Monday, May 27, 2013

A Reluctant Librarian Part 2

Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently. ~Henry Ford

I did not think that my first post about our recent experience at the library would need a follow-up post, but this is what happened last Thursday afternoon at the library at the end of all our errands and appointments.

We went to the library to pick up the six Faithgirlz books that were ordered and this time I went in also as I wanted to get my pin number to borrow ebooks. The Princess went to the holds area and got the six books that were bound together with a couple of rubber bands. It was busier than usual and so we waited in the one line, but then another came up to help at the counter. Wouldn't you know it, we were called over to be waited upon by the same librarian!

As she separated the books to be checked out, I noticed the numbers on the books and saw two that the Princess had already read. The librarian seemed frustrated when I mentioned it. She said that she had asked my daughter about the each title and I said that is why I suggested she get the books that my daughter had just checked in. I even reminded her that the child is twelve with my silent thoughts that she as a librarian could not get the right books ordered with the ones she had turned in right there to check against, how did could she expect my daughter to do it.

Now she had to find the remaining two. With quite a bit of sighing, she actually ordered four books. I was not even going to bother asking why not just the missing two. I then got my pin number and the Princess got hers, but I have not loaded the app she needs for it as I wanted to see what books were available first (and it turns out to be a very pathetic few).

As to the ordering of the books, I simply did not see what the difficulty was in looking at the title of a book right in front of the person so that the same book not ordered again. My daughter told me as we got into the van to leave that there were two titles that the library system was using for each book, so some libraries had it listed one way and some the other. Okay, there is title confusion to add to the difficulty, but still the librarian, who is suppose to have more expertise than a twelve year old, had the books with both titles right there on the counter to see last week when these were ordered.

Things like this make my eye twitch.

~ My Lord, I so very much need Your love and patience. ~

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Unboxing my Lord

Oh, brethren, be great believers! Little faith will bring your souls to heaven, but great faith will bring heaven to you. ~C.H. Spurgeon

We visited Church #4 again this morning for the early service, our third visit to this one. At the health store I regularly shop, I met one of the members that hugged me on our first visit at the church. It was then that she connected the dots for me mentioning that we have ran into each other many times through the years. Our first meeting was at a homeschool day at the farm where I get my raw milk some eight or nine years ago. She had only one daughter then and my Princess hit it off with her right away although her daughter was a bit shy. I cannot believe I did not recognize this lovely lady at the church, but she remembered me. She is in one of the two praise and worship teams. Her husband is the choir director also.

While the pastor was beginning his sermon, my Lord was speaking to me about something related but not the focus of the message being given. The message was based on Joshua 4:15-24 about the twelve stones and them being a foundation on which to build on faith and do greater things than the ones who laid the foundation. Then he mentioned several men and women in the Bible saying that we think they are great yet do not think we are to be like them, but actually they laid a foundation so that we are to do greater things...not because we are capable but because God is. He mentioned that the Church has been holding back things for itself, for its people, but what we should want is when people look at us, they think, "This is just not possible for them to do, so it must be God!"

Wow! That is exactly where I want to be! Then the Lord had my attention. Some might say I went on a rabbit trail, but this was clearly from my Lord. He was revealing something sad and wonderful at the same time.

I was thinking of the churches I had been in over the years and the things I have experienced. I was feeling sad for those who are not really sharing God, as if the miracles and gifts are only for themselves or the other people who go to their church. We love God so much and are so protective of Him that we place God in a box. Most of the people who do this think they do not. I can say this because I am as guilty of it as anyone. Why did I ever think God needs to be protected? Oh, I rationalized it that this Christianity thing is fragile and I might turn someone off about Jesus, but if I am listening to God, how can obeying Him do harm? He is God! Really, that is how little I have been thinking of Him...?

I often hear something along the lines of it is not that we doubt God is all powerful, but that we doubt He will use His power. Everyone needs to see God's power at work and God is willing to provide evidence of His love, but how will that be done? God reveals His power and love through our weakness, through the things we cannot do but are willing to step out in faith to do anyway.

But, what does God do when we do not? When we have Him in our little box? Well, that is sad, but the wonderful part is God will meet us at our faith level, because the reality it that it is not He who is in the box, but we ourselves. He is continually trying to show us we are free, that our faith is our freedom and is the stuff that works His miracles. We will not be the vessels through whom He will work miracles, if we do not act upon our faith in Him to do what we cannot do.

