And Now For Something Completely Different

This is not going to be one of my normal posts and I’d like to start it with a confession:

I am not a terribly good patient. In fact, I may even be notoriously careless about such things as pain levels and general health.

To give you a snapshot of precisely how oblivious I can be, let me relate a conversation I had with my chiropractor (who specializes more in sports medicine PT than a traditional chiropractor):

Me, as I’m sitting on the table: “Oh, hey, do you remember when I came in with a swollen foot?” (He nods his assent) “Well, it still swells off and on when I walk.”

Him: “How long ago was that now?”

Me: “I don’t know. Probably two or three weeks or so.”

Him, checking my chart before rolling his eyes and looking over at me: “Or maybe 5 months…”

Me, somewhat sheepishly: “Or maybe 5 months… anyway, it still hurts…”

Of course, I also could have recounted several instances in which my poor, beleaguered husband had to try to guess at how bad I was feeling – like the time I had viral meningitis but didn’t think to go to the doctor until he carted me to the ER somewhere around the 60th hour of me being unable to hold down even a teaspoon of fluid…

Whatever. Suffice to say that I’m not the best at communicating my own pain levels, possibly because physical pain has been a part of my life for so long that I have grown accustomed to thrusting it aside and ignoring it until it becomes so noisy that I cannot.

So it didn’t really come as a surprise when, a little over a week ago, I woke one morning with some pretty intense back and neck pain. I remember telling my husband that I had to lay down again, although I did not manage to articulate why on the spot.

Now back and neck pain are not unusual for me and I had, in fact, had some degree of discomfort for several weeks. However, this pain had a quality that was entirely new. I remained intensely uncomfortable through the rest of the week.

Then one afternoon when I was talking with a friend and mentioned the pain. She pointed to my wrist and suggested I take off  the fitness tracker my husband had given me over a year ago in hopes of finding out if poor sleep contributed to my overall fatigue.

As it turns out, she had experienced similar back pain and had even had tests run but had no resolution of the pain until she removed her own fitness tracking device. Her mom had a comparable experience. Sure enough, within a few hours of removing the device, my pain had begun to subside to a more familiar intensity.

It made me wonder about the days when I was waking up with numb hands and chalked it up to possibly carpal tunnel. And it may well be coincidence; a fact I have not discounted.

Certainly I have had a history of chronic pain and some known medical issues in my thoracic and lumbar spine. However, I cannot help but wonder if there are others who have experienced something like this and if so, what might be the cause?

It still makes no sense to me, but I thought I’d ask. Has anyone else had weird or worsening symptoms appear after wearing a fitness tracking device?

Meanwhile, even the more typical types of pain which I am still dealing with serve only to make me look forward even more to this glorious future day:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Revelation 21:3-4

Even in pain, “normal” or otherwise, I will still praise Him!

 

 

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TBT – Midnight Musings

Hi, all! Due to a great deal of change and a busy summer, I’m finding it difficult to carve out time for blogging – either reading or writing. In light of my incredibly messy house and a small renovation project, I thought I’d just snatch enough time to borrow from my old blog today.

Here goes:

It is nearly midnight–a time I have only recently seen when a thunderstorm or nightmare wakes one of the children–and I am wide awake. Many thoughts have been careening through my head in the last few hours, and I am only just beginning to sort through them. Where do I begin? I suppose it would be best to begin with love. It was love that began me, after all.

When I speak so of love, I am not speaking of the rather clunky attempts humanity makes of the thing, nor do I mean to make a crude joke of the eros that was, nonetheless, certainly a fact of my beginning. I am speaking of Love as a Person.

It is written that God is Love, and that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. So you see, Love began me long before my earthly parents met or were even born. My Father had already set in motion a staggering number of events that would eventually lead to the birth of the child that was me. Astonishingly, this is no less true for anyone, whether or not they believe.

In this same multitude of events, my Father had also arranged for the death of that child, just as He arranged for the death of His Son. Jesus died selflessly, bearing my sins. I died shamefully only when I began to understand the weight of what He had given for silly, selfish, petty me.

