Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Morning Freewrite

   Bear one another’s burdens, 
and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. 

But each one must examine his own work, 
and then he will have reason for boasting
in regard to himself alone, 
and not in regard to another.
For each one will bear his own load.
(Galatians 6:2, 4-5: NASB95)  

Stoop down and reach out 
to those who are oppressed. 
Share their burdens, 
and so complete Christ's law.

Make a careful exploration of who you are 
and the work you have been given, 
and then sink yourself into that. 
Don't be impressed with yourself. 
Don't compare yourself with others. 
Each of you must take responsibility 
for doing the creative best 
you can with your own life. 
(Galatians 6:2,4-5: The Message)

   Let us not lose heart in doing good, 
for in due time we will reap 
if we do not grow weary.
 So then, while we have opportunity, 
let us do good to all people, 
and especially to those 
who are of the household of the faith.
(Galatians 6:9-10, NASB95)  

So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. 
At the right time we will harvest a good crop
 if we don’t give up, or quit. 
Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance,
let us work for the benefit of all, 
starting with the people 
closest to us in the community of faith.
(Galatians 6:9–10, The Message)  

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Note to Self: Meddle Not in the Affairs of Swine for You Are Crunchy and Good with Catsup!

The quote above is one that I have above my desk, but it refers to DRAGONS rather than swine, but I did this to match up with this great pearl of wisdom from Dallas Willard on Matthew 7:6:

“Do not,” he said, “give dogs sacred things to eat, nor try to get pigs to dine on pearls. For they will simply walk all over them and turn and take a bite out of you” (Matt. 7:6). The long-standard use of this verse is directly opposed to the spirit of Jesus and his teachings. That use suggests that we may have certain wonderful treasures, of truth and of service perhaps, that we could give to others. Perhaps the “treasure” is the very gospel itself. But there are some who are not worthy of those treasures. We have to watch for such people. Normally they are thought of as people who will not accept our “treasure” or would not use it rightly. They are the “pigs” or the “dogs” in question. And we are not to waste our good things on these worthless or evil people. So goes the standard reading of verse 6.

But it is hard to imagine anything more opposed to the spirit of Jesus than this. Indeed, the very coming of Christ, the pearl of God, into the world, would be a case of pearls before pigs thus understood. . .

The problem with pearls for pigs is not that the pigs are not worthy. It is not worthiness that is in question here at all, but helpfulness. Pigs cannot digest pearls, cannot nourish themselves upon them. Likewise for a dog with a Bible or a crucifix. The dog cannot eat it. The reason these animals will finally “turn and rend you,” when you one day step up to them with another load of Bibles or pearls, is that you at least are edible. Anyone who has ever had serious responsibilities of caring for animals will understand immediately what Jesus is saying.

And what a picture this is of our efforts to correct others by pouring our good things, often truly precious things, upon them—things that they nevertheless simply cannot ingest and use to nourish themselves. Often we do not even listen to them. We “know” without listening. Jesus saw it going on around him all the time, as we do today. And the outcome is usually exactly the same as with the pig and the dog. Our good intentions make little difference. The needy person will finally become angry and attack us. The point is not the waste of the “pearl” but that the person given the pearl is not helped.

Willard, Dallas (2009-02-06). The Divine Conspiracy (p. 228-229). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Friday, August 29, 2014

35. The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard

I read chapters 1-2, and 9 for our ministry every other year, but I had only read through the entire book one other time (2009). I decided to get the audiobook this time, and it was such a pleasure. It took me four months to read through the entire book last time I read it, which is really unusual for me, but Dallas Willard is one to be savored. This book is deep, but it is so very good. I have a renewed appreciation for his brilliance. 

The ultimate goal of this book is that you will “join God in a divine conspiracy to advance the invisible kingdom of God here on earth,” and you do that by “choosing to be an apprentice to Jesus, who stands at the center of everything – having died on a cross ‘to undermine the structures of evil’” (Study Guide, p. 5, DC, p. 188).

