Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Holy Week - A Time to Visit a Landromat!

"The grace of Easter is a great silence, an immense tranquility and a clean taste in your soul."
Thomas Merton, April 9, 1950

Sunday morning I was handed a palm leaf as I went into our church's sanctuary. Within minutes, the children's choir was belting out songs of joy while confetti fell from the ceiling. Children marched up and down the aisles waving their palm leaves. A celebration to commemorate that day when Jesus rode on a colt into Jerusalem. The people laid down leaves and cheered as he entered. A rite reserved for visiting kings.

Holy Week is here. As I've grown in my walk with the Lord, this week has come to mean more and
more to me.

It is a time to remember the last week of Jesus's life.

It is a time to be grateful for new beginnings and new grace.

It is a time to stand in awe at His sacrifice on
the cross and a time to lift hands in praise at the resurrected Savior.

And it is a time to go to the laundromat. :0)
I came across the above quote by Thomas Merton this morning and I savored the final words -  "a clean taste in your soul." I love that! Christ is ready TODAY to refresh and renew our souls. Clean, like the smell of a new cotton sheet and warm, like a towel from the dryer.Our souls get so dirty so easily, don't they?
How can they not when we each are sinners living in a wretched world? But the great Dry Cleaner of Souls can wash us in His love and His hope. 

This week, this Holy week, give yourself a trip to God's great laundromat and allow Him give your soul a clean taste. The taste of hope and joy.

The taste of the Resurrection! 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Joyvotion - The Joy of a Dog

“Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10

I write this Joyvotion from the hospital. And even though I’m in a bit of a stressful situation, I feel His joy. It’s my strength. Thinking how we came to be here gives me joy and strength too.

To our dog Scooby, sickness emits the same perfumed scent as bacon. At least that’s been our family joke. Whenever I’ve been ill, Scooby nuzzles up to me and loves on me. Extra. He can tell when I’m not feeling good.

But in the past three years whenever Noah has been sick, he hasn’t snuggled extra with the boy. Until Monday night.

Noah came home Friday afternoon not feeling well. He was sick all weekend but the cold didn’t affect his asthma until Monday. He used his inhaler several times. That night I stayed up late, with Scooby by my side, to enjoy “Dancing with the Stars” on DVR. The males in my home refuse to watch it with me. :0)

At about midnight, Scooby bounced up from his sleep and looked at me curiously. He tilted his head and straightened it. I had no idea what he wanted.

I casually said, “Scooby, we’ll go to bed soon.”

He jumped down and left. I thought he was going to his bed. We’d taken it from Noah’s room and put it in ours because Noah was sick. Ten minutes later, I went to my room and noticed Scooby wasn’t in his bed. I looked around and then opened the door to Noah’s room. Scooby lay cuddled up to Noah’s side.

“Scooby, get down.”

He wouldn’t go. I tried to push and pull him but the dog wouldn’t budge. He just stared at me. Scooby’s never displayed this behavior before. Noah woke up and immediately went to get his inhaler. Thirty minutes later I was on the phone with the doctor and then we went to the ER.

Scooby knew.

Asthma is one of those sicknesses that require judgment calls. You don’t know how bad it is sometimes. Monday night, John and I were on the fence about the seriousness of Noah’s lungs. Scooby knew and brought it to our attention.

Yep, Lassie told us Timmy was in the well. :0)

This morning, Wednesday, Noah is having a chest ex-ray done. We may go home today and we may not. I wish Scooby were here. Maybe he could tell us. :0)

A couple of friends and I were talking the other day about whether animals would be in heaven. My vote is absolutely. John’s Revelation of Heaven included horses and birds. And beyond that, I believe that God would want those of us who are blessed by animals to have that joy in the afterlife. Just like I believe Heaven will contain coconut cream pie and great moments of game playing laughter, I believe dogs will be there, too.

For now we take joy in the pleasures God has offered right here, right now. Although the last several days have been an ordeal for Noah, he’s been a trooper, too. I asked him this morning if he was ready to go home today. He took a minute and thought about this.

