Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Just Words

“I hope the worship’s good today. I hate it when we sing those songs I don’t know or they’re too high. And I get distracted by the clothes some of the singers wear. Oh, and I hope they do a video. I love those. Unless they’re totally cheese. Who’s preaching? Last week it was that guy that talked real fast and I don’t even remember what it was about. Wonder if we should sit upstairs or down. Where will the crying baby be this week?”

Do these thoughts sound eerily familiar? Maybe on the drive to church a few have run through your mind. After dressing, getting the family ready, loading the dishwasher, letting the dog out/in and heading out the door for worship, your brain may be in overdrive. You’re on your way to worship. To...worship.


The other day, I felt I needed to spend some time in Psalms. It’s been a while since I read some of those. I get bogged down when I hit the ones that focus on enemies chasing and the depression of the writer dwelling in the pit. Now, there have been times when those psalms speak to me and I’m thankful for them, but I also like to read praises about God and his providing for us. So, I grabbed a Bible a friend had given me. It’s a version I’m not familiar with: The New Century Version by Thomas Nelson. I flipped through to the first psalm that opened up. Psalm 48. It begins with accolades about God’s city, his Mount, his power. Great stuff. Reading the first eight verses makes you feel like that kid who boasts “This is my Dad!” Yeah, this is my God! So, I’m reading along when I get to verse 9:

God, we come into your Temple, to think about your love.

We come into your temple. first thought is my church. Of course, as a follower of Christ, I’m well aware of the scriptures about the temple. (My body’s a temple for the Holy Spirit. Christ is the cornerstone.) But, if I’m thinking of a physical place where I go to worship, I think of my church. The sanctuary I rush into. Within YOUR temple, O God. Not the temple where the worship team rules, or the videographer, or even the speaker. God’s temple.

To think about. Not sing, not clap, not shake hands, not be entertained. Thinking. It means really pondering something. Not just your quick thought. You have to invest some time on that one. Chew it over. Another version I looked up uses the word meditate. That word seems to have a stop sign attached to it. I don’t meditate when I’m running or doing. I have to get quiet, be still, and am usually alone when I meditate. But, even in a Sunday morning crowd, I can spend some time thinking about what I’m saying or hearing. Hello? What is the purpose for being there, anyway?

Your love. I know there have been times at church where I’ve been able to wrap my thoughts around his love. Communion is designed for that - when I’m focused. Sometimes, while singing, I can block out distractions and offer him praise. Occasionally, a time is built into the service for reflection. And, if you tear apart most messages, they’re all about how much God loves us. Four letters, little word, unfathomable concept.

A small verse tucked inside a great psalm is packed with some meaty stuff for me to think about today. And on Sunday. When I enter HIS temple to THINK about HIS LOVE.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Time for a Change?

"Same old, same old." he answered to my question "What have you been up to?" I nodded with understanding and maybe a bit of agreement. It can feel comfortable doing the same old thing every week, every day. I don't have to worry about knowing how to get it done or what to expect. It feels safe. Routine. Just settle in because, yep - it's all the same.
And, it's all boring. I'm reminded of the movie "Groundhog Day"with Bill Murray. It's touted as a comedy and he's always good for a few laughs, but while watching it, I noticed a sobering lesson. Day after day, he reruns the same 24 hours. Same people, same comments, same outcomes. And, after a while, it didn't feel safe and satisfying. It became boring and frustrating. His actions and words became mindless. He was on auto-pilot. The jovial comic expression on his face became sleepy, blank, emotionless.
We all enjoy the comfort of stability and routine at times. I admit to owning a worn out fleece robe that just feels good. It's my grown-up "blankie" of sorts. It's been washed for more years than I'll admit here and looks like something you'd bag up for donation. But, I love it. I have other robes that I wear, but this my go-to when I need comfort wrapped around me.
My husband, Mike, thrives on routine. For some 28 years, he's started each day with pretty much the same exercises. He does them at home and on the road. He's done them in Israel and on camping trips. (I sit with my coffee mug and encourage him!) As a pilot, he's trained to run a "check list" and that's certainly something we passengers are thankful for. Routine can be a good thing in lots of circumstances. The question is, when does it become a road block? When is it time to change?
Change. The word can cause some to begin sweating. "Oh, I don't do well with change." Who really does? How many of us now enjoy standing in the lines at the airport with our bare feet on cold dirty floors anticipating a pat-down? How about watching the stock market play ping-pong with your life savings? Ever had a child? Enough said. It's a fact: we're surrounded by change and we're trying like crazy to avoid it at all costs.
Revelation 21:5 tells us that John saw He who was seated on the throne saying, "Behold, I am making all things new." He didn't say, "I made all things new." He's active - now, forever making. In the process. There's hope in that.
Have you ever used the saying, "I'm a work in progress."? Ah, busted. Do I say that and then grip my routine life? Do I offer him the chance to work in me? All things are being made new. That includes you. When I'm in a great place with people I love and life seems perfect, I want to whine, "But, I like this. I want to stay here." I probably felt that way before I lived for Christ. Would I go back to that? No way! I'm new. He made me new. Still is. I'm so glad I have examples of people changing in the Bible. Bad guys turned into heroes, prostitutes into cherished women of God, aimless wandering whiners into chosen people. Some changed instantly while others took lifetimes. No matter how long it took, the change was always better.
Seems to me that I have choices here. I can fold my arms, say no and miss the "new" that God promises to give me. I can let go one finger at at time, delay my "new" and grieve God. Or, I can take a deep breath, embrace his promise and step forward. Hopefully, when asked what's new, I can answer "How much time do you have to listen?"

