Monday, January 31, 2005

Morning Revelations

In our morning devotion group that we have at T-Net before work, we’ve begun studying Rick Warren’s "Purpose Driven Life." A church that I attended for many years covered that material in worship and small group. At that time I was very unimpressed. I know lots of people with strong opinions pro and con. I guess I decided at that time that if effectively reached people then great. I was in the process of leaving that church and denomination so it didn’t seem to bother me.

Then it was announced that we would begin studying the book in devotions. I decided that there must be something there that God wanted me to learn since there was no way I was "getting out of it" this time. (Insert chuckle here. You know the kind when you realize you’re caught and resistence is futile.)

So for the first few days I sort of listened with that ear to try and hear what it was that God wanted me to hear. What lesson was I to learn? Nothing. I mean, nothing seemed to jump out at me. Now, my tendency is to rush ahead. Maybe I should read ahead to see what the lesson is. I felt an immediate check on that. It was as clear as your mother’s arm flying across you to keep you from flying towards the front windshield–you know the one: the human seat belt. Okay. No reading ahead. Trust. Trust God. Trust the process.

A huge lesson unfolded this morning. I got to T-Net early, in case there was work at the factory. There wasn’t, so I worked on grant research until devotions at 9:00. It was a productive time, but not near as productive and beneficial as when God pulled back the curtain during devotions.
I’m not sure why, but there are times when I truly marvel at the timing of God. I was so not ready to hear what I heard today a couple years ago. The truth that blitzed my brain this morning would have blown right past me before. In the journey of time and experience, of mask peeling and humbling, I was made ready.

There on page 43 Warren quotes 2 Chronicles 32:31: Hezikiah had enjoyed a close fellowship with God, but at a crucial point in his life God left him alone to test his character, to reveal a weakness, and to prepare him for more responsibility.

In July 2001, I remember so clearly thinking, "God? God! God, where are you? God stop me. God help me". But I didn’t sense God present. And then I knew God was absent. And in that moment like no other moment in my life I knew the absolute weight and horribleness of sin.

Unfortunately, my sin was also crime. After many agonizing days that turned into months I finally turned myself into the authorities. People marveled then and still tell me that they wouldn’t have had the courage to turn themselves in. I couldn’t not. I suppose I could have lied and denied. I knew how. But I really, really couldn’t do that. I did wrong. I wasn’t going to lie about it any longer. Consequently, I ended up serving time in jail and am now on probation.

I had been a pastor in two denominations for twenty years, a hospital and institutional chaplain for six years. I had been a mental health counselor for seven years. I was on my way up. I was respected. I was effective. I was also caught in a tireless and destructive web of perfectionism and compartmentalization. I was superwoman! I was spinning out of control. I was lost and afraid. And God gave me a test. And all I could see was that I failed it. There was and is no shame to describe the total awfulness of that failure.

In my life I knew what it felt like to sense that God had given a test, a test to prove integrity and character, and to fail that test. To feel the total horror of breaking the heart of God by going back on everything that I knew and held dear. What I never had heard until this morning was that there might have possibly been more to that test: that God wanted to reveal a weakness in me and prepare me for more responsibility.

Could it possibly be? In the eyes of the church and the counseling community I am uncredentiable (how’s that for a made up word?). I can’t be trusted again. But in God’s economy I’m just getting started because without the test, and even the failure, the weakness wouldn’t have been revealed and I wouldn’t ever have been prepared for the greater responsibility God had in store for me.

I can barely see the computer monitor through the tears right now. Some of my dearest friends and mentors who have journeyed close by my side these past couple years have repeatedly encouraged me by saying that they didn’t believe that God was finished with me. It was hard to hold onto to that in the face of all the closed doors. But today, I actually felt hopeful.

And hope is a powerful thing. Sometimes overwhelming, especially when it’s been hardly or slowly known and trusted. I just need to sit here near it and get used to the idea that more is on the way!

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Waking Up Early

Are you ever awakened early? I don’t mean, do you wake up a couple minutes before the alarm. And I don’t mean are you having trouble sleeping, like from insomnia or bad dreams (my heart goes out to you if you struggle with those!). I’m thinking about those wee hour happenings, when there’s no doubt that God has roused you from your slumber, when you are wide eyed awake, knowing that there is no other recourse but to get up and get to the business of God.

