Thursday, June 29, 2017

When My Words Come Back to Teach Me

A dear college friend came to visit this week, along with her husband.

This girl has a trap for a memory.

She digs through it and pulls out things I have LONNNNNNNG forgotten.

I could blame it on the "ziqna and seba" (old age and gray hairs), but she's the same age with similar gray hairs, which, by the way, we both make bold attempts at covering.

I always start to worry a little bit when she starts talking about things she attributes to coming out of my mouth, particularly when it comes to advice I may, or may not, have given. The randomness of such tidbits often has me speechless, and mentally saying to myself,

"I said THAT?!?"

It happens almost every time we're together...and she did not fail me this past weekend, once again.

Most times, my words come back to bite me. Sometimes, albeit rarely, I'm impressed with myself.

I know I'm about to be quoted, when she starts a sentence with, "I learned this from Peg ___________________ ..."

Truth is, if it's worthy of being quoted, I'm generally spouting someone else, making sure to give them due credit (unless they come from that unknown, but wise, great sage, Anonymous).

So, just as the two were about to head out the door, continuing on their Fantastic Summer Adventure, it happened. I honestly can't remember the context, but we must have been talking about praying over others and sometimes coming up short of what to pray.

Side note: this happens often for me. In fact, January's Cuba trip found me praying with women and running out of words. Mind blank. I begged the Lord for words to pray.

Then, there it was, "I learned this from Peg (did she really have to add "years ago?") that when you don't know what to pray for someone, you always just rely on asking for these "p's": God's Presence, Provision, Purpose, and Peace. It works every time!"

"I said THAT?!?"

Then I remembered, I had! During the years of preparing for my master's degree in counseling, I had taken an upper level course on The Life and Letters of Paul. The purpose of the class was to look at Paul's words to see how he counseled others within the church, using his God-taught theology. One of the papers I wrote covered Paul's theology of prayer. The four "p's-of-prayer my friend quoted were excerpted; and, I had totally forgotten my own advice!

Somehow, at one time the truth I'd learned had truly inspired me, but it hadn't taken full root, sprouted, and become fruitful. I knew I needed to dig out that old paper and study through it again.

This little incident has caused me no small amount of pondering. I have a tub full of journals. They are filled with Scriptural lessons. I have a blog that has 412 entries. I have notebooks and filing cabinets filled with sermon notes, some of my own messages, and random writings I've collected. Then there are the book cases filled with materials I've read.

So! Much! Truth!

The question is -

How much have I really LEARNED? 

Learned, in the sense that I've clung to the lessons and allowed them to influence and change me. Learned, in that the principles are a part of my day-to-day living.
Learned, in the sense that I've integrated them into ME...and they pour fourth as natural as my breathing.

May my words always be conjoined with ACTION...For then I have truly learned life lessons.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Oh...the mystery and ways of the plans of the Lord!

This past week has been a testimony of this Proverb:

"Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the Lord's purpose that will stand firm and remain."
Proverbs 19:21

Years ago, I had made a promise to my girls (my youngest in particular) that I would take them to the "land of Anne of Green Gables."

In fact, Mandy and I made plans.

Sort of.

We had plane tickets from miles I had banked with United all the way to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (PEI).

We had a place to stay with people I had met one time, way back when we were with Athletes in Action, and did a week tour in Washington D.C.

But, really other than just arrive, we didn't have a detailed plan...
The trip would have been one of those sit-around-and-discuss-exactly-what-should-we-do-today kind of trips...

We showed up at the airport in Phoenix, ready to go...except that a mere two weeks before, the airlines had begun requiring a passport to go to Canada. No longer did a simple driver's license suffice. The crazy thing is I had just been to Canada within the month, and my driver's license worked just fine.

So, there I stood at the counter in Phoenix - naked!

Well, not really naked in the full sense of the word, but without proper documentation, and Canada wouldn't have me.

The agent said, "You can try to go if you want to, but I am pretty sure that once you get to Halifax, they will send you back to the US."

I wasn't willing to take that risk...not with my daughter along.

So instead of going to PEI, we only got as far as Pei Wei for lunch.

My girl was deeply bummed.

Me...I was mortified!  😡

But, indeed, the Lord had other plans.

Fast forward...what seemed like a kazillion years.

Both girls are older.

Both have families.


Lives (which take place too far away from their mother).

But...the timing was just soooooo much better.

The being-together-part was so much sweeter.

We laughed...A LOT.

We had a plan...and knew where and what we were doing each day, yet flexible enough to add things as they came up.
I had made new friends, who blessed us beyond measure (and I had lost absolute touch with the other folks I sort of knew).

Because we were older, more thoughtful, even more desirous to soak in all things L.M. Montgomery, including the country-side, we appreciated EVERY LITTLE DETAIL.
It was perfect.