As I was listening to the messages from the sermon and from my Lord, a man three rows in front of us caught my attention as he was shifting in his seat. He was a big man who had unabashedly praised God earlier. I did not know him, but it was obvious to me from his clothing and tats that this man was into Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The service ended and my husband was ready to leave, but I was feeling that tug from the Lord and told him I had something I was supposed to do.

I waited a few minutes as the man was talking to friends and then I said that I had something to give him. He had already taken my hand in a handshake fashion. I said that I knew he was in pain. He asked me to tell him where. Now, some might see that as a test, but I see it as faith. If he did not have the faith that God would tell me where, he would not have asked. I told him in his back and legs, and that he also had other issues but these were bothering him the most today. Now that might have been obvious to anyone who was watching him sitting, but there was more to come. I asked him if he would like to be healed of it and he gave an enthusiastic yes. (Such faith!) As I prayed I also felt a great and deep sorrow. I told him that he also had this and that he does not share it, but hides it. He was smiling, as is his way to hide it, but he confirmed this with his eyes and a nod. I prayed that the Lord would guide him to the place so that he would be free of it as well. He had less pain and I told him it would continue to improve through the day. He hugged me a couple of times thanking me. He is the leader of a motorcycle ministry through the church, who had been injured in the lower back when he was a young man in the army and had been through five surgeries.

God wanted to do a miracle for that man, but it would not have happened if I, who cannot heal of my own power, had not in obedience approached that man. That is my God out of the box.

Where is God for you today?

~ My Lord, please forgive me for thinking so little of You. Let me show others how wonderful and powerful You are. ~

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rabbit Breeding

You don't need a flash to photograph a rabbit that already has red eyes. ~Jean Claude Van Damme

My daughter's breeding doe, Sugar, had ten kits on Monday, May 6th. One was so small and weak from birth that I knew it was unlikely to survive even though I fed it by hand with kitten replacement milk since it could not fight against its litter mates to get to mama's milk. Even though I know that in the wild, the bunny would not have survived, it still disturbs me to find one of them lifeless. Nature is not kind.

In this kindle, there were two other kits that concerned me because they were not getting enough milk. This is how it goes typically when the kindle numbers more than seven or eight. There are about three that get super sized within the first three days as they gorge themselves with milk in their tummies—you can actually see a taunt, expanded area of white on their left sides! Then there are three that are not getting any milk or at least not enough. When we have twelve in a kindle I usually have to keep tabs on four or five of them like this. The others are medium sized.

Contrary to thoughts of a cuddly, protective, and patient mother, the mother rabbit stays away from her nest. Even a full grown rabbit has no defense other than speed, so it is instinctive to not draw a predator's attention to the nest. The mother rabbit only goes into the nest to allow the kits to nurse once or twice a day; staying alert to her surroundings she squats over them as they become a frenzy beneath her. She is in the nest only for about five minutes. Everything with rabbits is about speed.

I have tried pulling the mother rabbit out and letting the smaller babies nurse between times, but they were still not getting enough milk. The concern here is that if the mother rabbit feels too disturbed, her milk production could lessen and that seemed to be the case as even the larger ones were not getting as much. So I continued to hand feed the ones that needed it most.

When this kindle was a few days developed so that they could be split and keep each other warm enough, I removed the largest for 24 hours so the smaller ones could get to mama. This may sound cruel, but in the wild the mother rabbit may not come to the nest for that same amount of time and some of the the babies starve even when she comes more often, simply because the stronger ones will force them away. The practice of separating evens them up somewhat and the smaller bunnies do much better on the mama's milk.

Still, that does not always work either. In this kindle, one of the two remaining small ones by then seemed too weak to nurse on his own so I had to hand feed it anyway. I try not to get attached but when I handle the little ones so much it is more difficult not to do so. My goal is just to get them to be about 11 days old when their eyes are open and they are able to go out of the nest to find the mother when they are hungry and they begin to nibble on hay. This works in a cage, but in the wild the mother would not be around and a too-curious bunny could be the undoing of the entire nest.

