People seem to love to read about my stories when something gross is involved. Puke seems to be a favorite but alas is not a part of this story. There is a mess though. You know life isn't perfect right? Enjoy it anyway. Shine in the midst of the mess.
So I am sure this is understandable but I hate going to the dentist. I always get in trouble for not flossing. And I have TMJ (tight jaw) so the whole process hurts. And I feel dumb. My normal procedure is to gut through it in annoyed silence and then slink pitifully back to my car to sit in in sad flossing shame.
I've tried in the past to floss. Usually this happens about three days before my appointment. Guess what? It never made a difference. Three days before doesn't cut it. Shocker.
A couple of months ago I read an article on Facebook about 10 things old people want you to know. I would share the link, but I can't find it. Grrrr. The internet is a love hate thing with me. Anyway, read the article and one of the things old people wanted me to know apparently is to floss my teeth. Hit me hard when the article said (and I'm paraphrasing). "When you are fighting with dentures, that whole brush your teeth and floss daily seems shockingly simple and easy". Yikes.
So I started flossing. Every day.
Then today happened.
I had a dentist appointment. I was kinda excited. I wondered if my flossing would have made a difference. I smiled on my way in. I wasn't in my usual silent moping mood.
The dental hygienist asked me if I was on a work break. Normally I would have said a simple yes and stayed quiet as I waited for the torture to begin. This time I didn't. I chatted with her about what I do in my day job and my blog.
This lady was the best hygienist I ever had. Kind. Compassionate. Gentle.
I didn't get in trouble for not flossing. She said my teeth looked good. YAY.
As we chatted, we discovered we have two different mutual friends. Goodness the world is small. I told her she was the best ever and she smiled. My change in habit made all the difference.
So what did I learn?
1. I NEED TO DEAL WITH MY JUNK. This time it was my teeth. Guess what? When I listened to the experts and actually put a good habit into practice it reduced my own pain.
2. BE OPEN WITH PEOPLE. When I dealt with my garbage I was able to be open with a new person. This gave me a way better experience and I think encouraged her day as well.
What habits do you need to conquer?
No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening--it's painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. Hebrews 12:11
A couple months ago a dear friend of mine and her husband were on the final lap for preparing to move to the other side of the country. 3,107 miles to be exact. Due to schedule conflicts and such I was unable to make it to their sending off party and the sending prayer moment our church family had for them.
“What kind of friend am I!?” I critically thought to myself. Yet, I felt no strong conviction that I had failed in my spirit. Just guilt… Pure guilt.
Monday arrived and I felt this strong inkling that I was to drive to a favorite local farm nearby and pick up a box of green beans. I had experienced canning beans for the first time last summer and they were so much yummier than store bought that I was determined to do so again this summer. Healthier for my family too!
In spite of other things I felt pressed to do that day, I had such an overwhelming feeling that today was the day! I decided to follow through. I am so glad I did.
No sooner had I gotten back home when our doorbell rang. I opened the door to find my dear friend standing there. Although she smiled, her face looked frazzled and stressed. “We are leaving tomorrow and I wanted to stop by and see if I could just hang with you. I didn’t want to leave without saying goodbye.” “We were supposed to leave Friday, but then all kinds of things seemed to start going wrong.” “ My husband encouraged me to take a break today and just get away from it all. So I came to see you and then have lunch with another friend of mine in an hour.”
Me: “ I am so glad you did! I was just about to snap green beans, would you like to join me? I heard it said that, “Part of the problem with the world today is no one snaps green beans with grandma anymore.” Come join me for some ‘Green Bean Therapy’.”
I thought to myself, “She is going to think I am so cooky for suggesting such a thing. However, A)She already knows I’m cooky anyway and B) It just seemed like the right thing to invite her to do.
“Yes! I would love to! That sounds wonderful! I used to snap green beans with my mother when she would can and it was always so relaxing.”
So, to the back porch we commenced, snapping and chatting away. It was a beautiful sun-shiny day and we had so much fun.
After only an hour, my friend had to leave for her lunch commitment and the last of her moving preparations. “This is exactly what I needed. I feel so much better now. Thank you.”
It totally made my day to see the shine return to my friend’s face and the cloud completely lifted off of her. I hugged her tight goodbye and felt my heart ache and tears well up in my eyes as she drove off. I was happy for her new adventure, yet a bit selfishly-sad to know she was going to be leaving for so far away.
I learned something that day. There truly is a difference between guilt and conviction; between following God’s leading and giving in to the expectations I have for myself or worry of what others will think.
If I had followed my guilty feelings for not attending the party and prayer send-off and gone anyway, my friend would have never have had a reason to stop by in the first place. God knew she was going to need that, somehow. Imagine that!”
