Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Let's Have a Tupperware Party!

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things
will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

If you come over to my house for dinner, John will cook something scrumptious and I will attempt to entertain you with conversation. That’s our usual M.O. since John creates dishes like a professional chef and I, well, I can talk. :0)

But we won’t ask you to clean up or serve yourself. Probably not because of the reason you think. It’s not to be a servant or because I want to pamper you and make you feel like royalty. I just don’t want you to look in my cupboards.

However, today I’ve put a picture abover of my Tupperware cupboard.
I’ll give you a second to either judge me or relate to me. Tupperware cabinets are pretty polarizing. Either you have it organized like a finely tuned compartment with everything in its place or, it looks like mine – a box of mish-mashed toys, waiting for something to cause it to all fall out.

One of Noah’s chores is to empty out the dishwasher and put everything up. Just by listening I can tell when he is putting up Tupperware. Grunts of frustration and sentences like “You’ve got to be kidding me!” reach my Mom ears as do the noises of plastic hitting the kitchen floor.

Our church’s youth director used a picture of his Tupperware cabinet (it looked like mine) to make an analogy: Don’t our lives sometime look like this?

I relate. We keep putting dishes in of all sizes into our lives without taking the time to sort or organize anything. We don’t throw away the ones that are old or have lost their lids. We just keep shoving in more and more, promising that one day, we’ll clean it up and sort it out. But that day only happens after the cabinet explodes and all our Tupperware falls out.

The parallels are clear. The way I see it, life without direction, without The Director of our Hearts, is a messy Tupperware cabinet.

God is for YOU! He doesn’t want your life to be marked by disorder or destruction, confusion or consumption. God loves us so much He yearns for our hearts to desire Him, first and foremost, and then amazingly everything else falls into place.

When we seek success first, we are jamming a bowl into that cabinet. When we seek busy-ness or fun first, we are trying to fit those two square containers into the large bowl unsuccessfully. Eventually, we reach for that little round container, the one in the center back, and everything falls to the floor.

But when we seek God first, and relax in His arms and purpose for us each day, we find ourselves taking the time to fit in the bowls into the bigger bowls and throw away that silly popsicle thing we never use anymore.

On my list to do TODAY:

1) Seek Him First

2) Maybe actually clean out that cabinet? :0)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Look Around and Cheer, "Go God!"

"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands." Isaiah 55:12

“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Luke 19: 38-40

Three rows ahead and to the left. That’s where he sat with his grandson. During worship, he stood holding onto his grandson with one arm, while the other arm rose with a hand lifted up, surrendering to the Father. When he sang, his lips moved ever so slightly, but I could tell every word meant something.

God’s beauty comes in all forms. This past week, I’ve been overwhelmed by it.

My stepdaughter Sarah put up a picture on Facebook of my granddaughter Lucy Ophelia on Easter. She’s hundreds of miles away, and in that moment I felt her on my lap with her smooth nine-month-old skin and sweet smile that communicates the innocence of childhood right along with the gorgeous love of God.

I went to the Botanic Gardens with some of my Bible Study friends. I couldn’t believe the different colors and types of tulips! From flowers that looked like Dr. Seuss drew them, to a purple cactus with yellow buds, the garden displays the creativity, the wonder of God.

At a movie theatre on Friday night, I sat with a group of friends and family and watched Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz. Several times I heard my brother Phil’s full throated raucous laugh that is born of a belly full of Jesus. Beautiful.

John and Noah and I attended a concert in which the Denver Concert band played an eclectic range of songs, including Blue and Green Music by Samuel R. Hazo. That song whisked me away and I imagined myself in heaven, dancing and flying with Christ, my own personal soundtrack in the background.

And finally, the man in church. His white, thin hair reminded me of an old eagle’s feathers. A tuft of it stuck straight up at the top of his forehead. Wire glasses sat low on his nose and the wrinkles on his face told so many stories. Stories I’ll never know. But after watching this beautiful old man worship in church, I know every story was worth it. Each a puzzle piece in a portrait of God’s beauty.

