Mowing and A Plate of Spaghetti

Tags

, , , ,

20150331_133123

What do mowing and a plate of spaghetti have in common?

The answer starts with a book titled “Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti”. Did you ever read it? The book is full of insight and humor on the differences between how men and women function and process the events of their lives.  The key word picture is that men divide their life into boxes and move from one box to another, their full attention being on the current box. This even includes an empty box where they can go to just sit and think about nothing. If someone comes along and asks them a question, they have to scramble to find another box that has words in it. On the other hand, women live their life like a bowl of spaghetti noodles with everything intertwined, connected and leading to another noodle. Nothing happens in isolation for a woman. Everything is connected somehow.

This is so true in our family. The latest example emerged while mowing the backyard.

Due to a prior commitment, my husband could not mow the whole yard on Saturday. I wanted to bless my husband and I wanted to spend some time outside since it was an exceptionally beautiful day. The obvious solution was to help him with the mowing. I volunteered to do the backyard. His only request was that I pull weeds first.

   I hesitated as I was not sure I wanted to make that part of the blessing, but in my whole plate of noodles I could not find one good reason not to do it.

So when he went off to his commitment, I headed to the backyard and started pulling weeds.

A short time later, I filled the gas tank, yanked the cord and began mowing. Here is when the waffle vs. spaghetti noodles became apparent.

My husband mows for hours and do you know what he thinks about? Mowing. For hours he thinks about mowing. Not me. After one full circle around the yard I never thought about mowing again until I was almost done. I DID think about the yard but in a much more complicated way.

Intersecting noodles..

As I passed over the section of the yard where a swing set stood years ago, I began to follow the first noodle of thought. Memories of the girls swinging, giggling, and singing flooded my mind. That led to my thoughts of all the different childhood friends that played here with the girls. The backyard birthday carnivals, the entertaining home videos they wrote and filmed.  The stories they acted out filled with adventure, comedy and pure silliness. Soon I was thinking about some of specific friends, about the kind of children they were, wondering about the kind of young adults they became.

I followed still other crazy noodles thinking: Huh, if any of our girl’s childhood friends become famous, I guess we’ll be able to say “I knew you when”. And we’ll probably have a home movie to prove it!

And more noodles…

I mowed around the trees thinking about the boys who came and climbed to the top. Were they experiencing that kind of success in their current endeavors?

I followed other noodles thinking about how ‘innocent’, not theologically, but in terms of world awareness, they all were as children. I remembered some of the hard times some of them have since experienced.  I wondered how those events shaped them. The noodles kept intersecting…Did they walk with the Lord? What kind of influences did they have in their teens? Did we have any lasting influence on them as a family?

My noodles of thoughts continued to intersect, twist, and weave through memories, introspections, and meditations. Lost in thought, the time flew by. Eventually my mind came back to the mowing as I finished the last row of long grass.

I do not know which was more exhausting, the mowing or trying to make sense of my plate of spaghetti noodles. I covered a lot of ground in more ways than one. But in the end, the backyard looked the same as when my sweet husband mows thinking only about the mowing.

I thank God

for the many blessings my backyard represents.

I praise God

that He knows the answers to the many questions I pondered while mowing

even if I do not.

I celebrate the fact that while men are like waffles

and women are like spaghetti,

our great God is like neither.

He has His own way of thinking that makes Him totally ‘Other’.

And I and my spaghetti noodles are abundantly grateful for that.

 Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”

Black and White: The Moral of the Story

Tags

, , , ,

59petergunn

Maybe like me, you enjoy the old black and white movies and early television shows. When my girls were young, they categorized black and white shows as boring simply because they were not in color. In time they learned that many of the older movies and shows were rich with clever plots, warm humor, and a simpler gauge of morality than you would find in today’s films.

Recently I caught myself binge-watching an old black and white Classic TV show called “Peter Gunn”.  Filmed in 1958-1961, I was initially drawn to it because of the wonderful soft jazz music weaved throughout each episode. In the series, Gunn’s girl Edie is a sultry jazz club singer. So in addition to the background music, most episodes feature her singing the popular jazz songs of that era. The “Peter Gunn Theme” even won Henry Mancini an Emmy and two Grammys.

