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Archive for the ‘Thoughts And Ponders’ Category

No, I’m not asking about deep contentment… overarching joy that helps you get from day to day or anything profound like that.  But I was lying in bed last night thinking about the things that make me happy.  For what it’s worth, I have a bunch, but I still did not sleep really well last night.  That’s what happens when I go to bed thinking- I get caught up in my thoughts and “wake up”, usually quite suddenly and, like last night, somewhat panicked.  I keep on “thinking” while getting into that foggy kind of semi-sleep and everything takes on a kind of Wonderland or The Persistence of Memory feeling.

But that’s a trip into my sort-of-subconscious thinking that is not the purpose this morning.  Getting back, let’s talk about the things that make you happy.  And that’s a real request.  I would sincerely love to see a bunch of comments from everyone (yes, even YOU!) on what makes you happy.  Because, even though I can’t always do it – I do get caught up in myself at times, or have to attend to things at hand and stop actively paying attention to those around me – I do LOVE to try to remember the things that will elicit a smile from you.   The things that will stick in your memory and make you say at the end of the day “Today was good… I don’t know why, it just was”.  Because I don’t necessarily need to KNOW you connect something I do to a happiness (though, obviously if I’m asking, that IS one of the things that makes me smile).  But sometimes, just sometimes, I’m lucky enough to see the smile crinkle through your eyes or turn your mouth just slightly upwards.  That tiny moment when we’ve connected and something I’ve done or said has a positive impact on you… that’s what I spend days and even weeks or months remembering.  It brings me an odd sort of strength.  Yes, years from now I will flash back on you in one (or several) flashes of brilliant comradery and I will smile all day long.  And if we’re lucky enough to share a bunch of those moments (cause, really… if you’ve made it with me this far, whether it makes you feel a  bit odd or not, you’re probably stuck with me, for good or bad), then maybe I’ll be lucky enough to know lots of odd little details about you before it’s all said and done.  Cause it’s really a lot less clutterful to collect deep friendships than nick-nacks.

Some things that make me smile, in no particular order-

  • laughter and specifically, the laugh of my children,
  • slipping in between the blankets and the warmth giving me comfort instead of frustrating my sleep,
  • the comfort of a strong hug,
  • being on the inside of a joke (that’s a rather newly found smile-maker… I had no idea I could like excluding people.  In my defense, though, it’s not really excluding people as much as just me being a part of something intimate),
  • peeling fruits, especially oranges but excluding bananas because they’re just too easy and quick,
  • sitting comfortably with someone just sharing time,
  • sharing more than time,
  • the sound of brown and dry oak leaves in the dead of winter,
  • being in the middle of a well turned dance and NOT stepping on toes (which would have to mean that it’s either a group dance or one with a really strong partner, because I’m not so sure of myself)
  • the smell of rain on hot asphalt,
  • a touch on my hands,
  • eye contact,
  • music I can sing to… sometimes loudly and with the windows rolled down,
  • candlelight, sometimes lots of it, sometimes only one,
  • the sound of a bell,
  • helping someone cook or just being in conversation while they do (it’s the energy, I think),
  • the sound of water,
  • diving into the deep end,
  • sharing a good book with someone (which probably means I have to have read it recently because I read so much that I forget a lot of really good stuff),
  • understanding what makes you tick,
  • the way water reflects light.

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Tact

Warning:  The following is a “blathering on” and “where is she going with this?” kind of post.

At fair the dear Morrigan and I have this little thing that rears it’s head every little once in a while where she is making royal proclamations and the like… not proper for anybody but a Bruce to do, but then, it is Morrigan, the inept spy.  She’s now been in the stockades for this… but that’s another story.

Her procamations include no taxes.  Otherwise said as tax-less.  I, being the loyal *ahem*peasant in the village, never in my wildest dreams saying even one small word against the nobility *ahem* ;), make the point to her that we are pretty much already a tactless village.  It’s really a lot of fun, but you may have to be there to really appreciate it.

All of this to say that tact is a very necessary skill that lots of folks just never learn.   Or get lax about (myself included) and let “telling the truth” mask our tactlessness.  And it can be very hurtful to those receiving our truths.

