Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Babbling with a Baby

To my grandson his words and babbling make all the sense in the world.  We listen to him say, "ba, ba, ba, ba" and other jibber jabber a nine month old articulates.  We agree with him and mimic his sounds and he laughs at us as he hears us trying to match his dialect and tone.  Somehow it seems that he is satisfied that we have understood him and we are satisfied that we have entered his world of communication and seen his sweet smile.

He has learned to shake his head no, both in fun and in communicating his dislike for a food or any number of things he doesn't want.

Our vocabulary is big, his is small, yet with his small sounds he is able to communicate with the giants among him and the giants seek to understand what he is trying to tell them.  Sometimes we just don't get what exactly it is he is trying to convey but after a few tries we somehow reach a truce.  A new book is started, a roll on the toy motorcycle appeases, or just simply a distraction of a dog or something on TV catches his eye and we all reach a peace again.

It's really not hard communicating with a baby.  The less words there are the easier it is it seems.  (When does that change?  How come it seems that the more words we learn the less able we are to convey our wants or our thoughts or our needs?  How come more words seem to make communication more complicated?)

The giants are so eager to hear more words come from his mouth, egging him on to say "momma, daddy, Bibby, Grandpa, ball" when the only thing he needs to have his needs conveyed and satisfied are a few sounds.

It makes me think of Jesus hearing our voice and us hearing his.  It's hard to hear his voice in the jumble of the noises and words we are bombarded with on a continuous basis.  Picking out his voice among millions of words and sounds is becoming harder and harder in the age in which we live, but amazing to me is that he is able to hear our voice, our sounds, our babbling among the billions on this planet.

He is able to zone in on our babbling and know exactly what we need and are trying to say, with no guessing games played.  No pointing to a ball, "do you want this?"  Or to a cracker, "do you want that?'

No, he knows our needs before we even ask them.  Before we even know what we think we need to ask him for he already knows what we're trying to say.

The Giant among us, invisible as He is to the eye but not to the heart that seeks Him, hears our cry.  He knows our need and anticipates our every plea.  We are his sweet infant children, babbling with big words trying to impress the Creator of language when all we really need to say is "Help."

His sheep know His voice, but greater still is that He knows our voice.

Peace,
Ronda










Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mountains and Landscapes and God's Jagged Lines

It's presence juts out of the hillside along Italy's sole, near the toe, coming out of the earth, jagged and obtrusive, like a cancer that has forced itself into the light.  As we sailed along the shore and I studied  and took pictures of this mammoth, out-of-place growth, it reminded me of how raw and out of place sin and wounds and regrets leave us feeling.  Jagged, like the rough formation coming out of the rolling hills surrounding it.  Did it rip up the earth as it made it's way to the top?  Or was the jaggedness there first and the rolling hills were formed later, surrounding the rough base?

I couldn't zoom in close enough with the camera lens to see the base of that protruding rock and I don't know the geological history of the southern coast of Italy to know which came first, the rock or the hills or maybe both were formed at the same time.  It doesn't really matter, what struck me the most was how the two topographical sites contrasted.


Looking at this gigantic, surely misplaced evidence of a wounded land (and I'm not a geologist but I'm sure there is a word for this formation and a history behind it) I couldn't stop thinking about how this rock, surely out of place, was an allegory for the wounds of our lives.

When we carry the weights and regrets of our past sins and woundings and find no place to put them and keep taking them from Jesus' hands and back into our hands, the wounds can't heal.  The jagged edges that have cut through the flesh of our souls and torn our hearts prevent the new tissues of hope, struggling to generate and form new healthy tissue, as we continue to see our wounds and our sins as the obnoxious and visible remains of our past.  Something that is constantly in view, second guessing our forgiveness, wondering if we'll ever be free, doubting God's goodness.

But......

As we continued to slowly sail past the monstrous jagged landscape and the frontal view became a side view and then a distant view and then.....no longer in view the farther away we got from it, the Lord began to speak to my heart about this.

I'm not one to have audible conversations with Him, but my heart and soul "heard" Him tell me this as we sailed on the beautiful waters of Italy's southern shore.  He said something like this, and I hope it blesses you in the way it blessed me:



Your sins and your wounds looked like that jagged rock, penetrating and jutting through, protruding and overwhelming the beauty of the landscape surrounding it.  But when the view changes and you move past and move on, the jagged roughness begins to lose its rough edges as it begins to blend into the landscape, becoming more beautiful as it melds and gets further from view.

You sins and your past and your wounds look like that rock when you face them, jagged and raw, seemingly so out of place.  But as time passes and they meld into the whole of who you are, who I have created you to be, it becomes a part of a beautiful landscape of my love.  Yes, the heart hurts when the wound is fresh and raw, when the regrets try to haunt you, but sweet children, see it how I see it.  A beautiful part of the landscape of your life.  The further you go from the place where it hurt the most, the more you will see it the way I see it.  A beautiful part of my beautiful plan for you.














Peace,

Ronda




Wednesday, December 17, 2014

When our plans don't look like God's you may find yourself talking to sheep

In 2013 when our family returned from our trip of a lifetime, I began thinking and planning for my next trip to explore the things I wanted to see again and see things I couldn't see the first time.  I find that cruising is a good way to see a lot of places without the stress of having to drive from place to place and find hotels and places to eat.  But that's just me.  There is a downside to cruising and that is you can't drive from place to place and see more of the inland parts of a land and find hotels and places to eat, but if you're a rookie at foreign travel, cruising is a good way to start.

So back in May I was surfing on our preferred cruise line's website, dreaming and looking for the next cruise I would start saving for, probably in 2016.  One of the places that my husband and I both wished to see was Rome and as I perused the cruise line's website, I saw an advertised "hot deal" for a 10 day cruise starting in Rome that was almost too good to be true.  The catch was that it was in December of this year I told my husband, to which he replied, "I'm not doing anything in December."  Oh the retired life!

So I checked with my boss and when she told me we could make it work, put a deposit on the cruise and started saving fast.  

Our plan was to go a day early so that we could spend it in Rome before leaving on the ship.

That was our plan.  I bought tickets to see the Vatican and bus tickets to ride around the city so we could see as much as we could as fast as we could in one twenty four hour period.

That was our plan.

The night before we were supposed to leave, my husband tried checking us both in on the airline website.  He was able to check himself in ok but when it came time for me, it wouldn't let him.  My passport was going to expire soon after our return, and we thought that might be the problem so we called the airline to find out.  The agent assured me that the passport was not the problem, that I would be pulled aside to be screened and that's why it wouldn't let us check in.  I asked her one more time before we hung up, "but my passport is ok?"  She assured me again, my passport was ok.

It wasn't. 

When we got to the airport the next morning and the agent there who was checking us in scanned my passport she said, "oh oh, I don't think you'll be able to go."  In our shock, in our disbelief, as we stood there trying to process what she was telling us, I couldn't get on an airplane, she said that the airline required AT LEAST ninety days left on your passport AFTER you have returned to the US.
AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

Still standing in shock and disbelief and tears welling up, the agents nonchalantly told us that we would have to drive to Chicago and get a same day passport.

