Sunrise June 14, 2017 – Kansas, USA – wheat fields
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Sunrise June 14, 2017 – Kansas, USA – wheat fields
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Do you ever feel like you are just missing the point? Like with the current excitement over fanny packs and high-waisted jeans (which I experienced the first time a few decades ago), some things just leave me clueless.
Yep, that’s me! The last few weeks have been a quest to “get it.” Once you realize you are missing something, you want to find it.
With my husband gone for a trip and then the transition time back into normal rhythm, I slipped out of my habits. I stopped running because where was the time? I stopped doing my devotional in the morning because I wasn’t getting more than a few hours of sleep. My stress level was thru the roof. My kids were fighting constantly. Sugar and bread cravings were all I could think about at meal times.
Appreciate what’s around me? Struggling to…
Pay attention to the people and places I went? Just enough to keep us all alive…
In the words of Nemo, I was trying to “just keep swimming.”
That is not what this life is about! Sometimes, well… most of the time, God puts something in front of me like that rumble strip on the sides of the highway. The one that signals “CAUTION” and to make a correction. (side note- it is also good at distracting screaming babies on long car trips – not sure how we would have ever made it to Austin, TX with a very angry 5 month old without that rumble strip)
The first day of May, I set a goal of 90 miles of running this month (max 10/90 on bike). I’ve run basically every day. Running is part of my worship. It is impossible to not appreciate nature and all of Creation when running outdoors. It is extremely hard to demean yourself on the treadmill if you are aware how all the intricate cells in your body are working together to make that happen.
Monday, I picked my devotion time back up as well. Psalm 18. Psalm 19 Tuesday. Talk about a swift swoop into my world!
Psalm 19 (NIV).
1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.
7 The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
8The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Verses 1-6 refer to the beauty of creation, created by God in intricate interwoven detail. “Verse 3 – they have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.” It doesn’t have to be! Beauty and majesty speaks for itself. There are no words in any human language that does it justice. “Yet their voice goes out to all the earth, their words to the ends of the world…”
How sad that I was so wrapped up in man-made chaos, that I completely missed all the miraculous things going on around me!
As a lover of science, I understand the desire to know all the inner workings. I want to know too! But much like Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, I have to pick which part I’m sure of to make calculations. I choose God and will leave the other part to be less certain. In doing so, I’m able to enjoy and appreciate life around me with both my faith and my questioning, scientific mind.
In doing the study commentary on verses 7-13 this morning, I realized that I had completely misunderstood much of the intent of the Bible!
In my naivety, I’ve thought that many of the teachings were extremely limiting and harsh. What about my self-expression? my self-interests? my hopes, wishes and dreams?
Notice a trend here? Consider MY ears opened this morning.
Back to basic science – Newton – Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Life doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Why do I think MY actions, hopes, dreams, expressions, and interests won’t have a ripple effect on others? #selfish
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The harder I push against God’s guidance, the harder or more awry life goes for me and those around me. Our world is doing its darndest to muddle things up. Again *raises hand*, guilty… Those guiding principles are not there to punish us, but to walk us towards a deeper joy, the kind only possible when you’ve made humble peace in your soul. Consider this me working towards being wise.
Verses 11 to 13. Who hasn’t told a child “Don’t touch that! It’ll burn your hand!” Then the seeking fingers touch it, burn, and tears ensue. *raises hand* Who has been that child thinking that he/she knew what was best? *raises hand*
These lines illustrate how God is trying, so so hard, to guide us away from troubles. It is frequently MY choice which path I choose – walking away without blemish or needing a salve and a bandage.
Hidden faults. We all have them. A very difficult step in maturing is recognizing those faults and rectifying them. I’m feeling fairly confident that I’ll never master all of mine. Thank goodness for the grace, forgiveness, and mercy of my husband, family, friends, and the One who made it all possible with His sacrifice!
Willful sins? I think by this, my study means vices and things we do on purpose. What is your vice? Put simply, I like my pants to fit, so fitness is probably one of mine. Pride seeps into fitness like sweat into a t-shirt after a good workout.
About a month ago, I ran a little over 10K for a team half marathon event that benefitted local scholarships. I struggled physically and thus was not happy with my time. I completely missed a chance to be thankful that my body will move how I want it to. With MS, this is not something to overlook! Alas, my pride got in the way. To exercise with the desire to only be proud of myself or for the attention of others is willful.
After this eye and heart-opening study, I can honestly say I’ve hit the rumble strip. This is my modern day application of Psalm 19. I appreciate the wake up.
