...running the course God sets before us, no matter the cost, no matter the task, to the end, for His glory

Monday, June 27, 2011

No Limits!

Americans don't like limits.

Just think about it. We created the "super-size".  One gallon of carbonated drink per person please!

When all the kids were little, we would stop by a gas station and get two of the ginormous fountain drinks- the biggest size they had. It would usually be just a little bit more expensive than one that you could actually hold with one hand. But we only had to buy two for all of us and we would just pass it around the van.  Ah, I still remember those sweet moments:
     "Hey, you are taking too much!"
     "Mom! He won't share!"
     "It is my turn!"
     "Yuck. You slobbered on the straw!"
No one could grow up a germ-a-phobe in our family! Oh, how I miss those days, back when parenting was easy!

But, back to the point.  We (people in general) don't like limits.

Just think of the all-you-can-eat buffet.  Who really thought that was a good idea? No limits on food? Really? It must have been invented by the makers of Rolaids and Tums.

And most Americans, at least the ones who enjoy dreaming of one day being on the Nascar circuit, speak dreamily of the German Autobahn.  We get a far-away look in our eyes and say in a dreamy voice, "Just think. No speed limits!"  I lived in Germany and got to drive on the Autobahn and, sigh, it was wonderful....

But we all have limits in our lives.

We have speed limits because there are so many cars on our roads and there is no way it would be safe if we didn't limit the legal speed.  I know, I have contributed three young, male, "dreaming of Nascar" drivers to the roads and personally come from a long line of "lead foot syndrome" drivers.

And there are limits to how much we can eat at the all-you-can-eat buffet- like our pants!  Even elastic can only stretch so far.

Isn't there anything without limits?  Maybe the quest for no limits is what leads people to do crazy things, like tie a rubber band around their ankle and jump from a suspension bridge!  But even bungee jumpers have limits- the length of their bungee.

But God has given us something that we can participate in fully WITHOUT ANY LIMITS!

This past Sunday our pastor brought up the passage in Galatians 5 about the fruit of the Spirit.  I have always been puzzled at the last phrase of the sentence, because it always seemed to not quite fit.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."  Galatians 5:22,23

I always wondered at that last phrase- of course there is no law against love or patience! What did Paul mean?

But our Pastor made a comment that started an "Ah!!!!" moment for me.

The point is not that there is no law against love, but that there is no legal limit to how much you may love. There is no restriction to how long to have patience. There is no rule to the quantity of kindness. There is no commandment to cut-off the self-control. There is no regulation to contain the joy.

I get to love for as long and as deep and as wide as I have breath for.

There. Are. No. Limits.

Against such things there is no law.


So, I can jump on the Autobahn of Joy and throw open the throttle and let her rip.

Super-size that patience for me, if you please!

An all-you-can-eat buffet serving kindness, goodness, peace, and gentleness?  Bring it on! Even my elastic can't restrict it!

So enjoy your Fruit today- no limits, no restrictions, no controls. Just think what we would look like if the Spirit was producing Fruit in our lives and it was Out Of Control!!!

Oh, that it might be so.

Friday, June 24, 2011

What Am I Choosing to Do?

Margin- that empty space around the page with nothing filling it.

I have had my book so long, there is a different
cover. But since 175,000 people have bought this
book I guess I am not the only one who needs
some margin!
There is a book called Margin the uses that illustration to describe how we should live our lives with empty space in it.  That every single moment of our lives should not be filled with activity but there should be room.

I know about this book because I have owned it for about 14 years. I have never read it. But I own it. I have, however, read the back of the book and have been told about the book and have put it on my bedside table intending to read it, so I am highly qualified to discuss its merits......maybe I will read it this summer.

I was thinking about it yesterday for the very same reason that  I bought it 14 years ago. I think I need margin in my life. Maybe if I had more "margin" in my life I would have time to read the book!

Yesterday morning, as I was "running" I was thinking about how long it had been since I had written on this blog.  I had THOUGHT about writing several times, but a window of time never seemed to open up. Last week I helped out with a huge wedding- I have a blog post roaming around in my head, just waiting to get out about that one.  There are few other blog posts trying to elbow their way to the front of the line as well.

