Friday, November 29, 2013

Location, Location, Location

Ask any real estate agent what are the three most important factors in his field of work, and  he will tell you,

Location.  Location. Location.

From the day we enter this world, a body is given to us and we can’t help but occupy certain square footage… just one spot with precise geographic coordinates at any given moment. It’s essential aspect of being human.

Often, that location is chosen for us, especially early on or towards the end of our journey, but we all at some point experience relative freedom as to where we want to be.  We actually get to choose our location.

That afternoon in Martha's hospitality hub Martha chose a steamed-up kitchen.

Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet.
Of all the places she could have been in that busy household, she chose to be near Him.

What drove Mary to such counter-cultural choice?  What made her slip the apron quietly over her head that day, and lay it softly over the back of the chair, abandoning her sister in the middle of all the hectic work? (Or did she threw the apron on the ground, giving up decisively on the rat-race madness?)

What propelled her into this humble act of rebellion… a gentle revolution of surrender... at Jesus’ feet…?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Ready? Set? Sit!

Three verbs describe Mary in this scene.




Some of us might be fooled by the apparent passivity of the melancholy sister whose actions are in sharp contrast to those of her hardworking multitasking sister.

We can learn as much about Mary from what she is not doing as from what she is doing.

She is not chopping onions, keeping an eye on the boiling pot of potatoes, telling baker that his rolls are overdone and listening in to the bits and pieces of conversation going on in the living room all at the same time.

As far as Mary is concerned, the turkey and the dressing, the rolls and the pies could go their own merry way, and she would hardly notice. 

It’s not like her attention is undivided.  It’s fixed.  It’s riveted.  

It’s superguled!

And in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the many preparations, Mary sits down.

This might be by far the hardest choice of all.  Just to sit down.  When there is so much to do.  When pressures all around abound.   The choice to sit is almost an insult.  A rebellion of sort.  But, Mary has the courage, the audacity to choose… to sit down.

Did she understand how outrageous her choice was? Could she anticipate her sister’s verbal assault? 

We don’t know.

And I guess it really doesn’t matter whether she simply doesn’t care or is genuinely oblivious to what this scene looks like to an outsider, including her own sister…

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Broken Road The Better Way

It is clear that when Jesus entered Martha’s house that day, there was a preexisting condition to this family.  Forces already at play in each person’s life.  But, Jesus is not a stranger to their story.  In fact, He knows and understands it better than they know and understand it themselves… because He’s been there from the beginning… from the very beginning of all beginnings…

We may be mystery to us and others, but we are no mystery to Him. 

He knows where we came from. 

The family. The innocence.  The dreams.  The hopes. The pain. The disillusionment. The shattering.

He knows where we are going.    

The place He has prepared for us. The place He is preparing us to inhabit forever. The place where He will wipe every tear away from our faces.

And, between those bookends, He knows the way we must take to get there. 

For He Himself is the Way

He loves each of us just as we need to be loved…    It's love tailor-made for our bruised and battered, inflicted and inflated soul… love that no one else on earth can give us….I can't give it to you and you can't give it to me. But, in His good time He gives each of us exactly what we need… perhaps not necessarily what we want… but whoever could trust the wisdom of his or her own desires?

However, before He can give us anything, we must be ready to receive it… And this is where Mary is a great example, a teacher extraordinaire to all of us, bustling  fuming Marthas…

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Same Sun Melts the Wax but Hardens the Clay

When parents are not in the picture anymore; when children are left to fend for themselves earlier than usual, one can’t help but wonder if this is the great loss which might have molded Martha into a busy overachiever, a young woman propelled into the world of overwhelming adult responsibilities before her age? 

Did this loss make her the driven do-er determined to drown the emptiness left behind with endless activity…? It was all up to her to keep this family going..?
It makes me wonder whether young Mary swung into the opposite direction, withdrawing from life into a self-protective shell?

While peering at her sister’s busyness from a peephole of despair she simply couldn’t see beyond the futility of all human endeavor when everything can be lost in a snap?