But do you know what kept me watching episode after episode? The stylish romance and simple morality. The writers created sweet romantic scenes between Gunn and Edie through quirky banter and sophisticated dialogue and no ‘skin’ showing.  But perhaps what I enjoyed most is what I call the “black and white morality” of the stories. ‘Black and white’ meaning clear distinction with no gradation, a usage that dates back 2,000 years. In Peter Gunn there is no question as to who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. There is a predictably of the show that today’s more sophisticated viewer might find tedious, but I somehow find reassuring.

In each episode, there was good and there was evil. Evil deserved imprisonment or destruction, while good always triumphed. The morality was black and white. The characters rarely traveled in grey areas. So when Lt. Jacoby pulled his gun and shot a criminal, which he did with great regularity, he felt no guilt. The viewer is not given time to weigh the morality. It was ‘necessary’, now it’s done, good guys go home, end of story. I know, today that sounds terrible. But television back then was not seen as a reflection of reality, it was an escape. Personally, I appreciate the brief escape into a world that is so black and white. I like knowing who I can trust.

The show was not made to push an agenda, or scold us, or even challenge us to question our own morality. Peter Gunn presented a consistent plot line where the bad guys lost and the good guys won.  This was the standard by which they measured the moral of the story. You are not supposed to look any deeper than that.  And sometimes for entertainment purposes that is enough for me. It is black and white, clear cut, good vs. evil. (Of course, I would not applaud Lt. Jacoby’s attitude – his lack of bearing the weight of responsibility for taking a life, nor his behavior of always entering the scene shooting, in any actual circumstances.)

We may scoff at their simplistic approach, but were the black and white shows so far off in their plumb line for morality? Perhaps we make morality more complicated than is necessary. We love our little gray areas. In fact, we have veered so far off the ‘good vs. evil’ moral compass that people no longer believe in any moral absolutes. If there are no moral absolutes than by what standard do we measure morality? By what our laws stipulate, or by what is the current trend, or by what we want? Evidence seems to point to the latter.

In the book of Judges (this is a book of the Bible replete with stories of good vs evil,) there is a verse that describes the society of that time. Judges 21:25 says “And each one did what was right in his own eyes.” The line between right and wrong blurred when there was no standard by which to measure it. Life quickly got ugly and choices appeared complicated. From my point of view, this is a fairly good description of our own times. In Judges, that lack of a moral compass led to sorrow and destruction.

Our society’s sliding scale of morality, clearly reflected in our entertainment industry, is hard to keep up with. It is heartbreaking to see the downward spiral continue. As Christians we need to stop trying to make truth complicated. God is good. We need to stop trying to make the application of truth so complicated. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31. The Classic TV shows may provide an escape, but God’s Word provides simple truth to deal with the complexities of life today. And in the end, the bad guys lose and our good God wins. That seems pretty black and white to me.

Relinquishing Control: What I Learned At the Dentist

Tags

, , ,

IMG_2164

I had to go to the Dentist. Need I say more? A crown came loose and I was counting on an easy fix. Instead, we may have to take out a second mortgage to pay for what needs to be done!

Going to the dentist is an exercise in relinquishing control. God has been teaching me a lot about that this year.

Everyone knows that a trip to the Dentist is stressful for most people. Look at the lengths a dentist goes to in order to make his patients relax. Many offices provide waiting rooms that look more like your living room than a doctor’s office. With their big overstuffed chairs, subdued lighting and large flat screen televisions they hope that before going into the ‘back’ you will relax and take a few deep breaths. At the Dentist’s, your stress starts before you even begin, you stress in anticipation of what is to come.

That’s why some dentists even provide televisions in the exam rooms. To keep you calm while you wait. After all, once they start working you cannot see the TV when laying back and you cannot hear it over the whirr of the equipment. However, no amount of distraction can transform the experience entirely. There simply is nothing pleasant about having to lay back with your mouth wide open while someone is digging around in there. And of course, if you need work done, there is the pain factor also. Did I mention you have to relinquish control?

Once in that chair, you feel vulnerable. And what needs to be done, how long it will take, how much it will hurt and how much it will cost is all out of your control. So what do many of us do? We avoid the dentist. Our discomfort and fear of what he will find, and of what he will want to do, cause us to stay away.

Sadly, some of us avoid intimacy with Christ or the truth of His Word for the same reasons. We are afraid of relinquishing control of our lives.  We are afraid of what He will find or what He will want to do.  We do not like feeling vulnerable.  We are unsure about what needs to be done, how long it will take, how much it will hurt and how much it will cost us.

