Saturday, September 25, 2010

I hate to cook.

I admit it. I hate to cook. I know this makes me appear as less than the perfect wife and mother, but to be very honest, I've never liked cooking! I do however love to eat. My most favorite food is something prepared by someone else...and of course cleaned up by someone else. While we have a number of television shows and even an entire network dedicated to the joys of cooking, I have to wonder if I'm not the only one out there who has this aversion to food preparation. I'm thinking if I were, the number of restaurants and fast food places would be significantly LESS!

Of course, this aversion to food preparation does nothing at all for my health. I will eat a little powdered donut that contains little or no nutritional value before I will take the simple steps to scramble myself an egg. (I do, however, take the time to make the coffee! Some things just can't be skipped.) After a hard day at work, I'd much rather call in a pizza order to pick up on my way home rather than stop by the grocery and choose something to prepare, then take it home and have to cook. In a pinch, I even buy some frozen concoction that only needs to be heated in the microwave. The results, I gain weight, lose energy, and shorten my productivity considerably....and I become less and less adept in the kitchen!

I find I'm having more difficulty even knowing WHAT to prepare so that my diet has variety and value! I may look online just hoping something will tempt my taste-buds and somehow be effortless to prepare! Somehow nothing really fits both if money allows, I go elsewhere and have someone 'feed' me.

This morning, however, I realized my lack of food preparation ability is not just a physical problem. I can easily fall into the same "poor diet trap" with my spiritual diet as well. I'm worn out, so it's easier to feast on the junk food provided by the television rather than pick up a book and read. The thought of picking up my Bible and actually preparing a meal from scratch never even enters my mind. I fill up instead on whatever is placed before me. I may know that it's not good for me, but I'm tired and just want to consume something. Then, just like with those little powdered donuts, I'll feel better for a moment; but it will be followed by a crash and a craving for more of what gave me my momentary high. Talk about a vicious circle!

Occasionally I may pick up some already prepared food by way of a devotional provided online or in a book. These offer nutrition that is much needed, but to be honest, I wonder how it was prepared. How did they know where to look? How did they think to combine the ingredients in this way? I like the 'taste' but I wish I knew how to prepare this for myself.

At least once a week, I go out and eat at a full meal prepared for the masses - church. It is delicious and I leave full and satisfied and happy. Too bad I won't get to eat like that again for an entire week.

I think I'm getting a bit tired of suffering spiritual malnutrition because I'm just too lazy, or afraid, to prepare my own spiritual food. It might mean I have to pass up the powdered donuts and actually dig to find the ingredients, but I'm pretty sure the Bible can provide something that is much sweeter and definitely a whole lot healthier than what the world has to offer. Maybe it's time I started to "read the labels" as it were and figure out just what kind of junk I have been consuming. I can still learn from others, but it's okay to try my hand at preparing food from scratch. I'll be sure to keep a few recipe books, (Bible dictionaries and commentaries), nearby should I get stuck on how to prepare an ingredient for the meal. I'll probably mess up a few dishes, and maybe create a disaster or two; but perhaps in the process I'll also learn how to "feed" myself.

I wonder what will happen to my spiritual energy and zest for life when I start doing this. Who knows, maybe I'll prepare something delicious and even convince my children to try their hand at doing the same!

For now, I think it's time to go and fix some breakfast. Something simple should do for a start.

Psalm 34:8~ "Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him."
Psalm 119:103 ~"How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!"
1 Peter 2: 2-3 ~ "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

