity Pantry", twice a month, where we offer non-perishable necessities like toothbrushes, toothpaste, toilet tissue, diapers, soap, etc., to people that may need a little help with these things. In addition, we do our best to offer a friendly smile and an abundance of God's love. It is not unusual for someone we have helped to visit one of our services; so, I didn't think much more about the lady on the back row.

As I was greeting a friend, I asked about the harp. She told me that one of the folks we had helped at the necessity pantry was so grateful that she asked how she could repay us. Mother Pat (our Priest) told her that payment was not necessary. Still, this lady was determined and wanted to do something. She asked if she could play her harp for us as a way to say thanks. So, Mother Pat told her "yes, she could".

At the end of the service, I heard the most beautiful music coming from the back of the church. I turned around and was surprised to see the woman from the back row and now playing the harp - her face full of concentration and with an expression of pure joy. It was like she was lost in her music and it struck me that she was offering a gift - to me, to all those that were there that morning and, most importantly, to God. It was her gift of love - on Christmas morning, played from her heart and for God's ears. I felt overwhelmingly blessed to witness this outpouring of what she had to offer - and, so freely given.

The tears just ran down my face. I couldn't stop them. I sat there listening and my heart was full. I kept feeling this nudge that I wanted to help this gal in some way. I reached into my purse and found some cash that I have no idea where it came from. I NEVER have cash on me. And, if for some reason I do, it is never more than a dollar or two. So, I was standing there wrestling with myself about what I should do when Mo. Pat came and put her hand on my shoulder and asked me if I was going to make it. I told her I thought so and wasn't sure. I told her I wanted to give a "gift" to this woman without insulting or embarrassing her and I didn't know the best way. So, we found a blank envelope, I marked it "Merry Christmas" and thought I'd just quietly and anonymously slip it inside the woman's music folder. Then I decided I needed to hand it to her. So, I did, and whispered "Thank You" and "Merry Christmas" - the most extraordinary thing happened. This woman tried to hand the envelope back to me. She told me we had offered her so much: we had given her food and clothing and now "this" (she didn't even know what "this" was). I smiled at her and told her, "For you! Really, I don't know what else to do. I'm overwhelmed".  She just smiled at me,  embraced me completely around the shoulders and gave me a tight, long and heart-felt hug and wished me Merry Christmas, as well.

She was completely unaware that she gave the true meaning of Christmas to me that morning. After the service, I got in the car and the words to "Little Drummer Boy" kept rolling through my head...

Come they told me,
A new born King to see,
Our finest gifts we bring
To lay before the King;
So to honor Him,
When we come.

Little Baby,
I am a poor boy too,
I have no gift to bring,
That's fit to give the King,
Shall I play for you, ,
On my drum?

Mary nodded,
The ox and lamb kept time,
I played my drum for Him,
I played my best for Him,
Then He smiled at me,
Me and my drum. 


I'm intrigued by this woman. I wonder about her life story and how she has ended up where she is. I"m curious about the circumstances which have brought her to this difficult place in her life.

So, an Offering - of self, of talent, of joy, of thankfulness, of love. I'm thankful for this woman's gift to me- one that she is completely unaware she gave. And, I'm thankful for her sweet gift lovingly and gratefully offered to God, who is totally aware of what she laid before Him.

And, I pray that I always remember - even when it doesn't feel like I have much to offer - I always have a gift worthy to lay before my King if I offer my heart.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

MAD with Words - An Offering


Well, it's time to get back to the blog. I've really missed writing and so I have made a commitment to blog at least twice a week - Tuesdays and Saturdays. Since Joe has meetings, for a few hours and away from home on these days, I will have the house to myself (except for the dog) and I can ponder and write - sometimes even at the same time. It seems I have a lot of words fighting to find their way out of my head; so, we'll see where this takes me.


These past few months have flown by and have been full of challenges - mostly good and some a bit harder than others. It's been a time of change, a time of growth and a time of trust. It seems my life has been all about these things lately - personally and professionally. Maybe it's just my mid-life adjustment (change or fine-tuning, if you like) that has me stirred up.

I've also been challenged in the recent past with this thought. What am I doing to make a difference? A difference in my life and in the lives of others. It's a pretty heady question. You know, if I ask other people if I make a difference - they always respond with an "absolutely, you do!" For some reason, I'm needing a tangible response - How do I make a difference? Why do I make a difference? Why Is it important for me to know I make a difference? Have I made a difference to you? I want to make a difference!

Recently, I read the book by Max Lucado, Outliving Your Life. Talk about making a difference and motivating me to get moving. I sometimes think the challenges we face are just too big for one person to do something that can change the course of the outcome. Max Lucado talks about how one person can be the inspiration for great change and for great significance - in thought, action, response - even by doing something that seems very small. It struck me that I do have the ability to make a difference. I just have to be willing to take the risk, jump in and see what happens. Outliving My Life means more than leaving a legacy. It's leaving an imprint on this world and through my relationships so that lives are changed forever - through love.

Courtesy of Photo Bucket

Every morning I read Ann Voskamp's blog, www.aholyexperience.com (double-click on the Holy Experience link, under Inspiration, on my sidebar). Her honesty absolutely touches my heart. At this time, she is writing very eloquently about how our words make a difference to the people we encounter. And, how we should take our "words" seriously before they are spoken. Our relationships are built on words and they carry power - the power to build up and the power to tear down. A. Word. The power to make a difference in the lives of others. Since I've been reading her blog I've been pretty quiet. I've been so scared to open my mouth for fear the wrong words are going to come out and I will mess someone up forever. I'm just kidding; however, it has made me think about choosing my words carefully, thoughtfully, lovingly and before I speak. I've been thinking about what word or words have impacted my life? And how my words have impacted others - especially my family.

I also listen to the K-LOVE radio station (97.3 FM in KC) on my way to work in the morning. They, too, are talking about "words" and choosing a word for this next year that will exemplify your life for 2011. Even my boss came to me the other day (she listens to K-LOVE, as well) and challenged me to pick a word for 2011. So, after tossing the idea around for a few weeks, I have settled on my special word.

My word is "Offering". I'm praying that God will give me an awareness of situations where I can be an "offering" to Him and an offering OF Him - an offering of my thoughts, my words, my actions. I want to focus this year on being aware of His presence in the people I meet and in the situations I encounter as I go through the moments of my day.

I looked up Webster's definition of Offering and this is what it says:
 something offered;  especially: a sacrifice ceremonially offered as a part of worship
I love how Webster always seems to use the very word to define the word - that is so confusing to me. I don't know that I necessarily believe an offering has to be a sacrifice. However, I do like the part about being offered as part of worship. Is there any better way to offer Praise and Worship to God than by offering thoughts, words and actions on His behalf? My definition of offering - to give with love. So, that is my word.

My house is full of words. I love words. I have words on my walls, words on the rocks around my plants, words on pictures and signs, words on my bathroom mirror, words in the mass of books I have on my bedroom floor.  I have words everywhere I look. Words that are important to me, words that define my life. And, I want my words to matter...

So, two birds with one stone - I pray my offerings make a difference.