BUT, I am also a strong believer that we are very much in control of our responses to those around us.  Something else that is a learned skill.  You have to be able to hear comments with a large amount of salt and move on.  Maybe there are appropriate steps for you to take, maybe there’s nothing to be done.  But for heavens sake… don’t let it stop you!

In the end, as my Dear Heart says, “What are they going to do?  Take away your birthday?”  You have God and yourself to answer to.  Everyone else is extra.  We care for those around us, we consider their feelings.  Be loving, be kind… but take care of yourself and be repsonsible for yourself.  That includes your feelings.  God loves you regardless.

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I’m going to take the banner off of my side bar, because I have finally rented and seen “Expelled- No Intelligence Allowed”.  Most excellent movie!  Besides supporting the claim that Intelligent Design was and is at work in the world, that there should be no problem with intelligent people pointing to our Creator in this amazing world of ours… Stein also asks the question “just where would we be if we do NOT allow for the possibility?”  Free will and basic kindness to each other can easily be shuffled out the door if the universe will do what it will and only the strong are meant to survive.  Of course, he makes the point much better than I do.  Watch it with your teenagers, if you can.

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Called Upon

What a wonderful Sunday with brothers and sisters!  Cold though it was (I’m seriously not ready for it to be this cold, this early… yes Mom, I brought the kerosene heater in), we had a busy day to keep us warm on the outside and meaningful fellowship to keep us warm inside.

The tweens headed off to their Sunday school class, only to find out that the thermostat couldn’t be convinced to come on, so they had SS in the main church building on comfy couches with doughnuts at hand.  Good stuff for a teen boy who does a lot of his thinking with his belly, I think.  The three year old was dropped off at her class, jumping in to the pre-class play without much hesitation ( good stuff for Mommy… seperation anxiety is no fun).  Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, I made my way up to my class to find it has been moved to the gym.  I had forgotten, but one of our class teachers is at the end of her ordination and she has to have a series of class teachings taped for it.  The topic is “History of Methodism”.  COOL!

Sandra is a wonderful teacher, having, I believe, a background in a couple different Holiness churches/denominations.   She has a true spirit for the Trinity that absolutely shines in her teaching.  Very well studied, not apologetic for anything scripture asks of us and intensely human and personable in her walk with God.  When she teaches, you know you’re sitting with another sinner saved by grace.  It is good to be in her company.

She starts her lesson with “You might be a methodist if…”    A couple of my favorites –

  • you know that a circuit rider has nothing to do with electricity
  • you’ve never sat through a hell-fire and brimstone service and you don’t think you’re missing a thing

I really must do a study on the Wesley family.  More than Luther or Calvin, I see my own struggles in what I know of these people.  Where the previous men always come off as down in the mouth, woe-is-me kind of  men, the Wesleys seem to have been folks struggling, doing the best they could do, striving for better and concerned about their relationship with God… not the church so much, though they remained in the Anglican church throughout their lives.  Suzannah, mom of John and Charles and, I think 17 (?) others, taught all of her children and was a stout disciplinarian.  And John was, lifelong, walking with God on the path and in God’s plan.  Point was made that John had several times in his life that were defining… moments that some would call saving moments or something like that.  But my understanding is that he was always walking… no matter how much he doubted or what his doubts were.  And it is in this constant walk… this constant desire to see God and to be seen as one of God’s own… a constancy that soaks through in daily life and daily doings… this is what resonates with me.  Like John in one little way, I know I’m not good enough except when Christ stands in my place.  Perfect love… how sweet the sound.

“Wesley’s call to personal and social holiness continues to challenge Christians who struggle to discern what it means to participate in the Kingdom of God.”  Wikipedia

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Since P was to acolyte, we stayed for the late church service.  I love watching my daughter serve God.  Another person that humbles me somewhat in her walk with God.  It being an Advent morning, another tradition was observed… the Advent candle lighting, and the sermon was concerned with being called upon to serve God and His Kingdom.  The pastor spoke about having been in an elevator at the local hospital with 3 other people – a nurse and a Dad with his little boy.  Now, if it were me, I would have been chatting with the folks riding with me.  It’s just who I am.  But our pastor confessed to being one of the other sort of folks… glancing at a watch, his feet, the numbers ascending as they past the floors.  And just as the elevator doors were about to open onto the maternity ward, the nurse asks the dad how old the little boy was, commenting on how cute he was.  Dad says he is 18 months old and just lost his baby brother.  The doors to the elevator shut without another word.  Pastor says he felt like he missed a chance.  Like he had been called upon, but wasn’t observant enough to hear the call to simple small talk and what would have been an opportunity to console.

