Saturday, February 28, 2009

Is anyone else enjoying the Washington State end of the season run of victories? It's immensely satisfying to see them take out UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State in their last three games. What a time to peak! Go Cougs!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Keeping It Real

I am always fascinated (?), shocked (?), amazed (?), appalled (?), when people we are intimately connected with, whether it be family or close friends, choose to avoid just talking about important issues. I guess my perspective comes from having gone through some pretty tough things in life and coming to the realization that it's just so much better if you just get real with those you care about. To me, life is toooo short for game playing or avoidance hoping that it will all just go away. I can't imagine just not talking to someone when there is something that needs to be dealt with even though the conversation may be uncomfortable.

Relationships are my priority. To me it's what life is all about. I value those that God has placed in my life enough to be real with them. To be perfectly honest, I have come to the place where I mostly cut my losses with those who have chosen to be less than genuine and honest. Not that everything has to be said in a relationship, but the more I experience and learn in life, the more I know that life is too short to play games with the things that matter. And not that EVERYONE shouldn't be offered grace when we are less than our best in a relationship, but at some point we must face the music with each other if the relationship is to survive.

I think about Jesus and how he always got real with people. He didn't always say what they wanted to hear and he was willing to have those hard conversations. Pastor Glenn recently posted some great guidelines as to when to NOT say something. But there is a flip-side and times when we need TO say something. Especially with those close to us.

I'm left pondering this delicate balance..... It's interesting that more than one of the blogs I follow have addressed this "to say or not to say" issue this week. Must be a universal concern. More pondering......

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Stretching my Comfort Zone

I'm not one that enjoys being the center of attention or up in front of large groups of people. I know some of you are surprised by that since I have been leading a Bible study for 14 years, have spoken at retreats and been on worship teams. I have found my little comfort zone and I don't often breach it.

This week Pastor Glenn asked me to share in Sunday Service. Gaaahhhh! Fear! Trepidation!! Increased blood pressure!!! The topic? Spending time in the Bible. How can I NOT talk about that?! It's what I've been intensely passionate about for the last 14 years. I would somehow be ignoring my gift if I refused to share what I have learned. Fortunately I only have to fill 4-5 minutes - TWICE!!! (Two services- aarrgghh!)

So I will share about how I grew up in a Christian home that valued the Bible. As a kid I remember watching my mom read her Bible - it was modeled for me. Went to Sunday School. My Grandma Bennett insisted that I learn the Books of the Bible, the 23rd Psalm, the Lord's Prayer and a variety of verses. Later on I went to Northwest Christian College where I took Bible classes, New Testament and Old - learned a lot about what the Bible said.

Then I will talk about the fact that 16 years ago I got into an in-depth Bible study on Sermon on the Mount. They called it a Precept Upon Precept class and it taught me the inductive method of Bible study. That's when I came to understand that God's Word is living and active and transforming. God speaks to us through His Word. I learned not only WHAT the Bible says, but WHAT IT MEANS, and WHAT IT MEANS TO ME. I also realized that the knowledge moved from my head to my heart. I now realize that there is always more to discover in Scripture. There are layers upon layers and I never will KNOW all the wonders that are in the Bible.

I also will say that studying the Bible isn't easy. It would be great if we could just put it on our Ipods and have it sink into our brains while we do other things. It would also be great if we could learn one concept and move on to the next, but we have to keep being reminded of what we have already learned. Bottom line, we have to WORK at it. It's hard for God to use it to speak to us if we aren't putting ourselves in it. It's like training for a race. You wouldn't show up to do a marathon if you hadn't trained. Neither should we go around speaking for God without doing the necessary preparation.

So there it is. My 4-5 minutes of fame. Pray for me. I have great things to say if I can drag myself up to the microphone.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Where Does the Time Go?!

So this week Whitney and Travis have birthdays; they are both turning 25. TWENTY-FIVE!!!!! They may be that old, but that would mean that I'm.....well, let's just say older than THAT. To comprehend that my baby girl came along 25 years ago is sort of....incomprehensible. Seems like just yesterday. I think since this is a milestone birthday, it gives me license to reminisce a bit.

I remember the day she was born. And the day before that. And the day before that. AND the day before that. It took her that many days (63 hours of labor) to decide to enter the world. A bit of a traumatic beginning, but it all ended well. She was a teeny tiny perfect little version of me. Now, over time she has taken on some of the physical and character traits of her father, but when she was born, she was a me clone. We were SOOO excited and happy with our little girl. We (I should probably say "I" here) dressed her in pink and ruffles and bows and loved showing her off. We knew from the start that she would be brilliant, talented, beautiful, and practically perfect in every way. She hasn't disappointed. Twenty five years later, we are so proud of the wonderful, godly woman she has become. She gives so much of herself, works hard at what she takes on, finds joy and laughter in so many things, uses her God-given gifts faithfully. She chose a wonderful husband who enhances everything she is and does. And one of these years, they will hopefully give me amazing grandchildren (sorry guys, it just HAD to be said).

