Archive for category Life

The End of the World

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It is May 22, a day some did not believe they would see, and in reality, some didn’t. Yesterday was the last day in this world for someone, somewhere.  There were a number of people preparing for yesterday to be their last, and because it wasn’t they now have time to make some adjustments, or so they assume.  Like Harold Camping, we think we know, but instead our confidence is more likely it will not be today. We all assume, but we do not know the number of our days.

A few years ago when my world nearly ended in an instant, in a single moment, my assumptions were confronted.  Not that I would want to relive it, that confrontation did have a benefit.  I am no longer arrogant to assume that I have anything more than today. No, I don’t take unnecessary risks for the adrenaline rush, daily rewrite my bucket list, or live for myself out of some egocentric idea that this is all there is anyway. However, it made me settle a few things, even those things I thought I already had. Everything was on the table for evaluation—it was not the time for wishful thinking or cliché living, which makes you feel better without addressing the real questions. As for me, most were again answered in Christ and those still unanswered rest in eternal hope.

If you have spent even a millisecond in the abyss of Why? What then? What if? then you are familiar with the deeper things simmering in the soul. If left unsettled or unasked, we begin to think the important stuff is material, experiential, unlinked to the cavernous void we try to fill, or that we mock. Sure, we can scoff at Camping and his followers, which feeds our sense of superiority for just a minute, but a passing smirk or sarcastic chuckle doesn’t abate the questions. I am not excusing Mr. Camping and his responsibility in all the hype; I believe the individual is responsible for their own choices. Some are too easily led astray, some are too arrogant to ponder the questions, and some are not paying attention at all.

If there is anything positive we can take away from the May 21, 2011 End of the World stuff this week, it is the reminder to prepare. Don’t wait for a near death experience, a sudden loss, or the next end of the world prophecy to seek the answers to lingering questions—that creates too much pressure to come up with quick answers. Take the time to prepare your soul for the day your time here ends (which is more likely to come before the Second Coming) and prepare your heart to receive each day as a gift until that time arrives.

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Soul Food: Gossip, Did You Hear the Latest? (via Savoring Today)

I try to post original content on each of the blogs I write, but sometimes the message is worth repeating. This is one of those times.

Soul Food: Gossip, Did You Hear the Latest? We deal with gossip every day, either on the distribution or receiving side of it.  Tabloid-type-talk is everywhere—the workplace, schools, at the grocery checkout, news stories, emails, Face Book, and bible studies—let's face it, wherever two or more are gathered there is potential for talking about someone not present.  You have probably heard the l … Read More

via Savoring Today

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When Laughter Bubbles-Up

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After a good cry this morning over things outside of my control, a laugh bubbled-up from within that banished the tears.  It came out of nowhere, shifting my focus from the crummy stuff that happens in life to Eternal hope.  Ironic really, it was a spontaneous laugh, which had little to do with joy and more to do with declaration. Don’t know that I would call it holy laughter, though it did remind me of my Hope.

In the midst of this transitional moment, Proverbs 31:25 “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come”, came to mind (not coincidentally I am certain). I think she laughs in confidence, not because she knows the future or because present circumstances always point to something positive, but because she knows Who holds her future. I suppose that is where the rub is, the unknown can be my undoing as much as the known reality right before me.  Maybe the Proverbs woman airs her confidence with laughter since she knows that strength and dignity are divine, given by God, unaffected by the cares on her shoulders or circumstances at her feet.

Maybe that is where that spontaneous chuckle bubbled-up from—that deep place of trusting the One that holds my future. Being enveloped with divine strength and inherent value will indeed turn dread to delight, lamenting to levity, and gloom to guffaw if we let it.

Today, I let it.

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you. (NIV) Isaiah 54:10

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A Hypothetical Conversation…or is it?

Lord, here I am at your feet…again.  I am disappointed, awash with regret.  The old overtakes the new just when I least expect it.  Old patterns, old voices…all the things I gladly left behind.  I feel defeated when I fail even though Your word says otherwise.  Oh, please forgive me.

