...is when the tunes playing inside my head,
turn out to be the LORD trying to tell me something...
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
My kids must think we have migratory socks. Which we don't. But they must think that any sock, skinned off a foot and dropped at any point throughout this house, is going to get up and hop or slide or slither its way into the bathroom and jump into the hamper.
Well, guess what - that ain't gonna happen. Someone has to actually walk around this house and pick up those socks, for them to get in that hamper.
Wonder who gets to go gather the socks, hmmm?
Wonder who gets to clean up after my messes - after the dirty gunky socks I leave scattered about my life?
Makes it a bit easier, cleaning up after other people's messes, knowing the LORD does so much greater than that - in cleaning up after me.
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
the path through the valley
One day about six months after my husband died, I was bathing my youngest daughter (she was 2 then), when she pointed at the mirror in the bathroom and asked me to read it.
The mirror had been my husband's. It has King David's beautiful 23rd Psalm printed on it. Whenever my husband used to give our little girl a bath, he would read it to her.
So that day when she asked me to, I read it through to her. And then she asked me to read it again.
It was on that second read-through that I saw something. And it amazed me, because I have known the 23rd Psalm most of my life. I memorized it for a prize back when I was in kindergarten - lo, these many years ago.
But this time, as I read it, I noticed something that really struck me. For the first time, I saw that verse 3, which says, 'HE leads me in the paths of righteousness for HIS name's sake' - leads immediately into verse 4, which says, 'yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...'
And I got to wondering - if I am being led by the LORD my Shepherd in the paths of righteousness - then how did I suddenly wind up in the valley of the shadow of death?
...the LORD led me here?
Now, there are some people who have told me at this point, when I am relating this story, that for someone to be in the valley of the shadow of death means that they have strayed off the path of righteousness, straying away from the LORD. But I don't think that's necessarily so.
Look at the rest of verse 4: 'Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for THOU art with me; THY rod and THY staff they comfort me.'
If someone was really straying from the LORD, could they say that? Could they fear no evil if they were straying? And then David plainly states that the LORD his Shepherd is with him. He's not straying; he's right where the Shepherd wants him to be. He's being safely led, even in the darkness of the valley.
We are being safely led, even through the darkest valleys. The Shepherd is leading us. The dark valley - IS the path of righteousness.
And I think of this passage, also in the Psalms:
Psalms 66:10-12 KJV
10 For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.
11 Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins.
12 Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.
Why would the LORD do this to HIS people? Silver is tried by putting it into the fire, to melt away all the dross and impurities - all the scum. HE puts us in the fire? He brings us into a net? Lays affliction on us? Even causes men to ride over our heads? (Riding on war horses, is how I picture that.)
But why? Why would HE do such things to HIS people - to the ones HE loves?
HE does these things because it is by taking us through the fire and through the water - it is by melting the gunk out of us, and by taking us through deep waters up to our necks and even deeper - it is by bringing us through such things, that the LORD can then bring us out into the wealthy place.
In other words, sometimes the only way for us to get to the good place, the wonderful gracious place the LORD our Shepherd wants to bring us to - is by us first going through the hard and the fiery and the killing places - till we have died to Self and can truly live for HIM. For HIM and to HIM. And in HIM.
Where HE leads - there follow. Though the darkness be so complete you can see only the faint glow of HIS footprints leading away into the blackness - follow. The place of richness in HIM is ahead, through the fire and the water. As HE leads.
Monday, December 06, 2004
storyblogging carnival vii...
...is now online. You can find it here.
Please have a read - and links to the carnival would be greatly appreciated.
Sunday, November 28, 2004
hosting a carnival
I will be hosting the next Storyblogging Carnival, number VII, at my fiction blog in about a week. My first time doing anything that ambitious. Prayers appreciated.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Well, as long as I'm ranting (see post just previous)...
Rocky at Chapter and Verse has this post about Christmas (which he spells 'Christmass'). His views agree very much with my late husband's and mine - except I learned some stuff I never knew when I read Rocky's post earlier today.
And reading what he had to say sparked off some thoughts I have had over the years about Christmas. So...
Years before I ever had kids, I saw a skit at a Christian coffee house, showing a little boy telling his Momma about how his buddy had told him there was no Santa, no Easter bunny, no tooth fairy. And the little boy had faithfully told his buddy, of course there is! My Momma told me there is. And she wouldn't lie to me.
And of course, Momma had to admit to him that, yes, she had lied to him.