Why bother at all then?

And then, there is Lazarus.  

The young boy who became the object of both sisters single-hearted affection.  Drastically different as the girls may be, this is the focal point where Martha and Mary unite. Lazarus is their hope. The reason why they get out of bed in the morning. The stakeholder of their future. 

The one who must be protected from all harm lest…

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Pre Existing Conditon

When the Son of God entered Martha’s house that day, He didn’t enter a vacuum.  We know that there was a complex family history that led up to the turning point.  How do we know? Because every family inherits and passes on a complex family history which molds each person born into it in a unique way. When we enter this world, we don’t enter a vacuum.  For better or for worse, we are born into families, carrying resemblances of Moms and Dads, Aunts and Uncles, not only in our bodies but in our souls as well. And yet we are not just a random product of some cosmic fishing rod that dips into the gene pool and pulls out a haphazard DNA concoction called you and me.

There is a mystery and uniqueness in each of us that both comes out of and transcends our family heritage.

Within the family we experience love and belonging.  Unfortunately, within family we also experience abandoning and rejection.  Under the same roof dwell love and loss, hope and despair.  There is brokenness in each of us which we are determined to overcome, each in our own way. 

What is this family’s history? We don’t know the specifics, but we can surmise some things based on what the Scriptures say and don’t way.

For example, there is no mention of parents.  Just Martha, Mary, and later we learn they have a brother, Lazarus.  

What happened to their Mom and Dad? 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Awake At Last

Meanwhile Mary, Martha’s sister, sat before the Master, hanging on every word He said. Luke 10:40

Mary grew up under Martha’s busy, bustling roof.  She watched Martha run this immaculate household like a tight ship. She heard people admiring Martha’s amazing gift of hospitality. She watched Martha collapse by a dwindling fire at the end of each day, exhausted. 

She also may have realized that no matter what she, Mary, did, it never was quite enough for Martha. Never quite measured up to Martha’s impossible standards.

She tried explaining herself.  She tried helping Martha understand… but, somehow, even there, everything Mary did… everything Mary said…  ended up being insufficient. So, Mary finally gave up…  as if part of Mary, deep deep down went to sleep… as if part of Mary grew deaf to the steady barrage of do's and don'ts, orders and commands, rules and regulations...

I don’t know… I am just speculating…

This day, however, Mary is wide awake. She is at Jesus’ feet, impervious to some puzzled some slashing looks sent her way… She can’t be bribed, coaxed, manipulated or guilted into joining Martha’s three-ring circus.
What is Jesus saying?

Consider the lilies of the field...?

Consider the ravens...?

Your heavenly Father... clothes them... feeds them...?

What is it that Mary is hearing… perhaps for the first time in her entire life?

How much more valuable you are...?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Under Pressure

Martha started out so well.  She opened the door and received Jesus and His friends into her home, making them feel quite welcome.  I think that’s remarkable. She is warm, and genuine, and actually quite happy to have this wonderful opportunity to serve the Lord.

We can only speculate where things turned south....what pushed her over the edge...

A burnt roast or a collapsed soufflé?

She bit off more than she could chew…?

Her expectations of herself and others were way too high…?

Her deep sense of justice and fairness, the equitable kitchen chore distribution got violated because she was doing all the work and her sister was just hanging out with the boys….?

She finally reached the outer ends of her personal resources and capacities…?

Or, perhaps, a little bit of all of the above... until her poised self started falling apart…

God’s Word simply says,

Martha was distracted by all her preparationsLuke 10:40a


By all her preparations.

Distractions usually start off quite innocently. We all have a list of things to do with multiple items on it.  But, at some point, checking things off the list becomes the goal and people in my life either tools I use to assist me in accomplishing my mission or obstacles on my way.  This creates conflict and confusion in my mind and heart, and invariably spills out into all my relationships.

I question God’s love…
Lord, don’t you care…?

I project the blame for my stress and discomfort onto somebody else.