Wait, what?!  Drive to Chicago?  Today?

Yes.

But we're supposed to be in Rome tomorrow!

You're not going anywhere until you get a new passport.

A ticket agent, smiling assuredly and saying, "this happens all the time," assisted my husband in trying to get an appointment for me, that day, in Chicago, 3 1/2 hours away, while another agent was working to rebook us on another flight that would get us in Rome with enough time to get to the ship before it left.

Me?  I just stood there.  Jaw on the floor, tears in my eyes, wondering what in the world was going on.

We couldn't get an appointment for that day in the time it would take to drive to Chicago, but they did get us an 8:30 appointment the next morning.  

Then there was the issue of the rebooking fee.

Three, yes three THOUSAND dollars.  

Each.

When we told them about the prior night's phone call to an airline agent and that she had assured me that my passport expiration wasn't an issue, not once, but twice, they were kind enough to waive the rebooking fee.  

But spending the day in Rome was out.  Prepaid Bus tickets lost.  Prepaid Vatican tickets lost.   Prepaid hotel and transfer fees to the ship.  Lost.

Now we were on the clock and looking at a number of miracles, one at a time, that had to occur before we were ever going to make it to the ship.  And there wasn't a darn thing we could do to make any of them happen faster or in a different order.  One couldn't happen until the one before it happened.

The only thing we knew to do in that moment was roll our luggage over to a waiting area and sit in disbelief and try to figure out our game plan.  (I think I heard a chuckle when I wrote that).

It was too far to go home to have to get up early enough to drive to Chicago, taking into consideration the wonderful traffic that is always a problem there.  

We started looking for hotels on the internet, close enough to downtown where the federal building is and where I needed to be at 8:30 in the morning.  They were either booked or at least $300 a night.  So I texted a friend of mine who lives outside Chicago and does a lot of travel arrangements in her job.  She started texting me hotels I didn't know about and still I came up with them either being booked or way out of our price range.  She was kind enough to offer a bedroom at her house and so we made arrangements to head there. 

But the first stop was a Walgreen's to get a new passport picture taken.  As I write that I am SOOOOOO thankful for technology.  I had my picture taken, processed and paid for within 10 minutes.  

The rest of the story I will tell using the pictures I took along the way.

I posted this picture on Instagram while waiting for my husband to park the car at the first airport.  The airport we had planned to leave from.   The boastful caption read, "On our way to Rome."  Little did we know a few minutes later we might not even be going.


The welcoming committee at my friend's house.  We enjoyed some good pizza and chatted about the Packers, the playoffs, Delia the world famous dairy cow and then headed to bed early for a 5am wakeup call to head for Chicago.  Normal traffic time 90 minutes without traffic.  We didn't want to take any chances of missing the appointment.  Miracle one was about to happen.


On our way to Chicago, not what I thought we would be seeing at the time of day on that day.


It looks like we could be in Italy, but unfortunately we weren't.


Not the Sistine Chapel.  Traffic stopped.  7:30 am.  Three miles to destination.


Miracle One:  We made it downtown by 8am, found a place to park about 4 blocks from the Federal building.  We stopped in a Panera, got a coffee and bagels to go and then entered the Federal building.  A line had already formed behind security and we got in it.  A few minutes before 8:30 they started screening and we got on the elevator and went to the 18th floor, to stand in another line before the doors to the Passport office opened.

When we were allowed in I went to a window, showed them my documents, paid the $170 to get the passport and was promised a 1pm pickup time.  There was nothing to do but wait until we could pick up my passport, IF it would be ready at 1:00, so we decided to walk to the Public Library we passed on our way from the parking lot and use the wifi there, while we thought of what we should do.   I still didn't get it, there was NOTHING we could do.  We played a game of checkers while waiting and surfing.



When that took all of thirty minutes we decided to take a walk outside.  I mentioned to hubs that I had never seen the famous river that runs through downtown Chicago, so he found that we were within easy walking distance and we bundled up and headed outside.




That took all of about forty five minutes and it was 11:00 by then, even after going up every floor of Macy's, we were anxious and decided to go back to the Federal building and see if my passport may be ready.  The security on the 18th floor wouldn't let us check, but told us there was a snack bar on the second floor we could go to and wait there.  So we did.  This was our view as we waited there.


At 12:30 we decided to try again and this time we told the Security guards on the 18th floor that we had a 5pm flight we were trying to get to.  They let us through and at 12:41 I sent a picture of me with my new passport to the text thread of daughters and my Mom who were praying us.  Miracle number Two. 

 Now the need for a really big miracle.  Getting to the airport.  It was not technically high traffic time, but as anyone who has traveled in Chicago knows, that doesn't matter.  We still had to get to the airport, park our car, get on the shuttle bus that would take us to the train that would take us to the actual international terminal, and then... check in.  Getting on the plane seemed nearly impossible and we had agreed that if we didn't make it we would just get in the car and head south to visit the kids.

(In the back of my mind I was thinking, "that's what we should have done.  We shouldn't have spent the money to go on this spur of the moment trip.  We should have never done this," scolding myself, thinking that maybe I might be outside of what God wanted, even though I had prayed before booking the cruising and buying the airline tickets that if it wasn't His will for us to go, just shut the door.  The door hadn't closed.  But it sure seemed like it was now.   AFTER all the money was paid.  Even though we had insurance I highly doubted there was a clause on there for stupid people who don't check passport regulations).

But Miracles 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 happened.  No traffic, we made it to the airport, we found a parking spot, we got on the shuttle and we were checked in to our new flight via Paris and sitting at the gate by 3pm.  As we settled in our seats at the gate and texted our prayer warriors, we each took a turn to find something to eat because we hadn't had anything since our bagels that morning.  

I bought a sprite, a bottle of water and some fruit snacks and as I was walking back, this mannequin in an airport store window caught my eye.  I knew God wasn't telling me to have faith for the Chicago Bulls.  He was telling me, reminding me to have faith, we were going to get there.


It's kind of blurry but this picture at the gate for our flight to Paris says
"Paris/De Gaulle
On Time".
Miracle 9


I have no idea what time this is, but it is in Paris at the airport.  I was excited to see the Paris skyline but it wasn't meant to be.  It was a cloudy, hazy day.  But that was ok.  We were one step closer.


When we were still in the airport in Wisconsin, after it was really happening that we weren't going to Rome that day, I called our cruise line consultant to ask for her help and to tell her we wouldn't be needing our hotel in Rome after all and the bus transfer that had already been paid for was cancelled along with the hotel because it was a package deal.  She assured me that there would be a cruise agent at the airport in Rome who would get us on the bus to the ship.  She told me the manifest for the bus transfer had already been closed so there was no way anyone at the airport would know there were two more people who were hoping to hitch a ride.  We just had to find the agent and tell him or her ourself.

