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Sitting On My Asset?

Two Heads are Better Than One

VARIOUSI’m sitting here staring at my laptop, willing a blog-worthy topic to jump out at me from the plethora of open articles on my taskbar. I’m also getting progressively colder. At some point I have taken off my sweater …probably upstairs when I was giving Lucy her bath and had the space heater on. Down here it’s quite chilly.

Sigh. Guess I’ll trudge upstairs and get my sweater.

Upstairs, I grab my devotional and a shawl…where did I put that sweater?...and head back down to my computer.  There on the chair is the discarded sweater.

I’d been sitting on it.

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Social Media Examen

Wow. Not only as a blogger, but as a theatre director–with actors looking at me for guidance, hoping that I know what I’m doing…and as a “mom” of a precocious and head-strong two-and-a-half year old…it is easy to look in all the wrong places for affirmation. To take our encouragement from the good rehearsal, the obedient and affectionate toddler. But what happens when the rehearsal falls apart? When the toddler throws a fit? This piece is such a good reminder! I hope you appreciate it as much as I did, and that you’ll spend more time reading my friend Pastor Jon.

300 words a day

At the end of the day there is often value in looking back. There is even a process of prayer to help with this. It’s called the prayer of examen.

  • You acknowledge that God is present all the time.
  • You tell God you are grateful for something. For everything.
  • You ask God to help you remember your day, to bring to mind what he wants you to see.
  • You then review your day from God’s perspective. Where did you love? Where did you wage peace? Where did you encourage? Where were you encouraged? Where did you cause pain?
  • And then you respond to what you’ve seen, with repentance, gratitude, restitution, renewal.

At the core of examen is asking God where to look in your day, to help you see your self, your life, the way that he wants. And as I’ve been thinking about the process of examen for the past…

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This is a pretty fair description of my blogging life right now. Explains my silence here, anyway!

Two Heads are Better Than One

alarm clock 4Step 1: Set your clock for a bit earlier than usual, so that you can write your first draft before the two-year-old wakes up.  Then hit snooze until the German Shepherd sticks his cold nose in your face and wills you to let-him-out-for-pete’s-sake-what’s-wrong-with-you.

Step 2: Brew a large cup of coffee and decide to check your email while the coffee is brewing. 30 minutes later …when you’ve answered three emails, deleted 12 others, caught up on Facebook (including taking your turn in Words with Friends) and checked the weather… your coffee is cold, and the toddler is stirring.

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Two Heads are Better Than One

HobbitMountainWalking

Note:  I am aware that at least one of our good friends, James over at Biltrix, is going to strongly disagree with me over this review. You should probably also go and read his reaction to the film in order to get a “fair and balanced” view of it.

I tried hard not to include many spoilers in this, but if you haven’t seen the film yet, you may want to skip to the last third of the post…I’ve marked it with an asterisk*.

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rsz_the-hobbit

My husband and I don’t get many evenings to spend together without granddaughter in tow. So this past Saturday night we jumped at our opportunity to view The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. We’re both big fans of the original Lord of the Rings (LOTR) movies. [In fact, true confession: I saw The Fellowship of the Ringseven times in the movie theater. And…

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Our pastor’s devotional message for Christmas Eve was rich with ideas to ponder.  He unwrapped (literally and figuratively) the three gifts of God given us in Christ’s birth, using Luke 2:1-20 as his text.

“For unto you is born this day a Savior…”

The first gift God gave was Salvation. We need to be saved FROM our sins (as a drowning man in rough seas must first be pulled from the water);  we are saved TO a faith community and a relationship with God (as the drowning man is hauled into a lifeboat); we are saved FOR a walk in new life and new purpose (as the man is returned to the safety of dry land).   Forgiveness, repentance and recompense.  If we refuse to forgive a repentant brother in Christ, are we saying that Christ’s death was not sufficient for the task? If God forgives, can we refuse to ?

…”Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.”  