Willard writes:

Whatever the ultimate explanation of it, the most telling thing about the contemporary Christian is that he or she simply has no compelling sense that understanding of and conformity with the clear teachings of Christ is of any vital importance to his or her life, and certainly not that it is in any way essential. … More than any other single thing, in any case, the practical irrelevance of actual obedience to Christ accounts for the weakened effect of Christianity in the world today. . . . It also accounts for the practical irrelevance of Christian faith to individual character development and overall personal sanity and well-being. (introduction, p. xv)

This book . . . 
. . . presents discipleship to Jesus as the very heart of the gospel. The really good news for humanity is that Jesus is now taking students in the master class of life. The eternal life that begins with confidence in Jesus is a life in this present kingdom, now on earth and available to all. So the message of and about him is specifically a gospel for our life now, not just for dying. It is about living now as his apprentice in kingdom living, not just as a consumer of his merits.

From Amazon:
In The Divine Conspiracy, revered Christian philosopher and scholar Dallas Willard critiqued the church's obsession with "sin management" and revolutionized our understanding of true Christian discipleship. Jesus is not a remote savior, waiting to welcome us into heaven after we die, Willard argued. He is a dynamic living force, a leader and teacher to whom we apprentice ourselves to learn the sacred skills God wants us to embrace, and to fulfill His son's vision when Christ declared that the "kingdom of God has come." 


"What makes the desert beautiful is that 
somewhere it hides a well" 
(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry).

Love feasting in the Word and reading my old Bible Book Club posts (now editing Year Two!) with great quotes like this.

Glass half FULL! There is some seeming "hopelessness" swirling, but what a great quote to come across in the midst of it! — reading Job.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Margin Mail

It was pretty providential that this email popped out at me today:

Amy Pak
Amy Pak

Having Margin in Your Life... "Just Say No!"

(Carol's Note: Is this just a message from God to me or what? I had margin until about mid-July when I felt like someone did not respect my boundaries. )

Can you imagine reading a book where the words went right out to the four edges of the paper? How unsettling that would be to try to read! The margin is there for a purpose. It gives us space to hold the book comfortably. It gives us breathing room to take in all of the words. It provides area for necessities, such as page numbers and chapter titles, reminding us where we are. Why, then, do we feel the need to cram our lives full by trying to accomplish everything that comes along and ‘appears’ to need our attention, then guilt ourselves when we feel overwhelmed?
If there is one thing I have come to realize, it’s that there will ALWAYS be need. You are needed, and that’s wonderful. But, you do NOT need to fulfill every need that is requested of you. Priority is crucial, and you’ve been given a job as mother and teacher of your children (Carol's note: Her business caters to homeschoolers, and I have not taught my children since September 2011). You are also the maker of your home. Keep that pyramid of priority in view, so you can organize the requests into their proper place. Your family is a ministry that has been given to YOU to serve! There will always be time to extend to other ministries when time truly frees up enough. The Bible says that on Day Seven, He rested. Did God need sleep or even rest? Probably not, but I believe He did this as an example to us! He also only gave us 24 hours in a day, and from what I can gather, that ain't changin' any time soon!
Margin comes in many areas… How much time do we dedicate to visiting with friends and extended family? How many ministries, commitments, or programs do we participate in? How clean do I expect my house to be? I come from a house where my mother was a STICKLER for clean everything. She used to hang sheets to dry in the summer, …and iron them! She loved the smell of the outdoors and the pressed lines. That was fine for her, but I’m lucky if I get the sheets changed once a month! And although dinner was always on the table at 5:30 and the kitchen fully scrubbed down within a half hour after dinner, I consider it successful that we eat some time before bedtime and the food is put away. The dishes may not always be completely taken care of, but we almost always eat together, and often with anyone who happens to be over at the time. I had to pick and choose what battles to take on, just as I did with the children since they were toddlers. Like I mentioned before, there will only ever be 24 hours in the day, as long as we are on this earth, and spending them wisely is a challenge in itself. Consider what it important to yourself and YOUR family, and once you’ve determined what you can truly handle, remember to add margin. Do not embrace guilt in using the world “no,” or at the very least, “not at this time.” You (and your nerves... and most likely your family!) will be thankful later!

Thank you, Amy Pak for these words to me this morning!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Meditation in Job 6

I am editing YEAR TWO of the Bible Book Club these days. I finished YEAR ONE last week! YAY! It ended up being 1330 pages when put to 18 pt! (I should probably make another copy that is 12 pt and see how long it is.)

After my whole big post yesterday, wouldn't you know that my blog post about Job 6 would be about friends! I came upon this line I wrote about Job 6:

In Job 6, he compares them [his friends] to a riverbed which is dried up in the summer when it is most needed. When he most needed his friends, they were a disappointment to him and not kind.
While my friends are always very kind, I was disappointed (not the two I finally processed with about everything but the other three). I was a dry riverbed at the end of the summer, and I needed water for my soul where there was none.

