Saturday, August 21, 2010

Fat Birds

Admittedly, it has been far too long since I had a thought to "ponder." Truth be told, I have several thoughts but I rarely get them to the screen. Today's ramblings are centered on the lack of skinny or starving birds in the world. Join me on this train of thought.

A few weeks ago I was driving in to work (slightly behind schedule) and having a day where I was feeling sorry for myself. Now that I think about it, I can't even really think what I as whining to God about, but at this point it should have the auditory equivalent to a broken record. I was just leaning in to a nice pout when out of no where a bird that I can only assume was on some sort of kamikaze mission swooped in front of my car. Now there is always a chance that given the egg-like shape and color of my car, that this little birdie thought that he had found his nest. The real situation was that he spotted some morsel of food in the direct line of my vehicle. At this point I realize some of you might be squirming at the fate of tweeter. I'm happy to report that it narrowly missed and returned to his perch on a road sign.

Its always amazing to me how something as insignificant as bird breakfast can change your line of thought. That bird surprised me out of my midmorning mope and something brand new hit me between the eyes. I have never seen a skinny bird. I'm sure they exist somewhere, but they aren't migrating my direction. I've never seen a starving bird on one of those tear jerker ASPCA commercials. The closest outcry I can think of for hungry birds is "Feed the Birds" from Mary Poppins. Here's why it matters...

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"

That's from Matthew 6. This is why the health of the bird matters to me - their Heavenly Father feeds them and I'm worth even more than a bird to Him. So while I tend to want to lose myself in worries that can't possibly all come to fruition, I should be basking in the thought that My God will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory.

Just food for thought today... heaven knows the birds have plenty!


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Flip the Switch

As I was listening to my favorite radio station a few days ago (KVNE out of Tyler), I heard a sort of Christian public service announcement talking about being the light of the world… and it got me to thinking as most things do.

We are probably all familiar with most of the passages en la biblia telling us that Jesus is the light of the world and that we also are to be the light of the world because we belong to him. I think I have a t-shirt somewhere that says something to the effect. And you know, if they put it on a t-shirt, it must be true.

While soaking in these verses I had a thought that I don’t know if I’ve ever had. You probably have had it, so this might be old news. I’ve searched the Word this morning and can’t find any place we are told to go into the darkness and yell at it for being dark. Do you know where that scripture is?

Conversely, the one that I find in Matthew says that we are to let our light shine before men. The image I get here is walking into my darkened bedroom and yelling that it sure is dark in here. What is accomplished by my telling the darkness that it is, in fact, dark? No kidding, there is no light which by default means that it will be dark. God worked that whole thing out in Genesis. What's more, we are told that the those in the dark are so used to it and hate the light that they don't even comprehend it. And, dear friends, how will they unless we show them what the light looks like? Go ahead and try explaining what darkness is without including light in the definition somewhere. I can just imagine what you would think to find me standing in the dark, screaming about how dark it is, and holding a fully charged flashlight in my hand. Looney. This concept of turning on the light should not be all that shocking to me. So why then does it shock us when we go into the world which we are told is in blackout mode and instead of turning on our light for others to see it is easier for us to hate the darkness than flip the switch in our own lives?

Instead of accusing the darkness of being dark and continuing to stay in the dark room, what must happen is that I must have some action on my part. I must choose to love the light more than the dark and because of this I will let the light shine. 1 John 2 says that if we say we are in the light but we hate our brother – get this – we aren’t in the light at all. Basically, we are screaming in the dark.

Time to flip the switch.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Asking too many questions...

Tonight’s thought from left orbit comes from Lifetime’s constant reruns of Grey’s Anatomy. I know. Horrible show. I’ve almost decided that every immoral act that can be committed will be captured on film via this show before it hits the final taping. That being said and confessions being what they are, I was watching Grey’s Anatomy. Contain your disappointment and shock and kindly continue reading please.

