"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pleasures Forevermore

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).

This was a portion of my morning devotional as I sat overlooking the Trent River and Neuse River basin before heading out for a morning walk around town and a subsequent lunch at Stanly Hall Cafe. As I had meditated on the "pleasures forevermore," I thought of some of the more "spiritual" pleasures and joys. But just let me say that the Lord had chocolate grits in His right hand this day. Yes, you read that correctly.

As I live and breathe, chocolate grits with a dollop of chocolate mascarpone topped with real whipped cream and sprinkled with cocoa! Oh, indeed, as verse 9 of the same chapter reads, "my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced!" In fact, that little muscle just about slapped me silly it was so happy.

And if this is just the temporary pleasures He doles out, can we even begin to imagine the "forevermores"?

Oh, the joy of living with God! May you, too, be so blessed!!!

Just an ordinary moment...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Seasons of Refreshing

I have a friend who for as long as I have known him has enjoyed jogging. Me? There's just a little too much tissue on my bones for me to glide gracefully down the street while pounding the pavement. But walking, now that's a pretty sport. Unless, of course, it's 90 degrees outside -- such as today, and sweat is literally pouring off one's being. But after an earlier blog entry, I decided once I put on my shoes, I'd best head out the door. And I did.

The first stint around the block was actually quite enjoyable. On the first leg, I caught up with 3 older adults out taking a morning stroll -- though it was way too hot for them to be doing so. Approaching from the rear, one reminded me so much of my grandfather: same shape, wearing a long sleeve shirt, a hat, and carrying a cane. It was so refreshing to slow my pace for a moment and chat until we came to the place where I was to turn off in another direction.

It didn't take long for the heat to become pretty nasty and I began wondering if I had done the right thing by not bringing my bottle of water. But not to give up, I rounded the corner for a second lap. That's when I saw it. Water! Yes, one of the neighbors had turned on his sprinkler system since I had passed the first time! My mind went back to my runner friend who use to tell me that in order to cool off he would sometimes run through sprinklers as people watered their lawns. Fortunately, the system was right at the curb and I didn't really have to get off my track. I just stopped, bent down, and bathed in the thing right from where it came out of the ground! I finished the job by washing my face and neck! Oh, the refreshment of it all!!! When I stepped back in the street, it was as if I had just stopped for a cold lemonade. My pores were surely screaming, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" And my pace quickened.

As I rounded the next corner, I saw where another had turned on their sprinkler. This time it was more of a fine mist, but it was also off the beaten path. It was tucked up close to their house. So I swallowed my pride. I left the road, strode up to the flower bed and just stood in the mist with my arms outstretched as I turned circles. How rejuvenating!!!

When I left this yard, I couldn't help but to begin to praise God for the refreshing moments and seasons He brings into my life. Yes, sometimes they are no more than just some friends who come along beside who offer companionship and camaraderie. Others moments are merely things that He places directly in my path that offer encouragement, such as the bird's feather I found in the yard yesterday. But other times, He allows us to step aside for periods of rejuvenation and restoration before putting us back on the course.

And I'm so grateful for all of them, for it is in these periods that we find the journey bearable. It is in these seasons when we are given more strength and greater endurance to finish the course. And it is in these spaces when rest happens and our thirst is quenched.

Thank You, Father, for refreshing moments such as these.

And there shall be seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19).

Just an ordinary moment...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Which Bank?

My husband got a little suspicious this week when he couldn't access our credit card information on line. After numerous tries, he went the old-fashioned route: he telephoned the credit card company. Yes, not only did we have numerous charges on our account which we did not make, but all of our personal information had been compromised as well: password, telephone number, email, address. Even his mother's maiden name had been changed. The only way the woman on the line could determine if it were indeed my husband to whom she was talking was to ask him one question: To which bank was your last payment made? Because he answered that question correctly, she was able to not only cover every false charge and restore what was lost, but also re-establish our identity and bring us back into a positive credit standing.

Truth is there is only one question we have to answer correctly: To which bank was your last payment made? Praise God, the bank was at Calvary and the payment was the blood. And when we accept this costly transaction, every false charge is erased, all that is lost is restored, all our debits are turned to credits, our identity is restored and we are brought into right standing.

It might be old-fashioned, but it's still just as relevant today as it was the day the payment was made.

So what's the name of your bank?