But the crux of the matter is that unless I take the time, sit down and write, these posts will always just be ideas in my head and never words on the page.

Which leads me to one of my major sayings of life:

Every time I choose to do one thing,
I am choosing to not do several others.

Rocket science, I know.

But, seriously, this saying has been very liberating to me.

I have NEVER been able to get everything done that I need to get done.  NEVER. 

That simple fact has caused a great deal of guilt and consternation in my life, because I have always had the sneaking suspicion that there are actually people who DO get it all done.

But not me. I am, after all, a two-handed, finite, bi-ped with many faults and short comings who can only get one thing at a time done...

Um, okay, who am I kidding.  What mother EVER gets one thing at a time done. I can M.U.L.T.I.T.A.S.K with the best of them. But honestly, when I get in Major Multitask Mode (or MMM for short) the people around me seem to become hindrances or obstacles.  They tend to muck up the works, don't you know. So for the safety and emotional stability of my children it is probably safest for me to limit my major moments of MMMing to a minimum.

But back to my saying- which I am not sure who to attribute it to...

Even this morning, choosing to write about....something, I am not really sure what....I am choosing to do one thing and not to do many, many others. For instance, we have company coming in today. Maybe your house is always company ready, but ours tends to need to be brought up a level or two when visitors are on the way.

In fact, when we are having trouble getting the house clean we have been known to invite people over just to force the issue!

So, right now, I am CHOOSING to sit here and write, instead of scurrying and cleaning the last few remnants of our life so that our guests have No Idea how we really live! 

Last night, I chose to read a Christian historical fiction book (a summertime indulgence) rather than trying to finish painting a coffee table I have been working on. 

And even earlier, I had chosen to go to a Bible Study (there is sooo much I want to share out of what I am learning in Daniel) instead of staying home and mopping the kitchen floor or hanging pictures in our rearranged son's/guest room (which is a nice way of saying, when the guests come in he has to move out!)

Martin the Warrior!
Yesterday, when I had no time for it At All, I chose to sit down on the sofa with my two youngest and read Mossflower with them. We love the Redwall series of books, and while I have read them out loud to my older children- with great gusto and many voices and accents of course- I had never read them to the youngest. But sometimes snuggling with your girlies and diving into the life of a warrior mouse is the very best choice of all!

This makes me thing of Jesus and His admonition to Martha after she fusses at Jesus about her sister Mary who was sitting at the feet of the Lord instead of Getting Stuff Done!

Martha, Martha,  you are worried and troubled 
about many things, but one thing is needed. 
Mary has chosen the best part; it will not be taken away from her.”
 Luke 10:41,42

So what will you choose today?  What will you choose to do and what will you choose not to do?

I am going to try to chose "the best part"- want to join me?

Monday, June 13, 2011

How to Stay Married!

We just celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary, which has got me to thinking.

Dating in 1982
First of all, I must be a lot older than I feel, because if I can still add, and I have been married 27 years and got married when I was 21, then I am....well, you do the math.

Second of all, and more importantly, how, in a world of happiness-driven, romance-obsessed, self-oriented people and messages, do people even stay married anymore?

We were so young and clueless when we got married. We didn't think we were....but we were.

But we did say, right from the beginning, that divorce was not an option. No way. No how. If we had problems, we were going to have fix them, because neither one of us was going anywhere!

That commitment made and still makes all the difference. And as I thought about it a little last week, the story of the oyster glue came to mind.  God gave oysters this very special glue that hangs on through storms and floods and droughts and high tide and low tide. It hangs on through everything. Man has never invented it's equal. So my first thought was that the picture of a long, successful marriage was one where two oysters were hanging on, to each other, by means of their special glue.

But then I realized I was wrong.

If they hung on to each other they would be tossed about in the wind and storm and waves, and there would be no stability.

No. The picture is rather, two oysters, side by side, hanging on tenaciously with the strongest oyster glue ever, to The Rock.

The Rock.

I love Thee, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress
 and my deliverer,
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, 
my stronghold.
Ps. 18:1,2

Because unless The Rock, the foundation, the base, is secure and stable and strong, you can hang on to each other all you like but you won't be safe.