If I had ignored the conviction of going to buy green beans that day, passing it off as, “Surely, God wouldn’t advise me to go do something so mundane as going to buy green beans.”, I wouldn’t have had the very thing my friend needed to give her a second wind and boost her spirits.
So, never underestimate the power of the “mundane” in your life. Grab yourself a bowl of green beans, and a loved one, and start snapping! Therapy is now in session!
If you've read my blog for any amount of time you know I let a lot of loose ends drag. And things clutter up. I think I have a junk magnet or perhaps its my kids. Yes. It must be my kids. Anyway - I've gone through several different programs to try and tackle the mess. I'm making progress. Room in my brain and my life. This book helped. Buy it. Maybe on a digital device so it doesn't clutter up your bookshelf. Or better yet borrow it from the library. I'm learning. I still need help with old photos and my kid's art. Hardest things to get rid of hands down.
What do you struggle getting rid of? Read any other books which helped?
That's the Book: Luke
If you have kids my bet is you've seen Finding Nemo. More than once. Who am I kidding? You probably have it memorized. So you already know the movie is about Nemo, a fish, who gets lost. He spends the whole movie trying to get home. His dad spends the whole movie trying to find them. The movie documents their story.
The book of Luke is the third gospel or story of Jesus. This one was written by a doctor named Luke. He investigated the reports of Jesus and compiled his notes, interviews .songs and information into one text. His stated goal was to help people find Jesus. This is the most detailed of the four accounts and provides extra insight into the people, miracles, wonder and events around Jesus. If you are searching for Jesus let me recommend you start with Luke.
With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. Luke 1: 3-4
As I read Luke this time I thought about where we can find Jesus today. Here are some hints from my read through this week. You want to find Jesus?
Try church: There is a push right now in the Christian world to avoid church and find faith anywhere else. Can I recommend you go back? Church can be a primary place to feed your soul, to encourage other believers and to find out more about Jesus. Luke has a story about when Jesus' parents couldn't find him and Jesus seems shocked they didn't try the temple first. It's a good place to start and a good place to stay plugged in.
“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Luke2:49
Try prison: You want to find Jesus? Try the places where people are hurting. My guess is you'll find Jesus there. His ministry was all about helping the hurting. So if you want to find Jesus find someone hurting and try to make a difference. Or find a group of believers already pushing back on the dark in a hospital, homeless camp, jail, brothel or bar. You'll find Jesus.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Luke 4:18-19
Try the Lake: Yup. Jesus loved to be near his guys out fishing. Out boating. Walking through fields. Praying in gardens. He knew that nature portrayed the glory of God. Wanna find Jesus? Take a Bible and go for a walk.
Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. Luke 5:5-6
Look for kids: If you want to see the world like Jesus did then start to volunteer in your church's preschool department. Or borrow your friend's kids and hang out at the zoo. Play with play-dough. Ask them questions. Serve someone weaker and smaller than you. You'll learn about heaven.
Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.” Luke 9:48
The book of Luke is full of stories of Jesus interacting with and around his world. You'll find him arguing for outcasts. Standing for truth. Welcoming strangers.
Here is the great hope found in the book of Luke. If you seek him- you'll find him.
So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Luke 11:9-10
Want to know the better truth? He came to find YOU!
You know in Nemo he was surprised his dad was looking for him. Dad was out the whole time searching for Nemo. Just so he could tell him "Come home kiddo". Do you ever feel like you are searching for God and he's hiding? He's not. He left all the glory of heaven just to come and find you. Read Chapter 15 of Luke if you need a refresher. God's crazy about you and he went to great lengths to find you.
One of the stories in Chapter 15 is of the Prodigal Son? Here's the 2 second version. Rich dad has two sons. Older son does what he's supposed to his whole life. Follows the rules. Younger son takes his inheritance and runs away. Breaks all the rules. Ruins his life. Repents and heads home. Dad throws a party to celebrate because his son has returned. Older son pouts.
I think most people don't notice what happens next. We stop there. We talk about how God welcomes home the wandering messed up sinful son. And he most certainly does. But what happens next makes this church girl so happy. The one who was lost was welcomed home with open great arms to a great party. The elder one was pouting, bad attitude, missing the party. And then.
Dad went to find him too.
The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. Luke 15:28
"My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found." Luke 15:31-32
See? God wants everyone at the party. He wants those lost in the world to come home. AND He wants those lost in judgment and apathy and fear in the church to come to the party. Salvation is for everyone.
You know what's fun about Finding Nemo? It came with a sequel. There was a next step. Same with Luke. Once you find your way home to the father - you are commissioned to the world to find others. Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will fish for people." Luke 5:10
Wowsa. So much info in the book of Luke. If you have time and want a great sum up check out The Bible Project's Read Scripture series. Here are the two they did for the book of Luke.
