Of Mice and Shopping.

The streets are empty and the parking lots are full. It must be black Friday.

I ventured out once today. I went to the corner drug store to buy mouse traps. Lots of them. That’s all. No clothes, no gadgets, no 50% savings from a 1000% mark up, just traps.

Mice have started their annual hunt for warmth and have traveled to my home like shoppers hit the mall the day after Thanks Giving, hard, fast, and early. I hate mice. And now I have traps. I’m happy again.

I have several friends who were up and at the mall at 4 am, saving money. I’m all for saving money, I’m just diametrically opposed to waking early. It’s just not in my genes. I prefer to be asleep at that hour and there is no sale worth sacrificing something so sweetly rare and beautiful as sleeping soundly. To be honest I avoid the mall at Christmas unless absolutely necessary.

Not that I don’t like shopping, I do. I like to go on hot summer afternoons and spend my time cooling off and visiting my favorite fantasy stores.

You know the ones. “The Petite Woman.”, “The Organized Closet” and let’s us not forget, “The Pampered Chef.” Ah yes, on those glorious days when I can walk through the mall, unencombered by kids and holiday shoppers I am, at least for a little while, Skinny, Organized, and I know how to cook.

Happy Shopping ya’ll. Bring me back a catalogue will ya?

Don’t Buy That Gift Card

Here is a list of stores that were given to an employee of Wal-Mart as a warning about buying gift cards from these stores. As we all know a lot of stores will be closing. Some of these stores will close altogether everywhere and others may close a store in your area making a gift card from that particular store difficult if not impossible to use. Take this information as a heads up and use it as you see fit. This was not given to the employee as a way of increasing sales of Wal-Mart gift cards though it could be construed that way. This list is not necessarily complete and you should check into the viability of the store or company before buying and giving a gift card during our financial uncertainties. I checked some of this info and found it legitimate but I don’t guarantee it is all accurate. Once again, you need to check yourself about the store you may buy a gift card from. From the list I was given the following information was included and I quote:

“Stores that are planning to close after Christmas are still selling the cards through the holidays even though the cards can be worthless January 1. There is no law preventing them from doing this. On the contrary, it is referred to as (Bankruptcy Planning).”

Circuit City (filed for chapter 11) – but it’s still open btw.

Ann Taylor 117 stores nationwide closing

Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, and Catherine’s to close 150 stores nationwide

Eddie Bauer to close 27 stores and more after January

Cache will close all stores

Talbot’s closing down specialty stores such as J. Jill (all stores), Pacific Sun wear (owned by Talbot’s) not all stores but shoes stores are listed. (NOT J. JILL I LOVE THT STORE – my husband will be thrilled. )

Gap closing 85 stores

Footlocker closing 140 stores and more after January

Wickes Furniture closing down

Levitz closing down remaining stores

Bombay closing remaining stores

Zales closing down 82 stores and 105 after January

Whitehall closing all stores

Piercing Pagoda closing all stores (with a name like that, no wonder)

Disney closing 98 stores and will close more after January

Home Depot closing 15 stores

Macys to close 9 stores after January

Linens and Things closing all stores

Movie Galley closing all stores

Pep Boys closing 33 stores

Sprint/Nextel closing 133 stores

JC Penney closing a number of stores after January

Ethan Allen closing down 12 stores

Wilson Leather closing down all stores

Sharper Image closing down all stores

KB Toys closing 356 stores

Lowes to close down some stores

Dillard’s to close some stores

Gratitude


Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
– Melody Beattie

The Habit of Over Explaining

I’m a student of many things these days, not only comedy, teaching and speaking, but writing as well. When I attended Speak Up Communications Seminar in Grand Rapids Michigan this past summer, I learned a lot of things about aim, rapport steps, transitions, and how to make a point in three minutes. Actually, what I learned was I’m a bit on the over achiever-try-too-hard edge where making one point in three minutes isn’t so hard, it’s the 20 extra that I try to cram in that gets me in trouble.

I also learned how to trust God through all of the shaking, doubting, and questionings. The “are you sure God?” doubts and fears. yes, he’s sure, and so he kept telling me every step of the way. Just be willing to learn. I’m still learning, I’m still willing, and I’m still trying.

I want to get better. In order to get better, I have to be out there, and willing to either strike the ball or strike out. But I have to be on deck for a chance at both.

My prayer journal on Matthew 23 is no different. There are many things I believe God showed me, but getting to those points? I’m over achieving in my blogs and not making sense. So.. if I were to make a basic outline, where would I begin?