Today (or to be particular, yesterday as of two minutes ago), as I celebrated His resurrection with my blood family and my church family, I thought of Paul as he wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

True, my body is not dead, but a person is more than their meat. The part that is me, the eternal part intended for fellowship with God but stuck in rebellion, is crucified–hanged by the sheer perfection of Love and my own unworthiness of it–and it is dying the slow death of crucifixion as each year reveals yet another area of separation from God and yet a deeper wonder of the merciful Savior who stands ready to receive me into life–real Life–once the sanctifying death is complete.

This Savior is the One without Whom I would have no chance whatsoever of seeing my way free of the absolute bondage of sin; without Whom I would not even see the chains.

Oh, and all this is just a mote–just a speck that I am struggling to put into words! This is the second time I have been flooded with a love that was far too exquisite to be human, far too immense to be my own. Along with that pulsing, cascading, aching sharpness is the certainty that it is also but the merest breath of True Love. So much love, so much life, so much mystery rushes through my mind. . .

How I love each of my brothers and sisters in Christ… not only as brothers and sisters, but as members of the same Body. . .

How I love the gifts and strengths of each and long to see them finally unbound from that which is crucified . . .

How I am torn by the weaknesses of each–my own included–and weep at the frailty of flesh removed from glory by sin. . .

How I am at once exhilarated and frightened by the depth of this Love that is both an unquenchable fire and a rushing torrent of water. . .

How I am captivated by the wonder of it all, wanting at once to be consumed by it and yet still clinging to the old self out of simple fear of the unknown. . .

How even now as I sit typing, groping for words, I know that this Story is too expansive to be contained by mere words. I can only communicate in terms of my experience with taste, touch, smell, sight, emotion. . . I am captive of my senses, and yet I have the distinct impression that even sensuality is only “dirty” because of the corruptive twisting of sin.

In contemplation of self or in love of others, it is often impossible to separate the sinner from the sin. My God, blessed be His name! does not share that problem, and in Him all things are plain, pure, undefiled, and Real.

A child understands such simple and complete love without the complications or nuances added by a decaying mind, for we are born into decay, and the corruption grows as our bodies grow, infecting us more and more completely.

It is only by opening ourselves to Love, by allowing the crucifixion of that which is perishable, that we can be raised one day imperishable. It is another seeming paradox. But what is paradox but a thing to show the fragility of human understanding? One breath of truth and it all comes tumbling gloriously down.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Bible Study Hack: My Secret Shortcut to Experiencing the Almighty

I’m just kidding. There are no shortcuts.

But I do have a sort of secret for how I stay faithful in my daily reading the Word of God, though it is neither very secretive nor mysterious. What is it? Simply this: I enjoy it.

I actually adore getting up and spending my first hour or so with the Lord, reading His Word, studying it, praying through it, and even interceding for others in prayer. To me, it’s like getting to start my morning with the Person I admire the most in the whole wide world, because… well, that’s exactly what it is.

The Bible is not something I read because I have to, nor even because I ought to; I read it because I love it and I love its Author.

It excites me to know that the Most High God, the magnificent Creator of all that has being actually left us here on this crazy, blue and green satellite with a written account of His character and work. Even more, it thrills me to the core that He actually participated in the experience of humanity instead of remaining on the outside like some cosmic marble collector.

It may seem a trifle odd when I confess to you that I do not only love the inspirational chunks of Scripture; I love all of it, even the parts that make me squirm uncomfortably because they expose my sin and shame. I welcome the heart-wrenching as much as the heart warming. I love it all because I know that even the awful lash of discipline is administered personally and perfectly by the hand of my infinitely loving Father.

If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life. I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts.
Psalms 119:92-94

Yet in all truth, there really is something like a secret behind my enjoyment, and I feel I would be remiss if I did not clarify this point: I cannot claim even a particle of credit for my delight in God’s Word. Not even the barest sliver stems from any righteousness or natural goodness on my part. It all has to do with God.

And all of it has taken time. Lots of time.

