Tag Archives: God

Boredom busters, who needs them?

Science Jamboree
Image by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via Flickr

Do you remember the amazing things you did with boredom?  You learned to shuffle cards.  You rode a bike with no hands.  You built models or wrote stories.  What a treasured life we lived!

Now, we have so many activities designed to occupy our time or our kids time.  We can go to the public pool, the park, play sports, take classes, play video games, watch television, or surf the internet.  We pack our moments so full, there’s little space for other experiences.

We do it because it’s expected.  We fear making poor choices, and we don’t want boredom.  What’s the thrill of boredom?

On its surface, boredom causes lethargy and decay, but if guided by caring parents who see a plus within a boredom experience much more occurs.

Let’s imagine…

  • a future musician minus boredom….no intrigue, no musical development, no passion.
  • a future artist minus boredom…no mistaken sketches aiding future development, no creative color blending, no mixing of mediums. 
  • a future computer tech minus boredom….no knowledge of deeper computer reasoning, no understanding of why people sit there in the first place, no ideas for improvement.
  • a future magician minus boredom….no finger dexterity, no ability to shuffle a card deck, no show.
  • a future mom minus boredom…no doll games, no babysitting, no practice, no skill.

Many great and small feats begin with a little undirected free time.  At first it flusters the mind and body, not knowing what to do.  But with a little elbow room and a touch of guidance from a mom or dad who cares, kids venture outdoors, pick up paintbrush or pen, read, write, examine, experiment or build.

Maybe that’s why God wants us to honor a sabbath.  From rest comes creativity.  His creative juices will never be topped, and He rested.

My choice today:

Allow a little boredom and keep eyes open to offer needed direction.

What do Andre the Giant, pit bulls, and bees have in common?

From the days of Tri-X 400: Classic wrestling ...
Image via Wikipedia

In fifth grade, I stood 4 foot, 5 inches. One of my closest friends, Lorenda, grew well over 5 foot 7 inches. I spent nights at her home,we giggled together, played and even carpooled. I really loved spending time with her.

It was easy to forget she was the biggest girl in our school, because she was my friend. If other kids didn’t her, they might be intimidated.

The same could be said for Andre the Giant, pit bulls and bees.

Andre the Giant

He found the limelight as a wrestling superstar standing 7 feet tall and weighing 520 lbs. The mere mention of his name sent chills through his WWWF competitors. From 1971 through 1984, he remained undefeated. Today, he’s listed in the WWF Hall of Fame.

And yet, he’s also called the gentle giant. Across the internet, we find stories of how he loved to pay for dinner when he went to restaurants. People found him enchanting. In the bonus features found on The Princess Bride DVD, his costars share their admiration of the big guy. Robin Wright Penn told how he used his huge hand to help keep her warm on cold shooting days by placing it on top of her head like a hat.

You can read more stories of his gentleness on the official Andre the Giant website.

Pit bulls

by freedigitalphotos.net

Want a dog with an intimidating reputation? The pit bull stands alone.

Read the news and you’ll find pit bull stories of attacks on people and dog fighting. We associate them with fierce toughness.

But there’s a soft and tender side to this maligned bully.

According to www.DogBreedInfo.com,”The American Pit Bull Terrier is a good-natured, amusing, extremely loyal and affectionate family pet, which is good with children and adults.”

Bees

by freedigitalphoto.net

People fear bees or bee stings for multiple reasons: pain, allergy, unpredictability, etc.  For those
with a severe allergy, we’re talking life and death.

Stick one bee in a room, and you’ve found a great equalizer. Young and old, small or tall, skinny or muscled or fat, almost everyone jumps or
freaks out in some way if a bee lands on their arm.

But we need bees. If we want food, we want them and their pollen carrying legs working their hearts out daily.

Hundreds of plants need bee intervention to produce food. According to New Agriculturalist Online, “Bees pollinate about one-sixth of the world’s flowering plant species and some 400 of its agricultural plants.”

