30 November 2008

Wing Nuts, Epoxy and the Economy

Ever do something without thinking about it just because you are used to doing it all the time? I know there are some single women out there who will identify with what I am about to say. When you are single you learn to do a lot of things yourself and you don't think twice about it. There is no one to go pick up the dry cleaning for you, no one to take the garbage out and if the toilet seat needs to be replaced, you replace it. You fall into the patterns and cycles of life doing what you can until something upsets your life, like getting old or having emergency surgery.

I found myself in the local Lowe's looking for a new toilet seat for my guest bathroom. Lowe's is like a candy store to me. I get to ooooh and aaaahh over the new appliances and get lots of ideas about what I can do to my home. I was staring at a wall of various sizes and shapes of toilet seats asking myself, "What constitutes a good toilet seat? How do I know? Do I have a comfort preference?" Did you know toilet seats range in price from $6.97 - $50.00? I picked a moderately priced replacement and then went down my list of other things to buy-an air filter for my central heat and some bird seed for the wild birds who visit my yard. Knowing exactly where these products are kept, I headed for the bird food next.

Without thinking I grabbed the large forty pound sack of mixed feed and went to sling it into the shopping cart. About half way through the process my abdomen reminded me that I was recovering from an emergency hernia repair. I had forgotten. My body had not. It hurt and I felt stupid. I had a pretty horrible night but I think I am going to be fine. I had visions of calling the doctor who did my surgery and asking him if wouldn't mind meeting me at the ER for a little reunion of sorts. Two things became apparent to me. 1) I need to rebuild some abdominal muscles before I lift anything and 2) I am getting old and probably cannot do a fireman's carry anymore. My brain will have to stop thinking I am a woman in my thirties. Sure, I used to be able to buck a 150 bale of alfalfa...but those days are over. I can probably get back into shape and handle the bird food for a few more years...but I do need to heal and rebuild some muscles first.

I came home pouting. I told myself that all was not lost. I should be able to regain some muscle tone but I will have to work at it. I tried to console myself by being productive and changing out the toilet seat. This was a mistake. The previous homeowner has used some sort of glue or epoxy to hold the wing nuts that are on the bolts that affix the toilet seat to the toilet. I have a 40% disability in my hands. This means even without the epoxy the cracked toilet seat had a 60% chance of never coming off. The odds of my being able to remove the offending seat while the wing nuts are epoxied on the bolts are stacked against me. So much for feeling productive.

While I was frustrating myself trying to unscrew the wing nuts, I was having big thoughts about the economy. I had invited my sister to help me go jump start the economy yesterday by doing some shopping. We both have some furniture purchases we need to make. We had fun going to a great old furniture store. It is in an old building that takes lots of twists and turns. I saw one dining set that I would have considered but there was a flaw in the way it was assembled. A screw had been tightened too far and had lifted up the veneer on the opposite side. Screws, bolts and wing nuts are all evil. The sales person said that the mass produced and assembled furniture that comes from China is often in need of repair by the time it arrives. As I was tinkering with the toilet seat and recalling this conversation, something occurred to me. We have all heard so much about "Black Friday" and how the economy is plummeting but that folks were out there shopping and there had been a 3% increase in sales. Retailers are dropping prices like mad in order to get shoppers in to buy.... but... if they are selling products made in China... aren't we bolstering the Chinese economy more than we are bolstering our own? Sure the retailers are making some profit and they are paying some salaries... but .... wouldn't we have more jobs if we were buying American made products?

Have we Wal*Marted ourselves into this precarious economic position over the past 30 years? Were my grandparents right to insist on buying American? Is our desire to save a buck here and there costing us more than we realize? It is awful convenient to blame the Republican and/or Democrat politicians, but what about the consequences of our own retail habits?

Just some thoughts. I wonder what will pop into my head when I change my air filter.

Sidebar! These verses have been my prayer.

Psalm 69:13 But as for me, my prayer is to Thee, O LORD, at an acceptable time; O God, in the greatness of Thy lovingkindness, answer me with Thy saving truth.

Psalm 69:16-18
16 Answer me, O LORD, for Thy lovingkindness is good; according to the greatness of Thy compassion, turn to me,
17 And do not hide Thy face from Thy servant, for I am in distress; answer me quickly.
18 Oh draw near to my soul {and} redeem it; ransom me because of my enemies!( NAS)

26 November 2008

Being Grateful

I am grateful for a God who is merciful enough to save a sorry sinner like me. Despite my penchant for making sinful choices, bad attitudes and unkind and harsh thoughts about my fellow travelers, He keeps drawing me and refining me. Had our relationship been left up to me, I would have ditched Him years ago. The shame and guilt for my behavior alone would have been enough to keep me running and hiding from His presence. Instead, He invites me into the Oval Office of the Universe to interrupt Him as he rules over all.

