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Showing posts from 2011

Resolution Fatigue

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Right away, I should get this off my chest: this is not a classic New Years’ post.   It’s more of a confession:
Thinking about resolutions exhausts me.
It’s not that I don’t want to make positive changes in my life.  But there are just so many that need to be made.   When I think about them, it’s like positioning my face a few inches from the nozzle of a fully-engaged firehose.  There’s no way I can take a sip, or even a gulp.  Instead, I’m gasping to get any oxygen at all.
Whether it’s deciding how to spend a few free hours, or considering what I might give up for Lent, I have no shortage of ideas.  Quite the contrary.  I’ve been “blessed” with the ability (and never-ending-middle-of-the-night mental energy) to dream up countless “good” things to do.  Some might enjoy this version of “creativity.”  I am not one of them.
Perhaps an illustration will help.  I’m not trying to fall asleep yet (so this will be on the short side), but this here's the product of a brief brainstorming sessi…

Room to Grow

“Mom, I’m working on a gift for you, but is it okay if it’s a little late?”  My daughter’s eyes were mostly confident, but seeking one last ounce of reassurance.
We had this conversation while driving home from her art lesson last week.  My daughter and her teacher have been working on a Christmas project for a few sessions now.  They expected to complete it earlier, but she needs to make some finishing touches at her next lesson, which will be after The Big Day. 
“Sweetie, it’s okay if you need extra time.  I know I’ll love it, no matter when it’s ready.”
I don’t have to see her work to know it’s a treasure.  So I am enjoying the wait, anticipating this gift that is the product of her hopeful efforts. 
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Is this how the Jews felt when, generations before His arrival, they ached for Christ to come?  They didn’t know exactly what to expect.  But they knew it would be the fulfillment of a centuries-old desire.
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Losing my religion

Just the other day, I found myself enjoying a rare delight--especially during the fast-encroaching holiday frenzy: I had an unexpected opportunity for an extended period of silence. 
I was driving, making an hour-long mama-taxi run to retrieve a child from one event before delivering this child to the next.  I spent a few minutes in quiet, then turned on the radio to find a prayerful song we’ve learned recently at church . . . one of those songs that speaks to a place deep within me.
It didn’t take long until I was having a moment.  A time when God was shining a little beam of light through a crack in the boundary between earth and heaven, allowing me to catch an unexpected but much-needed glimpse of peace.  Maybe even a little joy.  
I heard a funny noise over the music and realized my phone was ringing.  I answered to the sound of my child’s angry exclamations about our previously-agreed-upon plan.
And just like that, the moment ended.  The beam of light retracted back to heaven.  The c…

(Not) Afraid to be Thankful

Today I’m a little sad about saying goodbye to the wonderful “thankful” lists that have appeared on facebook during recent weeks.  I’ve loved reading about how my friends’ lives have been blessed in ways both big and small, and it’s been fun to join in with a few of my own posts.  Acknowledging the touches of God’s hand in my life has been a rich discipline, though perhaps for a slightly unexpected reason.   To tell the truth, practicing gratitude this season has been the cure for a strange little ailment I’ve come to know as facebook angst. ------------------------------------------ It all started with a picture of my friend’s most recent culinary creation.  Pineapple mango salsa for her kids’ after school snack.  Homemade.  And (of course), organic. My initial reaction was benign enough:  “How cool is it that she made salsa from scratch?  Bet it’s yummy.”   Later, though, my admiration slid into envy:  “Wish I had time and energy to make something like that.”   After that, self-doubt:  “I…

Power and Its (Seeming) Absence

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.  Phil 3:10-11
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Believers love to celebrate those experiences where God’s power is undeniably tangible:  the mysterious arrival of much needed funds; the unexpected conception of a long-desired child; the healing of a seemingly incurable illness; the salvation of a long-doubting friend.
Perhaps such occasions are what Paul had in mind as he expressed his desire to know the same power that was present at Christ’s resurrection—those moments where the God reaches into our earthbound existence and provides supernatural transformation. 
As Christ-followers, we seek after these experiences, value them, testify about them.  And rightly so.  For in those moments where his power is visible, tangible, palpable, he feels closer to us.  And we feel c…

Downloading the Day

“Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.  Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. . . .  They went out and preached that people should repent.  They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. . . .  The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.    Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” Mark 5:6b-7, 12-13; 6:30-31.
At 8 p.m., I review the day’s events:  I’ve prepared, served and cleaned 3 meals and 2 snacks; washed, dried, and folded 4 loads of laundry; read Go Dog, Go! 7 times; paid 6 bills; and scheduled 5 appointments—all while fielding countless questions from my endlessly inquisitive 4- and 6-year-old children.  
Such a day with my preschoolers mixes the joys of childlike giggles and Playdough-scent…

Engraved On His Hand

But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.”  “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?  Though she may forget, I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands . . . .”  Isaiah 49: 14b-16a.
A few years ago, I received an unusual charm bracelet—not with trinkets commemorating special events, but with charms each holding a tiny, silver-framed photo of one of my children.  I treasure this gift not just for its beauty but because it keeps the images of those most precious to me close at hand.  On difficult days, or when a child’s behavior is less than what I wish for, I glance at those giggling faces, freshly reminded of how blessed I am.
My children are not the only ones who struggle with obedience, though.  My own actions often disappoint me and, I am sure, God as well.  Especially when I seem unable to act in a Christlike way, I wonder whether my Father might want to forget about me, o…

Stay With Me . . . Pray With Me

Before Jesus walked the road to the cross, scripture portrays Him clearly struggling with the challenge that lay ahead. The gospel writers' ability to see that He was "sorrowful and troubled" suggests that He didn’t attempt to disguise His emotions.
Some might believe "truly strong” believers don't "give in" to such feelings, but His friends' descriptions of Him, and even His own actions, contradict such a view. Instead, Christ expressed His sadness to John and Peter, saying, "My soul is overwhelmed to the point of death," then asking them to stay with Him and pray with Him. Even the Son of God wasn’t too divine to speak out His feelings to His friends—to express His need for their presence with Him, as well as their prayers.
Something in me finds it both ironic and comforting that God’s own Son needs humans to lift up prayers on His behalf. If He asked this of His friends, then we can accept our own need to have others pray for us. …