It’s Sunday morning. I don’t have to be up until 7:30. That’s when Beth wanted me to start playing human alarm clock for her. At that, 7:30 is still sleeping way late for me. I set my alarm as I laid my head to rest last night and smiled at the seeming decadence of the sweet extra sleep.

My eyes opened at 5:33am. I thought perhaps it was a check and roll moment. Nope. I was wide awake. I checked in with God. Are you sure you want me up this early? It’s always good to check the source of wakening. Maybe I just needed to make a quick potty run. Nope. Sigh. Off went the alarm and I scooted out of bed.

I made my potty run–can’t get up without that these days. And then I headed to the computer. I checked my email where I get prayer requests. Nothing there. I went to my two journal sites to check on my favs to see if someone was requesting prayer or sharing a burden that I could take to prayer. Not it. I sat quietly for a moment. Could it be Lord, that this time was just for me? I must confess, that’s not ever happened before. What would I do with this?

In my fav/bookmarked list, I have a folder with different devotional/meditation sites. I decided to work my way through them. It didn’t take long, before I realized that I was right where God wanted me to be: praying, centering, meditating on God and upon the Word. Weeping, confessing, and reaching out to the One who was reaching out to me.

There’s a site that I really, really like to go to for focused meditation. It’s so saturated with the Word and always seems to hit home for me. is the addy. Ken Boa’s style and writing just seems to hit me right where and when I need it. I was amazed at how today’s daily affirmation seemed to sum up all the devotional thoughts and scriptures of the week for me. But not only that, it also pulled out my fears and troublings and helped me to direct them Godward.

It is a good thing to be wakened in the night.

Here’s one of my troublings: I am very troubled about some things that are going on in our Worship Group. I have shared that this group has been such a blessing and answer to prayer for us. Because of legal issues associated with my probation I am not allowed to attend church. We felt completely blessed and provided for when we were able to connect with this group through the Transformation Network that my PO approved our affiliating and worshipping with. They have been so open and accepting.

The Sunday worship group is led by a husband and wife who have started house groups in the past. They tend to work with disenfranchised people. The husband leads the Bible study and he truly has a heart for the Word and for small group ministry. The wife has such a warm, compassionate spirit. I connected with them immediately. There are others in the group equally warm and connectable.

Then there’s this other couple. They lead the Wednesday night prayer time. They found their way to the group because they are recovering alcoholics. They are very passionate for prayer and for the Word. They have considerable money. They have strong opinions. They are somewhat rigid. They are very legalistic. Some of the things they are saying and doing are causing a serious uneasiness and anxiety in my spirit.

For example, Wednesday when we arrived for prayer, D announced that we talk too much and that we were not going to waste any time talking, but get immediately to prayer. It didn’t feel right to me. I felt a strong need to check in with the others, to share what I had "brought" to prayer and find out how and where they were. Nope. Jump in we did.

Then, D began to use prayer time to inform and instruct us. It’s like people can get away with saying things "in prayer" that they can’t say directly to people and people can’t argue with it because it was part of prayer. In my book that’s manipulation and I was horribly uncomfortable with it. Part of what D prayed about was a conflict he was having with the director of T-Net. It wasn’t explicit, but you’d have to have been living under a rock not to get his drift.

The worst part was when he started praying for the "guys in the program." Technically, I’m one of the "guys." I’m a part of T-Net because of my legal issues, because I’m on probation, because I’m working (with God’s help and provision) to put my life back on track. His prayer weighed heavy on my spirit.

When prayer time was over, I was ready to walk out of that building and never go back. I knew that there would be no talking, or reasoning, with this man. It would be as affective as Jesus talking with the Pharisees. I thought about talking to the wife of the worship group leader and I still might do that. I want to check my impressions with someone who was there. Maybe I perceived wrongly. Maybe I over-reacted. I am willing to be wrong and have my attitude and assumptions corrected.