I am grateful for a God honoring, God fearing church family who have demonstrated their love to me in a thousand ways, not the least of which is prayer. I am grateful for a pastor who cuts the Word straight and isn't afraid to confront, correct and encourage.

I am blessed to have my kids, grandson and siblings. We are a motley bunch... we fight regularly and love fiercely, which I think may make us stark raving normal. I have been incredibly blessed with friendships that are long lasting, deep and meaningful.

I have my cyber-siblings who have shared my life from the inside out. Men and woman of faith who have made me laugh, made me cry and encouraged me to build my theology on the truth of what the Word says and not what 'it means to me.'

God has provided well for me. I have a comfortable home with a full refrigerator, air conditioning, heat and plumbing that works. I have medical insurance, so while I was lying in my bed writhing in pain, not knowing that I was on death's door, my decision to go to the doctor was an easy one to make. I didn't have to worry how I would pay for it.

I have a job. I work for a company with integrity. I have two little black dogs who think I am the best thing since basted rawhide. I have the good sense to know the destiny of this nation is not dependent on Barack Obama. I have the ability to make a decision based on facts and not emotion, and I have traveled abroad.

He has given me an incredible life with incredible experiences. I got to play the "Woman from Murray River" and chase kangaroos in the outback while riding hired horses in Australia. I have survived a major flood in which I lost everything I owned except my clothes. I have been through multiple earthquakes and fires. I have lived in wine country. I have helped a father deliver his daughter by coaching him over the phone while his wife gave birth. I know the smell of redwood trees on a foggy summer morning and I have picked wild blackberries until my fingers looked like I spilled ink on them.

I have had the chance to swim in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, not to mention the Coral and Tasman Seas. I have had a black jaguar named "Precious" sit in my lap. I have seen a UFO. Really.

I could go on and on. My gratitude list is as long as my life. I only wish when I suffer those momentary setbacks we all get to go through, that my first thought would be to remember what I have and not what I think I am missing.

Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will eat turkey and enjoy the company of my family members and I will be receiving pay while I do it. Truly, I am blessed. And you?

22 November 2008

When God Rejoices

I worry that my heart is far too fond of sin. I do not hate it as I ought. I have become complacent in my current infirmity, knowing that my flesh will be my constant companion as I wait for my final sanctification. I do long for the final firing and refinement of this vessel, but I don't disdain all sin as I should. I am not saying that I allow myself to dabble in the enticements of the flesh. I guess what I am saying is that all sin doesn't repel or disgust me and it should. Is there ever a time when a professing believer should be indifferent about sin?

I have been reading about repentance. If ever there were a topic to read when you're concerned about a lack of passion for righteousness, repentance is it. It can be very convicting. I read something that has given me a bit of a different angle to consider when meditating on repentance. Here it is:

" Why do the inhabitants of heaven rejoice over repenting sinners?. . . God does not rejoice in the repentance of sinners because it can add anything to His essential happiness or glory. His is already infinitely glorious and happy, and so would continue, though all the men on earth and all the angels in heaven should madly rush to hell. . . Why then does God rejoice when we repent?

"He rejoices because His eternal purposes of grace and His engagements to His Son are fulfilled. We learn from the Scriptures that all who repent were chosen by Him in Christ Jesus before the world began and given to Him as His people in the covenant of redemption. . .

"God rejoices when sinners repent because bringing them to repentance is His own work. It is a consequence of the gift of His Son and is effected by the power of His Spirit. The Scriptures inform us that He rejoices in all His works. With reason does He rejoice in them, for they are all very good. But if He rejoices in His other works, much more may He rejoice in this, since it is of all His works the greatest, the most glorious, and the most worthy of Himself. In this work, the image of Satan is effaced and the image of God restored to an immortal soul. In this work, a smoking brand is plucked from eternal fires and planted among the stars in the firmament of heaven, there to shine with increasing luster forever and ever! And is not this a work worthy of God, a work in which God may. . . rejoice?