Welcome Miracle 10.

When something happens that is totally outside your control and there is only the step in front of you to take, you can only take the step in front of you.  By this time, after being up for I don't know how many hours, and the silly anxiety of wondering if you'll make it and what if you don't, then what? and you're tired and hungry and just feeling like surely you made a big fat huge mistake by ever wanting to travel outside of the country, my husband and I stood at the baggage claim in Rome, willing our luggage to come down the belt.

We couldn't leave the baggage claim to go look for the cruise agent until we had our luggage.  All we could do, tired as we were, was get testy with each other, he annoyed with me, me annoyed with him wondering if we would ever be able to find the cruise agent, if our luggage would ever come off the (^&%^&$$ conveyor belt!

Finally it did.  And we started to take the next step.  Finally.

Miracle 11 was just waiting outside the baggage claim.  We each were dragging two bags, well, I had four.  My big suitcase, my carryon, my tote bag and my cross shoulder purse (of which my husband, the family follower of rules and order pointed out I was exceeding - I told you testy and annoyed this pair.) And a winter coat that couldn't fit in my suitcase that kept falling off my luggage.

So there we are, hubs racing ahead of me trying to find a cruise line agent, asking taxi drivers where he might find one as they were asking us if we needed a taxi.  They directed him to the next terminal and as I was struggling to keep up with him and keep my coat from falling I saw him turn to a woman leading a group of travelers.  As he was asking her where he could find our cruise line agent, I saw her lift up her placard with the cruise line logo high above her head.

Just like that.  We were going to make it.

Standing in line to get on the cruise line bus to the ship.


On the bus.


Miracle 12


It's not the way we planned to get there.  We did miss Rome, but oh well.  We got to see and experience a lot of other cool stuff which I will share.  There was absolutely nothing we could have done to make any of the events leading up to getting on the ship change.  It was totally out of our hands but carefully held in His hands.

Along the way God got to bring people into this story who may have just been having an ordinary day but then they got to pray for us and this journey when all I could do was stand in disbelief and shock.  We got to see the kindness of one ticket agent in particular at the start of this who fought for our rebooking fee to be waived.  She didn't have to do that.  She could have said, "you should have known."  But she didn't.

We got to receive the kindness of a friend since 7th grade and her husband and receive their hospitality and fun conversation that we never otherwise would have had. 

Our texting/prayer warriors kept me going, kept me smiling.  One of my daughter's texted this "Praying that there are 0 issues getting your passport tomorrow and that your flight is on time AND THAT YOU ARE BUMPED UP TO 1st class."  And then a few seconds later:  "And that George Clooney is on your plane. " We didn't get first class or George but we did get a passport and an on time flight.

Isn't God good?

The moral of this story:

If you are traveling out of the US, make sure your passport is not going to expire within 6 months of your return.  That's the safest way to make sure what happened to me doesn't happen to you.

And, trust God.  If you only have light for the step you're in, use that light.  He's got ya!  You'll get to where you're going not a minute early nor a minute late, but right on time.  His time!


Peace,
Ronda



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

For the Love of Ferguson

When I was a girl growing up in a very small blink-and-you'll-miss-it town in Wisconsin the only black people I ever saw in Wisconsin were on TV playing for the Green Bay Packers or when I watched The Price is Right with my grandparents.  There were a few trips to Milwaukee as a child where I saw people of color out the car window, but that was the extent of ever knowing someone a different color than my pale flesh.

My grandparents and the other older generations still carried with them the vernacular of their formative years.  I remember several times watching The Price is Right with my grandparents.  I remember when an overly excited (at least from a white person's view of excitement) woman of color would win on that show and my grandfather saying something like, "look at that colored woman carrying on."  His tone was never judgment or disgust, but he thought it was funny.  Looking back, what was probably funniest was the white people looking uncomfortable around the overly excited one.

When I married my husband and moved away from my small Wisconsin town and began to see parts of the country where there were lots of people of many shades of color, my viewpoint began to expand and I was no longer looking outside a car window onto a street but I was hearing their voices, hearing their laughter, watching them buy groceries in the same grocery store I was in.

I remember going back to Wisconsin to visit family on occasion and sitting in my grandparent's living room, watching TPIR again and on those occasions when a woman of color showing her excitement and joy was on stage and my grandpa saying again, "that colored woman sure is excited," and me saying to my grandpa, "they poop and pee just like we do, grandpa."  And my grandpa laughing and saying, "well, I guess they do."

As we moved around the country, and my world stayed 99% white, my children started going to school where their world was not the white world I grew up in.  It was a world of many different shades.  I remember when my oldest daughter was in first grade and everyday she came home from school telling me about her friend Deandra.   "Deandra this" and "Deandra that" were the dominant themes of our conversations after school.

One day when I was in her classroom volunteering she proudly introduced me to her friend Deandra, who was a child of color, and NOT the white girl I assumed she was.  That afternoon when my daughter came home from school I said to my daughter, because I was a culturally raised white girl and my daughter was leading a new trail through my culture, "You didn't tell me your friend Deandra was black."

To which my blond haired, blue eyed girl who was coloring at the time and never looked up at me said,  "she's not black, Mom, she's brown."

A generations wide paradigm shifted that day, led by a girl who saw not black and white, but pinks and brown and tan and yellows as she colored a picture of children in her classroom.

After that conversation, or should I say the lesson learned from my girl, I began to pray for a friend like Deandra.  A friend that maybe was brown, maybe was black, or maybe purple.  I didn't care, I just began praying for a friend that I enjoyed being with like my girl enjoyed being with her friend Deandra.

It took several years before God gave me that blessing and before He could do that He had to show me another side of the color spectrum that was important to know before I was given the privilege of having a friend of another color for my purely selfish reasons.

He began to bring me women of color who sat in circles with me around the Word of God.  We studied His word together, we listened to each other's prayer requests, we prayed for each other.  And as God wove our hearts together around His Word, He wove shades of color into my heart that began to see His human creation not as black or white or Hispanic or Asian but as beautiful children, all with flesh and bones and hearts and muscles and pain and heartache and griefs and joy.

We were different colors on the outside, but our hearts had the same need on the inside.  Him.

Then, when I thought I was done learning my lessons on racial divides and saw from a much broader view than TPIR or my car window, and I was waiting for my friend to arrive, He put me in nursing school, smack dab in the middle of black, white, tan, male and female.

Let me tell you how trying to survive something like nursing school will quickly kill any remaining cultural prejudices you may have as you don't care who knows what, you just need someone to help you understand blood pressure and infection processes and will someone please help me figure out how to operate this (*)^%*% glucometer!

I needed help and God sent it and it came in color!

When I was pinned as a Registered Nurse I stood next to people of color who had felt the same stressors, had the same fears of failure, but we had made it.  I didn't see my fellow students as that black girl, but I saw her as my colleague, my classmate.  I was proud that we had made it together.  I wasn't proud that I had overcome my cultural prejudices, I was proud that we had made it together and we were nurses!