everything was in black and white

I still remember the where I was standing the day my class and I discussed what life was like 100 years ago. The students were naming things that they used everyday which did not exist 100 years ago. I hated to admit that they didn't even exist when I was in college, but I digress. Finally came the statement, "Everything was in black and white." I paused...."Do you mean the pictures were in black and white?" I asked. No, they thought the world was black and white.
I had to laugh and shake my head in disbelief. At first I wondered how could an 11 year old be so naive'? Then it happened again during a similar discussion...this time the students were two years older! That's when it hit me. These students were basing their conclusion on what they could see, on what they thought they "knew". In both classes, these students were assuming that since the pictures from long ago had no color, evidently the world had no color either. Yes, I know you're laughing, but these kids were sincere in their confusion. They could operate a complex computer and do advanced math, yet in that one area, their understanding was definitely flawed.
As I got to thinking more about it, I remembered that when my sister was a little girl, she got very excited that The Wizard of Oz was going to be coming on TV! She had heard that once Dorothy landed in Oz, everything turned to color! That of course must mean that our old black and white TV would be suddenly transformed and we'd have a color TV at last! Yes, the confusion existed even in my own family....because it is normal.
As an educator, we learn that children are not really capable of abstract thought up to a certain age. Oh, we may think they understand the difference in pretend and real, but probably less than we realize. Some concepts, such as spiritual ones, are very difficult for them to grasp. As children grow and mature, they reach a stage when they can make the connection....understand the "color" of the situation as it were.
What strikes me is, as adults we think we have matured past all that. We think we now understand...but do we? In the 1 Corinthians 13:12 (Message translation), it says, "We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!" We think that we understand so much about God and about the Christian walk, but do we really? We are basing what we know on our ability to understand....just as my 5th graders based their understanding on life 100 years ago based on the pictures they had seen. But God is so much beyond our comprehension!
To think that I have the audacity to try and tell God how He should go about "fixing" things. I am basing all that I know on what I can understand, and the older I get the more I realize how little I really understand!  "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9
All this makes me wonder how many times have I said something that makes God want to just shake His head in disbelief. In my limited knowledge, am I spouting off something that is the equivalent of thinking life used to be all in black and white? Right now, I'm feeling a bit like a five year old trying to figure out the world....and discovering, guess what - it's in color!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I did it my way....

I'm probably showing my age, but I can't hear the words "my way" without thinking of old blue eyes, Frank Sinatra. For those WAY too young to remember, he sang a song with these words:

And now the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend I'll say it clear
I'll state my case of which I'm certain
I've lived a life that's full
I traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

Regrets I've had a few
But then again too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption

I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

Yes there were times I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out, I faced it all
And I stood tall and did it my way

I've loved, I've laughed and cried
I've had my fill, my share of losing
And now as tears subside
I find it all so amusing

To think I did all that
And may I say not in a shy way
Oh no, oh no, not me
I did it my way

For what is a man what has he got
If not himself then he has not
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way

Yes it was my way

In researching for this blog, I discovered that this song is credited as being the most remade song in history. People from the likes of Elvis Presley to Sid Vicious have recorded it. Snips of the song can be heard on modern films like Happy Feet and a parody of this song was sung on Sesame Street! I even found out that this is the song most often played at British funerals.

So what is it about this song that gives it such a universal appeal? I think the answer is simple....we all want it our way. Even Burger King capitalized on this theme when they came out with the commercials "Have it your way..." To be honest, we sound like a bunch of spoiled two year olds! We all want to do things "our way."

Of course we think our way is best...that's why it's our way. But what would happen if for once we quit doing things our way? Look back at some of the words of that song:
"Regrets I've had a few, But then again too few to mention"
Really? I know I've had mistakes, but the too few to mention part? Gee, I must be above average in that part because I've got a truck load of them!
"Yes there were times I'm sure you knew, When I bit off more than I could chew, But through it all when there was doubt, I ate it up and spit it out,"
I'm pretty sure that the things I bit off that were too big for me eventually bit back!
And finally, the most telling verse of all:
"To say the things he truly feels, And not the words of one who kneels, The record shows I took the blows, And did it my way"
The last stansa reveals the problem. We don't want to kneel....not even to the One who created us and knows the end from the beginning. We are a proud people, and I don't necessarily mean that in a good way. This is the pride that caused Lucifer to fall from heaven...the pride that says "I'll do it my way."

Maybe it's time to stop doing things our way. Look around. As I often ask my students, "So how's that working out for you..." It's obvious, our way hasn't been working out for us so well. Maybe it's time to kneel, admit we don't know the answers to everything and start doing things God's way. What would our today look like if we did this? Imagine what tomorrow could be if instead of striving, we finally learned to rest in His will and do things His way. I'm guessing this won't be easy for some of us, but I hope that one day I will be able to say:

And now the end is near, And so I face the final curtain. My friend I'll say it clear, I'll state my case of which I'm certain....I did it His way."

