Caleb had a horrible cold, so I kept him home from school. There was one errand I had to run, though, so I bundled up the miserable little child in a big, cozy blanket and tucked him into the van. To assuage my guilt for dragging him around town, I said, “Do you want momma to buy you a hot chocolate?” He wasn’t too sick for that, so I pulled into a road-side coffee stand.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Monday, January 30, 2012
She said there aren’t fat people in China. They eat very small portions and no sugar.
The lack of self control in every area of life is almost always a problem of excess.
Jesus said, “Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth.” (Matthew 6:19) Too much stuff. What do we really need?
I just talked to a friend whose family of four is temporarily living in a 500-square-foot apartment. She said when you only have that much space, you find out how much is really necessary to live on.
Nutritionists tell us a proper serving size of food is the size of a deck of cards. I look at my plate when I fill it now.
For one year I only owned two pair of pants, partly because funds were tight for clothing but also because I decided to see if I could live with a minimal amount of clothing. For one entire year I took turns wearing those pants. One pair on Monday. The other pair on Tuesday. No one noticed. I was clothed. It was enough.
In every area of life let's ask, “Lord, what portion size?” How many words are enough? How much food is enough? How much recreation is enough? How much stuff is enough?
Saturday, January 28, 2012
My patio door looks out on a row of snow-covered mountains. I filled a mug with coffee and was walking quickly back downstairs to get back to work on the computer, but I happened to look out the window.
Proverbs 4:16 says, “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.”
The seventh day was made for standing at the window with hands wrapped around a steaming morning beverage. Remember, this hard life isn’t all there is. See the flaming colors of the day coming. The day with no tears and no sighing.
On this seventh day we will stop the chores. Stop trying to accomplish. Stop doing. Enjoy the sunrise and with it the hope of a new day coming.
Friday, January 27, 2012
These are the words on signs in her room at the nursing home, because she forgets these things.
I stare at the sign that says “bathroom”, and I wonder how long my time of thinking clearly and remembering will last.
I plug in the electric piano that I’ve wheeled into her room and begin to play songs written many decades ago. Ain’t She Sweet. Tea for Two. Charleston.
“What a beautiful sound your piano has” she says.
“Thank you. I think it’s pretty, too.”
“Did you have to push the piano up the stairs?” she says.
“No, just down the hall here at the nursing home.”
“What a beautiful sound your piano has” she says.
“Yes, I think it has a beautiful sound, too.”
“Was it hard to push the piano up the stairs?” she says.
For 30 minutes we have this same conversation over and over and over while I play for her.
Ephesians 5:16 says, “…making the most of your time, because the days are evil.”
As I leave the nursing home, I feel a sense of urgency to work hard and do everything God wants me to do right now, because I don’t know when this rich time of being well and mentally alive will last. Until the day before I need a sign that says “bathroom” and a sign that says “closet” and a sign that says “dresser”, I hope I hope to make the most of time, to love God with all of my mind and all of my strength and to love people.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
I reflect deeply on my birthdays about who I am and who I have yet to be. I always imagine writing notes to a few dozen people who have contributed richly to who I have become, although I'm too lazy to actually do it.
I think of several people in my life who are very kind and gracious. When I make a snap judgment about a person or a situation, they gently offer a deeper perspective. Because of them I’ve grown a bit (maybe a very little bit) in controlling criticism and offering grace instead.
Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
So to all of you whom God has used to sharpen my self control, thank you so much. I can’t wait to rub shoulders with you in my 43rd year of life.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
I think of that proud moment in the future and remember…
Tears in the car because the CAD program in drafting seemed incomprehensible.
Hours of chemistry homework every night for a year.
Wondering if there would be a curve on a quiz.
Hours of physics homework every night for a year.
Black circles under her eyes on the weekends.
School. A snack. At her desk studying until dinner. Back to her desk until bedtime.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Monday, January 23, 2012
The call of a trumpet.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Friday, January 20, 2012
Thursday, January 19, 2012
It’s just so stinkin’ fun to say! (I know you’re saying it out loud right this very second.)
It means “a person or a thing that is particularly impressive or attractive”.
The woman found in Proverbs 31 is a lollapalooza. She gets up early, keeps a light on all night, makes clothes from scratch, runs a lucrative business, is totally prepared for the future, does some charity work in her “spare time”, makes her husband look good, and refuses to stop working to eat chocolate in front a chic flick while the kids are in school. She’s particularly impressive.
And she’s our example.
Does God intend every woman to be a lollapalooza?
Every woman a Proverbs 31 lady?
The proverbs of Solomon are “for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life.” (Proverbs 1:3) And this verse is followed by 31 chapters of little proverbs, one stacked on top of the other, one element of self control at a time.
Controlling the tongue.
Stocking the pantry for winter.