I’ll find the aim, the point, and the message in time. But rather than slaughter it on my blog, I’ll leave with you with these points for now.

1. – My cup was full of distractions and disguises (Hypocrite is from the Greek – an actor in a play who wears masks.)
2. Therefore (as an adult convert) it should be no surprise that after Christ’s triumphal entry into my life that he would restore the temple (my heart) to a house of prayer.
3. It really helps if you believe his conversion, moving in, is permanent and not a live in lover temporary until you mess up kind of deal like I did.
4. There will be those who sit at the seat of moses, LISTEN TO THEM, just don’t copy them.
5. Don’t confuse Christ with a Pharisee – he won’t add to your burdens and do nothing to help carry the weight.
6. Set up no one as judge over your (my) life. There is only one Christ and it’s not them.
7. If your going to teach (speak, preach, lead, whatever) – do it as a fellow traveler – do not sit at the seat of Moses as Judge or Lord over anyone else.
8. Pay attention to the bones, be yourself, follow Christ,
9 – Don’t argue with a pharisee – but don’t forget that even Christ longed to gather them in his arms like a hen gathers her chicks. He wept over them as well.

10 – Psalm 103:12 “as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

Ponder this with me – one who redeems the life from the pit (vs 4) and crowns us with love and compassion says this about our sin “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

Do you know what that means? Can you picture this?

Look out your window – and think, if you or I were to walk out our front door and start walking Straight north, sooner or later we would come to the north pole. Right? What happens when we keep walking? Do we keep heading North? no. We start heading south.

If you (or I) were to walk out our front door and start walking East – we will circle the globe and never walk west. THAT’s how far God has removed our transgressions from us.

No dirty cup,
No need for fillers
No need to be a copy cat
or sit in the seat of moses.

Just grace. From the one who knew us first, and knows us best.

I’m still over explaining, I know. but you know what? I’m not going to quit learning how to find my aim and make my points. I’m not going to quit trying to teach, to speak, to laugh, or to sing. Because he has set a new song in my heart that cannot be silenced.


Psalm 103
Of David.
1 Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits-

3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,

5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6 The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.

7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:

8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.

9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;

10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;

12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;

14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field;

16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.

17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children-

18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the LORD, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.

21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.

22 Praise the LORD, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the LORD, O my soul.

elisha01

In the Face of Angels and Chariots of Fire.

2 Kings 6:15-17 (NIV)
“When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked.

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

Elisha was outnumbered. The enemy laid in wait from every side, and yet he wasn’t afraid. His servant? Well that was a different matter. It wasn’t the first time that Elisha had chariots. He was there when his mentor Elijah (2 Kings 2:12) was taken up in a chariot of fire. He knew they were there – and he prayed that God open the eyes of his servant that he might also see.

Sometimes we miss the chariots that surround us – sometimes God uses the faith of a servant/child to open our hearts to the possibilites of faith. Open the eyes of our hearts Lord, that we like Elisha may see your chariots.

When my boys were born, I kept the baby monitors on full blast so that I could hear the slightest sound and run in, should they need me. When they were sick, I slept on the floor next to their crib. You might say, I was a zealous new mother. I don’t know who learned how to sleep through the night first, me or my boys. Even today, I still have one ear cocked just in case.

My youngest son has epilepsy. He had his first grand mal seizure while napping in our bed at six-years-old. (If you don’t know what Grand Mal means, it’s where the whole body convulses. Pretty scary stuff. ) He’d had a migraine that morning and we were resting. The seizure took me by total surprise and I called the paramedics in a panic.

I would try to sleep in our bed after that and would invariably wind up on his bedroom floor listening. I kept this pattern up for about a month, before finally letting go. A year went by before he had another seizure.

On Father’s Day 2000 Dillon woke up with slurred speech, short term memory loss, and substantial muscle weakness on the left side of his body. The paramedics said it was a TIA or “mild Stroke.” The neurologist called it “Epilepsy” which really just translates to “seizure disorder.” or more simply put “Out of Mom’s Control.”

I don’t think so.

Both Dillon and I were afraid to sleep at night. My maternal instincts kept me awake listening for the slightest noise, so that I could run in and be there should he need me. I did not have the strength to sleep. My friends and I prayed continually for healing and for peace.

Every night our family would pray together that Jesus would hold Dillon while he slept and that God would send his angels down to watch over us and keep all of us safe. And we would try to crawl in to His lap for peace and comfort. Everyone, in their own beds, and no sleeping on the floor.

One night while we were sitting on our back porch swing rocking and singing together, Dillon asked me how I knew God would send his angels. I told him I just do, that it was about faith. But he looked up and said, “No Mommy. How do you KNOW He will.”

