Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Words like Stones

Words.  I seriously love words.  LOVE them. 

I love the way letters strung into words - spoken or on a page - can teach me, guide me, energize me, diagnose me, redirect me, amuse me, calm me, or inspire me.  I love how certain ones can put a smile on my husband's face.  On my children's face.  On my friends' faces.

That's a gift. From above.

I love how the mere act of talking creates relationships and forms bonds.  Words knit us.  And they can unravel us too.  They are powerful and potent.

I think of the Declaration of Independence.  And the two-word sentence, "I do."

I'm leaving in a couple hours to drive to Charlotte, NC for the annual She Speaks conference.  It's a conference about words. And about God.  And about God's Word.

It's about the words we speak to Him, hear from Him, and speak about Him. That's the ultimate, you know. Better than any game of Scrabble.  Or chocolate-protein smoothie, which I'm craving at the moment. (Sorry, that was strangely off topic but true nonetheless.)

Yes, I love every moment of She Speaks. And if you are coming, I hope you will stop me when you see me and introduce yourself.  Tell me if you're a word-girl too. We'll share a few sentences and start a bond.

In a post last week I said, "This is why I write. To figure out what I think and feel. And decide what I will feel and think." And it's true. I'll let you in on a little secret.  I rarely know where a piece of my writing is going until I am writing it.  That's true of my blog posts, devotions, articles, book chapters.  Writing is a process of discovery for me.  Each word a stepping stone.

And I adore that this magnificent God of ours --who can do anything, who is totally high-tech -- chose words as His primary means of connecting with us.

Words, chapters, stories and verses are the stepping stones in our walk with Him.

That's pretty cool. That's my discovery for today. I think it's a big one.

Words like stones show me where and how to walk, and provide companionship on my journey.

Have you recently read some of those words God strung together for you? If not, it's not too late.
Go ahead and go for a walk with the living God today. 

Through words.

Thankful for words.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

sap moss, cake, altars and friends

It was a good birthday after all.  Thank you for the many well wishes here and on Facebook. The novel winner is announced at the end of this post.

Once centered, I left the house, got iced coffee and stopped in at the vitamin shop.  I had decided to try an organic, SLS free shampoo. You may not know this about me, but I’m fairly health conscious. (Note: I said fairly.) I choke back fish oil supplements with my decaf ice coffee, or with my protein smoothies. I could tell you what for, and why you don’t want to buy any ole fish oil supplement brand, but that’d be a whole other post and I’m getting off on a major tangent here as it is.  Let me just note that that I come by this honestly … all the primary women in my life – my mother Barbara, my mother-in-law Barbara, and my mentor-mom Connie – all take vitamins, and take them seriously.

So back to the vitamin shop, I stood there a good 15 minutes smelling the organic shampoos.  That is after I picked myself back up off the floor.  I nearly fainted at the prices.  Suave this is not. They all smelled like sap moss to me. But I picked one – because you can buy stuff guilt-free on your birthday. I also got a pot-o-chewing-gum made of xylitol (another post maybe). Then headed for the bookstore.

Bookstores always make me happy.  Always. You do have something in your life that reliably makes you happy, don’t you?  Every girl must.  So I browsed awhile but I already knew what I would buy: a book I skimmed in the store months ago but didn’t purchase and never forgot.  I don’t know if I’ll agree with all her theology but I know her writing is skillful and memorable.  While browsing, I also came across a cute pill box that would be perfect for carrying my new gum in my purse.  (Because who wants to lug about a 100 piece pot of  a gum called SPRY?)

Here’s my birthday purchases, minus the shampoo which is now in my gym bag:

b-day 2010 005

 

I hit the gym, lingered in the steam room, then headed home. Coming through the door I was met with a wave of fresh bakery smell.  My daughter was making me a birthday cake!  Chocolate!  (Remember I said fairly health conscious.)

 

b-day 2010 003      b-day 2010 002

My hubby was outside finishing the patio he’s building us out back.  We’d already decided I would go out with the girls that evening because my good friend Marybeth Whalen was in town for a book signing.  You do know that every author dreads book signing, right?  There’s always the fear that no one will show up for it.  So I was making sure that didn’t happen to Marybeth.

Dori, Katie, Connie and I met Marybeth at the Pomegranate bookstore (we were not the only ones who showed). It was fun listening to her read from The Mailbox and answer questions about her writing life. To my surprise, before we left, Connie picked out and bought the exact same book I’d bought that afternoon: An Alter in This World.  Apparently, we’re on the same vitamin-drenched wave length.

Four of us went to dinner/dessert afterward and then Marybeth and I sat talking outside the restaurant until midnight. That wasn’t planned – it’s just so rare that we get to see each other. Plus it’s just so hard for us to shut up once we get going! Kindred friends are such a treasure.