The second gift God gave was Peace.  Peace in this world doesn’t mean the absence of conflict, but the presence of the Savior in the midst of conflict. We will never have true peace among all men on this earth until the Lord’s return, but in the meantime all His children can experience His peace which is beyond human reason and comprehension, because we have His presence with us, living in us.

The third gift of God that night was Hope. While Salvation speaks to what is past, and Peace allows us to live in this present life, Hope looks forward to that blessed day when we shall be with God in glory. Death will be swallowed up in life, every tear will be wiped away. Do you know this verse of “Joy to the World”?

No more let sin or sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground!

He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found…

Far as the curse is found… Far as, far as the curse is found.

May your Christmas be rich with the gifts of Salvation, Peace and Hope.

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This is beautifully expressed and to the point.

Hopeless, it seems. Everything. Seems. Hopeless…For the unborn. Even the biggest and most respected Christians have their bad day but this has been a messed up year. With every step gained, we had to take two backward. I will never understand how anyone can say that unborn human life is not more important than any other piece of legislation in the history of EVER. Human life has been reduced to less than EVERYTHING in every statehouse in America.

After the Sandy Hook shooting, we are up in arms – and should be – over 20 children being gunned down in a public school. BUT where was the uproar over the other 4000+ unborn children that died that day from murderous chemicals, dismemberment from cold surgical instruments or vacuumed out of the womb a limb at a time? Where is the uproar for these unnamed children that won’t know birthdays…

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Two Heads are Better Than One

“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”           Matthew 2:18 NIV

This has all happened before. Innocent children’s lives snuffed out at the hands of a madman in a small town. No warning; no mercy. Only savage slaughter.

We can piece together the reasons, after the fact. Jealousy, revenge, anger, irrational fear, despair. None of these words ameliorates the crime.

Explanations are not comforting and offer no acceptable excuse.

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I kept thinking about what I’d written, after I got in bed last night.  Re-reading it this evening, it’s still a pretty good summary of where I am right now.  What I’m wrestling with is, “Why?”  (I think I’ve spent most of my life asking, “Why?” in one form or another.)

One of the many drawbacks of aging is that I’ve seen my share of failure, and it inevitably leads to a bit of cynicism.  I have seen lives transformed by faith in Christ, but I’ve seen far too many fall back into sin and stay there.   (This often makes me ponder: If I feel deeply disappointed in people who fall, how must the Lord feel?  So glad I’m not Him.)  So there is world-weariness.  I can no longer feel any hope that this world is going to turn around again.  I suspect that others have felt the same, at various seemingly apocalyptic times in history.

But there is also just plain weariness.  I have aches and pains I never expected to have…certainly not this young.  My knees aren’t working very well these days, sending sharp pains of disapproval whenever I insist on descending stairs…or rising from a chair.  My hands have suddenly this fall become arthritic, which is inconvenient to say the least for a writer, pianist, piano teacher and full-time grandmother of an active almost-two-year-old.

I have so many practical duties to attend to during the rare times when Lucy is asleep and I’m not.  Early in the morning I often pay bills, answer business emails, read yesterday’s newspaper.  During naptime two days a week, I teach piano.  The other days I may be cleaning or cooking or running an errand.  At night, after she’s in bed?  I’m bushed.    For much of the year I’m in rehearsal three nights a week.  I come home at 10:15 and read for a few minutes before I collapse.  Otherwise, I may be doing research, working on my own script, or spending some rare quality time with my husband.  There never were enough hours in the day, and lately I feel as if mine have secretly been shortened even more.

So–there I go, whining.  Could I go to bed a bit earlier (maybe not read a chapter of a book at all) and get up in time to read my Bible and pray?  Yes, probably.  And some mornings I do.  I’m typically reading several books at once, at least one or two of which are some variety of Christian nonfiction.  Right now it’s Michael Behe’s The Edge of Evolution and the Dietrich Bonhoeffer biography by Eric Metaxas.   But I’m not spending any time in Bible study or meditating on the Word.  I don’t journal–it’s one more thing to do with my hands, and I’m avoiding putting extra strain on them at a time of year when I’m required to play the piano more often.