What happened to the easy questions, like “Where do babies come from?” That one I had an answer for. So I said a quiet prayer for the right words to say. How do I explain that I heard that prayer somewhere – I had no idea if it’s real or not, or where I heard it. I just did and thought it was cool.

It was one of those crystal clear Oklahoma nights where the sky just goes on forever, and I pointed at the stars and asked him what he saw. (My intent was to say if God can hang the heavens then surely he could send a few angels to watch over a child.) Dillon looked at the stars and said something only a child could say,

“EYES!”

“Eyes?” I replied. “I see stars.”

He said “Yeah Mommy, ANGEL EYES!”

With that he ran out to the middle of the yard, threw his head and his arms back and said, “Wow Mommy! Look at all the angels God sent to watch over me!” Then he gave me a quick hug and a kiss and ran back to bed, sleeping soundly for the first time in ages.

I of course, did not run straight to bed and sleep soundly. I fell flat on my face before the God of the universe in my backyard and asked him to see what my son sees.

Elisha saw Chariots, Dillon sees angels and I am learning to see the hand of God at work in ways I never imagined.

It is so easy in today’s world to feel outnumbered.
Feeling isn’t the same as real.
Sometimes we need our eyes opened
Sometimes we just need to look for chariots.

(February 10, 2014) – Dillon is seizure free today – five years, six months, and counting.

And Elisha prayed,

\”O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.\”
Then the LORD opened the servant\’s eyes,
and he looked and saw the hills full
of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

 

What Not to Say to a King

“Wow! You’re shorter than I thought you’d be.” – Me at 16 to King Karl Gustav the 17th, King of Sweden.

I am really glad they don’t behead people anymore. I’m pretty sure I would have lost mine after that little social mistake. It’s sometimes surprising to me, when I look at our world and discover we still have kings and queens. With all of the advancements we’ve made in civilization, I really don’t see the point. What isn’t so surprising is the reality that their positions are more image than impact. They don’t really get to do much any more. They have parliments and people who make the rules and laws for them. Royalty today, is pretty much relegated to kind of a rock star status. They are worshipped by many but carry with them very little clout.

I’ll make a king out of anybody it seems. The problem is, once I do and they come up short so to speak.. I might stop listening.


Matthew 23 1-3 (The Message)
Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. “The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses.

I almost missed it. In looking through Matthew 23, writing down names in my self-indulgent pitty party,I almost missed a very important passage. The NIV states “Those who sit in the seat of Moses.”

Jesus tells them – and us – to listen to them, referring to the Pharisees and Judges. It’s their job to know scripture, we’d be wise to follow their teachings. Just don’t copy their lives. They aren’t perfect. Yes they come up short,(and so do I.) but listen to them- they know what they are talking about.

Just don’t confuse those who sit in the seat of Moses with the One who sits at the right hand of God.

cont…

Be yourself…

Stop Setting Yourself on fire already…That’s my job

“Holy Fire, Burn away
My desire For anything
that is not of you and is of me.
I want more of you and less of me. Empty me..” – Zion’s Fire

Whether or not I realized it, I was in a fire – not of my own making, but of Gods. Why? He needed to make room. My temple was cluttered with too many voices, and too many things.

Matthew 21: 12-17

Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, ” ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’”

The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.

“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, ” ‘From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise’?”

And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

—————————————————-

So how does a dirty cup, a triumphal entry and a cleared out temple tie into Matthew 23? Easy – I can talk the talk but stumble the walk. In missing the most important part, (John 3:16) I spend my time making up for lost time and hoping you don’t notice. And if you do notice, I might just set myself on fire.

Early on in my Christian walk, I wanted to fit in. More realistically, I wanted to morph into the walls and be invisible. I copied everything I saw until I looked on the outside how I really wanted to look on the inside. Right down to the shoes. If they wore it, I wore it, if they joined it, so did I. I’m not sure what I was hoping really, osmosis through copy write violations perhaps. False shame and false guilt turned me into the proverbial foot washer, hoping somehow my actions would make me as clean on the outside and everyone else seemed on the inside. I walked the “Jesus died for you, and I’m sneaking in on a borrowed halo” theology line. I talk a good line – but I don’t live it. Not when I spend my life looking grace in the face and working behind the scenes as if to say it’s not enough, twisting the fruit of repentance into groveling and penance.

I tend to set myself on fire just prove I fit in. Case in point:

I was attending a local women’s league event and at break went outside, and around the building to smoke – and hide. I had just lit my cigarette (with three other hiders like myself by the trash bin) when out walks a local pastor.

