30 August 2010


Jesus asks if we "think God sits in a box seat" waiting to hear our prayers?

I imagine God arriving early to the theater to get an expensive seat with a perfect view of the stage just to listen to a formal and distant monologue from me and I shake my head at the absurdity.

From what I've discovered about His desire for intimacy and close relationship, I can more easily imagine God preferring a cozy corner table at Starbucks (or maybe the Coffee Hound because He probably believes in supporting local businesses! :) ) where we can talk over concerns, hopes and I can learn His perspective on it all.

Not that I put myself at on an equal plane with God, but I don't believe He desires the formality or specially worded prayers.

There's a place for awe and respect in the way I speak to Him, but there's also a sincere need to be honest and not put on a brave perfect front. That's not me and He wants to meet with the real me, not Angie in a disguise.

When I've ached for something, like another child or for someone to buy our house, I've wondered if I needed to say the magic words.

Could there be a phrase like "Bippity Boppity Boo" that would unlock the door holding the treasure I desperately desired?

There must have been a game on The Price is Right that works like that. I could hear Bob Barker, or now Drew Carey, saying "Select the right key and you will win fabulous prizes that you can't even imagine" while beautiful women hold the keys that I need to choose from.

But no, God doesn't run the world like a game show and thank goodness Bob Barker and Drew Carey can't compare to Him.

There are no special words or techniques.
He desires simplicity, honesty and adoration, and this is what Jesus calls us to;

"The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They're full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don't fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply." (Matthew 6:7-8)

23 August 2010

Techno Addict

It's been really hard.

I feel like I've gone through withdrawal, but for the past couple of weeks, I've stayed away from the internet and the iphone for one day a week. My mind constant turns to wondering what else I need to check online and it drives me crazy. I don't want to be mentally tethered to the silly screen but there must be some happy button that gets pushed when I find new information.

The idea of a techno sabbath isn't new and really I want to unplug for more than one day a week, but this is my starting point. You can read more about my addiction journey to this point in the Pantagraph column.

Gotta go, Facebook to check, emails to send, and online sales to shop.

18 August 2010

Eating, Praying, Loving

Wanderlust is tugging inside of me again and I blame it on Julia Roberts, well really I should blame Elizabeth Gilbert.

Last night on a rare girls night at the movies, we saw Eat, Pray, Love. I knew what to expect since I've read the book, but I didn't guess the amazing streets of Italy, the mystic bustle of India, and the pure paradise of Indonesia would be so incompatible with my scenery consisting of rows of cornfields in Illinois.

What woman can't relate to and desire the courage to do what Liz did when she set off for a year of self-discovery in absolute romantic locations? No matter how much we love our families, friends, and places of influence, that fairy tale tug, perhaps ingrained from too many bedtime Cinderella stories, doesn't disappear. And this movie fueled the hope of finding something more fulfilling in a far-off country.

For these reasons I totally love Liz Gilbert.

But for more deeply held convictions, I totally disagree with her. I want to be her soul mate and aspire to be like her, but I just can't.

I can't agree with her spiritual revelations.

It sounds so good to say as Liz does, that God is everywhere and that God is within you. If you stop there, I completely agree. God is huge. There is no where to hide from Him. And God lives in everyone who asks Him - in the form of the Holy Spirit.

But I can't agree with the so called enlightened idea that God is me, that I am God. I see spirituality as black and white. I am not God (thank goodness for that!) and no amount of meditation or search for bliss inside of myself can bring the peace and grace that only comes from the holy true God.

I know I sound unenlightened and so backwardly conservative in my spirituality. Call me unliberated and Midwesternly out of it, but I do believe I have experienced God in the form of love, peace, grace and hope. These have been gifts from somewhere so far outside of me that I spend my prayer times looking out rather than within.

So, Liz Gilbert I thank you for stirring up the spirit of adventure inside of me. I can not agree with you on many counts, but in my own place and own way I look to enjoy life by Eating, Praying, and Loving.

16 August 2010

In the neighborhood

A Sold sign sits in the yard a few houses down and we have anticipated the new neighbors moving in for several weeks. The rumor is that a 4 year old will be living there and we can't wait to find out if that 4 year old is a girl or boy. Neighbors make great friends and like it or not, the close proximity brings many opportunities to learn the good and bad about each other. But the comfort of knowing friendly people are there and ready to lend a travel book, or drop off a strawberry pie adds sweetness to home.

While we're anticipating the new neighbors on our street, I am so thankful that more than 2000 years ago, God kept His promise to move into my neighborhood. One of the promises that must have filled the Jewish people with great hope in the times of Zechariah the prophet, and perhaps even today is the assurance that God will be moving into the neighborhood.

"Shout and celebrate, Daughter of Zion! I'm on my way. I'm moving into your neighborhood."

With Jesus' birth, that promise was fulfilled and He literally slept, ate, and lived in a physical neighborhood. He knew the concerns the issues, the sicknesses of people around Him and entered into the challenges of the day in a tangible way. As Jesus wept, celebrated, and healed among the friends and strangers in his hometown and in surrounding towns His presence couldn't be denied.

Jesus isn't physically moving into that house down my street, in fact He is already here. Not in some mystical way that I need to search inside to find, but in a tangible way through the Holy Spirit living in everyone who has found life through Jesus.

He is in my neighborhood and He is in yours.

12 August 2010

Tilt a whirl

My stomach hasn't done flip-flops for a while.

It's been a few weeks so my neck is lined straight up and down again.

I forgot about the feeling of adrenaline swirling up inside only to be sloshed to another side.

But I won't forget the thrill of watching my little boy experience something so shocking and I look forward to the next time we can ride on a carnival ride!

Long Live the Tilt a Whirl!!