One of the owners of Bennett’s Honey Farm in Fillmore, Ca, Ann Bennett, shared with me how often they sting her. I felt shocked, but she confidently made me aware that it helped to build her immunity not just to stings but other things as well. It didn’t bother her a bit.

Like going to the doctor for our vaccinations, even the sting serves a value.

Because she enjoys her bees so much, located inside their little honey store sits a clear, glass panel exposing a real hive to any observational types. Visitors view the inner workings of the beehive with fascination. She knows that hive well and befriends it.

As a honey lover, I happily receive the gifts they give too.

What do these three have in common?

Reputation. The reasonable human being would feel fear if they found themselves face to face with any of those items listed above.

And yet, each of those items stands as a true friend to those who know them well. For the close friend,they bring joy, confidence, and beneficial return.

In the same way, I enjoyed being friends with Lorenda and forgot about the differences in our stature because of our friendship.

Why it matters

The same happens to lovers or fearers of God.

Some people who love God and have befriended Him have become so close to His beauty, they forget His power. Others catch glimpses of His power, but have no desire or understanding of how He longs to befriend them.

We see and know His power because of Bible verses like this:

“The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it.” Nahum 1:5

or this:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” Proverbs 1:7

But we see and know His kindness and love because of verses like this:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” 1 Corinthians 13:11

My choice today:

Embrace God as my friend, while recognizing and appreciating His strength.

What about you?  Are you a lover or fearer of God? When you think about Him, what aspects of His character do you most embrace?

 

Parenting blessings (the things I love)

Calliope Hummingbird / Stellula calliope - fem...
Image via Wikipedia

Parenting has down sides, but sometimes it’s good to focus on the blessings.  If we don’t fully embrace each moment we might miss them and what a tragedy it would be.  As I look out my window and listen to the kids playing in the other room, I can’t help but feel blessed.

The definition:

blessing:  a special favor, mercy, or benefit

The List:

1.  Outrageous laughter which fills the air.

2.  Different types of expressions. (One who owns something must be an owner.  The toy dogs call out “Owner!”)

3.  Morning hugs.

4.  Creative energy.  (The experience of making baskets into bedrooms for dolls or foil into shoes.)

5.  Generous forgiveness.  (When one messes up, instantaneously the other says “I forgive you”, and means it.)

6.  My personal rooting squad.  (When something goes well, they cheer.) 

7.  Empathy central.  (When it goes badly, they feel the pain.)

8.  Fabulous fighting.  (Nothing gets held back and then it’s out there, ready to be dealt with.)

9.  Each day brings new adventure.

10.  Chubby cheeks packed with marshmallows.

11.  Loothe tooth lithps.  (loose tooth lisps)

12.  Sparkling eyes of energy.

13.  Watching brain development each year, and the surprises it brings. (“Dry ice comes from carbon dioxide which is CO2 and when it melts it becomes gas.”…today’s eleven year old observation in the grocery store.)

14.  Flopsy dancing on tippy toes.

15.  Elbows rammed into my stomach, always on accident.

16.  T.V. cuddles.

17.  Surprise kisses. 

18.  Grocery cart rides and how they change over the years.

19.  Nighttime prayer and Bible which they request daily.

That’s my list, why don’t you add your own ideas. 

My choice today:

Appreciate my children. 

What’s your confidence quotient?

Kevin Johnson at a mayoral rally on 28 May 200...
Image via Wikipedia

We don’t all meet famous people but occasionally it happens.  Usually, I end up feeling foolish because my tongue and mouth become intertwined and out comes absurd gibberish.  But one time, I actually spoke and listened well.

Fifteen years of my life, I lived in the Valley of the Sun also known as Phoenix, Arizona.  One would never describe it as celebrity central, but we had our own kind of celebrities.

In the eighties and early nineties, the popular people centered around the only professional sport in town.  Basketball.  Especially, Phoenix Suns basketball.  Let’s face it, I was a fan.

