Friday, July 22, 2011

Do We Encourage Big Dreams?

In the early hours of yesterday morning I watched the shuttle land for the very last time.  It is indeed the end of the era that I grew up in, believing that we would touch the stars!  My earliest memory of the space program?  Grainy images of astronauts driving around on the moon in their little lunar dune buggy!  As a child, I remember hearing that by the time I was an adult there would be people living in space and on the moon. 

Big dreamers, even bigger dreams!  They may not have accomplished everything they hoped but they did accomplish a lot!  I think that's why movies like "The Right Stuff" and "Apollo 13" are still popular today because they remind us that we stand on the shoulders of big dreamers.   

As I look at my children and their friends I wonder if we are encouraging them to be big dreamers?  With our obsession with structured schedules and test score outcomes are we taking away the free time needed to be able to dream big dreams?  Big dreams are the stuff of innovation!  Some of the biggest innovations have come from someone tinkering in the garage in the back yard!  I have to wonder if our obsession with standardizing everything is sucking the life right out of creativity and robbing us of the next big dreamer?  I'm not sure.

Big dreamers take risks.  They explore, they tinker, they plan and then they risk trying it out.  There are dozens of examples in the Bible from Abraham to Paul.  Each one had a dream and had to make the choice to step out in faith.  In modern times you could mention people like Henry Ford, Chuck Yeager or Bill Gates.  And here's the kicker-each one of them did this without structured play time or scoring high on a standardized test!  Yet no one would accuse them of being ignorant-on the contrary, they are considered a hero or a genius! 

Not to be a downer here, but I just don't see the next big dream on the horizon.  Maybe I'm not looking hard enough or maybe I've become a little jaded.  I think this all goes back to my post from yesterday about looking for the extraordinary in the ordinary.  Young children intuitively know how to do this but can the same be said of them once they get older?  Can they still look at things with wonder and see the possibilities?  Or have we indoctrinated them so far in the standards of "normalcy" that they can not see beyond what we have told them that they should see?

My hope is that the next big dreamer is out there, somewhere.  That in spite of our efforts to standardize everything, this individual still has the ability to think beyond the standard and  instead think creatively.  We need dreamers and thinkers and risk takers!  We need to encourage them to be what they were meant to be.

And maybe as a society we need to re-think our "standards".  Low test scores do not necessarily mean lack of knowledge.  What it may mean is that we have children who do not think in terms of text and coloring in the lines.  Perhaps we should stop guilting ourselves because our child is not the most popular at play group.  Perhaps, we have a child who needs to climb a tree and think deep thoughts or needs to sit with Lego's and create amazing things!  How many children are slipping through the cracks because they don't fit our notion of normal?  Don't get me wrong, sharing your toys,  and getting along with others does matter.  Being able to read and do math and know certain facts does matter.  But as a parent I would argue that each child is different and they come at things in their own unique way.  If we discourage them from using their natural gifts, talents and abilities we are selling their future short!  We are robbing them of the opportunity to not only blossom but to shine! 

We need big dreams and big dreamers!   We need to give our children the space and the tools they need to explore.  Perhaps the biggest gift we can give our children is the gift of free time.  Instead of mourning that our child is somehow "different" we should celebrate and encourage their uniqueness in a positive way.  Who knows, you could be nurturing the next Edison or Einstein, the next Ford or Gates, the next Bach or Monet. 

Proverbs 22:6 says:
"Train up a child in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it."
Let your child use their natural gifts and abilities.  Let them have the time to dream big dreams.  If you do that, you'll find that your job of being a parent suddenly becomes a lot less stressful.  And I know, because I have helped raise four children to adulthood!  If I do say so myself, they're pretty cool!  Each one unique and different.  Each one with their own set of dreams. 