Infographic?? Here you go!! And check out New Spring Church and their 24 day devotional to go along with the book of Luke. newspring.cc/studies/luke-a-24-day-devotionalREAD HERE. It's a good one.
I loved this book. If you've ever wondered about what happens after you die this is a great resource to investigate other people's near death experience stories. It includes discussions from people from all around the world, different ages, faith and backgrounds. You'll be encouraged.
Do you know anyone with a near death experience?
THAT'S THE BOOK: MARK
My daughters are both taking piano lessons. One of the weekly assignments this year is to listen to a classical piece of music and then write down a personal response. The little one is supposed to write what it makes her feel. Tonight we decided to start with Beethoven's Fifth. Everyone has heard of Beethoven's Fifth but I wondered if they'd ever actually heard it. As the familiar opening Ba Ba Ba Boom played I watched my girls' faces. I listened with fresh ears. Its a very different thing to know of a work of art and to actually take the time to listen to it for yourself.
The book of Mark is the shortest of the four accounts of Jesus' life. Like Beethoven's Fifth, it is packed with action, movement, and big emotions. The book focuses on the power of Jesus and how his life overturned the status quo. As I read through Mark this last week I was thinking about how many people know of Jesus but have never read the book. In pop culture, Jesus is frequently portrayed as meek and mild. Or boring. This is not the Jesus found in Mark.
The beauty of the book of Mark is it calls readers to get to know the whole Jesus. Not just a flat substitute. As I read this week I tried to compare what I think about Jesus with what the story actually told. Here are the things I wrestled with. If you read Mark this week let me know what you think. Where were your preconceived thoughts of Jesus challenged?
If my faith doesn't include the teachings of Jesus which call us to care for the broken hearted, to rescue the lost, to welcome the stranger or to host a dinner party for the most difficult people in your neighborhood than I think I may be following only half of his legacy. A gospel without compassion makes a mockery of Jesus' teachings.
"On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17
On the flip side, Mark makes it clear Jesus cared about people's behavior and frequently called people to leave their former lifestyles behind them. So while current culture wants my faith to be ONLY about serving the broken while ignoring personal integrity or repentance from sins, I think that's missing half the story. If the church preaches a gospel without repentance it is editing the work of Jesus.
He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” Mark 7:20-23
Can I be honest? Sometimes I cringe when I hear mention of end times. It's confusing and can be embarrassing. But then I am disregarding a major sermon topic from Jesus. The entire chapter 13 of Mark is all Jesus' prophecies about the end of the world. And Jesus says the sermon is for everyone. When the church ignores sections of Jesus' teaching because its uncomfortable its like telling God we know better.
"What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” Mark 13: 37
Honestly we all have our favorite verses and can spin the word to support our particular cause. Me too. Reading Mark is convicting. If I want to know the real Jesus I have to read the whole story and recognize that choosing to follow him may actually undermine my status quo. My power structure. My habits. My preferences. At one point in Mark he does enough miracles in an area that the people become scared and ask Jesus to leave. I understand. It can be scary to follow.
BUT. When people left behind their former lives to follow Jesus they were witness to the miraculous.
The real Jesus was incredible and powerful and joyful - he was a man of deep distress, of sorrow to the point of death, of compassion and courage, of miracles and wonder. Jesus was constantly on the move, teaching, preaching, and healing. He expressed a wide range of emotions including anger, compassion, sorrow, indignation and humor. He taught, healed, walked on water, called a storm with a word. He was tempted by the devil, attended to by angels. He was anointed by a prostitute, had dinner with sinners, gave orders, helped children, prayed, taught. cleared out the temple and rose from the dead. Not mild or boring.
Perhaps my favorite story in Mark is this one.
Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.”
Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
I love this. Cheer up. On your feet! He's calling you. If you follow, count on adventure.
When I asked my littlest one what Beethoven's Fifth made her feel she said 'What if it made me feel angry, sad and happy?" Well my love. I'd say that's how life works. Rarely are things experienced on one flat plane. It was gorgeous though, Same with Christianity. Scary, uncomfortable, challenging, exciting and beautiful. But I believe its true. The whole thing. Want a faith checkup? Read the book of Mark with fresh eyes.
Another gospel? Same story? Nope. The guys at the Bible Project show in this Read Scripture video why the book of Mark is important and distinct. Watch and learn.
You have no time? Want the big picture. Here you go - courtesy of New Spring Church.
Quilts are like relationships. They get old and worn out. I made this quilt 18 years ago for my husband. It has holes and is threadbare. I've had to decide if I should keep it or throw it out. Really - we all make the same decisions in all of our relationships.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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