You see, the only reason I am able to enjoy His word, to look forward to reading it; the single solitary reason for my tendency to think about Scripture or ponder the nature of God when I am walking or washing dishes or gardening, or whatever it is that I do is because of His life at work in me.

To put it bluntly, I have because I asked, not for my glorification but for His.

… You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

James 4:2b-3

Even my love for the Lord is something that He has given me. All that lives and loves and is good in me is because of His life-giving power, His breath in my lungs, His love poured out into my heart.

Nor is this the quick work of a single hour. I have spent years desperately, tearfully entreating God to help me overcome my unbelief – and He is doing so. Yet I also know that I will be praying the same prayer for all the years that are left to me, for each new day brings with it yet another understanding of how pervasive my unbelief truly is.

If any faithfulness or goodness is seen in my life, it stems from God’s grace and work alone. You can be dead certain that all mistakes and wrong turnings are my own.

Believer, I do not know where you are on the narrow path that leads to life, but I want you to know that there are no shortcuts or cheats to intimacy with God, nor is there a bypass that will allow you to circumvent the pain of contrition. Yet every step of the way, every atom of faith, even the will to press on, is freely offered by the One who is both the Beginning and the End.

And you are invited along for the journey!

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Unplugged

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalms 37:4

For the last couple of weeks, I have spent most of my time unplugged. My family took a brief getaway to the beach, staying in a quiet residential neighborhood with no Wi-Fi.

Although I love many of the bloggers I follow, it was nice to take a holiday from the digital noise and to spend time reflecting on God’s Word surrounded by His creation and my family. Perhaps ironically, one of the most refreshing portions of the vacation included a little bit of conviction.

On the Saturday that we began the 7-hour drive to the nearest beach, the forecast for the 3 full days we planned to stay called for rain. A lot of rain. I confess that I was somewhat dissatisfied. As I expressed my disappointment on that first rainy day, He began to remind me of my own words written just a couple of weeks prior; words that spoke of finding contentment in Christ alone.

While we were at it, He also brought my attention to places in my heart where I had harbored jealousy instead of the satisfaction and gratitude that are appropriate for a daughter of the King of kings.

Grieved at my own hypocrisy, I repented,  thanking Him for His chastisement, and I began to intentionally offer Him thanks, reminding myself and my family of the abundance of His mercy and love manifested in gifts we have done nothing to deserve.

In my heart, I determined to satisfy myself with the Lord alone, yielding even a long-held desire to see a particular stretch of protected dunes sandwiched between high-rise vacation rentals and walk along the boardwalk that threads its way there from the road to the beach.

Yet now that I was truly and fully content in Him alone, He had something to show me.

On Monday morning, I rose around 7:00 to find that the rains had ceased, leaving behind only clouds. My mom and I headed to a nearby trail in the Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge, leaving behind my sleepy teens and my husband who was recovering from a cold.

The weather could not have been more perfect as we walked through the shade of live oaks and around a salt marsh and a lake.BeachNature003

As we walked, I stopped here and there to capture some of my Father’s artistry while at other times I merely savored the beauty.

To my great delight, we found that the trail we followed was intersected by another trail featuring a trek through natural sand dunes dotted by scrubby plants and low-growing vegetation.

GulfShores055Also along this trail was a ruin of some sort; a foundation of some small home and posts of unknown purpose that were gradually being reclaimed by the natural vegetation.

 

 

 

As we walked, the vegetation thinned, giving way to sea oats and the shore. GulfShores057BeachNature016

When I delighted myself in God, He took one small desire of my heart and returned it to me sevenfold. I absolutely adore natural places, and instead of settling for my small, cramped space of untouched dunes, He gave me a four-mile stretch of trail that encompassed even more than I had hoped to see. GulfShores059

Other gifts were more intangible: a genuine smile from my moody 12-year-old, a few moments of silliness from teenagers who are often irritated with one another.

Indeed, I am refreshed.  Sin has been brought to light and addressed, my family enjoyed some time together, and God granted not only the fullness of joy that comes in His presence, but many breathtaking glimpses of His creative genius as well. Oh, how great is my God!