I had forgotten my prayer for a friend who was a different color then me, but God hadn't.

And I didn't get just one, I got a bunch.

My very first nursing job, God brought me my first friend who was not white like me.  And along with her came a couple more.

They make fun of me for the way I talk and for the way I tell them to slow down so I can understand the way they talk.  We laugh together as we laugh at each other and tell stories of our parents and our school stories and our childhood shenanigans.  I've learned so much from them, as women, as healthcare providers, as nurses, but mostly, I've learned from them as friends.

God has richly blessed me, He answered my prayers much broader and wider than I ever thought I needed or wanted by bringing them into my life. (They'll love to read that part).

My life is better because we're different.  I'm not better because I'm white and they're not less because they're not.  I'm better because I know them and I am loved by them.  They have my back and I have theirs.

Jesus taught me not to see skin color anymore, but to see character.

These are my friends.




Yes, this one made a mess at my house!





I will never know the struggles they have had as a person of color and they will never know the struggles I have as a person of pale color.  But we do share and know the struggles of being women, of being nurses, of being mothers, being daughters, being wives...of being people.  We all poop and pee the same way, our blood is the same color inside our bodies.

Oh that you and the rest of our country would know the joy I have in the blessings God has given me to call a brown person my friend.

Peace to you, peace for Ferguson, Missouri and the communities on all sides.

But mostly just

Peace,
Ronda

Saturday, November 22, 2014

When Opportunity Knocks......

sometimes we keep the door bolted shut.

It would be so much easier, wouldn't it, if God did what we wanted Him to do in the way we think He should do it?  If He would just listen to our suggestions, I mean prayers, and make things work out the way we would if we were him, life, at least our lives, would be so much better, wouldn't they?

But no, what does this God do?  He allows us heartache and disease and loneliness and broken relationships at the worst time.  Smack dab in the middle of life.

But maybe we should flip these things upside down and look at them from a different perspective.

Instead of cursing the pain and the darkness and the disease as something surely not allowed by God, but more as an annoyance or a punishment, maybe we need to look at these things as opportunities to see God more clearly and love him more dearly.

Opportunity:

an amount of time or situation in which something can be done
a favorable juncture of circumstances
a good chance for advancement or progress

Maybe the loneliness or the disease or whatever circumstance you're in right now is the favorable juncture of circumstances to advance or progress in your relationship with the One who could stop it but doesn't.

We spend, at least I do anyway, a lot of time banging on doors that  clearly are not going to open but we keep knocking, getting bloody knuckles and sore fists.  But the same may be said of a door I may have bolted shut.  God is on the other side, knocking in our hard stuff, wanting to come through the door and walk with us, but we are keeping Him locked out.  We don't like the timing or the situation so we're just going to show God how much we disagree with His methods by shutting Him out!

Yeah, that will show Him!

Maybe we need to redefine the hard things in life.  Instead of calling them pain or disease or brokenness or loneliness or simply crap, maybe we need to define them as
                                     

challenges 
or 
    opportunities

to see God and His ways, and ourselves, in an entirely different light.

Maybe?

If God is Opportunity knocking on the door, then wouldn't He be the first One we'd see when we opened the door?

Or maybe, just keep doing what we're doing.  Whining and complaining about all He isn't doing or isn't fixing.  Yeah, that's easier.  Stick with that.  It's what's comfortable and we know how to do that well.

God will keep knocking.  Sooner is better to open that door than later.  If you wait till later, it may be too late.  The opportunities for growth may have passed and the growth you could have had when you opened the door sooner may come later, but you'll have a lot more missed opportunities in your way to sort through.

So, what opportunities are you facing right now?  What challenges are you in now that have you  wondering how in the world you will ever get through?

Open the door.

See, He's there on the other side!  Let Him in.



Peace,
Ronda








Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Two Hardest to Forgive

The core of the Gospel is the forgiveness won for us by Jesus on the cross.  You might be able to guess by now that I love to call the Gospel story a wild story, because it is wild!  Absolutely wild!  No one could make this stuff up if they tried because it's so wild that a God would sacrifice Himself for some good for nothing knuckleheads.

Not only is that part wild, but the part that is really crazy for me is that the story is one that started thousands and thousands of years before you or I were even on the planet.

It all started with another group of ragamuffins starting with an old man named Abraham.  We are part of THAT story.  Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Noah and Moses and David and the rest of the bunch.  We, you and me, we arrogant and over zealous bunch are part of a continuing line that started a long long time ago.

Ok, so that's wild to me.  And the part that seems so odd in 2014 is that we believe that a sacrifice, a human sacrifice, over 2000 years ago is relevant for us today.

So, anyway, I'm getting off on a tangent when the point I want to make is this:

Something had to be forgiven.  Sin, all mankind's sin had to be accounted for and charged to someone or something.  That's where Jesus came in.  There was nothing Abraham or any of us could do to make things right in our relationship with God.  We would be forever tainted by the sinful state we are all born in.

You know the story form here.  So God did what needed to be done to make things right.  He made Jesus be sin for us so that we no longer have to sacrifice anything or anyone to make things right, to pay our debts.

Because of this great act our sins are forgiven.  Not held against us, as far as the east is from the west God has removed them from ever getting in His way of seeing us pure and holy.

Ok, you know that part, right?.

What you might not know or have never thought of in the forgiveness realm is something that I didn't know either until God showed me, ever so gently, that forgiveness is a requirement now of us to others.  Forgiving others is not something that is done when "I feel like it."  Or when the person who has wronged us has really shown they're sorry.  No, forgiveness is mandatory in spite of actions or feelings of any party.

But forgiving doesn't mean forgetting.  Forgiving doesn't mean all is right between the two parties.  Forgiving simply means that you have taken whoever has wronged you off your hook and placed them on God's hook to deal with as He sees fit.  The feelings of the wrong may still hurt and trick you into thinking you haven't forgiven, but that doesn't mean you haven't forgiven.  It only means your heart needs healing.  And it may take awhile to heal.   Deep physical wounds don't heal overnight, they take lots of time depending how deep and wide they are.  The same with emotional wounds; just because the wound still hurts and needs tending to, does not mean forgiveness is lost.  It just means you're still healing.

All that being said, now here is the kicker and I think this is the most important part of why we find it hard to forgive someone for a wrong done to us or, on the other side of the coin, feel like we can never be forgiven, by others and most certainly by God himself.

There are two people we never talk about forgiving.

Do you want to guess who they are?

One of them is ourselves.

The other is God.

First, forgiving yourself:

You gotta let yourself off the hook.  If you've received God's forgiveness, if you've done what you can do to make things right with the person(s) you've wronged or who has wronged you, than you need to let it go.  You need to forgive yourself as you would anyone else.  It's very, very, VERY important that you start this today.  (If not today, then when?)