What a glorious weekend! My crew spent the whole weekend outdoors. Fresh air is the best remedy for little people with bad attitudes! Or I guess, at least mom and dad having the patience to deal with them. 🙂
I ran in the limited windows of time I was given (child-free) with only one skunk generated detour in my weekend miles. I’ve got 22+ miles in so far for the month of May! #90milemay
Our yard needed a major overhaul and my little hedge clipper didn’t make a big enough dent.
So…. my husband brought out the chainsaw and a skid steer loader with a grapple and tree shear. He “trimmed” cedar trees while I took down the 5 wire fence around our old garden with a pair of pliers.
Because my MS doesn’t care much for the heat, I took frequent breaks to cool down in the shade with large glasses of water. I don’t like it when things like my whole arm or half my face, etc. go numb, so I’m learning to be more cognizant about my body temperature.
4+ hours into the yard project and we called it an evening. Our son came home from his activity. I grilled while the kids played in the water table. Showers and bed couldn’t come fast enough after dinner – for everyone.
Sunday my crew was exhausted, short-fused, and desperately in need of a solid nap. And that was by 9am. We worshipped, enjoyed a fellowship lunch with our neighbors and community at church, and then came home for what amounted to non-existent siestas. I gave up on quiet-time after 30 minutes and rounded up my crew to help plant the garden.
We are getting a late start due to some wet, cool weather in the month of April. After about 20 minutes of my kids nit-picking each other and arguing (should have had that nap), we managed to get the yellow and white onions in.
– insert drink and snack break –
Because everyone was being so
whiny and cantankerous helpful, the hubs and I decided we’d hurry up and put the peppers in before baseball practice. After some surprisingly successful teamwork where no one cried (gardening with a 4yr old who needs a nap!!!), I also planted the peas. We’ll call it a start…
On to the first baseball practice of the season. I love this time of year! The boys were so excited to start practice. Everybody was pumped up and ready to go. By the end, all the boys were hot and tired. “Wolverines!” in a huddle and headed home until next week.
And so was our weekend. We were happy to spend it with family and friends. Always, regardless of the grumps, we love our crew. Fresh air makes it hard to take anybody’s groans too seriously!
Our pastor says every Sunday: God fed – Spirit led.
I like it. It sticks with me.
Another quick phrase that stays in my mind: God is God and God is Good. Always.
I’ve been making the effort to get out of bed before everyone else in the morning. Tiptoeing down the bedroom hall, I go to the kitchen and make my morning beverage. About a minute after that, I sneak down to the basement to sit with my study Bible in my robe with a lamp on. No TV. No phone. No overhead lights. Yes cozy blanket.
It’s been mentioned before that I don’t have time in my schedule to attend a regular group study. This is not my life season for that. Instead, my goal is to get those 20-30 minutes of devotion at least 5 days a week.
I finished reading thru the book of James about a week ago. Picking a passage, I read thru it all once. Then, verse by verse, reading the commentary and being mindful about what it says, I study it. I try to apply it to what is going on around me. Who can I pray for? What does this make me feel? What does this make me think? Am I convicted or uplifted by this passage? What is the application of this for me and others?
James is full of practical application. He says it in black and white. It wasn’t like the passage from Isaiah I read for my scripture at church: Isaiah 28:23-28. (The commentary was necessary for me to get the point of this one – each of us is God-created and unique. We each require something different and should pay attention to the special needs of those around us.)
I started on the book of Psalms at the end of last week. Psalms 7 and 8 were my focus this morning. Psalm 7 focuses on praying for those who wrong you instead of taking revenge. It felt sorrowful and heart-clutching. How often do you immediately pray for those who lie, steal, back-stab, or hurt you or your children instead of lashing back? Ouch. Touché. Message received.
Psalm 8 is one of joy. I often marvel at how God loves us even at our worst. I struggle to love myself during hard times! Why create such insidious creatures as humans? Because He knows how beautiful (heart, soul, kindness, love, compassion) we can truly be. He has placed His beloved children above the angels.
He put the world in our care! Man, we’ve mucked that up too… Let’s try to step it up in that department, shall we? Take the time to show a neighbor or a child the beauty of nature. Listen for the birds and wind. Appreciate the open sky and voluminous clouds. Conserve water. Recycle. Don’t be wasteful. Treat all creatures with respect – every living thing has a purpose.