The skit ended with the little boy looking up into Momma's face and saying, 'Did you lie about Jesus too?'
Can you guess that, when I did have kids, we didn't do the Santa/Easter bunny/tooth fairy thing?
I want my kids to be able to trust that if I tell them something, I'm not gonna come back later and say, 'oh that's really not true after all.' I want my kids to know that I will do my best to tell them the Truth - and especially about Jesus.
The feeding frenzy ~
My husband came from a family of 7 kids. One time, we spent Christmas with his folks, with all the grandkids there. And they did the present exchange. Oy!
They lined all the grands up on the floor around the tree. And one adult pulled out gifts, read the tags, and handed them around. While another adult stood there with a trash bag, grabbing the shredded wrapping paper from the kids as fast as they ripped it off the packages.
And there were scads of gifts per kid. They were ripping paper, glancing at what was inside, then dropping it to grab the next gift. Like an assembly line.
Like sharks with blood in the water.
And when it was all done - when there were no more gifts to wrench open - the kids were looking around, as if they were thinking, 'That's it? This is all we get?' When each one of them had a pile of new toys, etc, at their sides!
Greed. Greed central.
Nowadays, when Christmas rolls around, my parents (who live in another state) will usually send my kids a big box with one gift apiece in it. And one or two other relatives might do the same. And then a mysterious someone at church will give them each something. Also, my brother will send a check to get them a gift apiece with.
And I have learned that when the kids receive a box of gifts, whatever day it is - let them have the gift that day. One at a time. They appreciate the gift more, when it's the only thing they got that day.
Avoiding the feeding frenzy.
The songs ~
They will be played continuously this time of year, from the day after Thanksgiving until after New Year's Day. The 'Christmas carols.' Except many of them have nothing to do with Christmas - some are celebrations of the original pagan rituals - and the 'Christian' ones can have their facts so screwed up...!
Songs like 'Winter Wonderland' and 'Let it Snow.' These are simply winter songs. Why are they only played for Christmas? Shouldn't they be played right up through the start of spring?
Songs like 'Deck the Halls' and 'Wassailing.' These hark back to the rites of the pagans from before Christmas came into being. The Yule log and such. Hold-overs pointing back to the true origin of this winter holiday.
Songs like 'The First Noel.' Oh, that song sets my teeth on edge! They have the shepherds following the star, for crying out loud! Didn't anyone actually read their Bible before writing this one?
There are a few songs for this time of year that I do like. 'O Little Town of Bethlehem' - 'O Come O Come Emanuel' - 'Joy to the World.'
And the best of the lot, with its clearly evangelical lyrics: 'Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.' 'Born that men no more may die / born to raise the sons of earth / born to give them second birth...' (Now, that's a writer who was reading his Bible!)
The date ~
Speaking of 'this time of year'...
If the LORD had wanted us to celebrate HIS birth, don't you think HE would have indicated it clearly in the Bible just when HE was born? But out of four Gospels, Mark and John don't even cover the birth of the Savior. Matthew speaks of the birth, but doesn't bother to mention when it was.
Only Luke covers it in detail - and gives only clues as to the time of year. We know that it was six months after John the Baptist's birth - which was at least nine months after his father Zechariah's vision in the Temple while burning incense. At least nine months later - maybe more than that...
And we know that it was a time of year when the shepherds would be out in the fields at night to watch over their sheep. Which to me says, not likely in the dead of winter.
HIS death, on the other hand, is clearly dated. It was at Passover. All four Gospels tell us so.
To me, that says something. It says - the death and resurrection - that's the important part - focus there.
(But please! don't call it Easter! Which is the name of a pagan goddess - and fodder for another rant in about four months...)
it's NOT turkey day!
Please - pet peeve of mine - and it may be a minor thing - but this is NOT turkey day. We are not celebrating turkeys. We are supposedly - supposedly - remembering how the LORD lovingly blesses us with good things. And most Americans have tons of good things, and frankly very little gratitude.
I live on the border with Mexico. All you have to do is cross the Rio Grande and see some of the colonias over there - shacks made of cardboard! - to see how good Americans have it. Even the poor in America tend to have it better than an awful lot of Mexicans.
And Americans don't live in a war zone, like people in Iraq or Afghanistan or the Sudan, etc. We have a LOT to be thankful for. But for so many of us, the holiday that should remind us of our blessings, and of the Giver of all good things - instead, it's 'turkey day' with too much to eat and football games. And gratitude and thankfulness nearly forgotten.
