I’m not sure about you, but time is fleeting, is no exaggeration around here.  I’m having a major freak-out as another day is already half over and what I wanted to get done today, I’ve barely started.  

I have been running since 7:30am, when my youngest and I were on the way to the x-ray clinic to have his elbow x-rayed for a possible fracture.  He fell on it a week ago and has complained ever since. Did I mention he was also at the clinic on Sunday with a second weird skin infection in a month?  And that he has outgrown all his pants this week?  So I’ve run to the clinic, pharmacy (3x’s), Sears, chiropractor, x-ray clinic and Old Navy since Sunday.  I realize for some people, this is normal or that they don’t have a choice in this normal.  For me, I don’t like this normal.  I knew it was risky when I wrote that I had a week to get ready for Advent.  It’s now Thursday and no, I have not done anything about it.  No time!

So now I am in a panic because I haven’t gotten my “stuff” done,  Inside my head there is this tape that plays that says, “Hurry, hurry or you will run out of time.”  And then the clock ticks in the back ground, keeping track of those lost seconds.  Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick…….  

Until the ticking stops and the time-bomb I have become, explodes.  Is this really how it has to be?  Is this how we are supposed to live our lives?  On top of that my last blog keeps poking me in my head.  Ok I don’t want to be a hypocrite.  So I go back and review.  What is it I’m supposed to do?  Believe.  Our only job is to believe.  I check myself.  I do believe.  Then add no fear.  Ahhh.  There it is.  My freak out over time is fear based.  

Where is the fear coming from?  Why?  It’s all about the deadlines I have imposed on myself.  I mean you think I’d have finally figured it out.  Let’s face it, I’ve arrived late to the ball by about five years, or been a no-show at all, on all the deadlines I’ve made up for myself.  I forget that it’s all about timing.  Not mine.  God’s.  Nothing is happening if it’s not time.  So why am I getting in a flap about it?  Why do I think I’m going to miss something or even worse, miss out on something? (Hence the fear.)

The Word of God is an example of a perfect time sheet.  He sees the larger picture.  I can’t see it.  I don’t understand it.  But all the stories in the bible are stories of God’s timing.  Jericho fell after seven days of marching.  On the seventh day, the trumpets blared and the walls came down.  Not six days but seven.  The walls weren’t coming down until that seventh day.  

Hannah had to wait for Samuel.  He was born at the right time so he could anoint both Saul and David as king over Israel in his lifetime.  That he would be a prophet for both kings.  Who knows the difference a few years could have made.  

Jesus eluded those who wanted to kill him, time and again throughout the gospels.  “Yet no one seized him, because his time had not yet come.”  (John 8:20b)  Then when the time was right, he was arrested.  

Nothing is happening to us that is not God-time approved.  He is not surprised by anything.  He already knows.  So why am I getting anxious over stupid self-imposed deadlines?  I’m not saying it’s not good to be motivated or do your homework and prepare.  But living frenetic lives because we think we can make and shake things into being is useless.  Not to mention exhausting.  The days I get up and let events master me are generally not good because they are dictated by emotion and pleasing people.  But the days that begin, “Instruct me and teach me in the way I should go; Counsel me and watch over me.”  (based on Psalm 32:8)  are so much more purposeful.  Peaceful.  Not fear driven.  That would be a big improvement for me.  

 (The ink had barely dried on this when my youngest calls me from school that he had fallen on his elbow again.  He had tripped on his shoelaces that I have continually told him to tie up.  Is this a test?  It made me go back and rewrite a bit.  If I’m going to write it, I have to follow it.)

 

Believe

I’m not sure about you, but Christmas catches me by surprise every year.  It’s not like I don’t know the date or something!  I’m not sure what it is.  It could be the start of school and the breakneck speed of the days of September, October and November.  I feel like I’m finally getting into a routine and WHAMO it’s December.  

As I sit in church on the first Sunday of Advent, I panic.  “It’s already the first Sunday of Advent and I haven’t even gotten it set up!  I’m already behind!”  And.There.It.Is.  The guilt, shame, panicky rushed feeling rolls out in front of me all the way to the end of the month.  I usually get maybe 5 days of advent done with the family.  It’s a mom and Christmas fail all rolled up in one!  The days go by.  I run to catch up, only to find myself further behind.  

