Zing!

I’m reading through the Bible chronologically. I’m in Deuteronomy right now. I’ll admit, some of the Old Testament is quite repetitive and not exactly that uh… thrilling. Frankly, it’s also gross in some places, in a TMI kind of way. (Don’t read Leviticus if you have any kind of an aversion to puss. OK, OK, Leviticus is actually worth reading. There are some gems in there.) But, a LOT of the OT is so exciting! The stories are crazy! Crazy. But they’re true. It’s a HISTORY book. Factual and real. Tonight though, I’m reading through Deuteronomy. …um, I may be a little behind in the schedule, so let’s just say I was not reading at the slowest, most meticulous pace I’ve ever read. In Deuteronomy, Moses is hanging out with the Israelites in Moab, before they enter the Promised Land, basically recapping the Ten Commandments for them and reminding them of all the awesome things God did for them post-Egypt. So my eyes are whizzing down the page, pulling out the gist of each chapter and all the important phrases -God brought you out of Egypt, He gave you water from a rock and manna from the sky. Calm down and obey Him. He loves you so love Him back. Yep, yep, noted.  But then my eyes hit this passage, and ZING!

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing.  Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name. He is your praise, and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen. (Deuteronomy 10:17-21)

I stop. I read it again. I let it sink in. I continue reading and the words sink deep into me. These are the words that electrocuted me tonight. I realize this is a work of the Holy Spirit (the master of Zing! moments), and that Zing! moments are mostly personal, but I still had a desire to share this passage. God’s word is alive! It’s sharper than a two-edged sword and it cuts deep. Most reading is fun (or at least interesting) the first time, and some books you can read several times over. But what other book can you read every day, over and over and over again until you die and are never bored? Honestly, the Bible is so fun to read. It’s interactive, entertaining and always applicable. Even if I have to force myself to open the heavy leather bound book, with too many study notes for me to even think about, I’m always glad I did. And usually, the more I read, the more fun it gets!

If you haven’t read your Bible lately – get it out. Open it up. Read it. You will not be disappointed. If you have, keep it up! It just gets better and better.

master-of-zingThe Holy Spirit probably doesn’t look like this, but I found this image and it really fits my mental picture how these moments happen.

Turn the page or go to sleep

 Why do I insist on holding my eyelids up when they want to plunk down with great force? Sometimes, I lay my head back on the pillow, close my eyes, and if sleep doesn’t take over in ten seconds, I heave my eyelids open again and look at the page. Still. The same page that I’ve been looking at since I crawled under these covers. For what purpose, I cannot tell you. Maybe my determination to lose sleep comes from a my old sense of responsibility to reach goals with my reading. Let me ‘splain.
It used to be a point of pride with me that I ALWAYS finished whatever book I started. I don’t know when that changed, but my pride has taken quite a tumble because I can’t even tell you how many books I have by my bed whose first few chapters are the only I’ve graced with my eyes. OK fine I can tell you – it’s four. But those are just the ones by my bed. I tend to read in moods. There is a children’s book (Five Little Peppers and How They Grew), a spiritual food book (Erasing Hell), another spiritual food book, well, more like spiritual steak (Knowledge of the Holy) and a book of short stories (True Stories of Great Escapes). That last one maybe doesn’t count, though, because I usually read an entire short story at a time. Success! I guess after my pretentious college years when I thought of myself as such a scholar, full of wit and wisdom, real life set in, whatever that is, and now I admit that I am a chronic book-starter-but-not-finisher-for-a-long-time. For real, though. Maybe it’s a phase that will pass. I hope it is. I remember I started Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and read about two thirds of it, but it was strangely written and I never finished it. I’m a little sorry about that, because I actually liked it. I wanted to watch the movie, but never could commit to viewing it without finishing the book. I might finish it one day. Why do I torture myself!? I’m depriving myself of the end of the story on paper and the interpretation of the story on the screen. That’s just silly silliness.
I also have a distaste for poorly written books and shallow fiction, so if you were going to suggest a cheesy Christian romance series, just don’t. Maybe I’m too snobby. Maybe that’s my problem. Maybe I’m too closed-minded. Maybe I need to make a list of classics to read. Or maybe I need to shut my computer and my mouth and pick up one of these unfinished books by my bed.
Image

 

Wait, but don’t be lazy

It’s a strange feeling to want something so bad, but it’s pretty much out of your power to do anything about it. I think if you ever get it, then, it will seem that much more like a miracle when it happens. And maybe that’s how it should be. Maybe we should have to know what it’s like to be one hundred percent dependent on something outside of ourselves so we can then experience and recognize true gratitude.

