Friday, September 28, 2012

Five Minute Friday: GRASP

Here is the premise:
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.

3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

The word is given. GRASP
First the desperate thoughts. Grasping onto...Grasping at straws.

Then I am reminded...Ephesisans 3:20. The One who is at work within us can do abundantly, amazingly more than we can ever dare to hope or dream.

Do I get that? Do you?
Anything I can grasp as possible in my mind, He can do better.

I see BIG dreams - the ability to reach and help lots of people through blogs and books and motivational speaking. But what does He see? What is His purpose?

Sometimes that lack of knowing turns my grasping into frustration. His timing is not the same as mine. His ways are higher, and often unseen.
I grasp to hang on to the dreams...and He shakes His head because there is SO MUCH MORE coming.
I hear Him saying, "Don't grasp to things you see just to hang on - GRASP on to Me, to dreams, to My Promises. Let go of what you think is secure and FLY!"

I'm going to try His way today. How about you? What are you grasping onto today?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Foot stomping, Garth Brooks and a bag on my head

I am a bit grumpy today.
Slept too long. I tell myself it is the ongoing stress addressed in past blogs. But really, it is a lack of discipline. I admit it. We will discuss that in a subsequent blog.

But I am also grumpy because a couple things aren't working out as I thought they would.
As per normal for the past 2.5 years, I wanted the financial resolution to be finalized by now. It isn't. And for reasons beyond my comprehension, my foot stomping isn't changing anything!!
Now I am planning an event that is not taking the shape the way I pictured.  And for reasons beyond my comprehension, my foot stomping isn't changing anything!!


Then the still, small Voice comes: It isn't about you.
It isn't about you.
I don't understand what you are saying!
It isn't about you.
It really isn't it. Once again.

Second: Reflection

I can, in a second, name four people I love who are fighting cancer/blood disorders.
Nancy, my dear dear friend, in treatment for a second battle with ovarian cancer.
David, in chemo right this minute for lymphoma. His willingness to be an instrument for God's words has changed my life, and made our church and city a better place.
Emily, fighter extraordinaire against leukemia. Her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles have been my friends for 35 years, and are beloved members of our community.
Robin. Sweet Robin. Beloved by millions and as down to earth as your next door neighbor. Moving forward after a bone marrow transplant to eradicate MDS.

I think of others whose lives have been irrevocably changed.
Amy - her husband of 2 years gone to Jesus in a flash. Wondering why God chose her to walk this difficult, unwanted path of single parenthood? I pray for her daily.
Linda - 32 years with the same company which is now bankrupt. Wondering what to do after devoting her entire work life to one employer
LK - 16 years of giving her heart, soul and amazing gifts to a team and a University, only to be unceremoniously shown the door. Wondering what the next chapter holds, and if that can be found without uprooting her whole life and family?

I get caught in my own problems too easily. I neglect to think about the challenges others face. How about you?

I know it's not about me. I do know that. But sometimes, in the midst of doubt, it's hard to see a purpose. I am wired to want to understand. I think if I can know "why" it will be easier. It never is, but I cling to the thought.
And thinking it's about me isn't always motivated by abject selfishness. Fear of failure or loss, past hurts, insecurity can all contribute to this self-consumption.

Scratching my way out of the "what about me" bag is not always easy.
How about you? Do you get frantic like you are going to suffocate?  Scratching and clawing at anything in your path?
Or crazy like a cat with something stuck on her head, running backwards to try to get away, wreaking havoc as you go?

Most of us are not completely self-absorbed. So a short pity party isn't a big deal, right?
Wrong. At least for me.

Wrong, because this self-indulgence causes me to lose focus, and subsequently lose time. It is a demon that distracts from my goals.
This says it better:

You know a dream is like a river, Ever changin' as it flows 
And a dreamer's just a vessel that must follow where it goes 
Trying to learn from what's behind you and never knowing what's in store 
Makes each day a constant battle just to stay between the shores* 

I started this blog 6 days ago. Yes, there have been other tasks, other items needing my attention. But, there has also been the distraction of "what about me?"

The irony of focusing on "what about me" is that days slip away...and dreams don't like to wait. The river of life keeps moving, with or without my attention.  After a few hours/days, I finally tear the bag from my head and some of the scenery is unfamiliar. I am further downstream, maybe against some rocks, maybe tangled in weeds along the side. Lost time, additional work.
And yet, the scene in my boat looks the same. "What about me" hasn't helped change my situation at all.

When will I learn?
It isn't about me. The dreams I have, the journey to make them come true, the road I travel on that journey...none of it is about me.
The good that will come from those dreams, the people I feel compelled to help, the way my family will benefit...none of it is about me.

Do I get to participate and benefit? Absolutely. But it still isn't ABOUT me.
And when I think it is, when I think I should be able to control the river, when I fuss because the current isn't what I want or the path is not what I anticipated, the dreams are delayed.

How about you? Do you ever get caught up in the "What about me" bag? Does it help? Do you see good results?

Maybe you will join me in being more present, more aware of others, less concerned about me me ME.
Imagine what a difference we could make.
Imagine how far our dreams might advance.
Let's give it a try.

And I will sail my vessel 'Til the river runs dry 
Like a bird upon the wind These waters are my sky 
I'll never reach my destination If I never try 
So I will sail my vessel 'Til the river runs dry*

We will talk again soon...
BP :) 

*Garth Brooks/Veronica Shaw

Friday, September 21, 2012

Five Minute Friday: WIDE

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..
Today's word is WIDE

The first thought in my head is the children's song about God's love being Deep and Wide.
Of course, I know it is. It encompasses and covers me daily...hourly.

