Category Archives: Thinking

Enough


There is a small poem from St. Teresa of Avila that has been ringing in my mind over this last week.  Read and think.

Let nothing upset you,
let nothing startle you.
All things pass;
God does not change.
Patience wins
all it seeks.
Whoever has God
lacks nothing:
God alone is enough.


Can’t Handle It


Have you ever noticed that there are times in life when the same theme shows up in different places? That has happened for me recently. Different conversations with different people have been fueling thoughts that I have been stewing over for a while. So naturally, I decided to attempt putting into writing. Here it is- for whatever it’s worth.

Over the past few years, I have come to the conclusion that I have been deceived. I’m not sure where this originated from and I’m convinced it was not on purpose by any one person- but it happened. Like I said, it has been over the last few years that I’ve come to this conclusion, but the theme has been brought up in conversations and life events recently. The deception is this: Whatever comes into my life, I can handle it.

At some point in life, this idea was impressed on me. I think a lot of people believe this. But I don’t. There are a lot of life events and situations that I just flat cannot handle. They are too overwhelming and too big for me. I don’t know how to process them or restore them or fix them. And somewhere along the way, I was left with the impression that I should be able to. What is even more interesting, is that I was left with the impression that when something comes into my life it is because God sent it my way because I could handle it. Again, I don’t believe that.

But here is what I do believe: I believe God can handle everything that comes into life. I also believe God will supply what I need in the middle of it all.There are going to be life events that are overwhelming, but if I am walking with Jesus during them- then He is the one who helps handle it. I can’t handle it.

If I could, I wouldn’t need His promise to always be with me (Matthew 28:20; Acts 17:27-18; 1 John 3:24.)

If I could handle it, I wouldn’t need His promise to give me what I need to say when I need to say it (Mark 13:11).

If I could handle everything, there would be no need for His promise of help (John 14:26).

If I could handle the temptations of life, I would not need God to give me a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Bottom line for me is this: I’m glad I don’t have to handle everything life throws at me. I am very grateful that instead, I have a loving God and Savior and Helper who are there for me. When life events and circumstances come my way that I can’t handle, I am so glad that God is Immanuel…. God with us… God with me… giving me what I need to get through what I cannot handle. If I had to rely on me to handle all of life, I would be discouraged and I know I would fail. But instead I have Jesus to take it too. I have the Holy Spirit to guide me! I am so glad I do not have to rely on my ability to handle what comes my way!


Global


I am often amazed at how connected our world is. It really is amazing. There were a few times this summer that I just sat amazed at this.

One time happened very early this summer. I was planning to be in Wales and England for part of the summer. Some of that time was going to be spent with my friends at their church. They asked me to speak at their church as part of my time there. So there was a day we were on Skype planning the church service. It was crazy. We were thousands of miles apart, but planning a time of worship together. I signed off of Skype and just thought, “Wow. This is amazing.”

Before I left for the UK, my brother introduced me to a wonderful little app called WhatsApp. It’s a fabulous messaging app that allows you to text internationally, without charge, to other WhatsApp users. It’s awesome! The best part of getting WhatsApp was the unexpected text/video from my little goddaughter. Just a video saying hello. Totally awesome!

Then, in another part of the summer, I had a visit from some very good friends from Brazil. I actually call them my family. So as my Brazilian mom and sister sat in my living room, I contemplated how amazing it is that I know them. My Brazilian brother and sister each spent a year living with our family as exchange students. Now we are deeply connected and call one another family. As a matter of fact, my sister and I text back and forth whenever the fancy strikes. Again, she is thousands of miles away, but we are connected. Amazing.

It’s just amazing how we can connect all over the world. One of the awesome things about most of my connections is that we share a deeper connection that goes way beyond what technology can do. It’s our connection because of Jesus. We are part of a bigger family when we have entered into God’s family! That is more amazing to me than just being able to connect with people thousands of miles away… I know that even if I don’t connect with them, we are still family. We still serve, love, and worship the same God. I think that is extremely amazing!

