Thursday, December 31, 2009

The following post really spoke to me. It was written about 3 years ago, but so true for me today. I got it from this site
It is a pretty edgy and raw site, just one reason I like it. It will challenge your conventional thought patterns however, so be warned. I do not agree with everything on this site, but then again I would not be living in reality if I thought that I had to agree with everything that everyone said, thought or felt, would I? As I have said before...another opinion cannot change my belief!

"This is eternal life, that they may know you" (John 17:3). This verse got me thinking the other day about the fullness of life in the here and now. Then I read Chambers sometime this weekend, and he also says that knowing God in Christ is "one amazing, glorious NOW!" This is the fullness of the moment, doxology, benediction, blessing, abundance, right now, this second.

I didn't preach yesterday. My good friend and co-pastor Doug Mawer did. But I lead worship. I am a part of a congregation and movement that has a history of desiring more of God's presence. But while I lead worship, I was impressed by the fact that God is fully present, right now. I don't have to work anything up, or conjure up his presence. God in Christ is fully present as he promised. The problem isn't that God needs to be more fully present. The problem is that I need to be more fully present with God. That's always the problem. It's our thinking that is deficient. (I LOVE this)

Which gets me thinking about good friends of mine who feel alienated from the church. For many of them, their experience of church has been painful and frustrating. I think, for many of them, it stems back to this false belief that God isn't really present, and that we can work it up by purity, heartfelt emotion, knowledge, intensity, and intention. In other words: by our desires, wills and efforts. Many people immediately see through that never-ending spiral downward into religiosity. They, like me, have no tolerance for that anymore.

Can we as a church affirm to people that God is with them in Christ? Can we tell people the good news that the Kingdom of God is HERE, right now? Can we tell people, that without any work on their part, that they have been reconciled to God through Christ? That is the cure to the religiosity that is, frankly, destroying true fellowship.
David Hayward

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Just a thought

I know that many of us are trying to be a meet helper to our husbands, but do we really listen when he speaks?
I know that you are trying to follow God and be His bride, but do we really listen when He speaks?

This scenario went through a conversation I had with an old friend late last night.

My husband has told me for years "Don't worry" and I just took it as a comment that really did not mean I had to do anything. Something to say when I asked about what to do about such-and-such or whatever current crisis or issue in my life.
I am sure I would sluff it off and continue to fret, just not out loud anymore.

Later, in some heated discussion, he would tell me that I never listen to him.
"WHAT" I would ask incredulously, I do my best to be a good wife, I ask you before I schedule anything to see if you are willing, I try to consider your needs and fulfill them, I cook your favorite meals, I tend to the children as you wish, I do....I do.....I do.... (works, works, works)
But...did I listen? Did I, in fact cease to worry about whatever it was? Probably not. No.
Was he saying that to control me? Was he saying it to get me to shut up? Well...let's not go there. :)
No. He had my best interest in mind.
Did he say it forcefully? No, he is not out to control me or make me do anything. He wants me to trust him. To cease to worry for my own good. He wants me to believe that it will be OK and to refuse to allow my own dark, twisty-ness to overwhelm my thoughts.

As I was talking about this to my friend, we marveled at how much like God this is. God tells us something for a reason. Not with flashing signs and sirens, but quietly, gently. He expects us to listen to him as well. For our own good.
God does not ask us to do, do, do for Him either. Simply to listen and obey. To trust that He has it all worked out, to not worry. To be with Him.

How often do we ignore that? Do we worry and fret? Do we love our neighbors and the sinners as we should? Did we not hear Him the first time?

Wow. Learning to listen. Learning to apply what we hear in the chaos of our fretful minds and fearful hearts. What a challenge, what an opportunity. Having a husband to practice listening to for the right reasons...what a blessing. A marriage made by God. Not always easy, but so amazing.
Just a thought

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What does the Prodigal see when he looks at me?

One of my all time favorite songs is a Vineyard songs from the CD called "Fathers house". It is about 15 years old, I guess. The whole CD is about the Prodigals that are out there still searching, and the Prodigal in all of us. I was just remembering some of the songs today.

How easy it is to forget that God's heart is for the lost and the seeking. How easy to get so wrapped up in the vain pursuits of increasing our own "goodness" while so many of His precious children are yet wandering in darkness. I am guilty here.

I was reminded of a conversation that I had in the past. An acquaintance and I had occasion to spend more time together and get to know each other better. As we became friends, this person confessed to me that they "had me figured all wrong". That I was not like the others.
They told me that they had this whole idea of what a Christian, conservative, homeschool mom would be like and they had put me into that box when they first had met me.
I remember being so shocked that they would think that of me. After all...I am a little rough around the edges and pretty transparent with my failings as a Christian. I know that I am not perfect, thank God.