And that message stirred in me a recent lesson on being prepared by our prayer time with God.  Just because of my personality I tend to leave open doors everywhere around me.  But where I am negligent is in my preparation time… time in prayer to just listen for how God wants to prepare me for my future place in His plan.  I’m good with hindsight… but how many opportunities do I miss because I didn’t give God a chance to prompt me beforehand?  I am called upon to be ready… called upon in an advent season (what will probably be my whole life).

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Prayer

I have my thoughts on prayer… how to do it, when, why and it’s impact.  But it’s such a broad and sometimes seemingly contradictory topic.  Most of the christian life seems that way to me at times.  Not in a negative way… just means you have to really dig deep to understand what we’re taught.  Old and New Testaments… in context.  Boy that’s a lot of studying.  But I think it’s worth it.

A few friends of mine and events in their lives have caused me to consider prayer and my prayer life lately.  The way other people react to those events does too.  Imagine how interested I was to see that God has given me an opportunity to study prayer again, in depth, with a small group of mostly people I know and some I believe to be very fruitful in their prayer life.  Let me tell you, that e-mail invitation came at just the right time and found me at just the right availability.  (As an aside, I think you personally need to “feel” available, but I don’t think God requires you to be, for Him to work… I just think it mostly works that way.  What with the free will thng and all.  But that’s a WHOLE nother discussion.  Kind of.)  So I am happy that this time finds me observant enough to understand what I’m being offered and to feel like I can accept it.

So, in order to remind me… some scriptures to look at:Exodus 15:22-27  , 1 Samuel 1: 1-11, 19-20, 27-28  , 1 Kings 8:22-30, 9:1-3  , 1 Chron 4:10  , Ezra 8:21-23, 31-32  , Psalm 5:1-3, 12, 34: 4-10  , Acts 12: 5-17.

Some things I’ve heard about prayer:

  • prayer changes things
  • pray without ceasing
  • it is like an incense going up to God
  • pray expecting things to happen
  • leave your requests at the cross

And I’m sure there’s more.  I’m studying and adding more to this as I go!

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Ok… something happened in Sunday school yesterday and I don’t really know what to think abut it.  Took will recognize some of the things going on with this theme… but your experiences or thoughts are appreciated.

First, the teacher felt lonely at the top of the table yesterday, so a couple of us moved closer.  Putting me up front.  With almost everybody else behind me.  Translation: effectively no peer group.  It was just me looking at the teacher.  I usually don’t like not being able to see folks, but it is what happened.

Secondly, I have some sinus issues, so I’m alternately congested/runny when emotional (thanks post poison ivy benadryl weaning).

So the portion of scripture we’re studying yesterday was the foot washing scene in John.  Having only taught a few weeks ago, I’m vaguely aware of where the class is, even though I’ve missed a Sunday or two.  So, upon entering the room and seeing a ceramic bowl with towels carefully protecting something inside, sitting on the table… I have a thought of where this is going.  Since John skips the majority of what we know as the Last Supper, I’m pretty sure of what’s there, but not what part the bowl and pitcher will play in the class.

I have, maybe, been a part of one foot washing.  I think.  I have a viague memory that doesn’t even begin to remind me of the participants.  And this act of relationship, of commitment to one another… of service, has fascinated me for a while.  So, in my zeal and fascination I try to stay cautious of what’s me and what is the Spirit.  Which gets me into second guessing… not always a good thing, but sometimes useful.  Caution isn’t such a bad thing when your trying to seperate your motives.  But I am trying not to start thinking through all of the possible scenarios cause when I do that, I start taking over (something you don’t want when the Spirit should be leading).

So she picks a brother who has done voice for public tv and educational tv and what not, to read the scripture all the way through (usually we take turns and talk about each portion along the way… this way keeps the immenseness of the moment intact, though).  And then she asks the class (remember I’m sitting in front and can’t see the other members of the class), “Who would be willing to wash someone else’s feet in this room?”  I’m assuming from her response that it was most, if not all, of the members of the class, me included.  The she asks, “Who would be wlling to have someone else wash their feet?”  And without hesitation, my hand goes up.  In a minute, I find out that I’m the only one to have responded as such.