Speaking of children, my young crew at children’s church – although confused about many things 🙂 – have faith. Faith that the sun will rise. Faith that birds will fly. Faith that God loves them. They don’t question it. It takes faith to accept that God will take care of the things that are beyond our humble realm of knowledge.
Before anyone writes me off as simple-minded, lacking in scientific knowledge, or thinks that I live in a religious bubble, please recognize this: Understanding the mechanics of the world and having faith are NOT mutually exclusive. Tough concept in our current cultural atmosphere. When you accept how borderless God is, it is amazing how everything else finds a place within that lack of borders.
Perspective. It’s all about perspective.
This past week was a doozy! Dance dress rehearsal on 8th. Church + Dance Recital + birthday party on 9th. 1st Grade Program on 10th.
Birthday treats for 20 and some mild flooding at our home (which required a large pump for almost 4.5 hours) on 12th. Birthday treats for daycare on 13th.
Playdate and more birthday treats on 14th plus a family party at the bowling alley to celebrate.
Easter egg hunt and sister-mom time on 15th. Early church service followed by fellowship with friends and Easter lunch with my family on 16th.
And a full time job during the week.
It’s safe to say I was a grump by Saturday morning. My morning run left me coughing and sputtering instead of feeling energized. This was insane. Betty Crocker I am not. Egg Hunt? Rarr….
Perspective. That powerful thing called perspective.
Two options here: Me sitting in a corner drinking coffee refusing to talk or make eye-contact — OR — Choosing to look at this as “WOW” my family is happy, healthy and engaged in spending time together. I should make sure I’m involved!
Option 2 is ALWAYS the better option. We enjoy each other’s time and company. It makes me feel great to make others feel good with time, friendship, and yes – birthday treats and Easter egg hunts!
The aftermath: Claustrophobia began to rise up as I looked around the house last night. The dirty laundry was piled counter high when my husband emptied our three strategically placed hampers in the bathroom. At least 3 days of clean dishes sat on the counter- each new load pushed to the side and another batch washed and laid out to dry. Paths had to be cleared from the kids’ doors to their beds so we could do our bedtime routine.
Thank goodness for perspective.
We have clean water, clothes, food, shelter, and love. All are blessings that are not to be overlooked! I promise not to go Maslow on you with a chart of the hierarchy of needs, but it bears witness that if those basic D-needs are met there is little room for complaint.
It would be easy to look at the last 10 days and curl up in panic mode. (I did come close a few times in the moment!!!) Instead, as my mom says, I (with my two sisters’ help) mindfully “flipped” as quickly as possible to the constructive side to keep my wits and appreciate the people and situations around me. It’s all about your view.
**Here’s the recipe for the dirt-worm cups. They really are a treat! If you have to go non-dairy, almond milk works better than soy. Coconut milk would probably be good too but I’m not sure how well the pudding would set? I quadrupled the recipe for his class and put 6 short gummy worms in each cup- three under the cookies and three on top. The kids had a fabulous time digging the worms out of the pudding and cookie mix before eating!
On Monday, we attended a beautiful funeral. Funeral and beautiful in the same sentence. That’s hard to write. It was throat-tightening hard to attend too.
The phone call 14 months ago that told us Mary Ann had pancreatic cancer took our breath away. She was young in years and spirit, vibrant, with her first grandbaby just having arrived a few months earlier.
She fought like a warrior. Full of grace. Determination. And yet always with a smile on her face. An easy, smooth laugh. All characteristics her three children have.
I’d only met and spent time with her here and there when events with her daughter -my husband’s college friend, wife to his best friend and now my close friend- brought us to the same location. I knew Mary Ann on a surface level. After hearing her eulogy written and read by her daughter, I know the joyful and loving soul I experienced was just the tip of the iceberg. Her love, faith, and kindness was deep and all-encompassing. She was beautiful.
She IS beautiful.
She lives on in the example she gave in her marriage. She lives on in the way her children love and forgive. She lives on in all the lives she touched through her service in the church and community.
She LIVES. Her body was tired. Her soul no longer needed it. She IS smiling with God, greeted by Jesus with a joyful embrace.
I sit at my desk – Friday evening – work is done and over, typing this as tears stream down my face. Her physical life was beautiful but her soul IS beautiful.
I am completely inept at funerals. I don’t know how to console anyone. I never ask if someone is ok, because honestly, no one is. But Linds, I hope these words bring comfort to Ash, Chris, Gary, you and your family. I faithfully believe them.
We love you all.
Spring Break Recap:
And finally to close it out…