And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on the earth.”

Revelation 5:9-10


Before the Miracle


One of my good friends had this statement on his status the other day, “Every miracle from God begins with an impossible situation!”

I have been thinking about that for a few days now. It is one of those thoughts that when I hear it (or read it) expressed, I think, “Oh, of course. That makes sense.” But then it causes me to pause. The statement makes sense to me- every time I read about Jesus performing some miracle in the New Testament, it’s because someone was in an impossible situation. Doctors could not help, science could not explain, people could not reconcile… then Jesus stepped in. A miracle was the only solution.

But what this statement has been causing me to really think about the last few days is the time before the miracles. I thought about the guy at the healing pool- in John 5. The guy was an invalid for 38 years. That’s a long time. For 38 years, his situation was impossible. I was also thinking about the poor blind guy in John 9. The poor guy was born blind. He spent his whole life in an impossible situation. Then there’s poor Lazarus. The guy had to literally die before a miracle happened. Talk about impossible.

But if you are anything like me, you’re thinking at this point, “Well, those are nice stories. But miracles don’t really happen anymore. Impossible situations, yes; miracles, maybe not so much.”

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I got a message about a young guy I’ve known for a few years. He was in the hospital waiting for a serious brain surgery. The doctors had discovered bleeding around his brain and needed to take care of it. But they were concerned about his coming out of the surgery without being paralyzed, or with his eyesight, or even alive… It was very scary for him and his family. The surgery happened, everything went really well, and at the end of it, the doctors and family talked about the smoothness of the surgery being a miracle. He’s expected to make a full recovery. But the waiting before… not what anyone wanted to go through. It felt like life was impossible.

Another friend of mine shared this on August 27th, “We’ve not received any answers yet on my brother’s vision. They’re doing an MRI this morning to explore some possibilities. Please keep him [and his family] in your prayers. This is a frightening time. As of right now, he’s experiencing complete blindness.” A couple of days later, this was the report, “Latest info: still no vision and now is heart rate has dropped to 43.” Then just a few hours later, this is posted, “God gives sight to the blind! I just talked to my brother who called to tell me that while some friends of his were praying with him this morning, and while he was listening to the song “Blessed be the name of the Lord” (He gives and takes away), God touched his eyes and restored his sight… Do not be afraid, I AM is with you!” One moment there is no sight, the next, the guy can see. It seemed impossible…

Now, I haven’t got a clue why God seems to do miracles in some situations and not others. Honestly, it frustrates me to not know why. But I also have to admit something. I’m not sure I always expect God to show up in impossible situations. Too often, I’m more overwhelmed by the situation than expecting God to do something. So maybe packed in that little statement is more of a challenge on how to view my impossible situations. Maybe there is something to learn during the impossible part that makes the miracle part that much more significant. I don’t really know. I don’t have an answer about it all… But here is what I do know and what I need to return to no matter what:

God is still God of the impossible situation.


Life and Death


Behind my home is a cemetery. Yes, as in a graveyard complete with headstones from the 1800’s, flags at Veteran’s Day, and the occasional graveside service. The cemetery has some of the best paths for running and walking. It’s generally empty, and if there are cars driving through, they drive pretty slow. The other day I was running through the cemetery and a song by Jon Foreman came on. Here are the lyrics:

I’m gonna miss you
I’m gonna miss you when you’re gone
She says, “I love you
I’m gonna miss hearing your songs”

And I said, “Please,
Don’t talk about the end
Don’t talk about how every living thing goes away”
She said, “Friend,
All along I thought I was learning how to take
How to bend not how to break
How to live not how to cry
But really I’ve been learning how to die
I’ve been learning how to die”

Hey everyone
I got nowhere to go
The grave is lazy
He takes our body slow

And I said, “Please,
Don’t talk about the end
Don’t talk about how every living thing goes away”
She said, “Friend,
All along I thought I was learning how to take
How to bend not how to break
How to laugh not how to cry
But really I’ve been learning how to die
I’ve been learning how to die”
Die…Die…
I’ve been learning how to die