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As my kid’s Christmas lists grow, my failure as a mom and a Christian loom large.  FAIL.  I feel guilty because secretly I like to buy my kids presents and sometimes I feel that is unacceptable these days in some circles.  I understand the philosophy and agree with it to some extent.   It’s trying to find that fine line of balance.   Usually guilt wins out in all areas of my failures; advent, gift-giving, failure to bake, etc. etc.  But isn’t that the antithesis of Christmas?  Guilt and shame?

The greatest GIFT was given to us for Christmas.  It was the most expensive gift of all.  His life for ours.  “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”  (Luke 2:11)  This was a gift that brought great joy to all people and who was it given to?  US!  

I’m going to rethink my attitude for Christmas.  I’m already ahead this year!  A whole week!  I’m not going to rush into it.  Instead I’m going to take time.  Take the time to prepare my heart.   Not with a guilty conscience but with joy.  Even if I only get two days of Advent done with my kids, that’s two more days than if I hadn’t done it all.  Maybe those two days have the message they need to hear.  That I need to hear.  My husband needs to hear.   Maybe just continuing to have a regular, consistent quiet time will do more to get me in the Christmas mood than anything else.  Maybe it’s just about keeping in regular dialogue with the one who was born two thousand years ago.  

I read today in John 6:29 “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”  (Jesus speaking.)  Believe.  That’s our main purpose here on earth.  If we do nothing else, we’ve done the one thing we were made to do.   

Maybe add this verse too;  “Be not afraid, only believe.”  (Mark 5:36)   Can you imagine what Christmas and our lives would be like if we lived out this little gem.  Christmas would be spectacular.  It would be beyond consumerism and rituals and traditions that we dread.  It would be living an outrageous existence.  No guilt.  No fear.  Only joy.  And belief.  If we actually believed what happened two thousand years ago, advent would be more than a to-do on an already long list of ought to’s.  Christ would be centre.  He would be ALL.  Gifts would be about love not guilt. 

I am going to Believe this Christmas.  Without fear.  The ironic thing is I fearful just writing that out.  Because I know myself.  However, I’m going to try.  I will fail but because the gift that came two thousand years ago is by my side, He’ll help me get back up and try again.   Because the gift was all about grace, hope and love.  Believe it.

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Hopeful Ponderings

This week the bible study I’m in wrapped up.  It was a fabulous study on David by Beth Moore.  And the icing on the cake was a group of fantabulous (fantastic + fabulous) women to see every Wednesday morning.  

Today as we buried David in the city named after him, we were talking about what we learned from his life.  There was lots of good things but the one that surprised me the most was hope.  (Thanks SL for pointing it out again to us.)  Why did it surprise me?  Beth Moore had mentioned it in the study but for some reason on this last day, it really struck me to the point that I had to come back to it later.  

I think I always thought David had it all together.  Sure he did some nasty stuff on the side, but He was KING DAVID.  He’s legendary.  He didn’t need hope, did he?  I didn’t think so.

But everyone needs hope.  Even the King of Israel.  As we studied his life, David needed hope because he was a man with a ton of responsibility resting on his shoulders and a lot of enemies circling around him.  Hope is a rare commodity these days as typhoons and tornados destroy.  Sickness comes in and robs life and families.  But I think too that for David, hope could have been elusive for him too as he lived out his tumultuous life if he hadn’t been purposeful about seeking it out.  Three areas of his life really stand out for me mainly because I can relate.  

David had hope when he had made a huge mess of his life.  He had coveted and slept with another man’s wife, who then got pregnant with his child.  He had murdered that man to cover up his sin.  He went two years without repenting until Nathan the prophet showed up and told him “You are the man!”  

There are times when I’ve made such a mess of my life; relationships, circumstances, sins, rebellion.  The more I try and fix it under my own strength, the more of a nightmare it becomes.  And if I ignore it, it doesn’t make it better either.  I have to own my mess.  Nathan confronting David made the King open his eyes to what he had done and acknowledge it.  In the owning, comes hope.  By taking responsibility for what we’ve done, it opens our hearts to a God who will forgive.  It brings about the hope that comes from truth.  No more lies and deceit.  Only truth.  There are consequences.  David had dire consequences.  The child conceived died.  His family would suffer.  But David’s life was spared and he had hope in his God that not only forgave but would walk through the mess and the consequences with him.  David wasn’t alone.  There is hope in that.  I don’t have to walk through my mess all by myself.   

