Sunday, April 29, 2012

Relaxing, restful running

I like the idea of running.  Moving quickly toward a goal, feet fluttering, heart racing, hitting the runner's high, the sense of accomplishment when the goal is crossed, high fives all around.

The reality of running is a little different.  Fluttering feet?  Hardly.  I cannot play the "too old" card - there are many great runners older than I.  The reality for me is pain - painful knees, painful feet (yes, I wear good shoes), trips to the orthopedic doctor.  So I will cheer you on while you sprint toward the finish line.

We are all running different race - the race of life.  From Hebrews 12:

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God.

In Christ, we have a cheering squad - another version of this same verse says a "great cloud of witnesses".  We can relax in God, knowing that He will provide strength for the race.  We can rest in God, knowing that He will keep His promises.  We can run the race knowing that He is our prize.  And what a prize indeed!  

Who is cheering you on in your race?

Monday, April 23, 2012


Quark is a type of fresh cheese, also known as tvorog (from the Russian творог), topfen (from the Austrian name), biezpiens (from Latvian), and varškė (from Lithuanian).

I just couldn't do a usual Q work - Question, Quack.  Somewhere in the cooking file cabinet in my brain this popped out.  I think I have eaten it once - sort of a cross between cream cheese and cottage cheese and very good.  And it is a fun work to say - Quark is Quirky.  There, another Q word.

And pretty much trivial information unless you are shopping for ingredients for a recipe for Quark Cheese Biscuits or play a lot of Bezzerwizzer.  What do we do with trivial information?  Sometimes we can laugh about it (especially when we know the random off the wall answer in Bezzerwizzer.  You really must try this game!).  

Does trivia keep us from reasoning about important things?  Maybe, maybe not.  I really don't know the answer to this.  Please weigh in and let me know what you think.  Personally, I like trivia.  

And I like Quark.

Plans and Prison

I am writing a business plan for a friend.  (No, the friend is not in prison - thanks for asking).  We are trying to project income, expenses, time lines, and what to do if the plans he is making don't work out.  In other words, what is Plan B?  What is Plan C?  What about Plan D?

We need plans.  I think of how many plans I make daily, weekly, monthly.  There are cleaning plans, meal plans, hobby plans, work plans, spending plans, vacation plans - it could go on and on.  Personally, I like to make lists.  Someone once told me that if we are living without a list, we are living an unplanned life.  But I digress. . .

No one plans to end up in prison.  How do I know?  I work with a prison ministry.  Not one person that I counsel in prison has told me that this form of government housing was their life plan.  What has become their life plan is to get out and survive on the outside.  Our job is to help them survive.  Some have a better chance than others.  Occasionally someone tells me that they are so thankful that they ended up in prison (yes, I really do hear that) because they realize that God intervened in their life and interrupted their plans because He had a better one - that they needed to go to prison to be part of God's plan.  Those are the inmates that I believe have a strong chance of survival.  

We don't have to go to prison to be part of God's plan.  We don't have to be criminals to be living outside of God's plan.  We can fight God's plan on so many levels.  For me, I am only going to get tired doing that.  And I know, without a doubt, that God's promise that He spoke so long ago still is true:

I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.  Jeremiah 29:11

How are your plans going today?  Have you talked to God about them?

N - O

Yes, I am way behind, and no, N - O does not stand for NO!  Let's try New - Old.  It is spring -so much is new.  The garden is new and doing quite well thank you.  New grass is pushing up - New leaves, New flowers, New job (not really new but still fresh), New challenges and opportunities.  

What do we do with the Old stuff?  Some Old stuff goes away on its own.  The Old grass disappears.  The Old leaves disappear (when the yard people show up).  Not all Old stuff goes away quite so easily.  What do we do with Old memories?  The good ones we savor, revisit, and tell stories about to our children and grandchildren.  The bad ones?  The ones that cause pain and guilt - those are a different story.  

"Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!" 2 Corinthians 5:17.

God has promised us a new life through His son Jesus.  No, the Old stuff that is bad doesn't magically disappear.  However, before God we are new!  We can forget the guilt (sometimes that is hard) because God doesn't see it - doesn't want it in our lives.  He gives us a fresh, clean, new start before Him.  

So Happy Spring!  Happy New!  Have you told God you want a NEW start?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Joy, Kindness, Lemons, and Music

I am days behind but don't want to give up on the challenge.  So I hope this counts. . .

Joy:  God is not after our happiness.  He is after our joy!  Many things make me happy - beautiful weather, lakes, reading, knitting, a great walk.  There is something deeper, more abiding, than mere happiness.  Joy. Joy is knowing that no matter what happens, it comes through the filter of our heavenly Father.  It is the confidence we can have in Him and His sovereignty.

Kindness:  If our joy comes from the Lord, can't we be kind?  Oh I think we fall short so much on this - we are too selfish.  Kindness is a gift from God - and it is a choice.  And sometimes we have to draw on a well of kindness and make that choice when we get. . .

Lemons:  Friends of mine have gone through divorces, deaths in the family, car breakdowns, undiagnosed diseases, car wrecks, abuse situations, and premature birth.  And this all happened in April (not within the same family).  I don't even like answering the phone!  How does one comfort and encourage in some of these situations while the tears are flowing uncontrollably?  With kindness.  By holding on to the faith that the God who made the lemons is also the author of our joy.

Music:  This year I am reading daily about hymns - old, new, familiar and unknown - as my devotional and quiet time.  It is amazing how often the "hymn of the day" is perfect for whatever situation has presented itself.  And for that day, I truly have a song in my heart and head.  That hymn - a special word from God - gives me a deep joy, kindness to face the lemons that may get tossed my way and in the way of my friends.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I love invitations!  It doesn't matter if they come through the mail, through email, or by telephone or text.  An invitation means that someone has taken the time to put together a party, food, drink, and other friends! And invitations come in all degrees of fanciness (I think I just made up a word).  We just received one for a friends Bat Mitzvah.  It was elaborate and beautiful and colorful and fancy.  I also got a text message from my neighbor inviting me to Starbucks for a coffee.  I love both invitations!

We are in the midst of planning my daughter's wedding.  Invitations are very important - do we go with classic white or ivory or do we go bold with a bright color and graphics?  Any opinions out there?

There is an invitation that has been around for centuries - a simple, one sentence invitation:

Matthew 11:28-30
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

You have gotten this invitation - have you responded yet?

Monday, April 9, 2012


Harmony.  A musical term. The term harmony derives from the Greek ἁρμονία (harmonía), meaning "joint, agreement, concord", from the verb ἁρμόζω (harmozo), "to fit together, to join".

Yes, I had to look that up and paste it from another source.  Listening to the radio today I started thinking about harmony - the blending of voices with no one voice standing out - no one voice taking center stage.  The group is working together to achieve their objective - beautiful sound.

When disharmony occurs, in music or in our lives, is it because the group has ceased to work together?  Whether the group is a family, office mates, class or the sailing club, when one person decides they are more important than the group, the group falls into disharmony.  

Harmony is going to occur when the members of the group work selflessly, not selfishly.  It is hard.  We all want recognition and applause and acknowledgement.  But that is not what we are called to do:

Acts 2:43:  And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony. . .