Stop making yourself pay for something that it is over and done with and cannot be changed.  STOP! NOW!

You are part of that little phrase in the LORD's prayer that says "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."  You trespassed against yourself, now forgive yourself.  If you want to live in the freedom of the forgiveness won for you than you need to forgive the person hardest to forgive.  YOU.

The second "person" you need to forgive is God.

And this is the harder one, because God does not really need our forgiveness.  No.  He doesn't.

But you need to know you forgive Him.

Forgive Him for letting you fall.  (You believed He was big enough to rescue you from the pit you were swimming in, but He didn't).

Forgive Him for letting you be hurt by others when you were vulnerable and unable to defend yourself.  (He was not unaware of anything that happened to you no matter how distant he seemed, he was there).

Forgive Him for not fixing what you thought needed fixing in the way you thought it needed fixing.

Forgive Him.

He's God.  You're not.

If I know anything about Him it is that absolutely nothing that we do - sin or good work - is kept hidden from His sight and wasted.  God uses everything for His good purpose and His glory.

Everything.

The crap, the sins, the wasted time, the heartaches.  Everything.

He just doesn't use them or stop them or fix them the way we think He should and we need to forgive Him for that.

When we were raising our children it was very difficult at times for my husband and I to make them suffer the consequences of their bad behavior.  Behavior they insisted on doing over and over and over even when they were told over and over and over again not to do it.  I hated letting my children suffer the consequences of their actions.  I hated it!  But I had to let them suffer because suffering is sometime the best tool for learning.

I don't think God feels any less strongly when He has to let us suffer when He knows it's going to be used for some greater purpose.  He knows suffering will bring learning.

You need to forgive Him.

It's part of the trust thing.  When we forgive much we love much.  When we forgive God for not doing things the way we would like it's an act of faith.  Faith given by Him for us.  We have to forgive Him so that we can trust Him with the rest.  If you don't forgive Him, you'll keep spinning in circles wondering where in the world He is today, but refusing to trust Him with your life even when He makes Himself known to you.

He is by far the safest one to forgive.

When we forgive God then we can begin to see how the pain He let us suffer was part of a greater plan.  When we forgive God we can begin to see how the pain was used to make me stronger or braver or more compassionate or more faith filled.

When we forgive ourselves a door opens that has been locked shut tight.  Not just the little lock on the door handle but it's triple bolted and has a bar across it and nothing, nothing is going to get in.
But when we forgive ourselves and God, those bolts unlock, the bar is lifted, the door is flung open and the joys and the mercies and the peace that had been hidden come barging through like horses let out of their stalls.

You are the person who hurts when you don't forgive yourself and when you don't forgive God.

Those around you get burned and feel the flames of your unforgiving heart, but only you have the power to let go.

So.... Let go.

Let go of your past.  You can't change one second of it.  You don't have to be who you were.  Now you can be who you were meant to be all along.

Peace,
Ronda

Matthew 6:12   1 Peter 1:3-9

My Sharp Tongue

I can be a real smart ass and a snot.

I hate that about me.  I hate that my tongue can be sharp and the tone of my voice ...... bitchy, snotty.  I hate that.  It's not how I want to come across, my sharp tongue leading the charge, but it's there.  When I least expect it to pull itself out of its sheath, there it is slicing and dicing and saying things that cannot be taken back.

I can be sharp here too.  On this blog, using this keyboard.  I know I can and I have better control at managing the tongue here, but it's not perfect.  But I do try.  But this isn't one of those times.  My sharp tongue is out.

See, one of the things that irritates me the most out of all human behavior is laziness.  Not hard work laziness, not the physical kind, because I don't know too many people who are physically lazy.

The kind of laziness that irritates me is spiritual laziness.  (Political laziness bugs me too, but more spiritual laziness than either physical or political).

(Now, some may think I'm getting on a high horse and maybe I am, but I think there's some things that need to be said out loud, or at least on a screen because the times we live in are calling for warriors, not lazy cowards).

There goes my sharp tongue again.

We have greater access to the Word of God than we have ever had in all of history.  More people can read on their own now than were able to when the pages of the Holy Scriptures were first penned.  And yet, we still are weak and illiterate when it comes to what the Bible teaches.

Lazy people like to think that they are not smart enough to figure out all that Bible stuff.

That's a lie.

Lazy people like to think that they are not smart enough to be taught all that Bible stuff.

That's a lie too.

Lazy people like to be stuck on all the "God couldn't forgive me after all I've done so why would He want to teach me anything?"

Lie.

Lazy people like to think that they can only be taught by someone who is smarter than them and have more education.

Lie, lie, lie.

See, when lazy people look into the Word of God change happens.  And when change happens that means the way I was can no longer be the way I am.  God's word changes me and.....

Lazy people don't like change.  That's the bottom line as to why we choose being lazy over action.  Being lazy and using the excuses born of laziness because we don't like digging into a book that has been preserved, FOR US, for thousands of years, is because we don't like change.

Change is hard and scary and lonely.  Believe me, I know.  I've had more changes in my life than a lot of people I know and a lot less than most I'll never meet.  But I don't regret any of the changes that have happened, because change got me off my lazy butt and into a life intimately connected with the Maker of trees.

Lazy people like someone to tell them what to believe and think and to do all the digging for them.  (That may be why you read this blog.....just saying').

It's hard thinking for yourself and finding out what God thinks on your own because when one thinks for him or herself than they may lose a few friends because they no longer go with the flow or follow the way it's always been.  When a lazy person stops believing the lies they've believed and start walking in truth, change - wonderful change - begins to happen.

So I ask you, one lazy person to another, how is lazy working for you?

How is following someone else who is following Jesus working for you?  Why don't you want your own close and personal relationship with him?  Why do you think that because someone more educated than you should tell you what to believe or how to behave with the One who created you, rather than ask the One who created you how He wants your relationship to work?

Before there were educated people, long before there were rabbis and priests and pastors it was just God and His kids, hanging out in the garden in the cool of the day.  There weren't liturgies and standards of conduct and duties and job descriptions.  There was just a dad and his kids.  There was intimacy.  There was a bond being made.  There was a relationship being fertilized and watered and growing.

Yes, Adam and Eve messed it up for all of us and the relationship was broken.

But then Jesus came and fixed what was broken.

And now....we can go back to the Garden and hang out with God and just walk with Him and hang out with Him.  Jesus restored us to the place we were always meant to be.  Hanging out with our Dad. (And I don't mean the Garden waiting for us in heaven).

Who wouldn't want that?  Do you?  Then stop being lazy and start hanging out with God and find out what He thinks and says and wants.  It's time to stop being a coward and seek the face of your Maker while you still can.  Sure, if you believe He died for you then you'll be in the Eternal place of peace when you die, but why wait until then to get what He has for you today?

Do you want to know what God thinks about something?  Ask Him first!  Do you want to know how you should handle a situation?  Ask Him first!  Before you go and ask twenty five close friends and relatives and your pastor and your Sunday School teacher or your rabbi or priest.  Ask Him first!   You get to, you know.  You GET to ask the Maker of Trees first!  There's no human middle man necessary.  Go to Him first.

