Friday, November 28, 2014

The Thankless Kind

It truly is quite mystifying but no other holiday leaves me feeling more like a failure than Thanksgiving.

It’s as if the harder I try to cultivate this attitude of gratitude, the more miserably I fail.  My very focus on being thankful becomes counterproductive and all I notice is how petty and grumpy and unreasonably demanding we are.

Yes, of course I am thankful.  There are at least a thousand things I can name for which I can genuinely give thanks. But then I realize that I am not really thank-full. It’s more like I am thank-half-full. 

The other half is full of frustration over the pettiness and squabbles, the extreme hardship my kids suffer in order to come up with one… one thing they can say they are grateful for, especially concerning their sibling.


I thank God for our guinea pig, because he’s the one member of our family we unanimously appreciate for the joy and simplicity and super-cuteness he brings into our lives. Despite the fact that he doesn’t do any chores and mostly eats, sleeps, poops and destroys my personal library.

Is it a surprise then that Friday morning greeted me with a monster headache?

God, what’s WRONG with us??? We have so much to be thankful for and look at us…JUST LOOK AT US!!! Where did we go wrong? What are we missing???  I rant as I usually do, without expecting the answer.

… for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

The familiar words surprise me inside this unfamiliar context.

Do you realize I am talking THANKSGIVING here!. We are supposed to be t-h-a-n-k-f-u-l!


Every time I use the word 'supposed' I know I am missing something big. I am about to make myself a real turkey. But what is it?


He... is... kind… to the ungrateful…

God’s kindness is revealed to me not when I am at the head of Macy's Thanksgiving Parade (which is never), but when I am ungrateful and demanding, greedy and grumpy.  

… for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

Now, to me, that’s something to be truly thankful for!

Friday, November 21, 2014

#passedover #greatertreasure

We swapped our rejection stories last Thursday around dinner table.

For some reason our kids seem to enjoy the blow-by-blow accounts of our miserable middle school days much more than any glowing success stories we might want to share from that uneasy time of not-any-more-but-not-quite-yet.

The age of insecurities, and search for identity and belonging that is not as simple and natural as it is for a little child.  

The search for purpose that appears to them much more simple and natural for an adult in mid-life.

They want to hear that we, too, have been wounded and betrayed along the prickly  journey of growing up.

Called names.

Publicly humiliated.

Plowed over.

Excluded from the inner circle...

So, we pass around our old grief and anger like salt and pepper shakers until they pop off their lids and start sharing their rejection stories.

...But I was the only one not invited…

...Today, I was the last one picked…

They STILL do that?!!!  My husband’s outrage was fueled by his own #last-one-picked#bottom-of-the-pecking-order trauma.

Yea, they do. … But, it’s O.K. Dad. I don’t hold it against them. They did it because they don’t know what’s in me. They have no idea what’s inside me…

We all giggle at the preposterous thought. But in the quiet echo of the laughter the greater truth rings loud and clear. .

If they knew Me, they would not have done it… If they really, really knew what’s inside, they would have chosen Me sooner...

And the grace of the despised and rejected Savior spills into our cracks and wounds - old and new, filling them with healing and hope that only come from Him.  

Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.  Luke 23:34

He was despised and rejected… He was looked down on and we didn’t esteem Him. Isaiah 53:3

Monday, November 17, 2014

No Quack Doctor

Last weekend we did one of those free health check-ups at a local pharmacy.  We went from station to station, various nurses taking our vitals and writing them down on a piece of paper. Height. Weight. Pulse. Blood pressure. Glucose. Cholesterol.

When probed to give us feedback about what all those numbers mean and how they reflect our overall health, each one without exception refused.  .

Around the corner, at the end, there is doctor waiting for you.  He will interpret the results, they said with a smile, and then turned to the next customer.

This used to frustrate me to no end. But today it finally dawned on me!  I should admire these well-trained nurses and learn from them - for they know what their job is and what it is not.  Not one of them would dream of interpreting the results of tests any more than they would of prescribing what they deem might be an appropriate course of treatment.

If they did this, they could lose their job!

They know that this is the doctor’s domain and his alone.

The wise nurses know what I often forget.  I may have a small part in the health-assessment line, but my job is neither diagnosis nor treatment of the various soul-diseases that plague all of us. 

This is Jesus’ job and His alone. For He is the only one who is both knowledgeable as well as fully qualified to interpret the vital signs of a person’s life and prescribe the appropriate treatment.

My job?  Point those who come to me for their health check-up to the Doctor patiently waiting around the corner who will know exactly what to do. 