I did talk to the director (who I felt had been maligned in prayer). He’s been concerned that D has been spreading a negative spirit about and through the ministry of T-Net. D and his wife have suggested that the group not meet at T-Net, separate themselves from that ministry altogether. That wouldn’t be good for me since my involvement is directly connected to the connection with T-Net. It’s not that God wouldn’t provide another opportunity for worship, but we were just forming bonds with these people. (Insert a feeling of heartache with a smattering of major disappointment.)

Yesterday (probably in anticipation of having to worship with D and his wife) I sensed a minor churning within. My first inclination was to tell Nelson that I just didn’t want to be a part of the worship group or T-Net any longer. That’s rash and not of God.

Then I was awakened at 5:30 this morning. Then God took me on a journey reminding me of His word, His promises, His continued provision for all my needs. And my heart feels much more at peace. I don’t have the answer for "what" I’m going to do. I feel very content to take it one step at a time and trust that as the situation presents itself, I will have the answers that I will need. I feel no need to rush and I feel no need to run.

And honestly, that feels really, really good.

Friday, January 28, 2005

The Week in Review: Many Blessings

I want to start out with something neat that occurred yesterday. Beth, our younger (21) daughter, is sick. She’s been feeling badly since Monday. Wednesday when she came home from work we looked in her throat and there two huge white blotchy spots. We determined she wasn’t going to work and we would try to get her into the doctor on Thursday. Nelson stayed home and did "nurse Dad" duty for the first shift.

Fortunately, we were able to get her into the doctor in the morning. She took one look at Beth’s throat and gasped. She knew it was either strep or staff infection and since she knew our financial situation (low income and no insurance) she passed on the culture and prescribed amoxocillian. Nelson and Beth made their way over to Walmart to get the script filled. They were the second ones in line. Thursday the pharmacy was having a one day sale. They were filling all scripts for amoxocillian FREE! We accepted their gracious offer.

Coincidence? I think not. I’m thankful again, as always, for God’s amazing provision.

Beth has taken three pills and all the white is gone from her throat! She’s back to her opinionated self. She’s not to go back to work until Sunday. I hope we survive that long!

It’s been a long but good week otherwise. Monday there wasn’t any work for us at the factory, so I went to the other daughter’s and played with my granddaughter all day! In the evening Ann had a Pampered Chef party. It was fun. Almost everyone who came was family of my SIL. They are so open and accepting of Annie. It makes me feel really good.

Tuesday I drove home early and got to the factory shortly after 10am. We worked hard and put out over 700parts. We worked Wednesday, Thursday and Friday as well. Today, Nelson didn’t have any pressing construction work so he came and helped us out. It was fun to work together. When the day was over I asked him what he thought of my little job. He said I should either ask for more money or find another job. He said I work too hard and get paid too little. I’m not sure how realistic that all is since he has such an inflated estimation of my value. (It’s quite nice to be treasured!)

I ordered Thomas Moores’ "Care of the Soul" from and it arrived the other day. I left my book about David at my sister’s last weekend (I love to have a book with me to read, but there’s always a 50/50 chance I’ll forget it...just a little scattered). This definitely not going to be a book that I will race through. You’ll most likely hear more about that later...

As for my computer...My darling husband (persevering soul that he is) was able to make it work. In fact it is working faster than it has in a very long time. The drawback is that all my files appear to be gone (and since nothing I write is worth up to $300, they’ll stay gone!). I hope that he is able to get it back on line sometime this weekend. In the meantime I will work on his computer. It’s such a blessing to have more than one computer.

I’m looking forward to a relaxing weekend. Nothing is planned. I think that will be quite nice!

Monday, January 24, 2005

Further Reflection

I couldn't shake the sadness. I couldn't understand it either. Good grief, it's just a machine. There had to be more. So I took a deep breath, and asked to be let further into whatever it was that troubling me.

Now, I don't know about you, but there are times when it's just easier to be in denial; to blythfully wander in the fog and never fully get to the heart of the troubling. It's like walking past a door. There might be a twinge of interest, but with everything else that needs to be done, it's just as easy to truly "leave well enough alone."

This, however, was not one of those times. This gray fog weighed too much to truly ignore. It needed to be explored.

So I was sitting at devotions at T-Net, trying to look like I was interested, but my mind was so far away. Then the breath. Then the truth.