Dream my darlings, dream!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Extraordinary Ordinary

I was reading Proverbs 12 and one of its bits of wisdom is:
"Better to be ordinary and work for a living than act important and starve in the process."
One of the blessings (if you can call it that) of the latest recession is that people have had to get back to basics.  Ordinary is suddenly cool!  I think we tend to sell ordinary short.  There's a lot of value in ordinary, we just have forgotten how to appreciate those simpler things!  I would even go so far as to say there are extraordinary things to be found in the ordinary!

Why is it that when you buy your child the latest coolest gizmo the excitement lasts for a moment and then they suddenly start playing with the box?  Why do young children spot every ant, caterpillar, butterfly and bug on a simple walk outside?  Because kids intuitively understand that there is great value in the ordinary!

Think back to your childhood and your fondest memories.  Did they involve a "thing" or did they involve family and friends?  Now granted, that bike you got for your birthday may have been cool, but was it the bike itself, or rather the feeling you got from riding it or the adventures that the bike took you on that you remember?

One of my fondest memories is of my grandmother.  It was a beautiful late spring/early summer day.  Sun was shining, a breeze was blowing and the two of us were taking a walk to the brook.  I don't remember all of the details but what I do remember most was the feel of her hand, the warm sun and light breeze and feeling like all was right with the world!  I'm sure my grandmother thought nothing of it because we had done this a hundred times before.  But in my mind, that moment-that day was magical!  It was an extraordinary ordinary moment!  I have lots of memories like that, brief moments, snatches of time that in the scheme of things were very ordinary but they hold a special spot in my heart!

I still have moments like that-moments that take my breath away!  So ordinary yet I know deep down that they are more than ordinary.  Watching my children discover their first walking stick bug.  A hummingbird hovering gracefully by a feeder.  The burst of color from the Irises finally blooming.  Hearing the bells of the Catholic church gently toll across the valley on a misty morning.  Watching a deer pick it's way carefully across the front yard.  The cooling brace of the water when you first jump in to the pond on a hot day.  Making an ordinary meal and sharing it with family and friends.  Ordinary moments, yet they are the ones that I cherish and most vividly remember!

I think it's time to look for the extraordinary in the ordinary!  To value and cherish the common and everyday moments of our lives.  To look at the world like we did when we were young and everything was new and fresh.  Let's look for the joy and wonder in what is right in front of us!  Let's look at the ordinary things in our lives and find the extraordinary spark of specialness!  We have the ability, we just need to reclaim the skill!

In the meantime, I'm going to grab a cup of coffee and go watch the dogs chase grasshoppers!  Carpe Diem-seize your ordinary day!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Thoughts on Roads Taken and Not Taken

Growing up in Vermont, I was introduced to Robert Frost and his poetry at a very young age.  I loved his poetry so much that my parents gave me an unabridged collection of his poems as a graduation present.  I still have that book after all these years!

I was reminded of a Robert Frost poem today as I read Psalm 84 in The Message paraphrase:
"And how blessed all those in whom you live, whose lives become roads you travel; They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks, discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain!  God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and at the last turn-Zion!  God in full view!"
One of my favorite poems by Robert Frost is titled "The Road Not Taken."  I was reminded of the last few lines in the poem:
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."
How many times have we come to a fork in the road and had to make a decision about which one we were going to take?  Take this job or not?  Make this move or stay put?  Choices, choices, choices and you have to decide which one is best!  One path being well worn, the other less traveled.  That well worn path can seem pretty tempting but a spirit filled life tends to lead towards taking the road less traveled.  There's a huge difference between following the crowd and following where God leads.  The obvious choice may not be the God choice! 

Discernment-what is God asking you to do?  It involves a lot of prayer and waiting on that still small voice.  Especially if the least traveled path doesn't look like a path at all at first glance!  It may look like you have to blaze a trail and cut a path yourself!  Truth be told, God has already traveled that way, he has laid down the path, all we are asked to do is follow.   Once you step on to that path it suddenly becomes more obvious!  Suddenly, right there in front of you is a brook, a well watered spring!  Who knew that you would find such beauty on this path!  It was there all along, just waiting for you!  You just had to make the choice to follow!