The thought crossed my mind, multiple times, my God is a way better boss of my schedule.
His agenda is far better.
I may not fully understand His timing all the time, but there is this principle I've seen many times over that centers around "In the fullness of time, God responds;" and, the TIME IS FULL INDEED!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

God is in the New Thing Business

Truth is that right now I'd like to scream.

I just spent 87 minutes writing my Thursday morning blog.
I hit "publish" and nothing happened.

Then, "poof" (just like that!) the whole thing disappeared. Gone! Lost forever and ever, never to get it back, even though I'd "saved" along the way.


So, instead of the better-written version; I'm quickly doing a summary version that's not-so-well-written.



F. Scott Fitzgerald is quoted as saying the following:

While, I believe he meant it to be hopeful.
I don't read a lot of hope into his opining.
It's like..."Gee, I sure do hope that if you don't like your life as it is, you somehow muster up enough 'oomph' to begin again...somehow..."

I've lived enough life to know, I do not have that kind of "oomph" anywhere in me.
There's no way, no how, I can begin-again, start anew, or find the energy to a do-over, on my own.
Neither can you...(sorry to pop your bubble)!

However, there is a "BUT GOD..."

(I love these two words!)

This week, I was struck by the fact that at all times, in all places, under all circumstances, no matter what we are going through, or have gone through, we have a God who is in the "new-thing-business."

God is the God of New Things...

I spent some time recently (it was actually on the wedding anniversary of one of my girls) reflecting on this truth... 
...Thankful for all my Lord has done in MY LIFE;
and, I resonated with King David's words, "Oh Lord, my Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!"

I remembered darker days.
A long, endless, difficult, dry season.
A particularly HARD place.
I looked back on the past and remembered this verse, spoken from the Lord, to my heart through the pen of the prophet Isaiah:

The Lord spoke a healing balm that was salve for my soul in these words!
...In the midst of the DARK;
...In the middle of MESS;
...In the shattered pieces of BROKEN;
He is still at work.

God is always doing a new thing.
(even when it doesn't feel like it...)

During those days, the Lord's instructions were simple.
(I'm so glad they are! When we are in a tough place, we sure don't need complicated. He knows that, too!)

Here were His instructions.

1.  Don't dwell on the past. Get out of that funky-mind-cycle that is driving you crazy.
2. Set your eyes on the future - Keep watch for that "new thing."

"See, I am doing a new thing..."

So, here's a truth to hang onto in the middle of your hard, dry, dark, desert-like place:

You don't have to muster up any "oomph" to begin anew.
You don't have to "hope" you can find some strength to make a change.

You have a BIG GOD who takes care of all the details...
...who gives you some "umph," as opposed to "oomph" to see tri-umph come from the trials.
...who shows you the changes to make that will help you see real-life transformation.
...who creates streams in dry wastelands.
...who brings morning to the darkest of nights.

He is your God,
The God who is in the New-Thing Business!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Life in the Lord...It Really is The Beach!

I stayed up late last night, balancing our accounts.
I rarely do that anymore...but...(sigh)...I was three months behind (another, sigh)...

So, it got me thinking about how life used to be...when I was in my first 2/3's of LiViNg.
I worked harder.
I worked longer.
Things got marked off the check-list faster.
I kept beat to an African drum that pounded out a rhythm in my head that was probably much like the cadence of a and furious.

I stayed up late almost EVERY NIGHT, just to get the feeling that I had been ACCOMPLISHED that day.
I don't do that much anymore.
I simply can't.

There are a lot of negatives about aging.
I certainly don't need to list them.
Those of you who are moving along with me, know with certainty what they are.
However, an author I read recently, discussed the importance of aging-with-positivity.
As a doctor of old-age, he records that those who get older wearing rose-colored-glasses, who drink from glasses half-full, these seem to be the folks who live longer.
So, each day, I truly am looking at the things around me that make me smile.
I'm keeping a list...(and, yes, I check it at least twice, each night before I go to sleep)...
The one thing, I appreciate about being in the last 1/3 is the SLOWING DOWN.

As I have traded the African war-drum for a slower, more consistent rhythm, not unlike the waves that hit the shoreline, on a sunny, beautiful summer day -----
I take in more deep breaths.
I pay more attention to what's around me.
I find myself, well, PRESENT;
and, truly, enjoying the gifts of EvErY DaY!

This ties in with a little gold nugget of truth that plopped in my brain yesterday morning.
It was the 7th day of the month.
I had turned to Psalm 7.
Let me write the words of the psalm as far as I went before I stopped:

A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the LORD...

O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge (v. 1)

I'd never researched the word "shiggaion," perhaps you have, or maybe, like me, you've looked at it and moved on. It was enough to know that David wrote these things, and what it was didn't really matter. After all, it ended up, not as a Shiggaion, but as a my Bible. That's what mattered.

However, a Shiggaion (probably a musical term in this case) had a definite Hebrew meaning..."a rambling poem." 