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Am I "Mouthy"?

Old blog, new look. I liked the old one, but I’m one of those people who likes to change things up sometimes. You’d never know that by visiting my house. Once a knick-knack finds it’s spot, it’s there until it petrifies. (With the exception of Christmas decorating. We still haul out tubs of snowmen, villages, elves and Santas to sit anywhere we can stuff them. Then, usually before Baby New Year can change his diaper, they’re all back in the box and shelved while the knick-knack resumes it’s rightful spot.) But, blogs are meant to change and perhaps right along with their blogger.

Looking at the title, I still like Wendie’s Words. I’ve always been a fan of cheesy alliteration. Just give me a few minutes and I can come up with a string of words for any letter excluding X. The Lettering Lady from La Grange. I rest my case. That silliness aside, I began my morning thinking of writing. I think about it a lot, but seldom engage in it. So, with some trepidation, I bowed my head to ask for direction in my day. The words of Psalm 19:14 took hold. “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Oh LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Where did that come from? Why did that pop up? I continued as if on autopilot, “May the words of my mouth...” Or, maybe “May the words on my paper...” What I write matters. If to no one else, to God. I’m not looking for a following for this blog. But, I am looking to please him.

Words hold power. We’ve all experienced the joy of positive words and the hurricane force of painful words. I wonder, however, if we need to be reminded of this truth in light of today’s “social networking”. I admit I”m addicted to Facebook. It’s so easy to keep up with your friends and even those you’re mildly acquainted with. We can see pictures of the latest vacation, graduation, baby and even dinner entree. I know when many are in need of prayer or simply bored. We send birthday greetings and post words of encouragement. We even ask for advice on where to buy the best or who to call for plumbing. Yep, Facebook can be a great way to keep up.

Keeping up can also be viewed using a smudgy film. I’m sad to say that some of my friends have seen the dangerous side of networking. Oh, not the scary stalking stuff we hear about on the nightly news - and that IS dangerous. I’m talking about posts. Among your 647 closest friends. I’m reminded of the preschool song I taught my kids with the words, “Oh, be careful little mouths what you say.” When you hit “comment”, the words are out of your mouth so to speak. Oh, sure, you can go back and remove them, but in that split second, who saw them? Usually, we leave them alone and go on. There those words sit. Someone wise pointed out that there is no tone to posts or emails. No facial expressions or ways to interpret. So, Facebook Friends, “Be careful little posts what you say.” Before you post, take a minute to ponder all the possible ways it could be understood and ask yourself if this needs to be out there. As Psalm 14:19 reminds us, we should strive to be pleasing in His sight. The last line of the preschool song assures us that when we are careful, we can know that “the Father up above is looking down in love.”

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Feels Like a Summer Night

There's a feel to the air that I can only describe as summer evening. As an adult, I know it's humid and we complain about it being hot and sticky, but I remember as a kid heading outside after dinner and feeling that night air.

The sun is out, but lower and slower. The intense heat turning in for the night. My collie, Lucky, no longer pants but lies still beside me while I sit waiting for the other neighborhood kids to be released from eating one more bite. They head out the doors ready for last games before being called in for baths and turned down beds. We can hear Mrs. White chatting while bouncing in a metal lawn chair. Mr. White, in a short-sleeve shirt as thin as a lady's hanky, drinks from a beer bottle and mops his forehead. Next door, we hear the "snip-snip" of manual hedge trimmers as Mr. Colette manicures his living fence. Back doors are open and the sound of clinking dishes being rinsed of suds mingles with the voices of Chet Huntley and David Brinkley.