I think I learned a very valuable lesson. I need to stay in balance. I got out of balance due to lack of boundary with one of those friends. She exhorted me to "Set boundaries," not realizing that I was very balanced until she came along with what I perceived were demands upon my time.  I cried out that I had much on my plate, and I felt pushed three times this summer by her. One of the times, I felt like she did hear me. So it delayed me really expressing myself. I read that the ISFJ does have trouble expressing, and when they do, it is sometimes with fear and anger.  All that said, I think it was a good interaction. I felt like I was not assigning motive, and she tried to talk verbal circles around me, but I kept on communicating and was not afraid to say that I was not assigning motives, but please put herself in my shoes as her responses were perceived by me as very insensitive. I felt like I communicated pretty well even though I was fearful in the midst of it. Usually, anger is not my MO, but it sometimes comes across that way because I am often fearful of expressing that I have feelings too. 

Lesson I have learned is that I need to be balanced, and balance means boundaries, even with people that I love and might perceive my boundaries as uncaring. When I get to dinners with my family and do not even look up, I have let my life get too out of balance. 

Both Kim and Nancy really see how much I work, but I do not think my full-time working friends see that. But Kim and Nancy are here in the area where the other two do not see my day-to-day life. I do think the other person who lives close by does see that, but she is often in her own world. I cannot bring her out of that to see me, but I think that has been my role with her for so long. I need to pray about that. I have tried to say, "Come to my house and will you pray with me over these people." She has responded to that, but our relationship would not naturally flow into my world but usually flows into hers, and I totally get involved in her story.  I have to call her attention to my story, and I think I need to do that more to have more balance. I realize that we have not had balance, but that is because her life has not been very great for quite a few years.  
When trouble comes your soul to try,You love the friend who just "stands by."Perhaps there's nothing he can do --The thing is strictly up to you;For there are troubles all your own,And paths the soul must tread alone;Times when love cannot smooth the roadNor friendship lift the heavy load,But just to know you have a friendWho will "stand by" until the end,Whose sympathy through all endures,Whose warm handclasp is always yours--It helps, someway to pull you through,Although there's nothing he can do.And so with fervent heart you cry,"God bless the friend who just 'stands by'!" 

Written by B.Y Williams, published in Poems That Touch The Heart by A.L. Alexander
 So weird to come across this poem because the line, "God bless the friend who just 'stands by'!" was what God told me when it came to this situation with the women who is separated from her husband. I want to be a good friend, and I think I am. And God has blessed standing by this woman. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

You are Not Alone Freewrite

past tense: seeped; past participle: seeped
  1. (of a liquid) flow or leak slowly through porous material or small holes.
    "water began to seep through the soles of his boots"

I do counseling with a lot of people, and this is a common theme: "I am alone."

God always speaks through some incredible ways to communicate to the person that they are not alone. That He is there. He was there in that terrible childhood memory. 

I rarely feel alone. I know He is with me, but I got rattled last week, and I cannot think of the last time I was that rattled. My life is pretty even-keel these days, but I was blatantly lied to by a crazy person and blamed for the interaction through a nasty text message afterward, and it made me crazy for a few days.

George is always there to talk to, but I needed some girlfriends. Two who are usually really good to process with had very legitimate things that they could not drop to do. They wished they could, but they could not, and that was great. 

But one was "too busy" to even answer a simple question about the stuff that is going on with a sticky situation I am in, and this stung since I was SO available to her through her divorce a few years ago. She is a "T" thinker personality type who thinks she is a "F" feeler. So, I get her goal-orientation. 

The other three friends I called are friends of 30+ years but very used to me being the listening ear. Two have gone through really hard things for years, and I have spent HOURS processing with them about stuff with no questions about how I am doing (although I am usually doing really well so that is understandable). Two are thinkers and not super empathetic people also. I did not spell it out to one of the thinkers either so she did not pick up that I really needed to talk. She has gone on with her life since marriage, and she does not need to have me as a listening ear like she used to. So, we have nice chats every once in a while, but she is not sentimental in the way I am sentimental either. So, I get that. Thinkers are different than feelers. I totally and can even logically understand that. 