There was a time when I was so driven. I had such a sense of self-importance. I was caught up in looking technologically savvy. I surrounded myself with gizmos and gadgets. I lived and died by my Daytimer. I couldn't function without my PalmPilot near at hand. I carried two cell phones and two pagers. And always present wherever I went was my laptop. If I showed up at a meeting without it, people expressed surprise and wonderment at what might be "wrong" with me.

When life changed, I lost all the busy entrapments. I wasn't "important" any more. I didn't have a "schedule" to keep. I no longer needed to hide behind my technology. My PalmPilot was relegated to a portable Scrabble game. I don't know where my Daytimer even is anymore. I haven't had a cell phone for two years. The pagers are gone.

The last thing left was my computer. And now it's gone. And with it the last real piece of that identity, of that reminder of my life. Even dead, I sensed that I was clinging to it. "Let it go. Can you let it go?" That is what I heard during devotions this morning.

Yes. If my computer is replaced (which I don't imagine will happen) it will be a true gift, but I don't need it in my life anymore. And with that realization, with that admition, came a lighter feeling. I'm still sad for all the things I've lost, but I don't feel weighted down with grief. It's going to be okay. I'm going to be okay.

So, now I need to pack. There wasn't any work today so I get to go spend time with that talented and beautiful granddaughter of mine. And with the grayness gone, I feel much more able to enjoy her--to enjoy today.

Bootstraps Missing

Well, I’m home. Actually, I got home yesterday. My sis and I met Nel and Beth at a Bob Evans’ that’s about half-way yesterday morning. We were so uncertain about what we would find that we left way, way too early. What we found, to our amazement (given the way the wind shook the house the night before) were clear, dry roads. They were clear for Nel and Beth, too. So, after sharing a meal together, we came home.

Home. I was pleased to find that Nel had kept up with dishes, did laundry (I will have to put it away–but that’s ok), and kept up on the trash. He bought a belt for the vacuum and that’s one step closer to be fixed. But the sweetest surprise is that he hung my lamp over the chair in the bedroom, truly giving me that "corner chair" space I was craving. It puts a smile on my heart!

We spent the afternoon sitting on the couch together watching football. I was disappointed in both games, as neither of my teams won. I guess I’m just going to have to quit rooting for the underdog. But it’s so a part of who I am.

I did have a much bigger disappointment yesterday. I have wanted to write about it, but it seems so selfish that I’ve hesitated. Somehow, I don’t feel like I have the right to my sense of loss. Since it occurred, I have a feeling of disorientation and sadness that has left me on the verge of tears. I keep wanting to attribute it to exhaustion from the trip home–but I don’t think that’s it.

As is my habit, I was quick to plug in my laptop up returning home. This laptop has been my constant companion since Oct. 8, 2001. That was the day I turned myself in for my crime. That day is one of the annual anniversary days that Nel and I celebrate. He had left the computer sitting on the front seat of my car for me to find when I went to work–which I never did. It was such a gift of love. Having that computer really got me through some rough times the past few years. So many of my thoughts were etched in its hard drive. So many of my feelings pounded out on its keyboard. My book was in there.

Yesterday, I was excited to pull up my thoughts from my trip and plug them into my blog/journal, but all I got was a black screen. Gone. But still sitting there. Staring back at me empty. Thoughts unretrievable. I want to cry, but I can’t. I want to be angry, but I can’t. I can’t justify tears or torment over a machine.

And I don’t know which is worse. That it’s gone, or that it will not be replaced. Having my laptop was a piece of independence–a part of my identity. But given our financial situation, there’s no way to replace her.

I woke up this morning knowing I was going to my "pay little" job to work my butt off. I’m driving over to Annie’s after work, because she’s having a "Pampered Chef" party. I’ll be happy to see Penelope, but even that joy feels overshadowed.

I can’t seem to find my bootstraps this morning, and I don’t like feeling this way.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Notes from Blizardville

There’s just something wrong about leaving the70 degree weather of Arizona and landing in Ohio in the middle of a blizzard. But land we did. And home I am. Well sort of. I’m at my sister’s house. It was so bad up where we live that my hub had my sis pick me up at the airport. We’re going to try and get me home tomorrow…that may prove interesting given the way the snow was coming down and blowing a moment ago.