Those are understandable concerns when you are at the dentist. My dentist’s office does everything they can to make my visit more comfortable. But they can only do so much to make an unpleasant experience bearable. The good news is that my time spent there, my willingness to relinquish control, does help me in the long run. Whether it is just a little cleaning and checkup or serious repair work.  And that is why I go back.

Do you want to live for God? Do you want to grow more like Christ? Do not avoid Him. Keep going back to spend time with Him in prayer and in His Word. Growing in our walk as Christians requires time spent with Him where we make ourselves totally vulnerable and trust our hearts to His loving hands. We must lay back and open our hearts and minds. We must let Him do regular checkups and some deep cleaning. And know that sometimes we must give ourselves over to some serious repair. Rejoice if He sheds light on an area of your life that needs change. Remind yourself that being uncomfortable for a little while may be necessary for lasting change to happen.

I have some unpleasant work ahead with the oral surgeon and dentist. It is simply part of the maintenance needed on this decaying earthly body. At least I will end up with some beautiful new teeth.

The work that really interests me is the work that will last for eternity! I am ready to be all that God wants me to be. How about you? Are you ready to relinquish control to Him and see what new and beautiful things He can create in you?

Are You In a New York or Texas Sort of Season?

Tags

, , , , ,

102_1213

Welcome! The blog is active again! I recently made some big changes in my life and entered a new season. I stepped down from a Ministry Leadership position in order to write, speak, and teach (Bible Studies) full time. Freeing my time up of course does not guarantee I use it wisely. If you are in a new or changing season of life, you may identify with this…

Growing up in New York meant getting to experience all four magnificent seasons of the year. In Winter, I knew what it meant to watch the wonder of the snowfall, grab my sled and head to the nearest hill, or spend an hour shoveling my car out of a snow drift. In Spring, I knew the beauty of watching a wide variety of flowers bloom and those perfect temperatures for tennis and long walks.  In Fall, I knew the splendor of the leaves changing colors, the sound of fallen leaves crunching under your feet, and the scent of the cool crisp air.  In Summer, I knew the joy of boating, swimming, or catching fireflies and then sleeping to the noise of a window air-conditioner as it tried to cool the room during a heatwave. With few exceptions, it was easy to tell which season you were in by simply stepping outside your front door. I miss that.

Now I live in Texas and stepping outside your front door only tells you what the weather is at that given moment. Nearly every day, a member of my family asks “What’s the temperature?” so they can decide what clothes to wear. Unfortunately, knowing what the temperature is now gives you absolutely no information as to what the temperature is going to be an hour from now. After twenty plus years I am finally getting used to it. In New York I dressed in layers to stay warm. In Texas I dress in layers because it may be summer and winter all in the same day and you need choices. I never pack away our summer clothes.

People talk about the seasons of their lives. There are seasons of being a student, a newlywed, a new parent, an empty nester, or a grandparent. There are seasons of having a full time job, or a part time job, or no job at all. There are seasons of good health and bad, or of being out of shape or fit. There are seasons of healthy relationships, of broken relationships or of no relationships. Some of the seasons have a distinct beginning and/or a distinct end. Like the seasons in New York, you see them coming and can plan for them. Other seasons of life sneak up on you gradually or pull you into them unexpectedly and unwillingly. These seasons are a lot more like the seasons of Texas – ever changing, overlapping, and unpredictable.

I am in a new season of life. It doesn’t really have a tag. But it definitely has both a New York and a Texas flavor to it. In some ways, it is distinctly different from the season I just left. Yet there are still a lot of overlapping facets too. Have you noticed that new seasons bring some new challenges? Time management, learning to let go, and consistency are my current top three.  I want this to be a season I look back on in wonder over what God did in and through me. I want to know that I claimed this season for His glory.  I want to meet these challenges head on.

The biggest change has been in my profession: going from writing and speaking part time to full time. Professional development is exciting, but it is a lot of hard work. Personal growth comes with each changing season as well. Learning to “let go” is a key aspect of my current life. Maybe that is why the decision to de-clutter my home grew into a serious ‘purging’.  I am learning to let go of things, and as I do, I also learn to let go of ‘control’, people, weight, and ideas. It is not easy. But it is freeing.

 Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

Nothing lasting will change either professionally or personally without consistency. The only way I know to meet the challenge of consistency is to make new habits and be – consistent. So along with the new season comes a new schedule. The schedule, like a food journal, helps me see at a glance if I am staying on target.  The first thing on my schedule each day is prayer and time in His Word. It is in His presence I find the direction, motivation and inspiration to follow my calling.

The New York element of my season tells me “This is exciting! You have finished one significant piece of your life and now you have started something new and fresh.” While the Texas element tells me “Hold on! It’s going to be an ever-changing bumpy ride.” Every night I take a deep breath and appreciate the gift of another day, the promise of tomorrow, and the ability to extend grace to myself for what was left undone.

What about you? Are you in a New York season or a Texas season? What challenges does your current season present? And what are you doing to meet them?

Let me know. I would love to hear from you!

Let me know. I’d love to hear from you!

Who Do You Look Like?

Tags

, ,

 

dog and dog owner look alike set

Last Saturday I went for my daily walk and was delighted to find they were having a community dog show at the park. I stopped and watched the “Best Trick” competition and to visit with some of the big dogs along side lines. It was the next contest though, that really caught my eye. They had a “look-a-like” contest to determine which dog and dog owner looked the most alike. It was all in fun and clearly some contestants attempted to accomplish the ‘look’ by dressing up in similar outfits. They dressed their little dog and themselves in tutus and then paraded around the grounds! Another chose outland-ish tie-dye ‘mod’ matching outfits, while another simply had matching UT shirts on. Everyone enjoyed the creativity. But near the end of the line were a few contestants who had no matching outfits, no crazy gimmicks, just themselves and their dogs. And sure enough, you could see it, the similar-ity. One was clearly a dog and one was clearly human, but you could see it in the way they walked, the length of their nose, the type and style of their hair – the unmistakable resem-blance.

I wonder sometimes if we entered a look-a-like contest with the Lord at our side, whether or not others could see any resemblance. Have we gotten creative in ‘dressing up’ in order to ac-complish the ‘look’ of a Christian? Do we show up at church, wear the right clothes, sing the right songs and use the right words, but then go out from here and ‘change out of’ our Christian outfit? Does our walk, word and appearance change enough that if asked, people would say we no longer look anything like our precious Lord? Is our resemblance only one of outer wear? Or have we been changed from the in-side out, totally transformed so the resemblance to our Lord is unmistakable!

Paul wrote “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

They say that dog owners start to resemble their dogs over time. I do not know if that is true, but I do know that we, as Christ followers continue to be transformed to look more and more like Him. “And we who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being trans-formed into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

Are you being transformed? Do you look more like Him each day?

We recently sang one of my favorite Wayne Watson songs in church. The chorus is “One Day Jesus will call my name, as days go by I hope I don’t stay the same. I want to grow so close to Him that it’s no big change, on that day when Jesus calls my name.”

Transformation takes work. Be intentional about making changes! May the Spirit be at work within you, changing you from the inside out. May others look at you and see the strong resemblance to your Father. And may that re-semblance draw them close enough that you can share the truth of the gospel with them.

*Photo attributed to http://www.cesar.com

When Life is Hard!

Tags

, ,

 

lonely young woman 

Ever have of those seasons when life is so hard because things seem to keep getting worse, and it is just one thing after another? Rejection, grief, lack of rest, pressures of responsibility, danger, and the unexpected challenges all come crashing down on you?

Did you ever stop to consider that Jesus also experienced such times? I am reading through the entire New Testament this Lent season. It is a nice change from the more intense study of specific passages. One great advantage of reading straight through the gospels is you see the bigger picture. You start to understand how each event moves into the next and how each experience impacts the people involved.

Take Matthew chapter 14 for example. At the beginning of the chapter, all is well.  Jesus goes and sits by the lake. Nice. Right? He is spending the day teaching by the lake. The crowd gets so big that he has to move out onto a boat and speak from there. He teaches all day using parables about sowers, weeds, a mustard seed and more. When he is done teaching, Jesus moves on to his hometown.

And this is when things start to go downhill fast. His hometown has trouble accepting Jesus as a teacher. Verse 57 says they took offense at him. And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith. Jesus was rejected.

Then Matthew tells us a ‘meanwhile back at the palace story’. While Jesus is being rejected at home, John the Baptist is in serious trouble. King Herod has John beheaded. John’s disciples bury him and then come to tell Jesus. With the wounds of rejection still fresh, Jesus is now struck by grief. Like many of us, his first reaction is to want to be alone for a while.

