Friday, February 10, 2012

When we/ I Measure

The title sounds like the beginning of a recipe from my kitchen, but it is not.
It would be more like a recipe for disaster.
This morning as part of my normal reading from a Pastor I follow online he talks about and quotes from a book written by Robert Frost.

"Throughout Frost’s play, Jonah wrestles with how God doesn’t seem to live up to justice. Jonah has been taught that people should be “strong, careful, thrifty, diligent,” and he’s upset by God’s “modern tendency” not to punish those who fail to measure up to those ideals."

I have a friend who has been for some time struggling with this concept.

The reason I decided to post this is to be honest, to admit my own weakness in this dept.

I know in part the struggle I have with judging people who do not fit my ideals.
In short, (no pun intended)...I measure.
I measure with my own ruler, my own misguided thoughts my own weaknesses and in turn, I have expectations that I think should be met and when they are not, well, I can tell you that sometimes my reactions are less than holy.
They are at the heart of things, selfish.

I have been studying the OT.
What a study it has been and I am not finished yet.  Far from it.
I am learning about justice and mercy.
I am learning about God and how he loves people.

If I am honest, I share some of those same struggles my friend has right now.
I will be the first to admit that I do not have all the answers.  I really do not like the way I behave,  measuring out my own brand of justice, being stingy on grace.

A Masque of Mercy, has Jonah as the main character and wraps up in a more aesthetically pleasing way. In creative uniqueness it tackles the conflict in Jonah’s thinking, as it “explores the ancient riddle of how God can be just and also be merciful.” It also pulls Jonah toward Christ and the cross.

As I continue on with my morning reading and contemplation, I am very thankful for insights that push me along pulling me as the author states, "toward Christ and the cross".
I pray the same for my friend.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Take out lunch

It's another day like any other day.
The mundane has been tackled.
The emails checked.
A glance outside confirms that the rain is indeed coming,
and the phone rings.
"Hi honey", I'm on my way home for lunch.

Yeah, I had packaged his lunch, sending it off with him to work.
And yes, it it was making its way back with him
but this was the kind of thing that turned a ho hum normal kind of day into a wonderful day.

For him it meant a break from a stressful job.
For me, it was a moment to be thankful for.
And lets face it sometimes, we are not so thankful for these intrusions into our scheduled, structured day.

And this got me wondering.
How many times have I been so busy, so consumed that I didn't hear God reaching out to me, wanting to spend some quality time with Him.
Maybe my day started late and I put him off because now I was trying to make up some time.
Perhaps, I was up early but then, as soon as I was awake, alert, my mind began filling up with all the things I needed to do, places I wanted to be and as it goes, well you didn't really hear God's voice calling out to you.

Within the hour of  my husband coming home, he ate, we chatted and he was back off to work.
A brief but meaningful interlude to my day.

Wednesday Wonder

Friday, February 3, 2012

A song and a prayer

I have just finished reading a post from one of the many blogs I follow.  The title of the write-up is simple, "Be the song".
She begins by telling us, her readers about a conversation that takes place between herself and her daughter.  They both say that sometimes, a certain song will make them tear up, cry.
I certainly can relate and I think that if most people are honest they would admit to their own experience of having their heart as well as their eyes well up with emotion.
That's the way I feel about prayer.
That is the way I respond when someone prays for me personally.
Needless to say, I am moved.

I am often moved by the thought that God cares enough to listen to me.
And, I somehow (sometimes) get it in my mind that he must be extremely busy but manages to squeeze in a little bit of time with me.
I could never be more wrong.

This is why I delight in calling Him Father.
As my father I fully expect him to listen to me and I believe that this is something he wants to do.
This is in part the nature of prayer.
We are communicating, Father to daughter.
The thought of it well, moves me to tears to be completely honest.

He knows me so completely.
And I can be honest with him after all, he created me and he knows my heart.
Boy does he ever.  That can be overwhelming in itself.
But it is because of this heart that we have the relationship we do.

I think that when someone prays for me it is like God has tapped them on the shoulder letting them know that I just needed that extra touch.  I am grateful. I am humbled and because of this, I cry.
A song and a prayer are not that much different.
Each pulling at the heart strings.
Each having their own kind of melody.
And yes, sometimes when you hear a song, you cry.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

When simple is all you want

Like my breakfast.
It's more than my meal, it's a frame of mind.
For some people a simple breakfast may be as easy as opening a box of their favorite cereal, pour milk and tada....there you have it.
In the past, "simple" for me has been to put off breakfast all together. And it's not because I do not like to cook because, I do.  It just never seemed real important to me.
That is until I gave it some thought.

Philippians 4:8-"Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."

I don't know about you but I for one spend much time contemplating life, especially with regard to relationships. Which for the most part are not always simple or easy to navigate through.
It only takes one misunderstanding to create bad feelings.  Those bad feelings often then get translated into repeated thought patterns, thoughts that go round & round in your head and before you know it, a simple misunderstanding has snowballed into an avalanche.

Whatever is----think on these things.
The verse gives a pretty good prescription for combating negative thought patterns that over time can make life complicated which is the opposite of simple.
Like the idea of breakfast, I understand that this is a good thing, a necessary thing for good health.
What I need to do is to have a total mind/thought makeover.  To make the leap from what I see or know to be good and put it into practical application.

"Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice.
 And the God of peace will be with you"

I begin by recognizing that simple is what I want and then soon realize that simple is what I need. 
And, its seems to me that if I follow the guidelines laid out for me as stated in these verses then the end result will be peace. Peace as my companion.
Now this is the kind of relationship I desire.
Can it be as simple as that?

 Wednesday Wonder.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wednesday Wonder

If Monday is a hard day to face following the weekend, then Wednesdays must be the halfway point when you breath out a little in expectation of Friday.
I am not one for coming up with "kitchy" titles but, after a brief walk this afternoon I think I will designate my Wednesday write-ups as, Wednesday Wonder.

It is Chinese New Year.
And we live in a predominantly Chinese neighborhood where all you need to do is walk one block and run smack dab into a bunch of Chinese grocers, bakeshops and tea shops.
I absolutely love it.
One block away from my home and I am transported to what feels like another part of the world.

Chinese grocers seem to open up later in the morning and as soon as they roll out their produce laden carts and open their doors, they are busy.  It doesn't take long before the aisles and sidewalks are full of people shopping for their veggies.
Since it is Chinese New Year, the year of the Dragon, bright red lanterns are hung from hooks placed at the corners of store awnings.
I notice that the front carts are full of oranges. In fact, every store I walk past has oranges out front.
While in a bake shop to pick up some whole wheat bread and an assortment of pastry, I ask the sales lady just what the oranges mean. Everyone is buying oranges.
She tells me that the color, the bright orange and the round shape together bring good luck. 
So at this time of the year people buy boxes of oranges to bring to friends and family.
Personally I have never thought oranges as having any properties other than being a good source of Vitamin C but now paying closer attention to the vibrant orange globe I have a little more respect for the ball of citrus.
I guess the wonder of the day is that I often dream of visiting another part of the world.
To fly off somewhere different, exotic, new when all along I have piece of the world, this culture  just a few steps away.
And suddenly, instead of longing to be somewhere else, I am filled with a sense of gratitude for where God has placed me.
And that is a wonderful thing.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I've got sunshine

on a cloudy day.
And it is Monday.
Since I am back to writing I am trying to think of something catchy for a Monday title.
And not only is it Monday, it is a gray Winter day on the cold side which means still wearing a scarf & gloves.
But sunshine, a little bit of it straining through the overcast, cloud laden Winter, Monday sky, encourages me to step outside for a short walk.
And as I make my way down the side streets a thought comes to me, something contemplative.

"I am the light of the world"
Not my words, a quote from the Bible.  Not just words but and idea, to some.  To others reality in the name of a person, Christ.  As I meditate on these words my mind wanders and I think about what light means to us, to me.
For starters, light from say, a bright sunny day will often put people into a better mood.  The world for a moment seems a better place.  Sunshine seems to add the sense of a lightened load.
I bet you hear more people whistling on a sunny day.
And we use the word light in sentences to describe the awareness of understanding.  Things brought into "the light" make some things clearer.  Illuminating.
We will also use some mode of light by which to make out things that might otherwise by hidden by shadows, in the dark.
In my house it is amazing how a light shining in just the right spot is an indicator that I need to dust.

We gravitate to the light, to its warmth.
Just talk to anyone who plans a holiday that places them on a warm sunny beach  just to 'soak up the sun".
We seem to love the light.
Ir would appear.

What Jesus offers is himself.
A beacon of light in what can seem a dark place.
The warmth of a friend, brother, teacher, Saviour.
Someone who says, walk with me and I will show you how things are better in the light.

Mondays can be difficult for some people.
Today, although I am feeling the effects of a cold, I went outside to walk in the light, to feel the warmth of the sun if only for a short time this afternoon.
Despite the clouds overtaking the sky again, I am confident that the sun will come back again.
As I often tell people, just think about it, if you were in a plane above the clouds you would see sunshine, brilliant, life-giving sunshine.
It's there, he's there
The light will make it clear.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

It's a beautiful day.

I live a life in transition.
But then, don't we all?
The weather outside tells me that Winter is still here but when I look in my backyard at the raised garden beds my husband made for me, I know that Spring will come.
Right now it is overcast but the rain has stopped and tomorrow calls for a hint of sunshine

We say good-bye to the past and welcome a new year filled with anticipation, hopes & dreams.
We, anticipate the arrival of our adopted son.

There were birthday milestones and parties to celebrate.
There were loved ones who passed away into Glory.

Along with birthdays, children grow up into adults.
So, there were a few weddings last year and soon there will be babies.
The cycle of life.

Life usually revolves around ones home.
But there was some travel, some time away from the usual.
A trip to India
Christmas in Kansas
The anticipated trip to Africa
Friendships made, connections with family and more change on the horizon.

Sometimes it is simply daydreaming.
Looking out my window and contemplating what life looks like somewhere else but for the most part it is living it out right here, right now.

I am not one for making new year resolutions.  I am cautious to set myself up for failure and yet,
as I step into this new year I have expectations, I have hopes to go with those dreams.
What hopes do you have as you step into a new year?