It’s weather like this that makes me want to run all the way back to Arizona.

I had a good week with my mom. We played over 60 games of Scrabble. I won the series by 5 games. I worked hard to win them all. My mom wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. She taught me how to play, taught me all the nuances of the game, and takes pride in my skill in the game. It was so incredibly fun to play for hours on end with her.

In addition to lots and lots of Scrabble, I read two novels this week. Me. Read fictional books. Two of them. Please be impressed. My goal for the whole year was to read one, and I read two. Since it was so glorious out there, I also did some walking each day and while I walked, I was actually thinking of characters to write about and stories that I could write. Me. Stories. Be afraid.

When I got to my sister’s house, one of the first things that I did was get online. A whole week without the internet was hard for me. I was surprised at how quickly the time went, and how much I didn’t really crave. I only had one weak moment. We had lunch with my aunt (Mom’s sis) and afterward went into her house for a visit. My uncle tinkers around online, so I knew it would be quite easy to persuade him to at least check my email. But I resisted. So I’ve been getting my fix here at my sis’s. She went to bed around 7:30pm, so I’m not even going to feel guilty taking my time to catch up on my favorite blogs and journals.

When I finished the novels I returned to reading Peterson’s book Leap Over A Wall (Selections on the life of David) Earthy Spirituality for Everyday Christians. I liked this thought (from page 62): “…in the company of David we find someone who does it as badly as, or worse than, we do, but who in the process doesn’t quit, doesn’t withdraw from God. David’s isn’t an ideal life but an actual life….Reentering through my believing imagination the world of David, I’m more myself—free to be myself and able to find God in the middle of what’s going on right now.”

There’s more to read and learn. But so far, I’m really encouraged. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think this evening is starting to require some cocoa…with marshmallows.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

The Hardest Decisions

I think that the hardest decisions are always between two goods.

This morning I fly out of frigid, flooded Ohio for the sun, sand, and sweetness of a week with my mom in Arizona. We will start playing Scrabble as soon as our eyes are open and play until long after our little heads should have hit the pillow. I love it. It's like I'm catching up on all the "momming" I missed while I was young and she drunk.

I love to walk while I'm out there, too. I take a break from the games and head out for at least an hour hike around town. It's so beautiful there. She lives in Green Valley, just south of Tucson. The town is surrounded by mountains. The contrast in colors from the desert golds to the beautiful blue endless sky steals my breath. I just can't seem to soak enough of it in.

When I'm there I just get a feeling down in my soul, a smile in my heart. It's as if I know at my core that I'm supposed to be out there. My mom would love for us to move out there. She's not even subtle about it in her pleas. It's a temptation that is terribly hard to resist.

But then I have a week like I just had: caring for my granddaughter. And let me tell you...nothing is so sweet or warming to my heart. Even when she pukes three times during the night and I have a mountain of laundry to do already. I can't even imagine not being a part of her life. I don't want to.

So how does one decide? This is a difficult place to be in. I have torn allegences. On the one hand, my relationship with my mom is something that is blossoming and I treasure it, and I don't know how long I will have her in my life. Then, on the other, I also treasure the close bond between my daughter and I...and how could I not be around for every precious thing Penelope does.

I know this is small potatoes compared to issues that others face around the world. I am rich for the relationships that I have. I guess I'm just being selfish. I want to figure out a way to have it all. The trick to that would be to convince Annie's husband that year round golf in Arizona is awesome and he could still go hunting. Then everyone would be in Arizona.

Well, I'm not going to solve this before I get to the airport so I will close. I'll be off here for a week, as mom doesn't have a computer. Can't get her to connect...I'll keep working on that....

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Way Cool God Thing

I had a “way cool God thing” happen today.

I was under the impression that today we were going to meet and get retrained before returning to the factory. Instead we had the opportunity to go out and work. And work we did.

I still haven’t been able to buy steel toe shoes, so I’m still having to put on these toe protectors that have a metal bar on the bottom and a rubber band that goes around your heel. When you walk you sound like a horse clomping—quite attractive. They have a tendency to ride up and the metal makes the ball of my foot ache.