I came home to find Rick sleepily waiting up for me. We chatted a bit and then I crawled into bed next to him. He whispered “Happy Birthday” with the voice that matters most to me. 

With that I sat into the boat of my heart and drifted contently off to sleep.

This birthday wasn’t so bad after all.

*The randomly chosen winner of the novel is: NoodlesMeeMaw. (I’m pretty certain that is not her real name.)  Email me your address, Noodles, and I’ll send you the book.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Turning, Standing, Centering

I'm feeling odd today – experiencing an odd combination of feelings.  I feel emotional and raw. Like something is just below the surface, yet not ready to emerge anytime soon.  And I'm also feeling a bit numb.

I'm in a rarely visited space between my head and my heart. 

As if I've got one foot standing in each spot. Like when you have one foot still in the boat and one already on the dock. And there's that in-between moment and space when you're not sure if you will wind up wet. 

That's where I am.

 

It’s my birthday today.

I am "turning."  Which reminds me that soon I'll be "pushing," and then I'll be "hitting."

I love to celebrate.  I'm not one to dread birthdays. Really I'm not.  But this morning I find myself moody and hormonal.  Uninterested in celebrations. Unable to do more than contemplate ... but I feel like I should be doing something else. Maybe something fun.  Maybe making a "bucket list" of things I want to do before I die.

See, that’s morbid thinking on your birthday.

So I just started a load of laundry – well that's something.  Something done.  I hoped some chores might  make me feel more myself.  Which is silly because I never feel very “myself” while doing household chores.  But instead of feeling spurred on to other tasks, I stare at the window of wet, spinning clothes and want to climb inside for the ride.  For the cleansing.  To come out refreshed and renewed.

One's birthday is a free ride of sorts - you get to choose what you want to do, and where you'll go.  I should've started my morning at Starbucks with an iced latte.  Then hit the gym.  Then maybe the bookstore or mall for some browsing. After all, you get to buy stuff on your birthday guilt-free, right? 

Then I should be joining my girlfriends or family for lunch at a cute little bistro.  And eat some mayonnaise-laden thing followed by desert in the middle of the day. That's what I had in mind but I've done none of that today, and can't quite muster a compelling desire to.

Instead I woke up this morning with a strong sense of life's fragility. What is here can easily be gone.  And what remains can easily be changed. I'm seeing it all around me. In my life and in those I love. And it has me standing between dock and boat today.  It’s not a bad place to be.  I'm not mad or sad, or even stressed.  It just feels odd.

I think I'll decide it's a gift.  A place of insight.  A place of discovery. A place where appreciation is gained and intention is forged. 

Yes, that’s feeling more right by the minute ... appreciation, insight, intention ….

I am feeling more centered now.  Still over the water with one foot in each place, but balanced.  And in no danger of getting wet.

This is why I write. To figure out what I think and feel.  And decide what I will feel and think.

So maybe I'm ready for that tall, decaf latte now. And a little celebration.

In honor of my birthday, I've got a book to giveaway: the novel "The Big 50ish" by Sandra D. Bricker. No, I'm not turning 50 today and I don't think you have to be 50 to enjoy this read. So post a comment by Thursday and tell me something on your bucket list.

Heading out into the sun now for some celebratory fun.

Simply thankful.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer Reading/Listening

 

my book shelf July 2010

That’s the bookshelf immediately overhead in the hutch above my desk.  This is where I perpetually have a couple different Bibles, a couple devotionals, and a few books I’m reading. (There’s always a couple more of each on my bedside table too!)

I love peeking at people’s bookshelves and seeing what they read.

Currently there’s Bibles here that range from the NKJ to the CEV to the GWT. There’s one secular title. Three Bible promise books. My Utmost for His Highest. A novel by one of my dearest friends from graduate school. A spiral bound journal. A 1955 copy of A Gift from the Sea.  And more.

If you look closely you’ll notice A.W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God.  It’s a classic I’ve been reading through this month.  If you follow me on Twitter (see button to the right), you know I’ve tweeted several terrific Tozer quotes recently. This one warmed me today:

“He meant us to see Him and live with Him and draw our life from His smile.” (pg 32)

The other day I got an email notice that said, "A.W. Tozer is now following you on Twitter.” That gave me pause. Not because I don’t always tweet stuff  that would be worthy of  Mr. Tozer’s time, but because I was pretty sure A.W.’s time – all of it on earth – was up  few decades ago!

Because it’s a been around awhile, you can usually find used copies of this title cheaply. But if you’d like to experience the short but meaty book for free, head over to ChristianAudio.com and download the audio book of it at no cost this month. Just use the code JUL2010.  Tozer’s other titles are also on sale there.

What’s on your shelf?  Post a photo and give us the link, or just tell in the comments below.