What is causing tonight’s ponderation (I looked it up – it’s a word. It means “the act of weighing” which I kind of don’t like since my last name resembles that remark) was brought on by one of the lines from tonight’s repeat. I don’t really remember exactly what was happening, but I know at some point a patient at the hospital was told that she had some type of tumor and she looked at the ceiling and repeatedly screamed “Come on!” every time that a doctor told her something else about her illness. When someone finally asked her what she was doing she just said, “Where is God?” I’ve let that ruminate for a couple of hours now. Allow me to refract some light in a different direction.

I think as humans we spend a lot of time asking that same question. Something goes wrong and we look to the sky and ask, “Well, where were You?” I’m not going to type here that I haven’t done the same thing more than I care to admit. Somehow we think God was tardy or that He has an unexcused absence that will now go on His permanent record. “I’ll remember that next time, God,” we like to think. Here’s the spin.

Maybe God would ask us the same question. It struck me that right after this character on the show asked God where He was (like she was calling attendance in homeroom as if God’s going to call out ‘Present’) she then explained to the doctors that she had just lost her boyfriend and it was somehow connected to this tumor which had caused him to leave her for some reason I don’t have the energy to remember. Then she went on to explain how great the sex had been. Notice she was talking about her boyfriend. Not her husband. So I wonder tonight, should and does God ask us the very same question?

Or has He already asked us this question? Look at the very first thing that gets past the lips of God when Adam and Eve decide that they know what is better for themselves in the garden --

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" “ Genesis 3:8-9

So again, I wonder why we don’t realize that God could ask us the very same thing. Oh we want his blessings. In fact, if you think about it (and none of us like to), God blesses us and we stand up and ask for more in nearly every prayer some of us pray. Sometimes I wonder if the word bless is almost as common in a prayer as the word amen. That’s another story. Back to my original pondering for this evening.

So here’s question to replace your question to God regarding his whereabouts during your trial (yes, whether you think you had it coming or not) – Elizabeth (insert your name here), where were YOU? Friends, the answer to that is not going to be nearly as beautiful as I would like it to be. Where was I when that person needed some encouragement? I was worried about getting the words right. Where was I when my friend needed to be confronted in love? I was keeping the proverbial boat steady for my own peace of mind. Flip over to Matthew 25. Where was I when the least of these was hungry? I was going back for seconds. Where was I when the least of these was sick? I was making sure that my life was sterile and safe. Where was I when the least of these was in prison? I was out enjoying my freedom. Where was I when the least of these sat naked in the forgotten corner of society? I was out buying another pair of shoes.

Kind of sucks all of the fun right out of calling God on the stuff that I don’t like. Maybe, just maybe my life has this stuff that I don’t particularly like in it right now because God is calling me to something bigger and He’s got to get me ready. Don't hear me say that God and I have a relationship where He only does for me when I do for Him. The Lord knows that I would be about a zillion tally marks behind Him on that list. Maybe my point is that I need to stop using so many question marks and start using the words Thy will be done a whole lot more.

Those are the thoughts.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

The What Am I Supposed to Do With That? Book Club OR Called to look like an idiot

For those of you who don’t know, writing this blog is not my day job. I know this must come as a shock. Actually, my day job is to be a professional nerd. I’m a librarian. Bun and horn-rimmed glasses not included… yet. It goes without saying that I am also a reader. Don’t hang up yet – I’m getting to something. Occasionally in my personal reading I come across a few books that shake up my thinking and I have started calling them my “What am I supposed to do with this?!” book club. It started with Sarah Cunningham’s Dear Church: Letters from a Disillusioned Generation. That one I read on accident – or so I say. Following that came a Francis Chan’s Crazy Love which I have now read several times and recommend it to innocent bystanders at random. It’s a job hazard, really. Most recently, a guy named Shane Claiborne and a girl named Jen Hatmaker are doing their best to mess with me. That’s what I call it when writers make me question things I’ve never thought to question or maybe never wanted to because it meant I might have to do something different. And let’s face it… who in this world wants to be different?