Sometimes a hungry kit finally struggles through the others and gets latched on as the mama will hop out of the nest dragging the baby. Once the baby, still having its eyes close and not much fur, gets stuck outside of the nest without the rest of the kindle to warm him, he will get too cold very quickly. So strong is the instinct to stay away from the nest that the mama rabbit will even keep moving away from the strayed one, if it finds her to snuggle up against. In the winter, the kit can die in less than 30 minutes. In the summer, it will still happen, but not as quickly. If I find it in time, the best way to warm the kit is to place it in the kindle and the bunny will be its toasty self in about 30 minutes or less.

One of the other smaller ones got outside the nest being dragged out while it was nursing. So, we lost two and I still had to hand feed the last of the small ones some mornings when he was not getting any milk. He is only about a third of the size of the largest, but when they are about ten to twelve days old, they begin to open their eyes. This is their cutest stage with their ears finally lifting as they peek at the world. They then can get into and out of the nest, although they like being in it better for a few more days and if it is cold. At this point, I do not have to be so concern about them getting the milk they need and the small one will catch up.

Usually, once their eyes are open, we do not lose any more but have been the rare exceptions and this time was one of them. One of the bunnies had its back leg snared in the wired mesh floor and had broken it. This is only the second time this has happened in the two years we have had the rabbits. The first time I had to free the bunny's leg myself and this time my husband found it. The first one had tore up the leg badly and circulation was its problem so it needed to be put down. This one we are waiting to see if the foot swells or discolors as it does not seem as badly damaged.

After that another one climbed out of the cage, which has never happened to us before once their eyes are open and just a few times when their eyes are still close. I found it lifeless in with the rabbit waste. So now we are down to seven and one is iffy with his injured leg.

Usually we do not have so many problems, but every kindle is different. We had one kindle where half of the blind babies were climbing out of the cage until they opened their eyes and even though a few needed cleaned up, all but one survived the falls and being in the rabbit waste and the chilling of not being in the nest. We had one kindle that just never came out of the nest even to the point that they were so big they did not all fit anymore and seemed lost when we took it out. That kindle did everything at the same time as if they were psychically connected.

I know that many of my friends wonder how we can process and eat rabbit meat after handling some of those bunnies. We have sold some as pets and breeders at times, but honestly once they are full grown, they are quite large, difficult to handle, and not all that cuddly. Rarely does the smallest one grow up to be the smallest adult and they all look pretty much alike, so I lose track of who is who. The meat is very good, like chicken but less fat, which means adding oil is necessary in most preparations.

I just found an organic rabbit food and a local distributor for it, so we are going to give it a try. I have been concern about GMOs in rabbit feed and we simply do not have the land necessary to grow our own rabbit food. However, we do supplement them with things from my gardens and they seem to think rolled oats are rabbit candy.

~ My Lord, this endeavor has been a learning experience and oftentimes reminds me of parables about the Shepherd, for I often go to great means to care for the ones who need it the most to survive. ~

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My Pain in the B...

Where there is anger, there is always pain underneath. ~Eckhart Tolle

Also in the midst of my husband being gone, I have had an intermittent but ongoing and worsening pain my right hip, which is actually not the hip but between the hip and the spine. To be specific it is the piriformis muscle, something you do not even know you have until it hurts. It is worse when I lie down and in the morning, but was not noticeable during the day, until recently and Thursday it began to annoy me when I was driving. I was treating it by focusing on the area with the jets in our spa, since my husband fix the leak before he had to leave on the last gone-too-long trip. I have other things I could have done, but I have less time and energy to do some things when my husband is gone, plus it really was not bothering me during the day.

I have gone to the chiropractor the last two Thursdays with another appointment his Thursday, and a five minute massage last Thursday that seemed to really help relax that muscle, but I was really quite sore then. Usually when chiropractics is not holding well, I respond better with a massage. I would love to get an hour long one, but the woman I like the best, a lovely Christian, is near to where we go for piano lessons, an hour away. Still, I was thinking I will call her to see what times she has available this week. In the meantime, I will be using my hot tub as often as weather permits as it has been raining so much in the last few days. I have a few other things in my alternative health arsenal that I have not been using and know that I should as well and I am taking a break from the rebounder although this started before I got it and it does not seem to aggravate it.

So, I did have a literal nagging pain in my...well, you get it. I also had the figurative one gnawing at me as well.