I think, actually, that this is my journal, or would be if I used it as such.   That’s what I did years ago when I first started blogging.   The difference then was that I was blogging about what I felt the Lord was teaching me…now it seems I’d be blogging about what He’s NOT saying.  Is this a “dark night of the soul” experience?  I really don’t feel bereft.  I really do think this is my fault, not God’s.  But it seems as if I should be alarmed, and I don’t have enough energy to be so.   That in itself is troublesome.  If I feel this way at 50, what kind of old person am I going to be?  I should be someone that others are turning to for mentoring, guidance, an example.  I don’t think I’m any kind of example.   The only thing I think is an improvement is that I feel I’m more patient with Lucy than I was with my sons.  But maybe “mellow” is just another name for too old to care?

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So I wrote the title of this post.  And then I logged out, because my granddaughter woke up from her nap.

And now it’s time for bed, and I’ve logged back in to stare at the blank page some more.  What is it that I want–or don’t want–to say?

Maybe it has to do with a growing feeling of ambivalence in me.   I’m not uncertain about what I believe, but I have lost the passionate desire to live it out.  Has turning 50 done this to me?  No, truth be told, it’s been coming on for quite awhile.  The intense morning devotional times, the pages of conversation with God in my journal…those were fading away a couple of years before Lucy was born.  Certainly I’m more tired now than I have ever been, with more aches and pains and no less responsibility to a variety of commitments.  But getting up early to be with the Lord is no longer a high priority, and it makes me sad.  Inviting people to church, even though I love my church, has no urgency.  And telling people about Jesus–never my strong suit to begin with–just doesn’t happen.

I’ve been a Christ-follower for 28 years.  What has happened to me?  It certainly isn’t that I’m acting in my own strength…more and more, I know that I can’t.  As the director of a faith-based theater company, I know the power of prayer, I delegate better than I used to, I praise God for the widening network of volunteers, resources and partnerships we have developed.  As a full-time grandma, I love conversations about God with Lucy…but when she evinces no great interest, I’m not really alarmed.

I forget to pray for my adult sons, who are not walking with the Lord.   I cry less.  I have lost much of my appetite for spiritual food.   I have shelves full of intriguing books which I have not read, as well as profound books which I should probably read again.  But I don’t.  What is wrong with me?  Spiritual apathy, perhaps a form of acedia, has set in.  I go through the motions–church, worship team, grace before meals (sometimes)…once in a while, when praying for a particular person or need, I feel a momentary connection.  But it is fleeting.  Every so often, a song will hit me just the right way and I open my heart (and usually bawl my eyes out)–but it is so seldom nowadays.

Is this what growing old in the Lord is supposed to be?  I sincerely doubt it.  I certainly hope not.  But I am at a loss as to what in the world to do about it.  Or rather–I can think of a number of things (they’re called spiritual disciplines and I’ve read a LOT about them), but I can’t muster up much enthusiasm for any of them.

Maybe my biggest problem is that I haven’t asked for prayer about this.  So, my little following of…20, is it?…this is my cry for help, as loud as I can yelp at the moment.  It’s not a last gasp.  I don’t think the Lord is finished with me yet.  But something’s gotta give…and I’m pretty sure it’s me.

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Wrote some thoughts on the culture (over at Thabto), as reflected in current film and stage.

Two Heads are Better Than One

“That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived there, they went to the Jewish synagogue.  And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message.

They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.  As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men.”  (Acts 17:10-12, NLT)

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One of several films I’m looking forward to seeing soon, Spielberg’s Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, was reviewed recently by R.J. Moeller over at Acculturated.com.

Here’s an excerpt which highlights what was, to me, a very interesting insight:

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