But I guess the thing that sent me over the edge was all three refused my invitation for the ice bucket challenge. It was humiliating to me. One would not do something like that. One refused. One did it for another person and not me. I know it is just a challenge, but my motivation for accepting the invitation from my friend, Nancy, was based on being so honored to be nominated by her and her wonderful friendship. For me it was a response of love and thankfulness to Nancy for honoring me as a friend. I wanted to pass that on to my longest term friends as a way to publicly acknowledge our friendship and honor them, and not one of them was willing.  OUCH! 

I do not think I would have taken it so hard had I not had a very traumatic thing happen to me on Friday with no real response about the trauma. One even responded with her own issues and did not even read my letter to her. I was able to talk that out with her, and she was great. It is rare that I bring up hurt (because I really do not get hurt that often, and I usually evaluate whether it is prudent to bring it up). Also, It is so rare that I ask for help. I felt like it was a slap in the face to have no response. I felt so alone. 

I am glad it is a foreign feeling to me now. It was good that I felt so alone and no one understood me. We ARE alone in the world. God is the only one who will and can be there 100% of the time. I have learned my lesson quickly this time. I let go of my expectations in friendships which are very low except for the rare times I really need someone, and then it is hard for people who are used to me having me be there stability become mine. I get that. I really, really do. Role reversal is hard, and I honestly am not that needy of a person most of the time. I am not afraid to be vulnerable with struggles, I just do not struggle that much. It is rare, but when it happens, I often feel very alone. I know there are two people who DO process well with me though. It just was not the right time on Sunday. George said I ate my whole meal with my head down and did not look up the whole time. I was low. My kids both realized something was wrong too and asked George about it. Low Sunday. (It started out so well though!)

I think I was just so emotionally exhausted from all the drama of other people last week that it seeped into the small holes of emotional vulnerability that are left in my ever more increasing secure self!  

The effect was so great that I even got sick. Now I am forced to rest, and that is a good thing. I am not alone today in my home. I have forgiven my friends who did not and still may not get it and me. I am an empathy person, and I usually can get it with people's pain. I need to understand that many other people are not empathy people but have other strengths.

On Monday, I was also able to talk to those two friends who were not available on Sunday, and they helped me process all the yuck that stayed with me because of the Friday phone call and text and the Saturday feeling of rejection from my three long-term friends. 

So I am much better. Still need to rest and not take on any more counseling until I get myself into a really rested state. It is just the ABIDE - RIDE - REST cycle once again:

Sunday, August 24, 2014

34. Union and Communion by J. Hudson Taylor

April 1865The branch of the vine does not worry, and toil, and rush here to seek for sunshine, and there to find rain. No; it rests in union and communion with the vine; and at the right time, and in the right way, is the right fruit found on it. Let us so abide in the Lord Jesus. James Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) 

J. Hudson Taylor is one of my heroes, and I have read his biography Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret more times than I can count. It is probably my favorite non-fiction book. I live my life by his secret, and I have since my early 20's when my mentor, Helene Ashker, put this great book in my hand. 

I have read Union and Communion more than once also, but this is the first time I have listened to it. I was reading in Song of Solomon, and this is J. Hudson Taylor's spiritual take on it. It is a wonderful read. 

Here are all my posts on my Bible Book Club Blog about Song of Solomon and this great book:

Here are all the free electronic ways you can access this little gem:

For more on this man, read here:

Thursday, August 14, 2014

33. The Text of the Bible: Its Path Through History and to the People by David S. New

This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers

LibraryThing in its predictions said I would WOULD NOT LIKE this book. I wonder what criteria they use to determine this. I bid to become an Early Reviewer of this book because I really thought I WOULD LIKE it since I have taught the Bible for many years.

Alas, LibraryThing was correct. I did not really like it very much. It pains me to say it, and I am so sorry that it took me a YEAR to the day to get through it. I am usually better about my "Early" Reviews, but this book was so laborious to read that I had to force myself to read it in small chunks. Finishing it made me dance a jig.

It had bright moments, and I did learn things here and there, especially about Martin Luther, but it just did not grab me. I have heard talks given on how the Bible came to be that were exciting and encouraging and did grab me. 

Perhaps a rewrite is in order? It has potential!

Also, not one mention of the New American Standard Bible in the chapter on current translations into English. I have always understood this to be the best translation for scholars. I was surprised that it was omitted.  )

Sunday Seventeen Freewrite

  New Tea Pot and One of the Cups I have not written a freewrite for so long. I thought I would write in a different font. I am going to try...