Change in profession

Nine months ago, Asher dressed as a Knight for Halloween. Every day since then he has put on his armor and insisted on being called Knight. His passion for Knighthood led him to add Knight to one of the three words he can spell. The others being Asher, and Keep Out (a story for another day). He has had battles with his dad, played with Princess Amelie, and studied many books to know everything about Knights.

Then we had a cowboy themed VBS.
Then we vacationed in Colorado and watched a Cowboy Parade.

And now my knight has become a cowboy - actually not just a cowboy, a sheriff. For a while he wanted to keep a foot in the knight genre and switched between armor and a bandanna. But the other day he officially switched.

In that calm moment before the beginning of his quiet time he asked, "Mom when I grow up can I be a cowboy instead of a knight?" I agreed that would be a good profession and he officially changed his dreams.

10 August 2010

Notes from the DMV

Everyone knows not to expect any form of good service at the DMV. Rudeness and apathy abound. I reminded myself of this before I renewed my drivers license last week, but still held on to hope that someone behind the counter might actually smile at me.

Didn't happen.

When I got back in my car to leave after the delightful experience, I jotted down several observations so I could remember to vent about them later. Here they are.

Observation #1
Mirrors not allowed.

The drivers license picture is the single picture of me that complete strangers will see most often. I will show it to cashiers almost every day for the next four years. So of course I wanted to make sure I didn't have a stray hair sticking up or cottage cheese stains on my shoulder (both equally likely possibilities). However the DMV photographer smugly replied, "Nope, no mirror." when I asked to look at myself. I wondered how many times a day she delights in telling drivers that news and why no one had thought of actually providing a mirror for one last look before the picture is snapped.

I'm thinking of donating a mirror to the cause!

Observation #2
Grumpiness required.

Walmart specifically hires greeters - kind men and women to stand at their doors simply to smile and say hello. These employees might occasionally pull out a cart or provide direction, but their main job is to welcome customers to the store. The DMV specifically hires grumpers. Men and women who serve as the first point of contact to make the customer feel unwelcome and begin the initial infusement of grumpiness that pervades throughout the building.

Observation #3
Bring your own sanitizer.

Not only did I get the privilege of being grumped at by the second person I was directed to, but I also got to watch her consistently reach two fingers into her mouth to pull out pieces of ... (gum? skin? paper?) and deposit them in the garbage. This must have happened every 30 seconds and after she threw away whatever piece of whatever from her mouth, her fingers jumped right back onto her keyboard. I barely passed the vision test because my eyes focused on where her hands went to make sure they weren't touching anything that would soon be handed back to me.

Observation #4
They really don't want your money.

I should know by now that they don't want it to be convenient to pay the registration tax. This is the one area I should applaud the DMV because they do now accept credit cards, but I'm still frustrated that my primary method of paying everywhere else is not an option at the DMV. The sign taped onto the cash register simply taunts me as it states, "We accept Mastercard, Discover, VISA." With a BIG "X" through the VISA. Who doesn't take VISA? Yes, of course it would be the DMV.

Despite the inefficiency and unfriendly treatment, I made it through the experience, passed my drivers test again, and have another bad picture to carry around in my wallet for the next 4 years.

06 August 2010

Really Alive

"But the person in right standing before God through loyal and steady believing is fully alive, really alive!"
Habakkuk 2:4
I am so drawn to this idea of being fully alive! Really alive!
My world is so practical and task focused that I get frustrated with finding those opportunities to be fully alive. Finding them, and then pushing beyond my tiredness to grab and act on them.
Pushing past inhibitions and practicalities is hard enough on a normal day, but on the days when I'm tired of figuring out what we can have for a snack and sibling scwabbles are constant, I have no energy for doing what it would take to live up to my mind's image of being free and alive.
As a mom of preschoolers I don't know what it looks like to live that fully alive life day to day.
But, by looking at these words in Habakkuk, it looks like being fully alive starts with right standing before God.
So is it freedom from my worry and fears that would allow me to stay in right standing?
Is it constant confession?
According to the one who gives life, Full life comes from having right standing before God.
How simple that seems.
Right standing comes when I put faith in Jesus and accept His gift of grace. I've done that. So in theory, according to Habakkuk, I already have full life! real life!
And this is where the choice for abundant life comes - the choice to trust the path of grace and rest in love I've been shown rather than trying to forge my own new and wandering way.

03 August 2010

Do you hear it?

Do you hear it coming?
For me, it's just five more weeks.
Five more weeks until my schedule begins!

That's just a little over a month until the days become strict and we start rushing around from preschool to Moms Group to Bible Study to nights of fitting in all the unfinished business. And while I've loved the vacations, parks, and pool times we've had this year, I'm ready for something a little more to my days.

Structure - I miss you!
I hear God getting ready to do something specific with our days and I'm kind of anxious for it to begin.

Like sounds of a distant ice cream truck which Asher has superpower hearing for, I am waiting to see what this year of activity is going to bring. Sure, we're enjoying our summer, but in a laid back way of knowing these lazy undemanding days aren't going to last.
When we first moved to our new neighborhood, we didn't get much warning that the ice cream truck was driving by. We heard it and by the time we made it to the front door, we saw the back of the van heading down the street - too late. No ice cream again.

So Asher's hearing has miraculously become capable of hearing the Candy Man music while it is in distant neighborhoods. For the past 2 Saturdays, he has sat on his dinosaur lawn chair patiently waiting by the mailbox for over an hour. About 15 minutes before it shows up, I begin to hear it, but until then the truck makes a noise similar to a dog whistle, music only heard by 4 year old boys who love popsicles.

And after the waiting comes the reward. It's what he waited for and he delights in the icy sweetness.

I hear my structured schedule approaching and am patiently waiting for those days to begin.