My heart just broke when I heard them tell me what they had thought I would be like. Or what they thought I would expect of them. I grieved for the lost time. Lost to unreal expectations, lost to fear, lost to lies.
I grieved for the shame and fear that I saw so exposed before my eyes.
They thought that they had to hide who they were around me. Not because I ever did anything to make them feel that way, just because I am a Christian. There was a wall between us that kept me out.

They thought that I would judge them for things in their life that were not "Christian" enough. They thought that I would shun them if they slipped up and used colorful language or if they had a drink or a smoke. They were terrified for me to see who they were. Hiding in the dark, waiting for me to throw stones.

This person is an honest seeker. Looking for the love of Jesus and having a hard time finding it among the Body. I know that I am not responsible for what someone else thinks, or how they perceive things. I just could not help but wonder how many times I have come off as "too Christian" for someone to approach me.

I am glad to say that we were able to build a bridge between our hearts, for however brief our time together was...that bridge will always be there. With compassion, love and acceptance I can pave the way for Jesus to walk across that bridge from my heart to another.
Acceptance of a person does not mean that we condone sinful behavior. It is not my job to do that. Not to change them, lecture them, convert them or judge them. My job is to love them. Love them when they are unlovable, when they fall apart and when things are on top of their game.

My own conversion took place in this way. I was also sitting in the dark, ducking stones from well meaning Christians. Sadly, many whizzed by my head a long time. I remember feeling so outcast and so angry. I wondered why I would want anything to do with a God whose followers would treat me that way.
The righteous ones who told me all about how wrong I was, and how bad I was...only pushed me farther from Jesus.

Finally I met some Christians who understood grace, redemption and compassion because they could remember what it was like to be chained in the dark, outcast and ashamed. They took me in where I was and loved me to the Lord.
What a gift they gave me. I never felt condemned. I was never told that I was not good enough. I was not told that I had to change anything. They let the Holy Spirit handle all that. They just loved me. Unconditionally.

I wonder if in fear have I shut out the Prodigals in my life?
How many times do I hear Christians make excuses for building protective walls between themselves and the world? If I had a dime for every time....well, you know the rest. How many times, did I follow that same thought pattern and hide away from the hands reaching out all around me? No thank you, I can't help you today...I am late for bible study...or whatever.

I think that there is so much fear that we will be polluted by the world that we shun it, judge it and hide away from it. This reminds me of the parable of the good Samaritan.

The Gospel of Luke chapter 10, verses 25-37

One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus then replied with a story:

“A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Levite walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’

“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

The Priest and Levite passed by the wounded man on the road for various reasons. They were God's own servants, too busy with temple (church) business, too scared or just too unwilling to touch the untouchable. The pagan Samaritan stopped and helped and went above and beyond.

I think that as a Christian, there can be fear to step outside of the safely constructed box of protection that the Church offers. By Church, I do not mean the building or the congregation. I mean the whole deal. The activities, the works if you will, the attitudes, the groups, the people, the things that we do, say and pretend to be in order to feel like we are OK.
Do you know what I mean?

People are all along the roads that we walk on. Lonely, hurting and confused.
There is so much fear that I hear, the fear of getting polluted by the world. I believe that God is bigger than that. He who is in you, is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4)

The One who is more than enough is inside of you. If you are in Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the One who is more is inside of you. Because of this we have overcome. To hear many Christians talk, you would think the one who is less is on the inside of them.

There is no one who can change what I believe. They can say and do what they want. My faith is secure. Wild horses could not drag me away. Seeing someone who is not following God cannot make me do the same. My children seeing me love someone who is not a Christian will not make them fall off the path. My God is a big God. I am not afraid of those who do not believe what I believe. They no longer threaten me.

When I talk about reaching people, I am not even talking about things that I used to do with God. Reaching the alcoholic, the homeless and the abused. Ministering in the local church tirelessly or volunteering in a worthy charity. Those things are not possible for me right now. I have small children, I can't be doing the things that I did then. At least, not for awhile.

I CAN love and accept those who cross my path. I can befriend the lonely and love them where they are. I can choose to not fear or judge those who are not like me. After all, no one but God sees their heart. I can smile at the grocery clerk, the one with the hard eyes. I can befriend those who are not like me.

Here is a challenge I asked myself today...How many non-Christians are in your life? Not even many Christians that are not just like you, are there in your life? How many would you call a friend?

How can I reach anyone if I stay inside my own circle? Is my circle enclosed with barbed wire, is it shrinking every day? What does someone have to do in order to pass the guards that I have posted around my circles? You know the ones...rules, laws, acceptable behavior, belief systems and all of the rest.
How can I reach anyone with the love of Christ if I make them agree to a 10 page code of conduct before I talk to them?

Lots of questions. I hope I can answer them in my own heart soon. I believe that love is the first step. I believe I need a new understanding of love and just how far reaching it is.