 

O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great….

…May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works… I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD.   Psalms 104:24-25, 31, 33-34

 

 

Not My Job

So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'”
(Luke 17:10)

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To the right, you will find a section of my kitchen floor that I have come to think of as No-Man’s Land. Although my children have been required to help clean up the kitchen after dinner in some capacity since they were old enough to bring their plates to the sink, their responsibilities have grown with their bodies. Currently, they divvy up the duties among themselves and typically I will wash the dishes while they do the rest.

Or at least in theory.

It has come to my attention that there are two “sides” to my kitchen: the kitchen proper and the eat-in portion with the table. Apparently, if a young person sweeps one side, he or she is exempt from sweeping the other side. However, this section of floor between the island and the kitchen table does not belong to either side.

In fact, as far as I can tell, this particular stretch of floor is kept free of debris primarily by a combination of magic, fairy wings, and wishful thinking or failing that, Mom.

Yesterday, as I stepped barefoot onto some crumbs in No-Man’s Land and resignedly turned to get the broom, it occurred to me that perhaps some portion of the moral decay we see in our society today cannot be fully attributed to seething masses of pagan hordes gleefully spreading debauchery and gloating in evil. Maybe, just maybe, some of it has to do with the attitude that certain behaviors “aren’t my job.”

The things I’m talking about are small things, like cleaning the bathrooms at our churches or being the one who does not complain when our spouse does that crazy irritating thing he/she does.

There are medium jobs, too. Things like visiting a cantankerous widow, treating an outcast in your circle with love and respect even if they are hateful in return, or continuing to uncomplainingly serve someone who seems to take your kindness for granted as if it were their right.

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
(Hebrews 12:14)

Then there are the bigger acts – the places where we speak with our dollars and our actions. When the entertainment industry insists on placing inappropriate content in films, when stores embrace policies that are dangerous or exploitative to others, when advertisements marginalize or objectify women, we, the Church, need to be the ones who refuse to finance such choices.

That might mean inconvenience, taking a hard stand, being willing to do without certain things, spending our dollars wisely in order to send a message that we stand for the poor, the women who do not know better than to be objects, the children who are exposed to topics they are not yet ready to deal with. It is our job to be a “pillar and buttress of the truth,” and implicit in that is standing against immoral, corrupt, and deceitful practice even if it costs us.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
(Hebrews 12:3-4)

As the Church, our job is to go and make disciples. The Greek word translated there means, “learner or pupil,” and since most of us learn by example, setting an example is certainly the job of the Church.

And let me be extremely clear about this point: if we claim to be disciples of Jesus, we are the Church. We are the example. Where we spend our money, how we spend our leisure time, what we accept or embrace in our entertainments, how we act towards our families in private – all of it matters.

It might mean doing a job that no one else wants to do. It may mean dealing with humiliation. It may mean inconvenience, being out of the loop in our entertainment choices, or sacrificing a show we really did want to see. It may mean being called prudish or seeming to be an oddball in our culture. In all honesty, it may even mean our death in certain situations such as those our brothers and sisters face worldwide.

But if we are to make disciples, we need to first copy our Master, and while He was kind and loving, He was also uncompromising when it came to holiness and the honor of our God.

And He did many jobs that were not His to do.

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
(John 13:14-17)

 

 

 

Meet and Greet

Welcome!
I thought I would try something new today and host a Meet and Greet to meet other bloggers and to provide an opportunity to promote your blog.

That being said, I would like to do things a little bit differently: I want everyone who comments to promote two blogs, starting with someone else’s blog and then telling a little about your own. If possible, try to mention a blogger that you know of who is either new to blogging or needs a little leg-up for building traffic to their blog.

To demonstrate, I’ll start us off:

I would love for you to check out a newcomer to WordPress: Mr. Leonard Gluck.  You can find his wonderful blog at https://detectivegluck.wordpress.com/ where you will find downloadable Power Point presentations covering a wide variety of topics in creation and some of his own origami creations.