The second area of hope in David’s life that struck me was his family.  The consequences of his sin brought about death and destruction to his family.  David made a lot of mistakes as a father.  The whole work vs. family thing seemed to be a struggle for him.  The kingdom won that battle.  Family lost.  As a result, he had a kingdom’s allegiance but not some of his children’s.  But praise God, at the end of his life, David got it together.  He was not only a good king, but a good dad.  David had hope in a God who could restore families and kingdoms.  

It gives me great comfort.  I need a few years that the locusts have stolen, restored.  I want a do-over but there are none.  I’m sure David, looking back, wanted a do-over with Absalom.  But God offers the hope of restoration.  That we can rewrite our endings with His help.  We are not doomed to get what we deserve.  Family histories can change.  We don’t have to continue on in our dysfunctional, rut-studded paths.  We can be the agent of change.  Turn the tide for ourselves and for our children.  The enemy doesn’t win here.  God has a different ending for my family.  The years of anxiety, fear and anger end with me.  I will fight to have a new restored ending.  There is hope in new beginnings.  David discovered that as he prepared his son to take the throne.  In Solomon was a new beginning.  And all Israel flourished under him.  

Finally David had hope on his deathbed.  He knew where he was going.  He was ready.  He had finished well.  As his time ended on earth, he mentored and prepared his son to take the throne and then he followed his kingly duties to make sure that Solomon took the reign of the kingdom, publicly and before God.  He prepared the people of Israel for their new king.  A good leader always prepares those he’s led to receive his successor.  David did it well.  David didn’t sit back in his old age, he actively participated in God’s will for his life and the lives of those he loved, until he breathed his last.  That gives me hope.  That I have purpose until there is no more oxygen in me.  Purpose and hope.

 

 

 

Taking Time to Remember

Today I need a reminder of how big and great God is.  The weekend was less than what I hoped for.  Sundays are nine times out of ten, not great for me.  And this morning picked up where Sunday had left off.  

As I sat and did my homework for David: Seeking a Heart Like His, by Beth Moore, I was reminded that I need to remember who God is.  I forget.  As the old hymn says, my heart, it’s prone to wander from the God I love.  I get so caught up problems and circumstances and other distractions.  So as I sat and read Psalm 8:1-4 for my homework this morning, a little voice whispered, You need to remember.   It’s been a theme throughout the last couple of studies.  Remembering what God has done in the past helps you move with faith into the future.  I’m at the point where I want and need to move into the future.  I’m tired of the rut.

Psalm 8:1-4 AMP

 O Lord, our Lord, how excellent (majestic and glorious) is Your name in all the earth! You have set Your glory on [or above] the heavens.

Out of the mouths of babes and unweaned infants You have established strength because of Your foes, that You might silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I view and consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained and established,

What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of [earthborn] man that You care for him?

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This psalm, it’s a good jumping off place to remember who God is and what he has done for us.

 Who God Is

 I admit it, I regularly try and stuff God into a box.  I think I know him.  I try and boss him around because hey, I have first born tendencies and I know I’m right, right?  And then I read a passage like 2 Samuel 22:4-17 which talks about a God who will not only bust open that box that I tried to squeeze him into but burn it up as well.  (Seriously it’s a good passage, look it up!)  This is a God who breathes fire, shoots arrows and thunders and rides down from heaven to rescue me because I called to him.  It’s better than any fantasy novel I’ve read because it’s truth.  The idea of a puny God just got blown to bits.

 God is also a God who is gentle, kind and loving.  He deals with our stuff and if we let him, he does it gently.  Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman.  She was his enemy, his inferior in race, gender and purity.  Yet he took the time to see her.  He saw her as a person in need of some grace.  He dealt with her stuff with grace and love.  He gave her back her dignity.  This is who God is.

