Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Two by two

This was the scene from our back yard this weekend. A pair of pileated woodpeckers. These birds are huge. Each one is about the size of one of Scott’s shoes. When they flew away, their wing span was at least 2 feet wide. These birds visit our back yard often. We hear them more often than we see them and their voices are as distinguishable as their visible presence.

They stayed together the entire time we were watching them Sunday afternoon. They cackled and chirped. One stayed near the crook in the tree, the other one hopped up the tree pecking and drilling. At one point they snipped their beaks back and forth together. I don’t know what that was all about, maybe they were feeding. Or kissing. Or just being fussy.

Later I Googled woodpeckers (how did you think I knew they were called pileated?!). Some of what I read stated that in this particular species, the male and female stay together year round for the purpose of protecting their territory.

I believe staying together is the way God intended it to be.

I know there are many instances in the Bible of men having multiple wives and even a woman having five husbands (although, maybe not all at the same time). But I can’t think of a single case where God instructed anything other than one husband or one wife. Yes, it happened, but it wasn’t at God’s command.

It’s not always easy. Sometimes the greater challenge in love is not having to live without them, it is learning to live with them. How do I do that? I remind myself that my husband has to live with me (and all my fiesta dishes, my books, my special order food, my early bedtime, my cold hands/feet/nose, my need for planning and processes, my, my, my…..)

“But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons' wives with you. You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.” Noah did everything just as God commanded him. Genesis 6:18-22

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Checking my back

I like books. My husband does too. We rarely go on any kind of shopping adventure without stopping by a bookstore of some kind. I have a huge stack of “TO READ” books on the nightstand beside my bed. When I add a new one to the stack I reshuffle the order. I’ll get to them all eventually. I do get distracted from the stack sometimes, however, when a new book is released and I’m drawn in by all the media and hype so much so that I read the new book and ignore the stack.

I am not necessarily a voracious reader. I don’t devour books quickly and then move on to the next one. I am more of a deliberate reader. I read slowly and savor. I rarely read a book without a pencil in my hand. I like to underline and mark the good parts, the parts I want to try to remember. It usually takes me a while to finish a book. That behavior is more likely because of the types of books I read, which are mostly theology-ish and related to Christian living.

Every now and then I read a novel. The last novel I read was, dare I admit it, The DaVinci Code. I thought that book was a wonderful work of fiction. It held my attention and every time I had to put it down to do something else, I was anxious to get back to it. I didn’t need a pencil and I finished it in a matter of hours, not days. It didn’t influence me to change my own theology, but it did make me think about what I believe and why.

I just read another book that only took hours to read and did not require a pencil. It was an autobiography, sort of. It didn’t cover the author’s entire life from beginning to end; instead, it was an account a few critically defining years as a young, single adult.

In My Beautiful Idol Pete Gall compares humans to collector or decorator crabs. The crabs gather up stuff off the ocean floor (like anemones and bits of coral and seaweed and such) and attach these trinkets to his outer shell. All the junk serves as a disguise camouflaging it from its enemy, the squid. Humans do the same thing, covering our lives with all sorts of things, pretending we’re not vulnerable to our enemy. I think what Pete discovered was that it would be a whole lot easier if we quit trying to cover it all up. Admit that we truly are vulnerable to our enemy, show our real selves, and seek our protection from someone other than ourselves. That’s were God comes in.

My overall theology is not entirely the same as Pete’s, but I think we’re headed in the same direction. The book certainly made me think about it.

And, it gave me a whole new perspective on being crabby.

You can read the first chapter here:

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

He is Here

I can’t remember a time when I did not believe in God.

I guess I have always known that He was out there somewhere. To some degree, I found safety and security in that. Often it was enough just to know He was out there somewhere.

But I don’t always feel like He’s right here with me. Close.

Have you ever found yourself in a tough or lonely situation where you wondered, “Where is God when I need Him?”

What about all those promises that He would be with me?

I started thinking about all this because of what I have been reading in Isaiah lately. Specifically, chapter 58. The subject matter of the chapter is fasting.