Saturday, when my husband was home, he had to do paperwork and, catching himself falling asleep at his desk, he went to take a nap. That nap lasted until the evening. We had planned to go out for sushi, but then he suggested going out on Sunday after church and I went to the freezer to get my frozen sourdough pizza crust in the deep freezer and shredded mozzarella in the upright freezer...and that is when I saw it. The upright door was not completely closed. In that freezer we have no meat, just fruits, vegetables, cheeses, milk, butter, pasta, chocolate, and grains so there would not be much to spoil, but now I had to take everything out to defrost the freezer and wipe all the condensation off everything.

And...that is when I lost it. This was just the one thing more I could not take topped upon what had been building in me for the last two weeks, longer than that, really. Both my daughter and my husband were hammered with all of what I had not tried to say for that whole time or at least I had tried to say it nicely, but now "nice" was out the freezer and heated up for the barbeque.

I am not proud of this.

After my rant, my daughter went into hiding and my husband helped me with the freezer. It went quicker than I thought it would. An hour later we were preparing home-made pizza and picking out a movie together with smiles—all forgiven.

I was not the only one fed up with the situation; my husband told the man, who does the scheduling and planning to send him elsewhere today, that he will not be traveling the rest of this week and returned home last night. Some of his co-workers have been at home without having to travel to customers and a few without anything to do at all. One man had only traveled out twice since the beginning of the year! What would that be like, I wonder. The scheduler often tells my husband this is the price he pays for being so good at his job and he probably is paid more than the others, but the reality is that my husband is only one man and the other men he had trained could do the work and will never be as good as they can be if they are not sent out. My husband has been working 12 to 16 hours every day for over half the month, even during the weekends. He has only been home for two days this month so far. The first day he was home he did paperwork and slept most of it. The second day we went to church and out to eat before he packed to leave the next day.

Ironically, now that he is home and will be the remainder of the week and I should be able to rest easier, I find that now I cannot sleep. The weird part is I woke up at 3:00 am thinking of something I saw on Craigslist that I dismissed as a not-going-to-happen kind of thing, however I felt like my Lord was talking to me about it. So, I finally got my sore butt (yes, it was still bothering me too) out of bed grabbing my Kindle to take a look for the soap making supplies I saw for listed for sale last I need another thing to do!?

~ My Lord, thank you for my temper and my shame for using it so poorly. Please forgive me for wanting more than You have provided and guide me in continually seeing the good in all situations. ~

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Reluctant Librarian

Adult librarians are like lazy bakers: their patrons want a jelly doughnut, so they give them a jelly doughnut. Children’s librarians are ambitious bakers: "You like the jelly doughnut? I’ll get you a jelly doughnut. But you should try my cruller, too. My cruller is gonna blow your mind, kid." ~John Green

When I was about my daughter's age, my family lived with my maternal grandfather and I could walk to the library. It was an impressive brick building with several steps to the entrance and the dark inside had high ceilings and real wood shelves packed with books encased by walls of whitewash meeting with fancy wood panels half way down wherever there were not any shelves. To go to the children's library, I would turn to the right and go down steps to the basement into a yellow room brighten with colorful decorations on the walls and a smiling librarian. The children's library had its own librarian, who was helpful and warm and approachable, unlike the ones peering over their reading glasses behind the tall wooden counters upstairs. This was the only library I have been to in my life that was set up this way. All the others were newer buildings with a children's area but a central desk.

On Thursday, I dropped the ever maturing Princess off at the entrance of the local library to check in the first six books of Faithgirlz series that has her current interest, so she had ordered them in. I was expecting to see her emerge with the remaining six of the series available because she had ordered them also, but she was empty handed. She told me that she did not see them in the new self-serve hold area. I had her go back in to inquire when they would be in. She came back out to say that the lady at the desk told her she had no books on hold on her card. I could see the discouragement in her face. Even though she protested, probably fearing humiliation, and just wanted to let it go, this time I insisted she go back again and I went in with her. She went to the desk told the lady that she had ordered the other six books and the woman said that the records showed they were not on hold and then she sat back in her seat.

I have to say that I know most of the morning librarians as we used to go to the library for story time for nearly three years and stopped after the Princess began piano lessons. They are so helpful and sweet, quite the opposite of what I was witnessing right then. Here is a twelve year old girl who is obviously wanting the books that should have been on hold and this lady is not offering to do anything. I regret that I got a bit short with the woman when she said that the books were not on hold and I said, "Then that is what we need to do." Then she sat up reluctantly and asked my daughter for the author and names of the books. I stepped back to allow my daughter work it out on her own.