“Mom, I like this hospital room. This bed is fun and the food they serve here is great. But I do want to go home. I’ll get to be with my friends at home. And Scooby.”

When we do go home, Scooby will get extra treats. That’s one of his joys.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Great Prayer for your Children!

Her name is Joan. She's now a grandma, an older woman. The minute I met her at my Bible Study I thought "This woman can teach me something." And last week she did. We were discussing Isaiah 44 and came upon a passage in which God is giving Israel a promise of blessing.

Joan said that when her children were teenagers, she watched as they got caught up in some behaviors that really worried her. She found this verse and felt like God told her to begin praying it over her teens.

"I did." She said, her eyes getting misty. "And today my kids are grown up and love Christ. They belong to the Lord."

Watching her testify to the power of prayer and a God who listens was beautiful. My son is 11 and he's not caught up in bad behaviors right now. But I want to put him in God's hands. So I prayed this verse over my son. What a blessing it will be if someday when he has his own children he tells them and the world, "I belong to the Lord."

Do you have children? This is a wonderful passage of Scripture to pray over them.

"I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams. One will say, 'I belong to the LORD,' another will call himself by the name of Jacob; still another will write on his hand, 'The LORD's' and will take the name of Israel." Isaiah 44: 3-5

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New haircut, New season!

My new haircut!

Yesterday I got a new haircut. I love it! Last week I joined a new Bible study class on Isaiah. It's a Kay Arthur precept study. Wonderful and deep. Today I think I am going to try a new meatloaf recipe.

A little "newness" in my life keeps it interesting.

Isn't that true for you? It is so comforting to have schedules and security, but mixing life up with a new challenge or new look adds joy to the comfort.

Do you think God likes "new?" I do.

Look at Isaiah 42: 9 "See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare;
before they spring into being I announce them to you."

I believe God is always up to something new. Besides giving us new challenges and joys, I bet you God is making new colors and new sights to see in the heavens. Just my opinion. :0)

And then there's spring.  Ahhh... What a wonderful time to get outdoors and see new buds and new flowers and the new smell of earth and sweet scented nature. For the next four days, Denver is supposed to see weather in the 60's. Can't help but smile as I type that.

A new season is beginning. How can we not love it? Thank you Jesus!

Anything new in your life? I'd love to know.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Plain Jayne by Hillary Manton Lodge

When I opened up Hillary Manton Lodge's debut novel, Plain Jayne, I wasn't excited. I'm not into books about the Amish. I rarely read romance novels. But I met Hillary online and absolutely love her personality. Her facebook posts and her blog always entertain me. So I opened up Plain Jayne and started to read.

As Gomer Pyle, that wonderful icon of the sixties, would say, "Soo prize, Soo prize!"

I LOVED this book. It's not like the couple of Amish romances I read. The writing is sharp and the wit is acerbic at times. The characters are well drawn and I really enjoyed Jayne. Plain Jayne didn't make the Amish intriguing, it made Jayne intriguing. That's great writing. The Amish added to the story and the Burkholder family's customs were interesting, but I wanted to know what happened to Jayne. In fact I stayed up late and got up early to find out. This is a terrific novel.

I finished the book this morning and I'm still thinking about it and smiling. And the best part? The sequel, Simply Sara, is coming!

If you want to read a book that will translate in your mind tino a wonderful romantic comedy, go buy Plain Jayne. You can thank me later. :0)

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

It's the Little Things, Isn't It?

It's the little things, isn't it?

The smell of spring the last few days has tickled my nose and caused little giggles for no reason at all except the promise of budding beauty.

My dog Scooby and I spent some time at the dog park Sunday. What a kick to watch my puggle at play. And then, when he was finished, he ran to me and tugged at the leash. Communication with our animals who don't talk is a joy. A little one, sure, but a precious gift from God.

My son told me a story in which he encouraged someone else to stand up to a bully-like boy. Reliving adventures of courage in my son made me smile. And yep, my heart stood to attention in pride.