Now, I like to eat. Going without food is something I do not like to do. I get irritable and grumpy and I usually get a headache. Matter of fact, I’m getting a headache just thinking about the possibility of skipping lunch.

What I’ve come to see in this scripture is that it’s not really the fasting that is so important. What matters to God is my true motive for doing it. Or anything else for His sake. When you do it like He says, He shows up.

Service. To others.

Serve Him by helping others… and “then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “

When my circumstances are difficult, help someone else. And praise Him.

"...and he will say: Here am I."

When my plate is empty, help someone else. And praise Him.

"...and he will say: Here am I."

And especially when my plate is full, help someone else. And praise Him.

"...and he will say: Here am I."

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Psalm 22:3

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Do you drive the truck?

When I tell people where I live, they always want to know where it is because they have never heard of it before. I always tell them, it’s two weeks from everywhere.

When they want to know what that means, I say to them in my most southern accented monotone voice, “We don’t have it in stock. Be glad to order for you. It’ll take two weeks to get here.”

THAT is where I live. The small, rural town of Inconvenience.

Granted, for some, that is the charm of this cozy little not-really-close-to-anything town. It’s pretty much removed from any metro, big city life.

What do we do for fun here?

We wait on trucks.

Monday we went to a fast food restaurant for lunch. Before I even opened my mouth to order, the person taking the orders named off several things they were out of. They were waiting on the truck to come and re-supply their stock.

Tuesday we went to a sit-down restaurant for dinner. After we had surveyed the menu and made our choices, the server came with her pad and pen to take our order. I told her what I wanted, to which she responded that they were out of it. She then gave us the list of everything else they were out of too. They were waiting on the truck to come.

Wednesday I went to the post office. I had Mother’s Day cards to mail to my mother and two sisters. I wanted pretty stamps to put on them. Now, I’m not a philatelist, but I like pretty stamps on special cards. And you know what? They didn’t have any. They ran out and weren’t going to order any more since the price of postage stamps is going up next week. No stamps. They put tacky metered stickers on my lovely pastel envelopes covered in heart stickers. They were waiting on next week’s truck.

I’m looking forward to next week. And I’m looking for the truck.

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:24-25

Monday, May 5, 2008

So, I've been thinking...

The last week has been out of the ordinary for us. We’ve done some not-so-routine things, traveled away for a couple of days, and had a different kind of Sunday. All of these things have stirred me to think about a lot of things. Way too many to cover in one sitting. But it’s on my brain (not that you asked!) so here’s what I think….

1. It’s refreshing to hear the people that work for Chick-fil-A respond to customers by saying, “My pleasure.”

2. If you’re standing at a counter making a purchase, it is disrespectful to the sales associate and the other people in line behind you to talk on your cell phone while your transaction is taking place.

3. If you are the sales associate behind the counter, it is disrespectful to the customer standing in front of you to answer your cell phone while attempting to carry out a transaction.

4. When you attend a church worship service, somebody should read scriptures from the Bible. Out loud.

5. There is always someone who can do it better than I can. Sometimes I need to stop and let them do it. Sometimes I need to keep on doing it until I get better at it. Either way, I should be happy that it is getting done. Neither one is easy.

6. Trust is not really something that can be earned, at least between humans. Even if I jump through all the hoops to try and earn someone’s trust, it can still be lost. I think that’s why the Bible tells us to trust only in God. The challenge for me is learning to quit thinking of it as a NEED I can’t live without.

7. I love it when somebody learns something new or tries something different that turns out working more effectively than the old way. It inspires me to want to do more or go further.

8. Just when I think I can’t live one more day in or with a certain circumstance, the one thing usually God asks of me is…just one more day. That is usually because it’s the one thing I haven’t given over to Him yet.

9. I haven’t been a good steward with much of what God has given me. I am very thankful for what I have and I praise God for it. I’m just not so good at giving back. I’m working on it.

10. Not wanting to burden other people with my troubles is, in some ways, selfish. (They are my problems, all mine!). Wanting other people to know all about my troubles is also selfish. The reason for that is because in both situations, the common denominator is me. When I make less of me and more of Jesus, I find just the right balance. And the trouble seems smaller too.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:1-2