Wednesday, July 29, 2009

For Her

I'm still kinda reeling from my phone call last night with a friend who I haven't heard from in a year or so. We became close, years ago, when I was living in her town (see, it was never my town because I had a feeling I was not going to be living there forever).

She and I are nothing alike and yet very much kindred spirits only because I care about family and my relationship with God with the same intensity she does. She called me last night because she was at the end of her rope. I loved how she did not even try to make small talk and try to catch up with me first before she plunged into the details of the agony and the trial she was going through- all because of a child, one of her children. It might as well have been one of mine- that's how I groaned inside over what her daughter was going through.

We talked for a long time. There weren't any answers to be given, or any recognized solutions, except the request I made that she try to talk more with her daughter about what the root of her pain was.

At the root of it all, at the bottom of it all- that's what we have to get to. We have to. Because if we never get down to the deep dark dirt of what we're really reacting to or running from, we don't know anything except that we are flailing and falling and nobody knows why.

I told her I would pray. And I don't mean the kind of prayers that are neat and nice and sweet. I mean the kind of prayers where you are warring, travailing, beseeching God, not letting Him forget for a teeny tiny second that we need His help, that we have to have His help, and that there must be a way for Him to make a way...for her.

Monday, July 27, 2009

My Favorite Thomas

I have a nephew named Thomas who is the most agreeable teenager- always cheerful, capable, successful in his studies and athletic pursuits. I wonder, sometimes, if his temperament is prone to being basically trusting, optimistic, and therefore, a bit happy-go-lucky. This type of temperament probably has its weaknesses in other areas, perhaps; but certainly not in the area of being agreeable and quick with good will toward others.

I don't know what the historic famous Doubting Thomas was like, temperament wise- but we all know, from here to eternity, that he doubted. He really had a hard time acknowledging the risen Jesus as just that- risen.

Jesus told him "Stop doubting and believe" and I've been thinking, then, that maybe it's been quite unfair to always refer to him as Doubting Thomas when in reality, he became a real Believer. A big believer. So much so that they say he was the only Apostle to go outside and beyond the Roman Empire in order to proclaim the good news of the Gospel. Now, that's what I call a believing believer!

To go from being doubtful and not trusting to being trusting and believing is no small thing. It might just be one of the most herculean of accomplishments. It might just be the thing that I want most, right now, in my life. This is where I want to grow. I'm a believer- but I want to really believe, be quick to believe, and be ready to believe.

Another version words this admonition this way "Be not ready to disbelieve but to believe" giving us the understanding that there is an inner preparation we can do to become the kind of person who is quick to believe the things of God. Are you ready to believe? Or are there suspicions and fears in you that get activated every time you hit a faith situation requiring something more than rote procedures?

If God is moving in your life, one way you'll know He is has to do with the number of opportunities you seem to get to either believe for good, trust Him that He wants to help, see Him make a way where there seems to be no way. Count the number of problems you're facing, and you can also count the opportunities for miracles, for faith being activated, for God being pleased- because it's either trust Him that He's ready to take you successfully across this mountain of a problem or pull back in unbelief, think twice about all those verses proclaiming His love and care, and keep your eyes on the looming problem, and not on Him.

I can easily be a Doubting Thomas- but I've lately decided that I can also be- if I choose- the Thomas who went beyond the safe regions to go where no Apostle had gone before. I could be the one who started to doubt easily and decided that what good does that do? Doubting is easy. Doubting is something that comes naturally to us. But believing and trusting is for those who want something more powerful than every day mundane living.

I'm ready to believe God in such a way that I won't miss out on the chance to become something I know I should be: fierce in faith, committed to a higher path, in need of godly oxygen- because it's onward and upwards and there's no turning back. I have decided.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

When You're Unclear ........................... about Faith, Doubt, Fear

On a more serious note (well, certainly more serious than how to avoid baking disasters - see last post) I never realized how many forms of unbelief were out there. And not just "out there" but in me as well. Seeds of doubt and seeds of faith have been germinating deep inside me and now I'm paying the price for this ruinous combination.