The Princess gave the author's name but did not know the names of all the remaining books in the series and they are not listed by the series in the library records either so the reluctant librarian begins naming the books off the computer screen and expecting my daughter to remember the ones she had read and just handed in...and my daughter was doing a pretty good job. However, I am a logical woman who looks for the most efficient method to complete a task and it just seemed to be the best course to get back the books she had just handed in as they were in a special place to be sent back to their home libraries since they were not from this one. So I again stepped in briefly to mention it, as now a few people are waiting behind us. She said something about them being in the area where they need to be shipped out to the other libraries as if that was some insurmountable task and I fought this mounting urge to say or do anything more, stepping back again.

About three minutes later, the books were ordered and we were leaving. Since I was reading about borrowing e-books and no longer watching, the Princess had to tell me that she got the books she had returned just minutes before and checked them against the list on the screen. She might have been more motivated because another more on-the-ball librarian came up to help with the line and had heard the tail end of what was said.

The good news is while there I learned that I can borrow one e-book at a time from the library system. So I worked on setting everything up with my Kindle at home, but I need to go back to the library with my card and identification to get my pin number to make it work, which was not stated in the info I got at the library.

Usually, I order my books for hold online as well but there is an advantage of having the librarians do it as they pick from the closest and most efficient libraries and I have ordered books that never came in, so I will have the desk person order for me when I am there. Seeing one sit back and not offer to help a twelve-year-old really bothered me. I am trying to let the Princess be independent so I thought about turning this negative situation in to a teaching moment and on the ten minute drive to home, I talked about why I am so adamant about doing the best job she can do as that lady was not and how it made her feel so discouraged, and we also talked about being assertive in a firm but kind way. (I may have failed a bit on the kindness with my interaction with the lady, but I did hold back and it bothers me that I felt I had to hold back instead of dealing with it on a level of love...I am still missing those wonderful opportunities, but I trust God will just keep providing them.)

~ My Lord, every encounter is an opportunity to learn and to share Your love. I realize more and more how much I need to surrender in this area to You and also how my daughter needs to still be guided into her independence. May she also look to You for guidance on her own.~

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Starting Off Badly...Again

Our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed by them.
~Henry David Thoreau

Last week I had a roofer finally come out to inspect our roof, which was an ordeal in itself. We have no leaks but we had quite a bit of hail about a month ago and the man said we had hail damage. Wednesday the insurance adjuster was here and did not agree about the hail damage, but he did see enough wind damage to make a claim. Because the shingles are older and more brittle, it would be very difficult to replace the damaged ones without damaging more of them, and even though one side of our roof had no damage, three-fourths did have scattered damage so he totaled all the shingles on the roof. That would not include the layer of felt and extra venting that we should have and do not, but at least it will pay for nearly half of the estimate with those things included. I thought we had the roofer we wanted, but I ended up sending this email to the company:

Dear [Roof Company Owner],

About three years ago you personally came to my house and assessed it for roof damage, but my insurance company did not agree there was enough damage at that time. Still, I have recommended your company for the past three years to several people just because you personally impressed me to be a man who would do right for his customers. Because I promised you then that if I ever had any roof work to be done I would go with your company, about a month ago I called to have the roof inspected. A man answered and said that another man would be calling me to set up a date and time. Two weeks later, I called again and [the office woman] told me that a man would be calling that day plus she would call me back the next day to be sure. Again, no calls at all. Because I had some unrelated things come up, I let it go for another two weeks before I called again.

This time [your roof inspector] set up a time to inspect the roof. He said there was hail damage and gave me an estimate. We also talked about preparing an estimate for replacing the siding and a window on the south side. He took measurements and said he would get back with me. I set up a time with my insurance adjuster for Wednesday at 9:00 AM and called [the company's roof inspector] with the appointment info on Monday. He said he would be here, but he was not. Seeing he was past due, I called his cell phone leaving a message on voice mail and then called the office. [The office woman] told me she would try to do something for me, but I did not hear from anyone all day.

I now have an insurance check for replacing the shingles, because while the adjuster did not agree there was any hail damage, he could see enough wind damage to warrant the claim. I also have a house that needs its entire skin replaced and was happy to see that your company had expanded to do siding and windows. However, I need a company that is going to be reliable for the next few years as we work through the process of replacing all the siding and windows as we can afford to do it. What I do not have is any confidence that [the company name] can be trusted to do the work simply because of poor phone customer service, lack of communication, and a missed appointment.