There are many things I wish were different about my present circumstances. (At the extreme present – as in, this very minute, not the general stage of life I find myself in, although I’ll get to that in a minute – I wish I was sound asleep and not plagued with insomnia at 1am heading into Monday.) I could sit here and list the things I wish, to extract a drop of sympathy from you, but I think that would defeat the purpose. My desires are just like the next person’s – unfulfilled. But you know what I forget to do? I forget to look at the BIG PICTURE. I mean the really big one that doesn’t take into account what people think about me, what my family expects of me, or even what I expect from myself.

I’m sure we’ve all hit a crisis point in our lives in which we wonder: WHAT am I doing with my life? Followed by the thought: I only get one life! Followed by: PANIC. We’re currently surrounded by an environment that screams at us to go get what we want! The world is ours! Your dreams won’t smack you in the face, you have to chase them! And I agree… to a point. There is also something to be said about waiting. I don’t suggest we sit around all day munching Cheetos and surfing YouTube until someone walks in and hands us our dream lives on a silver platter, with replacement Cheetos, of course, for the ones that fell between the couch cushions. If you know the life you want to live, you work to obtain as much of it is within your power. But the rest? In my case, I guess I will tell you a few of my desires to avoid ambiguity.

I want a husband and a family. I want kids really bad. I used to be afraid to admit that, like it would make me look weak, or like I revealed something no one ever should talk about. Why shouldn’t I say it? It’s a normal thing to want. But a husband isn’t something you just save up and shop for when you’re ready. They’re not just hanging around on racks according to our specifications. And if they were, they world would probably be a scary place. Picturing suits on hangers with heads in them is freaking me out right now, honestly. But the point is, you can’t just return a husband, even if you do have a receipt. So obviously I want it to be right and orchestrated by God. And kids… well, first thing’s first.

But back to my big picture theory. We really don’t know what will happen tomorrow. James 4:14 says that. Then it says, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little time, then vanishes.” I want to focus on how I can better myself and those around me today, in this moment – but I want to have eternity on my mind all the time. It’s hard to be focusing on both those things at the same time – the now and forever, but it’s important! Because how I live now affects my eternity. We all have an eternity to face: what is yours?

When I get lonely and sad and mad and think life is not fair – I am working on remembering to wait productively for answers to prayers. (Side note and a quote from my pastor, Mark Anderson: “Don’t expect a $1,000 answer for a 10 cent prayer.”) This morning at church, Pastor Mark said that to wait means to affix one’s hope on the Lord. How great is that? If I only set my hope on getting a cute husband and a couple cute kids, I will be disappointed. (Even if I get those things they will fall flat without Jesus. Everything does.) But don’t you see? If I put my hope in the Lord, I will never be disappointed, no matter what my life looks like. God puts desires in us and the biggest one is for Him. If we fill it with other things, we’ll always be empty and sad. Fill it with Him first, then everything else He blesses us with is like extra frosting!

…Psalm 37:34: “Wait for the Lord and KEEP HIS WAY, and He will exalt you to inherit the land.”

…Psalm 40: 1-3: “I waited patiently for the Lord, He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.”

When you wait for the Lord, you will never be bored! (Ha, that rhymed.)

Psalm 27:14

Psalm 27:14

Sick

by Shel Silverstein

“I cannot go to school today,”
Said little Peggy Ann McKay,
“I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash, and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I’m going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox
And there’s one more—that’s seventeen,
And don’t you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut, my eyes are blue—
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I’m sure that my left leg is broke—
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button’s caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle’s sprained,
My ‘pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb,
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow’s bent, my spine ain’t straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is—what?
What’s that? What’s that you say?
You say today is—Saturday?
G’bye, I’m going out to play!”

Plans are tricky

The Plan by Jack Handey

Posted in The New Yorker

The plan isn’t foolproof. For it to work, certain things must happen:

— The door to the vault must have accidentally been left open by the cleaning woman.

— The guard must bend over to tie his shoes and somehow he gets all the shoelaces tied together. He can’t get them apart, so he takes out his gun and shoots all his bullets at the knot. But he misses. Then he just lies down on the floor and goes to sleep.

— Most of the customers in the bank must happen to be wearing Nixon masks, so when we come in wearing our Nixon masks it doesn’t alarm anyone.

—There must be an empty parking space right out in front. If it has a meter, there must be time left on it, because our outfits don’t have pockets for change.

— The monkeys must grab the bags of money and not just shriek and go running all over the place, like they did in the practice run.

— The security cameras must be the early, old-timey kind that don’t actually take pictures.

— When the big clock in the lobby strikes two, everyone must stop and stare at it for at least ten minutes.

— The bank alarm must have mistakenly been set to “Quiet.” Or “Ebb tide.”

—The gold bars must be made out of a lighter kind of gold that’s just as valuable but easier to carry.