Jen Hatmaker spoke at a Women’s Conference I went to with some people last month. She talked about being interrupted. Since I usually seem to exist in a semi-interrupted state, this held particular interest for me. In her talk, she touched on some things that the Holy Spirit had already begun to stir in me. So, I did what any good bibliophile would do – I bought her book. Oddly enough, it’s called Interrupted. From her book, I found out about Shane Claiborne’s book The Irresistible Revolution. I said all of this to get to my point. I’m big on providing background.

In his book, Claiborne talks about all kind of earth flipping things but what stands out to me the most tonight is who it is that God calls and what it does for your social status when He does give you the shout out. Prepare for an earth shattering statement (be thankful I warned you… nobody warned me): We are not called to be cool. Take a moment there and let that soak in.

Think about our heroes of faith for a moment will you and I will show you why instead, culturally, we very well can end up looking like lunatics. Moses: murderer turned leader who is told by God in the presence of his whole culture to first strike a rock with a stick and bring forth water and then the second time around he is told (and disobeys) to speak to the rock to have water. No cool points there. (Sure, God gets cool points, but Moses could have looked like a real nut) Then we have King David: He danced before the Lord in worship which did not please his wife. He even said that he would gladly look like a fool before His God. Imagine that! Moving on to Noah: Here’s a guy who built a cruise ship on land. No further explanation necessary on that one. Speed down to the NT and we have a whole host of brothers and sisters who spent time in a dungeon and died for this gospel of ours. I’m sure the Apostle Paul was somewhat of a black sheep in his family. I could go on and on.

You see, God doesn’t call us to be cool. He doesn’t call us to do the things that make sense to our culture. He doesn’t call us to fit in. He doesn’t call us to do what seems normal or look out for our own interests. Not at all.

Instead, He calls us to something much better. He calls us to bring glory to His name in the way that we trust Him and honor Him with our lives.

And that’s as far as I've gotten tonight. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with all of this.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Waters, Rivers, and Fires, Oh My!

It’s easy to get really comfortable with verses like those found in Isaiah 43:1-3. Then again, maybe not.

“But now thus says the LORD, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

I’ll tell you what, I certainly have claimed that promise once or twice in my oh so tangled life. How quick I am to do things like that. Well, tonight, this verse popped up on one of my dear FB friend’s status – you know, one of those daily bible verse things people subscribe to – and I can only blame the Holy Spirit for this thought because honestly, my brain doesn’t work like this. For the first time, I’m noticing something about these verses that I’m sure I have read in about two dozen Dayspring cards and maybe even a few from the highly coveted Hallmark. Have you spotted it yet? Keep looking. Mixed in with all of those promises of what God’s going to do for me, there is something I never noticed before.

God is telling us not to fear, because he has redeemed us. It occurs to me that if He has to TELL me not to fear, it stands to reason that there would be something in my life that I could possibly be afraid of. There went that whole theory of Christianity solving all of my problems. Then there’s that sentence about passing through some waters. Notice that our Heavenly Father did not say, Elizabeth, while you stand on the shore and maybe even dip in your big toe, I’ll be with you. No, as much as I don’t want to admit it, God’s promise there requires that I do more than splash along the bank. Looks like I’ll have to do more than get my feet wet to claim that one.

Seems like if the rivers are going to have a chance to overwhelm me, it’s not going to be while I’ve got myself seated squarely on the bank. This brings back uncomfortable memories of the time my little sister Emily thought that I could hold her and I both up at the pool at camp in the 5’ deep section when I was only 4’ tall myself. She panicked as we both went down, meanwhile, my goal at the ripe old age of seven was to keep her head above water which meant at the time that mine would be under. Friends, drowning or the thought of drowning is not a good feeling. I can distinctly remember my mother calmly walking to the end of the pool we were in and pulling Emily out which allowed me to catch a breath and go back to my latest swimming expedition of the day. What I realize now is why my mother was so calm. She had been watching. She knew what was about to happen and so when it did, all she had to do was reach in and pull us out. You see, my mother knew something that my seven year old brain didn’t. While I was basically sure that I was drowning, Mom knew that she could get to us. Because we were (and still are) hers, she was going to do what it took to rescue us. So what could have been an emergency or even a tragedy wasn’t – why? Because my Mom was on the lookout for her girls. That didn’t mean she kept Emily from jumping in to my inexperienced arms, but it did mean that she had what it took to get us out.