I watched the Oscars Sunday night and had a ball. Some people are not in to this show, like my husband, but to me it is a silly wonderful experience, one I've delighted in since I was twelve.

When I drive home down Arapahoe Road, the street dips in such a way that I am treated to a view of the Rockies that reminds me of a museum worthy painting. God paints gorgeous murals.

Today I am trying something new. A little scary, but I smell adventure.

Matthew 25:23 says "His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master."

This verse is part of the parable of the talents Jesus told. It's talking about being faithful with the gifts or talents or money God has given you. But I believe it can also apply to those little moments God sends us. Simple beauty wrapped up in a packages marked with "Just Because I Love You."

To be faithful with those sweet moments God gives us is to be grateful and content.

What is a sweet moment you've experienced lately?

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Check out my video!

What do you think of my new Joy Dance video? Tonya Vander, a wonderful photographer and friend, created this for me and I love it. Hope you do, too!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

My Annual Oscar Prediction Blog!!

It’s that time of year again – it’s Oscar time! And I am so honored to say that someone ACTUALLY ASKED if I was going to write my annual blog about the nominated movies. Hey you ask, I’m typing!

So here is the opinion of a middle-aged woman who has watched every Academy Award show since she was 12. That means I’ve seen 35 of them. Yikes…

This year 10 movies were nominated. Why? They say because it was such an outstanding year. Baloney. I don’t agree with that. Tradition says the top 5 should be nominated. It kind of smells like an elementary school where every child gets an award so no one will get their self image hurt. Oh come on, Oscars!!

I have seen 6 of the 10. So I can’t comment on District 9, A Serious Man, An Education or Inglorious Bastards.

But as for the others:

Avatar – Too loud for me. I am aging, aren’t I? I went with John and Noah. Noah enjoyed it and John loved all the special effects. I know some people say that James Cameron is an artist (he sure does make money off his art) but his art is too much tech and too little story for my likes. I did not enjoy the blue people and much of the plot was contrived. But since it is new and improved technology, it is an interesting experience if you have senses that can take it.

The Hurt Locker – John and I got this from Net Flix and watched it in the comfort of our living room. I enjoyed this because I got to leave the room as much as I wanted during the movie. John REALLY liked this movie about a group of military men who take care of the undetonated bombs in Iraq. It was interesting to me. I didn’t know this was a job.in the military. But it didn’t strike me as a great movie. Not to be sexist, but this is a guy movie. And it was directed by a woman!! I find that refreshing and amazing. I’d like to see her win best director!

Up in the Air – I don’t want to spoil this movie for you, but there is a big twist in it that took me for a loop. I didn’t necessarily enjoy the twist either. The writing in this movie is what I really enjoyed. Fantastic dialogue. The plot – a man who jets around the country firing people for corporations begins to question whether he wants the kind of life he has or a more settled one with a particular woman – struck a relevant chord because of our economy. But it didn’t make me feel good. It didn’t make me feel much of anything. So I say skip it. But rent it if you like George Clooney. Who was great, by the way.

Blindside – I didn’t see this movie until it had been in the theatres for a while so I knew going in that it was going to inspire me and move me. Maybe my expectations were too high. I found it charming but not best picture material. At all. Sandra Bullock delivered a feisty character with a true accent. But Best Actress? To me that is another reason this wasn’t a banner year for the movies. Meryl Streep in Julia and Julia – so much better!!! I hope she wins, but the odds on favorite is Sandra. Take your family to see this and you will have a great time. Just don’t expect a classic in the making. It’s not.

Up – John and Noah and I saw this together in the theatre and when I sat down I prepared myself for a sweet movie, but a kid’s movie. If my mind wandered to a grocery list or an idea for a story, no big deal. But then…I was captivated. The first fifteen minutes left me bawling. I’m telling you, crying out loud. Noah jabbing me and John looking at me to see if I needed to leave weeping. And then it just got better and better. I love Up. Love it! It won’t win, it is still an animated film, but this movie my 2nd favorite!

