24 October 2008

Good citizenship, reluctantly

After I failed to make it to the polls on Wednesday, I decided to make sure I made it today. I was still uncertain just whom I was going to vote for in several key elections. I woke up fairly early and decided to use a gift certificate I got last year to go see the " The Secret Life of Bees." I had thoroughly enjoyed the book and was looking forward to the movie. Unfortunately my gift card was a dud. I got one from work last year and one from a sweet friend. I hope it was the one from work, while I hate for anyone to suffer a loss, my friend can't afford to waste money. At least one had been alright and I used it earlier this year to see Prince Caspian.

I got ready to leave to vote and doubled back to grab my Zune as I was certain I would be in a line waiting for at least a little bit of time. I almost picked it up when I heard the Spirit whisper "leave it behind." I hesitated a moment and then left it where it was. I got in the car and took a moment to pray for God to use my time waiting for His glory. I started the car and headed off to the polls no surer about my vote than I had been when I woke up.

When I entered the building the line was doubled back on itself and almost back to the front door. I walked up and stood behind a man busy on his cell phone. For a long time I was at the end of the line by myself with phone man. About 10 minutes later a couple walked in. Seeing I had a cane, they told me if I wanted to sit down they would save me a place in line while I sat. I thanked them for the offer but assured both that I was used to standing for long periods of time as my job has me on my feet all day long. Seeing the man in front of me was still on the phone the lady behind said me now would be a good time for her husband to catch up on his messages. While he was doing so she and I chatted about everything from getting her sons absentee ballots while they are at Clemson to places we have lived.

Halfway through the line a sweet older lady stepped into the waiting area to remind everyone they are forbidden to use their cell phones this close to a polling place and asked everyone to put them away. We continued to talk and she joked she should have brought a book she has been wanting to read but just hasn't started. I replied I had almost brought my Zune to keep me company but at the last minute felt God ask me to leave it behind because He had someone for me to talk to while I waited. She asked me if I had found anyone yet and I told her I was unaware if I had. I explained that for me it was more important to be obedient to where I felt the Lord was leading, than to see a visible result. I told her I had more than once been reminded God calls me to obedience and I should trust the results to Him. I told her this election was a good example. I shared with her that even though I was in line to vote, I was still uncertain as to whom I would be voting for in many of elections. At that time we had to part ways as it was our turn to vote.

I cast my ballot and headed back to my car. I still do not know if this woman was the one who needed a word from the Lord, but trust she at least knows there are people to whom their faith is a guiding force in their life.

Glad I live in a nation with peaceful elections,
overjoyed to serve a Sovereign God,


22 October 2008


Today started off rather early. I had taken some vicodin to help ease the pain of yesterday. I keep it for extreme times and only use it once or twice a month. I have a long life left ahead of me and do not want to become to dependent on chemical solutions for pain. At any rate, after taking the medicine I headed to bed to pray and meditate before I drifted off to sleep. Sleep was slow to happen and I found myself still awake close to midnight. Imagine my surprise when after finally falling asleep I was awake at 5:00 am. I lay there for a bit working up the energy to get up and get started on the day.

After taking care of necessary morning tasks I settled back in bed for my time with the Lord. I was asking Him what He would have me do today and I just had to confess I didn't feel up to doing anything at all. My appointment for the morning had been cancelled and I had nowhere to be. I decided to catch a little more sleep before facing the day properly. I remember joking with Jesus if He wanted me to love someone for Him today, He should just send them to me as I wasn't sure I would make it out of the apartment. And so He did!

Jesus' answer came in the late morning. There is a sweet older man who lives at the other end of my apartment building. I had taken him some brownies last week and he wanted to return my container and had brought me muffins. Right after I moved in we became acquainted. He asked me once why I always headed out on Sundays since he noticed I don't work on that day. I told him I made it to church if it was at all possible for me to do so. He stated he had not had many favorable experiences with Christians since he had come out years ago. I asked him to give me a chance to see if it was possible for someone who loved God to love him as well. Since that time we have become great friends. I stopped in to see him before Ike to make sure he had everything he needed. After the storm he came to see me to make sure I was o.k. He knew I had given most of my pantry to a neighbor with no food so he brought me food from his. The last two weeks he has waited for me to come home from church and asks me about the service. I thank God daily that he has allowed me to share His love with Paul. It is a great blessing.

So it worked out that even though I never got out of my jammies today, I was able to share Christ's love with a neighbor. There is a wonderful freedom that comes from placing control of your life into the hands of a loving God. I can do what He asks because He gifts me with the means to do it.

Thankful I could serve from home today!


17 October 2008

Not optional, imperative

I am currently re-reading one of my favorite books by Jan Johnson, When The Soul Listens. I chose it to help fill my open Saturday earlier this month. It's been a great refresher and very helpful as someone I know has asked for my help in opening her prayer life up to real conversation instead of a checklist for God. She wanted to know why so few Christians seek contemplation. Borrowing liberally from Oswald Chambers I told her I thought it was because they were unwilling to hear God speak to them personally.