We get busy and forget to look around at the beauty that God has for us. Yesterday I ate two of the best fish tacos I’ve ever eaten at the California Pizza Kitchen here in Denver. Go God! As I write this I’m listening to Forever a secular pop song by Chris Brown. It may not have been written to glorify the Father, but the joy in the music is originated in our God and in His beauty!

Look around! Taste His goodness and hear His joy. Watch for the splendor of the Father in the faces around you. We may not glorify God in all our choices, but His creations cannot help glorifying Him. Praise His Name for His beauty!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

In Writing, His Flashlight is more important than a Laptop!

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth… “ John 16:13

“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25:5

“The Lord will guide you always… “Isaiah 58:11

I’m in a battle in my writing right now. It’s a good thing, challenging me and causing me to think through priorities and motivations. My number one need is discernment.

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, discernment means to comprehend the obscure, or that which is hidden in darkness. Discernment isn’t easy. I asked God to guide me, but when I didn’t get the answer quickly, I asked other writers. Their opinions, all given with great intentions, were varied. Concerning my writing and my novel, I’ve heard:

Write for the Christian Market.
Write for the Secular Market.
Cut out the first 40 pages of your novel.
Write in third person instead of first.
Write in first person present, I love it!
Make your lead character more sympathetic.
I love your lead character, she is so real.
Self publish.
Wait for one of the main publishing houses.
You could be the next Christian Fanny Flagg.
Don’t quit your day job, Robbie. (Well, no one actually said this one.)

Now what I’m supposed to do with my writing seems more obscure than ever.

The answer, as always, is to get back to the basics with Christ.

1) Pray – “God, guide me,” is an excellent prayer.
2) Listen – We live in a noisy world. Get some place quiet, not quiet like the TV is still on in the background, but really quiet and just listen.
3) Believe that He will speak to you. If you don’t know if what you are sensing is God or not, test it against the Scriptures.
4) Wait. Don’t be in a hurry.
5) Walk into His blessings! When He shines His flashlight of discernment and you see the cobblestone path in front of you, don’t over think it. Just go.

What if we choose the “wrong” path? One of the really cool things about God is His grace and mercy which covers us. The choice I make may look wrong because it doesn’t live up to my expectations or someone else’s. We are told to walk by faith, not sight. It won’t always “look” right. But God is sovereign and His grace covers us no matter what road we walk down.

Are you going through a time where you need to make a choice and you just aren’t sure what to do? Getting advice from others is wise, but using discernment by listening to our Lord will bring you to the right choice for YOU. He loves you and me so much. No matter what I write, God is with me, drawing me to Him.

The journey is full of joy.

Friday, April 06, 2012

You Going to the Dance?

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Each year April begins a little weird for me. My mother and my father both died in April and other relatives have passed this month, too. So when the calendar tells me it’s the fourth month of the year, I cringe a bit. I say to myself, “Who this time?” And then I shake off the superstition and I say a prayer.

Someone else, very special to me, died in April, too. Well, no one knows the specific day or month, but it is this day, Good Friday, when we remember the death of Jesus.

I’ve seen the Passion of the Christ and I’ve heard the sermons where they spare no gruesome detail in describing His torturous death on the cross.

But my heart doesn’t understand. I have no frame of reference to really “get” someone making the ultimate sacrifice for me in such a painful way. He became sin for me???

However, I can take today and say thank you. I can make time to meditate on the crucifixion, bend my knees, raise my hands and offer praise.

Of course, there is a huge difference between my parents’ death and Jesus’. (Besides the obvious humans vs. God thing.) And that, of course, is the resurrection.

Our faith as Christians is not founded on the cross. It is built on the fact that we serve a living, resurrected Christ.

Today I sit quietly and try to comprehend the incomprehensible. I whisper, “Thank you.”

But Sunday, well, Sunday I DANCE! I shake my ample booty (in the name of Jesus, of course :0) ) I kick up my heels, I two-step with John across the kitchen floor and I greet my friends with “He is RISEN! He is Risen, indeed!”

And that party takes the sting out of April and fills me with joy.