Whirring bike wheels spin closer and soon, there are half a dozen Schwinns lying on the lawn while we sit in a circle voting on our last game of the day. Kickball? Cops and robbers? Pitch a few? Kickball wins out and we begin picking teams by playing hot-potato. Divided, we begin and circle the bases. My mailbox is first base. I never stop at first and often round third for a home run. Darkness quietly wraps around us as lightening bugs dance and a chorus of creek-side croaking begins. We can barely see the ball as it bounces toward the next kicker. Suddenly, the sound of a dinner bell breaks the air. "Hey Joe, it's your bell," the first baseman hollers. Joe waves and heads through the back yards. With that, one by one, the signals from other bells resonate. We wait it out until the last players are forced to take the ball home and wait for tomorrow.

Mr. Bubble fills the old tub and cotton pajamas wait. The window is open next to the twin beds and the attic fan plays a sonata of rattles drawing a breeze across my thin cowboy blanket. After "Now I Lay Me" and kisses from Mom, my little brother is soon breathing deeply in the bed beside me. When I'm sure Mom and Dad are downstairs, I switch on my flashlight under the covers and read adventures of Beetle Bailey, Little LuLu, Casper, or Archie. The fan rattles a lullaby and I feel the flashlight being pulled from my hand. Snuggling deeper under my covers, I faintly hear the crickets as I give in to deep sleep. Dreaming of tomorrow and the wonderful adventure of simplicity.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Soup's On

It's been one week. One week of blowing my nose, tossing tissues into trash, taking pills, drinking water and coughing like a TB patient. Spring is arriving and what we have to show for it in my allergy-laden house is ... disgusting.

With that nasty picture painted, let me move on to comfort. Soup's on. Homemade, pulled from the freezer vegetable soup simmering on the back burner. Soup is my go-to food whenever I'm feeling lousy. The aroma of beef and tomatoes floats downstairs where I sit at my computer promising to wrap me up in comfort for the day. I'll ladle out a steaming cup of soup for my coughing husband and stuffy daughter and pop a hot cornbread muffin beside it. We'll all sit down at the kitchen table with big napkins and bigger spoons. And then, soup will do it's magic. The steam, the smell, the warmth.

My mom was a soup lover. From the red and white cans to the many pots of home made flavors, we ate soup on a regular schedule. Left-overs were made for soup and as a child from the depression, she knew how to use every scrap. I'm a baby boomer and although not as spoiled as the next generations, we boomers certainly didn't do without much. We teethed on television, had Barbies and GI Joes, parked the station wagon at the drive-in and asked for all the newest fads touted in commercials. I was in the generation whose parents pledged to provide a better life to their kids. And they did - with gusto. I was privileged and pampered, but never spoiled. And when it comes to soup, I can throw together a mean pot from just about anything. So, next time someone tosses you a bone - throw it in a pot and chop an onion. It's soup time!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Finding You Already HAVE a Blog!

FOUR YEARS - since my last post. Had enough time to ponder that one?

Actually, I didn't even remember setting up this page. I wanted to explore this blog thing a while back and vaguely remember going to the website. When I tried to sign in today and create a page, it brought me here. Gotta laugh. I think four years ago I was intimidated. This was a new world I hadn't seen yet. I worried about how to make a great page, what to write that anyone would care to read (this thought being a writer's constant companion) and I probably had to get off of the computer to do some necessary task like cook dinner. And now, four years later, maybe I can add something a bit more interesting. No promises, mind you.

I'm currently reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I'm immersed in this book so far. So many of the thoughts expressed have been running through my mind for months. Don't you love it when you find a book that not only speaks to you, but yells? It's a God thing. He's knocking. The subtitle is Overwhelmed by a relentless God. Yeah, he is. I'm so glad. If he wasn't relentless in pursuing me, I'd be face down in a sludge pit by now. I still tend to slip and slide close to that pit more than I like to admit.

A few lines from the book have lived with me all day. Maybe they'll pluck a nerve in you, maybe not. Just thought I'd share.

The irony is that while God doesn't need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don't really want him most of the time. He treasures us and anticipates our departure from this earth to be with Him - and we wonder, indifferently, how much we have to do for Him to get by.

A wise man comes before God without saying a word and stands in awe of Him.

Isn't it a comfort to worship a God we cannot exaggerate?