Monday, December 27, 2010 |

The Jesus Way

We have a bush in our backyard.  It's ugly, messy, and totally out of control.  It's a hideous thorn in our backsides.

We've cut it back countless times, but we know that to really get rid of it for good, we just have to get in there and tear the  hideous beast out by the root.

It's going to be hard.  And it's going to be messy.  And it's going to take a LOT of sweat, and quite possibly some tears (probably on my part, but not necessarily).

But then it will be gone.  Done.  Forever.

Do you ever feel like that bush?  I have.

I used to feel stumped.  Stumped in life, stumped in my faith, stumped in my hopes and dreams.  I felt like I was just pruning my life, only for things to just pop right back up again.  I was playing on the defense, and could never get into the offense.  Just like with that damn bush.

And just like that bush, I needed to take things out by the root.

I love how God's way is so different than the world's way of doing things.  The world tells us that we need to learn how to control ourselves better.  We need to control our emotions and our reactions.  We need to learn to just forgive and let go.  We need to prune.  But, the root remains.  And if the root remains, we just get caught in an exhausting cycle of:  Screw up.  Feel bad.  Get hopeful.  Try harder.  Screw up.  Feel bad.  Get hopeful.  Try harder...  The world says to fix parts of that cycle.  God says, "That cycle's crap.  Let me heal your heart, gently take out that root, and you can leave the cycle altogether."

The interesting thing is that so often the church tells us the same message as the world.  I don't know how many times I have felt guilty, overwhelmed, and clueless as to how to "be more spiritual".  SO many times, I've had the best intentions to pray more, read my Bible more, spend more time with God, evangelize more, forgive more.  I've even been hard on myself because I want to want those things.  Because deep down, I didn't really.  I resented those things, because I felt like I could never do them.  It was a constant uphill battle.  Are you with me?

But God has told me some neat things about that lately.  

Have you ever heard the St. Francis of Assisi quote that goes like this:  "Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words."?

I finally get what that means.  If I live in the grace, truth, and freedom that Jesus purchased for me on Calvary, I won't ever have to say a word.  Not a word.  I won't have to wrack my brain about how to tell people how great my God is (did I always really believe that myself?), or pray that God will somehow change their hearts.  Why?  Because the grace, truth, and freedom that I am experiencing will emanate from me.  Literally.  And it will draw in others.  I won't have to say a word, because not only do I really believe it, I am living it.  Being set free is intriguing and attractive.  

Worrying about evangelism, while I still have a bush inside of me that needs to be pruned, is about as close an example of "putting the cart before the horse" that I can think of.  

The same goes for reading my Bible, having "devotions", and being "spiritual".  

You know what God told me about those things?  He said, "Don't worry, you'll get there.  Let me bring healing to you, and you'll get there."   Because you can't be there while you're still exhausting yourself on that cycle.  I know.  And I think you do too.   

God has taken some huge roots out of my life.  And wouldn't you know it, I've hopped out of that cycle.  I'm not spiritually exhausted like I used to be.  I actually like God.  I want to pray, because I like spending time with my Dad.  I feel free.  And it's awesome.  I truly believe that's the order God wants things to go.  Just like as parents, we don't require as much from our children when they're ill, God doesn't require much from us when we're spiritually ill.

In the Bible, a huge part of Jesus' ministry was healing.  Physical healing, as well as emotional healing.  He didn't expect people to be in a particularly spiritual place, or even a place of belief.  (And actually, it was usually people that didn't know God that he ministered to primarily.)  He just said, "let me heal you", and through that, you will know God.  Jesus didn't expect people to be having prayer marathons, or to be able to speak in tongues, or to even know God as prerequisites to healing.  Those things came as a result of the healing.  He dealt with the roots, and all those things just fell into place.

It has been grieving me lately that the church teaches something so opposite of that.  I used to believe that version.  And I used to feel constantly defeated, and distant from God.  I used to think that was because I didn't do enough.  But now, I'm starting to like the "Jesus version" much better.  Root first, and the rest will follow.  That was what his ministry looked like.  We certainly aren't always very good about actually doing what Jesus did.  

People don't need, or want, a Roman Road, 4 Spriritual laws, or a sinner's prayer.  People need healing.  People need Jesus.  I needed healing.  I needed Jesus.   I still do.  I always will.  

And that's the truth that has really set me free.

Friday, December 17, 2010 |

My Kitchen Gadget Rant

I generally try to stay away from rants.  I think the main reason is that if I were to get into writing them, that's quite possibly all I'd do.

But I need to get something off of my chest.  Something really big and serious.

I hate kitchen tools.  Mostly the ones that serve just one, very specific purpose.

Rice cookers.  Sandwich makers.  Electric latte whisks.  Chicken pullers.  Melon ballers.  Deep fryers.  Apple cutters.  Electric can openers.  (Okay, the last example is pretty 80s, but it still illustrates my point.)

I can replace each of those things with a tool I already have.  Here goes:

Pot.  Frying pan.  Regular whisk (and a quick hand).  2 forks.  Spoon (and some appropriate wrist action).  Pot filled with hot oil.  Paring knife.  Regular can opener.  (Are you noticing the versatility of a simple pot?!)

