Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Random Tidbits

Here are a few random tidbits from my life the last few weeks:

1. I am playing softball in a recreation league. This has been really fun and I can't remember the last time I put on cleats and hit the field. Ironically, last Friday I partially tore my rotator cuff. This is ironic because I played softball on an all-star team in high school, at Pacific Lutheran University and never once hurt myself beyond a few sprained fingers and bruises. So, to hurt myself at this juncture feels pretty ironic.

2. I went to two weddings last weekend. Whew. Whirlwind! Both weddings were great, but do you ever attend a wedding where it is CLEAR that these two are meant to be together. I mean, obviously no one gets married thinking that they aren't meant to be together. But every once in a while you get to attend a wedding where the divine appointments, the circumstances, how out of the way the Lord went to get these people together equals something just a little special. I went to one like that this weekend. The combined greatness of these two individuals is just, well, wow.

3. Gulp. I am going to start working towards being a full time missionary. Gulp. There it is for all the "world" (or my six readers) to see. I officially started the prep work for this today. The plan (and I use that word loosely) is to continue at my job with the zoo and gradually reduce my hours there as I increase my support base. While I am busy making partners (rather than just looking for money), I will be involved in ministry locally: helping with an inner-city kids partnership with Youth For Christ and Metro Parks. Once I am at full support, I will be freed up to go on missions trips (with a variety of organizations such as Call2All, YWAM, and a couple of other groups I am making contact with) and when in Tacoma, minister full time here. OR, there is even the possibility of selling my house etc. and joining a missions organization full time.

I am adopting the Campus Crusade model for partner development. I REALLY like their method because they are clear that they "love people and use their money rather than loving people's money and using them." I am sure I will be posting more of this as it develops! Stay tuned!


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Annual Autumn Angst

It seems Autumn is coming whether I want it to or not. The leaves around here are just starting to change colors, there is a distinct crispness to the air, my car is covered with dew most mornings, football and the fair both started, and there is just that particular "Fall smell" to the air.

I actually love Autumn. What I don't like about it is that it leads to Winter. Sometimes I think I must have at least a touch of S.A.D. Every year right after Christmas/New Year's I would just rather skip right past January and February to the end of March when the days start to become a little longer and warmer and lots of flowers start poking their heads up out of the ground. April and May are just divine in their glory of color. I adore Spring for this. Summer, well, most people love Summer and I am no different....warm, long days, lots of free outdoor activities at my disposal. Summer is my favorite season. But Winter, oh, the days of Winter.

So, now that Fall is starting to make itself known, I am in full prep-for-winter mode. I have in the last few days: put up the storm/insulation panels on the two windows on my house that are not upgraded, started the yard clean-up to winterize for the year, began the transition from Spring/Summer clothes into Fall/Winter, and added some insulation to my attic crawl space that has been missing for the five+ years I've lived here.

In spite of all of my attempts to hold on to Summer, it appears nearly over. I can be in denial, or I can just accept it and prepare.

Meanwhile, bring on the apple cider, soup and corn bread.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Killing the Flesh

Do you ever get the feeling that things in life control you instead of you having self control over them? This is how I've been feeling about a few things lately. So, I decided a little over a week ago to fast from a few things for 40 days. There's some symbolism to the 40-days, but the main goal really, it's to exercise self control (which is a fruit of the spirit) and have mastery over my flesh. Here are the things I am fasting from right now:

1. Sugar. More specifically, desserts. I found myself in the last few months craving sugar. I mean REALLY craving it. Craving it to the point where I would seek it out. At one point, in looking back at my day I realized just how much of it I had eaten *without even thinking about it.* I mean, mindless eating. And truthfully, when I do food diaries, this is the main thing that stumbles me. I eat really well otherwise. Having done Weight Watchers for so long, the healthy eating habits are pretty ingrained: lots of whole grains, no processed food, lean meats, low fat dairy, no white breads/carbs, and fruits and veggies (well, I could really eat more of these). If I took out the sugary things I have been eating lately, my diet as a whole is really pretty good. So, starting a week ago Monday, I decided I needed to go cold turkey from sugar. This has been really tough. Overall, the cravings have subsided. But, there are still days when it crops up and more than anything, fasting from it has forced me to pay attention to what's going in my mouth and so I am not mindlessly just eating. This is a good thing. I feel better and healthier without it.