Then there is that pesky fire thing. Excuse me; I know at some point someone told me that Christianity was my fire insurance. From the sounds of this, while the flames of Hell are definitely out for me, it still seems like that while I’m on this earth; I might have some moments when the heat gets turned up.

To top it all off, I don’t even see here where the Lord says that He will take us out of all of these things! I think one of the great lies that the church (myself included) likes to believe that somehow we are promised this American Dream – whatever that is. Why would we claim that when, brothers and sisters, we have better news! While He may or may not take us out of the situation we don’t like, He has promised that He will be with us IN it. If that’s not a Savior, I don’t know what is.

Despite all of this, I still find the best part at the end. It’s kind of like one of those bad news/good news situations except the good outweighs the bad in ways that cannot be measured. For He is the Lord, MY God, the Holy One of Israel… wait for it, wait for it… MY SAVIOR (and, I hope, yours too). So I know that whether it be waters, rivers, flames, or other, I know that I have a God who is for me, who created me, who thought this whole thing up and I can trust Him. Completely.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Why Me?

Have you ever asked, “Why me?” Have you ever just sat back and thought to yourself that it shouldn’t be this way? This was not the life that you signed up for. There are few times in my short life that I can look back and definitely say that I got a solid answer to a question that I asked God. One time I asked that very question and lately, I’ve felt the need to share it with all of you.

Most of you who read this know at least to some extent the background for this story. However, if you don’t, consider yourself blessed to have missed out on what I consider to be my darkest hour. Just know that if you missed it, you can be thankful. I wish sometimes that I had, but then again, God taught and is teaching me so much through all of those things that I can now understand how He uses things in His sovereignty that I just don’t get to vote on this side of heaven.

This particular morning, I remember standing in a shower and crying out straight to heaven, “Why ME?! What have I done to deserve this, Lord? Remember me? I did everything right.” Now I’ve never really experienced an answer that I knew was the Lord quite this quickly but almost before the words formed in my mind did was I very quickly hit between the eyes with this – “Elizabeth (yes, He used my name), why NOT you?” No, it wasn’t audible but it was as close to audible as anything I have ever experienced. And right there in that moment, I was forced to grapple with that very question. Thinking about it now makes me laugh a little because I think of how Job wagged his finger at God and asked questions – and God let him but then He asked Job some questions of His own. Maybe He was just turning the question back around on me. Well, not surprisingly, it worked. I started thinking… you know, why not me? When was I ever promised that if I checked a, b, and c off of the religious list I had tallied out in my head that everything would just fall into place with the so called “American Dream?” Where does this sense of entitlement come from? The pits of Hell would be my guess. God promises me abundantly more than I could ever even think to ask for but one thing I haven’t been able to find is where He promises me that my life will be fair and pain free. Know why? Because He promises, His word promises, just the opposite.

There is an old country song that one of my favorite speakers mentioned in a podcast this week. I’ve never heard it but when I heard the title, I dug up the lyrics. Here’s a spin on the Why Me question that so many of us (myself especially included) feel the need to ask. Next time you or I ask Why Me, I hope that I can think about the words to this song and remember instead how truly blessed I am.

Why Me, Lord? Kris Kristofferson

Why me Lord?

What have i ever done to deserve even one of the pleasures I've known?

Tell me Lord, what did I ever do that was worth lovin' you for the kindness you've shown?