… my sister has left me to do all the work alone…

The problem in Martha’s mind is quite obvious. A no-brainer! The solution more obvious still:

Then tell her to help me!

Imagine the shocking surprise, the disbelief on Martha’s face when she heard Jesus’ answer.

Monday, November 18, 2013

When Wheels Wobble

We have a saying in our family,

I am easy to please, as long as I get my way.

I think that Martha would fit right in with the rest of us. She is easy to please as long as everything goes according to her plan.

And who could question her plan?!!!

There is an important job to be done. God in the flesh showed up on Martha's doorstep hungry. What can be more important than serving the Lord Himself in His moment of human need? And who can be a better person to do this important job than Martha?  She is the hostest to the mostest.

If God is hungry, she is going to feed Him alright!

A thought that perhaps He might be hungry for her companionship as much or more than the roast and potatoes never seem to cross Martha’s busy mind.

She rolls up her sleeves, scrolls down the list, checks things off.

Everything goes smoothly for a time. The sky is the limit as to what Martha can accomplish in a day if everything goes according to the plan. If life cooperates...

But life rarely does.

Life tends to have wobbly wheels that seem to fall off at the most inopportune time.

The roast gets burnt inside the oven as the guest ring the doorbell.

The delivery gets cancelled.  

The child is of the ‘wrong’ temperament.

The spouse is not what we imagined him or her to be.

The job is more than we bargained for.

The church is full of messed up people.

And when the wheels start falling off the rickety cart of life, Martha is thrown off balance along with them.

Lord, don’t You care…?

Lord, that good-for-nothing sister of mine……

Lord, since You don' t seem to be doing what You are supposed to do, I am going to tell You what You should be doing right now so we can get right along with my plan!

And the meal becomes more important than the people who eat it; the house more important than the people who live in it; and the people around us are nothing more but tools we can use to accomplish our mission. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hosting for the Holidays

I came across this familiar story today, bringing fresh reminder just in time for the holidays.  

Jesus and his friends are travelling.  They need a place to eat, clean up, and rest. A woman by the name of Martha opens the door to her house, welcomes him and makes him feel quite at home.

So far so good.

An ordinary house turned home turned hospitality hub.  This woman, Martha, knows what she is doing. I wonder if her last name is Stewart.  She is competent, confident, and off the charts capable.  Some people may find her a bit intimidating and perhaps a bit bossy. But, without a doubt, if anybody can pull off this a-couple-dozen-strong-horde-of-hungry-guests surprise hospitality stunt, Martha can.

We also find out that Martha has a sister, Mary.

Like most brothers and sisters, even though they come from the same gene pool, have grown up under the same roof, they are different. Very different.

There is no question who is the type A, the dominant one. 

Martha knows exactly what it takes to make a house a home, and then turn it into a hospitality hub.  And she does it.

For it takes a lot of work to make this happen. The shopping list. The to-do list. Silver to polish. Tables to set. Hors d’Oeuvres to prepare. The list grows by the seconds, for Martha is not satisfied by just providing a simple meal.  She is the Pinterest queen of those little extra finishing touches. 

The place-card holders with beautifully calligraphied names.  

The specially selected wine goblet charms. 

The fresh-cut flowers centerpiece and the pillar candles.

The aboves and the beyonds, the thoughtful details that make people gasp the Ooooh-s and the Aaaah-s.. 

But, all this adds up. So much to do, so little time. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Hole in the Wall

What are these, Mom?

We were getting our bikes out for the morning ride to school, but a stack of long wood planks that suddenly appeared in the garage,compliments of my husband’s late night trip to Home Depot, was blocking our way.

Just some stuff Daddy got to repair that huge hole in the siding, I respond, lifting her bicycle over the pile.

There is a hole in our house?!!! Her eyes pop wide open.

Yea. I grumble, for even though I am aware of the fact that my children have inherited my gene for overlooking the obvious, every now and then, this gets on my nerves.   There is a hole the size of a soccer ball in the siding of our house, and you never saw it?!!! She walks with me to the corner of the house and looks up where I point.