Happy birthday
Whitney Mishelle &
Travis Benjamin Franklin.
We love you both!!!!

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Dog's Life

I'm feeling a little reflective as my poor husband had to put one of our pets down today. Now mind you, she was ancient. I don't know what it is, but our pets tend to live extra long lives. She was 15 years old, had cancer, and had basically become a skeleton with skin on. She has been "dying" for a year and a half now and my biggest fear was that she would choose to do it when someone else was dog sitting for us. But the fact that the day finally arrived is still sad.

Shasta was a pound puppy. Some mix of shepherd and ??? We were looking for a new pup and our kids fell for her bright eyes and big ears. We are dog people and each one becomes part of the family. This one must have liked being part of our family because she hung around long after she could have left gracefully. I could get very sentimental here and tell "Marley and Me" type stories, but instead I choose to acknowledge her life, and her death, and keep going.

Life is fleeting even in the animal kingdom. Life with a pet is a mixed bag. They bring lots of joy, but their lives are short. It's the sacrificial choice you make when you bring one home. And so, we celebrate the years of joy and remember the fun we had with Shasta. She was a good and faithful friend.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Searching For God Knows What

I am a list maker. I do better with the structure of having a piece of paper remind me what I need or want to accomplish. My brain isn't what it used to be. Much to my frustration, it forgets WAY more than it used to. Thus my recent list of things I hope to accomplish in 2009. Thanks to my list, I'm making progress.

One of the items on my list is to read at least one book each month. That probably doesn't sound like much of an accomplishment, but for me it really is. Due to all my Precept preparation and the distractions of t.v. and the internet among other things, I get little time for recreational reading. I was an avid reader as a kid. Long Montana winters and two static-ridden t.v. channels left LOTS of time and little else to do but read. I poured through books. Even as an adult, being a night owl, I used to read books at night when I went to bed - lots of books. But now due to my advancing age, I read two pages at night and I'm gone. Takes a long time to read a book that way. I usually manage to get through a book or two on vacations that allow for reading time. Those vacations are few and far between. Therefore, I have to PURPOSE to read books. With that said, here is short review of my January 2009 book (even though I actually finished it today, Feb. 2).

I just finished Donald Miller's "Searching for God Knows What". He is the author of "Blue Like Jazz" which was huge on the best seller lists a few years ago. For some reason I never got around to reading that one, but Whitney left this one at our house over Christmas break and I decided to take advantage of the fact that I didn't have to "find" something to read for my first book of the year. And with THAT said, I am left pondering the quirky, out of the box approach to Christianity that Miller portrays. Like "The Shack" it challenges the box I have put God in. It tells a great deal about our human condition and how in many ways, our attempt to be "religious" has gotten it all wrong. I don't agree with every point he makes, but many of his points challenged me to take another look at WHAT I believe and how I LIVE OUT what I believe. Good stuff.

Though lengthy (my apologies), I will share one quote from Miller that I have read over a few times:
The Jesus on CNN, the Jesus in our books and in our movies, the Jesus that is a collection of evangelical personalities, is often a Jesus of the suburbs, a Jesus who wants you to be a better Yuppie, a Jesus who is extremely political and supports a specific party, a Jesus who has declared a kind of culture war in the name of our children, a Jesus who worked through the founding fathers to begin America, a Jesus who dresses very well, speaks perfect English, has three points that fulfill any number of promises and wants you and me to be, above all, comfortable. Is this the real Jesus?
Is Jesus sitting in the lifeboat with us, stroking our backs and telling us we are the ones who are right....that we are the ones who are going to survive and others are going to be thrown out because we are Calvanists, Armenians, Baptists, Methodists, Catholics; because we are Republicans, Democrats, conservatives or liberals: because we attend a big church, a small church, an ethnically diverse church, a house church, or is Jesus acting in our hearts to reach out to the person who isn't like us-the oppressed, the poor, the unchurched- and to humble ourselves, give of our money, give of our time, our creativity, get on our knees before our enemies in humility, treating them as Scripture says, as people who are more important than we are? The latter is the Jesus of Scripture: the former, which is infinitely more popular in evangelical culture, is a myth sharing a genre with unicorns.

I would recommend this book as one that challenges the "norm" in our churches today. I like Miller's way of thinking and the questions he asks. He titles a few of his chapters, "Fine Wine", "Naked", "Children of Chernobyl", " Adam, Eve and the Alien", and "Lifeboat Theory". A good book for those who think outside of the box, and for those of us who tend to live within it.