Stop being lazy!  Dig, plant, water, reap, prune!  Today is the day you're given.  Use it wisely and don't be lazy.

Sharp tongue back in its place.  I love you all and pray for Him to show Himself to you as intimately as He's shown Himself to me.

Peace,

Ronda




Saturday, November 1, 2014

When God is to Blame

I would guess there are a lot of people who walk around believing in God but are really mad at God.  I knew a few, I've read a lot of stuff written by more than a few who are.  They're mad that he lets bad things happen in the world.  They're mad that God lets people get sick, hurt, violated, die.  They're mad at God for not fixing their own bad behavior.  They're mad at God.

Would you agree?  Are you one of those mad at God for His failure to do something or for His allowing something to happen in your life and the world that you don't like?

It's ok to admit it.  It's actually probably a pretty brave thing to admit.  At least you're being honest.

I bet when you do admit those thoughts and beliefs to religious folks you get a lot of pat answers that really make you even more mad.  Phrases like:  God's ways are not our ways.  You shouldn't be mad at God.  God works everything for good.

Phrases like those?  I'm imagining you probably want to throw up in your mouth a little bit when you hear them.

I've been praying for you, if you're one brave enough to voice these things.  And I don't pray for what you may think I pray, that you "see the light" or that you "repent."

No, I don't pray those things because I'm beginning to see this anger at God differently.  It's not that you are in darkness and it's not quite the time for repentance.  No, I'm starting to see that one can only be angry at someone when the expectation of behavior is not met.  In other words, you know God is a big enough God to fix things that need fixing yet He doesn't fix them in the way you think they should be fixed, so this is what makes you mad.

But the kicker is this:  You have faith in a big God.

You believe in a God big enough to stop suffering.  Otherwise you wouldn't be mad at Him for not ending suffering.

You do.  You have a bigger faith than most of us who pray small prayers for suffering to end.

You know God is big enough to stop suffering, but He doesn't, and it frustrates you so you get mad at Him and pout and say dumb things like, "if there really was a God He would _______."

But you know what?  That's a pretty big belief in a pretty big God.

See, you pretend that if God would do everything God is capable of doing then you would follow Him.  Then you would trust Him.  Then you would believe in Him.  But the thing is, you are giving yourself a condition to trust Him so that you don't have to publicly trust Him.  Because you know what scoffers like you think of Christians.  And that's what makes you afraid, afraid enough to cover it with anger.

But you believe in how big and capable He is otherwise you wouldn't be so mad at Him.

Aren't you getting tired of being mad at Him?

If you would redirect that anger into actually seeking a relationship of peace with Him instead of anger, that big and capable God may start showing you some really cool things about His power right smack dab in your own life.

I don't know.  Maybe not.  Maybe you like living the way you're living.  If you're always blaming God and being mad at Him then you are released from any responsibility of blame for the way the world is right now.

If you keep waiting for a powerful God, what is it that some of you say, "If God is so good and so loving....", if you keep waiting to see good and loving acts without ever getting over your anger enough to ask Him for them in your own life, it keeps you from responsibility.

It's so much easier to criticize those who don't blame God and just give the phrases that make you cringe.  It's a lot harder to put up and shut up and trust in the God you already know is capable of making things better.

Maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe I'm seeing this wrong.

But I really do think that your anger is based on a deeply rooted belief that there is Someone bigger than all of us out there.  It's just easier to be mad at that Someone than to trust that Someone.

The sky won't fall if you think about this.  The world won't end if you concede just a smidge that I may have a point.

But I sure pray you throw these thoughts into your pot, stir them around, and taste them.

Peace,

Ronda


Thursday, October 30, 2014

When Cracked Pots Leak

As I get older and reflect on the paths I've traveled, the detours and the rocky roads, the peaceful paths that were flat and were surrounded with beautiful scenery and free from obstacles, I can't help but wonder how many of them could have been different had the path before it changed.

Do you take the time to think about such things?

We could have been born in any time period, in any country, in any family but God placed us in this time, in the country or state or town we are in, in the family we are born into, for a purpose.  You didn't get to pick where you started out on this planet or the circumstances you were born into, but God did.

Some of us were born into really difficult circumstances.  Some of us never knew one or both parents.  Some of us moved around so often that any roots that started to embed into the ground never really had a chance to provide nourishment to our souls.   Some of us were raised around violence, some around addiction, some were raised around both.

We don't get to choose our start.

Some of us were born into affluence and privilege.  Some were born into very strict and religious families.  Some of us were born with no religious base.

We didn't get to choose our beginning.

Some of us have had, or still do have, a hard time reconciling how a loving God would let a child be born into the really hard stuff.  Really, what kind of God would do such a thing?

Some of us were born with behaviors that were normal to us, but to someone on the outside they are labeled as abnormal.

We didn't get to choose our design.

And yet, the Bible says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made and that God ordained  all the days for us before one of them came to be.  How does one reconcile that statement, especially the  part that says God ordained all the days of our lives when thus far, the days haven't been all that great?

Let's get rid of the word ordain and use a different word, one that is used in the Hebrew definition.

The Hebrew is yatsar - and the short definition is "formed."  Other words used to describe yatsar are fashion, formed, planned, potter.  It gives more a sense of design and creating like a potter making a beautiful vase, moulding it into a perfect form for a perfect use.

We, you and me, we are being formed by the hands of God, moulded into a beautiful vessel, placed where we are for the times we are in.  As His hands molded us as a potter holds soft clay in his hand, kneading and wetting it and placing it on a potter's wheel then placed in the kiln at just the right temperature for just the right amount of time, we are the vessel, designed by God.

So those painful days of your childhood when you wondered if anyone cared or those lonely days after your spouse left, never to return - those are the days formed for you forming you.  Those are the days the Potter already knew about and had already placed in His hands to mold into a beautiful vessel.

Maybe you feel like you are being kneaded a little too roughly, maybe you feel like the temperature of the kiln is hot enough thank you!

But the Potter, He's using the right amount of strength and water and heat to mold the vessel for its future use.  The Potter knows how long to knead the clay to get an even amount of moisture in the body of clay to make it more pliable, more moldable.  He knows how much air is in the clay that needs to be taken out so it can be shaped into the designated vessel.

The Potter knows how hot and how long the vessel needs to stay in the kiln to remove all the water from the clay so to strengthen and harden the permanent changes being made to the formerly unshaped clay form.  If the vessel isn't in the kiln long enough, it will not be able to serve the way it was designed.  It may crack, crumble, or just fall apart.  The decorations may cover the flaws but it will never serve well the purpose to which it was first designed.

I agree with you, it seems He likes to mould some of us a little bit longer than others.  Some of us seem to be in that kiln for more time than is necessary too.