Precious – Wow. THIS is an academy award winning movie. The story is SO powerful and SO redemptive. But it is difficult to watch. The main character is an obese teenager who is about to have her second child by her father. Yikes. Tough material. But as I watched it, I cared about her. I cared about her future. When I left the theatre I started pondering deep issues in our society and my own existence. THIS is an academy award winning movie. Monique WILL WIN supporting actress honors for her portrayal as Precious’s mother. She was terrific. I saw an interview with her and she said that after the premiere, the great Sidney Poitier told her, “I did not see one insecure moment in your performance.” Exactly. She’ll win. I want this movie to win, but for some reason that I cannot comprehend, the blue people flick and all its tricks is favored to win.

So of the six I saw here is how I would rate them:

1) Precious   2)Up   3)The Hurt Locker   4)Blindside   5) Up in the Air   6) Avatar

In conclusion, here are my predictions:

Best Supporting Actor:   Who I want to win:     Stanley Tucci from Lovely Bones    
Who will win:  Inglorious Bastards guy

Best Supporting Actress:     Who I want to win and who will win:  Monique from Precious                  

Best Actor:  Who I want to win:  Colin Firth    Who will win:     Jeff Bridges

Best Actress:  Who I want to win:  Meryl Streep    Who will win:  Sandra Bullock

Best Director   Who I want to win:  The gal who directed Hurt Locker   
Who will win:  James Cameron – Avatar

Best Movie: Who I want to win and who should win:   PRECIOUS     
Who will win:  The blue people

So what do you think? Agree? Not? I’d love to know!

Letting Go

“Mom, we get to have our own lockers in Junior High.”

He announced this as I drove him home from school.

“You’re thinking about Junior High already?”

“They talked to us today in school about it.”

He continued his story, excitement icing each detail of beginning band and the choices in the cafeteria and so many different teachers.

Tears came with no warning.

“Mom, are you okay?”

By this time we were home and I said, “I need a minute, Noah. Go on in.”

My eleven-year-old sensed what was wrong. “Is it because I’m growing up?”

I nodded. He grinned and got out of the car.

Last night, he and John and I went to my son’s new Boy Scout troop’s meeting. We were all impressed and excited. Noah and John were talking about the details when we walked up to our condo.

“I am going to work hard to be an Eagle Scout, Dad. I’m up to the challenge.”

“I’ll walk Scooby,” I announced.

I needed a minute.

The throbbing of my heart seems like it’s a possessed engine these days, starting up and going off with no warning. My boy is growing up. It’s the natural thing. My parents always encouraged aging in our family. I was rewarded for it on my 18th birthday with a set of luggage.

But I wonder if my mom’s heart hurt like mine does now. I’m sure it did.

When Scooby and I came in last night, John asked if I was okay. I told him my soul felt like Velcro and my baby boy was being ripped away from me, a little at a time.

I can be dramatic.

But letting go is difficult, isn’t it Mom? How do you deal with this?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Practicing the Presence of God

I’m reading the book “Practicing the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence and the other day I read:

”Our sanctification depends,
not only on the changing of my behavior,
but on doing for God what
we ordinarily do for ourselves.”

Sanctification means the process of becoming more like Jesus. Hmmm…
What do I ordinarily do for myself?

  • Spend time with family
  •  Talk with friends
  • Write
  • Blog, Facebook and Twitter
  • Eat
  • Read good books
  • Shop
So Brother Lawrence is simply tell me to:

Spend time with family for God. Keep Him in mind when I love on them.

Talk with friends for God. Make Him a part of the conversation.

Write for God. Ask Him to give me the words.

Blog, Facebook and Twitter for God? Yep. He enjoys social media, too. :0)

Eat for God. Ouch. That might change the menu a bit.

Read good books for God. He would love to be a part of my thoughts as I eat up plots and ideas.

Shop for God. When I’m buying something, ask His opinion. Hmmm…

It’s a choice. It’s a choice to allow His presence to infuse every part of life.

Have you tried this? What happened?