"I am God, the only God you've had or ever will have— incomparable, irreplaceable—From the very beginning telling you what the ending will be," Isaiah 46:10

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bad mood kind of day

The truth of the matter was I was in no mood to be in a good mood. Do you ever have days like this? I started out the day somewhat stressed and by 10 a.m. I was in full-tilt, bad-mood mode. Perhaps it had to do with the huge load of work I saw towering over me. Maybe it was the jam packed schedule that was taunting me for the next few days. It could have even been that my students were all wired for sound and it felt a bit like I was trying to herd bees. Really, I'm not sure there was a good reason why; I was just in a bad mood.
Then someone came to my room to chat. Poor person. I know they came for a shoulder of sympathy and a word of encouragement, but instead they got me. Not just me, but me in my full tilt "You've got to be kidding" sarcastic glory. They came to find a cool drink of water to go on and got a taste of some pretty rancid liquid instead.
In case you're wondering, yes, I feel pretty guilty. Oh, I've tried to reason my way out of it. I even looked in the Bible to see if Jesus ever got fed up with those around Him. I kind of think perhaps He did. Check out Matthew 17:17-18 [Message translation] - "Jesus said, "What a generation! No sense of God! No focus to your lives! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring the boy here." He ordered the afflicting demon out—and it was out, gone. From that moment on the boy was well." Still I'm left with the problem of knowing I'm not Jesus and that when the disciples left they had actually gotten what they came for...the boy was healed. I'm pretty sure my friends just left with a bad taste in their mouths.
The fact is, I really don't have an excuse. I am called to live for Christ. Out of me there should be flowing rivers of living water, not some foul stench filled mess. Even if I think I'm having a bad day, that's no reason to let the stream become polluted with my dead attitude.
Did Jesus get aggravated with those who came to Him...the ones who should have known better? Maybe...but He didn't turn them away. He simply helped them and pointed them in the right direction: "When the disciples had Jesus off to themselves, they asked, "Why couldn't we throw it out?" "Because you're not yet taking God seriously," said Jesus. "The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, 'Move!' and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn't be able to tackle."
Do I seriously believe that God has a purpose for me, that He has a plan and somehow my day fits into that plan? If so, then I need to say to my mountain of bad attitude, "MOVE! Stop stinking up the water!"
To be honest, my mood isn't much better this morning....but that's no excuse. I may need to do as Jesus did and get away to pray. I may need to take out the garbage of the day that as piled up in my spirit. I may need to get my eyes off myself! I may even need to ask forgiveness....but I can't allow the rivers of living water to be blocked by me.
The words to "in the Middle of Me" by Todd Agnew pretty well sum it up:

I need a little more sunshine in the middle of rain
Need a little more joy in the middle of pain
Need a little more color in the middle of this plain jane

I’ve looked as deep as I can see
And I think I need a little more You in the middle of me

I need a little more patience in the middle of stress
I need a little more beauty in the middle of this mess
Need a little more substance in the middle of this emptiness

I’ve looked as deep as I can see
And I think I need a little more You in the middle of me

Need more of You and less of me
More of You and little less insanity
More of You and little less complexity

I’ve looked as deep as I can see
It seems more of You is better for me

I need a little more rhythm in the middle of this lazy rhyme
Need a little more spontaneity in the middle of this daily grind
Need a little more truth not music in this world of lies

I’ve looked as deep as I can see
And I think I need a little more You in the middle of me

Here's to trying to make today a better matter what may come my way.

John 7:38 (Amplified Bible)

"He who believes in Me [who cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me] as the Scripture has said, From his innermost being shall flow [continuously] springs and rivers of living water."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Today I read a devotion by Os Hillman that has really got me to thinking. In it he tells this story: "A story is told of a western missionary group that was sitting with a foreign visitor planning strategy for an upcoming evangelistic trip to his country. One man led in prayer, asking for God's help in planning their activities. The visitor was surprised how the meeting quickly moved to the planning phase after only a few minutes of focused prayer.
He turned to the leader and said, "You have taught us the scriptures well in our country. However, I've noticed when it comes to prayer you spend so little time in prayer listening and much time in planning." The western believers were convicted by his words."

I am stunned by this story...stunned by my own life. I have to ask myself, "How often have a pleaded in prayer? How often have I worried? How often have I tried to figure a way out of this current situation? .....How often have I just waited and listened for His voice?"

I am a "fixer". I don't like to sit and wait, I want to "FIX IT!" One of my favorite skits from Saturday Night Live is the one where the guy just yells FIX IT! No real plan, just wants it FIXED! Step one - FIX, Step two - IT, Step three - FIX IT! The thing is, I have no idea how to fix it or even where to begin.

To be honest, I'm not sure I even know how to sit still long enough to hear His voice....I want to give a quick prayer asking for a quick fix and move on about my business. But if I'm supposed to be living like Jesus, then I'm supposed to be about my Father's business, not mine.

Today, will I be able to sit long enough to listen to how God wants to Fix it? Or more telling...will I be able to sit and listen long enough for God to "Fix" me?