Oh wow. There sure is a hole, but I never saw it. I feel sweetly justified in my grumbling misery, but she shrugs her shoulders.

I guess I just love our house so much, that I never noticed i., She  hops onto her sky-blue bike and pedals off free like a bird.

I watch her ride away, her words, her carefree assurance that in God’s good time, her Daddy will take care of our house a gentle reprimand and a loving invitation for a renewed vision.

For I get so focused on everything that’s wrong – with our house, our world, God’s church  – all I see are the gaping holes! I worry and fret, I grumble and complain, until this beautiful house, a home for the families, a resting place for the tired travelers is completely swallowed up by soccer-field-size holes.

 And in all that seeing, I miss the simple obvious truth of… loving. The simple restful assurance that my gracious heavenly Father will, in His good time, fully and completely take care of all the gaping holes in His house – even those the size of the Grand Canyon!

Until that day, my job as His child is not to worry and fret but pray and love and perhaps become a little more blind so I can learn to see more with His heart than with my eyes.

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. Habakkuk 2:14

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

End of the Rope

I read these words penned by apostle Paul this morning:

For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves...  2 Corinthians 1:8-9

His message is brimming with bad news. 


Burdened excessively.

Burdened beyond our strength to bear.


Despaired even of life.

We had the sentence of death within ourselves....

Later he mentions 'great peril of death'.

As much as I want my life to be smooth and easy, a quiet walk in the park with gentle breeze cooling my face, the reality is that there are days when things look bleak, even hopeless.  Just as they did for Paul here. Things looked bleak. Things looked hopeless. Paul is hanging on the last tattered thread at the end of his rope.

Note, it's his rope.

Sooner or later, we all come to the end of ourselves. Our resources. Our wisdom. Our ability to figure things out and make life work.

We hit a wall. It feels like it's the end of the world.

In fact, I want it to be the end of the world.

But it's not.

The sun is still up in the morning. People go to work, mow their lawns and prune crape myrtles. Cook dinner and then... eat it!

I marvel at the cosmic outrage, for when I hang by the last tattered thread of the end of my rope, I feel like the earth should stop spinning on its axis.

But, God has a better plan.

It's hard to comprehend that my excellent plan wasn't good enough.

It's hard to visualize that anything good can come out of so much bad.

But, there is a design behind all this, a divine intent.

So that...

In order that...?

We would not trust in ourselves... 2 Corinthians 1:9

This is Paul, the brilliant, the eloquent, God’s super-missionary, speaking, telling us he had to go through hell in order to learn…that we should not trust ourselves... 

Not trust ourselves.

But in God... 

...who raises the dead. 2 Corinthians 1:9


Personally, I don’t want to go through hell to learn this lesson, but odds are clearly stacked in God's favor here. I never raised anybody from the dead and I don't anticipate doing it any time soon.

Afflicted? Despairing? Hopeless?

I'll start my checklist first with who do I trust?

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Shelter in the Storm

The Typhoon Haiyan has already entered history as one of the strongest tropical cyclones in the history of mankind.  

The images of devastation are overwhelming. The loss of lives and earthly possessions incalculable.  The pain numbing.  

The scope, the strength, the duration of the storm unprecedented.

We’ve never seen anything like this.  We never knew anything like this could happen.

But it did.  And it knocked the wind out of our chest, leaving the scattered shards of what life used to be in its wake.

This is a reality check for me.

Humbling is the word that comes to my mind.

It reveals with stunning clarity how fragile we all are.

How vulnerable.

How weak and needy, naked and powerless we are in the face of life’s storms.  You don’t have to live in the Philippines. Or Japan. Or Indonesia. Or New Orleans. For no life is exempt.

It exposes how silly our preoccupation with image and appearances, how laughable our little pompous ways. How illusiatory our thoughts that we can control our destiny. That we can secure our future.  That we can manipulate and run our own lives.

Haiyan might be a once-in-a-history kind of storm.  But we all face storms of life, one kind or another.