SIDE NOTE: Sometimes, the words of the Bible, simply make me LOL (smile).
David wrote rambling words that ended up as important psalms.
God gave them to him.
He wrote them down.
Much like how I write...rambling words that the Lord has put in my heart.
It just thrilled me that rambling could be God-given.

But, this wasn't the important part of Psalm 1.
It was found in the first verse.
That word: refuge.
I know what it means.
You know what it means.
At least, I thought I understood the full definition.
However, did you know that one of the synonyms for the word refuge (even as it is written in Hebrew) is the word: RESORT / Sanctuary???
David could have just as easily been saying:

O, Lord, my very personal God, when I am present in you, I am "resorting."

"Resorting," that's a word for:

"taking time away from the BUSY-NESS of life in order to go to a place set aside for quiet renewal."

For me, that's always been anywhere near an OCEAN.

I love being at the beach.
Back in our Kenya-life-days, we would frequently take a week, or so, and go to one of the many resorts on the coast (they were unbelievably inexpensive and do-able on a missionary salary).
We NEEDED that time.
Life as a missionary sometimes found us with the wheels off of our rolling carts...too busy doing to fix them. So we drug those carts around, getting more weary day-by-day.
Heading to the coast gave us an opportunity to do some repairs.

Each day.
All day.

He is our very present PRIVATE RESORT.

Whenever we need a get-away - He is IT!
The truth is...
We shouldn't wait until we're in the last 1/3 of life to take advantage of "resorting" on a regular daily basis.
The Lord is there at all times for us to be PRESENT IN... 

...(after all, as a believer, we are positionally in our Savior-Resort at all times).

I am just a bit sad I waited so long to truly silence the African drum, and just sit in my comfortable, personal resort, soaking up the SON!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Why Fix Your Eyes Above?

Plans are nothing; planning is indispensable.
-Dwight D. Eisenhower-

I can testify to the truth of President Eisenhower's words.

As mentioned, a few weeks back, Bay and I traveled to England, primarily staying in Essex during our two week stint.

On one specific day, we decided to go visit London, wanting to see so many of the places I'd read about in history classes in my growing-up years. I'm fascinated with history.

We had train tickets to get us to the heart of the city, paid for by our host.

We knew the name of the station where we were to exit.

We went with a dear friend, who'd been to London before, ministering with Athletes in Action during the Olympics in 2012.

I thought we were good to go. In fact, I was pretty confident...

Until we exited the crowded station. 

Until we stood on a street corner, with map in hand, surrounded by a concrete jungle of big buildings, feeling foolish.

We had no sense of direction.

Our friend who had been to London before was befuddled...nothing looked familiar and he didn't know which way to go... He would be no help.

Even Siri couldn't help me....she was lost, too, and couldn't even find herself on Google Maps.

I've never felt so small...looking up at high rises, thousands of people rushing past, and standing there sandwiched between two-over-6'6" (plus something) basketball players...and not knowing where to go.

It was an absolutely frustrating feeling of lostness.

We had not done our homework.

We didn't know what to expect when we arrived.

We had done no "planning"...and hence, we were "lost in the middle" of London.

In the end, we hopped on a tour bus (after multiple directions from passersby, and a lot of walking) and got a birds-eye view of history from the top of a double-decker.

Fact is, in the end, there's a lot I regret about that day...things I missed fully celebrating, because I was clueless...


With this said, I've been reflecting on this scenario and eternity.

Eternity has always felt so "forever away..."

But, the fact is that this journey, we are all on, is much like the one I took to London.

I have my "ticket" - paid in full by Christ Jesus.

I know my destination - heaven.

I have family and dear friends who are going to be there with me.

There is so much I look forward to seeing once I arrive.

 So much, I have thought about for years.

So, I've wondered, is it possible to arrive on the scene of eternity and feel a bit "lost in the middle," because, in spite of the fact that I have a plan, I have done no planning...

Most of my life, I've approached heaven as I have my day in London.

When I get there, I'll see it...

When I arrive, I'll figure it out... 

Now, me thinks, a little better understanding of what to expect might be in order.

“For the Christian, death is not the end of adventure but a doorway from a world where dreams and adventures shrink, to a world where dreams and adventures forever expand.” 
Randy Alcorn, Heaven

And, here's a few reasons why.

  • Nothing clarifies life values like an understanding of eternity.
  • Nothing helps me dream God's dreams for me better than an idea of what will be important in the end.
  • Nothing allows me to plan for tomorrow like some expectation of what's to come.
  • In fact, how can I truly celebrate what's to come if I have no clue as to what that really looks like...

I certainly don't want to arrive at my destination and only get a "bird's eye view"...

For sure, I don't want to regret or miss out on anything that's to come...

The Apostle Paul made it clear, and I think I grasp this just a little better after my London-Experience...

"Fix your eyes on things above... 
(Colossians 3:2)"