"God rejoices in the repentance of sinners because it affords Him an opportunity to exercise mercy and show His love to Christ by pardoning them for His sake. Christ is His beloved Son in Whom He is ever well pleased. He loves Him as He loves Himself with an infinite love, a love that is as inconceivable by us as His create power and eternal duration. He loves [Christ] not only on account of the near relation and inseparable union that subsists between them, but for the perfect holiness and excellence of His character, especially for the infinite benevolence that He displayed in undertaking and accomplishing the great work of man's redemption. As it is the nature of love to manifest itself in acts of kindness toward the beloved object, God cannot but wish to display His love for Christ and to show all intelligent beings how perfectly His is pleased with His character and conduct as Mediator. . . " -Edward Payson (1783-1827)

I have know that the inhabitants of heaven rejoice when a sinner repents, but I have never thought of God as one of the inhabitants rejoicing. The Triune God, complete in Himself and wanting for nothing, rejoices when we, His chosen, repent. That's a lot to think about.

Ezekiel 18:23 "Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked," declares the Lord GOD, "rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?

Matthew 18:10-11
10 "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you, that their angels in heaven continually behold the face of My Father who is in heaven.
11 ["For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.]

Psalm 96:11-13
11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all it contains;
12 Let the field exult, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy
13 Before the LORD, for He is coming; for He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in His faithfulness.

Luke 15:10 "In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."(NAS)

21 November 2008

Drivel

I hate that my time is being eaten away by something so necessary as work. I have often suffered from the delusion that I should be doing something far more important than working. Of course I haven't any skills or abilities that would provide the opportunity to be paid for something other than work. I dabble at a lot of things but I am not really good at any of them. So, despite my attempts at being being paid for having fun, I clock in at a normal job. Alas, it is all part of growing up.

"Personal growth and change are not always easy, but they are essential to true humanness. . . . . Everything alive grows. The difference with human beings is that we grow physically and spiritually." - Ed Welch

I am healing from surgery and unless the doctor found something troubling on the CAT scan, I am imagining he is going to turn me loose on my next appointment. By the way.... if you have never had the dubious pleasure of having a CAT scan with contrast....which is doctor speak for "please make my patient drink a 1/2 gallon of barium that will taste awful and has the viscosity of sludge and then inject her with dye that will make her feel like she has micturated in her pants." By that way, it would be best if they told you that the barium was going to come out looking about the same as it went in... and that it comes knocking at the back door of your intestinal system about 30 minutes after you have ingested it, BEFORE they take 15 minutes of your time to tell you they are finished and you're about to make the 20 minute drive home. Even for the math impaired the trouble should be obvious. Ah! science... where was I? Oh yeah... I think the doctor is going to release me.

There are several bugs going around at work and I have managed to catch them all. I am tired. I am coughing stuff up out of my lungs that might be mistaken for the afore mentioned barium. Perhaps I will have something more valuable to write later.... in which case you should disregard this completely.



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15 November 2008

Repentance and Restoration

I was chatting with a friend of mine recently. She was vulnerable and said that she is heartsick over some broken friendships. She has tried to reach out to her friends to restore their relationship and seems to be being ignored. She feels disposable. I know this woman to be a solid believer and a great, loyal friend. It's hard for me to understand how another believer could ignore or become indifferent toward her. It is hard for me to understand how a believer can feign indifference to anyone who is reaching out to them for restoration.

Before I type much further, I need to lay some of my cards on the table. I do not know these other friends, nor the circumstances that lead to the conversation I had with my friend. The bible says that the first to tell their story seems right until you get the chance to talk to the other party. I am not judging whether or not there has been an offense. The bible also says when you answer before hearing you are a fool. I am not responding to the situation since I do not know the details. I am responding to my friend feeling disposable.

I do confess I wanted to react first. I wanted to get her to tell me who these friends are that are so careless and callous as to cause her, my friend, this suffering. I thought of several verses with which to bash them over the head and some unkind names to call them. God, in His mercy, restored me to a biblical way of thinking and I repented. I have been thinking about relationships and repentance ever since.

None of us get through life unscathed. We are hurt by those who claim to love us. We are disappointed by those we trust, we are abused by people in our inner and outer circles. Try as hard as we might not to, we also inflict pain on others. Most of the time we do it unaware but sometimes, if we are to be honest, we do it and enjoy it. In my sin I would have enjoyed telling my friend's friends what I thought of the way they are causing her pain. I would have thoroughly enjoyed making them squirm before I repented. So you see, I understand that we, all of us, are victims and perpetrators of fouling relationships and friendships.

