Saturday, January 29, 2005

"Am I in God's Place?"

After Jacob died, it occurred to Joseph's brothers that he might now seek revenge for the wrongs they'd committed against him so many years ago. Perhaps, they thought, Joseph had only delayed punishing them to avoid further pain to his dear father. They couldn't even face Joseph with their fears; instead they sent a messenger to plead their case to him.

I love Joseph's response: "Am I in God's place?" If anyone had reason to forget who he was, it would have been Joseph. After all, for several decades, he enjoyed a vast reign of power second only to Pharoah. All the nations of the world knew their future depended upon this man Joseph, who meted out food from the Egyptian storehouses to those he considered no threat to the prosperity of Egypt. Men from all nations had bowed the knee before this young Hebrew.

Through all this, Joseph never lost sight of his role in God's work. He was only the dreamer - God gave the dreams. And he was merely the actor in the miracle God had orchestrated - in Joseph's mind, it never ceased to be God's story.

So graciously he allayed his brothers' fears and assured them he only wants the best for them and their families. He reminds them that the events of the past years were all part of God's plan.

Wow. What a reminder for me. So often I get so wrapped up in my life and I actually think it's all about me. It's not. It's God's story and I'm just privileged to be a part of it. May I continually point others to the Author of the Story. (Read the conclusion to the story for yourself!)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

My Sister, The Writer!

For as long as I can remember, my sister has been the writer in the family. From the first Nothing Books we got from our gram, to a myriad of silly poems and sweet stories, to plays and children's programs, she's been the one with the golden pen in her hand.

If asked about her writing aspirations, my sister would most likely tell you now is not her time. I beg to disagree. Right now she is writing what will surely be her life's most significant work. Her words are not to be found scribbled on paper with pen, or typed on a computer. No, right now she is busy scribing lessons of character on four little hearts. Daily, amidst the routine of diapers and housework and refereeing, she manages to translate the principles of God's word into living lessons which are woven into the fabric of her children's lives. In an email, she told me she'd spent two hours at the library yesterday all to herself, and came home with no less than twenty-five books for the kids, and one for herself. While other people wonder how she manages to homeschool, she wonders how she could pass up the opportunity. She truly enjoys motherhood.

Yes, I may be the one pecking away on the computer, trying to earn a nickel a word for an article that will be printed in some magazine, but in my book, my sister is the real writer.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Ever Feel Stupid?

I've been reading some Sherlock Holmes short stories on my Palm, and got a charge out of this line by his faithful companion, Dr. Watson:  "I trust that I am not more dense than my neighbours, but I was always oppressed with a sense of my own stupidity in my dealings with Sherlock Holmes."

Nice to know I'm not the only one who has lots of "duh" moments!  Anyways, I'm finding these stories to be absolutely delightful.  I can usually read a complete story during a lunch break so they're perfect.  And you can't beat $6 for an online book that's easy to tote around with me and I never lose my page!


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

I Read Too Fast!

Too fast or too much? I just checked out And the Shofar Blew, by Francine Rivers, from our church library on Sunday. I finished it last evening and it's not a short book. Sometimes I just can't help myself; I get to reading and can't stop. I've even wondered if it's not an unhealthy addiction sometimes! It seems the less time I have to read, the more I crave it.

At any rate, I found this book surprisingly insightful. For years, I was caught up in a denomination where appearances were everything. The story of a pastor who put his ministry before his family, and to whom keeping up appearances meant everything, is more than just a fictionalized account. Francine Rivers has done another outstanding job on this book. I can't wait to check out her Lineage of Grace series next.

My, How Time Flies!

Seems like just yesterday, she was a young single woman experiencing the ups and downs of life on her own. Can it be that Cathy is now engaged? Oops, I guess it has been twenty some years, hasn't it? Immediately I thought to myself, "Gram would be so tickled!"