Thankful for pastors who write.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What You See

Instead of leaving town on a vacation this month, we decided to staycation.  In fact, we're creating our own vacation spot in the back yard. We have a patio area in the lower, larger part of the yard but I found I wasn't using it much because I really prefer smaller, more intimate areas.  I like the courtyard feel.  So Rick is putting in a new patio for me in the smallest section of the yard.   Here it is in progress:


Once it's done I can't wait to furnish it, fill some pots with flowers and herbs, and then fix an ice coffee and do my Bible study out here in the mornings. What should I put out here? An outdoor sofa?  A table and chairs?  A fire pit?  Tikki torches??  I need creative input.

We also joined Netflixs for the summer so we've been grilling most nights and then watching some movies.  Last night I finally saw The Blind Side.  Have you seen it?  Tremendous story.  Yesterday I talked with a friend who told me the story of a friend of hers.  This woman, here in Wilmington, had learned of a homeless teen attending a local high school.  The girls' attendance, however, was dropping off as she got more involved with life on the street.  So this woman - who lives in one of the nicest sections of town - took the girl in.  It was a very Blind Side sort of thing. 

However, the girl wound up running away- choosing to go back to the streets and back to her gang.  It was as if she just couldn't handle the drastic transition. Very sad.

As I watched The Blind Side I noticed that Michael managed to keep his heart pure despite his terrible past. One scene towards the end revealed how.  He tells his adoptive mother that whenever he was confronted with violence, sex or drug use as a child, he would simply close his eyes and not watch.

He refused to look at it.  That seems overly simple. And maybe it is.  But just this Sunday I heard my pastor say, "What you see determines the direction you will go."  Hum. Do you agree?

If that is true, I feel it is important to start my days by seeing and savoring Christ.  That way I'll be more inclined to follow Him. I'll let Him determine the direction I should go.

Praying for that local girl back on the streets.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Running Silly or Running Scared?

I'm still getting emails from my devotion published May 31 on finding God's will - you can read it here if you missed it.

We seem to have trouble, as the body of Christ in the modern world, trusting God when facing big decisions. Perhaps people always have.

Today I was reading in Guard Us, Guide Us: Divine Leading in Life's Decisions by J.I.Packer and Carolyn Nystrom.  They had this to say in the prologue:

 "... The redeemed community includes two sorts of people, as does the wider world: those who run silly and those who run scared. In terms of the ancient doctrine of the four temperaments, those who run silly tend to be the sanguine and the choleric, while those who run scared tend to be the phlegmatic and the melancholy. In modern language we would label the two types the impulsives and the depressives.

The impulsives are not thoughtful enough in the service of God, being too hasty and superficial and happy-go-lucky to reach wisdom's full seriousness, while the depressives, feeling that things are against them, are not sufficiently trustful to enjoy wisdom's full stability.  The pervasive fear of somehow being wrong-footed and let down is always with them, and weakens their spiritual life more than they are aware. 

In terms of the classic cardinal virtues, the first type lacks prudence, the second type lacks courage, and both types make mistakes about God's guidance to them by reason of their own particular weakness."

Should be an interesting read.

From there it walks through Psalm 23, showing Christ as our shepherd and guide.

My personality falls in the "tends to run silly" category. But from the time I came to Christ I've had a driving passion to gain wisdom.  The book of Proverbs has long been a favorite book of the Bible for me. So I've searched for God's wisdom and sought its stability.  Even still, I'm prone to run silly.

I'd like a large helping of wisdom please - but can I get the seriousness in a little cup on the side?
Maybe with a cherry on top?

So, I'm curious to know, which way do you tend to run?

Thankful for God's guidance.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Priceless

Did you read yesterday's P31 devotion?  The one about the Russian girl?

Be honest, did you really read it or did you skip/skim past it once you saw that subject matter? If so, I want to challenge you to go back and read it. Then follow the link from it to the She Read's site and read the first chapter of the novel Priceless.  And if you enjoy it at all, get the book and finish it.

I'm not challenging you to do this to promote Proverbs 31's devotions, or our She Reads site, or author Tom Davis' novel.  I'm challenging you to do this because I want you to have more than just a heart for God.  I want you to have God's heart. 

And as unpleasant as it seems to us to think about, His heart sees young women trapped in the sex trade as priceless.

Once you reach the She Read's site you can comment to enter to win several giveaways this week including gourmet chocolate, micro-roasted coffee, and copies of Tom's novel. How's that for motivation?

Thankful for people who care for the downtrodden.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Where Science-Fiction meets Spiritual Reality

I recently saw the movie The Time Traveler’s Wife. In it a man has the unusual experience of being supernaturally plucked from where he is and, in a mere nanosecond, transported back in time to another location. After a short duration in the past, he is again miraculously transported back to the present. He never quite knows when he will go, or where he will land. The film, like the novel it’s based on, is a love story with a science-fiction twist.

This morning as I was reading in the book of Acts I read a similar story – a love story with a supernatural twist.

In Acts chapter 8 I find a man named Phillip ...