2. Diet Coke. Not caffeine, but just Diet Coke (though I could probably stand to fast from caffeine too). Many of my friends know just how much I like Diet Coke. I craved (and still am craving) this all the time. This was my drink of choice throughout the day at work (I can buy a huge cup-full for only a quarter) and probably pretty close to daily on weekends. Again, I would crave this and seek it out. I have been known to drive to the corner store just to buy a "DC." So, I am fasting from this as well. This one has been so much harder than the sugar to break. I am still in full-on craving mode for this. Being at work and not walking up to the cafe to buy my daily DC has been tough. I think the amount of control that this had over me is pretty telling based on how hard it has been to not drink this.

3. TV. Now, I actually do not watch much TV. I have never been one to miss something because of a show, or mark the time of the evening based on what's on. I really only have one show that I watch regularly (Lost). I just felt like I was always complaining about not having enough time to read (which I love to do) and even if I was doing something else like cooking dinner, or if I just had 20 minutes to kill I would flip it on. It was more that it was becoming the background noise to my life and filling up time that could have been been spent (even only 20 minutes) doing something else. It was my brainless activity of choice. This one has been easier to break other than the really random times I used to watch, like for half an hour before bed, or while eating dinner. What has been more of a killer to me is the fact that the Seahawks just started their season. Many Sundays I will be working, so I might have to miss the games anyway, but the fact that I am fasting from it has been a bit of a killer.

Fasting is a sure way to reveal your flesh. I have fasted from food for a day many times, and that is a lot easier than 40 days of stuff that you *can* live without. I have never done more than a one day fast from all food, so I suppose when you add days to that it's harder to do.

Only 30 days to go.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Smart Women Finish Last?

I came across this blog post the other day. It got me thinking, as to whether the sentiments in it are true or not. Anyone willing to read it and comment?

Monday, September 14, 2009


I have now decided that I am officially poor. I have exactly $0.90 in my account and do not get paid again until the 22nd. I have somewhere between 1/4 and 1/8 of a tank of gas, no bread, just ate my last bowl of oatmeal and sniffed the leftover pasta salad in my fridge before packing it in my lunch today, praying against all food poisoning.

I am not alone in my poverty. There are, in fact, lots of folks around the world who have it way worse than I do. I *will* get paid, albeit not much, on the 22nd and have some money for food and gas after some bills are paid. There are others who won't. Yes, I have had to severely cut back on all the "fun" stuff in life, and even the basics (like food) are being stretched but at the end of the day, I have a roof over my head, a heated house, a car to drive, I have an amazing family, a job that is fun (even if low-paying), and a God who is good....and I could go on and on.

For all of those things, I need to remember how good I really do have it. Let's just hope I don't run out of gas!


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dear God, Save Me from Your Followers

There is a bumper sticker on cars that I see around town sometimes. It says, "Dear God, Save Me From Your Followers." I have also seen one that says "I love Jesus. It's His Followers I Can't Stand."

Both of these bumper stickers point to something that is becoming more and more common. People are becoming increasingly disenchanted with the church; probably more accurately, the people IN church. Sometimes I read these bumper stickers and I honestly really can't blame people for the sentiments expressed in them. Those of us who claim to follow Jesus quite often the worst examples of His followers around.

I had a long conversation with a non-believer the other day and this was his main problem with the church. He pointed out the hypocrisy which has become rampant in the church: people saying one thing or claiming that they are better than others and than turning around and behaving in a very un-Jesus-like way.

What he sees are men and women claiming to everyone who will listen that they know the right way to behave or believe on an issue and then turning around and doing something that completely negates their witness. We are increasingly seen as judging those outside the church unto correction and as prideful in our salvation. Many of us seem to have no problem telling those who are not saved all of the things they are doing wrong. Unfortunately, this is often the only image that non-believers see.

I am certainly not saying that Christians should be perfect. In fact, the Bible *clearly* states that we are ALL a work in progress, and that following Christ is like running a race that does not end until we have died. We are all at different spots in that journey. Some of us are like spiritual "babies," still drinking milk and crawling instead of eating solid food. Others are older in the faith and have moved on to the "solids" of the faith.