My insecurities obscure truth like cobwebs over treasures in an attic.  The treasure is there, at least I want to believe it is, but how will it ever be revealed so long as I wallow in this perpetual state of desperation? I want to be well; I want to be healed, if I could just be closer to You.

I am tired of being manipulated by unhealed hurts, the fear of pain’s return.  Is there some secret to filling the void and keeping my soul at peace when the temporal seems to overwhelm the eternal?  I’ve been here before; I thought I was done dealing with this.  How do I draw close enough to You that the rest melts away?  What can I do or say to manifest Your presence more in my life?

Child, your questions were answered in “Lord, here I am at your feet”.  It is the best place you can be, not your last resort.

Not sure what it is about revelation coming in the bathroom, but I could hardly shower fast enough as this conversation played out in my head and heart, wanting to write it down before it vanished like the water at the drain.  It was as though the Lord dropped this in my spirit as a follow-up to the scripture we read last night in Mark 6:55-56 They ran through that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces.  They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.

I could not help but think about those that pursued him for healing vs. those that must have remained at the city gate, resolved to remain as they were.  Healing has never just happened in my life, it has always manifested through pursuit.  At times, it has felt like I’ve traversed vast regions to touch the hem of his garment, other times it was but a breath away.  I do not understand the paradox of its timing, only that it takes place at His feet.

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Confessions of Denial

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Our quest for nutritional health began a little over ten years ago.  Eliminating refined sugar, oils, white flour, and processed foods were the focal point of our dietary makeover.  We made significant changes, benefiting with less seasonal illness, sustained level of energy, and shedding excess body weight.  It proved true; it worked.

So what am I confessing?

Now, four months post-heart attack, there is a long list of things we have learned and unlearned. In my previous post Feel Healthy: Have a Heart Attack Anyway, is important information about heart attack risks and crucial tests. This post is about answering the question,

How did this happen?

Knowing is not doing; over the years, we got busy, a little lazy, and a bit arrogant. We compromised more than we thought. Even though our clothes fit a little tighter, we blamed it on our age and assumed we were fine; besides, we ate right most of the time and took supplements occasionally. The reality of the choices you’ve made is never clearer than when you face a serious, yet avoidable, health risk.

The statement that woke us up was from the cardiologist: “We know that what he was doing wasn’t working.” That was hard to hear because we thought otherwise. We have heard from more than a few people whose perception was that we followed a good diet and were relatively healthy. Well, we perceived that too. However, as we took a hard look at what we were really eating rather than relying on our knowledge of a healthy diet, denial was exposed.

Compromising adds-up in the form of convenience, justification, and rationalization. Compromise is exactly what got us (him) here—special occasions, dinner out with friends, mood enhancement, been good for a week, worked out harder this week, too tired, too busy, were all part of the excuse regimen. Whatever bargaining was necessary, we found a way to eat what we wanted, put off regular exercise, and still feel okay about it. These momentary “just this once” decisions appear harmless, even manageable. Seemingly small concessions, accumulate into health-robbing patterns.

Activity is not exercise. Having the ability to exercise, thinking about exercising, planning to exercise, buying exercise equipment, is not the same thing as actually committing to a lifestyle of regular exercise.  Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther away from stores, weekend hikes, walking the dog is all good, but it is not a substitute for real heart-pumping exertion 3-4 days a week. Technology encourages passivity. We sit in our cars, at our desks, at the table, when entertained, while we wait, you get the idea. Sedentary habits catch up with us and the medical bills tell the real story.

Diligence in diet and exercise prove true once again; it still works. In just a few months, cholesterol numbers dropped dramatically and so have the numbers on the scale (he shed 20 lbs and I shed 13 lbs). The funny thing is, I had been “trying” for over two years to lose those 5-7 lbs with no sustained progress. Denial had set in as I flipped through fitness magazines for new exercises and complained to friends that I just could not figure out why the scale kept inching up. I wondered if my metabolism had simply changed after turning 40 and this is just the way things would be—it happens to everybody at some point, right. No, I was in denial and unwilling to get serious about it.

