WHEN THE LAST THING I WANT IS WISDOM

WHEN THE LAST THING I WANT IS WISDOM

Talking to a friend, and processing a situation in her life. Tough one. Lots of nuances of desire.

“Let’s pray for wisdom,” I suggest.

“Not sure I want it,” she replies cautiously, in a moment of raw honesty.

And in that reply I see the history of my own heart.

Kind of knowing what is right in my gut, but not really liking the implications. When I say I want wisdom, I usually mean I want to know the future. I want specific information that will lead to my own settled happiness. But God’s version of wisdom is not as neat.

If the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, the aversion to acquiring it is certainly the beginning of something else.

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THE NEW STRONG

img_1040I’ve been thinking about the future. It’s that time of year. Looking ahead.

This year I’m especially thinking about My future…what I should do with the Time.

Since I am no longer the sole educator of my children, I’m wondering what might be next. Maybe nothing… but maybe Something. Who knows.

I was talking to my daughter about an Idea. Playing with a vision. Processing. You know….

What do you think? Can you see it?

She’s quiet.

Do you think I could do it?

She tilts her head. I think you’d be good at it…while you’re weak. But if you ever get strong, you’d be awful. You don’t do Arrogant well.

Well, that’s why God gives us daughters. They’re the only ones who can say such things and get away with it.

Probably right.

But I can’t stay sad forever,  I tell her.

She smiles. Sadness is your strength. You’re at your best when you weak. Unsure of yourself. You give the best advice when you’re There.

Well, that explains a lot.

Like this past Christmas Day.

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THE SEASON OF HOPE – LESS

advent

I heard on the radio that the first week of Advent is about “Hope.” But Hope deferred makes the heart sick, so maybe Advent is really about Heart Sickness.

Every year we sit around our dinner table and light the candles and sing that perennial Advent song.

O, come, o come, Emmanuel, and ransom Captive Israel,

That mourns in lowly exile here, Until the Son of God appears….

Kind of mournful. Makes me quiet.

And we open our Advent book that starts in the Garden. And quickly leaves the Garden in pieces.

That pretty much sums it up. That’s where we live. Outside the Garden. Outside the way things were supposed to be.

This year our Advent began in darkness. As it usually does. Kids bickering. Parents struggling. Stress building. Hopes flagging.

Outside the Garden.

But lucky for me, Christmas came early this year. Back in September God gave me a precious Gift. A Word. Best kind of Gift.

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RETHINKING WHO I AM

identity

Identity. Whoever we think we are shapes our view of the world. It is a point of view. Point of viewing everything else. It is a controlling factor in how we make choices, what we grasp for, what we hold tightly to. It directs us. Blinds us. Makes us… or defeats us. So I need to think carefully about who I am.

I am not a homeschool mom.

Feels strange to write that.

I have homeschooled my kids for 18 years.

And I have loved homeschooling. When people asked how it was going, I would light up and say, “I’m learning so much! Oh, and my kids are doing great too….”

I used to read curriculum magazines for fun. And I made the most wonderful, lasting friendships in that community.

But lately, homeschooling wasn’t working as well for my family, and it was beginning to threaten my way of life.

It happened gradually. I just didn’t think my children were thriving. They were passing…but not becoming.

And so the “S” word became a topic of conversation. And prayer.

For several years in a row I prayed about School. My husband prayed. My mother prayed. My mother-in-law prayed. It just became a part of the fabric of my prayer life. “Lord, if school is the best thing for my kids….”

But it always stopped there. Once we visited a local Christian school. But that was it.

And so I began my school year last fall with this prayer: “Lord, I’m homeschooling again this year. (Surprise.) But Lord, if you know that school is really the right change for my children, please give me overwhelming wisdom.” That was my prayer. Overwhelming wisdom. I reasoned with God that a little wisdom wouldn’t get me there. My inner gravitational pull was toward homeschooling. I loved it. And I knew it. Only overwhelming wisdom could compel me to take a different direction.

That school year was a testimony to Overwhelming Wisdom.

It came in many ways, but this one was key.

It was One of Those Days. Kids were bickering. Lessons were limping. Even a belligerent No came from my children on that morning.

This isn’t working, fear gripped my heart.

I looked directly into the angry face of one of my children and thought, You are ruining my vision for my life.

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THE CURE FOR ENVY

woman-with-shopping-bags-and-boxes

There are just so many things I want. They are not bad things. In fact it’s all pretty normal stuff. But I look around and it seems like everyone else has them.

And that hurts.

I look around, and I think…

I want your house. It’s in the perfect location. Always clean. No chipped paint. So up to date and well-decorated.

I want your job. Your significance. My life of mundane tasks feels so infinitely unimportant.

I want your family. It seems so put together and cohesive. Mine is complicated and a lot of work.

And -I want your community. I have many life-long friends, but they are spread out on different continents and in different cities and in different circles. I’m feeling alone. For once, I want a crowd.

So here I am, filled with all these empty thoughts, and it’s beginning to feel a bit like Envy. Like, you don’t deserve all those things. And you think you’ve earned them. And, I’m not going to help you get even more.

“Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.” (James 3:16)

I’ll say.

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REVISITING BETHEL

chapel ruin

I am thinking of the story of Jacob, fleeing from the wrath of Esau, and his restless night of visions in the place he would later rename Bethel. God met him there in a dream of angels traveling up and down a stairway and made great promises to Jacob in his time of need.

Many years later God called him back to Bethel, and Jacob said to his family, “Let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.”

Both times he set up a kind of pillar and poured a drink offering (whatever that is) over it. An ancient way of marking a significant moment. Maybe like journaling or blogging today….

And now here I am at my own little Bethel. A Christian retreat center not far from my home, but far enough to be a place and time set apart for God. I have a comfortable bed, and a pillow instead of a rock. I make no altar or pillar, but write in my spiral notebook, read my Bible, and sing worship songs with the help of my iTunes account on my phone.

I’m here because it’s almost the New Year (the beginning of a new school year!) and I realize how much I need God to do this. I’m going to pray over every detail and ever person in my family. I’m going to refuel my tank, reconnect with God, plan my way to success, make lists, and get my year on track. I’m here to work.

Which just goes to show how little I really know about my life and why things happen.

I’m actually here to Revisit Bethel.

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SUNDAY WORSHIP ON VACATION

little-white-church-1115039_1920

I woke up blissfully late this morning with the cool northern Michigan air blowing softly across my bed. I love vacation. No wakeup alarms. No schedule. No plans. Just a strong cup of coffee and some spiritual reading.

Of course, I remember that it’s Sunday. But it’s so hard to go to church on vacation. It’s bound to be awkward and uninspiring. We could just stay here and listen to a sermon on line. Plus, how many mornings can we take it slow like this?

I pick up my Daily Devotions by Tim and Kathy Keller to break the silence of a good night’s sleep. I figure, God understands.

But maybe not.

The devotion is based on Psalm 81 where the worship of God is commanded in a vigorous manner. “Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob!” The Kellers expound on the text, explaining that skillful music can turn our hearts to God and reminding us that we are commanded to meet regularly for public worship, throwing in the Hebrews exhortation from chapter 10.

Hmm. I think God might be talking to me. But not really what I wanted to hear today.

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