“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Boy. A Bridge. A Body Bag.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. 
Not as the world gives do I give to you. 
Let not your hearts be troubled, 
neither let them be afraid.  
John 14:27 ESV

A Boy.  A Bridge.  A Body Bag.

Not necessarily in that order.  Nor are they related.  Or are they?

My training for the Portland Half-Marathon had me walking 9 miles yesterday.  I decided to include the up and back.  Two and a half miles down an industrial train-lined route, which was, of course on a Sunday, like a ghost town.  And then the two and a half miles back.  And I had added two miles to get there and two miles to get back.   Boring.

But I had my boy with me.  We called him "my bodyguard."  He was on his bike for the 9 miles.  Following me.  Watching me.  Sometimes interacting.  Sometimes not.  Not really a boy anymore.  But someone who could help protect me if needed.  Of course, I would give up my life for his.  But that wasn't necessary yesterday.

Nine miles by myself really.  Quiet.  Time to think.  Time to listen to Mark Batterson's "Wild Goose Chase."  And a little TobyMac.  But mostly to think.

I have been wondering about what I have learned through this process of training my body to walk 13.1 miles.  I mean... let's be serious... I could walk 13.1 miles without training, so what's the point of training?  And a couple things have come to mind:
1. When I receive my medal, it won't be for walking the 13.1 miles that day.  It will be for the weeks spent training.  It will be a medal for completing my training.
2. My recuperation from the half-marathon will be much quicker because I have trained my body to recover throughout the weeks of training.

Of course, this leads me to spiritualization of my training.  How important it is to train ourselves.  To be in shape spiritually.  Fortunately, I know when the date of the half-marathon is, but this isn't true for the major "marathons" in our spiritual lives.

But then I started to think about the spectators that will be cheering me on in less than 2 weeks.  And the water tables.  And the musicians along the route.  And I wondered why we applaud this type of behavior.  I mean what I do in my mentoring of women is much more important and life changing than me walking 13.1 miles with thousands of other people.  And there are no medals for that.  And definitely no water tables.  Although it is immensely more valuable.

Then we had about 1 mile left to go.  We were on the waterfront at that point headed towards the Hawthorne Bridge.  There were people cleaning up the Saturday Market (which is also held on Sunday).  There was a ton of Canadian Geese that looked like they were in huge cages because the city had put up fences around all the new grass seed they had put down along the walkway.  And then we noticed the crime scene tape.

The tape blocked our path.  We had to go around.  Which as you can imagine was not something I wanted to do.  I did not want to add any more distance to my walk.  But with the six police vehicles parked in the grass and the forensics truck, we knew we needed to go around.

Of course, we are gawkers.  Just like the others standing there.  Wondering.  Why would there be six police vehicles and a forensics truck in the Tom McCall Waterfront Park today?  On this most beautifully amazing day along the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon?

And then we saw it.
A body bag.
And Christopher asked if body bags were white.
I wasn't sure because just the other night we were watching "Yukon Men"
and the body bag they had was yellow.
But then there was a darker bag pulled around the white one.
And you knew by the customary zipper across the top that it was a body bag.
And that there was like a gurney underneath.
That someone had lost their life today.
Someone whom I had most likely passed by earlier that day.
Perhaps I thought they were taking a nap on a bench?
I can't find anything on the Internet about it.
And why wasn't there an ambulance?

So here is me and my bodyguard.  And a body bag.  And this is life.  Me training to walk a half-marathon.  And on a gorgeous day in Portland along a scenic route in a very public place... someone has died.

What to do?  What to say?  We don't even know.
And we keep going.
Under bridges.
Until we are under the Hawthorne Bridge where I remember that there is an 8x10 poster of Jesus.  And I want to take a photo of it.  Because it would make an interesting photo for Instagram.  Or a blog post.  And so I take the photo.

And I wonder how it all fits together.
A Boy who is my bodyguard.  A Bridge with a picture of Jesus.  And a Body Bag.

And all I can think is that without Jesus I wouldn't know what to think.  I figure Jesus knows what is going on.  And so I pray.  Asking him to help me put it all together.  If it needs to go together.  Or at least to give me peace and words to say to my bodyguard that might bring him comfort.

I think my brain gets more of a workout on these long walks then my legs do.

“I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. 
The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. 
He will remind you of all the things I have told you. 
I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you.
I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—
feeling abandoned, bereft. 
So don’t be upset. 
Don’t be distraught." 
John 14:25-27 MSG

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Does God speak through Taylor Swift??

I think we need to be aware that God can speak to us in ways that are unique to only us.  As long as the revelation is in line with the Word of God, we can find comfort even in the lyrics of a Taylor Swift song.  I received this e-mail earlier today and asked my friend if I could share it with you.
Hello my Dear -
You're going to think I'm a little nutty - but I think you'll get me here.  It reminded me of your hose....so I thought I'd share.  So the back story facts. 
I run with an iPod - my workout mix has 89 songs on it.  It has one Taylor Swift song on it.  That one song plays on every single run I take.  When we were on vacation I was running longer, and I started to complain to my sister-in-law and husband about it.  Sometimes she would pop up twice - I was even talking about writing Apple about their need to update how they define shuffle! 