Change can be incredibly scary!  You're taking a risk and you're not sure of the outcome.  Well meaning friends and family tell you that you've lost your mind to even consider doing something different!  Why would anyone in their right mind veer from the path that they are on-that well worn path that others follow?  It's not "logical" it makes no sense!  What is God asking you to do?  What is that still small voice saying to you?  Do you trust God to lead?  Do you have enough faith to follow?

Jesus tells the parable in Luke 19 about the three servants that were given a sum of money by their master to look after while he was away.  The first servant doubled the money, the second made a 50% profit but the third, out of fear, put the money in the cellar for safe keeping.  The money was taken from the third servant and given to the first servant.  When the disciples questioned Jesus about this, The Message paraphrase says that Jesus responded by saying:
"Risk you life and get more than you ever dreamed of.  Play it safe and end up holding the bag."
Two roads diverged in the woods.  Which path are you being asked to take?  Which one will you choose to follow?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

Today's Bible Study Reading coupled with the Disciple Bible Study reading for today made me go "eww!!!"  My thought was "seriously God, this is what you want me to talk about today???"  As you can tell, since I am writing about it, the answer was yes.  There is a good reason!

Right now I am reading through Second Kings and I've gotten to the section where the chapters get short because they tell the stories of one failed king after another.  It tells how the king came to power (usually by assassination) and it consistently uses phrases like:
 Or you read this:
"In God's eyes he lived an evil life...he didn't deviate from the sins of Jeroboam...he plodded along in the same tracks, step after step." 

"He lived the way God wanted and did the right thing.  But he didn't come up to the standards of his ancestor David..."
Then there is this week's reading in my Disciple Bible Study which focuses on the Book of Job.  Here's a man who we know, right from the start, is blameless in God's eyes yet he loses everything!  So then his friends show up to offer "comfort" all the while spouting off that it's obvious that he did something wrong and he should just fess up!  With friends like this, who needs enemies?

Yeah, not exactly light, heady, uplifting reading!  But there are a couple of modern day parallels in all of this.  Start with Kings.  Substitute "government official" for king and you get a picture of a person in leadership who hasn't deviated from the patterns of the past and continues to plod along.  I won't be the judge of whether or not that is a sin, because that's beside the point.  The point is, the average American thinks that our leadership is doing nothing to address the current problems our country faces. 

Then, there is Job.  He had it all by worldly standards and yet he lost it all through no fault of his own.  There are a lot of people in this country in similar situations.  They worked hard, they did the right things, they are good people, yet they lost their job, their homes and their savings.  My guess is they have a few friends who probably sit there beside them and say "well, there must have been something that you did wrong to cause this to happen?!"  Again, with friends like this who needs enemies?

Where's the uplifting part in all of this?  It has to do with how we respond.  In the question and answer part of Disciple Bible Study is this statement:
"The Christian Disciple knows that suffering causes a person to choose bitterness or creativity."   
Now add this from 2 Corinthians 5:
"Cheerfully, pleasing God is the main thing, and that's what we can aim to do, regardless of our conditions."
Ah ha!  Is the glass half full or half empty?  How do I respond to what is going on around me?  Am I able to respond with hope, faith and love or do I respond with anger, frustration and bitterness? And as a Christian, regardless of my circumstances, can I still find a way to serve?  Can I cheerfully please God regardless of my condition?  

I'll be honest, my initial response when something goes wrong tends to fall on the half empty side.  (Told ya I wasn't perfect!)  After I calm down a bit, I can start seeing the half full side but it takes some time!  My husband on the other hand is the eternal optimist!  It takes an awful lot for him to flip to the half empty side!  That's why he is so good for me because he makes me look for the blessings in disguise and try to find the silver lining! 

I do think there is a lesson here for each of us personally.  Initially, anger and frustration can spur you on to make changes.  But anger long lived, leads to bitterness and bitterness shuts down creativity.  If you can't get beyond focusing on what you have lost, it's tough to look at what you have left and figure out a way to use it differently and creatively!  You plod along in the same ole way, do the same ole thing and as a result nothing changes!