"We show how little we love we have for God by preferring to listen to His servants rather than to Him. We like to listen to personal testimonies, but we don't want God Himself to speak to us. Why are we so terrified for God to speak to us? Perhaps it's because we know that when God speaks we know we only have two choices: Either we will do what He asks, or tell Him we will not obey. But if it is simply one of God's servants speaking to us, we feel obedience is optional, not imperative."

Oswald Chambers.
My Utmost For His Highest

You see when you learn to listen to God in the stillness of prayer you will find yourself hearing Him all day long. It is one thing to hear God whisper "Love your neighbor" when you are comfortable at home. It is quite another to be worn out at work and see a colleague needing help and hear Him repeat "Love your neighbor." At that point you have only the two options Chambers listed. Many find it easier to pretend they cannot hear God to avoid the obedience it requires.

So the question I asked my friend is: Are you ready for the life change that comes from listening to God call your name? To make sure she knew the full impact I also shared with her the joy that conversation with God brings.

There is no way to accurately share with you the exultation and comfort in hearing God speak to you alone. Imagine you find yourself sitting face to face with the love of your life. Would you do all the talking or would you want to hear Him say how much He loves you and needs your help in accomplishing His goals? You see listening to God isn't only getting guidance, it's about affirmation and adoration, one for the other. It's someone who loves you enough to say "I hear
you telling me how you feel, I love you and want to share this time with you." Obedience becomes less of a chore and more of an outpouring of thanksgiving for God's grace.

I think everyone who lives this way is as inadequate as I am in explaining just how jubilant and blissful life can be staying always in God's shadow. Life does not become one long musical filled with praise songs, it does becomes something you know you will find your way through with your best friend as your constant companion. I am trusting God to help me as I help my friend find this delight for herself.

Praying you too delight yourself in the Lord,


14 October 2008

Dewey defeats Truman, Nixon triumphs over Kennedy!

For the last forty years children participating in the Scholastic Book Presidential Election Poll have accurately picked the winner, mostly. The two races in the title are the exception. Today the results from this year's poll were released. In their election Barack Obama won. We won't know until November 4th if this one is what will be now or what could have been.

Imagine how America would have been different if Dewey had won. By 1948 he had left his isolationist leanings to see the inclusiveness of a global mindset. In spite of running an insipid campaign full of lame statements like "You future lies ahead of you" he did make a rather profound statement with regards to the "red hunting" and "communist bashing" many in the Republican Party were promoting. He argued over outlawing the Communist Party of America by stating "you can't shoot an idea with a gun." Think about how different the fifties would have been if there had been a Republican president in the White House when Joseph McCarthy began his reign of terror. It is doubtful that even McCarthy would have gone against his Party's President. Yes I know Ike was President from 1953 to 1961, but McCarthy started his hunting in 1950 under President Truman.

Now jump forward a decade and imagine Nixon was in the hot seat when Russia showed it's hand in Cuba. Could the cold war been much colder? From a domestic point of view, what would have happened to the Civil Rights movement? If Nixon had been in the White House in 1963 how would the march on Washington have played out? Granted LBJ oversaw signing most of the Civil Rights act into being but if he hadn't gone to D.C. with Kennedy we can only wonder the changes that may have happened.

All of this proves why it is easier to be an historian than an adviser.

At least we won't have to wait too long to see if the kids are right on this one.

Waiting to vote,


13 October 2008

The Dark Night

One dark night,
fired with love's urgent longings
- ah, the sheer grace! -
I went out unseen,
my house being now all stilled.

In darkness, and secure,
by the secret ladder, disguised,
- ah, the sheer grace! -
in darkness and concealment,
my house being now all stilled.

On that glad night,
in secret, for no one saw me,
nor did I look at anything,
with no other light or guide
than the one that burned in my heart.

This guided me
more surely than the light of noon
to where he was awaiting me
- him I knew so well -
there in a place where no one appeared.

O guiding night!
O night more lovely than the dawn!
O night that has united
the Lover with his beloved,
transforming the beloved in her Lover.

Upon my flowering breast
which I kept wholly for him alone,
there he lay sleeping,
and I caressing him
there in a breeze from the fanning cedars.

When the breeze blew from the turret,
as I parted his hair,
it wounded my neck
with its gentle hand,
suspending all my senses.

I abandoned and forgot myself,
laying my face on my Beloved;
all things ceased; I went out from myself,
leaving my cares
forgotten among the lilies.

St. John of the Cross

Many times I have found comfort in these words and today they were a balm for my soul. May they bring you comfort as well.