Anyway - Saturday - I ran 5.2 miles, took me 57 minutes.  Taylor Swift played twice.  I skipped her the second time, annoyed.  Monday I ran 3 miles, she came on, I skipped her, annoyed.
This morning I prayed to the Lord hard.  I prayed about my heart, why it wasn't changed in the year since I did this study on David (Beth Moore's David: A Heart Like His and Seeking A Heart Like His) the first time.  I had a long time of confession, I begged for His presence to be felt today - I begged him to open my eyes so I could hear Him speaking - see Him today.
9:00am this morning - I set out for a 4.2 mile run.  0.1 mile in, not even to corner!  Taylor Swift comes on.  I say to myself, FINE, I'll listen to it, get it over with.  But I didn't really 'listen'.  I was daydreaming.  I was having a great run, but I was thinking some prideful thoughts.  Mile 3, Taylor Swift came on.  And I said, out loud, 'Seriously...GOD (not spoken in praise) are you kidding me!',  and he said 'No....I'm not!'  The song was almost over before I got over myself and got it...just where I think He wanted me to listen...
So I have to ask...Does God speak through Taylor Swift?  I think He does.  I'll never listen to it the same way...and I'm pretty confident I'll always listen to it.
(partial) Lyrics to You Belong With Me :
Dreaming bout the day when you wake up and find
That what you're looking for has been here the whole time

If you could see that I'm the one who understands you
Been here all along so why can't you see?
You belong with me

Standin by, waiting at your back door
All this time how could you not know that?
You belong with me
You belong with me

Oh I remember you driving to my house in the middle of the night
I'm the one who makes you laugh when you know you're about to cry
I know your favorite songs and you tell me about your dreams
I think I know where you belong. I think I know it's with me.

Can't you see that I'm the one who understands you?
Been here all along so why can't you see?
You belong with me

Standing by or waiting at your back door
All this time how could you not know that
You belong with me
You belong with me

Have you ever thought just maybe
You belong with me
You belong with me

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Is a Growth Spurt Contagious?

 first day of 8th grade - 2012

I thought I would share Christopher's photo from the first day of school for 8th grade.  
And then I remembered this blog from September 12th, 2009 
and I thought I would re-post it.

Is a Growth Spurt Contagious
September 12, 2009

first day preschool 4's ~ 2003

Christopher couldn't sleep last night (September of 2009). Which meant I didn't sleep last night. At 1am I began to ramble off thoughts of what was keeping him from the land of nod. Hunger? Sugar? Growth Spurt? He asked me to clarify what exactly a growth spurt was... and then we tried to drift off to sleep.

This morning when I came down for breakfast, Christopher snuggled close to me on the couch and asked, "Mommy, is a growth spurt contagious? Because I want to know if I can play with Collin today."

I hugged him tight and assured him that it was not contagious, but I'm sure Collin... like any boy... wouldn't mind catching it!

first day 5th grade ~ 2009

And all of this growth spurt talk reminded me of another type of growth spurt...

Recently, I asked my FB friends, "Who taught you how to pray?"
Dixie: I would have to say my Mother.
Mark: Jesus

Phil: the parental unit known as Bill & Joy. Saw my dad praying every morning when I got up for 15 years.
Amy: The Lord's Prayer

Shannon: My Missionette leader

Leila: I learned how to pray by going through life situations that made me get real and talk to Him from my heart.
But the response that touched me the most was sent to me privately.
Sheri, no one taught me how to pray and I believe that I do not do it right. Is there a certain way to pray?
And first my heart ached for the one who thought they "do not do it right" but then my heart leapt... because I realized that this question was coming out of a growth spurt! And so I responded:
Great question! But first and foremost... please, don't ever think that you do not do it right. I think perhaps we get to a point in our prayer life where we want to go deeper with the Lord, to know Him in a more intimate way, to trust Him more. Just like when your baby learns to walk... she'll start with a crawl... then an unbalanced wobble... then a walk holding on to things for support... and then... and then... she'll run! And you'd have to admit that she did everything right... in its time.

I think one of the best ways to learn how to pray is by finding prayers in the Bible. Even starting with the Lord's prayer. Seeing how Jesus prays is helpful in teaching us how to pray.

I also highly recommend the acronyms A.C.T.S. You can check out my post on that one and let me know if you have any questions.

The book I am currently reading Too Busy Not to Pray is PHEnomenal! Are you a book reader? It's not too long of a read. I'm taking a chapter at a time so that it will really sink in... He does an incredible job of describing how to use A.C.T.S. If you like, I'll send you a copy?

Another book series is by Stormie Omartian... The Power of a Praying Wife, Woman, Parent. Each chapter talks about something to pray for... gives Bible verses... and then a sample prayer. I've learned a lot by listening to other people pray. But then finding my own comfort zone.

I've also found that our life experiences end up teaching us how to pray. When I was going through a deep depression in 2006... I begged the Lord to heal me immediately. When He didn't, I continued to pray in desperation... I began journaling daily. Sometimes thoughts... sometimes prayers. I continued to seek Him... and to listen to what I was praying. I relied upon Him so much and found true comfort when I would pray that it has become very much part of who I am.

I hope this gives you a place to start. You know to think of it... I've been praying for you for almost six years.

How about you, friend? Have you had a growth spurt lately? Because when it comes to spiritual growth spurts... I actually do believe they are contagious!

So then neither the one who plants
nor the one who waters is anything,
but God who causes the growth.
1 Corinthians 3:7 NASB