Monday, March 30, 2020

System Defrag/Regularly Scheduled Maintenance

For years I've been perfecting this explanation for my husband's benefit, and hope that it might help a few of you as well.

Here's my self-talk:
I have a big, smart, busy, important brain, and
It needs a lot of space to do its thing.

But in reality, my brain is more like a wild rabbit:
Hop, hop, nibble, hop, hop, twitch, hop.

It's true that I have a very busy thought-life and much to think about.
It's not true that what I have to think about is more important than anything or anybody else.
When I get up in the morning and I require however much time it is before I can speak to others, it's not that I think I'm special and/or that your need to speak at me is not special.

It's that I need to order my thoughts.

While I am sleeping, apparently my brain runs amok and I wake to find muddy tracks all across my previously neatly ordered thoughts.  It's as if my four-wheeling self stays awake all night doing donuts in the office of my administrative self.

If I do not order my thoughts at the start of the day, then who knows which of my selves may run the show for the rest of the day.  Have you ever met my pierced and tatted biker self?  No?  It's better if we keep it that way.

In all truth and seriousness, it really is better for me and for the world around me if I order my thoughts at the start of each day.  It's simple, really.  Picture a defrag:

When I look at this, I see the red as irritability/irritation.  If I must process new information before I've worked through and ordered what I already know, then I tend to feel pressed and therefore, flustered, irritated.

However, if I take the time to smooth everything out, choose my priorities, toss what's actually unimportant, then my brain is much more likely to respond like a well-oiled machine: smooth, and quick, and (more likely) accurate.

Realizing this about my own self ~ that daily quiet time is essential, not trivial ~ helps me to treat that time more intentionally and not take it for granted.

For me, this works best at the very start of the day for what I think is an obvious reason.  However, there are times throughout the day when I know that my thoughts are becoming jumbled ~ a natural response to tension ~ and when I can, I simply step away momentarily.  In other words, I've learned to say, "I'll be right back.  I'm just going to think about this quietly for a minute." 

It's not always possible, of course, but using my relationship with my husband as an example, it's difference-making when it can be practiced.  His natural reaction is to dive right into whatever needs an answer, and often enough, I do my best to go with him into that.  But we've both realized that if it's necessary to have a solitary interlude before making a decision, the outcome is almost always better than if we'd worked against our own selves.



Saturday, February 15, 2020

If History Teaches

If you've been around the church circuit for at least a minute, then you've likely heard or discussed the idea that the Old Testament is foretelling of the New Testament.  In other words, much of what's written in the pre-Jesus books of the Bible are telling us that He's coming.


More than just a few of those earliest stories are easily read as future-telling, and Abraham's story is no exception.


Genesis 22 has always been one of the most perplexing (though promising) chapters that I've ever read.  I have, in fact, completely avoided it at times, unable to fathom the sacrifice that God asked of the father of many nations.


If you are familiar enough with Biblical history, then you can't help but see the story of Jesus’s crucifixion in the story of Abraham and Isaac.


“Take your son, your only son…” Genesis 22:2 OT


“He gave his one and only Son…” John 3:16 NT


As I've been recently re-reading Genesis with a small group, I have been stricken by so much more than just that most obvious comparison.

Check it:


“Abraham got up and loaded his donkey.” Genesis 22:3


“Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it…” John 12:14


“[Abraham] took with him two of his servants…” Genesis 22:3


“Two rebels were crucified with him…” Matthew 27:38


“Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders…” Genesis 22:6


“Carrying his own cross, he went [to the hill on which He was crucified…]” John 19:17

Each of these accounts stand alone as huge implications of God's merciful, immeasurable love for us, even if viewed through the haze of a terrifying reality. Apart from evidence that supports my belief, there must be something to learn in the then-and-now of these stories.

Nearer the beginning of Abraham's story, God said, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you."  And Abraham went.  He left it all behind and went with not much more than God's promise to provide.  