[Learning How To Die; Jon Foreman]

Very recently, my friend and I were talking and somehow we ended up talking about death. We all know we are going to die, but everything changes when you begin to put a timetable or expectancy on death. It’s like knowing there is a bomb, but then having someone actually light the fuse. Living completely changes in that moment. Authenticity becomes a must. Goals are reprioritized. The trivial things of yesterday are viewed through a different lens. Hopefully, for the better. Being forced to think about what impact is left behind can frighten or challenge….

Challenge us to consider how our life might last beyond our death.

Just something I’ve been thinking about….


Summer Days


I, for one, am really sad to see summer come to a close. But it is officially happening. The blankets are plied back on my bed and the hoodies are reappearing in my wardrobe. The other night I got home about 8:45 and I found myself thinking it was rather dark out. Summer is ending.

In remembrance of the great summer months, I thought I would share with you the top 5 things I love about summer.

  1. Sunshine. I love being warm and I love when the sun is out during summer! It generally means warm weather and long days to play. There is always a possibility of sunshine in the other seasons, but warm, summer sunshine makes me very happy. And there is nothing quite as exciting as when you realizing it’s 9pm and there it’s still light enough outside to play!
  2. No School. Now I’m not currently in school, but let me explain. There is a general, cultural relaxation when school is out of session. It just makes life more fun! Kids are out playing, families don’t feel rushed to get home to do homework or get ready for bed, and most people take the time to do more playing!
  3. Swimming. I cannot tell you how much I love to swim! It’s even better when it’s at the beach, but when that doesn’t happen near as much as I would like. But I love it when it’s warm enough to just play in the water. I think one of my highlights this summer was meeting up with a bunch of kids and parents at the pool for a few hours of swimming (totally related to my #2 reason for loving summer!). It was awesome to see some of the kids accomplish the diving board for the first time! It was awesome.
  4. Food. Not even kidding. There is something great about food in the summer time. I mean really, it’s BBQ, Farmer’s Market, and berry season. Can it get better than that? I think not.
  5. Shorts. If I could handle the cold, I would wear my shorts all year! But I can’t handle the cold. So the shorts will soon be packed away for another year. That makes me sad. But I really enjoyed using them while I could!

That’s my top 5. What about yours? What has been the best part of summer? Have you really thought about it? Here’s what I would encourage you to do: Think about it! But don’t just leave it there. James 1:17 says “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” What if we took each moment that was fun, each thing we enjoyed, and turned it into praise to God? One of the things I’ve learned is that when I start looking for the good things God has given me, it helps me focus. I realize that there is a lot of good things from God! And actually, when I am looking for God’s good gifts, I’m not to bothered by the end of summer any more… Instead, I’m overwhelmed by good gifts!


Return


The last couple of days have been really nice outside so I decided that I should walk to work. It just makes sense. I live close and it’s really nice and there is no real need to drive. So I walked to work. I think the best part is that it gives me a bit of time to just think.

Today I was thinking about a conversation I had last night with a friend. We were talking about Philippians 3:20-21. There’s this phrase in there that talks about eagerly waiting for Jesus’ return… It stood out to me and made me wonder, “Do I really live expecting Jesus to return?” It really has me thinking….

At the beginning of the church, everyone really believed that Jesus would return to earth very soon. We have the account in Acts 1 of the angels telling everyone that Jesus would come back the same way He left. And they really believed this: that Jesus was physically alive after his death, that he actually went to heaven, and that he really would physically come back to earth. But here we are centuries later, and that hasn’t happened.

But I don’t think this is an excuse to not expect him.

I suspect that if I lived in expectation of Jesus returning to earth, some of my choices and thinking would change. Instead of just expecting one day to die and be taken to heaven, if I live expecting that Jesus will return at any time, I think things would be a little bit different….

That’s what I was thinking over on the way to work this morning.