— If somebody runs out of the bank and yells, “Help! The bank is being robbed!,” he must be a neighborhood crazy person who people just laugh at.

— If the police come, they don’t notice that the historical mural on the wall is actually us, holding still.

— The bank’s lost-and-found department must have a gun that fires a suction cup with a wire attached to it. Also a chainsaw and a hang glider.

— When we spray the lobby with knockout gas, for some reason the gas doesn’t work on us.

— After the suction cup is stuck to the ceiling, it must hold long enough for Leon to pull himself up the wire while carrying the bags of money, the gold bars, and the hang glider. When he reaches the ceiling, he must be able to cut through it with the chainsaw and climb out.

— Any fingerprints we leave must be erased by the monkeys.

— Once on the roof, Leon must be able to hold on to the hang glider with one hand and the money and the gold bars with the other and launch himself off the roof. Then glide the twenty miles to the rendezvous point.

— When we exit the bank, there must be a parade going by, so our getaway car, which is decorated to look like a float, can blend right in.

— During the parade, our car must not win a prize for best float, because then we’ll have to have our picture taken with the award.

— At the rendezvous point, there must be an empty parking space with a meter that takes hundred-dollar bills.

— The robbery is blamed on the monkeys.

Yam & Lemon Balm Omelette (What!? Yum.)

I’m trying really hard not to kill my herb planter that sits out on my patio. I’m really trying very hard. With all this heat and me being gone at work all day every day, it’s not easy! So, I’m trying to get creative with the use of my herbs before they all die. Not that I really think they’re going to die… oh who am I kidding!? They have a definite expiration date. I had 1/2 a yam in my fridge so my wheels started turning and voila, this is the creation that materialized. I learned how to use my immediately accessible resources from the best. My mom taught us well to eat what we affectionately called “cupboard food” when we didn’t want to drive to the store. Well, I don’t know if I was affectionate about it then, (it was more like “ohhh, cupboard food!?” in a whiny voice…) but I am now! I love looking into my fridge and pantry and thinking, what can I make without going to the store? It fosters creativity and unexpected deliciousness! So, here’s what I had for breakfast, not without a steaming cup of coffee. What did YOU have for breakfast?

Yam & Lemon Balm Omelette (with fresh cherry tomato garnish)

Cut up yam and red onion, sauté with in olive oil that’s already heated in the pan.

Then, add the chopped lemon balm and sprinkle with sea salt.

When yams are cooked through and onion is translucent, add 2 beaten eggs.

When eggs are cooked around the edges, move around the edge with a spatula to loosen edges. Add grated sharp cheddar cheese. Place pan under the broiler until cheese is browned and bubbly and eggs are cooked.

Take out of oven and fold in half. Ta da! You have a scrumptious and unique omelette.

Never carve your lists in stone

My days at the office, I think, are sometimes an indication of my life. They start out somewhat slow, (if I choose to ignore the blinking red message light on my phone for a bit) but then before you know it, boom! They are jam-packed with activity. Messages, emails, people in my office, out of my office, tracking me down, talking to me in the hallway, I’m writing things on my hand so I won’t forget to do this, delete that, send that email, file that info, format that newsletter, fax that prescription. I get a small break. Deep breath. I sit down and sip my coffee (that ALWAYS helps, I don’t care where I am or what time of day it is) and wrap my head around what’s next. I compile my messy stack of post-its and scratch paper scribblings and make an organized list. Making lists also helps me feel better, like I have some kind of a proverbial grip on the situation. Then I start down the list with every intent of being tenacious and unrelenting in my dedication to get.that.list. done before I get one more interruption! Ha. ha. ha. How naive! I don’t why I hold out even one shred of hope that I will have any amount of time that is uninterrupted. Silly, silly me. So, inevitably, I get an urgent phone call, or someone knocks on my office door with a request that supersedes the top prioritized item in position #1. These are how my weekdays are spent, if you are curious. At the end of the day I kind of survey the damage and assess how to move forward the next day.

(I’m sorry if that description seems like an analogy turned into work stress vent session. it just comes out, people. But don’t worry, I’m about to make an application.)

Sometimes I feel like life, in certain seasons, starts out slow. I don’t really know where I’m going or what I’m doing. Then I get caught up in the busyness of, whatever. Of life. Then I stop to consider, what am I doing? Am I relying on God? Am I trusting Him with my future? Am I seeking Him first in those quiet moments of the day before the chaos sets in? What direction am I heading, and what have I lost in the whirlwind? When my all-important life list gets the kabosh from God, am I willing to give it up and put His desire for my life at position #1? (Proverbs 16:9 says, “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.”) I hope so, because I don’t want to be left at the end of my life surveying the damage and trying to make sense of it all. I want God to say to me, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”