Part of the promise was that Abraham would eventually have "many descendants."  Years and years and years would pass.  A baby was born outside of Abraham's marriage to Sarah, apart from God's will and promise.  More years would pass before the birth of Isaac, the child that God foretold.

Isaac was the hope fulfilled, the certainty of many nations yet to come.  And then God called Abraham to give him up.

When Abraham left his home, he gave up his past life to God.
When he took Isaac up the mountain, he also gave his future.1

Each time, even as he had no idea what might happen, what kind of reality would unfold, he acted in complete faith in the one who did know.  

Sacrifice in the simplest terms means to give something up.  The best definitions of sacrifice ~ in my opinion ~ include that something is given up for the sake of something better.

Whether I mean to be or not, I am a student of patterns and repetitions.  When the same or similar things happen over and over again, I notice.  The best patterns ~ in my opinion ~ draw our attention to something greater than the pattern itself.

Whether I'm reviewing Biblical history, world history, or my personal history, I can observe that even through the haze of a sometimes terrifying reality, God is demonstrating a merciful, immeasurable love for us.

Whatever it is for you ~ a hurtful past, a difficult now, an uncertain future ~ I pray that you will give it all to God.  Even without knowing what might happen, I pray you know that there is no better reality than his love for you.



1 A paraphrase of something Jen Wilkin said in our study, God Of Covenant

Friday, January 31, 2020

I'm Not Laughing You're Laughing

Have you ever been that kid?
The one in the back row, 

Putting on a one-kid show.
One is the loneliest number.
It says polly-tickle.
Your mom goes to college.
Those are "jokes."

And finally, the teacher has had enough and calls you out.

Mrs. Parish, please come to the front of the classroom, and
Prove that [ cos(x) - sin(x) ][ cos(2x) - sin(2x) ] = cos(x) - sin(3x)
Here's a highlight from my life.
One time when I was about 15 years old, I came home from some thing


~ pretty sure the thing was just me and some 
parents watching their kid have a good time ~

And I was just on fire.
Like, I came home funny.
Jokes like I hadn't told since my "drunk Harry" routine in the third grade. 
Am I making any sense?
I'm saying that when I got home that night, I launched into my version of a comedy routine that was good enough to make my mom laugh a pretty good minute...
And then ask me if I was high.
"High on life," I squealed, and I feel like I'd never heard anybody else say that at that point in my life, but I can't really be sure about that part.
I just know I was funny.
And I wasn't high.
And I liked it a lot.

If you don't know or remember the story of Isaac, this and this should get you close.
Read it or not,
know this:

Sarah said, "I didn't laugh."
And the LORD said, "No, but you did laugh."

     And the LORD said, "No, but you did laugh."

          And the LORD said, "No, but you did laugh."

I've read that story countless times, but having read it again recently, I can't stop laughing (to myself!) about that one little part.

No, but you did.

via GIPHY

I was with a group of ladies recently, watching a video lesson about this story.  It's all very serious and the speaker was very informative.  At right about the part where teacher lady was explaining the reason that Sarah laughed, a friend from a couple of tables over sent me a text that made me snicker out loud.  I texted back, and just like that, we were a two-kid show.

Back to Sarah in Genesis 18:15.  It had only been a minute earlier when God spoke to Abraham, and Abraham laughed.  My smaller group of ladies met after the video and discussed the reasons that Abraham and Sarah responded the way they did to God's promise.  In any case, both of them laughed about what God was telling them, and God said,
Please come to the front of the classroom, and prove...
If you're really and truly reading this story in Genesis, it's pretty easy to see how disappointed Sarah might have been about her circumstances, to see that she was living with some real grief.  And it's not hard for me to read "Sarah laughed" through all kinds of lenses, reaching all kinds of conclusions about why she did it.

Have you ever been that kid?    

Sarah eventually had a baby and you know what that baby's name means?

He laughs.

I've been thinking about goals, 
Which is essentially asking
Who I want to be.
I want to be that kid.