“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

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Celebrate With Great Joy!

 Sneak Peek!
Preparing to celebrate the completion of our Nehemiah study.

Last Thursday I had a little garden party.  I invited the ladies from the Nehemiah Bible study over to my home to celebrate our completion of this study.  A couple years ago I began to realize that it is important to recognize that our study is complete, but we are NOT finished!  See this post if you want more details.

I can get anxious about having people over my home.  Especially if I plan for it way in advance.  So, I try to not think about it until the last minute.  Not always the best idea for decorating, but it is good for my nerves.  I did try to make some fun decorations to hang outside to make the space more cozy since it was a gray day (and to draw the eye to the colors and not any of the unfinished yard work).   I just used some crepe paper and tied it on to some heavy thread.  Thanks Pinterest!  (Note the hammer on the table?)  The hummingbirds loved the red crepe paper which makes me think I need more red in my garden.

Another little trick I did right before the gals arrived was to wet down the mulch and concrete.   It hides a multitude of imperfections.  I've seen this done on television and movies so much that I thought it might work for me.  And it did!

Caren, Sherrie, Sarah, Penny, Penny and Susan
(Missing from the party - Barb, Barbara, Bernie, Crystal, Jan, 
Jennifer, Joan, Lisa, Roxanne, Sheila, Tanyadene, Tessa)

Have you ever done a Kelly Minter study?  Well, she includes recipes in her studies.  So the gals made a couple of the dishes from the study to share with us.  Delicious!  We had the Tasty Quinoa, Capri's Pasta and Billie's Banana Pudding.

The JOY of the LORD is my strength.
Nehemiah 8:10

Susan made the favors and the centerpiece.  She choose the color of the paper for the favors to be like Jerusalem stone.  Sorry that you can't see the details.  Inside were some yummy chocolates.  She is totally gifted in making a piece of paper look like a million bucks!  Then she painted this clay pot to look like the wall Nehemiah built!!!  What a thoughtful keepsake for me.  Just like building an altar to remember what God has done.  (More details about my thoughts on memory stones or altars see these posts.)

I am so blessed to have these precious sisters in my life.  We are kindred spirits and I love each and every one!  I know they think I am pretty special, too.  But the secret is... I wouldn't be who I am today without them in my life. 

Looking ahead, we are starting Lysa TerKeurst's study "What Happens When Women Say Yes To God."  If you are in the Portland, Oregon area on Tuesday mornings, JOIN US!  We meet from 9:30-11:30am at Portland Christian Center.

Then all the people went away to eat and drink, 
to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy
because they now understood the words 
that had been made known to them.  
Nehemiah 8:12

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What Good Is It?

A Leaking Window at the Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland, Oregon
photography by Anthony Kaetzel

"What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 

Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?"
James 2:14-16

I've been sick today.  Not physically.  Just distressed.  Wondering.

Am I doing enough?
Am I doing something?
Is there more I should be doing?
Is there more I could be doing?
To help those in need.
To help those who are less fortunate.

Really just torturing myself.
Wondering if there is more I could be giving.
And I realized that I was mostly wondering if I was doing enough according to what other people think.  Especially those who are not yet believers in Jesus Christ.  Wanting to make sure I was being a "good" witness of Christ through my deeds.

I have these moments.
But before I could linger much more on them, God decided I'd had enough.
This afternoon as I read through In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day by Mark Batterson (for probably the 5th time), I came across these words...

God wants you to get where God wants you to go more than you want to get where God wants you to go... If you keep in step with the Spirit, God is going to make sure you get where He wants you to go.  He is always working behind the scenes, engineering our circumstances and setting us up for success.
"We are God's workmanship, 
created in Christ Jesus to do good works, 
which God has prepared in advance for us to do."  
Ephesians 2:10

And I breathed a sigh of relief.
That's right, if I keep in step with the Spirit.
There's no check-list of good deeds.
There's the relationship with God.
Trusting that He has gone before me and will direct me.

God wants you to get where
God wants you to go
more than you want to get where
God wants you to go.

Monday, July 23, 2012

My Turn.

I guess it is my turn. 

Last year as I watched Anthony cross the finish line and receive his medal for running the Portland Marathon I thought, "I want one of those silly medals."  It's the first time I felt that way.  Odd sensation, but I wondered if it would last.  It did.