Ya know, I know a lot of very smart people who got some very cool degrees in very specific fields who have never worked a day in their life in that chosen field!  Yet, they have been very successful doing other things!  Each and every one of us has untapped potential.  So maybe you didn't train in a certain field, so what?!  Are you passionate about it?  Do you have gifts and abilities that would allow you to do the job?  Then why sell yourself short?  Why not take those God given talents and find a new way to use them? 

This also applies to serving others as well!  Do you see a need in your church or community?  Sort of a big gaping hole that seems so obvious to you but yet, nothing is being done about it?  Why not take that passion and energy and creativity and come up with a plan!  Or maybe, there is a need, there is a program but you are not involved yet.  You may be exactly the person they need!  You may not feel that you have a lot to offer but take the leap anyway!  You might find that volunteering is the toughest job you'll ever love and in the process you may find a gift that you have always had but never noticed! 

Trouble comes.  Bad things happen to good people.  How you respond can make all of the difference.  It's normal to be angry and frustrated to begin with but the key is to choose the path of creativity over the path of bitterness.  Is the glass half full or half empty?  My darling friends, if you are on the half empty side I pray that today is the day that you choose to look at the half full side!  I pray that today you focus on what you have rather than what you have lost.  I pray that you choose to serve regardless of your circumstances.  I pray that you choose to tap in to your God given creativity!  Today is your day!  Rejoice and be glad!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Use Your Head!

How many times have I heard this phrase over the years?  It also falls on the list of "things I swore I'd never say but yet I did utter those very words!"  I'm beginning to think in this day and age, it's not such a bad thing to say!

I ran across the phrase in The Message paraphrase of Colossians 4:
"Use your head as you live and work among outsiders.  Don't miss a trick.  Make the most of every opportunity.  Be gracious in your speech.  The goal is to bring out the best in others in conversation, not put them down, not cut them out."
Use your head, be gracious, bring out the best in others, don't put them down-that's some pretty sound advice if you ask me!  Sort of falls along the lines of the old phrase "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar." 

In our day of "instant everything" asking someone to really think seems like a tall order!  It's a critical skill worth cultivating.  Phrases like "think it through", "think before you act", "think before you speak" why do they matter?  They matter because what you say or what you do matters!  You can have a positive impact on your life or someone else's life  Or, you can have a negative impact.  If you want to avoid the negative, then you had better use your head and think it through before you say or do anything!

Thinking is something that Wesley encouraged as well.  One of the church terms that gets used without a lot of explanation is "Wesleyan Quadrilateral".  Simply put, Wesley believed that scripture, tradition, experience and reason are the tools to use on your faith journey.  A life of Holiness is a continual process of engagement not a "check your brain at the door and just do what I tell you" style of living.  Nope!  It involves thinking and doing.  It involves work. 

Wait a second!  We're saved by grace not by works!  (That's what you're thinking, right?)  That statement is absolutely correct.  "Trudy, you just said I have to think and do and work!"  Yes, I did.  On the surface, it may sound like a contradiction, but it's not.  Think of it in terms of your life.  Did you get your diploma, or your job or your house or whatever by hoping or wishing or did you go out, do your homework, come up with a plan and then work towards achieving the goal?  Of course you researched and created a plan and did the work because that is logical!  That's how you achieve goals!    

I've said it before I'll say it again.  Grace is a gift.  It's a gift from God.  In accepting the gift it is understood that you are not going to be the same person you were before!  You're not going to do the same things that you did before!  You are expected to share this gift of grace!  You change and grow inwardly.  That change is then reflected in what you do outwardly!  The change reflects a change in thinking, which leads to a change in how we act towards others.  Rather than discouraging independent thinking, it encourages using your head!

