I Hear It Now

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My four-year-old son Tim and I sat quietly, looking up at the night sky.  

“Look at all those stars…” I whispered.

“Yes! I can hear them,” he whispered back. 

“You can hear them?”  I asked.

“Yes.” He said. “They sound like crickets.”

Until that moment I was deaf to crickets, but now the cacophony couldn’t be ignored.  How weird something so obvious was beyond my acknowledgement.

In the same way, my recognition of God—His nearness and HERE-ness is sometimes overlooked.  I can be so consumed by a singular aspect of life— especially in the dark hours, I’m oblivious to His presence and call, until I intentionally listen for Him.

Knowing He is with me and actively engaged in every detail of my life changes how I view my situation, allowing me to see beyond the temporal to the eternal; that things aren’t falling apart, they are falling into place.

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But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him— if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.  Deuteronomy 4:29 

I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.  Job 42:5

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day… Genesis 3:8

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Part of the Pride Thing

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I married for a variety of reasons:

John is so cute and sexy.

We have fun together.

We have so much in common

(he thinks I’m cute and sexy too).

He loves Jesus.

He asked me. 

I don’t ever recall thinking, “I want to marry John because, knowing me better than anyone else, he will address the things that hinder my spiritual growth.”  And yet that is one of the purposes of marriage.  

God loves that John and I still dance in our kitchen, that we have perfected the art of dark humor for hard times, that we are still cute and sexy—or at least we think so; and we are partners in All Things Jesus.  But one of God’s hidden purposes since June 17th, 1973 has been to sculpt each of us into the image of His Son, and his favorite chipping tool is each other.     

After forty-four years, you’d think it would get easier to take, but I find it just as dreadful as that time way back in 1974 when John gave our grocery money to a couple of hitchhikers against my better judgement—which, as it turns out, was not so much “better” as judgement.  

 Well, here we go again.  This week John addressed a list of nasty habits for me to consider.  Okay—a list of three, which is the same as fifty; and he didn’t exactly call them nasty, but I read between the lines. He spoke kindly, and I responded similarly:

“Kindly suck it up.” 

To my credit, I didn’t say that out loud. 

His concerns were of a spiritual nature, and I wanted to retaliate: 

“Oh Yeah? Well, guess who left their underwear on the floor today?” 

But I kept my cool.  Very cool.  Downright COLD. 

As it turns out, he was being overly-sensitive, judge-y, and critical.  Oh no…wait…that was me. 

It took awhile, but I repeated back what I thought he was saying until I was 100% sure he was absolutely wrong and then we prayed.  

I wrestled all day in prayer. Wrestled with God. Apparently John had managed to convince even God of my sin. And they won. 

They won because truth wins and this truth from John 3:30 burst to the surface of my murky little heart:

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” 

“He” being Jesus.   

This verse shredded my paper-thin defenses, motives, and questions.  John was right—both Johns were right. But even if my John had been wrong, the truth of this verse would have worked right things in me.  If my life’s goal is truly, “More of Jesus, less of me,” this brings an end to the parsing out of just how much responsibility I’ll accept for my attitudes, motives, and actions, because one thing for sure:  I must take full responsibility for my sin of pride—and its many disguises of which I am still ignorant. 

Later that day, I thanked John for sharing hard stuff with me, acknowledged my failings, and asked him to keep praying for me. 

Battle Done.  Freedom Won.

We hug each other with lots of mushy stuff, and no reserve.  

This “being made more like Christ” is not for sissies.  I want to resist it. But in the end, I find Jesus irresistible. And John too. 

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“But speaking the truth in love, we are to GROW UP* in all ways into Him who is the head—Christ.  Eph. 4:15 

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Pro. 27:17

(And just in case I’m ever tempted to start parsing…) 

“Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that?”  1 Corinthians 6:7 

*Bold lettering is mine. 

Much Needed Sleep

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While John and I were dating, conflicts were frequent and intense as we attempted to sorted out— and mesh—our opposites. On one heated occasion, John pulled the car to the side of the road so we could knock heads without knocking fenders.

We sat pressed against the doors on opposite sides of the car, frustration mounting until John suggested we pray—just before I landed a verbal Hail Mary for an attempted win.

I winced as his hand stretched across the great divide to rest on the console, but soon reluctant fingers entwined, and we prayed for God’s help.

Minutes later, we opened our eyes and realized we’d fallen asleep! We must’ve tested even God’s patience with our banter, so He knocked us out. We struggled unsuccessfully to recall what had seemed so critical just moments before, and ended up thanking God. Laughing and relieved from our angst, we headed home.

With the recent passing of my mother-in-law, I’ve thought about death’s similarities to that long ago experience.

Life is conflict. Like Indiana Jones, we barely catch our breath from a giant bug encounter, only to fall into a pit of vipers. To quote the once-popular bumper-sticker:

“Life is hard, and then we die.”