But, do you want to be a broken or cracked or crumbling vessel, looking good on the outside but of no value for service?  Or would you rather see your life, your entire unchosen life as part of the Potter's gallery, not just to look at but to be used as it was intended all along?

Maybe when you were waiting for rescue as a child or crying those lonely tears night after night, God had His heart in your hand, moulding it, shaping it, giving it form to be a vessel of purpose.

That's where I choose to live.  That's where I choose to find my purpose and reason and the answers to the ceaseless whys.

Because.....God is the Potter of my heart and yours.

That's why.

Peace,
Ronda

Psalm 139



Photo by Rhonda Piper Photography


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Closed Doors and Battered Knuckles

"I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." 

Those are the words of Jesus.  He did not desire or wish to please himself but to please the One who sent Him.

Wow.

Jesus did nothing but only what would please His Father.  He didn't go looking for ways to please himself, to put himself first, to make his name known, to get ahead in life, to do what was best for him.

He did not zeteo, he did not search for, desire, require, or demand that his own needs were met before meeting the needs of his Father who sent him.

How good are you at putting yourself last?   Not good?  Me either.  Me is who I always think of first.  Then when I'm done thinking of me, next on the list come my husband, my kids and grandson, then maybe, mayyyyybe God's pleasure fits in somewhere around line 9 or 10 of my list of those I try or find important to please.

The transliteration of the actual words Jesus used say this:

 not I seek the will of me but the will of the one having sent me.

Jesus didn't seek the will of me (himself) but the will of the one having sent him (God).  Ugh.  Jesus, really now, you're hitting too close to home here.  You're getting in my business a little bit too much.

His desire was to do what God wanted him to do.  He pushed aside the temptations to do what He wanted to do over and over again.  He was tempted in the same ways we are, yet he didn't give in to the temptations that were ever present to put himself first and his Father last.

What in the world does that look like?  How can we even begin to comprehend, let alone imitate such behavior?

Well, one step at a time.  One wish at a time.  One desire at a time.  One want at a time.

I knew someone once who told me that the way she prayed for God's will to be known for her was praying that no door opened that He didn't want her to walk through.  It was a real hard formula.  (wink wink). Just a simple prayer and a simple trust that God would open the doors He wanted her to walk through and close the doors He didn't want her to enter.

Now some of us will try and try and try to break down doors that are clearly closed, even getting bloody knuckles and sore shoulders from continued knocking and attempting to break them down.

When we believe God is telling us to do something and it's not just our will that is hoping God is agreeing with us that it would be a good thing to do, through my friend's example say something like this:

"Jesus, if it is your will for me, and I want your will to be done (I think I do anyway), not mine, Lord Jesus, if you want me to have or do ________ than I will not do anything until the door opens wide to have or do ________."

Even Jesus asked God for a different game plan than what he was facing.  Remember?  He said, if there is any way for this cup to pass, if you are willing, yet not my will but your will.  And God had him killed.

That was God's will.

Wanting God's will over our own will is not going to bring all sunshine and roses.  Some doors that open we will be certain they should have stayed shut.

Some doors that stay shut we will not be able to understand why they stay shut because we know what's on the other side of the door is not bad.  It's not evil.  It's not unholy.  It's pretty good stuff on the other side.  But when those doors stay shut it's not because they're evil or unholy, it's because they are not a part of God's will for YOU.

You may be able to hear the party and the laughter and the joy coming through the door, but if it's not God's will for you to be on the other side of that door, you shouldn't go in.

Stay on the side of the door where his will for you rests.

Make your every decision from here forward on this premise.  (Or something like it anyway). Lord, I want what you want.  I surrender to what you want for me.  I know what you want for me could be really hard and painful and even mean giving up some things that I really enjoy and bring me closer to you, but if you don't want me to have them, then I don't want them.  I want what you want.  I don't want to walk through any doors if you aren't on the other side.

Ugh.

Be careful what you pray for.  If you want a closer relationship with Jesus, He'll see to it that you get it, but it won't be in ways that you design.  The doors you thought he would open may remain locked tightly and the doors that do begin to open you may be a little apprehensive about walking through.  Butremember how faith works during times like those.....trust that He will keep you safe, He will be with you every step of the way.  And just start walking.  One foot in front of the other.

The footing will be unfamiliar, the light may be dim, but He'll be sure to carry you through whether you feel him with you or not.  He's there.  Cheering you on, reminding you that He has been where you are.  He fought and won the temptations to quit that you will face.  Nothing you will go through as you seek His will over your own will be too hard for him to carry you through.

Just trust Him.

Hold on tight, don't let go.

Begin seeking not the will of "me" but seek the will of Him.

He's so worth it.



Peace,
Ronda

John 5:30     Luke 22:42     Philippians 2:5-11     Hebrews 4:15



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

There's More to the Story

It's getting close to that time of year again.  I saw evidence of it in Hobby Lobby the other day and glimpses of it in Walmart too.  The sparkles are going up, the red and green and gold and silver are beginning to line the shelves.  I remember when I used to be so put out that "Christmas" was up for sale earlier and earlier each year, but now I feel better seeing Christmas in October.  I think we need the reminder of the story earlier in the times we are living in now.

See, the story goes that Christmas was celebrated because the birth of a baby, far away in a war torn country was born to save the world from its sins.  It's such a wild story, isn't it?  Over 2000 years ago, a baby, a baby for crying out loud, was born to affect me and everyone I know, here, now in 2014 and for all time before and after.

It's a wild story.  I understand why many don't believe it.  It's crazy.

But we got used to the story, we got used to those who poo poo the story.  Santa Claus got thrown into the story to at least take away from the main focus of the story, Jesus, so that those who don't believe THE STORY can at least benefit in some way from the reason behind the story.

And so it goes, around and around on the church calendar so that the retail calendars can have a piece of the story too.  The story starts getting unpacked around September and October and hangs around until December 26th at midnight where it all gets packed up again, or at least till the after Christmas sales are over.

I wish the rest of the story would be told.  Oh wait, that's Easter.

We know that story pretty good too, believer and doubter alike.  Jesus got crucified, placed in a tomb and rose from the dead three days later.

Got it.

It doesn't get the commercial effect that the Christmas story gets but we do have a bunny thrown in to get the focus off the star of the story - Jesus.

Did you know there's more to the story?

See, if you live your life between part A of the story -the baby - and part B of the story -the resurrection - with those the only highlights of your everyday life then you've probably missed it.

But there's more to the story.

It's the chapter that goes beyond a baby and a cross and heaven, but instead tells the story of faith and courage and bravery and hope and surrender  being possible all because of Part A baby and Part B resurrection.

See the rest of the story involves you.  You are, as Paul Harvey used to say, "the rest of the story."

The baby did come to die for you and grant you eternal life, but the baby also came to regenerate your life, to bring new life to it.  Life that has purpose and meaning.

