Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The First Day

Today is the official start of Lent and the official start of our fast. Having relocated several months ago things just haven't come together as we hoped. We seek God and follow as best we know how. Every now and then along this particular journey we have wondered if we're on the right track. Thus an agreement between Wes and I to fast and pray so we hear from God. For some people that probably sounds kind of weird - don't you just analyze a situation, decide what you want and then go for it? Yeah, sort of. But our analysis is never complete until we hear God's side of the story. And sometimes, even though we don't see the full picture we wait on what we think we want because of God's plan.
Our choice of fast is to eliminate all junk food, most processed food and animal products. This is our version of a "Daniel Fast" - you can read about in the Old Testament in Daniel Chapter 1.
Spiritual fasting is a time set aside to abstain from certain foods or activities to focus on God's presence in our lives. Sometimes I think of it as saying to God "I want to hear from you - I need you -- and I'm willing to go without some things I find particularly comfortable to focus on that."
And right now we want to hear God's voice above all the rest -- including our own. I'll keep you posted on our progress - both the fast and the hearing from God.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What Will You Give Up?

Regardless of your faith it is pretty hard to miss Ash Wednesday - the official start of Lent. As a child and young adult I struggled to understand the point of not eating meat on Fridays and giving up chocolate. My "thing" with chocolate goes way back. Until recently I would say I still did not get Lent. To me, being told when to fast, what to sacrifice, and even what to "give up" suggests that my mind and body can participate but my heart does not have to engage. If that's the case, it would seem the point is missed.

Ash Wednesday got its name from an ancient tradition of throwing ashes on one's head to demonstrate sorrow for sins. Lent has been on the chuch calendar since the first or second century and by the 7th century, Ash Wednesday became the "start date" for Lent.

Jesus spent time in contemplation and time on the mountain in prayer. Ecclesiastes 3 tells us "there is a time for everything"; the Apostle Paul was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem before Pentecost (Acts 20:16); these and other passages seem to indicate the early Christians observed certain sacred periods. Maybe there's something to that.

Here's what I think - just because the ritual from my youth held no lasting meaning for me does not mean Lent is not worthy of observance. While the Bible does not offer Lenten menus, it does say, "Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed." (1 Peter 1:13)

I can get on board with that -- no matter what I'm eating.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

"My wheelchair is a blessing"

Sometimes I am embarrassed. I think I have it tough. We don't have a new church home; Wes' law practice is starting slowly and we need income; I don't have a job; when will we really feel connected in Toledo; were really supposed to come "home"?...then I look at people who have real problems.

I've been reading Joni Eareckson Tada's book - "The God I Love" - which should be on your short list of books to read this year - and I am embarrassed. She has a severed spinal column. She has been living in a wheelchair since she was 18. She can say with honesty that her accident and her life in a wheelchair has been the greatest blessing in her life. It brought her closer to God, it has taken her into a life of ministry that is international in scope. She brings awareness and help and hope to the plight of those who are disabled. She glories God.

My problems are real and they are a challenge. But they are temporary! We will find work and have income and find a church home and be involved in ministry again. My challenge now can be what draws me closer to God or away from him. My challenges reveal my purpose -- to know and love Jesus. I can trust God in spite of my problems, because of my problems, or simply because He is trustworthy. Either way I can commit to knowing and loving him more in the challenges I face.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” — Romans 8:35-39

The Flu

About the Flu

Help protect yourself and your family from the flu by knowing the facts:
  • The flu is a contagious virus that is spread from one person to another through tiny droplets that are released into the air when a person infected with the flu coughs or sneezes.
  • Sometimes, people can become infected by touching their nose or mouth after touching something infected by the flu virus.
  • Most healthy adults can infect others one day before they begin experiencing and up to five days after they become sick. That means you can pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.
  • A typical case of the flu can last up to one week.
  • The flu can be a serious illness, particularly for mature populations aged 50 and older, and those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and asthma.

Now I Lay Me Down to Rest

No longer will I laugh at flu shots. Bring 'em on! I just spent 8 out of the last 12 days on the couch with a revolving docket of symptoms - fever, chills, cough, sore throat, cough, headache, cough, achy body...what a nightmare! Someone suggested it would be nice for me to have some down time so I could Like I didn't already have that 24 hours a day.

Thing is, it was what I needed. I had a different sort of rest - I think God used my couch time as a sort of "rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength." (Psalm 23:2-3)

Those of you who know me know that I haven't worked for several months. If nothing else, I have time. Time to read and think and reflect and do projects and sort of just hang around. And I've done all of that. But this time on the was different. I didn't just read and reflect. I talked to God. I listened. I had questions to ask and tough answers to listen to and ultimately it led to peace.

Because in recent weeks I haven't felt much peace. We felt God lead us out of Kingman, AZ last summer and we wanted to come "home". Home meant Ohio, closer to family and friends. Home did not come with a job for myself or Wes; it meant moving to Ohio and settling in and not knowing the future. And recently I've begun to worry. There's the bank balance; the law practice Wes is starting veeerrrrryyyyy slowly. The no income and daily outgo and not finding a church home and wanting to connect. And questions - what if's. Coulda/woulda/shoulda -- nothing can change the past.

Last week in the midst of the coughing and sleeping and reading and talking to God I felt renewed. The past remains the same. The future is unclear. But there's peace. And faith...and trust. The God who could raise Jesus from the dead is the same God who cares about me. Maybe he put me on the couch, maybe it was just a bug....but He is the One who can handle my needs he has not forgotten that I'm out here---he hasn't and he couldn't. That's peace.