I remember telling friends, “Life is too short to not have dessert“. They agreed, who wouldn’t? (We like it when friends validate our denial.) Well, I have adjusted that mantra. Life is too short not to have dessert; it will likely be shorter if we do. Don’t get me wrong, we will have a treat on our birthday and enjoy special holiday traditions, but it will be rare. This is not a fad diet or a knee-jerk response to a health issue; we have seen first hand what works, what doesn’t work, and the cost if we ignore reality. We are diligent with our diet and exercise now as though our lives depend on it—because they do.

Proverbs 28:13 (NIV) Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

Scottish proverb: Open confession is good for the soul. (In this case, it is good for the heart as well.)

Resources for nutrition and health:
The Maker’s Diet by Jordan Rubin
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill by Udo Erasmus
Food Smart by Cheryl Townsley

http://www.mercola.com/
http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/
http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/
http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/
http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/

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Responding to Tragedy (via Overcoming Trauma)

Testimony in the midst of tragedy.

Responding to Tragedy The grievous shootings in Omaha and Tucson are deeply saddening, families have been devastated and precious life taken. Walking into church on Sunday it was on my heart and mind, the emotions overwhelming as we prayed for all those involved.  It will take months, if not years for these communities to process the shock, grief, and lost sense of security.  A groc … Read More

via Overcoming Trauma

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When Wildlife Isn’t So Wild

Perception has a lot to do with experience. When we moved into our home on the west side of Colorado Springs 13 years ago, the mule deer so prevalent in the neighborhood fascinated us. Growing up on a farm in Missouri it was rare to see deer out in the open, especially in numbers. It did not take long to notice their familiarity with humans, pets, traffic, is quite different from their white-tailed cousins.

That close quarter relationship certainly has two sides, depending on which neighbor you talk to about it. There can be quite a difference in the perspective of a farm girl like me appreciating beautiful, serene animals, which also provide meat during hunting season, and the view of my good friend, a city girl, who marvels at them like zoo animals, unable to imagine ever eating one no matter how annoying they become.

Read the full article here.

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Restoring Honor Rally: A View from the Crowd

On August 28, a multitude gathered around the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in D.C. for Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor Rally, which raised more than $5 million dollars for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.  The speakers included representatives from SOWF, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Dr. Alveda King and Marcus Luttrell. Pastor Paul Jehle and Dan Roever delivered the opening and closing prayers.

Since there is no shortage of opinion circulating about the Restoring Honor Rally, I wanted to offer a view straight from those who participated.  L.T. and Tina Bowens traveled from Oklahoma to attend the rally.  Tina is a Captain in the U.S. Army and L.T. attends Oral Roberts University while caring for their daughter at home.  This is their experience.

1. What motivated you to attend the rally?
Tina: I have been listening to Glenn Beck for a while and the message of the event was appealing. I wanted to participate—to take a stand for the realization that a spiritual awakening will be necessary for America to regain honor.
L.T.: I was really motivated by Tina.

2. What was most significant about the experience for you?
Tina: The closing speech by Glenn when he said, “God is not done with you yet, he is not done with man’s freedom yet.” This was significant because although our country hasn’t been perfect, we have done many things well.  We have a firm foundation to draw from as we look to the future.  We have the freedom to choose. Individually we must get our own lives in order, turn to God.
L.T.: Several people said, “I’m glad you’re here.” One older man said, “I wish more of you could be here.”  I believe he was expressing that he really wished people knew they are not racist and they want to be united. (L.T. is African-American.) Anyone can have an impact and make a difference if we make the decision to do so. God is not done with you; he is not done with man’s freedom.  The presentation was genuine. I appreciated the lengths they went to and the effort they made to be inclusive.  I especially liked the definition of honor that I heard: Honor is keeping your promises.