For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son John 5:22

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.  Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Best Flat-Tire Day Ever

Sometimes I wonder if the blow-ups might be the Universe’s mischievous way of reminding me that I am not in charge. That I am not as much in control as I like to think that I am. Most days, I sit in my car, I turn the ignition key, and the engine starts to roar.  It’s pretty awesome! I make things happen.  I am powerful.  I feel like God. I am on my way, going places, doing stuff.

Ha, ha, says the Universe, You kiddo make me laugh! and Poof! goes my tire.

Sometimes I wonder if the blow-up might be just a cosmic assessment tool, a feedback of sort, designed to show me my true level of maturity.

I want to think of myself as competent, poised, mature adult capable of keeping my cool while weathering life’s various curve-balls.  I got out of bed this morning. I am dressed.  I am ready to go and face the giants.

The flat-tire days show me that inside this middle-aged woman’s body, there might be lurking a toddler either screaming or pouting because somebody blocked her goal.

Waaaaah! Why did You do that to me, oh you, you malevolent Universe?!!! You are so mean!

But Universe rarely responds to such accusations, sadly accustomed to being misunderstood and slandered.

In our family books there is a saying,

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

Getting our way sometimes may involve lathering it on and sweet-talking.

But we never call it manipulation.

And if that fails, we may feel compelled to use brute force in order to ensure that we remain in control.  

But we don’t call it intimidation.

We see no problems anywhere... that is, until Murphy intervenes. Until Murphy steps in and pops the tire.  And with our car useless, I have nothing left to do but … breathe in... and breathe... out.... several times...

Relax a little.

Let somebody else be in charge.   

And when I settle enough to stop whining and pouting and striving, I may realize it truly was Murphy’s kindness to allow the blow-up.  For he drew me to sit down, all noise and rush quieted until my restless soul is quieted within me as well.

Cease striving and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me.  Psalm 131:2

Monday, November 10, 2014

Flat Tire Day

Yesterday a friend told me she got not one but two flat tires in a single day. No kidding.

She was stranded in her own home, stuck with two useless vehicles with matching, fully deflated front-right tires. 

Of course, all this happened on a day with many places to go, many things to do. Good things to do, mind you! It’s not like she was planning to rob a bank or try to get away with a murder or something!

I feel frustration rising up inside me.


That's my way of empathizing with my friend and shaking my little fist at the Universe.

I know that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach very well. 

I know all about flat-tire days.

It’s the days when you feel there is a divine conspiracy bent on ruining your day. A cosmic plot determined on subverting every plan ‘of mice and men’ regardless of how lofty and noble – how important! - they may be .

The Murphy’s Law days which remind you if there is anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

Whether we should attribute it to the malignity of matter, to the total depravity of inanimate things, hurry, worry, or what not, the facts (of the veracity of the Murphy’s Law) remains is how Nevil Maskelyne, a very observant British magician from last century puts it.

For some reason, I find his take on the subject rather humorous.

Visualize ugly, mean tires.

Imagine rotten promiscuous rubber.

The Goblins of Hurry. The Gremlins of Worry.

The Whatnot!

Go ahead, laugh if you wish.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Leave It to Professionals - the Epilogue

Surrounded by the bits of torn wallpaper and the rubble of the crumbling wall I realize I might be in way over my head.

It’s quite obvious that my need is much greater than a can of Venetian plaster can solve.

I need a professional!

I need someone who actually knows what they are doing.

Somebody who is familiar with crumbling walls and what it takes to rebuild them.

Somebody whose knowledge doesn't come just from reading builders’ blogs and manuals but from the gritty personal experience, the rough and the cracks on their hands proving that they actually do their work themselves.

Someone who not only possesses the patience and the skill but is also willing to stick with me through the long journey - some may call it a ‘detour’ - ahead of me.

Through the filling of the unsightly holes and rebuilding the backing.

Through smoothing down the rough till it matches the texture of the drywall.

Through prepping and priming.

Until the surface is finally ready for that beautifully understated sage green Venetian Plaster.

I need someone who is willing to stay with me through all my 'are we there yet?'

 Who is willing to stay with me even when I want to quit. 

Who is willing to stay with me all the way to the end, until the work is finished and the towels are hung and the toilet paper roll is placed in the holder. 

Right now it seems to me like a God-size job that requires God-size qualifications.

But then a funny thought crosses my mind...

OMG! My God was once a Jewish carpenter...

I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you. Hebrews 13:5