Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Women's Weekend - Got Thirst?

On Friday and Saturday I spent some time at church with new friends and old. (Can we stop apologizing for getting old? It happens. I digress.)

Linda Dillow and her friend Bev came and shared their lives with us. Basically I heard them emphasizing that learning to be worshipers of God allows us to enjoy a loving relationship with God. If we do things backwards and focus on serving God as our first priority, we are destined for a list of not wonderful things. Burnout, unrelenting fatigue, doubt, discouragement, unable to face unexpected turns in life etc.

I agree.

How did she define worship? Two things - We love God above all else. We bow our lives to God. I've read half her book called Satisfy My Thirsty Soul. I think if you are aware that you are struggling to surrender your life to God and you are frustrated by that, her book has a shot at being helpful to you.

She invited the ladies to a 30 day challenge. She asked us to commit to 20 minutes of worship for 30 days straight. I wonder how many will say yes to this invitation? I wonder how many have some other things they need to sort out before they will be willing to say yes? I wonder what stories will come from those who participate? I wonder...

At the end, she asked us to think about the story of Abraham traipsing up a mountain with his son. When they arrived, Abraham was to sacrifice his only son. She asked us "Is there a march to the mountains going on with you? Is there something God wants you to sacrifice? Is there something that you are expected to trust God with in a way similar to his son? Are you willing to ask God if it is not obvious to you what it is? Are you willing to give it up? Is there provision in the thicket?" Easy questions like that. (she comments ironically)

I did discover what God was asking me for this weekend. I was thrilled by the assurance I received that if I was really ready to give it up, that peace was possible. I gave it up. So far I haven't taken it back. I do know peace. PRAISE GOD!

If you take Linda up on her 30 day challenge and want to talk about it, I am all ears!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Things you learn in a tax office on April 12th...

You should do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should not only look to your own interests, but also to the interest of others. Paul to the Philippians

Try that one on, April 12th in a CPA office.

People do things like walk in with 70 pages of documents and look sincerely perplexed when you can't promise them, by the end of the day, a completed extension. You see, you can file an extension on April 15th. But the IRS has no interest in you delaying payment. In fact they will charge you interest and penalties if you don't pay what you owe by April 15th. So a taxpayer either needs to sit himself down with Turbo Tax and answer all those questions. Or, you need to give your accountant enough time to essentially prepare your return. Hopefully only leaving one or two items to estimate because someone hasn't gotten their documents to you on time.

Alas neither of these choices were embraced so you the tax accountant are left with that shocked look. You mean you can't tell me for sure if I owe anything or not before April 15th? There is a part of you that wants to do the impossible, to sacrifice yourself more to make yet another client happy. Then when you realize you are being asked for the impossible you can be tempted to swing the total opposite extreme. You think things like... Are you kidding me? Seriously!!! Do you understand what we do here? Silly me. Of course they don't! That's why they have brought you their stuff.

It's such a killer to have worked so hard since February 1st, to do good work for many people. To then to have late comers walk in and communicate displeasure at your unwillingness to serve them by their definition of well. So hard to not get a little bitter about it!

You take a deep breath and the hard and truthful answer gets delivered. "We can file an extension. We can't calculate what you owe. If it turns out you did not pay enough. You will owe penalties and interest as well. But we can help you avoid this next year."

That answer actually considers someone else as better than yourself. It offers them respect because it is hard news to deliver and it is truthful. My sad moment today was when I found myself seriously tempted to belittle a latecomer and make them feel ridiculous. Definitely not a reaction that is considering someone else as better than myself. Quite the opposite really. Interesting that I'm only seriously tempted to that in some kind of fantasy world. We've all trained ourselves to remain "professional" in such encounters.

This is why everything in life is sacred ground. Every work environment provides you the opportunity to truly practice loving and respecting other people and doing it in a way that is not unloving or disrespectful to yourself. Every family environment is the same too. How can we think in terms of us? Not you or me?

With some people, I did well today. It was about us solving a problem together. With others. I didn't do as well as I would like to do in the future. I don't want to respond with irritation and self justifying thoughts. I'm grateful for another day to keep these words from scripture in mind and invite the Lord to help me try again.

Anybody need an extension filed?

Cracked myself up!

Sunday, April 04, 2010



no strings



he seeks

he rescues

questions: his specialty

creates life where there was death






no boasting






rejected by most


long suffering


never controlling





he doesn't want your fear of him to keep you from him

he wants you to be able to see him

to be set free by him

Jesus: Listen, I'm standing at the door. If you hear my voice and open the door. I will come in to be with you and eat with you and you with me.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


Just finished a book called the Good and Beautiful God, by James Bryan Smith

I was assigned to read it a chapter at a time starting last September.

I haven't been able to read as much as usual the last few weeks due to my work schedule. (Tax season is over in 10 working days!) After work today, I realized if I grabbed this one I could finish it.

The title of the last chapter is "How to Make a Pickle".

The comparison of us to the creation of a pickle was simple. You can't rush the making of a pickle. You can't rush the transformation of a soul into the image of Christ.

There was a lot more detail than that, but the part that stuck out to me is that we, being a society that is so passionate about instant gratification, have to be convinced that growth in God is normally slow. When we don't accept this, we tend to get inspired to do something that might lead to growth and it doesn't get quick results so we are tempted to conclude there is something wrong with us and give up. Or, we just expect fast and we don't get fast so we lose our inspiration.

Smith even goes so far as to say that hurry or the need to hurry is of the Enemy. He point out that it is possible to go quickly with our movements being based in hurry. Hurry is an action born in fear. Interesting.

Other thoughts to consider from this chapter:

choose to ruthlessly eliminate hurry
remove boredom by choosing observation instead
create margin

I do the first by putting cushion between meetings with people. I'm always sorry that I didn't, when I don't. Noticing that helps me plan differently the next time. It also means that I have to be okay with potential downtime between meetings. Thus the need for a purse big enough to carry a book at all times. :)

I have learned to be more observant. My primary teacher in this has been Dave. A good photographer is a good observer.

I plan my schedule around making time to read, pray and exercise. I think about the rhythms of my family and avoid scheduling things on a regular basis that might interrupt that rhythm to much. That took a while for me to learn. It was painful for all of us until I learned it.

This chapter was a reminder to trust God and leave room for his sense of timing. An encouragement that I needed to hear...brought me back from fear to faith.

Tomorrow is Easter. Talk about a day for celebrating God's sense of timing. God's doesn't arrive to early and doesn't move to late. I'll be pondering that tomorrow.

Happy Easter!