Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I have moved!

Dear friends, I am thrilled to announce, after seven months of labor and the volunteer help of many patient friends and family, I now have a new blog site.   

I have enjoyed Tiddlywinks, named so for my sweet grandma who always signed her letters that way, but I need more definition for why I write. 

Starting today, Tiddlywinks will be no more.  (A bit of sadness.) 

Come visit me at my new website called Off the Shelf.  The content of my writing remains the same.  Only the address and look have changed. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Habits of the mind.

When I walk I’m so unimaginative.  I sit down on the porch to put my shoes on.  Then I walk around Alpine Lane.  Down Rock Street.  Around Stone Street.  Back around Alpine Lane.  And home. 

The same path every time. 

Boring, I know.  I like to think and pray while I walk, and I don’t want to think about the actual exercise part. 

Our brains take the same route.  Wear deep paths of thinking that we mindlessly walk every day.  Financial stress –WORRY.  That person –ANGER.  Potential failure –FEAR.  Difficult situation –DEPRESSION. 

One time I had to take something to my child at school, so I walked there instead of my normal route.  That was nice.  Different path.  Different scenery.  Different heart rate. 

It’s possible to change paths of thinking.  It’s just –do we want to or are we so, so comfortable walking the familiar route? 

“Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  (Matthew 7:13-14  NIV)   

There are TWO paths the mind can set foot on.  If your thoughts seem to be leading only to destruction, it might be time to try some new scenery.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Yes, yes you can.

I hyperventilated over a bowl of breakfast cereal yesterday morning.   

I’ve hit a season where every morning for the last week I have made a long list of tasks, have worked hard all day, and have barely even scratched the surface of what has needed to be accomplished.  (My husband suggested I just stopping making lists, but that’s not really helpful, dear.) 

I've felt overwhelmed and anxious in an “I’m going to throw up” sort of way. 

Over my bowl of cereal yesterday I had anxiety so severe it actually caused chest pain.  (That’s probably bad.)  Then I remembered the verse, “Do not be anxious about anything…”  (Philippians 4:6  NIV) 

Can you tell someone to stop being anxious?

I hear it all the time from people.  “I can’t help but be afraid.”  “I can’t help but be angry.”  “I can’t help but be anxious.”  “I can’t help but be depressed.” 

Romans 12:2 (NIV) says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” 

Evidently, we can help it.  God’s expectation is for us to be transformed from a life of anxiety to peace, and this happens by acquiring new ways of thinking. 

I ate another bite of cereal and rolled the verse around in my mind.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer…”  Oh yeah.  Prayer.  Toss all that anxiety in God’s lap and let Him worry about how the tasks are going to get done. 

So I prayed through my list of anxieties, and by the time my spoon hit the bottom of the cereal bowl I felt peace and no chest pain. 

Here’s the process for getting over bad feelings:
1.     Get a verse from the Bible that speaks to your condition.
2.     Memorize it.
3.     Believe it. 
4.     Do what it says.
5.     Repeat steps three and four as needed.
Yes, you can help it.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Are you a good student?

When I finished student teaching my students gave me gifts.  (I think they were just glad to see me go.)  I got cute little apple decorations of all kinds.  Ever since then, when the kids go to school the first day I put out the apples, which have grown in number since those first gifts in 1991. 

I have always loved school and books and new notebooks with nothing written in them yet.  I love to learn. 

In college I was the one front and center.  Sitting with my book open before class started.  Waiting for the teacher.  (Picture my husband rolling his eyes.)

I went straight from the first day of class and took my syllabus to the library, checking out every book I would need for the big research paper.   

Call me a nerd of all nerds if you want, but Proverbs 4:7 says, “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom.  Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” 

Let me tell you, with a kid going to college, all we’ve talked about the last two years is the cost of getting understanding.  It’s high.  Ramen noodles high.   

I always want to be a learner.  I want to open my Bible and read the hard stuff and go do it.  Teachable. 

Wisdom means you’re skilled at doing what you know.  I know the Bible.  It’s the skilled part I’m working on.   

Read it.  Do it.  Read it.  Do it. 

We send our kids off to school after an assault of lectures:  Sit toward the front.  Take good notes.  Make good use of class time.  Ask questions.  No TV after school.  Be ready to start homework at 4:00.  Matt told Caleb last night, School is your job this year. 

When it comes to the Bible, what kind of student are you?  Back row slacker or front row nerd?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bring your need to the music.

I grew up in church.  Played the piano for church from sixth grade until I was in my late 30s.  So I’ve done a lot of singing about God.

Several years ago, God put it on my heart to go on a two-week trip to teach the Bible in Africa, which scared the snot out of me (yes –the snot right out of me.)  I said, Okay, I’ll go.  But I don’t want to, and the whole idea makes me want to throw up. 

After the decision to go to Africa was made firm, I started what I call THE YEAR OF FEAR.  Every night I cried before I went to bed and told my husband, I can’t do this, and he patiently, every night for a year, listened to me list off everything about the trip that was scary.  On the top of the list was being hot.  (Uganda is on the equator.)  I don’t do heat very well.  Next on the list were insignificant things, like civil unrest, diseases of a third world country, and dying in a plane crash over the ocean. 

I started walking in to church every week as a desperate woman.  I had never walked into church desperate before. 

We started singing the same songs as always, but they were all new to me.  Because now I needed them.  I would sing a verse about who God is, and I would look God straight in the eye and say, with steel in my voice, You had better mean this.  I’m going to Africa, and you had better be what I’m singing about right now, or I’m going to die. 

On this side of Africa (let me point out that I did not die), I now know that desperation is good.  It makes me needy.  And when I am needy I find God IS what I sing about. 

If you’re afraid, anxious, desperate, I say GREAT!  You’re in the perfect position to look God in the eye as you sing and say, You had better be who you say you are. 

And find out He is.