Wesley believed that scripture was God inspired.  Tradition means asking how has this scripture has been consistently interpreted and how does someone else's interpretation line up with the traditional interpretation?  Reason asks "does this make sense?"  Experience shows whether the "latest, greatest" interpretation pans out in the real world.  Bottom line, it matches perfectly with what Paul was saying about using your head!  God is not asking us to sit back and let someone else give us the answers.  God is encouraging us to think and to act! 

How do I help and encourage others?  What can I do to bring out the best in myself, my family, my church, my community?  These are the sorts of questions you start asking on your faith journey.  The God inspired ideas start coming.  Work becomes a joy because your hands reflect the ideas in your head which reflect the change in your heart! 

So let's all use our heads!  That's what the good Lord made it for! 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

My Birthday Wish

It's my birthday and I'll write what I want to!  hee hee hee

Actually, I do that most days anyway!  It's real simple-I wish for joy and happiness for my family and friends.  I believe if you can find joy even in the smallest of things than you have a spark of hope!  Don't underestimate the importance of hope.  It goes hand and hand with faith and even a small portion will move mountains!

Today I turn 43.  Not a milestone birthday but it's another birthday that I can celebrate which, in my mind, is better than the alternative.  I still have lots and lots of things I want to do.  Places to go.  Things to see.  Things I want to learn about.  Most importantly, people to love on!  I have made mistakes-some were doozeys!  I have suffered through some rough patches.  I've had times of feeling helpless and hopeless.  I have been a failure!  I have earned every wrinkle and gray hair!  I wouldn't change it because I am the person that I am because of where I have been!

Despair is a terrible disease.  It is grief and anger, hopelessness and helplessness, bitterness and loss of joy all rolled up in to one.  So many people today are feeling this way.  They don't see any hope.  They don't feel any joy.  They feel trapped and pinned in to a corner with no way out!

I know how that feels, I've been there and I don't mean figuratively or philosophically.  I mean I know what it's like to be at the very bottom clinging on desperately by your fingernails and wanting to just let go because you're tired of fighting.  My name is Trudy and I even failed at attempting suicide many years ago.  I am the ultimate epic fail!  Yes, I have been there.

I don't talk about it much.  It's a dark chapter with a long journey.  But it was a turning point-a wake up call!  You see, I survived.  I got to see the aftermath and the impact and how devastated my family and friends would have been had I actually succeeded.  I thought I was alone.  I thought even God had abandoned me. 

That my friends is a big fat lie and it is the greatest self-deception out there!  You're never alone!  You may not believe it right now, but trust me, I speak the truth because I have been there!

The question I was asked most was why-why would I even consider suicide as a possibility?  The best answer I have is being soul weary.  If you could see my soul-you'd see a bleeding gash here, a festering sore there and a gray almost lifeless lump barely breathing-struggling for every breath.  The pain is always there, it never goes away and you've lived this way for so long that you have given up all hope that it will ever change.  The only thought is ending the pain.  You're not trying to purposely hurt anyone else or exact revenge, you simply want to stop the pain.

I know what it is like to experience that still small voice of God because I heard it on that day.  It was a moment of crystal clear clarity.  I didn't really want to die!  I wanted to live!  I remember with tears rolling down my face praying one last prayer "God I don't want to die but I don't know how to live."  And that still small voice answered back "you're not going to die today because you have things that you need to do, you WILL live!"  And I did!

My homeroom teacher showed up at that moment.  He literally dragged/carried me to the nurse's office where I took a dose of Ipecac and spent the next few hours throwing up every pill I swallowed.  I owe my life to Tom Sargeant, one of my homeroom teachers, and Cindy Senning the school nurse who alternated between holding the pan and holding me!  My family, my friends they held me a lot tighter too.  They were angry, they were hurt, they wanted to understand but most importantly, they wanted me to know that they loved me and that I didn't have to go it alone! 

Healing did not come overnight.  It was a process that had to be worked through.  But healing did come and so did hope and joy and happiness.  It came from love!

