Monday, May 30, 2011

In Pursuit of God


Before the Lord God made man upon the earth He first prepared for him a world of useful and pleasant things for his sustenance and delight. In the Genesis account of the creation these are simply "things." They were made for man's use, but they were meant always to be external to the man and subservient to him. In the deep heart of the man was a shrine where none but God was worthy to come. Within him was God; without, a thousand gifts which God had showered upon him.
~ Tozer's The Pursuit of God, Chapter 2
421 ~ when the argument in the back seat is about who is going next on mission to Guatemala or first to
           Africa with their dad
422 ~ a cashier who alerts me the other brand of milk is on sale for $2.50 a gallon, because I was buying
           three
423 ~ the example of my mother who loves her children fiercely
424 ~ that fierce love's not always pretty
425 ~ the smell of gardenia on the church walkway
426 ~ a backyard full of blooming gardenias through the window
427 ~ hoping heaven will smell like blooming gardenias



428 ~ packing away lunchboxes for the summer
429 ~ sandwiches after church with Romano cheese
430 ~ Adrian asking Dad late at night, "Can I read the bible with you?"
431 ~ that he knew the answer before he asked because his bible was already in hand
432 ~ a tired father who says yes, so often he says yes
433 ~ Philemon, Onesimus, and Paul: their mercy, humility, and discernment
434 ~ amazing writers
435 ~ American armed forces who sacrifice every day for their country and me
436 ~ the season of invitations to celebrate with those I love
437 ~ finally getting around to reading Tozer's classic
438 ~ his inconspicuous invitation to count those 1000 "things"

Friday, May 27, 2011

Unbiased

There I am lying in bed, trying to lay down my hurt and fragile heart without success. I close my eyes against my wounded soul and try to fall asleep. It's late and I hear Krauthammer from the other side of closed eyes telling O'Reilly how biased or unbiased the media was during the last presidential campaign. He's figured it down to percentage points and spouts off his statistics as proud as a fourth-grader who's finished his homework before the bell.

I'm eager to believe black and white evidence, just not sure it's possible to be 62% unbiased. Meanwhile, I'm doing some mental math of my own to figure out how two people can have completely different perspectives of the same situation. My body's giving way to fitful rest, wounded heart and all, but my mind musters one final thought:

"Everything is biased."

And now I must be dreaming because a second final thought scurries across my brain that only wants to stop thinking: "I bet Iran's Ahmadinejad would not concur with Krauthammer that Fox News is fair and balanced. Wouldn't he, instead, propose that Al Jazeera was the model of unbiased news media?"

The next morning, I'm still nursing the wound I seem unable to lay down, still trying to reconcile incongruant perspectives, and thinking of more numbers in black and white. But these are chapter and verse numbers, our road signs that map out holy writ because I guess I really do need hard evidence. Could it be that scripture is our true bias?

 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
   or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
   or weighed the mountains on the scales
   and the hills in a balance?    (Isaiah 40:12)

Really, He is the only unbias there is. And one day, come what may, we will all see it from His perspective alone.

Maybe I shouldn't apologize for my Christian faith to those whose worldview-bias keeps traveling east. Or for my vast love and deep hopes for those I hold close enough to hurt me. Perhaps I have again stumbled upon the rightful couch on which to finally lay down my wounded burden. His word and His rescue are my refuge. All of a sudden my pain softens to compassion, the burden dissipates, blessed rest truly comes, and I no longer mind being misunderstood or biased.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Invitation


Ask, and it will be given you,



Seek and you shall find,



Knock, and it will be opened to you.



... how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
~ Matthew 7:7, 11 

Friday, May 20, 2011

What's Better

Mary and Martha come to mind when I think about all that the modern American woman is committed to and responsible for. You know the ones. Mary, the spiritual one at Jesus' feet, the one who saw past the trappings of this world, and was wise and chose well. Then there's Martha, the other one, whom we scorn for getting it wrong, for being worldly and petty.