3. What was most disappointing about the experience for you?
Tina: I lament the pervasive deception that prevented more people of different ethnicities from attending the event in greater numbers. So many have been told outright lies about Glenn Beck and the people who were to attend the rally.  Actually, it just saddens me that we’re not able to penetrate the deception and reach more people with the truth, yet.  One other aspect that was disappointing was the looks of disdain from protest groups.  That made me uncomfortable. 
L.T.: As a believer in Christ, while I appreciate the idea of being unified, I do have a concern that people could miss being unified in Christ.

4. What types of comments did you hear from people who attended the rally?
Tina: The sharing of ideas, encouraging one another toward civic involvement, people getting to know each other in conversation.
L.T.: Concern for their country, concern over people being oblivious to what is going on in the country, “we’re not going away—it doesn’t end at this event,” the agenda of the Obama administration, loss of freedoms.

5. How would you describe the composite of people in attendance?
Tina: A great mix of ages, vocations, families, retired folks, veterans, and community groups.
L.T.: Most of the people seemed to be middle to upper income, business owners, but there were young families too.  Mostly Caucasian, maybe 8-10 percent people of color, various ages, but a lot of 50+ in the crowd.

6. The theme of the rally was restoring honor in America. Did you walk away with a clear understanding as to how to do that (the solution), or was the focus more about the lack of honor in America (the problem)?
Tina: The problem of the decline of honor in America was acknowledged, but there was more of a focus on the responsibility of the individual to put themselves on God’s side.  The military was an example of honorable behavior. People were encouraged to emulate the courage and honor displayed by our military personnel in our own lives. We were encouraged by the awards for Faith, Hope, and Charity, and hearing their stories. Dr. Alveda King talked about focusing on character rather than skin color.  There was a 40-day challenge issued for each person to turn back to God (prayer); sacrifice for one another, our children, and our future; being honorable in your own life by getting the lies out of your life—stop lying to others or yourself.
L.T.: For me, it is to keep my promises.  During the song Amazing Grace, I thought of the verse, I was blind, but now I see.  Even though saved, I can still be blind to certain things or issues. When we depend on ourselves, we can be blinded, when we depend on God, we see more clearly.  We must be oriented toward God.

7. Was there a particular speech that was especially stirring?
Tina: Alveda King’s speech and Native American pastor, Dr. Negiel Bigpond, who introduced C.L. Jackson.  He spoke about the need for all people to hear the gospel of Christ, for Native Americans to come off the reservations to impact their community and no longer be isolated.
L.T.: Glenn Beck’s concluding speech when he talked about the “giants” of history (Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Dr. Martin Luther King). Alveda King’s speech: She thanked Glenn for putting together a rally that focuses on the content of a person’s character rather than the color of their skin. To be united as the human race.  She ended her speech encouraging people to repent from racism.  I feel like people also need to repent for unforgiveness toward those who have been racist toward them.
[Beaufort County Now, Dr. Alveda King ended with these words: “I too have a dream. I have a dream that one day that the God of love will transcend color and economic status and cause us to turn from moral turpitude. I have a dream that Americans will repent from the sin of racism and return to Honor. I have a dream that America will pray and God will forgive us our sins and revive us in our land.”]

8. How would you describe the atmosphere at the event?
Tina: Hopeful. Peaceful. A feeling of community and willingness to help one another. A sense of camaraderie, we are not isolated or alone.
L.T.: They [the people at the event] were some of the nicest people you would ever meet. People proud of the freedom they have because others sacrificed, yet humble, motivated by gratefulness for what they have.

9. L.T., what are your feelings about this rally being held on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech?
L.T.: I felt some would misunderstand and misrepresent the intention of holding the rally on that day.  Personally, I believe it was honoring to Martin Luther King, but it went beyond that. Some people think that day [MLK’s speech in 1963] is just for people of color, but it is for freedom for all people—all mankind. People who think it is just for one group of people missed the point.

10. What impact, if any, do you believe this rally will have politically?
Tina: People are less apathetic, becoming more involved in their communities. The religious leaders of the Black Robe Regiment committed to take the principles of honor back to their church community, estimated to reach over 1 million people. They will encourage their congregations to be informed in their voting/political choices and more involved in their own communities.
L.T.: People left with a sense that they were not alone. They realized that hundreds of thousands of people believe and stand for the same things that they do. This has the possibility of encouraging people to get involved and solidify their resolve to stand firm on what they believe—to not give up. If people had a question as to whether they should get involved, this event helped them make that decision. I have a new resolve to sacrifice to preserve freedom in this country.