You just can't go forward in life- when you're taking steps backwards at the same time. Without realizing it, I have been participating in a dance where confident belief takes the first step, doubt and hesitation take the next, reproach for my unbelief takes another forward step, and then downright skeptical and harsh unbelief go next. This is an ugly dance. (What can I say? Not since my disco days have I been noted for any grace on the dance floor.But back in the late '70s and early '80's, I was quite the thing, whirling around on the dance floor and feeling alive while I dance to "Staying Alive").

It isn't just making a decision about my daughter's place of schooling that has got me in a tizzy, but add to that employment and financial decisions, not to mention our house on the market and whether we should "push" harder to get it sold, and I've got a number of decisions to make. My husband and I, together, have these joint decisions, and then we each, separately, have our individual career paths to consider.

So I've been praying. Slightly pleading. And proclaiming a lot of God's promises. And then perjuring myself when I doubt and reconsider whether God is really on my side. Oh, I know He loves me and all that, but sometimes there's something in me that suspects God's love is a tortuous type that majors in trials and minors in grace.

I've been studying these words, trying to get to the root of them: Faith, Doubt, Unbelief. I never knew there were so many ways one could disbelieve God- but there are. You can downright refuse to believe, or you can start out believing and then waver in unbelief, or you can believe God and then reconsider whether you were right to believe a certain thing, or you can reconsider and suspect that God is after something else in you.

The more introverted type- such as I am- tend to do a lot of inner thinking that surges and rises and torments, and nobody knows that you are exhausting yourself to death in trying to figure out what to do, what to believe, what decision means you are operating in Faith.

There are at least four words, in the New Testament, that have to do with the word doubt or unbelief- but that have distinct definitions. You can't just tell someone not to doubt without explaining what Doubt looks like, and what Faith would mean in their situation.

There's lack of faith or being uncertain in faith- before you make a decision. Then there's a type of unbelief that has to do with lacking confidence in God's will to help you, or His ability to help you. Then there's skepticism- which causes you to reconsider your faith , your prayers that you sent up with smoke signals and lots of pleading. And then, of course, there's the worst kind of unbelief which is the obstinate refusal to believe God, a superior type of thinking that mocks God's abilities when compared to your own.

I imagine there's countless ways to believe and to disbelieve God. But at the root of our expressed faith or unbelief are the reasons why we will, won't, choose to, can't, wish we could, BELIEVE GOD. Everyone has a unique set of circumstance, personal history, mounting inner conflicts, and reasons why they are where they are- when it comes to walking in faith and moving mountains by faith.

Here's where I encourage myself. It seems God deals more stringently with those who refuse to believe or are skeptical to believe. (Repentance is the prescribed cure for these nasty expressions of arrogance or bitterness). Then there's God's gentle wooing ways with those who are confused (and we do a great job of confusing ourselves), and with those who are vacillating- like Peter who confidently stepped out of the boat, in faith, and began walking on water and THEN realized he wasn't a water-walker by birth. Faith rises up and tells us we can be more than what we were- and Doubt reminds us that what we were was, at least, safe.

So what I am now doing is every time I am battling doubt, fear, unbelief, as I try to make some big decisions, I question what is at the root of it all. Is it an issue of what I can do, or an issue of my estimation of God's ability and His will or intention towards me? Am I dragging my feet when it comes to trusting Him or am I refusing to trust? Cause where I fall and stagger, He is merciful. But where I stand and fold my arms across my chest in stubborn refusal to believe or even try, He is not pleased. He is not running towards me- because I am not running towards Him.

So never mind the actual decisions I need to make. I gotta get down to the nitty gritty root of my decision-making system. It beeps a red alert when Doubt rises and Skepticism grows. And I've got to pay attention to how I decide, not the where and the when. Because the question of Faith (do I operate by it?) is the question that's answered by how we're living right now.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What a Recipe!

It was a work of art: a triple layer, homemade apple spice cake with layers of frosting and a an extra thick coating of frosting on top. I was kinda proud of my accomplishment. And of course, as usual, I had not exactly followed the directions to a T. Which of course yielded a variety of reactions.