Just for fun, I've added this clip from Saturday Night Live. Now FIX IT!!!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

looking for a word of comfort and got an uncomfortable word

If you read yesterday's blog you know I went to a race today determined to "leave it all on the field" so to speak. Well, I didn't leave it ALL on the field, but I almost left my breakfast at a couple of the hills. I'd love to brag and say I ran a good race, but the truth is I did not. I was passed by quite a few people, including one who was walking the course!
As a matter of fact, some of those who passed me I knew for a fact had only been running a few months! I was so mad at myself and I looked to God for some comfort. You know what I mean...I wanted to feel that encouragement that comes when you remember a verse or two that helps lift you up. Instead, I kept remembering the story of Cain and Abel from Genesis 4. In case you don't have your Bible handy, here's the text: Abel was a herdsman and Cain a farmer. 3-5 Time passed. Cain brought an offering to God from the produce of his farm. Abel also brought an offering, but from the firstborn animals of his herd, choice cuts of meat. God liked Abel and his offering, but Cain and his offering didn't get his approval. Cain lost his temper and went into a sulk. 6-7 God spoke to Cain: "Why this tantrum? Why the sulking? If you do well, won't you be accepted? And if you don't do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it's out to get you, you've got to master it."
Okay, I wanted an "It's okay, you did your best..." and what I got was a "Don't go pouting because they worked harder than you!"
The truth is, I haven't been putting the work into my running like I once did. Those who passed me, some had only just started running, but they were faithfully training. They were prepared for the race. I simply was not. I could try to find excuses, but it really boils down to the fact that I just had not done the work necessary to do well in this race. When they were training, I was complaining...too hot, too tired, too busy.
I find I do this in life as well. People who have been Christians less time than me, or who are younger than me - it's tempting to sulk and cry out that they seem to be walking more in faith than me...that they seem to have an excitement about the things of God that has grown cold inside me. I can almost hear God saying to me, "Why the sulking? If you do well, won't you be accepted?"
I'm not saying anything about salvation by works by the way. What I'm talking about is realizing that as long as I'm on this earth, I've got to be training. It's easy to let my Bible study slide because of a heavy work load. It's easy to not take the time for prayer and praise because I'm tired. Yes, I can do that and I'll get pretty much the same kind of result I got in today's race - pitiful. Or, I can prepare so that when the races come, I am ready to run.
So now what? Well, I guess I can keep making excuses and finding reasons NOT to train. I can quit running races....neither of these sound like an option I really want. Instead, I think I'll take to heart the second part of that verse: "Why the sulking? If you do well, won't you be accepted? And if you don't do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it's out to get you, you've got to master it."
I can keep making excuses and hope to get a "that's okay", or I can do well and find the victory I'm looking for. I may have been looking for a word of comfort, but I got an uncomfortable word....and that may make the difference in the future.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I love a sappy movie

I admit it. I'm a sucker for a happy ending, for a feel good story that makes me tear up and believe in something more. I want to be inspired. I think most of us do.
Tonight I sat down and looked for something to watch on tv before going to bed and Facing the Giants was on. I just happened to turn it on at the part where Brock is carrying the kid on his back to what he thinks is the 50 yard line. Those who've seen the movie know he doesn't just make it to the 50....he makes it all the way to the end zone. He'd not only done what he thought he could do....he'd done more than he ever thought he could.
I remember the first time I saw this was the night before a race and the next day as I ran, I thought about that scene over and over again. I was determined to leave nothing on the field but to give it all I had. I ran one of my fastest times that day....faster than I'd ever imagined I would run and it felt good!
Funny thing is, I have a race tomorrow, too. I know that physically it is in me to run, but my mind doesn't always believe. It quits long before my legs give out....and I wonder how many of life's other races I've quit in because I don't think I have it in me.
It occurs to me that God never calls us to do more than we can...simply more than we think we can. When we are weak, then He is strong. We are surrounded by such a great crowd of witnesses yelling for us and cheering and telling us we can go on...we just have to keep going on.
Yes, it's a sappy movie, but I like sappy movies. I like to be inspired. I like to be reminded that greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world. I like to be encouraged to give it everything I've got and leave nothing on the field.
Don't know if I'll run fast in tomorrow's race, but I will give it all I've got. God hasn't called me to do anything more than I can....simply more than I think I can. And if it takes a sappy movie to remind me of that, that's not such a bad thing.

He saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our own accomplishments, but according to his own purpose and the grace that was given to us in the Messiah Jesus before time began. 2 Tim. 1:9