Watching the footage, looking at the pictures, remembering the various storms that have battered our own lives over the years, I am reminded again how small we all are.   How desperately in need of shelter and protection, for it’s not a matter of if, but when the next cyclone hits... when the ominous clouds begin to accumulate on my horizon announcing the coming storm...

This is a sobering warning but also a sound invitation from the only One who can help us build our lives on solid foundation:  

Everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.  Matthew 7:24-27

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Irrepresible Joy

We brought our son’s enormous LEGO aircraft carrier to the orchestra rehearsal last week (long story!).  The impressive primary-colors plastic block contraption stood out like a sore thumb among the youth a bit too old or perhaps too cool to be caught  in public playing with LEGOs. A different kind of playing occupied their minds.

Most just walked by casting surreptitious glances. Some had the courage to approach us and get a closer look. Few actually touched it, discovering secret compartments, testing the many fancy features accessible only to those who took the time to examine it more closely. Eventually, they all went back to their instruments and music.  It was time to tune up.

The rehearsal has barely started when B and J entered the room along with their dad and their older sister who also plays in the orchestra.

The moment the boys saw the apparatus they felt its irresistible magnetic pull.  The following two hours they delighted in the design, hidden passageways and especially the interactive features of the carrier. They animated the little LEGO people. They shot rubber bullets. They flew the miniature helicopter. They squealed, squeaked, cried out, danced and hopped to the beat of Gershwin and Korsakov rehearsed in the background.  Their delight was uncontainable.

Being the responsible kill-joy that I am, I kept reminding them that they have to be quiet.  They need to tone it down.  That Mrs. M is going to kick us all out along with the aircraft carrier if we continue being disruptive.  It wasn’t like they were disobedient.  It wasn’t like they were rebellious. They were simply bursting with joy they couldn’t keep down.

Their intense pleasure reminded me of something I have difficulty being able to fathom. 

God's joy.

When Jesus entered the religious scene of His time, it was dominated by the somber professionals and sectarians engrossed in rules and rituals, petty squabbles, power struggle and politics.  

God was distant and inaccessible.

But, Jesus changed that.  

He brought God near making Him accessible, even tangible not just to highly trained professional religious authorities but to the commoners, to the blind and the lame, uneducated, poor, foreigners and even children.  

Kids are smart. They catch on quickly. They were drawn to Him with irresistible magnetic pull of love.  They discovered the secret compartments in the heart of God loaded up with surprises custom-fitted for them. 

They accepted the open invitation to see and touch, feel and taste the goodness of God and what they discovered in Him filled them with irrepressible, disruptive joy. 

The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!...”...When the religious leaders...heard all the children running and shouting through the Temple, “Hosanna to David’s Son!” they were up in arms and took him to task. “Do you hear what these children are saying?” Jesus said, “Yes, I hear them. And haven’t you read in God’s Word, ‘From the mouths of children and babies I’ll furnish a place of praise’?” Matthew 21:9, 15-16

Friday, November 08, 2013

Law and Loopholes

Mrs. S., the law demands that these rules are followed, otherwise we get penalized and fined.

I am at a conference room, sitting across the desk from the principal and guidance counselor of our child's school.  I called the meeting because I felt the need to better understand reasons behind the three months of chaos we’ve been through since the beginning of the school year.

I happen to know exactly what she is talking about – the law and the set of guidelines. I actually voted in favor of this law.  When I cast my ballot, I did so as a citizen and as a mom of school age children.  My heart and my intent behind supporting this law was to make the children’s job of learning and teacher’s job of teaching easier.

I stare at the principle, marveling how is it possible that the implementation of something that is supposed to enhance educational process has created so much upheaval and disruption?

How can something that was intended for good turn out to be so bad and counterproductive?!!!

The law was good.  The intent behind it was good.  But something got lost in translation.  In implementation.  And, instead of loving provision, fear of punishment became a factor… a dominating factor dare I say… And in that process,  the goodness, the benefit and the protection which the law was meant to provide gave way to bureaucracy.