"Delicious!" my friend Mary Ann said (and it sounded sincere- her praise). She asked for the recipe and began copying it down.

My daughter took a bite and said bluntly, "The frosting has a funny taste to it."

My son ate it. Downed it, is more like it. And asked for seconds.

My appraisal of it? Well, come to think of it, the cream cheese frosting did have a slight kick to it. A bite to it. I didn't think anyone would notice if I added a little sour cream to the frosting when I was whipping it up. I had run out of cream cheese, and didn't think I had time to get my son to drive to the grocery store and buy some for me. So on my own (belligerently independent and crazily creative) I add a big dollop of sour cream, thinking that "it's white, thick, creamy in texture- this should work!".

I won't do that again- add a bit of sour to something sweet. At least, not if I can remember in time not to do so. But realistically speaking, I'm sure this will happen again.

Not with a cake recipe, but with a relationship. One sour remark can affect a sweet relationship. But here's where I take heart: no relationship is ever that sweet, that perfect, that it cannot withstand a bit of sour reality.

The relationships I value the most are exactly the ones that have withstood the tough times. These relationships have seen me at my best and my worst- my sweetest moments of grace and composure, and my sour moments of impatience and sharp critique.

Lately I've been valuing these dear ones in my life. They are the ones who eat my crazy botched up recipes (thanks, family), come over and hang out with my husband and I (thanks Tony and Mary Ann), meet me at a cafe for coffee and conversation that always gets me back in my saddle again (thank you, Mu).

These people share with me their painful moments so that I am not alone in mine. They let me know that as imperfect as I am, there's something worth pursuing when they see me, contemplate knowing me, and decide the sweet and the sour are all part of the recipe.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Wisdom of Solomon

I have a decision to make about one of my children. Nothing big. Just a decision that will affect the rest of her life. Just a decision that will affect her level of confidence, her outlook, her sense of self. She's 14 going on 15. Ask yourself this: what was the most pivotal time period in your life? What time period would you most want to re-do and get right? Where did the hurt and handicaps come in? Chances are it was the period in your life between age 12 and 20: the teenage years.

My husband and I need to decide where our daughter should go to school next year. Where should she spend her high school years? Should we continue homeschooling? Should we try the local but humongous public high school in town? If we could come up with the money, should we go back to private Christian school?

It's not a question, so much, of where would she get the best education. Your teenage years are not just about getting the best education. Ask anyone who had a hard time as a teenager- "Yes you felt suicidal and you had no friends but did you get a good education?!!" and they'll look at you like the nutcase you are.

Healthy minded people value education as much as they value a sound mind and an active, normal social life. Navigate the teenage years, again, and tell me what you want to get right this time. Do you want to memorize more Shakespeare quotations or do you want to be the kid with the friends and the smile on his face? Do you want a higher GPA or do you want to make better choices in relationships and involvements? Do you want more courses this time, or more positive experiences where you grew in confidence and strength of purpose?

Is it just me, or were our teenage years more powerful, problematic, and pivotal than our parents first realized? Back when I was a teenager, everyone went to public school. You just put up with what ever was going to come your way. No parent wrestled with choices of education and things-that-can-go-wrong like we do now.

Of course the catastrophes, back then, were somewhat limited to teenage pregnancy and drug addiction. Now you can add in a huge increase in teenage suicide, anorexia and bulimia, cutting and self-mutilation, all kinds of sexually transmitted diseases, bullying to the point of inducing suicide. Oh, it's a beautiful life.

Now I'm not saying this runs rampant in every high school. There's a lot of wonderful things happening in school as well. It's just that there's a lot we parents see and there's a lot we don't see or don't hear about. You really need the wisdom of Solomon to help navigate your teen through the teenage years.

You need to be pro-active and discerning- but you mustn't be paranoid and overly protective. You need to challenge your kid to stand up and grow in confidence- but you also need to know when the bruised reed is breaking. I know so many parents where their child broke under the strain of something, and they did not see it happening till the final crack.

Apparently this wisdom of Solomon is something we can also have- according to James 1. If we lack wisdom, we're supposed to ask God for it. He's supposed to give it to us- and give it to us without ridiculing us or mocking us for how uninformed and unprepared we are to deal with things. The one caveat is that we are supposed to ask in such a way that our belief of receiving it is evident. No fooling God.