Just an ordinary moment...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Putting on My Walking Shoes

I got up this morning and put on my exercise clothes: Umbros, bicycle shorts, and a sleeveless tee. Then I fixed my husband a little breakfast and sent him out the door. Shortly thereafter I slipped on my walking shoes. It was not a gym day, so I opted for a couple of laps around the block in my neighborhood. But somehow I never made it. I got busy with other ... "stuff." A little stint on the computer, preparation to bake a cake, a little reading, etc. And before I knew it, the time allotted for my walk had disappeared. And so as quickly as I had slipped them on, I removed the shoes; not once taking the opportunity to put them to use.

I couldn't help but remember what my friend Vicki's mother told her when she purchased one of Richard Simmons' exercise videos so many years ago now. "I've watched that thing 3 times and I still haven't a lost a pound!" We still laugh about that today, but I could just about say the same thing concerning my walking shoes. "I've put those things on every day for a week now and still haven't lost a pound!"

And then I got to thinking about all those books on prayer that line my bookshelves. There must be 50 of them. From the mystics to modern day. E.M. Bounds. Andrew Murray. Phillip Yancey. Stormie Omartian. Watchman Nee. Henri Nouwen. And the list goes on. And I've even read many of them. In fact, that's the easy part. But what good does it do if I read every last one of them from cover to cover but never pray? Could I not just as easily say with my friend's mother, "I've read every book on prayer and I'm still not getting any results"? Just reading about it. The truth is the work begins when we start doing it. I remember someone telling me one time that prayer not only works, it IS the work. How true. But yet I tend to just put it on like an old walking shoe and do a few things around the house. I never get to the real purpose of why I put them on in the first place.

Sure, I got a few things done while wearing my pumps. I emptied the dishwasher, made the bed, and I might have even read from a prayer book that I'm particularly enjoying right now. And you've got to admit that a walk around the block, twice, can be so ... boring. At least at home I'm accomplishing some things. But the truth is that the real purpose of the shoes is to do an inner work. The aim is to get the heart pumping and make it stronger.

Ah, yes. There it is. Could it be that the real purpose of prayer is to do an inner work as well? That when I pray, my spiritual heart becomes stronger?

Maybe I ought to put my shoes on in the morning and head straight out the door for a little cardio. And maybe, too, I should lay the book down and do the real work.

Just an ordinary moment...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Note of Thanks

A few of weeks ago while in Barnes and Noble, I picked up a book that has been on the shelves for several years -- but one that just took a little time to find its way to the New York Times Bestseller List. Maybe you've read it: Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. The true story is told by the two writers who the book's sub-title touts as "a modern day slave" and "an international art dealer." I must admit it is one of the most touching books I've read in a long time -- until I picked up its sequel last week, What Difference Do it Make? As the book jacket reads, "You'll have your heart touched by one of the most incredible odd-couple stories of the twentieth century." It goes on to say, "And if you've ever wondered whether one life really can make a difference in the world, you'll finish this book with an unshakable conviction the answer is yes."

The truth is not a day has gone by since closing the last page that I haven't thought of this powerful story told by two men of such differing backgrounds -- and just wondering: what difference might I make? And then I had the strangest thought that came so out of left field that I actually turned my head and looked.

"Thank the trash collectors."
"How many years have they been stopping by your house on a weekly basis?"
"Have they ever NOT picked up your trash when it was at the curb?"
"No, Sir."
"How many times have you thanked them?"
"I've waved. Does that count?"

I guess it would be of no surprise that trash day was the next morning. So I took out my Sharpie and inscribed a note of appreciation:
And then I ran it out to the bin with Scotch tape in hand.

Okay, so I was a little embarrassed about the whole scene, feeling ridiculous should someone ride by while I was actually posting the note. But it got worse: I ran back out and took a picture at the precise moment a car did turn the corner. Who in their right mind takes a picture of their trash can sitting on the street???

But I left it and went back inside. Later that afternoon, I noticed that the truck had come by and so I walked to the end of the driveway to retrieve the trash cart, all the while wondering if my very small sentiment had made any difference at all. And you know what I found? While I noticed that all the other carts lining the road had been haphazardly pushed up in the yards or even left in the street, mine sat perfectly placed at the end of the driveway as if the worker was responding, "Thanks."

I don't know. Maybe I'm making way too big a deal out of this. No, I didn't go to the local shelter and volunteer last week. And, no, I didn't consider adopting a baby from a foreign country. But this I do know. God calls us to make a difference. And sometimes it's just a matter of telling somebody you appreciate them.

What difference did it make? I don't have a clue how it made those guys feel. But for me, it felt good enough to try it next week with the mail lady. Maybe I'll even include cookies.

Just an ordinary moment...