When God gave the law to Moses, it was a loving father’s heart and intention that was behind it. The Law was meant for our good.  It was meant to provide guidelines for God’s children to live lives of dignity, joy, peace and fruitfulness. It was given so we can flourish and share this incredible blessing of knowing Him and living under His loving rule with everyone around us.

But something got lost in translation.  Something got lost in implementation.  The law became an end to itself… other laws and amendments were added, in order to avoid punishment. We got further and further away from the original purpose.  Fear rather than love became the guideline. It became so non-sensical that by the time the Lawgiver Himself came to visit His people He was treated like a law-breaker and criminal. 

But God’s heart never changed towards His people. 

For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

When God Calls Your Name

Several weeks into this academic year, we received the following letter from our child’s school principal:

Dear Parent,

In 2002, citizens approved an amendment to the Florida Constitution blah blah blah… Beginning with the 2010-11 school year… blah blah blah… Our current 5th grade class blah blah blah… Therefore… blah blah blah… I have reviewed the enrollment along with the data blah blah blah… Your child has been chosen… bla..

The last five words stopped me in my tracks.

Your child has been chosen…

My child has been chosen?!! Chosen for what?

Suddenly, it was of utmost importance that I understand all the blah blah blahs  leading up to the five fateful words. What used to be generic, impersonal and even boring form letter became incredibly personal.

 I re-read the entire letter, this time paying careful attention to every word, evaluating the implications they have on the life of our family.

It was a sobering experience. For I realize that often I approach God’s Word  in a similar way…

In the year that king such and such died… blah blah blah..

I get lost. It’s old history. It happened in some far away place to somebody else. It has no implications for my life here and now.  I scan the words, their relevance for my life today escaping my notice.

But God is nothing if He is not personal.

God called to him…, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am”… God said “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” Exodus 3:4-6

Note all the first names. His dealings with us are on the proper name basis:

The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” I Samuel 3:10

God is personal and His dealings with us are always personal.  Every word spoken has personal significance. Anything outside of this ongoing personal revelation of the personal God is dead religion.

(the shepherd of the sheep) calls his own sheep by name and leads them out... he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice. John 10:2-5

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Change and the Search for Permanence

Today I’ve been a little out of synch.  In fact, for the last couple of days. A bit off.  Or maybe a LOT off. Every step I take, I have to pause and think,

What am I supposed to do next?

It’s not like my to-do list has run out of items, just that I don’t know where to start. I stare at the sink with dirty dishes and ponder.  

Should I turn the water on or do I do the soap first?  I normally don't do this. I also noticed that I've been distracted even more than usual. 

What’s wrong with me???  I mentally scroll through the list of answers to the question - the litany of things that are wrong with me, my life and my world, but none of them completely checks out.  None fully fit the bill.

Then it hits me.

Daylight savings time! Then, like a boomerang, it hits me from behind. 

Daylight savings time?!!! But I love the ‘fall back’ change of the clocks.  That extra hour when you need it the most. In the morning. Before a scheduled meeting and you are running late.

But, somehow, this time, the change has messed up not just my internal clock but my mental and emotional fine-tuners...  and left me thoroughly discombobulated.

I marvel at my lack of resilience especially when I consider other much more significant changes – even the good ones, not to mention unwanted upheavals… And what it takes for us to get back in synch. Sometimes months... or even years.

New marriage. New baby... school.... teacher...

Loss of marriage. Loss of a spouse. Parent. Child. Job. School. Teacher.

Transitions are difficult.

As I reflect on this I realize we’ve had our share of both welcome and unwanted change lately. 

The 'fall back' clock adjustment was just a straw that broke this camel's back. I know it will take some time to get back in sych.  And this desire of mine for permanence in this life, it is just an echo, a longing that belongs to a different world.

In this one, however, change is unavoidable.  Loss and grief are our dependable companions. Gracious letting go, the artful skill practiced by few. 

But, I wonder if perhaps all this turmoil, all this uprooting, all this peeling of the clenched fingers could be intended for us to learn to open our hands wider... in giving and receiving... while our hearts and souls grow ever deeper roots  into the One who never ever changes.