This kind of wisdom we are asking for is not a mystical crazy eight ball that helps us make our choices with a flick of the wrist. It's a practical wisdom. It's prudence (an old fashioned word). It's having the right application of knowledge. It's insight into the situation you are facing.

It's not just the teenage years that are so critical. Anytime you are dealing with a situation of many sides, many challenges, many chances for error- you need wisdom. You need it badly.

I often think of King Solomon and all his splendor (and all his wives- no wonder he needed wisdom). I think of the times in which we live. I think of all the choices and all the catastrophes and crises that people face. I think of how we need wisdom more than ever. And then I contemplate how much wisdom do I already have? Is wisdom really even quantifiable? Can I even tell when I am operating in wisdom?

These are the questions I have that I'm not even sure Solomon himself could answer. I need to make some decisions. I'd like to know the future outcome of what I decide before I decide it- but that's not gonna happen. So what I'll do for now is keep holding my hand out, my head up, my eyes open, and ask and search for that wisdom like a hound on a rabbit scent.

The hope I have is in the generosity of God's plan to give that wisdom. "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him."

I think God's going to hear from me a lot more than He ever did from Solomon.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

So You Think You Will Dance?

Maybe it's because he's seen my mother , his grandmother, so shaky and frail that he got a bit alarmed at what happens as we age. Or maybe my son is going to be a future fitness tyrant enthusiastically barking out orders to flabby flailing people trying to get in shape. Whatever the reason, Alex has decided that I must get in shape; that my bones are weak, my muscles minuscule, and nothing will change about this unless he helps me.

Help me, he does. He texts me throughout the day, "Have you done your exercises? Have you done your push ups?".

I text him back- "Leave me alone. I'm reading". And I smile, shake my head, get up, and then drop- and do 10 push ups.

Ah, the joys of doing what you should do- because someone is making you do it.

I'm glad, though, that he's gotten me into this daily habit. I feel stronger. I'm flexing my little arm muscles a lot and gleaming with joy over my accomplishment. I am woman. I am strong. I am under house arrest if I don't do my exercises.

At least I can accomplsih this. Even if I can't navigate the career path, the Path to Your Success- at least I can become less flabby and more firm, resolute, fixed on being a muscular mom and not a marshmallow of a thing that ages more rapidly than I should.

I'm exercising. I'm working out. And it only happened because someone made me do it. Someone harassed and hounded me to do it- and it was for my sake that my son did all that prodding. It's for my good. The more I work out, and see the results, the more I'm glad I'm doing it.

I think that this happens a lot, in our lives. Sometimes we start doing something we never intended to do. We wound up doing it because someone intervened, the circumstances became such that we had to, or we were given a loving push off the cliff and found out we Or rejoice, if we had to. That's what the prophet Habakkuk tells us.

3: 17,18 Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Because of the devastation due to the Babylonian invasion, this was a bleak time for the believers. I think of the devastating economy and unemployment figures and notices of plants closing and I think, yes, it seems like an invasion. Bad news poured in and pillaged our land. Nothing is blossoming and blooming- like it used to.

And then we read the prophet saying, "YET...". Yet will I rejoice. And more than that, he says, "I will joy in the God of my salvation." Literally, it translates out to something like "I will dance for joy in the God of my salvation."

I've seen people holding signs, "Will work for food" when I've visited spots in the inner city, and even when I was living in Spain, years ago. The things we will do- when we're hungry. When we're out of luck, out of hope.

But in this passage, it's like the prophet is saying, "Things are bad. They're so bad and so bleak, that I'm out of hope. YET, I'm that desperate for a morsel of goodness, a mouthful of sweet sustenance, that I'll do anything. I could say, 'Will work for food'- but there's none to be had. So instead, I'll declare, 'Will dance for joy'- cause I may just need joy more than anything else."