Friday, December 11, 2009


This was one of those light bulb moments for me. Yesterday in school, my Artist boy was supposed to make those block things into hundreds, tens and ones columns respectively.
I gave him the page and the blocks, asked him to make the right amounts in the right spots and turned my attention to my Philosopher and graphing out height differences in famous skyscrapers. (Ah, homeschool math!)
A few moments later, he shows me what he has done.

I thought it was very clever. In fact, it made my heart swell and I actually giggled out loud! It showed me that he thinks outside the box and is very creative. That's the heart of an artist! Not news to me...aren't all of our children wonderfully talented and brilliant?

It also showed me how different perspective can be from person to person.

He took what I said and ran it through his filters and this is what he interpreted it to be.

It really made me think of other times I have said things and gotten a different outcome than I expected. It was not the other persons fault that I had those expectations. It was all a matter of perspective.

I did not tell him that he did the assignment "wrong". He simply took the limited information I gave him and made it work. If I had shown him
e-x-a-c-t-l-y how to lay those blocks out in the right way, then we would talk about direction following skills!

I think that many of our issues in life can be avoided and solved if we will just stop and remember that not everyone has the same understanding, perspective, experiences and filters that we do. Not everyone will have the same response. That is the beauty of God's imaginative creation. Not all of us are alike.

I am going to try and remember this when I ask my children to do something that they have not done before and I am surprised at the results. I am going to try and remember that I am responsible for my interruptions, expectations and reactions.

Many times, I can get all bent out of shape by what someone says (usually in an e-mail where you cannot judge tone and intent) I have been so blown away that things I thought I understood were totally way off base or that something I said has been totally misinterpreted.

Seems like such a simple thing to grasp, not new ideas for me by any means...this just was like a light bulb moment all over again for me. A reminder to stop and consider where someone else might be coming from.

When someone is rude to me, say in the grocery store on in traffic. I too often get irritated and think only of myself. I need to consider what may be going on with that person. Are they ill, stressed, mourning or struggling in some other way. What pains are hidden behind those cranky eyes that confront me in the world around me?
It is just not about me. It really just isn't (I have to keep telling myself that...)

I would love to have the discipline and maturity to consider others first in this respect. To not be easily offended and to seek to bridge the distance from my heart to theirs. I believe this is real Christianity in action.

When a friend says something hurtful...will I stop and consider what distress they may be in that caused that unloving word? How easy it should be to have that compassion on those we love. How often it is not that way. I know that I tend to have less grace on my husband for example if he is cranky. How much harder will it be to practice that with all people?

I read something today that also goes along with this theme. I get the Voice of the Martyrs devotion daily sent to my cool new Internet phone, so I read this devotion before I get out of bed. was about a woman in China was was beaten for not renouncing Christ. She was tortured and killed by her captors. Before she died, she wrote a prayer down asking for the grace not only to endure her trials, but asking God to have pity on her tormentors at the same time.
Reminds me of the prayer of our Lord on the cross, in the face of unimaginable pain and torment..when he asked God to forgive those who hurt him...
"for they know now what they do".

Oh that I would be able to have the same attitude in my minor trials and run in's with my family and the world.
Blessings to you.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My baby's first birthday photos


The Heze-nator's birthday fell on Thanksgiving this year so the older kids made Pilgrim and Indian hats as party decorations for fun. They had fun acting out the Thanksgiving story over and over.
This baby boy has been such a blessing to our family. He is always happy and smiling. I am grateful for him!

Ready to attack the enemy!

I tried to use "Thanksgiving colors" for his first birthday cake...I like how it turned out.

Ride em' cowboy!

One happy boy! We love you Heze.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Love this post!

My pal Carrie..who is such an intuitive person and really knows her this post and thought that I would agree with it! I DO!
*Update... if the link will not work, here is the address*

I am always seeking the balance to allow God to move in my children's hearts and not only seek behavior modification alone. It is a LONG journey to realness and reality for me. I fall back into works and trying in my own strength every minute it seems. With all that has gone on here lately...I have been really grouchie and down...that does not make for great parenting. My children see the real me more often than I want then to! I need posts like this one to remind me that even if I blow it and do not act "Christian" all the time, that God still loves and I am still in his arms. Same goes for my kids!

I think that one really needs to read this and understand that it is not about letting children run wild or behave badly, but more about allowing the Holy Spirit to move in their hearts. More about not letting fear of what others think dictate how we parent. At least that is my take on it.

I know many will not grasp this concept...everytime I talk about grace or allowing the Holy Spirit to move I find myself going around and around in discussions about how we are responsible for training our children and all of that. SO not what this is about!

I agree that we are to train our children. I do. I train my children...I fail a lot and I succeed sometimes. I have not gotten the perfect parent thing down yet. Thank God...cause I think he has other, bigger plans for our family then just perfect kids, you know?

Thanks Carrie for thinking of me...I am always touched my how thoughtful you are!!!