Seeking to forget myself in my Beloved,


10 October 2008

Stuck in my heart

for KW

I am thinking of you my friend.
I have whispered for you in my heart.
I repeated your name in my prayers,
and laid you upon God's altar.
I asked Him to gather you into His arms,
to cover your life with His blessings,
to reveal His love for you to your heart.
I ache when your life is troubled.
I long to sing when your life fills with joy.
You can never go outside of my love,
come home in peace and know you are welcome!



07 October 2008

Jesus must be proud too!

Tonight I went down the street to watch a sweet little girl play soccer. What I saw instead was the best display of honor and courage I have seen in quite a long time.

Sara has been playing soccer for a few years now and really enjoys it. Tonight taunts from former teammates and unkind comments from parents on the other team had her leaving the field at halftime in tears. She ran to her dad and he hugged her close as she told him she never wanted to play soccer again. He spoke quietly to her about supporting her team and seeing things through till they are finished. You could tell she really did not want to go back out on the field, but she did. When the game started she gave it her all. She got out there in the thick of things and made some great plays.

She sat out the last quarter and I sat with her. She and I talked about how we can only be responsible for our behavior, not others'. On Friday night I had stayed with the girls and we had worked to find a way to help each other be kind. Borrowing from one of my Dad's sermons we each packed an imaginary bucket. We loaded our buckets with love, kindness, compassion and generosity. (Ever practical Meredith suggested we add bottles of water, clean shoes and donuts.) We set out on an expedition. When the going got rough we tried to keep our buckets upright. When we dropped or tipped over our buckets we looked to see what had spilled from them. Only the things we had placed there in the first place could come out. Remembering that night Sara said she was pretty sure there were some not so nice things in her bucket right then. I told her we could choose now to repack her bucket for the rest of the night. We decided to share funny stories and cheer her teammates on.

When the game ended and it was time to greet the other team she did not want to return to the field. A little urging from her mom and she went on out. As we were walking back to our cars I told Sara I had never been prouder of her than I was at that moment. I told her I was proud she did something she did not want to do just because it was the right thing to do.

So tonight as I remember her turning her tear-filled eyes my way and struggling to smile, I am humbled to have been so close to so much courage.

I love you Sara and am so proud of you, I know Jesus is proud too!


05 October 2008

4:00 am

This is the time which defines your friendships. You will find all of your friends fall into one of two categories. Those you can call at 4 in the morning, and those you can't. Those in the can't category are friends, but they are not the ones you would reach out to for love and support.

I have a friend who quite often calls me in the wee hours of the morning. It's not that his life is one crisis after another, it's his continuing inability to compute time differences from his locations around the globe. What is so great about Joe is his total surrender to doing God's will. Most of the times he has called me during the night, I have been awake and am comforted by hearing from someone who loves me. God is watching out for both of us. Joe needs someone to share with and I get to talk to a friend in the night without having to worry about waking him up.

The next time you find yourself pondering just how many friends you have, make a list of 4 o'clock friends. The knowledge there are people you can call gives such a feeling of joy.

Glad to have and to be a 4 o'clock friend,


02 October 2008

Kingdom of Heaven

I was asked to write about the Kingdom of Heaven for next years Lenten devotional. It's due tomorrow. I have written, re-written and tossed out much. How do you explain the Kingdom of Heaven? It is hard to describe in concrete terms.

I think the best way is to share how I came to realize it was something for my present and not the distant future. The first time I got a good look at the Kingdom was in an airport in California. My dad had retired from the Air Force and we had moved to Okinawa Japan as missionaries for the Navigators.

We had come home for the summer and were trying to return. We were using the military space available program. With daddy being retired and needing six seats we were on the bottom of the list. I was praying throughout the days and often said the Lord’s Prayer. While I was praying for God’s will to be done on earth I really wasn't doing anything to make it happen. Living 21 days in an airport teaches you much about yourself.

I decided that much like I was an American in Japan, I was also a human in God's Kingdom. Just as I had to apply for a visa to stay in Japan, Christ's sacrifice was my visa for the Kingdom. When we first moved I had experiences outside my comfort zone. I got to share with others about my homeland. I began to learn Japanese. I found many similarities living in the Kingdom. God frequently takes me out of my comfort zone. I get to share with others what it is like in His Kingdom. I learned that the language in His Kingdom is love.

There are also differences. If you think learning Japanese is hard, try talking to everyone all day long in love. The good news is that while I had no extraordinary help for Japanese, I have a great tutor in speaking love. All I have to do is to ask the Holy Spirit to give me the love to share and it is there. There are many rules for an alien living in Japan. In the Kingdom there are only two rules.

1. Love the Lord with all you have
2. Love your neighbor as your self.

As I have grown older and a little bit wiser I realize that unlike being held within the borders of a country, I take the Kingdom of Heaven with me everywhere I go.

Praying that what others see in me makes them want to claim their citizenship here,


01 October 2008

I didn't trip, that was a gravity surge.

A great flair piece. It makes so much sense.

My body is not failing, gravity is not constant.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Not in denial just tongue in cheek,