But other things are wide as well.
Life's troubles.
That's the one that gets me today. Chaos all around and within. Maybe you are there as well?
Like a glass shattering on the floor. One minute clean, the next dangerous shards, visible and nearly invisible, in all directions.
Or maybe the chaos is not so wide. More like a tunnel. That's where I am now.
In the past, my advice to friends in challenging situations has been that we must walk/crawl/fight through the tunnel of chaos. It is the path to something better, with the other option being to retreat and see no change.
For me, the tunnel has been L-O-N-G, mostly dark, very wide, affecting everyone in my life - whether they know it or not.
But on this day, I trust and count on the WIDEness of God's mercy being a sea to this dark stream. I stand on His WIDE arms being strong enough to pull me from this tunnel of chaos. I look forward to being amazed by the WIDEness of  blessings ahead, and laughing at the misconception I have of what WIDE really means.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Santa, Jesus and increasing ugliness

Most days I have a few ideas for a blog. I wrestle with them, wait for them to jump out or line up with other thoughts.
But some days a topic is so's like coming down stairs and finding Santa came early!

Please understand - I don't write about politics. I write about real life, and politics is the polar opposite of real life.

I don't care about Mr. Romney's 47% comment. I really don't. His campaign manager probably does, but I don't.
Likewise, I understand the thought-process behind people wanting mandatory drug-testing for welfare recipients. I do get it. We think it is "fair" - as if anything in life is fair!

What troubles me is the loud Christian voice joining in to support these arguments. A presidential candidate implies that the 47% of Americans who paid no Federal income tax last year are irresponsible slackers who wait for government handouts and give no thought to their votes, and Christians cheer him on?

The numbers are wrong and the disparaging label is not upheld by the statistics. Very few of that 46% (not 47%) remotely fit the irresponsible slacker category. Many, in fact, work full time jobs but are still below the income requirement to pay federal taxes because of crazy deductions like children. Many others are already in the low income bracket and have deductions because they care for an elderly parent. Some are in a high income level and have found enough loopholes to prevent them from paying any taxes.
In the same way, statistics in every state where drug testing of welfare recipients was enacted shows the state spent more money administering the tests than was saved.          

I looked through all four Gospels this afternoon, and was unable to find a single time that Jesus judged a person before He helped or healed. The closest I see Him coming is in John 5 when He asks the man at the pool of Bethsada if he wants to get well? The man whines out some excuse, and Jesus heals him immediately and sends him on his way. No judgement. No lecture.

Jesus understands people, and he understands poverty. Most of us don't attempt to understand either. Fortunately for us, Jesus also understands human nature.
He understood it when His disciples wanted to send 5000 people off to find their own meal. Five loaves and 2 fish wasn't enough to feed them, let alone inciting a riot by feeding some of the crowd and not others. Their selfishness and fear overwhelmed any love they had for the people.

We're like that, aren't we? 
We say, "Well if I was ever in need, I wouldn't just sit around waiting for a hand-out," as if that makes us morally superior. We don't know the truth of the statistics, let alone know each story behind those statistics.
We judge what people with Access cards buy, promising ourselves that in the complete unlikelihood that we would ever share that circumstance, we would be much wiser shoppers. But we will never allow ourselves to be in that circumstance, will we?
We decide all assistance recipients are drug addicts because it makes us feel better than if we had to think some of those folks simply ran into hard times and can't quite find their way out.
We scoff at folks who comes to our church's weekly free dinner. Some of them are dirty and eat far too much. And we know they sneak food out. Then we decide others don't really look like they need a free meal - probably just moochers.

And while Jesus understands, it bugs me. I probably didn't have to spell that out.
I don't like to hear such talk from anyone, especially from Christians.

There is one reason I am who and what I am - the saving grace of Jesus. But for His grace and mercy, I could be homeless, friendless, destitute, a drug addict.  I could be a godless gazillionaire who would do anything for money, or an angry person who lashes out, or an insecure person who is offended by everything.

How about you, fellow Christian? Where would you be without God's saving grace?

Do I work hard? Of course I do. To honor the gifts He has given me. But I can't do anything on my own. And neither can you, fellow Christian.
That might be something to think before jumping again on the "those people are lazy, irresponsible slobs" bandwagon.
Words like that go directly against the same Bible that is used to condemn so many other things. And implying that Jesus would treat people the same way gives Him a really bad - false - name. And it surely doesn't make for a warm invitation to church.

Rather than standing in judgment of people, maybe we could just love them.
Not even love the sinner, hate the sin.
How about we just love. LOVE until they see our Jesus and want to love him too.
Then He can take care of the sin part. He does a much better job.
How about we do that? 

We will talk again soon...

Friday, September 14, 2012


I am participating in a project called 5 Minute Friday. Here are the rules:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

Today's word is FOCUS

Oh boy...I hope I can keep my mind on this for 300 seconds!
In my head, I hear Sally-Ann Roberts talking on Good Morning America about the fight her baby sister Robin has ahead with MDS.
Sally-Ann said, "We are keeping laser-like focus on Divine healing!" She also mentioned focus on God's promises and His love, and how important it would be to avoid any focus on negative thoughts.

That is EXACTLY what I need. How about you?

Studies have shown that, despite what we multi-taskers believe, in some instances we accomplish less by trying too much at once and spreading our focus so thin.
Obviously this doesn't mean I should stare at the washing machine through the entire cycle.
Laundry and cooking are fine.
Cooking and writing...not so much.

I wonder how often God wants to wrap the side of my head a bit and say FOCUS.
FOCUS on the best thoughts.
FOCUS on His promises.
FOCUS on His unfailing love.
FOCUS on His faithful provision.

FOCUS, with laser-like precision on the One who spoke me into life, the One who loves me more than I can conceive, the One who wants me to live in abundance, the One who has a plan for good, to prosper me in every way.
FOCUS on Him...and everything else will fall into place.
FOCUS with laser-like precision on today.