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Why are we told not to “get our hopes up?” That question rolls around in my head tonight. A few nights ago I heard me tell myself that and I had to talk back and tell myself I was probably wrong. Here’s why I think I should always get my hopes up –

-- God tells me to! Case in point, the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4. This lady has had some disappointments and she doesn't want anymore. She old, her husband is old, and she has no children; a big deal in her culture. Enter God and watch her story change. She even goes so far as to tell the prophet Elisha not to tease her or “get her hopes up” when he tells her that she will be a mother. When her son dies – now tell me that’s not a time we would like to have some hope – she then reminds that same man of God that she told him not to toy with her emotions. And now here she is, disappointed, maybe worse off than she had been before she “got her hopes up.” Then the impossible happens – not impossible for God, but impossible for us to wrap our little narrow minds around – that boy sneezes 7 times and is restored to life. Do you think if she had known that the limitless God we serve does not know the meaning of impossible that she would have held back her hopes? Nah. I wonder why it is that our culture is so determined not to face disappointment or pain. Not that I’m a glutton for punishment or anything, but when did we decide that pain wasn’t a part of the plan especially when God’s word tells us a different story? In Ecclesiastes Solomon, the wisest man, tells us that there is a time for EVERYTHING. That means all of it. In Job and Lamentations we see that God makes the good and the bad days. Somehow we seem to forget that. I like what the song says, “No matter what you’ve heard, impossible is not a word, it’s just a reason not to try.” Didn’t you know? NOTHING is impossible with God. As Max Lucado points out, it’s not the strength of Elizabeth that matters (sigh of relief), but rather the strength of God. Talk about your good news.

So, you worry (which I’ll talk about in a whole ‘nother post – See Matthew 6) that I might get my hopes up? Oh, I’m getting my hopes up… In fact, I’m SENDING my hopes up to the One supplies my hope (Ps 62:5), to the same One who I can put my hope IN (1 Tim 6:17), and to the Love that NEVER fails (1 Cor 13). Did I mention? God is love.


Friday, March 12, 2010

On getting my just desserts...

\di-ˈzərv\ 1. to be worthy of 2. to be worthy, fit, or suitable for some reward or requital

It’s a funny word we use, the word deserve. We hear it from all sorts of different places. Usually we hear it when saying that we deserve something will bring us something we feel we are entitled to for whatever reason. McDonalds told us what we wanted to hear in 1971 (granted, I wasn’t here to hear it yet) with “You Deserve a Break Today” and then others have followed suit with other me-time favorites like “Because I’m Worth It” or even looking out for man’s best friend in “Doesn’t your dog deserve Alpo?” I mean, come on… we all know how I feel about the dog… but really? She deserves something? Let’s see. What has she contributed to the world to deserve Alpo. Um, that’d be big fat nothing. It’s not like she’s waking up in the morning hoping to work her way up to Alpo. Actually, truth be told, her needs far exceed what Alpo is selling. What was I talking about again?

Oh yes, we think we deserve things. For about two years now, that word has been bugging me. I notice it all around me. One of my least favorite phrases to hear as an argument from those around me is the classic, “You deserve better.” Really? What have I done that you think warrants a better outcome in my life? Is it because you think I should be rewarded based on what I have done here on this earth? For myself? For others? Instead of going off of what humans think, let’s look at what God says about what it is that I, a sinner fallen from grace, deserve.

Psalm 103:8 says

The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.

9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;

10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.

So, you ask, how do I feel about not getting what I “deserve” in life? I think it’s more of that grace that I cannot seem to understand. Surpasses my limited knowledge. Overwhelms my simple mind, floods my heart, overflows my cup. Why? Because, HE does not treat me as my sins deserve. Even if Jesus didn’t do another thing for me the rest of my life, He died in my place and paid a debt He didn’t owe – something I could never deserve. O Lord, give me the grace to love like You love. And thanks for withholding what it is that I truly deserve.


Saturday, February 20, 2010


This week I’ve been thinking about filters. I know, sounds weird, right? Normally the only time I think about filters in when the guy from the oil change place comes in and shakes out a dirty air filter in my lap and tells me that I need a new one because this one is dirty. I always fight the strong urge to let him know that actually now I don’t need a new one because he has just cleaned the old one out on top of my dress pants. Thanks.