Marathon?  No, thank you.  I'll choose 13.1 miles.  And I will walk those miles.  And get a medal. 

I made sure to sign up for the Portland Half-Marathon as soon as it opened since it sells out pretty quickly.  And so, I had about 9 months until the start of the race to whip myself into shape.  I found Hal Higdon's:  Half Marathon Training Walking Program and printed it out.  Yes, I could easily get ready knowing I needed just about 12 weeks for the training. 

Oops, the race is only 11 weeks away now.  And, no, I have not been training.  Well, taking a walk here and there, but not training.  Okay, time to get serious.

Anthony asked if I wanted him to help keep me accountable.  I politely declined.  He asked if it would be okay to ask how my training was going.  "Yes," I said sheepishly.

Today, I decided to pull out the Training Program.  And I put all of the training schedule into my calendar.  Even the rest days.  Especially the rest days.  And wouldn't you figure that today is a rest day?  And, so, I am on track!

I have decided to wear the Portland Marathon wrist band to remind me daily to stick with it.  It seems strange to me to put so much effort and forethought into something that is so... well, temporary.  But I think I have something to learn here.  And I know if I get into the habit of walking it will break the barrier of temporary and become habitual.  And that's a good thing, right?

So, this time it's my turn.  Look for me at the finish line.  I'll be the one wearing one of those silly medals.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Truth

 It happens a couple times a year...
when I have to remind you of the truth about me.
Because I am busy today... 
preparing for my Nehemiah Bible Study gals to visit tomorrow...

I have been thinking a lot about this favorite post...

I think it is time you knew the truth about me.

Disclaimer: This post is not for the faint of heart. If you intend to keep me on a pedestal, please read no further!

I don't make my bed everyday. Okay, I maybe make my bed once a week. Well, the truth is that it might not really officially be called "making" my bed... It is more like straightening the covers.

I don't do the dishes every day. I like to let them pile up and then put them into the dishwasher at one time because I have a whole logical schematic as to which items go where.

I have piles of clutter around my house at this very moment. When-am-I-going-to-read-these-books pile. Where-do-I-file-these-papers pile. Need-to-put-this-stuff-in-the-car pile.

But if I knew you were coming over... I would most likely do the dishes. I would definitely throw all my piles of clutter into a laundry basket and shove it in the laundry room. And I might... just might... on a good day... straighten my bed, but most likely... well, the plain truth is... I would just shut the bedroom door.

I had some darling ladies over my home a couple months back. After having visited my home, one of my precious ladies told me that she saw my piles! She actually went looking for them. It relieved her to know that I had piles. Because she has her own piles, and she wondered what other people did with their piles.

Now, mind you, I don't always have piles. I'm pretty organized by most standards. Most of the time I have piles because I want to make sure everything ends up where I can find it at a later date.

I don't hide my piles because I want to impress you. I hide them because I don't want to be distracted by them while you are here. I don't want you to be distracted by them either. It's not that I'm trying to be someone that I'm not... It's just that when you are in my home... I want it to be a haven to you.

I guess I do this in other areas of my life. I may not always greet you with my piles in tow... I may appear to have things together... but I do this because... I want to be a haven to you... whether in my home or in my heart.

I want you to feel free to come over and peek in the laundry room and see my piles. I encourage you to do so. You can even take a peek into the sink... if you must. But in all honesty, when you peek into my bedroom... you'll find the bed unmade... because... well, isn't that what matching bed sheets were made for?

Monday, July 16, 2012

How Many Dogs Meow?


"How many dogs meow?"

Interesting question.  How many dogs do you know that actually meow?  I am thinking that your answer will be the same as mine.  None.  I don't expect a dog to meow.  They just don't.  Why would I think that they would?

I participated in a class earlier this year that was based on the book God Will Make A Way:  What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.  We would meet once a week for an hour on Wednesday nights and watch a DVD segment and discuss our homework from the workbook.

One night, in the DVD portion of the study, this question was asked, "How many dogs meow?" 

We were learning that part of figuring out what to do when you don't know what to do has to do with embracing our problems as gifts.  For example, looking at a particular situation and determining whether or not we see a pattern developing.  What patterns do we have?  Are we repeating the same pattern with the same results?  