Mr. Gluck has a knack for highlighting fascinating facts about the creatures he runs across and the spiritual lessons that he learns while studying them. His downloadable presentations are an excellent and interesting addition to any home school or for any nature lover whatever the school choice!

An avid origami artist, he has also enjoys weaving either science or Bible lessons into his paper creations. Before he started his blog, I had the privilege of videoing him teaching the steps to one of his own origami creations. I encourage you to check out Detective Gluck!

As for me… well, this is my space and you can poke around. I enjoy writing about my spiritual journey. The many Biblical references about walking with God or comparing the spiritual journey to a race resonate with me as a person who loves to walk, run, hike, or just be out in creation worshiping the Creator,  hence the name of the blog. This is about my race, including trials and triumphs as well as what God teaches me through them.

Please comment below! I look forward to hearing from you, even if it takes me some time to make it over to your blog due to a busy season of life. I will get there sooner or later – that’s a promise!

 

 

 

An Oops -Lovely Blog Award

one-lovely-blog-award-badge1 An embarrassingly long time ago, or at the end of September (whichever you prefer to go with), I was nominated for this award by Lene in Japan on her wonderful blog, Wrestling with Faith- Dancing With Jesus.

Because I am absolutely horrible at completing these sorts of things, I thanked her warmly and then promptly forgot. I also confess that I feel a bit silly whether I participate or not. Like I always told my former judo sensei: I enjoy praise, but I think I handle criticism better. Funny, maybe, but entirely true! However it was, some quirk of memory brought it to mind today and I thought that – just maybe – I should actually do what I’m supposed to do for politeness’ sake. Oops. (Sorry Lene!)

Disclaimer: If I nominate your blog, you are under no obligation to follow the rules. I am only following them on a stretched technicality and very belatedly, so believe me that you will not hurt even one of my feelings.

Another disclaimer: If I do not nominate your blog, I still love it if I am following it. Otherwise, I would not have followed it in the first place. Honestly. Basically, I chose fifteen at total random and not my fifteen favorites. 🙂  Aaaannnd… if you’ve already been nominated, I apologize again, but consider it a thumb’s up from me. Besides, some days I barely have enough time to work on my own blog…

The Rules (Copied and pasted shamelessly from Lene’s blog):

Thank the lovely person who nominated your blog and follow them. YES FOLLOW me… actually even better: Follow Jesus!

Display the award logo and add this set of rules to your post so that your nominees will know what to do (sounds sensible, right?)

Nominate 15 other lovely blogs listing them in your post and notifying them via a link in one of their blog posts (or as I chose – link to their blog while listing them).

List 7 interesting facts about yourself to the post (not really sure what would count as “interesting” but I’ll give it a go)

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Fifteen Good Ones:

The Power of Story   /  INSPIRATION with an ATTITUDE  /  Detective Gluck  /  Jonathan Camac  /  Preacher Keith’s Blog  /  The Light Breaks Through  /  Shattered in Him  /  Beauty Beyond Bones  /  Mack Marie  / Life Less Ordinary  / The Bottom of a Bottle /  Julian for Jesus  /  Laura Bennett  /  In the Desert With Jesus  /  A Homeschool Mom Blog

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Seven Potentially Interesting Facts About Me (but no promises made):

  1. I have never been bitten by an octopus.  However, a friend of mine has.
  2. As of this date, I have about three chapters to go in  revising my first novel. I say “about three” because there may be an ax applied to some of the last bits…
  3. I have several children that I consider to be “mine,” although I have only given birth to three of them. If I were rich beyond belief and none of their parents minded, I would gladly adopt them all, but alas, their parents do care and homeschooling doesn’t pay super well.
  4. I have homeschooled all three of my children until this school year when my oldest 2 started going to a private school and my youngest is considering it. Weirdly, it feels a little like being fired…
  5. Because of #4, if I ever say, “This year,” I mean “This school year,” or “The year that started in August and ends in July.”
  6. I have strange hobbies, like trying to learn Hebrew or feeling compelled to research every strange insect or unusual bird that I run across, especially if I can manage to photograph them.
  7. Um…  I can’t really think of anything else, so I hope six will be enough.