At lunch I was sitting on the edge of a pity party. I knew that I needed steel toe shoes, but we have a $700 gas bill (heating) because they’ve been sending it to the wrong address and rent is due again in two short weeks. No matter what the need I just didn’t have the heart to even ask for the money for shoes.

So, I went to the break room feeling slightly dejected. I was getting ready to sit down to eat my lunch when I noticed something in my pocket. This was the first time I had worn the jeans. I had bought them at my favorite boutique: Le Will de Good (aka Goodwill). I had bought them on New Year’s Eve and hadn’t worn them until today. I knew that I hadn’t put anything in the pocket. I carefully reached into the pocket, fearing that I was going to find someone’s nasty used tissue. What I found was much better than that!

I may have reached in gingerly, but I pulled out quickly! Money. There was a folded bill in my pocket. I squealed right out loud when I discovered a $20 bill in my hand! There was the answer to the prayer I hadn’t even figured out how to put into words. I knew that $20 wouldn’t be enough to buy steel toe shoes, but that along with the $5 check I got in the mail for doing an online survey should cover my need.

Tonight I made a trip to our local Walmart. I found a pair of shoes that look like tennis shoes, are pretty lightweight and they cost me (with tax)$24.57!

I just felt I needed to give a shout out for God tonight. He truly is the God who supplies my every need.

Yours too.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Thoughts Amidst the Toys

To look at my living room right now, one might wonder if a natural disaster had occurred, or if the apparent ransacking was due to a robbery of sorts. The truth is neither. The truth is that the one year old granddaughter has arrived, or better put: exploded onto the scene!

Yesterday I met my daughter at a half-way point and collected Penelope and her things for a week visit at Gramm’s and Pepa’s. I had spent a bit of time re-babyproofing the house in the morning. Penelope added her own decorating touches upon her arrival.

So now there are toys strewn from the front door to the back door. It’s a veritable obstacle course. Fortunately, I remembered to turn on the light in the middle of the night when I went to refill the bottle so that I didn’t locate any sharp corners with my half asleep feet.

I sat on the couch this morning, in the quiet before anyone else was awake. There was a time when the chaos of toys all over would have caused a frenzy within me. This morning it only made me smile. I love being a grammy. I love that when my daughter is having a hectic week (she starts a new job next week and has an open house for her House and Garden Party stuff this weekend) that I can swoop in and rescue both her and the baby from inevitable stress. I love watching Penelope play, the way she discovers and explores the world. I love calling her mom four times to tell her all the adorable things she’s doing, some for the very first time.

I love that there isn’t the pressure to produce a perfect child, to present the perfect family. I spent so much of energy when my children were little trying to raise them "right." That’s clearly leftover crud from when I was growing up. It was very clear that we (my brother, sister, and I) were groomed to make our parents look good.. But no matter how hard we tried, we were still the three monsters, and there was a definite sense in which we were always one step short of pleasing our parents.

My father died in 1989. Even as an adult, I still carried that need to please him, and the feeling that I never did. My relationship has definitely changed with my mother. The woman that I am going to spend the week with next week, is not the woman who raised me. This new woman is fun, laughs, plays, talks, weeps, and loves me in ways that really touch my heart. And I love her.

I knew that woman was changing the Christmas after my dad died. My girls were five and six then and we had gone to Mom’s for Christmas. My brother and his wife and children were with us too. My mom let the kids (all four of them) jump on the sacred living room couch. She didn’t freak out when they put their wee little hands on the mirrored tiles behind the couch. She even gave them bowls of whipped cream to eat. I watched in amazement and wept tears of joy.

It was as if my mother had come through a heavy fog, had come out from underneath a dreary life-weighting cloud. Over the years I have realized that part of what weighed her down and sunk her spirit was a slavery to alcohol. But there was more. I came to believe that though she loved my father, she was totally lost to that process. It wasn’t until he was gone that she could become the person of life and joy that she is today.

So back to the natural disaster in my living room, et al. There as I sat amidst the clutter, I began to wonder what might be weighing me down, limiting my growth, sucking out my joy? I’m not sure I have any answers, but I’m going to be doing a lot of playing this week, so maybe in the freedom, I’ll find a few answers.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

More than Morsels

This morning as I sat praying prior to one of our leaders bringing us a teaching from the Word, I began to feel like a little child: full of anticipation; trying hard to see what was coming; hoping for nibble of something from the table.