Note: Doug Schoen, political analyst and Democratic pollster, mentions meeting this couple in the Dallas airport in this article: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/09/03/doug-schoen-tea-party-mainstream-media-bias-glenn-beck-martin-luther-king/#content

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Back to School at Home: Support for Homeschool Families

All across Colorado Springs families are preparing for the start of the new school year.  For many, that means organizing carpools, box lunches, new locker combinations, and orientation meetings.  For those who choose to educate their children at home, it means digging through old materials, ordering curriculum, and setting up the school room (or dining room).

When we started homeschooling our oldest daughter 12 years ago, we had no idea the life-changing impact it would really have on our family.  Of course, our first priority was her education so she would be able to compete in the world one day.  She was in 9th grade struggling with learning disabilities and time seemed short.  In my frantic search for resources, I discovered a group at New Life Church offering support for homeschooling families.  That was exactly what I needed.

High Country Enrichment Classes (HCEC) graciously linked arms with us and our adventure began.  Since then, we have homeschooled all three of our children at different times and seasons of life.  If field trips, curriculum advice, classes, and the moms group support were the extent of what we received, we would still credit High Country as our homeschooling lifeline.  But it is so much more.  I’m not suggesting we couldn’t have done it without enrichment classes, but oh, the difference it made.  We all go through seasons of needing hope and help.  It didn’t take long for us to recognize that friendship was just as important as practical help, for moms and children alike.

Today, High Country Enrichment Classes started their thirteenth year of ministering to homeschool families.  Over 300 families with more than 600 students will meet together every Tuesday and Wednesday for the next 12 weeks as they attend over 160 classes. It’s true that you can homeschool without any outside help or support, but why would you?  Classes that round-out lesson plans or sharing our latest challenge or victory with someone who really understands can be welcomed refreshment.  Being part of a network of good friends with common values provides the strength, confidence, and encouragement we all need along life’s journey. Our community is so fortunate to have such caring support for homeschool families all across the Pikes Peak Region.

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Tebow’s NFL Debut: One Fan’s Opinion

Here in Colorado, there is enough speculation about Tim Tebow to nauseate even the most avid fans.  Sometimes, the hype simply ruins the enjoyment of watching the game.  Sports writers and announcers scrutinize the players they do not like and laud those they do like. If they aren’t drooling over Tom Brady, they’re wetting themselves over Peyton Manning.  Unquestionably, superb quarterbacks, but on occasion I’ve wondered if certain announcers would be proposing marriage during half time.

At this point, I’m not sure if I want the announcers to like Tim Tebow or not.  If they do, they won’t be able to shut-up about him, and if they don’t, he won’t be able to catch a break.  I must admit I watched only minutes of actual games or highlight footage when Tebow played college football.  I’m not a big college football fan (exciting to watch, but the politics kill it for me).  And as many have already pointed out, not all college stars make it in the NFL.

Last night, it was obvious that Tebow brings an element of excitement to the game—not because of the media deluge, but because he is a gifted athlete who loves to compete.  As a Bronco fan, it will be interesting to see him develop as a professional and in his role on the team.  It is evident he has the will to win and leadership qualities that are necessary components of great players.  These are intangibles that cannot be measured in stats alone.

Another crucial component for players to be great is other great players.  Emmitt Smith got it right in his Hall of Fame induction speech when he said to Daryl Johnston, “Without you, without you, I know today would not have been possible.”  Hopefully, the Broncos can develop a supporting cast for Orton and eventually, Tebow, or it will matter not.  Adding Tebow to the roster was, in my opinion, a step in the right direction.  As for the announcers, unselfishly, I will hope they like him.  That way, he won’t have to be endlessly over-analyzed, and when I’ve had enough of their slobbering over him, I have a mute button.

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