I adored watching Thunder Dan fling the ball from center court or K.J. (aka Kevin Johnson) corralling the troops as their amazing point guard.  I was such a fan, when the Suns attempted to win the Championship against the all-powerful Chicago Bulls, headed by Michael Jordan, I paid money to watch an away game at the Phoenix Stadium on the big screen just to be in the camaraderie of other fans.

Having said all this, you must know how I felt when one day I sat reading my Bible in a local coffee shop and in walked the previously mentioned K.J. (aka Kevin Johnson).  He sauntered toward me with the confidence of someone who knew the room was watching.  They were.

I said, “Hi.”  (This was huge for me.)

He said, “What are you reading?”

It’s a put up or shut up moment.  Do I claim Christ with confidence or cower in a corner and wait for the moment to pass?

To be fair, it was well-known around town that K.J. was a Christian.  In fact, friends from my church worked for him.  But the moment still felt immense.

I took a big breath, “I’m reading my Bible.  I’m a youth pastor, and we’re meeting tonight.”  (Yeah, I know, too much information, but at least I said it clearly.)

He made some small talk about where he went to church and set up his three cell phones at a table.  Clearly, he had work to do.  I resumed reading.  After a bit, he said, “I have a hundred dollar bill in my pocket, if you know a verse I mention, I’ll give it to your youth group.”

Serious?

I wasn’t entirely confident, but thought it worth a go.

He said, “The verse is found in Hebrews 3:14.”

I drew a blank.  Nothing.  Darn it!  Wasn’t that why I was attending seminary?  I confessed my ignorance.  He grinned, and I looked it up.

Here’s what it said:

“We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.”

He and I had a conversation about how faith doesn’t consist of the moments, but the longevity.  We must hold firm continually.  The conversation was short, but I still remember it 22 years later.  In my Bible reading today, I came across that verse and the tale unfolded again in my mind.

How often do we openly converse about our relationship with God with other people?  Sometimes we know they share our faith and sometimes we don’t.  The verse mentions having confidence, like K.J. had when he walked into that coffee-house.  We need that kind of confidence in our God.  The kind of confidence that makes us brave enough to share His story when the opportunity presents itself.  Whether remember everything perfectly or not, we know what we’ve experienced.  It’s worth sharing.

My choice today:

Share my faith with confidence seeking open opportunities to stand firm in Him.

Put on a helmet, you’ve pummeled the wall too long

Helmet + evil face
Image by Reinis Traidas via Flickr

The day I gave birth to my first daughter, a friend promised I’d understand God’s love better than ever.  In some ways, I’ve seen the truth of this statement.  In other ways, I understand God’s frustrations better.

If God is our heavenly father, then we parents can relate to how He might feel with us occasionally.   Today is one of those days.  Maybe it’s happened to you too.

You start with the best intentions.  Tell the kids, step one:  do this.  They do it.  Awesome.  Step two: do the next thing.  One does it, the other swears you never said a thing.  To clarify, you calmly restate step two.  Your wonderful child does a completely different activity convinced the guidance came from you.  They state this opinion quite adamantly and with great emotion. The calm and uncalm collide.  What?

You find yourself seated on the floor bamming your head into the wall, trying not to become angry at one small person’s inability to understand the English language.  What went wrong?

My days look this way occasionally, and then I remember my friend’s promise.  In spite of my frustrations, I adore the blond people God created through me.  I believe in their present and their future.   My love continues even as the wall banging comes to a head.   I guess I am learning about God’s love for me.

I do the same thing.   I read in scripture about what kind of life God wants for me.  I hear sermons on improving my faith walk and I think I understand.  Then, I do what my confused brain has instructed, only to find myself praying for forgiveness because not only did I mess up, but now I have a big clean up.  Has that happened to you?

I wonder, does God occasionally wish He created a wall to bang His head against? 