Monday, November 22, 2004
storyblogging carnival vi
...is now up at Back of the Envelope. Go and have a read.
I volunteered myself to host the next carnival. Eek! This should be a learning experience...
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
70 x 7
How much is too much? How often is too often? How many trips to the well can one person make before that well runs dry?
How many times can a Christian mess up and come back asking for pity, for compassion, for help - before the rest of us Christians throw up our hands and say, 'Ya! Enough! You must like to wallow. If you really wanted to be free, you'd be free already.' And we wash our hands of him, kick the dust off our feet against him, and leave him to himself.
At what point do we do that?
At what point should we do that?
Or even - should we ever do that?
Peter asked the LORD how often he should forgive his brother - up to seven times? And Jesus answered him, not seven times, but seventy times seven. Was the LORD wanting us to keep a careful count, and on the 491st time, cut off the forgiveness? What do you think?
How far do we take this? How long do we hang in there? How many days do we put up with a fellow Christian who is given the same good advice over and over again, and never seems to change? One week? Two weeks? Three?
James speaks of the farmer waiting for the precious fruit of the earth, having long patience as he waits for the early and latter rains. Just how long does a farmer wait, watching for his crops to sprout and grow and ripen for the harvest - one week? Two weeks? Three?
A whole season?
Or what of the case of a tree? A whole season is not long enough for it to grow to maturity. Jesus spoke of the impatient owner of a fig tree. Three years the owner had come looking for fruit on that tree and found none! Cut it down!
But the gardener begging of him yet one more year. One more year, before cutting it off, before giving up hope.
Four years. How many of us bear with someone that long?
How long did GOD have to bear with us, before HE ever saw us change?
Change can be long in coming. Not everyone 'gets it' quickly. Sometimes the good seed planted is snatched away by the birds of the air, again and again and again, before it can ever take root. And then there may be rocks still in the soil - so many rocks! - that need to be cleared away, and more cleared away, and more cleared away, before that root can go deep. And sometimes the weeds spring up, again and again and again, and must be rooted out again and again and again - before the good soil is at last ready to bring forth a fruitful harvest.
Patience. Patience untried, patience unstretched, is not yet patience. Mercy unstretched, unproved, is still but a pleasant concept, not yet living and active.
Mercy. James tells us that mercy triumphs over judgment. And warns us that those who show no mercy cannot count on receiving mercy when they need it.
How much is too much? Just stretch a little more. Have a bit more patience, a bit more mercy, with the person who is 'taking too long.' Let it grow you up a bit more, in love and compassion and mercy.
After all, GOD's well of love and compassion and mercy hasn't run dry yet. Why should ours?
what i've been up to
When I started blogging back in sept, the first name I gave my site was 'the infrequent blogger.' And I seem to have reverted to infrequent blogging, haven't I?
I have been writing. Just not much non-fiction. Over at my fiction site, though, I've been putting up a new chapter on my story 'the child' every 3 days or so.
It's odd how that story started. I was praying, asking the LORD to give me a story to place on my fiction site. And the first sentence popped into my head. So I repeated the sentence over and over again (so I wouldn't lose it) while I finished what I was doing (laundry) and hurried to the computer to write it down.
I wrote it down, 'cause I was curious to see what would come next. That was a little over a month ago, and I now have 16 chapters online, another 4 written in the editing/revision stage - and at last, some inkling of where all this is going! Whew!
Yeah, I have a funny way of writing. Almost like just being the secretary at times.
And then what many of you may not know (as if I have this huuuuuuuge readership here!) is that I am also writing a novel. And have been for quite a while now. When I started on it, I wrote that the main character was 10 years old - because, at the time, my oldest child was 10.
My oldest is now 15, going on 16 - and the novel is not yet 1/2 done!
Well - I took a rather long break from it. I was working on it, about 1/4 of the way through, deep into the third draft - when my husband died. And it happened the part I was writing at the time featured a character that was based on him. Which made it very hard to write. It was about a year before I could come back to it and write that section.
Finally finished that section - almost done with the next - and about to go back to the beginning, I think, and read through the entire novel, do some fine-tuning, make sure the main character stays 'in character' - all that good stuff. Before going on to finish the 6th section of the book - at which point I'll be half-way through.
I keep wanting to write something to place here. But for now, fiction seems to be the focus. So that's where I am.
~~~ mental radio ~ contents copyright © 2004 ~ sheya joie yonathi ~~~