But do you see what happens next? He gets no down time. The people follow him and even so,  he has compassion for them. Rejected, grieving, and weary Jesus still reaches out to minister to those around Him. Over five thousand people have gathered by now. They are tired and hungry. I suspect Jesus was tired and hungry himself. Still, He performs a miracle so they can be fed and his disciples can be taught an important lesson. Surely, Jesus will get a break after this, right?

Not yet. We are told that immediately after feeding the multitude Jesus tells the disciples to go out in a boat while he, Jesus, stays behind to dismiss the crowd. By now he must be exhausted. He has not even had time to properly grieve over his cousin John. Yet, once again, he is sees to the needs of other first.  At last, with the disciples in the boat and the crowd dispersed, Jesus has time to go up to the mountain and pray. After all he has been through; Jesus finds a quiet solitary place to pray.

Just as we are starting to breathe thinking everything is going to calm down now and get back to ‘normal’ – Matthew tells another ‘meanwhile’ story. This one is ‘meanwhile out on the lake’…the wind and waves are crashing against the disciple’s boat tossing it about. It is a dangerous, life threatening time and they are frightened! Then just before dawn…wait…just before dawn? Did Jesus or the disciples get any sleep at all? Just before dawn, Jesus walks out on the water towards them. There is the whole exchange with Peter stepping out of the boat in faith, then starting to sink because of doubt, then being rescued by Jesus and finally as they both climb into the boat the storm stops. Deep breath…so many lessons in that one story.

But this is not where the story of chapter 14 ends. It ends with them arriving in a new town after their harrowing night. Word quickly spreads that Jesus has arrived, and more people come to him in need of his healing touch. One chapter…one chapter of Matthew tells of a very brief season in Jesus’ life when he experienced rejection, grief, lack of rest, the pressure of responsibility, danger and unexpected challenges – all one right after the other and over the span of just a few days. Are you in a tough season? He understands. He has been there.

Paul has been there too. He offers encouragement in 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 : “ But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (NIV) Do you need more encouragement? Read through one of the gospels this spring. Look for the bigger picture. Note how Jesus responded to His tough seasons and follow His perfect example. 

Let it Snow!

making a snowball 

It is December, and by now you have started listening to and singing all the wonderful Christmas music. Like me, you probably have your favorites. There are two songs I never tire of during this season, “Mary Did You Know?” and “Let it Snow”.  The first one stirs my soul deep within no matter how many times I hear it. And the second…well, being a New Yorker transplanted in Texas, I cannot help but belt it out as I long for that white Christmas!

Even if you are not from snow country, you probably can guess what I mean by the phrase “snowball effect”. To build a large snowman, you start out with a small snow ball. You pat and pack your snowball well, place it on the snowy ground and begin to roll it. As you roll it, what happens? It gathers more snow. As the new layer of snow sticks to it, it grows larger. You just keep rolling it around until your ball is as big as you want it, right? Then you start all over with the next one.

Today I saw the ‘snowball effect’ in a different context!  In conversation this morning I shared with great excitement once again about the amazing Thanksgiving we had this year. And it struck me – I was experiencing the ‘snowball effect’! God answered prayers that led to great blessings on Thanksgiving Day. That was my first snowball…that God was doing mighty things in my life. This year we were able to share our time of giving thanks (which takes us a few hours!) with a young man who is celebrating only his second Thanksgiving as a Believer. This year he was able to experience a Thanksgiving that was less about eating turkey and watching football and more about spending time truly giving specific thanks. What a precious time for all of us as in return we experienced the joy of the freshness he brought to the day. In this sharing, the impact of what God had done in our lives multiplied, my snowball was getting bigger.

Since Thanksgiving, I have been asked numerous times “how was your holiday?” And I can hardly contain myself as I share about our day. It is amazing to think that the stories of what God is doing in my life continue to bless others beyond Thanksgiving day…it is the snowball effect at work. What started as a blessing in a single life, spread to a family, then to an intimate circle and finally to an outer circle of relationships. Without changing the nature of the blessing itself, it grew, impacting others. Why? Because it was shared.

Has anyone ever shared a story of God at work that touches you so much you share it with someone else? Sometimes the testimony of His love and power and blessing just keeps gathering momentum. We never really know how God will choose to use our story. But one thing is for sure, it will stay just a small personal snowball if you never share it!