I am sorry as I did promise you the job three years ago and I had more work to be done. I spent this time writing out my experience out of respect for you as the owner, because I think you would be concerned about how a customer was lost.


I wanted to handle this with truth in a loving way, because I have a history with bad home improvement companies, but that is a very long story I will not be getting into. I will just say that this is one of the reasons we need all our siding and windows replaced and so it has become more characteristic of me to voice my dissatisfaction far more strongly than this.

~ My Lord, guide us to a good company that will do excellent work on our roof and siding. We really need Your guidance in this area. ~

Friday, May 17, 2013

Too Long Gone

We owe something to extravagance, for thrift and adventure seldom go hand in hand. ~Jennie Churchill

My husband is finally coming home today. He has been away for nearly three weeks. I am used to him being gone during most or all weekdays—well, as used to it as one gets, I suppose—but when he is gone over the weekends as well, it wears on me. Although we talk every day, most of the time, and some days three or four times, I still feel disconnected with him when he comes home and it might be that he will be home only a few days.

I used to start a project of some sort when he was going to be gone for a longer than a week, but it is difficult with homeschooling to dive into an all-consuming project. This time my "project" was Craigslist as I found this wonderful free app for my Kindle for it. I wish I could say the main project was selling items on Craigslist, but it was more about buying items on Craigslist, although yesterday I did sell and deliver the Loving Family dollhouse I had listed for $60 with and additional $5 for the delivery. I do have more items to place on Craigslist too, instead of waiting for the next consignment sale in the fall, but the highest priority was getting a desk for the Princess so she could reorganize her things and we could move the table she had been using into the art studio area (when it gets cleaning up) and then I could list the whiteboard/chalkboard/art easel, toy bins, and small chairs to sell, which I will be doing soon.

In the last three weeks, I bought and picked up: a shabby chic pink desk for the Princess for $45 that she adores and while it is a rough finish to cover damaged surfaces and edges, the drawers work like it is new; a rebounder (a small trampoline for working out) in like new condition for $15; a baker's rack that will be used for gardening items and plants on my front porch for $60, and a barely used Jack Lalanne Power Juicer Pro, which is the top of the line stainless steel one, for $45, but I soon realized that it missed a tool that I need to take it apart to clean it after use so I have not yet used it and I ordered it for $8 with shipping included (I know, another juicer but this one is an extractor with a larger opening so I do not have to chop up all the vegetables so much as I do with the one that does everything and wheat grass too).

I also bought some other things online: a brand new soap dispenser for $24 to match the new kitchen sink faucet my husband replaced a few months ago when the other one completely broke (our sink has four holes and the new faucet with one soap dispenser used three of them so hand soap will be in the second one, but the thing was rather expensive for being all plastic made to look like stainless steel); another rotating case for my Kindle at $9 that is lime color and lighter in weight as the other one is heavy and the elastic band is coming apart already, and that one was $35; a computer game called Rhem 4 for $6 that is supposed to be similar to the later Myst games that I loved so much, as if I will ever get time to play it, but sometimes the Princess and I play those games together for fun in the cool of the basement office during a hot afternoon and this one I will not know in advance. Since I got all these from Amazon, the shipping was free.

The Princess also bought a Zeepad and a light pink cover for it, all for $81 from Amazon, with her gift money saved from Christmases and birthdays, so now she has her own tablet and does not need to ask me for my Kindle to play games. It is pretty decent for the price. Yesterday while shopping in a Whole Foods store she was busy on her Zeepad. I thought she was playing a game and I was about to say something, but then I realized she was thumb typing or texting but on email (I am probably behind on the proper tech terms). She was typing an email to her father because she saw that Wi-Fi was available. I looked at it and told her that while it was available, she was not yet connected, so we did that.

This is an odd age and it comes with strange feelings. I like that she was emailing her father, just sharing her day with him, but I also did not like her being distracted when she should be spending the time with me as I shopped. Still, this was only one time and she is a pretty balanced child. When she first got her Zeepad I thought she would be glued to it for at least a day or two, but she went out that evening and the next day to play with a friend. We both have come to realize that she cannot play games or even read in the car much as it makes her car sick—I now feel terrible that I used to make her do some lessons in the car, about which she would fight with me and I thought she was just being stubborn. She is stubborn about admitting to it being motion sickness though, she still tries to say it is the smell in the van, but she is now conceding that it happens in every vehicle.