I am blessed.  I got a second chance.  Life hasn't always been easy since then but I have never given up hope!  I am happy.  I do have joy! 

So when I say that my birthday wish for my family and friends is joy and happiness I mean it with all sincerity!  I don't want anyone to ever feel that they are alone!  I don't want them to feel that there is no hope!  I'm here, I love them and I want the very very best for them!  And I promise, I'll hold them very tight and I won't let go!  You are never alone!

If you are reading this and you are at the place that I describe, reach out, grab a family member or friend and let them help!  If you are a friend, don't wait to be asked, just go and help! 

And to my beloved family and friends-thank you for not giving up on me.  Thank you for holding tight and carrying me when I needed help.  Thank you for kicking my butt when appropriate!  Thank you for loving me-warts and all!  I am blessed indeed!

Happy birthday to me!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Where Compassion and Common Sense Meet-A Bastion of Hope

"But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!"  Amos 5:24

I want to ask you all a question.  Dear friends, I am serious about this and would really like some feedback.

To give you an idea about the enormity of the needs out there let me share with you a link to a website called Down but not Out  which contains personal stories from people who have experienced first hand what it is like to live through long term unemployment.  Some of these stories will break your heart!  There is also the issue of underemployment.  People are working but they are just barely hanging on and one tiny push will put them over the edge.  This is real and it is happening now!  This is so much bigger than politics, it's about people and their ability to provide for themselves and their families and to contribute to the community around them!

Throughout the Old Testament I see a coupling of righteousness with kindness, particularly in Proverbs.  How we treat the poor, the orphan and widow are important!  Israel was called in to judgement over and over again on this very thing along with worshipping other Gods.  I think that righteousness and kindness intersect at the point where compassion and common sense meet.  The church in particular should be a bastion of hope!  Historically it has been and now is the time to become that bastion of hope once again!

How do we help-really help? 

So that's the question that I humbly ask.  Thank you in advance for your responses!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Get Everything Ready For You In The Field

I find it interesting that my Bible readings today both come from the book of Proverbs!  Let me back up and explain-I am using a daily plan that will allow me to read through the entire Bible by the end of the year.  I also have been working through Disciple Bible Study on my own and the focus of this week's readings happens to be the book of Proverbs.  I'll tell ya what, I am beginning to think that anyone in a leadership position should consider this book of the Bible as required reading!  It's like peeling back an onion, the more you read it, the more you see!

I don't know about other bloggers but I actually pray before I write-it's real simple "please dear Lord, don't let me stick my foot in my mouth and let me say something that will be helpful to someone!  Guide my way.  Amen"  I wait until that still small voice kicks in and then I start writing.  I call it my "spiritual nudge" because that's the best way that I can explain it.  I've talked quite a bit about having faith and hope and using your God given gifts, tapping in to your God given creativity, etc. etc.  Personally, I thought it was time to move on to something new.  Nope!  Apparently, I haven't said it enough times yet, so you and I dear friends, are gonna cover the territory again!  This is good stuff though!  We're just mining a little deeper and coming at it from a different angle, looking at the same message, just in a different way!

Here is what Proverbs 24:27 says:
"Prepare your work outside, get everything ready for you in the field; and after that build your house." that's interesting!  First, you prepare your work and get everything ready out in the field THEN you build your house.  Say what?  Doesn't common thought dictate that you put a roof over your head first and then you do the other things?  Yet this is saying to reverse that order.  Why? 

There's a life lesson here!  Wait for it...wait for it.....

In an agricultural community how do you feed your family and how do you produce an income?  From your crops and livestock.  So preparing your field is investing in your future!  You plow the field and plant the seed or the grape vine or the apple tree. Then there is a period of time where you have to wait-it's called growing season.  You still have to tend to the various things-pull the weeds, watch for disease, water when necessary but essentially it is not as labor intensive as the initial planting season.  This is when you can work on building your house.  Because at the end of growing season you're going to be busy gathering the harvest.  Harvest comes in due season but there will be nothing to harvest if you didn't prepare the field in the first place!  And, if you haven't taken the time to build some place to put that harvest for safe keeping it will not last!

