"My story is important not because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours. Maybe nothing is more important than that we keep track, you and I,of these stories of who we are and where we have come from and the people we have met along the way because it is precisely through these stories, in all their particularity,as I have long believed and often said, that God makes himself known to each of us most powerfully and personally." -Frederick Buechner

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What are You Teaching?

I know my blog posts have been sporadic and for that I apologize but a filtering out or focus is developing and it just takes time. So you know what to expect I intend to blog 2-3 times weekly with the exception of special events.  You can expect a few more posts in the next few weeks due to some wonderful time at conferences which will no doubt be full of life to share.  That said, I do have a few thoughts for you to consider today.

My husband and I will be teaching at each of these conferences. It's a very humbling, weighty, exciting thing to do. Daring to believe that God uses all of us and that that includes us. Crazy! But it occurred to me yesterday while walking that we tend to look at this as a really special "event" in our lives. A focused time to share Christ with others.  I've asked others to pray for us specifically in regard to our preparation and obedience to God's will for this time. But the truth is we are all ministering every single day. Much more is "caught than taught."  Wayne Grudon, noted Bible theologian says, "The more we come to know a person and the more we see in that person a pattern of life that warrants trust, the more we find ourselves able to place trust in that person to do what he or she promises, or to act in ways that we can rely on." That along with much of scripture convinces me that it is not so much in the "special events" but in the day to day of our lives that really influences those around us.

Are you aware that you are "teaching" or "preaching" each and every day?  If you think of us we still would really appreciate your prayers as we really do want to do this "right." However, include yourself in your prayer. YOU have a ministry happening all around you.

Monday, July 18, 2011

God's Extravagance in My Neighborhood

So have you been noticing God's extravagance?  I want to show you just how easy and obvious it can be.
Did you know that there are over 270,000 species of flowers documented in this century?  That is individual species and does not take into account all of colors of each flower.
Check out just these examples from my neighborhood:

Did you see the different size and shapes of the flowers, the petals, the leaves?  There are different colors and some of them even have fragrance! God could have made a couple of flowers in a variety of colors and I'm sure we would have enjoyed it. But He didn't. He gave us at least 270,000!
Brennan Manning says, “We get so preoccupied with ourselves, the words we speak, the plans and the projects we conceive that we become immune to the glory of creation.”
So preoccupied with ourselves.... I don't know about you but being stuck on myself doesn't usually brighten my day. I'm asking God to help me see Him and His extravagance today. Wanna join me? Tell me what you see!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Our Extravagant God

Most of you know I have this "thing" about our "extravagant God" but it's been awhile since we've chatted about it.  Just to bring any of you who don't know me up to speed.  I have been fascinated with our limitless God since I was a kid. But in a special time in our lives as Bible Conference Directors we were a part of a team who picked a theme for each year's conference. Each year when the theme was picked our family began a journey led by God to teach us about that theme. 2004 the theme was  "Marvelous Grace, Matchless Love, Extravagant God" based around Ephesians 3:14-20.  The word "extravagant" is only used in a Bible paraphrase called The Message and interestingly it caused quite a stir. Thus began the adventure of experiencing our extravagant God.  There is much to this story but I'll save that for another time.  This week's lesson began like this:

In March we took a much needed week long vacation in a place that showed God's extravagance through nature. Isn't it gorgeous?!  During that week we also enjoyed something much less majestic and much more practical - a king-sized bed! :)  We talked later about how it would be nice to have a king-sized bed someday. Our bedroom is big enough for it so that's no problem but we have one of those TempurPedic type beds and love it. That's a problem because they are pricey.  So we just left the thought there.

Sometime later it appeared that we were going to acquire a little money that we hadn't expected and we decided if that worked out we would look at a king-sized bed. It didn't work out but the wish still lingered.

Friday was a very hot day and Friday night, date night needed an indoor activity. We decided to go "window shopping" - you guessed it for a king-sized bed. Guess what? They were "on sale" - $200.00 off through Sunday. Low end $2500.00 - High end $8000.00. CRAZY!  We left thinking it would be a long time before we got one of those beds.

Saturday I began to search Craigs list for an end table and what did I see?  Someone just listed a KING-SIZED TEMPURPEDIC BED, LESS THAN 2 YEARS OLD, PERFECT CONDITION $1000.00.  You guessed it! We got it!
And do you see that Head and Foot-board?  We not only got the mattress we got the frame AND when we got home our neighbor-man and 3 of his young friends pitched in and we had our old bed tore apart, moved and the new one set up in less than one hour! That huge mattress is heavy but they helped my husband haul it up.  NOW THAT IS EXTRAVAGANT.  We purchased it all for AT LEAST $3000.00 less than it would have cost new (with the frame). 

Please don't get me wrong. God's extravagance is not always in tangible things. In 2004 we saw His extravagance through generous love of friends helping us in a multitude of ways while our family was in crisis. And the more than 270,000 species of flowers that are documented are testimony to His extravagance through creation. When our God does something, He goes all out!  So celebrate with me. Tell me one of your stories of His extravagance in your life.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Weed in My Flowers

This is what I see when I wake up in the morning and head to the deck for my private quiet time. I LOVE this time and I LOVE this place. As my daughter-in-law would say this is my "happy place!"

My routine would be to roll out of bed, put on some clothes, make my instant hazelnut coffee and oatmeal and head to the deck with my basket of quiet time essentials. Usually before sitting down I will deadhead and weed the pots. Since I do this several times a week it only takes a minute or two to get the job done. So when it's done I head to my chair to relish in the quietness and read God's word, try to soak in what it says and pray.
However I am often so surprised to sit down and look over at my flowers only to see I've missed a weed. It's amazing. I take time to purposefully "weed" them and yet when I see them from a different angle there it is, a WEED in MY flowers! :)  Can you see it?
Right there between the pretty pink and white petunias is a weed. It's been there long enough that it is even taller than the flowers and I still missed it!

I sat there and looked at it and was struck how life is a lot like that. We can do the same things on a regular basis, sometimes just going through the motions without really thinking or watching what is going on and all of the sudden you see it - a WEED! How did that distraction, interruption, issue get there? You didn't see it yesterday and today all of the sudden there is something growing taller than the rest of your life, sucking your time and attention away from the important stuff of life. I hear the words of the old song "Open the eyes of my heart Lord, Open the eyes of my heart. We want to see Jesus..."

Recently a co-worker, the person I job-share with, quit rather suddenly. That threw the schedule at work "out the window".  On top of that the physician I work had a family emergency and had to be out of the office unexpectedly now things were really chaotic at work. Without realizing it I began to take on more responsibility there. I filled in time that I wasn't originally scheduled, wrote some policies for our manager (yep we have a manager) and did a lot of public relations type work with an upset staff. While helpful, that is not my job and it took up time and energy, a lot of it. That time and energy could have been spent preparing for the ministry opportunities we have on our calendar this summer. Instead we are now under a month from teaching time and we're just really getting to the core of our lessons. Will it get done? YES! But, could it have been done easier, with more time to soak in so we really know our material well? YES!

Does this remind you of a time you got surprised by a "weed" growing in your life? I'd love to hear about it. We can all learn from each other and challenge each other to live what we learn.