I consider doing this. I think of how I've been working out... for the sake of getting muscles. And then I think, no, that's not right. I've been working out for love's sake. My son cares about me. He worries about me getting old and frail and falling. He wants me to be strong. So he prods me to work for muscles. Work out for strength. So I do. I post a sign as I start exercising: "Aging woman. Will work for muscles. "

Then I put on some loud boisterous music and stretch out some more, take a deep breath and exhale. I look up. Heavenward. I post another sign- that I want God to read. "Tired Christian. Will Dance for Joy."

And then I start dancing with great expectation at what will come next.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Take a Deep Breath

Wonderful things and terrible things happen in the middle of the night. Every mother knows this. Oh, the thoughts that run through your head at that time of the night- namely 3am- when your 19 year old son is not home yet: you think of the worst, pray for the best, and get ready to give that kid of yours a real talking to when he finally does drive in at 4am.

Only as soon as I heard his car pull in, I turned over in bed, heaved a sigh of relief and a prayer of thanks, and decided to give him the talking-to at lunch time. Or whenever he was going to wake up and tell me all about the concert he went to and how great it was and didn't-I-like-his-t shirt and all that. He'll smile at me and kid me about my overwhelming concern for him, and I'll sigh and roll my eyes at him and care only that he is alive and well and testing the boundaries of freedom, safety, and life. That kid of mine keeps me hurdling through life, yelping out prayers, looking upward with frantic eyes at times, and stumbling...forward...hopefully.

Now my soon-to-be-15 year old daughter does just the opposite. She organizes me. Prods my memory. Reminds me to take the bread out of the oven before I burn it. Cleans her room routinely and smiles while she does it. Tells me not to forget the doctor appointment. And all that. Her way of grabbing life by the throat and engaging it is not quite the way my son does it. Hallelujah for the small reprieves God throws our way.

But I do learn from both my kids. My son teaches me to take the foot off the brake and press on the gas. My daughter reminds me of the safety of stop signs. It's like I have two voices reminding me to "Get going!" and "Go safely" all at the same time- and I'm not sure you can always do both.

You can't always navigate safely and avoid all danger. Sometimes you can avoid a good amount of trouble- but you shouldn't think you'll never have a sleepless night or a frantic day of waiting for good news. But nor should you think that careful planning and good thinking can't help you sail on a little more safely and surely- even as you sing "Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life".

Good mental health is the awareness that life is a bit dangerous- and that you don't develop a sick love for danger, but maybe a bit of respect for the way that danger makes your heart beat faster to the point that you remember how very alive you are. Too much safety and sameness can make you as powerful as a clogged drain and as dull as an overstuffed cat.

Speaking of cats, my gardener brother is thinking of getting one (or a dog) so that his garden won't be overun with voles. But after yesterday, I think I wouldn't mind having a couple of those cute mice-like creatures in my backyard (especially since I have nothing growing there but weeds).

I saved the life of a vole yesterday. As soon as I spotted it in my brother's garden, I regretted exclaiming what I saw because my brother protected his green organic paradise with a vengeance. I pleaded for its life.

"We'll have to move it far away from the garden, then- if you don't want me to kill it" he said.

I grabbed an empty pail and he prodded it and plopped it in the pail. It was still.

"You gave it a concussion!" I wailed.

"Nah, he's just staying quiet cause he's afraid".

Fear not, I thought compassionately- trying to convey to this creature that it would not end badly. But how do you let a little vole know that though he feels in great danger, that the hand holding the bucket is a gentle one- not a striking one.

We drove down the street, pulled into a little parking lot next to some woods, opened the car door, and turned over the bucket. The vole sat there. Stunned. Dazed. Afraid. Delirious with joy, perhaps. He was alive. The moment of danger had passed. He would go on another day.

And that's what I'm doing today.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

So Tell Me About Yours

It's a bit misleading: the photo, in the last post, with "Family" staring out at you, and me talking about "throw it away, throw it away". I wasn't alluding to throwing away your family- but there are times when I've wanted to run away from them. From my family. The one I grew up in- not the one I have now.

The family I have now is of my own choosing, for the most part. There's my husband, Bill, and my two kids, and our dog, Harry- otherwise known as Harry Berry, Boo Bear, or just Boo. This is my family. And while God picked out the two kids He gave us, I am in complete agreement with Him that these are the two children I would most want to have out of the heavenly pickings that I suppose there were.