I have a very tiny kitchen.  Sometimes it annoys me.  But it forces me to be minimalistic (which I like), and reminds me to be content with what I have, because in some areas of the world, an entire family would live in a space the size if my little kitchen.  So, that being said, I have no room (or time) for specialty kitchen items.

Over time, I have been given many kitchen gadgets.  I have donated almost all of them to the thrift store.  Someone, I'm sure, is thoroughly enjoying my rice cooker.  I, however, am enjoying my pot and lid.  Besides, a pot doesn't have a cord.  (Have I ever told you about the time I burned my slow cooker cord in half?  I think I'll post about that tomorrow.  In fact, I may include a few a lot of examples of how I'm an utter safety hazard in the kitchen.)  

I like things that are multi-functional.  If it serves one purpose, it's gone.

Now, the things that are exempt from this rant are as follows:

  • Waffle makers (because nothing else can make those little squares).
  • Orange peelers (because my husband has tender fingertips and loves this apparatus - plus, it's super small)
  • Coffee maker (because we love our coffee around here, and I like the thermal pot)
What overly-specific kitchen gadget do you hate (or love)?

Sunday, December 12, 2010 |

Miracle on a Monday

My brother-in-law Reg was in a serious car accident last Monday.  He is okay.  (I'm all for suspense, but didn't want you to wait until the end to know that he's fine.)  He is a little sore, and is wearing a sweet neck brace, but he shouldn't even be alive.  And he especially shouldn't be walking.  

Miracles still happen everyday.

It's kind of a wild story.  Kris had the day off, and we were having breakfast with his parents.  Kris had to jet a few minutes early to get to the bank, and right after he left, Ron got a phone call.  Reg had been in an accident.  He confirmed that he was okay, but that the truck was probably a write-off.  I casually asked Ron which of the work vehicles Reg had been driving, just out of curiosity.  Turns out, it was actually Kris and my personal truck.  I could care less.  My sister-in-law is not a widow and their children are not fatherless - that is ALL that matters.  

Reg had been driving through the country to their current job site.  He had been going about 120km/h (we all joke about how you can't not speed in our truck - when I drive it, I'm the jerk who goes 70 all through town) , but all of a sudden he felt the need to slow down to about 90.  He came to a crossroad; he had the right-of-way, and any crossing traffic had a yield sign.  Another truck was coming, and out of the blue, smoked through the yield.  Reg t-boned him.  

There were 2 guys in the other vehicle, which they were driving for work (an operation run by a rather shady character from out in those parts).  The boss/owner showed up minutes later, and then they all told Reg to tell the cops that the other guy had been driving.  Why?  Because the actual driver didn't even have a driver's license (turns out he had lost it from an accumulation of demerits over time).  Reg refused, and called the cops.  The driver of the other vehicle made a phone call, and a woman showed up.  He hopped in her car, and took off.  When the police arrived, the guy's boss gave his employee's address so they could track him down.  Turns out, though, that he had ran back to his place with the woman, completely cleaned out all of his belongings, and fled.  So now, he has more charges than if he had stayed put, AND there is a warrant out for his arrest.  Way to make a bad situation worse.  

We saw Reg the other day, and he showed us some photos of the truck.  The front end hardly exists anymore.  The engine was coming through the glove box.  The hood was standing at a 90 degree angle.  If I had seen the truck without knowing what had happened, I would definitely have thought that the driver didn't make it.  Couldn't have made it.  Everyone who saw the truck said that he should have died, or come out of it in a wheelchair.  

But he didn't.  He's walking, and talking.  He's just sore and has to wear a neck brace (which his 3 little girls so prettily decorated for him).  I love stories that show me so very clearly that God still loves to perform miracles. That's part of why I love Him so much.  

Another cool thing?  It's only a "coincidence" that he was driving our truck. He had borrowed it that weekend before to do some work around their farm, work that he had planned to do a few weeks earlier, and then ended up putting it off.  He wasn't even supposed to have our truck on Monday.  But, if he had been driving their work truck or car (both of which are older and kind of junky), this story would have had a much worse ending.   

I wish I had some photos to post.  We tried to get out to the lot to take some, but we couldn't get in, and there were some horribly ferocious "puppies" guarding the lot.  (They were doing a great job, I might add.)  I wish I could show you how terrible the truck looks.  And how great Reg looks, right afterwards.  I guess you'll just have to use your imagination. 

And I hope your imagination captures how incredible it all is.  How incredible our God is.   
Thursday, December 9, 2010 |

Elf Yourself

If you want to laugh until it hurts, try making one of THESE for yourself:

Saturday, December 4, 2010 |

Fun with the Girls

I'm a really lucky girl.  A couple of my friends who live in the city have been planning a special day out for me, just because they know it can be hard to get out when you have two little guys.

Today's the day.  I can't freakin' wait!  

So, I'll keep you posted and let you know how it was, and what we did (because I have no idea what we're doing... it's all a mystery!).  

To my 2 special friends - THANK YOU.  You girls are amazing to me.  I appreciate you more than you know.    

To my dear husband - You're a champ.  I love being married to a man who parents instead of "babysits".  You are showing our boys what it means to be a good husband and father.  Thanks for giving me some time away.