When I consider this passage, I always want to be Mary and never Martha. I'd like nothing better than to be at Jesus' feet and super spiritual all the time, but someone has to mop the floor, after all. And this time, when I thought of Mary and Martha and their contrasting deeds, it was the first time I didn't crown Mary with a halo and give Martha a swift "Tsk, tsk," with a wagging finger at her nose, looking down mine.

This time, I noticed that her work was necessary. Maintaining a home, caring for my family's physical and emotional well being are godly pursuits. So are many of the other things we do as women: tend the garden, prepare healthy meals, entertain guests, be a good neighbor and friend, earn a living. What would Jesus think if Mary and Martha had made no preparation for his visit, had in fact been inhospitable? How would Jesus feel had they not made their house a home, nor availed themselves to their friend?

This time I saw what I never noticed before:  when Jesus corrected Martha. He didn't do it when he entered the door. He didn't do it just before he started doing "spiritual" things to stop her from doing the "earthly." He only corrected her when she became a tattle-tale and began to compete and compare. It was at that precise moment that Jesus asked Martha to check her priorities  — when her work stopped being an avenue to serve others and became an opportunity for self-centeredness and self-pity.

The contrast between Mary and Martha is not in their work, but in their hearts. This tells me there's nothing innately wrong with the tasks on my To Do List. What's wrong is when I allow those tasks to get the better of me.

Then and only then, Jesus takes me by the heart and says, "Dawn, choose what's better — Me and my way." I see now that I can choose what's better in either kind of work, whether I'm teaching Sunday school or grocery shopping. There are no train compartments labeled "Earthly" and "Spiritual." There is only that which is done for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

In the end, it's not about my expectations, my stilettos, my combat boots, or even my feet. It's always been, and will always be, about His feet, and that my heart be always there.



:::

If you'd like to read the whole series:
A Desperate Housewife
Battle Cry
Marching Orders
What's Better

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Marching Orders

If we're going off into battle, we surely must know our enemy.  The devil prowls around like a lion, seeking to steal, kill, and destroy.  That's a military mission if I ever heard one.

The lion is king of the jungle, and this lion that is the devil roams as the prince of the power of the air. Our world is his jungle, and all is not "at ease," as it appears to be. If the lion were tame, he'd be a circus act. But he's not; he's crouching at the door, his desire is for us, but we must master it.

If we meet up with the devil on the battlefield unprepared, we lose. The only way not to be eaten alive is to put on the armor of God. We were never called to be lion tamers, we were called soldiers. (2 Tim 2:3-4), and soldiers aren't desperate housewives. We must bear His coat of arms and His uniform, so it seems we have a few things to put off and put on (at least I do):

22that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,
 23and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind,
 24and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
 25Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak the truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.
 27and do not give the devil an opportunity.  ~Ephesians 4
The Greek word for opportunity here is topos, and it means a place, any portion or space marked off.  It's the territory to reclaim for God's glory.

Are you ready?  Retreat leads only to spiritual defeat.  We have our marching orders, and combat boots aren't optional.

There go my cute shoes.



: : :

To read the whole series:

Marching Orders

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Battle Cry

Listing my own great expectations yesterday made me realize I'm in the wrong fight. We're not supposed to fight to keep up appearances; we're supposed to fight to keep the faith.

Faith is a good fight, but one that's not for the faint of heart. The battle is against pride, lust, envy, and, um ... me. It's a fight for holiness, righteousness and integrity. It turns out that even after all these years of practice, obedience still doesn't come easy. To be victorious we must surrender.

It's not about the appearance of perfection or even the seeing of our imperfections.  What matters is the seeing of things unseen. That's faith that can make us perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. That's the housewife I want to be, not the desperate one.  My To-Do List being accomplished has nothing to do with this kind of completion.

So for now, I make war:  on the lies, the world, the flesh, and the devil.  The enemies right now are the pursuit of perfection, unrealistic expectations, competition, and comparisons.

There are enemies.
This is war.
And we are soldiers.