But the family I grew up in- well, I had nothing to do with selecting them. And they would say amen to that too. We're a motley bunch. There's five of us kids- now grown adults with kids of our own, except for my one bachelor brother who, I doubt, will ever marry and have kids. His choosin', you know. One of us is a strong choleric leader, one is a quiet gardener, one is bossy and loyal, one is tender and opinionated, and one is helpful and needy of attention.

The older I get, the more I don't really get along with them that well; we don't see eye to eye on things. But I see, now, why this is so: it's because I'm still changing and they've changed and we keep forgetting that fact. We keep wanting to see each other as we once knew each other, instead of getting used to learning who each other is becoming.

Sometimes it's a bit lonely being surrounded by people who supposedly know you, and at the same time, don't know you. With the exception of one brother, we all live within five miles of each other. But we're not the Brady Bunch or Little House on the Prairie.

I loved those T.V. shows when I was little. I have always loved the Ideal: the idea of an Ideal Family, an Ideal life. There seemed to be no end of families I knew that were ideal or almost perfect. Or so I thought. Then as the years passed, the idea of the Ideal got tarnished, thank God.

I think one reason why people tend to confide in me about their sorrows or struggles or strained homelife is that I don't ever get surprised at what can go wrong in a family. I'm not surprised, very often, at what can go wrong in any enterprise, any group or church or unit of people. If there's a bunch of people, there will be a bunch of opinions, ideas, and varying expressions of thought.

Expect variety and expect the unexpected when it comes to family life. Forget the idea of there being a black sheep in every family; cause most likely there'll also be a polka dotted one too. Sometimes I'm the rebel in my family and sometimes I'm the peace maker. And sometimes I forget who I am, when I'm with them, and sometimes I remember who I am because of being with them.

One thing I'll always be is a part of them. That's because it was God's choosing- many years ago- and lately He keeps telling me it's time that it was my choosing as well.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Throw it Away, Throw it Away

(photo by

I've been organizing- if you can call it that- my email in-box by trying to unsubscribe to the many emails that are coming in that I don't want. I call this pruning, or streamlining. I got an email from which has a tag line, "Clean. Neat. Easy." and that one I decide to keep subscribing too.

It makes me feel good, momentarily, to get rid of junk and unneeded things. But this temporary feeling is just that- temporary. Soon I feel overwhelmed by clutter- both in my inbox and in my house.

I know where I get this from- this need to prune and purify my surroundings. I grew up in a small house overflowing with people: five kids, several cats, a cousin living with us, and two parents. When we moved to a larger home, when I was in second grade, it felt like we were moving into a mansion. I took deep breaths of privacy and peace. But these bits of privacy and peace were always temporary as well, because I shared a room with a sister, and because no matter how big a house is, it does not mean all will be at peace.

One habit my father developed, that I now realize was in reaction to this chaotic brood of his, was to mandate a weekly streamlining of our lives. This happened almost every Saturday, or when things started to feel crazy in our home: my Dad would make us go to our rooms and throw away 20 items,...or 100 items if he was really stressed that week! My sisters and I learned how to count a piece of thread as an item, or a rubber band, or a button, so that we could retain as many of our belongings as we could. We really didn't have a lot of stuff. We didn't own much junk. We shared our clothing. So what could we possibly need to throw away?

This need to suddenly cleanse and purify our supposedly cluttered surroundings has never gone away. I'll visit my Mom and Dad and it will usually come up. I'll be sitting in my Mom's room and smiling at here as she's resting in bed. She's so frail, now. She smiles a lot, but she sleeps a lot too. Her life long battle with depression has worn her out. She still looks heavenward, but I can see that she has an increasing connection with the Lord and a decreasing connection with us, here on earth. It's obvious that we are not going to have her forever.

And in the midst of thinking that, while my Dad is sitting there in the room with us, he'll suddenly say "Your mother's room needs cleaning. Her closet needs someone to go through it and throw away the junk. Will you do that?"