As the parent seeking to help my child get unstuck and grow, sometimes she needs a time out.  She needs a different choice, a calm uncomplicated choice.  Once the emotions subdue, she’ll be able to start fresh and take another crack at getting step two done.  Or, I might give up on step two for today and delay it for another day.  I remind her of my ongoing love.  We continue our relationship, in spite of wall banging moments.

If we’re the ones causing God to want to bang His head,  what can we do to start fresh?

My choice today:

Give myself a time out when I find myself messing up.  Pause.  Calm down.  Try again.  He still loves me.

Give generously

o is for open
Image by Michael W. May via Flickr

Generosity

Open hands,   You understand,
Welcome me in,  Let me begin,

Generosity.

Working hard, Offer your car, 
Bags of clothes, How'd you know?

Generosity.

Let me give,  Watch me live,
Share your stash, Offer cash,

Generosity.

Invent dreams, Sew the seams,
Dig the dirt, Heal the hurt,

Generosity.

You care, You share,
You know, You go with

Generosity.

(I was inspired by my wonderfully generous friends.  May you know the generous inspiration of others.)

God bless.

May the Son shine on your Sunday

Sunshine in Greece
Image by Guillaume Cattiaux via Flickr

I don’t often write poetry but a friend recently encouraged me to do so.   What could I write?  What could I pass on? Only what I know.  God’s love is present and real and He is there for each of us.  This is for you my precious reader, may it bless you.

This I know

When the sun shines and the wind blows, this I know,

You are there.

When my feet get stuck and I’m in the muck, this I know,

You are there.

You are there when the darkness penetrates my soul,

When my life feel like I am the pin and it’s time to bowl,

When I look in the mirror and feel like a troll,

This I know, I know, I know…

You are there.

Don’t swallow the grimy yuck

Moorhead, MN, March 30, 2009 -- Flood waters u...
Image via Wikipedia

We can’t turn left or right without hearing how deeply life sucks now.  Yup, I said it.  Whether it’s  the economy, the weather, the Mississippi flooding, an adulterous or lecherous leader, we hear and read it.  We learn how families torture one another and teachers lose  jobs.  Yuck, yuck, yuck.

For many of us, it’s as if we’re standing still watching the flood waters slowly move in underfoot and surround us. Progressively it rises and covers our ankles, we’re stunned.  Still we stand there.

The yuck moves its way up to knee level.  We look around and see others in the same predicament just as stuck as we are.  We become convinced we can do nothing.  We rest where we are.

We know the sludge continues but assume it will stop at some point and we’ll deal with it then.  The grime and stench overwhelm us,  but what can we do, what can anyone do?

The yuck continues and continues until it approaches chin height.  Why did this happen?  Who decided we weren’t meant to live happy, smooth, beautiful lives?

We resent our situation, but dumb-founded we stay.  We find calm in the fact that this is the end as we know it.  We resolve ourselves to a life of gunk and lose hope of change.

Stop.

Before it reaches lip level, we can decide not to swallow the grimy yuck.  It’s time to swim and ask for help.  This isn’t your Grandma’s backyard pool, it’s disgusting.  But if the Mythbusters can swim through syrup, we can do this.

If we choose.

If you noticed, we had choices all along the way.  You felt it as you read.  We could have sought higher ground, we could have helped others, we could have admitted and accepted change, but we made choices earlier, and here we find ourselves.

What choice is left?

We need to discipline ourselves.

Realizing whose strength surpasses the flood, we can go directly to the source of wisdom, strength and courage, God.  When the grime of life attempted to drop itself down Israel’s King David’s throat, he chose this approach:

“But I pray to you, LORD, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation.  Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink; deliver me from those who hate me, from the deep waters. Do not let the floodwaters engulf me or the depths swallow me up or the pit close its mouth over me.”  Psalm 69:13-15 

We cannot face life’s challenges alone.  Our capacity to understand and thrive limit our ability to move.  He feels no limits by that which He created,  and only He can see the light He provides in the dark tunnel of our lives.  Praying  to and trusting Him is not a cop-out or survival technique, it’s an exercise in muscle-building which enables us to swim.