What do we do when we have caused a rift in a friendship and the other party does not care to achieve restoration? Do we pursue restoration relentlessly until they are so tired blocking our attempts to contact them that they give in? No. I don't think so. Do we give it one shot and if they are not receptive shrug our shoulders, say "quel dommage" and forget about it? No, that doesn't seem biblical either.

Restoration requires repentance. Repentance for causing the rift, repentance for ignoring the attempts at restoration. Repentance is the key. I think we forget that repentance is also a gift. We cannot conjure it up for ourselves and we cannot cajole someone else into being repentant. We are thoroughly dependent upon God to grant us the gift of repentance. And so, we should pray first for our gift of repentance and then that our estranged friends, family, coworkers or acquaintances should be gifted with repentance as well. We can beseech God every moment of every day. We can pursue Him relentlessly. We should do that very thing on behalf of our broken relationships and our unsaved loved ones. Here's the tricky part. We should not grow impatient or frustrated when repentance does not come in our time frame. We can pour out our hearts to Him, telling Him how much it hurts and asking that He give us strength to stay the course and continue to pray and hope for restoration.

May it please the Lord to grant me the gift of repentance and the strength to pray for the repentance and restoration of those I love, first to You and then for us each to one another. May I never give a brother or sister in Christ nor any other soul a reason for them to feel I find them disposable.


II Thessalonians 3:13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.

Psalm 27:13-14
13 {I would have despaired} unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD

Psalm 80:19 O LORD God of hosts, restore us; cause Thy face to shine {upon us,} and we will be saved.

Lamentations 5:21Restore us to Thee, O LORD, that we may be restored; renew our days as of old,

Colossians 3:12-17
12 And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;
13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.
14 And beyond all these things {put on} love, which is the perfect bond of unity.
15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.
16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms {and} hymns {and} spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
17 And whatever you do in word or deed, {do} all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.(NAS)

11 November 2008

Monumental Change

God demands change. He ordains it. He causes it. Change is not optional. I know this and yet I cannot keep myself from resisting change. It's really not logical of me because I complain a lot about my circumstances and yet, I complain a lot when they change. I seem to live in a constant state of not knowing what I really want while knowing that I really don't want what I have. God is working on me though. What was that 70s catch phrase from my "Jesus Freak" period? PBPGINFWMY. Please Be Patient God Is Not Finished With Me Yet. Perhaps that was my short lived Bill Gothard period. It was definitely before my, 'study the Word and show yourself approved' period. (2 Timothy 2:15)

I have been asked to give my testimony at our community ladies bible study. God and I have this deal, when I am asked to give my testimony, I give it. It is something I take seriously and put a lot of thought into. I have had a pretty amazing life... the stuff movies on TV are made of... and yet I can claim no responsibility for the incredible things that have occurred. When giving my testimony, it could be tempting for me to try and sensationalize my experiences. It would be so easy to present a feelings motivated speech about my life, jerk some tears out of people and then give an emotionalized presentation of the gospel according to Rosemarie- throw the Lord's name in it, ask for commitments or re-commitments to follow Christ and call it good. God forbid.

I tend to read Ephesians 4 and Galatians 5 when I am preparing to give testimony of my salvation. In Ephesians I concentrate on the "formerly you were" and "putting on the new" verses. In Galatians I compare the deeds of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit. It is usually a time where my awe and wonder for God increases because I can see what He has done, what changes He has made and is making. I think if we believers really focused on that, we would all feel like we had incredible lives, lives that are orchestrated in every way by a sovereign, merciful God. We would welcome the events that make us think, "Things can never be the same" with the attitude that "Things may never be the same in order that they can get better." We would do that if we truly believed our lives were all about His glory and our good.

Even my most recent brush with death and the circumstances of my recovery have been a testimony of God's perfect timing and continuing work in my life. He is softening me. He is using my frailty and infirmity to strengthen my faith. I have been blessed by the practical help I have received from the believers He has placed in my life. I have had food delivered, floors vacuumed, toilets cleaned and prayers on my behalf. God does put the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6, 113:9). He is changing me from a 'touch me not' to one who loves a good hug. From someone who is willing to do for others into someone willing to be blessed by others. A small thing for some but monumental changes for me.

So, here I am reflecting on my life and how different it is. Without my permission, God is sanctifying and changing me. The more He does, the less I seem to resist it or the less I kick at the goads. I have moments though. Moments when I look at Ephesians 4 and Galatians 5 and see more sin and rebellion in me than obedience and fruit. Those are the times I run to the Psalms and actually ask Him for change. Real change. Psalm 51 and 139 changes.