In the New Testament, the death of a believer in Christ is commonly referred to as one who has “fallen asleep.” What comfort to know that Jesus Christ is not only a “very present Help” for today’s angst (Psalm 46:1), but through His death and resurrection, He stretched His hands across the Great Divide to console us to sleep and soon after, we awaken to every angst removed, every tear wiped away, and—laughing—we will be Home.

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Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.” John 11:11

…If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.

1 Thes. 4:14

Chao(s)Tic

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Really important stuff screams to be done, so naturally I stroll aimlessly through the flotsam and jetsam of our recent move, humming like Prissy from “Gone with the Wind”.

A memory stops me and I look at John.

“I can’t function in this mess. When I was a kid, I couldn’t go to sleep if there were clothes at the end of my bed.”

John: “And you waited 46 years to tell me this?”

Me: “Yeah—so please tell me what I’m supposed to be doing today. Unpacking? Writing? Instagram-twit-facing? Prepping for Resurrection services, or getting ready for our trip?”

My facial tic gets his attention.

He wraps his arms around me and says to my head in his low, soft voice,

“Laura, let’s just do the house stuff. I’ll help you with the rest later.”

With that single directive, I blast all the crazies out of my head and do the next thing. And the next, and the next. And now our house is almost home.

That was yesterday. Today is Good Friday. It’s called “good”, because Christ died to bring order to our chaos, clarity to our confusion, peace to our unrest, and Abundant Life in exchange for certain death.

Today I choose to let His peace be Lord of me. How ‘bout you?

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“God is not a God of confusion, but of peace…”

1 Cor. 14:33

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.”

Col. 3:15

The Write Stuff

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The process of book publishing takes so long I may have to publish postmortem, or as John says, “post humorously”. And that’s only if I can convince aforementioned agent I can:

1. Stay tense (this phrase “writing tense” seems to be a big deal to agents, authors and publishers).

2. Find some platforms. I didn’t have the heart to tell these people platform shoes went out in the 70’s and again in the 90’s. They spend way too much time at computers to know these things.

3. Overcome my fear of Twitter— that place where, as John says, you get scrambled egos and hash tags for breakfast every morning.

4. Get people to like me.

I’m Not Very Social Media

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Today I met with an agent. She’s a publishing agent, not a secret agent, but I feel a need to hide her association with me because she’s a very nice person, and according to people who know this stuff, the “Best of the Best” in the Christian publishing world; which—I’ve recently discovered—is not in any way related to planet earth, but is part of a universe hundreds of light years from where I live.

Minutes before meeting with this agent (at her charitable request), I mentally rehearsed our introduction:

I will smile pleasantly, extend a firm—but not too firm— hand, thank her for meeting with me, and throw up on her shoes.

All went as planned, minus the vomit, until she accidentally mentioned “publishable” and “author” in reference to my manuscript. And then out of nowhere, my Rescued Puppy Instinct took over and I began verbally licking her face while peeing with excitement.

I’m hoping she didn’t notice.

I couldn’t tell, because I got distracted when I thought I heard her say I need to create a

Twitter/Facebook/Mandarin Chinese&AllOtherForeignSocialMediaPlatforms AUTHOR’S PAGE.

At which, I stopped my dogged impression long enough to ask,

“For WHO?”

All this to say, I’m gonna need your help cleaning this whole mess up.

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And I feel a strong need to return to Christianity101:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.

Proverbs 3:5,6

Appealing Little Fixer-Upper

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“Why is this happening to me?” Is not the appropriate question when hard stuff happens. A more productive inquiry is, “For what purpose?”

If Romans 8:28 is true,

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose…”

Then we can be sure there IS a purpose, and in my case, at least as a sub-purpose, this usually involves purification-a theological term for God saying, “I smell a rat.”

This teeny-tiny trial I’m experiencing of moving to nowhere-in-particular, is a case in point. I know some of the reasons, and I may never know others, but I’ve had plenty of time to sit on a box and ask myself a few questions, like:

Do I feel entitled to a house, as in “I deserve this…”

Am I ungrateful to have a roof and bed at THIS very moment?

Have I become anxious, and annoyed because things aren’t going my way?

And perhaps the most pertinent question:

Where in the WORLD did I put that can opener?

I’ve discovered the answers to all but the last question, and it ain’t pretty. Thankfully I serve a God who’s very familiar with less- than-charming fixer-uppers, and offers a great deal:

Confess, repent and be renewed. So I did.

I’ve been bought, cleaned, renovated, and with more than a little TLC, this “appealing* little shabby-chick” is ready to rent.

P.S. But I’m really grateful for the personal upgrade.

P.P.S. “Appealing” as in “asking for help”.

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In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and confidence is your strength; but you would have none of it.

Isaiah 30:15