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again 
and expecting different results. 
~Albert Einstein

Then one of the authors shared a conversation about a woman who was longing for approval.  She kept going to the same type of person and looking for their approval.  Longing for it.  Waiting for it.  And she had a pattern of this.  What the author noticed was her pattern.  The gal kept trying to get approval from critical people.  So, he told her,
"Critical people are critical.  Don't look to them for approval.  It ain't happening.
How many dogs meow?"
And for me this hit close to home.  Okay, it hit home.  Actually, a home run.  For sure.  I knew that I longed for approval.  Everyone's approval.  And when I don't get someone's approval?  I long for it.  Wait for it.  Pine for it.  And when it doesn't come?  I become obsessed.  I start to think that I deserve their approval.  That they are withholding it from me.  And, you know what?  It never comes.   And honestly, I get a little ugly.  At least on the inside.  For sure.

Sometimes we need a perspective change.  We may want for that "someone" to change, but that may take a lot longer than we are willing to wait... like never.  But if we change our perspective... if we realize that we are expecting someone to give away something that they don't have a natural inclination towards... well, we just might realize that this is not about them.  It's about us.  Well, er, me.  Me.  Trying to get EVERYONE's approval.  Yup, it looks like a pattern.  Not pretty, huh?  But real.

So, I'll be changing my pattern.  I'll be looking for adulation from those who are not critical.  And, I know.  I know.  I don't need the approval of man because I have God's approval.  I get that.  But sometimes, I think we all need a little pat on the back.  Or maybe a sincere word of affirmation. 

And now you will know what I am talking about when I ask you...
"How many dogs meow?"

Sunday, July 15, 2012

As of Late - July 15th, 2012

Fresh Farmer's Market Flowers

Lately, I have been eating quinoa.

Lately, I walked/jogged a 5K.

Lately, I have been enjoying the sunshine.

Lately, I planted lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, basil and green beans.
Lately, I have been planning a garden party for the gals who studied Nehemiah with me.
Lately, I hugged someone who really needed a hug.
What have you been up to... as of late?

Monday, July 2, 2012


Dear God,

I feel like I keep putting a Band-Aid on this certain relationship.  It starts to heal and then... OUCH!  The Band-Aid is abruptly pulled off.  And the wound is shown, again.  And not only does it hurt.  But it hurts, again.  And it hadn't really healed the first time.  Or the second time.  Or the third time... and all those hurts are all wrapped into this recent hurt now.

I am trying to forgive.  Truly, I am.  I am trying to LOVE as you have told me to do.  But I am wondering if it is good for me to stay in the relationship.  I mean it hurts.  Bad.  And I think the best thing to do is to quit it.  Quit the relationship. 

So, okay.  You said somewhere in the Bible to someone who asked you how many times they have to forgive.  And you told them 70 times 7.  Well, being a mathematician I can figure that is 490 times.  And I figured that they have hurt me about 457 times.  So, I am pretty close to that 490.  So, can I give up now?  They won't have to hurt me.  Or be tempted to hurt me.  And I won't have to forgive them anymore.  That works for me, okay?

Okay.  Okay.  I know.  I am sometimes the one ripping the Band-Aid off.  I guess I just want to know if it is healed.  And it is not.  So, I bought these pretty Band-Aids.  I mean I might as well look cute while I am in pain, right?

What are you trying to teach me?  I figure there is a lesson in here somewhere, right?  You must be trying to make me stronger or something?  I know there was a time a while ago when I sensed that you had mentioned to me that this had something to do with them.  Needing loving people around them so that they could grow and that I would be a safe person for them in the process.   I would be one who would pray for them.

But God sometimes I want to lash out and remind them of all the times they have hurt me.  All those times.  But I sense from you that it is not time.  It may never be time.  And that you might be using me in their life.  And that you might be using this to make me stronger.  Stronger so that I might help others who are going through something similar.  Perhaps those who have already forgiven 490 times and they are done.  DONE.  D. O. N. E.  Because you said something else about not keeping a record of wrongs.  Of standing in the gap.

Well, I guess through all of this, I have learned to trust you more.  Feel more loved by you.  Searched your heart more.  And prayed for them more.  Yes, you tell me to love you with all my heart, mind, soul and strength... and to love others as I love myself.  Okay, so I forgive them.  Again.  And I open myself to you to heal my hurting heart. 

Forgive me of my sins as I forgive those who have sinned against me.

But I did by two boxes of these Band-Aids...