Some of you are probably thinking "that's nice but I'm not a farmer so I don't know how that would apply to me."  Think bigger!  Be creative, broaden your perspective.  Maybe your "field" is to get more training.  Maybe your "field" is to get in touch with someone who can help you write that business plan.  Maybe your "field" is to start a new ministry or outreach program.  Maybe your "field" is to be a mentor.  Your "field" is that gift or idea that you need to invest in so you can reap a harvest, either for yourself or for others!  Think about the possibilities!  This is taking that God given creativity and making plans and doing the work now so you can reap a harvest later!  It is literally taking the steps necessary to get the ball rolling!  You are taking a carefully planned leap of faith! 

I remember reading about the pioneers and how they would build their barns  and outbuildings or plow their fields before they built their houses-something I didn't understand at the time but now I do.  It was a statement of faith and hope.  They planned and planted and built because they had faith that harvest would come!  They were willing to do the work to make it happen.  They had the courage to take a risk! 

There are great ideas and plans out there that will never see the light of day, let alone a time of harvest if someone doesn't go out there and plan for them.  They will never see the light of day if someone is not willing to take a risk.  Pray, study, ask, discern.  Is the time right?  Is the time now?  If it is, then what steps need to be taken in order to start?  Start getting everything ready now so you can be ready when the time is right!  Harvest time only comes when you are willing to do the work in the first place!  Pray, plan, prepare!  Have faith and hope!  Believe that God truly does want the very best for you!  Mediocrity is easy.  Great things involve great work and a whole lot of planning!  Are you ready?

An entire life lesson in one simple verse!  How cool is that?!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Simple Acts of Kindness

Proverbs 12:25 has this wonderful bit of wisdom:
"Anxiety weighs down the human heart, but a good word cheers it up."
Anxiety I had in spades!  Tuesday morning I had a 3:00 crying jag because I wasn't exactly sure how things were going to turn out. 

It all started Monday.  After my darling husband was able to fix the air conditioner so we didn't roast, I had to move on to another issue that had been weighing heavily on my mind-dad's funeral.  I knew mom was concerned (okay, she was starting to stress out) because all of the children and grandchildren were coming to her house-at the same time!  First off, it's not a big house.  Second the well is let's just say slightly tempermental.  Sure we could set up tents in the back yard but if the well went down, that was going to be a huge and very expensive problem to fix!  So after talking to Kenny, we decided that it would be best to try to find a place to stay. 

Most people think of Vermont as snowy-a place to go skiing.  Actually though, the busiest tourist season in the state is summer time because of the lakes and fishing and hiking and a host of other activities.  So I knew I was facing a virtual "Mission Impossible" to try and find something that was available and that we could afford to rent.  So I started making phone calls.  First I called a good friend of mine who not only owns a vacation rental company but I also worked for this individual.  Someone was supposed to call me back-they never did.  Now I could talk about how hurt I was by the snub, but I'm not going to.  I would much rather tell you about the kindness and generosity of spirit of two wonderful ladies who I have not met but will hold dear in my heart for the rest of my life! 

When a return phone call didn't come, my next call was to Stowe Realty Rentals where I spoke to Kim Rushford.  They did have a beautiful small cottage available on Harvey Lake.  I loved it, my husband loved it but we weren't sure we would be able to afford to do the rental.  So I told her I would call her back once we made a decision.  I tried a few other places and then someone suggested that I call a realtor in Craftsbury.  I left a message and within less than an hour I had a call back from Barbara Paterson.  She actually owns a couple of properties and has her own website called Never Enough Vermont and her cottage was available at a price I thought we could afford.  I fell in love with it as well! 

Long story short, I was getting ready to call Kim back and let her know that I had found another place when Kim called me!  She apologized and said "I quoted you the wrong price" and then told me what the correct price would be for the rental.  We couldn't pass it up! 