The problem with us people (oysters) is that we are so fickle.  So moody.  So wavering in our feelings and thoughts.  We might do great for a while, but then something bad happens, or something irritating, or something frustrating, or something negligent.  And then, if left to ourselves, we would just let go of our oyster partner.

How much better if we are hanging on to The Rock. To God. Because, God does not waver. God does not change. God is not moody. God is always there.

So I (in my lovely oyster shell) hang on.
And my sweet Oyster hangs on too.

To God.

Right next to each other.

And the storms rage. And the waves beat. And the tides rise and fall.

And because of The Rock...
And because of the glue He made and gave to us...
And because we choose to use it...

Because of that....after 27 years....in contrast to the world around us who give up when it is hard and leave when it is not what they thought it would be....we are still married.

Still hanging on to The Rock.

Right next to each other.

That is how we stayed married for 27 years.  What is your secret?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Continual Feasting

All the days of the afflicted are bad, 
But a cheerful heart has a continual feast.
Proverbs 15:15

I love good food.

I enjoy making good food and I enjoy eating good food.  And I LOVE making a great meal for my family and friends and having them love it and feel loved and cared for at my table.

Sometimes though, the food becomes the issue.  Or the centerpiece and decorations take over.  Or having just the right theme for the evening.  Or making everything match. Or... , or.... , or.....

So many things can become important, but the most important thing....  Well, it might get forgotten.

I was reminded of that this evening as I sat around my table with my family.  Our "feast" was pancakes and bacon. Let's just say the pictures of the evening did not belong in a magazine.

There was a hodge podge of different plates (and please don't tell anyone, but some were even plastic.)  The table had not been set so someone was always asking for something:

"Can you get me a fork?"
"Would you pour me some milk?"
"Is there any more syrup?"

It was a simple, easy, basic dinner (and as I say that I feel the need to reassure you that, yes, I do know pancakes are traditionally served as breakfast, but another of our oddities- we prefer them for dinner.) Yes, there was nothing special. And it was a feast.

Not because of the menu.

Not because of the dinnerware.

Not because of the fancy centerpiece.


It was a feast because we were there. Together. And no napkins were in laps. And there were most definitely elbows on the table. And we laughed with each other- and okay, sometimes at each other. And we played.   And wrestled- at the table- please don't tell my Mother!  We talked with our mouths full and told stories on top of each other.  And enjoyed each other's presence. 

And I wouldn't have traded it for steak or caviar or lobster or the best restaurant in town.  

It. Was. A. Feast.

All the days of the afflicted are bad, 
But a cheerful heart has a continual feast.
Proverbs 15:15

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

How to Have "More"!

There are two ways to get enough.
One is to continue to accumulate more and more.
The other is to desire less.

-G.K. Chesterton

"Make $10,000 a month from your home!"

"Play the lotto!"

"Join my team selling _____(vitamins, cleaning products, etc.)"

You will get rich!
And have everything you ever wanted!
And be happy!
And have everything you ever wanted!
And have money!
And have everything you ever wanted!


Can we really ever have everything we want?

Is there ever an end to the stuff we can want?

Once we get one of the things we want, don't we just tend to want something else?

In America it seems we are surrounded by so much stuff.  So many opportunities to buy more stuff. So many claims to our wallets and our cash (or our credit cards).

But when I ran across the quote above from one of my favorite Englishmen, G.K. Chesterton, I was struck by the succinct way he stated the most obvious of truths.

There are two ways to get enough.
One is to continue to accumulate more and more.
The other is to desire less.

-G.K. Chesterton

OH. Oh, I get it. To have more, I need to want less.

Truly, the only reason it doesn't seem like I have enough is because of the mental list of things that I have rolling through my mind of what I want but can't afford to buy.

That list makes me feel like I Don't Have Enough.

But if I didn't want any of it.....

Then I would have enough.  Right now.  With what I have.  With what is in cupboard.  With what is in the closet.  With what is in the garage.

Right now.

ENOUGH.  Enough. enough.

Whew.  I feel better already.

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, 
being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, 
Heb 13:5

So, do you want to join me?  You want to have more?  Then want less!