Please share your struggle by taking this poll.  I’ll be praying for each of you.  Thanks for trusting me with your grime.

Dang, that book’s huge!

sleepy book head
Image by circulating via Flickr

The Harry Potter books surprise me.  A friend took a picture of his eight year old son holding and reading one of the Potter books and it looked gigantic.  I mean, Alice in Wonderland, little meets big, gigantic.

Just scanning the size of the book tired me out, maybe I’m the only one left who hasn’t read one, but seriously, it’s big.  What a way to begin a child on a weight lifting career.

I’m not knocking my friend because it’s a happened in our home too.  Seeing the large books gobbled up by her friends, my oldest longed to explore something bigger than herself.  Her heart moved toward The Chronicles of Narnia, which as planning would have it, happens to be in a single-bound copy available at Barnes and Noble.

The Chronicles include seven different books written by the amazing C.S. Lewis.  When she carts it around in her backpack and pulls it out at recess, I’m floored.  It’s just so huge.

The same thought crosses our minds when we see people with a Bible in hand.  It’s overwhelming in its capacity.  It contains 66 books, granted some are very small.  There’s much to grasp on a single page.

If we long to know something more, be part of something bigger, the book does beckon.  Yet we find ourselves stuck.  Organizational people complain about the Bible because the order isn’t chronological.  Story people consider it boring because of seemingly useless details like how many cattle crossed the Red Sea.  But there it sits on our shelf, staring at us, almost tauntingly.

We have a choice.  Become overwhelmed by the moment, tell ourselves it isn’t possible, or dream of consuming and comprehending it.

I had a teacher in college who liked to say, “How do you eat an elephant?”  She’d continue, “One bite at a time.”

There it sits, the elephant on our shelves.  Will we imagine it stepping on us and destroying our home or decide to open it and chow down?  However we start, one bite is one bite.

The Bible’s literary history rests unsurpassed by any other written work.  It’s story and details offer to help us understand the God of the Universe, how He thinks, what He wants, and what we can learn from Him.  Huge or not, it’s worth opening.

What’s the toughest part of Bible reading for you? 

How did that happen?

give up...or should I say, to God what is God's.
Image by abradyb via Flickr

Is there a rhyme or reason to the pluses in people’s lives?  Some people seem to receive much while others experience little.  I look at our country and wonder about our wealth.  Over the generations we’ve given much and received much.  How does that happen?  Who receives the credit?

In the business world, people call it “reciprocity”.  When we give generously, we receive generously. Many have tested and observed this relationship.  It’s what the rest of us call the freebie moment.  A store or person gives something for free and when we arrive to pick up that freebie, we feel a responsibility to give back and often do.

The marketing plan works.  But is it really so simple?

What if we look at this principle in a different light?  Could it be that God designed us to give and receive?  He placed a desire to serve within us and we either cooperate with His plan or we don’t.

We can’t turn on the radio or T.V. without hearing about the poor U.S. or world economy, but a couple of weeks ago I witnessed fabulous generosity.

People from multiple churches and denominations grouped together to pack meals for kids who live in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Uganda and Malawi.  The goal:  pack one million meals.

It can be overwhelming to imagine such a task, but they did it, in one day.  Actually, they packed 1,000,512 meals.  We’re talking people of all walks of life: some with money, some without, some with time, some without, some with energy, well you get the point.

If we believe God is the boss of our lives and our provider, anything we have to give first came from Him. Anything.  God supplies our time, money, physical energy, capacity to pray, all of it.

When we give what we have to give without holding back, what we receive in return may not be same for same, but we do receive.  King David looked over all he’d acquired, all he and the people if Israel had done and had this to say to God:

“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this?  Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” 1 Chronicles 29:14

The picture says, “Give up” another way to look at it is “Give to God what is God’s”.

Today, let us choose to be generous with whatever God has given.  What has God given you which you could give to others?  We are limited only by our imaginations. Share your comment click here.