And I truly did mean it.  And upon realizing that I was the only one, I start to wonder (here comes that second guessing thing), if I shouldn’t have.  What does that mean about me?  First, though I hope I didn’t, I probably threw a kink in the teacher’s response.  Though she is a preacher, so maybe just a momentary one… hopefully.  I am a “harried, homeschooling, schedule-yanks-me-every-which-way mom”… and a techincal foot rub would always be welcome… but I am totally in the sunday school environment, so that didn’t even cross my mind.  Not even a little.

But am I so different than my peers?  I don’t even know exactly how to explain it.  I’m not really a very good “getter”, though I have learned over the years that I can be happy in receiving if I don’t feel obligated to return.  That’s not to imply that I don’t give back, but it is definitely a different feeling to give out of love and desire than obligation.  I think I’m not always a good giver.  I tend to the “teach a man to fish” philosophy.  Which is not the same as not being generous, but you can get into a rut, seeming almost miserly with your giving, and not realize it.

But I have no second thoughts about what my feet look like (in retrospect, it’s my shins somebody would be scared to touch because of the poison ivy soars – not contagious anymore, but still…).  And I would be a total blubbering fool in both positions, washer and washee.  Never mind that I have those sinus issues going on.  And it would almost instantly forge a connection with that other soul that I would be fearful of overdoing.  “Am I smothering this person?  Does s/he just want me to go away?”  Remember, my Dear Heart has referred to me as his private stalker before, so there is good reason for this fear.  It’s my inclination. 

At the same time, because you never really know where another person is in their walk, a nagging fear is that I’ll be taken advantage of.  And this is the real sticking point… the real “raise” in my hackles.  Because it is a relationship thing.  At least, for me.  So while I wouldn’t think twice about having someone wash my feet, I would be on my guard after I left that moment in time.  For me, it would be the beginning of something.  And I don’t know if that’s something to be concerned about or not.

Some great person somewhere said something about if a person behaved as they should, without desire for position and what not, then they would necessarily bring about their own demise.  Sometimes I wish we could all be confident enough in the one relationship that matters the most, to wish for our own demise.  I’m going to try to start behaving more as if I’m bringing about that kind of destruction on myself.  Honesty.  Caring.  Determination.  To what degree do I already do that?  Is that the difference?  Pride goeth before a fall, but that’s not the kind of demise I’m hoping for.  I’m kind of a surface, in the moment kind of person.  Is that what I’m sensing?

Where do you all stand on the foot washing thing?  Is it just a one time shot for you, or a process?  Are there a lot of me’s out there who just don’t realize it or are afraid to admit it for whatever reason?  Or am I truly a minority?

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Sometimes, when you have to suck it up and give somebody bad news or turn a problem over to them, it’s not easy.  You’re afraid you’ve done something wrong.  Messed up.  That it’s all because of you and recriminations are coming.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t like confrontation.  I don’t like being spoken to loudly and harshly.  I don’t like that look.

But God continues to teach me that the people He has put in my life are growing WITH me.  Yes, the immediate conversations of solving the problem or figuring things out are not going to be easy.  Here’s the hard part – you’ve got to trust that the other person cares as much for you as you do for them and the problem is what is making everything so large and out of control.  You can deal with things if you just maintain for the long-haul.

The hard part for me is that I usually try to hide things long enough hoping that I can “fix” them.  Granted, most things don’t fit in this category… they are just not big enough probelms to even bother with hiding to fix.  They are what they are.  But when I start feeling antsy, I start to think there’s a problem that needs to be fixed… and just give me a few days or so, and I can fix it.  About half of the time, my waiting seems to make it worse, though.  Which means that the problem has just become that incremental bit harder for whomever should be dealing with it, to fix.

And so this morning I’ve been taught, yet again, that the best thing to do is rip the band-aid off as quickly as possible.  Just get it over with.  Maybe it will end up being as bad as I’ve imagined… maybe not.  But at least it’s out in the light of day after that.

WHEW!

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