 What He’s done for us

 He sent his Son to take our place so we could go be with Him in heaven.  That alone should do it.  But my memory is short.  I take for granted.  I shake my head at the Israelites and wonder “How did they forget that he parted the seas to let them cross and crushed their enemies?  And on top of that, their enemies gave them loot before they left, a lot of it?”  But really, I am just as bad as they were.  I forget what God has done for me.  I forget way too easily; that time when I was eight months pregnant and I was driving to the store and a guy went through the red light.  I saw it coming and was safe.  The way he has taken hurts and wounds and brought good out of them.  How he has seen me through many moves and changes when what I really wanted to was to stay in one spot.  He has been the pillar of cloud who moved before me in day and the pillar of fire to light the way at night.  (Ex 13:21)

 Today I needed to remind myself of the God I serve and love.  What about you?  Do you need a fresh take on the day, the week, maybe the year?  Go ahead, remember.

The Good Race

A little over a month ago, Mark and I went to the boys’ cross-country meet, to cheer them on.  I haven’t been to a cross-country meet since I ran in them in public school.  It’s pretty much the same as it was then.  It’s still about doing your best, managing the pain and finishing the race.  

I loved cheering on the boys and the other runners.  At different points you could see them and I yelled loud and clapped hard.  Even for the kids I didn’t know.  Everyone deserved to be encouraged.  Getting out there to run isn’t easy. It’s risky.  It’s takes courage.  It was a grueling course through a ravine with steep hills and treacherous footing.  If you didn’t pay attention, you were likely to take a tumble.  In fact that’s what happened to our oldest.  As he passed my husband, he looked up out of his pain and tiredness and focus and gave Mark the peace sign and then lost his footing and fell.  He had been distracted.  But thankfully, he got back up and continued the race.  

Near the end of the course, family members and schoolmates cheered the runners on to the end.  I love finish lines.  The winners of a couple of the races were so far ahead of any other runner, it was incredible.  They were the epitome of a body attuned to the rythmn of the run. Natural.  Stunning.  Then the others that come after.  In all kinds of dramatic finishes.  The ones who came up from behind and beat the person ahead of them at the last moment.  The ones who were in a fierce battle to the end.  The ones who were just glad to be done!  I cheered our boys in.  I was proud that they had done their best and finished the race well.  

And then came the ones bringing up the rear.  By then most of the cheerleaders had moved on.  There was only a few of us left to applaud the late ones in.  But I stayed.  It’s the ones who struggle through the race and come last that fascinate me.  They have some of the best stories.  Maybe the stories I can relate to the most, anyways.  They are the ones who have struggled throughout the whole race.  It may not be so natural to their bodies.  Or they were done in by cramps.  Whatever the case, the fact that they are finishing the race is a huge accomplishment.  They deserve the applause.  

But one race was a stand-out.  In my son’s class there is a boy with some challenges.  But he runs.  And one of the teachers who is also a coach, runs with him during the race.  They were last in but it was a beautiful finish because despite everything, HE.FINISHED.THE.RACE.  It wasn’t about what place he came in.  It was about running the race.  The journey, from start to finish.  And his coach and running mate was right there beside him.  It speaks volumes about the boy’s character.  It tells you what kind of a teacher she is.  I was glad it was sunny and big sunglasses are all the rage, because the tears were streaming down my face.  I was in awe of them both.  I was proud they were from our school!  I felt priviledged to witness the respect, the care and love of this last place finish.  

A race is rich with all kinds of metaphors if you look for them.  I’m sure you’ve read between the lines and can come up with your own.   

 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Heb 12:1-3 NIV

 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  2 Tim 4:7 NIV

 Well done my good and faithful servant.  Matt 25:23

 What kind of race do you want to run?  I want to run the kind of race that Hebrews talks about.  Focused on the only ONE, shedding the messes, the sin, the fear that entangles and trips me up.  With a cloud of witnesses or cheerleaders encouraging me on.  That’s the race I want to run.  Am I running that race?  I hope I’m getting closer to it every day.  What kind of race do you want to run?

 I also want to be in that cloud of witnesses cheering others on.  We all need to be cheered on but we also need to cheer others on.  I hope that I can run alongside friends, urging them on and maybe they can run alongside me, when I need a running mate.  

 At the end of the cross-country course, each kid got a hi-five from the person standing at the end of the course.  It was well deserved.  It showed that each runner was accounted for, noticed.  ImageImage

“Well done, good and faithful servant.”