Maybe some of you are thinking that I lost my filter right there. Filters are used to keep the bad things out of the good things. They keep the sludge and filth out of the nice clean things we like so much. And I’m sure that air filter does something important, I’m just not the kind of girl who really cares about exactly how it works. Just put it on my tab, oil change guy.

Actually, the filters I’m talking about here today are the ones that we set up for the things that we say. The filter our brain develops over time. You know the ones. The filter that catches that curse word right before it reaches your teeth. The filter that keeps you from telling someone what you really think. The thing is, I’ve seen someone’s filter disintegrate quite a few times this week as my Granddad has struggled with general advanced age problems and sickness. And it got me to thinking…

Where do those thoughts come from? A lot of times you hear someone saying that it’s the “disease” but I’ve got to think that some of those thoughts are coming from somewhere, it’s just that the “disease” eats your filter. Let's just admit that all of us have experienced breach of filter moments in our own lives. It’s like someone has taken down our carefully placed screen and opened a not so flattering window into parts of our brains that maybe we didn’t even know about. Here’s what I’m getting at: God sees right through our carefully placed filter. He tells Samuel this in 1 Samuel 16:7 “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart."

Yikes. That means God sees the parts of me that even I don’t like to look at. And you know what? My filter might be akin to the emperor’s newest fashion statement when it comes to how God sees me, but now, thanks to My Jesus, I have a covering. In the words of singer songwriter JJ Heller, “I am painted red” by the blood of Jesus and that’s what God sees when He looks at me now. So yeah, I’m a mess. That’s not to say that I want continue to be – The Apostle Paul said that of course(!) we don’t take that grace as a license to sin and I’m with him on that – it’s just to say that once again, the grace that Jesus pours out on me freshly every morning is so much more than I drink in and when I get a little glimpse of another drop of it, my cup overflows.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

And sometimes He uses a dog…

I’m wondering what to start my blog out with so I think I’ll rewind back to a few months ago. I’ve had more semi-profound thoughts since then, but for now, this is all that makes it to the top of the memory sludge. That being said, let me explain what I mean by “He” and the use of a dog.

A few months ago, back before the snow coated the surprised ground, I had a moment of energy/uncommon desire to be outside so I took Lucy (my somewhat flawed Westie dog) and Aggie (my Mom’s Chihuahua meets Dachshund) on a short stroll. One thing I failed to mention about Lucy is that she’s a lot like me. She’s weird about cuddling and while she wants to be with you, she’s definitely not a lap dog. Along with that, her endurance is much like mine in that it’s nothing to write home about even on a good day. All of that said, we get along pretty well, my dog and I. Although she often scratches herself into oblivion and at the same time empties my wallet, I kind of love her. Great dog. That, however, is not the point.

On the particular day I’m recalling, I had decided (without consulting my dogs) to go the extra mile which was actually only an extra block or so. As we neared home, I felt a tug at the leash and looked back to find my precious little dog conducting her own sit in. Not budging, she wasn’t going another step. She was tired and this was not the walk she signed up for.

What struck me was not that my dog was taking some “me” time but instead, I stood back and thought about what she could not see. She was tired, and her feet hurt. What she couldn’t see was that when we went around the next curve we would be HOME. Home, where she could rest. That started me thinking. How often does God look at me with those same thoughts? How often does He look at me and say, “But if you only knew what was around the corner. It’s good! It’s HOME!” When I say sometimes He uses a dog, I mean that He uses all kinds of things to get me to pay attention and on that day, He picked a dog.

Turns out, Lucy wasn’t planning on resuming her walk on her own. So what did I do? I did what any person who loves their dog would do… I carried her. I carried her because I knew what was best for her. I carried her because I knew that if we could just get around that last corner, something better was waiting for her. I carried her because I wanted her with me. Isn’t that how God feels about His children? I’m so glad He uses dogs and donkeys and maybe even sometimes, He uses me.