Peace? Well, that will surpass all understanding and guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus while we go into battle and fight the good fight of faith. (Philippians 4:7)    So what are we waiting for? Let's lace up our boots, tramp the battlefield, and reclaim some territory to the glory of God.


Sharing the work in progress that I am at Emily's.





: : :

To read the whole series:

A Desperate Housewife
Battle Cry
Marching Orders
What's Better

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Desperate Housewife

I read this over at Chatting at the Sky last week. It keeps rattling around my head, and I just can't seem to shake it.

And I've tried because it's a grating distraction with all there is to do.  Let's see.  There's nine hours devoted to work, door to door, and that's only the beginning.  After that, there's still the need to:
  • read the bible through the year,
  • work out for an hour,
  • put a tasty yet healthy homemade dinner on the table,
  • the one that's not strewn with computers and mice and sermon notes,
  • maintain a spotless and exquisitely decorated home,
  • regardless of the fact that I have teenagers who undo my work with their every move,
  • not neglect my nightly regimen to defy the aging process,
  • (because, honestly, what would happen if we actually looked our age?)
  • and rear children who are beautiful, accomplished, talented, obedient, and straight A students.

Are you tired yet?

Our precious church girls pictured with parental permission.

I think I Need A Silent Night even though it's only May, because I've run out of daylight and I still haven't paid the bills, done our family devotion, or planted spring flowers by the front door yet.  And pray?  Well, that requires closing one's eyes, and you know what happens when I do that.  I haven't gotten past "Dear Lord, thank you for your...zzzzzzz..." since Saturday.

I'm not sure what to do about all this.  How does one stop keeping up with the Joneses, and who are they anyway?  Could they really be me and my own expectation of perfection?

Darn it, I think I've stumbled across my invalid search for approval again.

But I'm manicured, tweezed, colored and wearing amazing shoes, so who could notice that I'm really falling behind faster than you can reapply your lipstick?


You know what a train wreck is? It's neat little coupled compartments organized in a tidy row barreling through so fast, the whole thing flies off track.

Have you ever been derailed?   How do you get back on track?

I'm sharing this at Michelle's and Jen's and will be exploring this theme as the week unfolds. Join me, won't you?

: : :

To read the whole series:
A Desperate Housewife
Battle Cry
Marching Orders
What's Better

Sunday, May 15, 2011

To Stop the Spinning

It's happening again: this life racing by like Dale Jarrett.  So I -- again -- chase it, snatch it, little snipets to hold on to, to pull like an emergency brake and slow me down.  Because I need to spin more slowly, I count:


(Melody spnning a hydranga blossom.)

404 ~ the smell of Starbucks morning buns early on the way to church
405 ~ a mother-daughter-friend banquet with my mother, my daughter, and a friend
406 ~ the home stretch
407 ~ phone conversation with an on-line friend
408 ~ being brave to ignore fear and chase dreams
409 ~ chamomile tea
410 ~ a week of prayer
411 ~ a voice at the other end of the line when the alarm sounds
412 ~ anticipating summer
413 ~ coming home to the sound of son and daughter singing at the piano God's praise
414 ~ a date night to look forward to and being appreciated
415 ~ the warm spot on Mike's side of the bed
416 ~ a kid arguement that end in a giggle fest, a sweet grace
417 ~ tea party with strong teaching
418 ~ a fresh lesson in amazing grace
419 ~ missing Dad
420 ~ this:




I never want to stop counting my gratitude, grace, joy ....

Monday, May 9, 2011

Winning In Purple

There never has been breakfast in bed on Mother's Day for me, a pastor's wife who can't think of a time when she wasn't the first one up on a Sunday morning.  Yesterday was no different.  Instead, there was the usual rush and rub of five trying to get out the door, dressed for church by 7:00 am.  