When I was in my first year of college, struggling with the "freshmen fifteen" pounds I'd gained, and wondering if any of those preacher boys would ever want to date me, nothing brightened my day like a letter from my Gram. More often than not, she tucked in some coupons or some "pin money," as she called it. I could always count on a few stamps, so that I'd have no excuse for not writing her back, although I didn't write nearly as much as I should have. But my favorite surprises were the comic strips she'd send, usually Hagar the Horrible or Cathy. Somehow it was always comforting to know someone across the miles was sharing a chuckle with you!

I've since tossed most of my class notes and text books from my college days, but I just can't part with those letters. Every so often I'll pull out the dusty shoe boxes overflowing with those precious missives and just revel in the memories they evoke. The stamps and money have long since been spent, and who knows what I did with the coupons and comics, but the memories are as fresh as ever. Gram's letters always started off "Dear Dinne" (her pet name for me) and ended with something sweet, like "Your ever-lovin' Gram Cracker! In between were bits of wisdom, prayers and requests for prayer, and an account of the days in the life of a woman who saw beauty in everything around her. Nothing brought her more joy than to bring joy to others. Even on her toughest days, she always managed to look on the bright side of things. That's the stuff memories are made of.

What about you? Are you a letter-keeper?

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Jorge Cruise and Me!

This book, Eight Minutes in the Morning, is just great. Right now it's impossible for me to adhere to the strict Quick Start eating plan he proposes, but that's alright. I primarily bought this book for the 28 days of strengthening exercises. These exercises are great and they really do take just 8 minutes to accomplish each day. He recommends, of course, starting your day with the exercises but so far that just hasn't happened for me. I'm not giving up though. Maybe after 28 days of breathing deeper and feeling stronger, I'll have the motivation to get up in the morning. For now, anytime is "better 'n nuttin!"

Can Someone Explain This to Me?

I'm really scratching my head here after reading this article on MSN today. In essence, a judge has ruled it unconstitutional for a public school system to include the following statement inside the biology books:

“This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.”

The lawyer who sued on behalf of the parents (of six students) believes they will be pleased that their children will be "permitted to learn science unadulterated by religious dogma.”

Since when does stating the facts constitute religious dogma? It seems we're moving closer to becoming a nation where if someone even thinks you're pushing a religious agenda, you must be.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Your Kitchen or Mine?

There was just a bit of tension yesterday in our adult Bible study as different members voiced their questions, concerns and points of view about The Purpose Driven Life. To me, it was a beautiful picture of the body of Christ, each one differing in their approach to the Christian life.

I have what I believe could qualify as the world's teensiest kitchen! Not everyone could cook in my kitchen, but I'm perfectly comfortable there. I've accepted the fact that my 20 year old lineoleum floor will never be as clean as I'd like, and there will always be bits of dust lingering on the many shelves and knick-knacks. Preparing a full-course Thanksgiving dinner was no problem, as I've learned to plan and prepare dishes ahead of time, and to clean up as I go.

I might not be as comfortable in some other kitchens though. Some people cook like a house of fire, and their kitchens look like disaster areas by time the meal's on the table! But they're perfectly happy cooking that way, and hey, what are dishwashers for anyways!

No doubt, someone who wouldn't want to live in my house or cook in my kitchen would still come to enjoy a meal with us. And I certainly wouldn't turn down an invitation to spend time with friends in their home.

My point is, even though someone else's approach to the Christian life is different from ours does not make their Christianity invalid. Some people struggle with every point spoken from the pulpit, doing as the Bereans did, diligently searching the Scriptures for themselves. Others live "in the Narthex" so to speak, thrilled to meet and greet visitors and new members. Some are content to work quietly behind the scenes, in support of those who naturally fall into leadership positions. We can learn from everyone and indeed, we need these other people in our lives and churches and communities.

So, where are we meeting for tea . . . your kitchen or mine?

First Things First!