Some churches have responded by declining to judge at all. This is also not right. We ARE clearly to judge those who are within the church. We are to be "iron sharpening iron." We are to discern right from wrong, wheat from chaff, and light from darkness for our own lives and those we are in authority within the church over. Jesus clearly told those who would follow him to "go and sin no more."

What I find lacking is the discipleship and mentoring of those who are spiritually immature in the faith by those who are further along in the journey. I see a severe lack of men and women who have been walking, talking and eating "meat," parenting those who are crawling and babbling like fools.

No mature adult would ever see a baby in need and not be moved to meet the needs of that baby. Yet, increasingly in the church we are doing that with our spiritual babies! How can this go on any longer and produce any kind of fruit? Children who are left without discipline, guidance, correction, and direction become wildly aimless adults who are unable to function. So it is within the church. The next generation of believers cannot be expected to "grow up" on their own and become a productive follower of Christ. There are whole generations of believers who are still drinking spiritual milk.

I sometimes wonder, is any of the stuff that comes out of our mouths how God really feels about things? Are we called to judge those outside the church? What should we do with those of us who are in the church and clearly in error? Even if we do know how God feels/thinks about an issue, are we authorized to speak on His behalf on that issue at that moment? We should have the fear of God in us when we say we are speaking in His behalf. We are not called to be silent, by any stretch, but we should be praying about what we're saying before we say it; making sure that when we speak, we speak the truth in love and to those we are supposed to!

So I wonder, where are the mature and wise Believers amongst us raising a generation of Believers who learn to walk the walk before they talk? Are we so caught up in "me, me, me" secular humanism that we don't want to be corrected or to offend anyone with our correction any longer? The church seems to have lost its ability to point out that which is not truth in each other. We have become this comedy of errors: half of us as judge and jury over everything (as though we some how BECAME God Himself at salvation) and the other half of us believing that love means accepting everything, even within the church.

Anyone who has been on the Christian journey for a length of time knows that we are NOT any better than anyone else and the second we start claiming we are, we have forgotten what it means to be saved. Those who are saved should be rescuing those who are not, not throwing rocks at them. It is not until we are on dry land that we begin our journey to become more like Christ. Rescuing is not enough, we also have to dust people off and walk along side of them on their journey.

1 Corinthians 5:9-13
I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you."

James 1:26
If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless.

James 3:2-12
For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses' mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.

Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.

For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.

With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.

Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.


For additional thoughts on this topic see my friend Suzanna's latest blog:

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Change the World

No one ever changed the world by caring more about what others' think than what the Lord thinks.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Clean Up On Aisle Four

If you should ever see me in line at the grocery screaming in the opposite direction. It is Murphy's Law that I *always* find the. slowest. line. ever. to check out in. What is funny about this is that even when I change my tactics for picking a line, I still chose wrong.

Tonight's latest example of this was that I found the shortest line, AND the woman directly in front of me only had maybe half a cart full of items. Score, right? Wrong. I neglected to look to see what the person in front of *her* had in their cart. This was a big mistake in my method.

The first woman's cart was literally overflowing with food. In fact, now that I think about it, the store was pretty packed for a Tuesday night. I wonder if it's because it is the first of the month and everyone got paid. I digress. This woman's cart was so full that by the time she pulled away her bags were piled on top of each other precariously enough that I wondered if half of her groceries might fall out of the cart. This would have been nothing, except this woman also had a million coupons. Again, no big deal except that some of her coupons did not ring through, requiring the checker to look through her already bagged stuff in vain. Eventually he printed copy of her receipt so far to look over. Finally, all of her stuff was bagged in reusable bags. I actually love, love, love reusable bags and use mine as often as possible. However, they do take longer to bag than the traditional plastic bags do.

All of this to say that I watched people in lines around me, who had gotten in line *after* me, go through their lanes and walk out of the store before I even started getting checked out. My luck with lines would have meant that had I left my lane to go to another, THAT lane would have then been the slowest.

Since I had a lot of time to stand there and think, I thought "why don't grocery stores have slow lanes? I mean they have "express" lanes. Why not "slow" lanes too? These would be for people with a lot of groceries, a lot of coupons, etc." Not sure any grocery store will take me up on that idea, but it could work.

Clean up on aisle four!