And He will be the stability of your times, a wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is his treasure. Isaiah 33:6

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

Monday, November 04, 2013

In Search for Perfection

This is how God showed His love for us: God sent His only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.  I John 4:10

Saturday, November 02, 2013

When Perfect Isn't Good Enough

There isn’t much that can ruin a perfectly wonderful day in the life of our family as the Ghost of Comparison.  

One second, we are all happy and content, enjoying God's gracious bounty showered on us day by day. . 

Home.  Food to eat.  Water, electricity, beds and linens. Clothes, and toys, friends and family.  Internet connection! Art supplies! 

Then, in a blink of an eye, without us realizing what’s actually going on, something crosses our horizon and all this bounty and more is instantly swallowed up by a black hole. All of a sudden, nothing is good enough.  Our lives stink. Because we are not like such and such… We don’t measure up. 

Somebody throws better and bigger parties. Others have more impressive costumes.  


As stupid as all this may sound, I get entangled. And when I feel trapped, I turn into a problem-solver. I want to fix what's broken.  

We need to try harder. Next year, we'll actually plan. Plan ahead! We are going really all-out on the party.  We’ll add pig-in-the-blankets to our chips-and-salsa menu!  I’ll scour Pinterest for decorating ideas.  Next time, I am determined to be prepared. Really prepared.

But, I said that last time. And I realize, there is always something I miss. I always fall short. I don't quite measure up. Ever.

I wish I lived in Eden before the fall. 

Perfect people.  Perfect environment.  Perfect food.  Perfect decorations. Not to mention the perfect costumes.
Suddenly, it occurs to me,

Perfect wasn’t good enough.

If this doesn’t hit you like it should, I’ll say it again:

Perfect just wasn’t good enough.... And it still isn't. 

I let that thought germinate a little. Take root.

For, even in Eden, perfect man and perfect woman surrounded by perfection, when they started to compare, realized that what they already had wasn’t enough.



They looked around, right past everything they had, and saw somebody else – namely God, or at least a distorted picture of who God is – who had something they didn't have. And they wanted that. 

Sounds familiar?

Well, the rest is history.

I have seen a limit to all perfection; Your commandment is exceedingly broad. Psalm 119:96

Friday, November 01, 2013

The Real Ghosts of Halloween

It was our daughter’s idea.  She is the Party Coordinator in our family. It wasn't supposed to be big. Just a little get-together at our house before they (they meaning our neighborhood kids) all go trick-or-treating as a group.

Sure.  I said without thinking. These kids are in our house practically every day.  They know our casual, no-fuss style. I’ll just make some cupcakes and salsa for the chips to spiff it up a little. Make it more festive.

I am not the one to stress out over stuff like this. Even though her party idea was a bit spur-of-the-moment, I think it’s quite doable. A little impromptu celebration will make it more fun for all of us.   

I am chopping tomatoes for the salsa when she comes home from school. About four in the afternoon. The cupcakes are out of the oven and I feel pretty good about myself. She examines the ‘party’ stuff piled up on the kitchen table:

This is great, Mom.  You really went all out.  

All-out in our family is defined as a large black plastic tarantula, two bags of chips, orange cake frosting and chocolate sprinkles. 

Good thing that Mr. and Mrs. R  are bringing the monster  cake… she continues... and Mrs. C will join us…

Mr. and Mrs. R?!!! I am mortified. I didn’t realize any adults would come for our ‘party’. 

In a split second, my relaxed, happy-go-lucky self is swallowed up by the real Halloween monsters.  

The Ghost of Comparison.  

The Goblin of Impossible Expectations.

For both Mr. and Mrs. C and Mr. and Mrs. R, the parents of our kids' friends are BIG on celebrating Halloween  - decorations galore, perfect different costumes each year, not to mention the artfully designed food too beautifully gory to eat - the works.

The sun has set, and it's the middle of the afternoon. 

I am doomed.