He couldn't just tell you to be perfect like He was if He didn't first make a way for you to be perfect in His sight.  When that little baby grew up and lay his life down for me and you, yes it was for the awesome gift of eternal life, but it was also for the awesome gift of walking with Him now, not just when you die.

He made a way for you to be able to follow the teachings He taught while He walked on earth.  He made a way for you to rise above the inclination to do the opposite of what God wants and instead walk freely in what is His best for us.

God does it all so that we can be all we were created to be.

That's the rest of the story.  That's the part that's missing from Christmas to Easter and Easter to Christmas.

You are the "more" to the story.

You are.  Your life is the "more" to the story.  The life that has Jesus at the helm, not as a copilot but as the pilot.  Walking with you through everything that life throws at you, the good, the bad and the ugly.  The tedious, the small, the big, the heartbreaking. You were not meant to face any of it alone.  We were meant to face life as Jesus gave us the example to.  In deep abiding trust and willingness to surrender our ideas and plans and fears to the God who wrote the story, -Part A, Part B and everything before, in between and after.

I hope in this season when you are scrambling to plan meals and buy gifts and decorate and you find yourself looking forward to when it's all packed away, that you ask the question, "how do I fit into this story?"

You are the only one who knows what God has been trying to teach you all these years as you've muddled through the holiday season.  Only you can ask Him what the "more" to the story is.  Only you can ask to be shown how you fit into the rest of the story.  Only you can want to know the more.  I wish it for you, but I can't make you want it.  Only you can want to know more.

Do you?

Or are the two chapters of the story enough?  Are the two chapters helping you face the hardest thing you've ever faced in your life?  Are they getting all your questions answered?  Is your list of "whys" getting shorter each year as you go from Part A in the story to Part B?  If they are, great, this post isn't for you.

But if you're honest enough with yourself to say, "no", then know that God hears your call.  If you want to know the more, he longs to show you the more.  And if you don't, he's ever the gentleman and will continue to love you as He always has.

The story we've been told is beautiful.  I can't imagine my life having not known either Part A or Part B.  Please, Lord, let your story continue to be told, not just when the calendar and and stores say its time, but let the story blend into our story, our boring everyday life stories.  Show us how that baby and that cross and that empty tomb matter for our heartbreaks and disappointments, our joys and our sorrows.

Let us ginosko "the rest of the story."

Peace,
Ronda






Thursday, October 23, 2014

Truth in Translation


I was in an antique store the other day, just browsing, killing some time and not really finding anything that jumped out at me.  As I walked around the quaint little store that was once a house I found myself in a former bedroom where all kinds of things you might find in a bedroom were - just the antique kind.  Hairbrushes, water pitchers and dry sinks, mirrors, etc.  There was a closet that did not have a door on it and it had several shelves that were packed with mostly linens and "fancy things" (a term I learned at my Grandparent's auction to describe needlepoint, cross stitch and anything hand made).

I rummaged through the shelves and the piles of blankets and quilts and pillow cases and in the back corner of a shelf about three down from the top were some books.  I'm always on the lookout for old hymnals so I thought that was what I might have found.

I had to move several items off the shelf and place them on the bed to get to the books, but when I did, I was pleasantly surprised.  I hadn't found hymnals, but I had found Bibles.  I believe to be written one in Swedish and one in Norwegian, at least that's what Google translate tells me.  One was published in 1905 and the other in 1951.  Not horribly old, but perhaps belonged to someone my grandmother's age and her mother's age.

It's intriguing to think about who they belonged to.

They are both fairly well read and both previous owner's liked to underline as there are many many red lines under some of the same verses that are underlined in my English bible.

The Word of God is what binds us.  The Word of God is what divides us.

Only the reader of the Word of God knows how the Word speaks to their heart.  I'd like to think that this man or woman holding these Bibles underlined them because they spoke so loudly to them in the darkness, like the Word speaks to me many times, that they wanted to come back to that spot over and over and over again. One will really never know, and it's really none of my business why a passage is underlined.

But it is intriguing to me that a person, who perhaps only spoke Swedish or Norwegian, was moved, for whatever reasons, by the same words that speak to me in English.

God's Word speaks to every language, every tongue, for all time.

Won't it be a beautiful thing in heaven when the language barriers are gone, the doctrinal divides are erased and we worship and praise with one voice, one tongue calling out to One Name.  The name that saves.

Jesus Christ.

Peace,
Ronda



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Is Anyone Out There?

My daughter and grandson visited recently.  My daughter shared a story of the day she and Zeke left for the airport to come visit.  They had gotten up in the middle of the night to catch a 6 am flight and so it was dark in the car as they drove to the airport.  My grandson was awake in the backseat, facing backwards of course, and as they drove along it was quiet.  They didn't know if he was awake or not until about fifteen minutes had passed and they heard a muffled,  "dah?"  (Muffled because of the pacifier in his mouth).  My daughter said that it sounded like a question, like he was saying, "is anyone there?  I'm in the backseat by myself in the dark.  Hellloooooooo!"

We got a good chuckle out of that and I've been thinking about how much we all can feel like Baby Zeke may have been feeling that morning.

We're buckled into a carseat, no real control of anything, facing backwards, it's dark and the only sounds we can hear is the sound of our own breathing.  I've felt that way a time or two.  I've even given that muffled question, "Is anyone out there?  Helllooooooo?"

I came across a neat passage this morning, one that had been highlighted years and years ago, one that really had nothing to do with any circumstance I was in at the time, but as I did often back then, I highlighted it because when I read it, it felt like God was speaking it to me.  I couldn't relate to the actual circumstance of the context of the verse, but still God's word spoke loudly.  Loudly enough that I highlighted the words.

"And when they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped."  Exodus 4:31

Now I wasn't a slave of Egypt and I certainly wasn't Moses when I read those words for the first time, but it spoke to me then and it speaks to me now.

The LORD is concerned about me and has seen my misery.

He doesn't have us locked up in a carseat, facing backwards calling out in the darkness, not hearing us and not knowing where we are.  He hears us when we call to him.  He is paqad for us.  He pays attention to, observes with care and practical interest.  He attends to us even when it seems we're locked up in the dark.  He's there.

I think the biggest lie rejectors of Him believe is that He doesn't care.  Perception can be reality, but perception does not define reality.

His concern for us is immeasurable and sometimes hidden, but that doesn't mean He doesn't care and He's not there.  Circumstances may hide our view of Him but our circumstances never hide us from His view.

If you dig into the story surrounding this one verse, you will see that not only did and does God care for His people, but He goes to great lengths to rescue His people from their misery.

What's your misery?  Where do you not see God working?  How long have you felt you are locked in a carseat facing backwards in the dark, thinking you're all alone?

I hope you find comfort and hope and a new refreshing of trust that God is concerned with your misery.

Then do what the slaves of Egypt did, bow down and worship him.

He knows your misery, your aneyam, your affliction, whatever causes you suffering.

He knows and He sees and He is concerned for you.  Worship Him, not your suffering.

Peace,
Ronda