I read an article in this month's issue of Today's Christian Woman about listening to books on tape while walking. Excellent, I thought! This is just what I need to get me moving . . . and it has been. Until tonight when I realized I've been listening to the 2nd half of the first tape without listening to the first side. I thought something was amiss but was enjoying The Carousel by Richard Paul Evans nevertheless. Imagine my disappointment when I flipped the tape and heard the introduction tonight! Oh well . . . I'm sure I'll be able to piece together the plot anyways!

Sunday, January 09, 2005

A "Duh" Moment!

I was sitting in our adult Bible class at church this morning, half listening to the discussion on Rick Warren's book, The Purpose-Driven Life, and half caught up with my latest ideas for a novel. I say latest ideas - not latest novel! The topic of God's purpose in our lives naturally led me to think of my characters, who, although they are professing Christians in full-time ministry, never encountered or considered God's purpose for themselves.

Well, as usual, my imagination ends with a good dose of reality - "Come on, Dianne. Do you really think you'll ever write anything worth anything?"

Then it occurred to me that not once have I ever prayed about my writing. There are plenty of things that I pray about on a regular basis, and plenty more that I need to take to the Lord in prayer more often. I'm no great prayer warrior but I do believe in prayer and especially in Paul's exhortation to "pray without ceasing." So it was a eureka moment for me to realize I've been leaving God out of this very important area of my life. Strange, huh?

I don't know where this realization will take me, but I've decided I need to give my writing to God and seek His direction. This desire that God has put in my heart does have a place in the grand scheme of His purposes, of that I am sure.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

I can't help but be nervous - it's been raining non-stop here all day. Hopefully we won't have a repeat of last fall when our new gameroom flooded. Isn't that terrible to worry about something I have no control over? Nevertheless, I am praying it subsides soon.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Making Progress!

I've been off work for the last seven days and it's been absolutely wonderful. I finally got around to some projects I had shelved for sometime, not the least of which was to add some links to my blog. I don't know why HTML always intimidates me but once I made up my mind to "get 'er done," the whole process took about 15 minutes! I'm happy to add some links to a few blogs I read and am blessed by on a regular basis.

Today I am surrounded by good books and lots of good intentions for the coming year! Not much puts me in a good frame of mind than a stack of books waiting on my nightstand. Today I purchased 8 Minutes in the Morning: A Simple Way to Shed up to 2 Pounds a Week Guaranteed by Jorge Cruise. I've been threatening my husband that I intend to start walking with a friend at 5:30am, a thought he finds completely distasteful! Not completely sold on the idea myself, I decided eight minutes in the morning might be more doable. So far it looks like a four-week kick start program, with a focus on strength-building and adopting common sense health habits. Stay tuned for updates on my progress!

My Boy!

A Lesson from My Dog

One of the things I just love about my dog is the way he has to be near me all the time. It's pretty rare for me to be in one room and not hear tap-tap-tap as MacGyver comes to check out what I'm doing. If I'm at the computer, he'll curl up at my feet. If I'm reading or watching TV, he worms his way onto my lap. But what makes me smile most is when I'm taking a shower. We leave the door cracked an inch or so as we don't have a fan in there. It's not long before I hear a scuffling sound and pull back the curtain - yep, there's MacGyver, making a little nest for himself amongst my bathroom rugs. He just wants to be where I am, and frankly, I find that most delightful!

How much more so must God be delighted when I desire to be with Him! As I read in Genesis 3 today, it struck me that Eve was not satisfied with the presence of God. How wonderful it must have been to just walk and talk with the Lord God in the cool of the evening amongst the trees and wildlife, and yet Eve wanted more. And that wanting was her downfall, indeed, the downfall of all mankind. It's still my downfall today. Sometimes I'm so busy planning, wishing, going and doing, that I fail to enjoy the presence of God. Just as that tree in the center of the garden caught Eve's attention, so I'm easily distracted by so many things, many of them good things.

So this year, I want to take a lesson from my dog. I want to delight in God's presence. That's where I want to be.