He wasn’t just any pastor – but the pastor who is over a church that we are considering joining. I wanted him to like me. I needed him to like me, because I wanted to join his church. Our pastor had taken a call out of state and we (my husband and I) were church shopping. I had (in my humble opinion) believed I’d tricked the first pastor in allowing me to stay and I needed to hone up on my costume changes to keep that going. I’m wrong on that assessment – but that’s another story.

Without thinking, I shove the pack of cigarettes in my pocket, and stick the lit one behind my back. That’s the funny thing about idols, they can breed fear, shame and dishonesty. In an instant , I communicated fear, dishonesty and distrust. The smoke billowing up over the top of my head comminicated the fact that my dress was about to catch fire. I can laugh about that today. But not then.

Lighting myself on fire, is not a new thing. It would take Christ to make an old thing like that, new. I needed a different kind of fire if he was going to have his way with me.

There is hope.

God also promises to replace those self inflicted fires with a new one -2 Timothy 1:6
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”

Once he got me to stop setting myself on fire, and set me on fire for him through the Holy Spirt, we still had work to do.

Taking Time with Jesus

Taking Time with Jesus


Isaiah 43:1-4 (The message)

When You’re Between a Rock and a Hard Place
But now, God’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
the One who got you started, Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.


Oh that that were true God. I want to believe it, but people say I don’t. Do I?

“Sometimes I need to take time just to be with Jesus – to find out who and whose I am again.” Kathy Trocolli.

I believe that statement heart and soul – I also believe that if I don’t take the time, he will make the time. Can I hear an amen?

There is nothing like, burying most of your friends, losing a school, having health issues, teaching Bible Study, and leading prayer teams only to go home, wrap yourself up in a blanket on your back porch and stare at nothing for hours on end, believing that God and whole world hates you, – to get to your attention. He had my attention, trust me. The problem was, so did the enemy, and it was his voice I heard the most.

If you were to ask people their impression of me during that time period – they would have told you I preached a good sermon, taught a good class, but I didn’t know the gospel. That used to frustrate me to no end. How could someone think I didn’t know the gospel, just look at all of the things I get to do for God. Of course I know the Gospel. How could they even think that? Uhm… the fact that I shook like a leaf in the presence of Christians might have been a clue. Or the fact that when sharing my victories I was really sharing my fears. The “I cannot’s” of my testimony. Are you sure I’m called? Look at this mess. Really? Hmmmhmm. I wasn’t communicating victory, I was communicating defeat. And fear.

And so the cup breaks, and the real work begins.

Part of my personal testimony includes bits and pieces of loss, abandonment, and fear. when I was eight years old, I found out that I was originally given up for adoption and taken back by my grandparents as an infant. I’d been snooping in my mother’s room after school and found my original birth certificate and adoption papers. She was furious.

My father’s name was no where to be found. And neither was my father, as he had walked out on us when I was four. Even though the papers went on to show that he did legally adopt me, and I was given his name he still left. My mom tried her best to convince me that those choices were the best she could make when she had me and had no reflection on her current feelings or those of my birthfather. I had value and I had worth, and that our present circumstances (she was now raising me) should speak for themselves. At eight years old however, I reasoned that if she gave me up once, she’d do it again. And being adopted meant nothing if followed by being abandoned.

Much like Mary, I took those things and pondered them in my heart for most of my life. Imagine becoming a Christian, being adopted, being given a new name, and believing in your heart that it’s only temporary.
No wonder I shook.

Can you imagine being a Christian, gratefully receiving the triumphal entry of Christ into your life and yet believing it temporary? If not, you are blessed. If so, there is hope.


Zechariah 9:9
9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!
Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your king [b] comes to you,
righteous and having salvation,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Those words are repeated in Mathew 21
4This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
5″Say to the Daughter of Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’


- with the Triumphant return of Christ to Jerusalem.

Those are also words sung during Handel’s Messiah – something I participated in on a pretty regular basis. Shaking the whole time. “Arise oh Daughter of Zion!”

How is it, I can know those words? Sing them even, and yet not believe them. It’s true. My head was full of grace, but my heart was full of fear.

And yet, I knew God’s word. God’s word said “Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you.”

My temple, had thieves. No sooner than seeds were planted, the enemy would steal them.

It shouldn’t surprise any of us that the first thing Christ did in Matthew after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem was to clean out the temple.

The first thing to go false shame. And it would take a spiritual fire to burn that one out. But first, I had to learn how to stop setting myself on fire.

cont…