Have you been faithful to share how God is blessing you, how He is answering prayer, how He is enabling you, granting you wisdom, protecting you etc.? Better yet, are you sharing the power of the cross? Each time you share about God, the impact and power of His blessing is multiplied, just like that snowball. This season, as we sing songs about winter wonderlands, sleigh bells, and snow, let them remind us to take full advantage of the ‘snowball effect’. Get the ball rolling with songs of the Christ child and then pause to tell someone about this mighty God who came to us as baby in a manger. Speak freely of Him at every opportunity and watch what God can do as your testimony snowballs!

What takes your breath away?

Tags

,

What are those moments when you are gripped with emotion and are left feeling breathless?

grand canyon

 Is it the beauty or power of nature that takes your breath away?

Standing on the shore as the Pacific ocean waves crash against the rocks.

Watching the sunset as the sky fills with red, yellow, and orange hues.

Walking down a beautiful tree lined lane when the Fall foliage is in full color.

Standing on a mountain top gazing across the valley or on the rim of Grand Canyon gazing down into its depths.

Watching as the snow gently falls creating a blanket that quiets the neighborhood.

Hearing the roar of the thunder as a storm rolls in.

 Or is it when you experience a moment of pure joy and love?

 The groom seeing his bride come down the aisle ready to give her all to him.

Seeing a baby born and hear it cry for the first time.

Holding your newborn child in your arms for the first time.

 Or have you ever been left breathless by a piece of music?

 That moment when a beautifully orchestrated piece of music swells to a peak of joy!

Or when the sound of soft jazz soothes and quiets the soul…

All this leaves me breathless and so much more. We were created to be breathless in the presence of true beauty, power, joy and love. Most of all we were created to be breathless in the presence of our God. What grips me with emotion and takes my breath away most often is God Himself and the power of His Word!

“And God said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning – the first day.” (Gen 1:3-5) The first… day…ever! God spoke light into existence. Deep breath…

“Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls them by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength not one of them is missing.” (Isa 40:26)   Not one star is missing and He calls them all by name. Deep breath…

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) eternal life! Deep breath…

God created us to be breathless before Him. When you read about Him and His love for you, does it take your breath away?

We can let familiarity rob us of the powerful emotions we are meant to experience. Familiarity with the sunset, or a beautiful song, or even the knowledge that someone loves us can leave us indifferent if we do not daily see them as amazing gifts from God. Familiarity with God’s Word should only bring us into more intimate relation with Him. If you find yourself reading John 3:16 with a sense of boredom, maybe it is time to go back to the beginning. Read Genesis 1, then move forward to Job 38-40, then read Luke 2 and finally back to John 3:16. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself a bit breathless along the way!

He Knows My Name

Tags

, ,

baby_name

“He knows my name. He knows my every thought” This song by Tommy Walker resonates in my being. The God of all creation knows my name.

 I love my name, and the story behind it.

Once upon a time, a beautiful young couple fell madly in love, was married, and gave birth to a charming son. (Bear with me, the story comes back to me) They gave him the noble name of Baron…after the dog (well, my mother always denied that part of the story but my grandmother’s accusation remains forever a part of our family lore!) Unable to reclaim the honor of Baron’s name, they decided to express their abiding love for one another by sharing their own names with their newly born daughter. They longed to create a name as beautiful as the precious infant they held in their arms. (OK, so they actually chose the name before I was born.)  Pondering the puzzle of a suitable combination for “Helen” and “Al”, they considered Shallen. But with great clarity, they quickly realized that the nickname would be ‘Shally’. (You know I can see your nose scrunch up in disgust…that’s OK, theirs did too). So Al and Helen wisely changed the ‘a’ to an ‘e’ added ‘nne’ and saw that what they created was good. “Shellynne” (pro-nounced SHEL-in) came into existence both as a name and as a life! The End. (Well…not exactly…)

Shellynne. I am thankful my parents got creative.

It has helped me learn patience, grace and humor.

Do any of you remember the forms we filled out in school in the 60’s and 70’s that had those little boxes for each letter of your name? I never had enough boxes. My middle name also has 9 letters and my last name had 8! So my name was always truncated. I am not sure what psychological damage that may have caused all those years. Could it explain my short term memory loss? And does the fact that spell checker always underlines my name in that helpful swiggly red line (hey there it is again…I thought swiggly was a word…well I am using it anyway… sigh) does it somehow make me feel unwelcomed? No. Actually, it makes me feel unique! “He knows my name.”