Adrian was the last to the car, after repeated honks of the horn. He emerged from the house in a crumpled, purple v-neck tee shirt, untucked from his beltless khakis -- which were dryer-fluffed, not ironed. While Mike and I looked at each other wordlessly rendering our disapproval of his apparel, Adrian began his opening argument in the case of "Parents vs. Teenager: What is appropriate attire for church," the proceedings for which lasted the entire length of our drive.

It's not always a pretty sight on Sunday mornings at our house, but the roast was in the oven, and we forged onward into Mother's Day anyway.

By sermon's end, the altar was littered with bent knees and repentant hearts. I stood with my own rent heart in the second row, attempting to absorb the heaviness of the "Glory Life" sermon that was spilling through the conviction.  The sermon didn't celebrate mothers as much as it did life-surrender of biblical proportions that is unrecognizable to me. My daughters were among the bent. My pastor-husband knelt over the first row of chairs, a makeshift altar of his own, because at sermon's end, he's a sheep even though also the shepherd. He is soon joined by our son, who puts his own bowed head close to his dad's. He whispers spirit-somethings into his father's, and his Father's, ear.

I stand, overflowing now, while my family kneels before their Maker to reckon with their God.

Faith is a fight, and God is a heavyweight who aims to win. And in the winning, this mother receives her Day's gift: a family on their knees, fighting the good fight to surrender.

A tearful Noelle finds me with her head on my shoulder, arms around me, clinging tight,as if looking for an anchor, and offers, "Happy Mother's Day. I love you." Her heart, fragile from His swift wounding and swifter mending, beats so near to mine, in tandem again, even if just for this moment.

Adrian proudly displays his freshly cleansed white flag on Facebook:

Today, Adrian Michael Gonzalez no longer lives. Reports say he murdered his selfish desires and buried his flesh. He has taken on the identity of a man named Jesus Christ and is now living the way He would.

As we climb back in the car, I remember our earlier discussion of and embarrassment by Adrian's clothes today. The less than perfect purple tee shirt is now a reminder to me that we are forgiven, loved, and wear Christ's royalty. It may not have been appropriate for a Sunday morning, but looks can be deceiving.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Motherhood Should Come With...

This is another five minute writing as I have begun reflecting on motherhood yesterday, getting a headstart on Sunday.




Five minute writings, are timed writings without any perfecting/editing/rewriting. Here's today's.

Motherhood Should Come With...

Go

Motherhood should come with muscles beacuse it makes you stronger than you ever knew you were.  It should come with a list of warnings in the fine print that your really can do this thing.  That even though this amazing hunk of God-created flesh with a whole new life ahead of him has been left at your doorstep -- or something like that -- you really are the perfect person for this job.  You.  This child.  A match for a lifetime.

It makes you a better daughter.  It makes you a warmer person.  It's the most instinctive thing I've ever done.  I've never been a mama Lion before, and then I had cubs.

There's Dad, too.  Can't be a mom without a dad, at least I don't know how I would be.  He's there. He picks up where I just can't seem to go anymore.  He's wise, and he's not mom.  That's a wonderful thing, too.

What an amazing thing, this life.  How it grows, repeats, but is unique each time, each life something singular, with its own offerings.  Lovely.

Amazing.

It's God's handiwork, in his image, gifted to moms.  It's another to have and to hold until death do us part.  What an amazing challenge, what an amazing joy, what manner of love.

Stop


Happy Mother's Day to all.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My Mother's Day Wish

It works for Christmas, so I thought I'd make one for Mother's Day.


My Mother's Day List

1. To be more encouraging.
2. To listen to them, really listen, even when they are recounting their ridiculous
middle school conversation with someone I don't even know.
3. Remind them gently;
4. Less nagging; more praying.
5. Patience. (Yes, I said it.)
6. To stop pointing out the obvious.
7. To start making better memories.
8. Laugh more.
9. To make the most of the time we have left; it's fleeting.
10. And know, really know, that I'm a good mom, even if perfect isn't an option.


Thanks, Adrian, Noelle, and Reagan, for making me a mom and teaching me so much.
I love you guys.

Love,
Mom


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