I'll look around the room. There might be a few articles of clothing on the rocking chair, and a few toiletries arranged on the dresser. Her closet has some clothing in it, all hung nicely on hangers. Where's the junk, I think? What do I need to throw away?

But I already know the answer to that. I can remember painful times, sad times ( throw them away, throw them away) and I can remember times where stress reigned in our home and not peace- in spite of the fact that there was never a family more committed to each other, more intent on being a family (throw that away, throw that away). I know why my Dad goes on these de-cluttering binges. I know why I get a momentary high after I've cleaned my house, wiped the countertops clean of crumbs and dust and the things that speak of dirt and decay.

I want peace and order in my life. I want a mind that is clean and clear. I want a heart that is free from bitterness and regret. But you don't get that from clearing your home of debris and junk. You don't even get that by going once or twice to counseling or a therapist or a priest. It takes endless forgiving and releasing, and forgiving and keeping that which is good and letting the rest go.

There's nothing wrong with a clean, organized, beautiful home. It's just that the only way it can stay perfectly clean perfectly organized and decluttered, is for people to live in it perfectly. Neatly. Robotically.

Our homes reveal our pain and our promise for hope. Our homes reveal the strain and stresses of the challenge of living. Our cluttered desks reveal that we get more information and details from bill collectors than we often do from those we love.

But this is life. And life is messy and clean, chaotic and peaceful.
It all depends on where and how and who and when...and then it starts all over again. Throw it away, throw it away- the junk, the pain, the bitterness. But I can't throw away the evidence that I am alive and imperfect and hopeful, all at the same time.

I want gleaming counters and clean bathrooms. But I've decided messy kitchens are good too. And closets stuffed with gifts and mismatched clothing and odds and ends are not going to make me fall apart. I'll go for clean and order, whenever I can, but I'll also go for the grace to be able to cope with clutter and chaos- because it does happen every now and then. And I'm done with trying to make it not be so.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


Sometimes when you wearily ask God to point out a way, where there seems to be no way, He does something different instead: He gives you a moment of refreshment so that you can get back on track. Cause you find out, later, that you're doing just fine- it's just that you were getting a bit stale and worn.

I have been feeling, lately, about as creative as a turtle going through menopause. Sluggish. Slow. Unenlightened.

And then I get this award. (Sigh). It's beautiful. Undeserved, I think, but certainly appreciated. Just what I needed.

And the fact that the award itself- the design and the color- is so much up my alley of what I love, decorating style-wise, makes me think how much God wanted to cheer me up. (I'd love to walllpaper my bedroom in that pink toile-like pattern in the award).

Thank you, C. Nick at A Provision of God . I am touched and smiling inside. And feeling creative again.

Okay, now I have to list 7 things that I love and then pass the award along to 7 of my fellow bloggers.


1. When God surprises me with a big, fat, huge YES when I was expecting a No.
2. When someone says "I understand"- and they really do.
3. A foot rub with peppermint lotion
4. Pizza Night with my family
5. Reading a Good Book that takes me into another world and returns me to my own with increased hope and understanding
6. When someone stands up for someone in need, at the risk of their own comfort
7. Inner Peace (Peace like a river)

Now this is the part of getting an award that always gets to me. I hate to select only a few people to receive something that many people deserve to get.

Can I do it this way? Can I expand the award base?

I'd like to pass this award on to the 38 Readers ("Followers") listed on my side panel here. These readers, of their own volition, chose to follow the postings here on Faith Fuel. They're like fragrant pineapple-scented chewing gum that sticks to you- and I'm glad they've stuck to Faith Fuel and want to follow what happens here.

So each of you Blog FOLLOWERS, please receive this award and post the 7 things you love. Let's visit their blogs and get to know each other more! These are some of the Followers of this blog:

Kelly's Ideas
K.Frangeskos, Jesus Knows You Best
Jeremy Belter, Fitness in the Fast Lane
Shanchere, The Cracker Lady

and more ...............................................................................................>>>>>

Have fun visiting these great people. And thanks again, C. Nick. Now I'm off to have a very creative, fruitful, inspiring day!!