With a name like mine you learn to extend grace. Like the time a well-meaning woman working the election polls insisted I had signed my name wrong. She repeatedly mispronounced my name and wanted me to add letters to my signature to match her pronunciation. I presented my voter registration card, my driver’s license, my work ID, and my library card but she still insisted they were all wrong and she was clearly right. Only after appealing to the ‘judge’ of the day did I get to vote. She is probably went home telling the story of the young woman who did not know her own name! “He knows my name.”

I learned to take in stride all the missed attempts to say my name. My mother never really saw the humor in it. But then, this is the woman who named her son after a dog (only kidding Baron).  Just when I think that I have heard every possible mispronunciation, someone invents a new one. My favorite was when I was working as an Archivist, and one of the international researchers approached my desk. He stared thoughtfully at my name plate and then confidently addressed me as Shel-LEE-nee. I had a hard time keeping a straight face long enough to answer his question. It is a hard name. That is why I especially appreciate those who want to get it right. Thank you – Liz Curtis Higgs!  http://www.lizcurtishiggs.com/

“He knows my name.” Me, Shellynne, God knows me. And He knows you…by name. When you think that nobody cares or knows, He does. “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.” (Psalm 139:1) He knows you, really knows you. “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matthew 10:30) If He knows your hair, you can be assured He knows your name!

“He knows my every thought.” What beautiful words. “You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.”(Psalm 139:2) Listen as David shares more soul-stirring thoughts, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Ps. 139:13,16) Imagine, the God of all creation, created you, unique and special.

He knows your name, He knows your every thought, He knows you.

It does not get any better than that!

Finding Romance…in the Little Things

Tags

, ,

He left flowers on her windshieldMy oldest daughter had a long and arduous day. She told her boyfriend that night that all she wanted was a good night’s sleep so she would be refreshed in the morning and ready for whatever God needed from her the next day. She awoke to a text, which led her out to her car, and there she found the lovely pink flowers. Romantic? Absolutely! It was one of those wonderful, sweet, blatantly romantic acts of young love.

l  IMG_5090

I can almost hear my female readers saying “Awwwwww!” And the male readers saying either “nice move man” or “way to make the rest of us look bad!”. In our marriages, we women place a lot of emphasis on ‘romance’. We sometimes measure how much he loves us, or how content we are by the level of ‘romance’ in the relationship.

But what is romantic? Who decides what it means?  Google defines romance as “A feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love” Too often we interpret that to mean fine dining by candlelight, soft music, exquisite jewelry, exotic vacations, flowers – definitely flowers, love notes and more. The entertainment industry reinforces this interpretation as do our own selective memories. We ‘girls’ remember the butterflies we felt when we were first in love and how he worked to woo us. And we disapprovingly define men as “not very romantic” if they do not find ways to directly express their love.

Many marriages experience a definite shift in the area of romance as years pass.  Husbands often forget how important it is to still pursue their wives, to reassure them of their love for them. For some reason, over time, most men become less direct and less verbal in expressing their love. And their women make the mistake of thinking the romance is gone. But is it? If you look closely you will see that men are still purposeful in ‘displaying’ their love. It just doesn’t look the same any more. I learned a long time ago that

romance is in the eye of the beholder.

Think about it. What is the point of romance? To demonstrate love, right? So if you look for the ways love is demonstrated in a relationship, you will discover the romance! The man in your life may be more romantic than you think.

Every day I look for romance in the little things.

My husband knows I hate the hot weather, so my butterflies start fluttering when my precious husband picks up the floor fan and turns it so it blows on me. Or when, without comment, he puts another blanket on his side of the bed so I can have the fan on high. He loves me.

I melt when he gets in from work and comes to give me a kiss, then leans in to get one more. Or when we are walking and he tenderly takes my hand in his. He loves me.

He makes me smile when he treats a bowl of cereal as equally appealing as Sunday roast on nights when I am too weary to tackle cooking supper. Or when he happily joins me in watching a TV show when I know very well there is ‘game’ on. He loves me.

Do I still want to be surprised by an invitation to go out for a ‘romantic’ evening? Sure. Do I want to be wooed and pursued?  Absolutely! But in the meantime –

I am seeing romance all around me…in the little things!