The slow-but-steady addition of self control into our lives. Finished with the beautiful picture of a woman who can do more than is humanly possible, with faith in God and some effort. A lollapalooza life.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
(Are you still reading?)
After three years into marriage, Matt finished grad school, and we moved to Kalispell, Montana to live with his mom. It was a good arrangement. She was very lonely after the death of my father-in-law to cancer, and we had a brand new baby girl and were penniless.
I think back to those days and have decided my mother-in-law is a SAINT. I was lazy and undisciplined in every way. Selfish and outspoken. We got along great, but I know there were times when I had to have made her nuts. She was kind and gracious always, but I think I probably made her work at it. Like when I decided to do a deep clean in her kitchen without even asking her, and she came home from work every day for a week to a pile of stuff I wanted her to go through. Who does stuff like that? Thoughtless. (Sorry, mom!)
Genesis 26:34-34 says, “When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.”
The word source can be followed by any word. Source of strength. Source of water. Source of pride. Source of pain. What are we a source of to our families?
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
My boot camp is to have the kitchen clean before bed every night, and I have accomplished that for 17 days in a row. Woohoo! A never-before seen act from this momma. I was just in the kitchen cleaning up supper dishes, fantasizing about the day when my grandkids are like, "Grandma's kitchen is always so clean..."
Yeah, well... 17 days is a start.
We can do this! If at first you don't succeed. Try, try again.
But inside my knee-jerk response is, “Hey! Who are you to tell me what I can and can’t say?” I’ll be honest - I feel defensive at first. But after a minute I step back in my mind and consider what I was saying to people, the thoughtless words coming out of my mouth. I’m thankful he loves me enough to help me stop the flow of stupidness.
In Psalm 12 David is exasperated by the people around him who do nothing but brag about themselves and lie to the people close to them. In verse 4, these people say, “We own our lips –who is our master?”
Who owns the pink slip on my lips? Does anyone have the right to press a “be quiet” finger onto my skin? Can’t I say what I want?
In Psalm 12:6 David says, “The words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.”
God’s lips. Flawless… refined.
We need to sign over the papers. Words under new ownership, controlled by the Flawless One who can inject every word we say with truth and life and goodness.
Lips that never need to apologize. Lips that never lie. Lips that always have the right word to say to just the right person in just the right moment. Lips that offer a Band-Aid instead of a knife wound. Lips people want to kiss instead of slap. Lips that add a solid brick instead of a wrecking crane to the construction of who someone is.
Let us say together, “We do not own our lips –God is our master.”
Monday, January 16, 2012
In Little Women Amy drops her school slate, and the melting snow washes away the chalk math sums. I think sometimes we wish we could make a difficult relationship go away that easily.
Proverbs 3:3 says, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you… write them on the tablet of your heart.”
At God’s stern prompting I pull out the tablet.
“Get a Sharpie” he says.
“But Lord, permanent ink?”
“Yes, permanent. Write her name.”
So I mechanically write her name on the tablet of my heart, holding on tight to love and faithfulness out of sheer obedience to God. But as I write, something happens in my heart. I begin to see the beauty of who she is. The bitterness and frustration fall away, and in their place I begin to feel love, and I begin to want faithfulness. She is a treasure.
I look down at the tablet, and I see that the name I wrote as a dutiful scribble God has turned into a sweeping calligraphy.
So I keep learning how to be her friend and keep moving toward her and keep loving. And as she has worked to do the same with me, God is bringing a slow but steady healing to our friendship.
When keeping someone close gets challenging, we must control the urge to erase the person from the heart. Love and faithfulness stay.
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Friday, January 13, 2012
Thursday, January 12, 2012
And now the U.S. Army is employing gladness as a preparation for soldiers before they go on tour of duty. The soldiers are taught to “hunt the good stuff”. Listen to this six-minute, intriguing interview on NPR at http://www.npr.org/2012/01/08/144862810/classes-teach-soldiers-to-be-army-strong.
Paul issues two commands. In 2 Timothy 2:3 he says, “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 he says, “give thanks in all circumstances.” I'm trying to absorb the idea that thanking God for the good in every circumstance equips a soldier to be able to endure hardship.
When I was young I read The Hiding Place, the story of Corrie Ten Boom whose family helped hide Jews in World War II, and she and her entire family ended up in a Nazi death camp because of it. She was annoyed when her sister thanked God for the lice in the camp. Betsy told her she was thankful because the lice kept the soldiers out of the barracks, which allowed them to meet together to read the Bible and encourage one another.
Hunt the good stuff.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Monday, January 9, 2012
A good trainer knows sweat and pain are included in the fitness package.
Saturday, January 7, 2012
Friday, January 6, 2012
I'm drawn toward the Shaker style of decorating –distinctly simple, useful, and finely crafted. Everything else goes.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Monday, January 2, 2012
Wanna play? Determine a boot camp goal and comment about it below –would love to hear one place in which you’re willing to make every effort to gain self control.