Psalm 139:23-24
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.


Psalm 51:10-12
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Thy presence, and do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit.

06 November 2008

Beneficence and Pride Dont Mix

For the last two days I have tried to return to work full time. The first day I made it 4.5 hours and the today I made it 5.0 hours before I was so uncomfortable I had to go home. I still have two places in my largest incision that are open and draining. It hurts to sit and unfortunately that is what I do at work, sit and answer the phone. I am going to the doctor in the morning and hoping that I haven't done something to damage or compromise my healing.

It stings my pride to be reminded of my mortality. I don't mean my soul, it belongs to Christ and I trust Him alone to see me into eternity glorifying my God. But here in this between time... this foreign place we are just passing through, I want to be invincible. No, that's not quite what I mean to say because I am invincible in the sense that nothing and no one can revoke my visitor's visa here except God. What I mean to say is that I don't want to be limited by a body that is healing or broken or aging. I don't want my lack of intellectual abilities to keep me from accomplishing something unique and sure as heck don't want to waste my time making bad choices, being wrong or having to depend on someone else who may be equally or more significantly flawed than I am myself! Now there's pride for you. Notice I didn't say that they just might be less significantly flawed?? Telling isn't it. I don't want to depend on anyone because I can live with disappointing myself, I don't want anyone else to do it though. So, no dependency for me! Alas, that is exactly what God has designed for me, for us. We are dependent on Him and our fellow believers, whether or not we delude ourselves otherwise.

I have been so blessed by my church and Christian friends during my illness. I have been waited upon, had meals delivered to me, had my house cleaned, had my garbage taken out and clothes ironed. All things I would never have tolerated before. It has served to open my eyes to how prideful I am and how unwilling I am to share blessings. You see, it is wonderful for me to have these folks love on me like this, but the blessing in giving their time and physical strength to me belongs to them. God always blesses the folks that give sacrificially much more than He blesses the receiver. It is uncomfortable for me to be on the receiving end of all this love, but it is a discomfort that is good for my soul.


Proverbs 22:9 He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.

Proverbs 28:27 He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses.

Matthew 5:42 "Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

1 Timothy 6:18-19
18 {Instruct them} to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,
19 storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.
Hebrews 13:16 And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Psalm 37:3-6
3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it.
6 And He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noonday.

Psalm 40:4 How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust, and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.

Prov 16:5-7
5 Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.
6 By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil.
7 When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (NAS)

05 November 2008

The Results

And so.... Obama has been elected. Something I was sure would happen the moment Oprah decided to put her name behind him, not to mention her money and influence. He was not my candidate. Someone asked me if I objected to him because he is black. Not at all. I objected to his politics and his lack of discernment evidenced by his politics and personal history. I couldn't care less that he happens to have more melanin than me.

I have heard some comments that astound me about how electing Obama is a step forward for the United States because of the color of his skin. It infuriates me because it is illogical. How can we be going forward and getting beyond racism when everyone is pointing out the color of the man's skin? Nothing has changed but the geography... it's no longer blacks to the back of the bus, it is blacks can sit wherever as long as you are certain to identify yourself as black and anyone that is not black needs to be certain to notice that you are black. What really chaps my hide is that the very people complaining about racism are the people pointing out what color they are. Look, one look at me and you can tell I am fat but that is a description of my physical body, not who I am. When I see the color of some one's skin, it is a descriptor of their physical body and not the total of who they are. We will know we have gone forward when we no longer care what race a candidate is...we just care about their integrity and their politics.

Now, the other thing that is driving me crazy is all the weird stuff I hear from "Christians" who are unhappy with the outcome of the election. Stuff like they are going to fire their gardener because he claims to be a Christian and yet supported Obama. Look, if the gardener does a good job, why would you fire him? The outcome of this election was in the hands of God. I say put your big-girl-panties on and act like a believer yourself.

Finally, for everyone that is afraid the country is headed to hell in a hand basket, do what McCain advocates and get involved. Volunteer somewhere, give a hand to someone, tutor kids, teach an adult to read... do something and start putting your actions where your complaining is. Watch this video and see if it doesn't change your perspective on the state of the things. If we Christians cannot bring ourselves to pray for our president, despite his or her politics then we are not doing what our God commanded. Yes, I am disappointed in the outcome of the election, but it was a democratic election. God is still in his heaven doing as he pleases, Psalm 115:3. Do what you can biblically to change things and trust in God, not Obama or whoever follows him.