There is more to write about that happened when my husband was gone, but his plane has landed and I will be seeing him in about an hour. I feel bad that he is coming home to a woman ready to fall apart physically maybe, emotionally...even more probable. I was hoping I would be in a better condition so we could just enjoy each other when he returns. I have a few more minutes so there is still hope.

~ My Lord, so much has gone on and so little of it was for You. I want to be closer to You so I can be closer to the ones I love and the ones who need Your love. ~

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Love at Hand

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
~1 Corinthians 13:2

The gift of prophecy is probably the most difficult of the spiritual gifts, at least I think so. It comes with a keen awareness of unrighteousness and the strong urge to speak out in truth against it. To those who do not understand it, there are times when it seems the prophet is being harshly judgmental, but actually the prophet is a message bearer. It is a very demanding gift and not a very forgiving place to be. On one side you have God urging you to give a message that you must be careful to repeat and on the other side you have the hearers who may not be receptive. The truth God wishes to be told at a given time can be encouraging or condemning, always to get people to focus their lives on the Lord as they should be doing. These messages can be a warning about the future or be a praise about something in the present. In the Bible, kings would listen to the prophet, ignore the prophet, or kill the prophet and sometimes all three. Needless to say, prophets were revered and feared.

I have a friend who is a prophetess. She probably does not want to be revered or feared, but she is now also the pastor of a start-up church so this would be a challenge for her. She has an even greater challenge and one I understand well because the Lord has lifted from me recently. This post is mostly for my friend, but it is not just for her, because I have other friends who struggle with similar challenges.

In my last post, I wrote about how those who were not conformed to my idea of how people should appear that I would be judgmental. I also had always seen myself as self-centered and fearful, but one woman, a pastor's wife, long ago told me something else she saw in me. She had an honors ceremony where she told each woman what she learned from them. She said that from me she had learned compassion. I was stunned. I did not see myself as a compassionate person at all. Yet, here I am with a compassionate gift: healing. God uses our weaknesses to show His strength.

My friend, you think you are not a loving person, but you are now in a loving ministry. God is going to change your perspective about people and how you feel about them. You are going to really love them, first as individuals and then as a group and then all people everywhere. The Church will be "corrupted" with people who do not conform to the appearance of Christianity, but really know and love God and love people, who need God—basically, everyone. In your heart that is what you want for every church, but you must also be what you wish your church to be.

Your daughter is coming home now for a purpose. You will both learn from each other.

Each person carries within himself a soul-sickness, like a home sickness for God. We are called to love because each person needs to feel His love, regardless of what he has done or is doing. As Christians, we have access to a unique perspective when we look at people. We are to see them through His kingdom, His church, His love...and we are to be those things as well. The Kingdom is at hand. We are at hand. We are to be the representation of Christ, His love at hand. We are to see all people (even other Christians acting badly) as we would hope He sees us, worthy of His love and redeemable.

Love is the greatest gift you have been given and you are to give it. Freely you have received, freely you give...without conditions, without expectations. You have this challenge before you and God is using it for His purpose. The one who needs God's love the most is the one you feel deserves it the least, the one you feel is the most repulsive, the last is the first. This is where you are to start...and you probably already know this, but are reluctant. It is very simple, but very hard.

~ My Lord, stay close with my friend as You guide her into Your ministry of love. Give to her the gift of love and loving. May she be Love to everyone she meets and her church be known for its love. ~

Monday, May 13, 2013

Exploring Plastic Christianity

The Church recruited people who had been starched and ironed before they were washed. ~John Wesley

It started like a sleepy morning rollover after hitting the snooze button that would soon bring me back to my slumber and be forgotten. Instead of being that fleeting, illogical, surrealist thought flaring up in my mind so easily and quickly snuffed out, it quietly whispered "that's it" thunderously within my spirit.

It was a typical Friday morning with me functioning on just four hours sleep. My daughter had fed the cats and eaten her breakfast. I had started devotions with her and had to remind her to stop playing with her new tablet that had arrived just yesterday. She still had to brush her teeth, clean the guest bathroom, and start her lessons for the day. While she began those things, I listened to music on a Christian radio station, began putting the ingredients in my VitaMix for my morning smoothie, and planning the day since my husband will not be home this weekend.

