Why Would You Do That?

Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue. ~Buddha

My neighbor was in a tizzy. The subdivision going in next to us was grading the land, and he just knew it was going to flood our properties.

“We need to sue. Go to the County Commissioners. Something has to be done.” His hands flailed through the air like heat-seeking missiles. “We have to do something.”

I tried to calm him and suggested we might want to talk to the developers first.

His mouth dropped open, and with a deep sigh, he shook his head, called me a name, and left.

It wasn’t a bad name. “Mary Sunshine.”

It’s not the first time I have caused confusion.

Why do you read to old people every week? Why do you write to convicts? Why do you give away so much money? Why do you help total strangers . . .

I’ll tell you why.

Spirit.

Paul told the Corinthians that people were going to question their better judgment. People were going to call them crazy, foolish, stupid.

But, Paul assured them, their foolishness would be coming straight from the Spirit.

The Spirit says love the unlovable. Be happy in the midst of sorrow. Find peace in the storm. Wait for God. Be kind to everyone. Be good as your Father is good. Stay faithful even when it looks hopeless. Have a gentle touch and turn away wrath. Self-control is your friend.

Are you a childless woman considering volunteering at the neighborhood school?

Do you have several adult children, yet you’re thinking of filling the nest with a new flock of children?

Are you ready to retire and enjoy trips with your husband, but instead you’re contemplating devoting these years to caring for a mother with dementia?

Whatever the Spirit is asking you to do, do it with gusto.

Do it for the Lord.

14 The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The one who is spiritual discerns all things, yet he himself is understood by no one. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lordso as to advise him? But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 NET

Dress Yourselves

The kind of young woman who can be a terrific torchbearer has high standards all the time, not just in her prom dress, but every, ordinary day. ~Margaret D. Nadauld

It’s here again: Prom Time.

My social media feed started highlighting girls in dresses in late-March and it will continue until mid-May.

I attended my high school proms, but that was before the glitz and glamour of the 21st century. Back in the “Old Days” we painted our own nails, had our moms help with our hair, and dresses came from the JC Penny Catalog.

Now American teenagers spend lots of their parents’ money on fashion and finishing touches.

Because it’s a very important dance.

Paul has his own fashion advice in Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV):

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Can you imagine it?

You rise in the morning to brush your teeth with compassion and kindness. You slip humility over your head and fix your hair with the brush of gentleness. The diamond of patience glitters around your neck. Both legs slide into forgiveness and your shoes are sturdy for bearing with each other’s burdens.

You put on your overcoat of love and head out the door with your friends in unity.

You’re glamorous, you’re beautiful, you’re the queen of the ball.

Dressed like that you’ll dance all night.

Because it’s the most important event of your life.

It is . . . Life in Christ.

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:18 ESV

In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart. ~Mahatma Gandhi

She tipped her head to the side like a curious dog. She held my hands a little longer and then sat back.

“You’re the only person I’ve ever prayed with that didn’t end, ‘in Jesus’ name, amen.'”

I knew she wanted an explanation. I didn’t really have one.

Continue reading “In Jesus’ Name, Amen”

Commitment

The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed. ~Martina Navratilova

I teach English to Chinese students online. That means I have to work on their time. Beijing Time is 12 hours ahead of Eastern Time, and when the time changes in a few months, it will be 13 hours different. I rise very early in the morning in order to teach my favorite students about my favorite thing: words.

One of my students is moving to western Canada. He will be 3 hours behind me. That poor boy is going to have class at 5:00 in the MORNING once the time changes! He is committed to learning the language and speaking it well.

Some people are committed to healthy living. They rise early to run or go to the gym. They eat low-carb, even on Thanksgiving, and they never drink soda.

Others are committed to their work. They email from their phone on vacation, stay late at the office, and make notes about a meeting when they wake in the middle of the night.

Some people are committed to family. They attend children’s concerts and competitions, have a family dinner once a week, and spend vacations together.

What makes you draw your every breath?

Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple. Luke 21:37-38 NIV

When you’re committed to something, you do what it takes to be there. Jesus was teaching in the temple, but people had to be at work. They had houses and children to care for. They had gardens to tend and animals to feed. But they knew they were hearing a good thing, and they wanted more of it. So Jesus met them early in the morning before all of that began.

It’s no different now. I have work. I have a house and kids. I have responsibilities that require my time and attention.

But I also know when I am hearing a good thing, when I need to hear a good thing.

And I make a commitment to be there.

My commitment isn’t early in the morning. Jesus and I meet at lunchtime, after my early morning work is completed and I can sit with him and have a pleasant conversation.

Everyone’s schedule is different. Early morning may be the best for you. Perhaps you need to meet Jesus at twilight after the children are snuggled in their beds.

It isn’t the timing that is important.

It’s the time.


Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Revelation 3:20 NIV

Are You Listening?

“Part of doing something is listening. We are listening. To the sun. To the stars. To the wind.”  ~Madeleine L’Engle, Swiftly Tilting Planet

As the mother of two very talkative sons, sometimes I don’t quite listen. Several years ago they were very, very interested in Star Wars. It was the only thing they talked about at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And being stuck in the van with them meant being captive to their incessant light saber, hero, super-powers talking. Finally, I told them I would not listen to it anymore.

The thing is. . . I hadn’t been listening for a long time already. I had tuned out what they were saying because I didn’t want to hear it. I wasn’t interested in what they were discussing. I had more important things to deal with. I couldn’t be bothered.

Somehow that attitude transferred itself to other areas of my life. I half listened to friends while I thought about what I needed to be doing next. I “mm hm-ed” on the phone as I washed dishes and wished the speaker would hurry it up. I planned dinner while the kids told me the latest news, worked on plot twists while Matt unwound by telling me his own stories, and typed out a blog while my mother talked on the speaker phone.

So a few weeks ago, I decided it was time for me to start listening. People all around me have things to share, and I can be the ear they need to listen. I had no idea where I was about to be lead.

A few days into the “listening experiment” I asked God if he could help me to slow down and be an ear to someone who needed it that day. Then I headed into my busy day- drop Amos off at the orthodontist, stop by the dump to get rid of the recycling, head to the grocers, check at the pet store to see how my book is selling, and then back to get Amos. Forty-five minutes? No problem!

I dropped Amos off, stopped by the pet store- the owner was in a meeting, so I said I would come back- and then headed to the dump. On the way there I had to slam on the brakes, and recycling with a lidless kefir container in it went spilling all over the back of the van. I cleaned it up as best I could and thought I would stop in the restroom to wash at the grocery.

A shopping cart with a small girl, perhaps two years old, was parked in front of one of the stalls. I used the other and then went to wash up. A woman appeared out of the other stall and as the child cried, the mother exclaimed, “I just don’t get it! What do you think?” I looked over, and she held a positive pregnancy test. She went on to tell me that she had had an ultrasound that morning and was told the baby had died. The doctor prescribed a medication to help her get rid of the fetus, but she was afraid to hurt the baby if a mistake had been made. What did I think she should do?

Really, God?  I stayed with her a while, listened, offered my advice, and prayed for her. Then I headed  off to the pet store again.

There I discovered that the owner’s husband had had a heart attack and died the week before, her aunt had also died that week, and her son’s pet had died that morning. OK, God, I get it.

I realize that people are hurting around us all of the time. The woman in the stall next to you. The cashier at the pet store. People everywhere need a listening ear. But busyness and lack of interest turn down the volume so that we don’t have to hear what everyone else needs to say.

And then Matt preached it on Sunday. God wants to speak to us, but are we listening? Well of course I’m listening! I mean who wouldn’t want to hear God, right!?

Only maybe I am listening like I used to be listening, not noticing the woman next to me crying over the loss of a wanted child, not hearing the pain and fatigue in another’s voice who is struggling with loss. What if I am ignoring God because what he has to say isn’t easy to listen to or I don’t particularly want to hear what he has to say?

So now I add to my prayer, God let me be an ear to those who need to talk AND let me have ears to hear you, no matter what you have to say, — even if I have to listen to Star Wars.


Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 NIV