Faith · Fitness · Perspective

Psalm 19 with a Sprinkle of Science

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

Faith · Perspective

Borderless

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.

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Morning View

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.

Faith · Family · Perspective

Simple – Daily Prompt

via Daily Prompt: Simple

Have you ever had that moment when you are just absolutely sure that God is telling you something? I’ve had my fair share. And I’m getting a message LOUD and CLEAR this week.

SIMPLE.

I need to simplify. I’ve been reading “The Best Yes.” It is about discerning what is not just a ‘yes’ in my life, but my ‘Best Yes.’ Could I volunteer for one more thing? Probably, but it would take time away from event A and stretch me a little bit more.

For example, last night was Bible Study. Our church does a winter study. It starts at 7. I typically get home between 5:45 and 6pm. I then orchestrate dinner, homework that requires parental presence and attention, try to have an actual dialogue with my kids, put away groceries if I’ve made a trip to the store, turn my attention to my husband for a few snippets of conversation when he rolls in between 6 and 6:30pm, use the bathroom, possibly start a load of laundry, and then settle down to sit with my family for a little bit before we start the bedtime routine… bath, pajamas, snack, clothes picked and laid out for the next day, backpacks ready, teeth, prayers, snuggles, and I’m out by 8:15pm to capturecontinue with adult things like folding said laundry, hanging with my husband, and reading.

I absolutely want to attend Bible Study, but I’m so limited in my evening time with my family. So I chose my family as my ‘Best Yes’ last night and started the lesson for the Bible Study at around 9pm on the couch.

I say that I’m getting the “simplify” or make things “simple” moment because as I’m finishing “The Best Yes,” I had two separate friends give me two more books on prioritizing and simplifying to find peace.

I swear I’m not walking around with a crazy look in my eyes. I’m not blabbering on about all the things I have to do. I do juggle quite a pile of events and responsibilities for myself, my family, and my job. I do put a lot of miles on my car with preK pickup and 1st grade carpool and work and appointments and trips for parts and supplies for the business.

It seems there must be a better way. I am going to keep praying about it and looking for ways to make it SIMPLE.

 

Family · Perspective

Socks on the Floor Pt 2

Yet again today, my news feed is blowing up… Why? Another blogger responded, rather angrily, with a post titled:

Nope. Don’t you dare call my wife a “butthole”

Again with the passive-aggressive distractions. Again with the divisiveness of people who declare they love Jesus, then get sidetracked into defending their honor or the honor of someone they know/love in a war of words over petty stuff.

This is like the mommy wars. Do you breastfeed? Do you bottle feed? Do you pump? Do you use oils? Do you do use coconut oil instead of vegetable oils? Does your child eat only organic? Does your child eat Cheetos off the floor of the car? Did you make your treats for school from scratch and decorate them in the appropriate holiday decor? Did you forget and send a bag of powdered sugar donuts that you picked up that morning? Use daycare? Work from home? Eat frosting from the can? *GASP*  Eat raw cookie dough???

Oh. My. Word.

Is this really what we are discussing? Why yes. I am. It is not to defend either side. Everybody get your panties or boxers or briefs or whatever covers you up out of a bind and look at the bigger picture.

Do you honor your spouse with your words? Do you honor your spouse with your actions? Do you try to honor God with the way you are interacting with those around you – including family? Think long and hard about those questions. It’s the knee-jerk reactions that are causing this to build up into a dividing wall of pride.

I believe that each and every being on this earth has individual talents and strengths.  I haven’t read anything that says a woman is “less than or more than” for her choice of occupation: at home- in the workplace – or anywhere in between. Reflectively, I don’t read it that way for a man either.

You do you in a manner that honors yourself, your family, and God.

I also believe that while we all seek love and attachment, we accept it in different ways. Working to support a family in any capacity is a labor of love, be it in or out of the home. I’d rather have a husband who helps support the family than one who buys me gifts- any odd day of the week. He’d rather have a wife who wants to sit and talk with him than one who feels the need to have a spotless house- any odd day of the week.

That’s simply us. Other couples are different and that is great. They fill their bucket with love in other ways that suit their strengths and talents.

So let’s all calm down just a bit… maybe remove the word “butthole” from the conversation if it seems offensive and put this in perspective? My overall point goes back to what I said yesterday. These slight mundane things, these words other people are writing and we are reading, they don’t matter in the big picture. My life is different than your life which is different than the next person’s life.

What is important is how YOU are living these moments. 

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8, NIV)