The music had stopped and there was some talking on radio to which I was only half listening. Isn't it amazing how God can suddenly give you wake-up moment? That is when I realized that the man speaking was comparing plastic fruit to Christianity, but I was just as quickly distracted by other things and did not really hear the short message. Still, the idea seed rooted and as I began to explore this concept in greater depth, more and more analogies sprouted.

I realized in just the first three minutes that this was not going to be a single post subject. In fact, the idea of a book flashed in my mind and then I felt it. You know the it I am talking about when some crazy idea comes into your head that is entertaining yet you would likely dismiss as ridiculous or impossible, but then you feel as if the Lord says a simple "yes." My eyes immediately teared and I felt so pressed to begin writing that at this very moment I am sitting at my dining room table typing on my computer while I have half of the ingredients for my morning smoothie are in the VitaMix on the kitchen counter and my stomach is growling.

I suddenly had this strong feeling that this is where my Lord has been leading me. It has been gentle guidance using all sorts of resources: a pastor friend from Australia who Skyped me at 1:00 AM when I was checking something on my computer that I really did not need to do until morning, a street healer who I have not met but have been touched by his powerful ministry from what I have seen online, my life experiences within various churches, sermons I have heard, books I have read, stories shared with me, and now an analogy I just heard on the radio about plastic food—Food? Excuse me, but I really need to my breakfast drink!

Plastic food can have the most appealing appearance but that is all for which it is: appearance. It has no substance other than pleasing the eyes. It is not just empty, but artificial. It is not real, but synthetic. It is not something that nourishes, but leaves the hungry person unsatisfied.

Many churches have become plastic churches, where Christians have learned how to appear like Christian Barbie and Ken dolls with cheek cramping smiles sitting in their assigned pews. I know this very well. I was part of it. I helped to build and maintain it even while at war within myself. I wanted the entire church to look Christian, but I had also worked with youth. Some teenagers actually believe and put into practice that everyone needs Christ, inviting friends with funky hair or tattoos or piercings or heavy make up. I accepted them—uh, perhaps tolerate would be a more honest term because in my heart I also wanted them to eventually look more Christian like the rest of us. Worse, may God forgive me, I judged these to be lower than I was because I at least bothered to look Christian.

Plastic churches provide rules of help everyone appear more Christian, even more Christian in some way or another than the other plastic churches. Some churches shun beautiful contemporary praise and worship music, because only hymns are the holy enough...and maybe some Southern Gospel for the special music. Some tell us that the King James Version is the only real Bible and all other translations are corrupted, even though reading the KJV for most people is like learning another language because it is so archaic in terms. Just how did Christians go from believing the hymns were more holy than the psalms that are in the Bible or the KJV is more holy than reading the Holy Scriptures in their original languages or that men wearing pants and women dresses more holy that the robes that the people in the time of Jesus would have worn?

Have you noticed that a little judging and even a little gossip are allowed about those not looking like Christian Barbie and Ken dolls with cheek cramping smiles? I have been a builder and maintainer of plastic churches. I even look down on people who did not appear Christian enough. I am so free of it that writing this confession does not bring shame, but makes me rejoice in my spirit because I am honestly free of it now. Thank you, my Lord.

Plastic Christianity can have the most appealing appearance but that is all for which it is: appearance. It has no substance other than pleasing other plastic Christians. It is not just empty, but artificial. It is not real, but synthetic. It is not something that nourishes, but leaves the soul hungry person unsatisfied.

~ My Lord, may those who need to hear, hear. Teach us to surrender all so that we can have substance, be filled with Your Holy Spirit, be real, and be nourishing in Your eyes. ~

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Princess Piano Award

Play always as if in the presence of a master.
~Robert Schumann

After being judged for three years in row and getting five points each time, my Princess accumulated the needed fifteen points to earn her first piano trophy in the shortest possible time. She was so excited about this.

I finally wrangled for myself the pictures my husband took at the recital. He kept assuring me that most of them were on the camera and not his iPad even when I reported that I could only see the two videos and one picture from the recital on the card from the camera. (Either he is not as often right as he used to be or I am not so easily convinced he is right all the time.)

~ My Lord, may she shine in the radiance of Your glory and honor You with the gift You have given her. ~