Hoping for a nibble…how many times has that characterized the way I have received? How often have I settled for a morsel, a nibble, and then left before the banquet was served? How like the Syrophoenician woman am I, willing to gather the crumbs that fall from the table that were left for the dogs?

Answer: Way too often.

Solution: Slow down, give in, wait, and wait some more.

One of my spiritual emphases for this year is to cultivate a holy habit of prayer. I was quite excited when the director of the Transformation Network (T-Net) announced that on Friday afternoons we would be shutting the agency down and using the time for prayer. His plan was that we would gather for lunch together at noon and then plan to be in prayer from 1-4. We changed the message on the answering machine and put a sign in the door that briefly described our intentions.

And so we met.

And we were met!

Wow! We started the time listening to a couple songs by Jason Upton (Faith and Freedom). I had never heard the guy, but I wish I had some extra cash so I could buy the CD. It was awesome. The words really set the tenor for the time. We were serious about honoring God and seeking for Him to honor us with his presence and His message for he time.

I’m afraid I must confess that I went into the meeting hopeful but honestly only anticipating nibbles. The time turned into the most lavish of banquet feasts. We prayed and praised, wept and walked. We truly had ears open to hearing and hearts open to receive.

Now, there are those who would think that spending 3 hours on a Friday afternoon in prayer would be a terrible waste of time. It was so much just the opposite. The world, with its focus on productivity wouldn’t see the value of stopping, waiting, and worshipping. Too bad for the world.

I left that gathering with that same childlike anticipation I felt this morning. What was God going to be doing next and how would I fit in? There was no thought of “if” God was going to work. It was all “when.” And I wanted to see it. I wanted to be ready for it.

I entered worship anticipating another feast. I believed that God was going to be present and that there would something for me, something so much more greatly satisfying than nibbles and morsels.

And I was not disappointed.

I believe that’s what God wants for His children. As we shared at the beginning of our time together, one woman was encouraged to share what God had been doing in her life. Her response was that she hadn’t come prepared to share anything. She came expecting nibbles. I felt sadness for her.

I chose to live my life believing, anticipating, looking for God to work and meet with me whether I am in church, at prayer, or sitting at my computer. No more nibbles or morsels for me!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Resolutions or Resolve

This morning at devotions, the leader asked us to think about our resolutions, or goals for this year. I had given a little thought to this, but having to put pen to paper at the direction of someone else caused me to think a little more about what I wanted for this year.

As I got a little more quiet and focused I was reminded of a verse that we had been considering in devotions recently: you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart soul, mind, and strength.

This verse has been a guiding principle in my life ever since I went to a seminar that used this verse to analyze the worship style of one’s congregation. The teacher helped us to see that every congregation works from one of four quadrants within a circle. The styles corresponded with heart (emotions), mind (intellect), spirit (spirituality), and strength (action).

I began to see how this principle of church styles applied to many other areas, like relationships. Sitting there considering goals, I was drawn to the circle once again.

It’s very easy, for me, to come up with goals for weight loss (action) or taking a class (mind). Thinking of the circle I began to sense a desire for balance within my goals. I wanted to consider goals that would affect my mind, heart, spirit, and strength. So here’s my first attack on this project:
-Take a Family Living Class at T-Net.
-Read 5 books from 5 different genres (biography, history, culture, philosophy, and pschyology).
-Reinvest in therapy.
-Read and do: Ending the Struggle Against Yourself
-Create a devotional space in my bedroom (a real corner space!)
-Read the Bible through (I bought a One Year Bible to assist in this goal)
-Really grow a prayer habit.
-Write…my book and some devotionals.
-Teach or lead group.
-Create the biblical resources materials for working with addictions and recovery.
-Work full-time again.
-Get healthy: lose weight and become active.

Essential in all this is balance and consistency.

Well, that’s a start. It’s not a checklist or a standard. It’s somewhere to go…a direction to head in. So, I’m off now to walk and live toward my goals.