I can not begin to tell you how incredibly grateful I am to these two wonderful ladies!  They went over, above and beyond the call of duty!  Their incredible acts of kindness for a complete stranger makes me so proud to be able to say "I'm from Vermont!" 

If you ever get a chance to visit Vermont in the summer time (and I highly recommend that you do visit), call either one of these fabulous women!  100 gold stars for both of them!  They are true gems and they represent the Vermont that I remember and cherish and love!

Thank you Kim and Barbara for your kind words and outstanding help and service!  From a grieving but grateful heart~Trudy

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Opinion is not Religion

One of the shortest John Wesley sermons that I have read is his sermon "On the Trinity" where he starts out with this statement:
"Whatsoever the generality of people may think, it is certain that opinion is not religion... Persons may be quite right in their opinions, and yet have no religion at all; and, on the other hand, persons may be truly religious, who hold many wrong opinions."
Wesley was talking about people who had a hard time believing in the Trinity (the 3 in 1 of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) because they couldn't fully explain or understand it.  But I think his statement, taken in a broader context, can sum up pretty precisely why there is so much conflict in our world today.  We have allowed opinions to be turned into quasi religion!  Say it long enough and loud enough and people might just start believing it!

Not that this is a new or modern phenomena.  Ah yes, history does love to repeat itself because we choose to ignore the past!  In Luke 18, Jesus is telling the story of the Tax Man and the Pharisee.  I like how The Message Paraphrase words it because I can clearly picture it in my head:
"The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: 'Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people-robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man.  I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.' Meanwhile, the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, 'God, give mercy.  Forgive me, a sinner.'"
What a contrast in approach!  Here's the kicker:
"Jesus commented, 'This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God.  If you walk around with your nose in the air, you're going to end up flat on your face, but if you're content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.'"
God's view or the world view? Time and again, we are asked to choose our source.  This occurs all the time, whether it is at church, or in politics, or science, or life in general.  Getting to know God's view, choosing him as our source takes work, especially if you want to become more than yourself! 

The tax man knew who he was and didn't make excuses or try to deny the truth.  He knew he was a sinner!  We don't know the rest of the story but if you look at your own life, change happens from within when you get honest and choose to simply be yourself.  When you acknowledge your shortcomings and ask God to work through you, inward change is reflected by your outward response to the world around you! 

The Pharisee on the other hand was living in the world of opinion that became his "religion".  He "posed" before starting his prayer, he was "all that" and he knew it because he was an "expert" he was "high class" he was obviously better than the common man!  But who did Jesus say was made right with God that day? 

So where are the modern day examples you ask?  Let's start with church.  How many people stay away from church because they think they are not good enough to be there in the first place?  They make a statement like "I will go to church when I..." (insert whatever various reason they give for not being good enough to go in the first place).  And let's be honest, the church hasn't done a lot to change that perception!  Somehow we have managed to make people outside the church think that they are not welcome unless they have it all together.    

Then there is politics.  Agreements can not be reached nor plans made because the latest opinion poll shows that compromise might effect the possibility of being re-elected.  So they do TV interviews and make speeches about how right they are and how wrong the other person is without regard to what is best for the country.  They do nothing but try to look good while we teeter closer and closer with the cliff edge.

In science you have individuals who have researched and have formed opinions but they haven't been able to prove them yet.  The good scientist clearly state that it is simply an idea that they haven't proven.  They are humble enough to admit that they could be wrong.  The arrogant scientist will word their opinion as fact even though it hasn't been proven.  And heaven help the individual within the field who might disagree because they stand a good chance of being ostracized because they are not in the same league as the "great and mighty one!" 

Oh how the mighty will fall if they continue to walk around with their nose in the air!  They take their opinions and proclaim them with a religious zeal that would be the envy of any great camp meeting preacher!  The religion of opinion?  World view prevailing over God's view?  On the surface, it may look like a hopeless situation, but it's not.  There is always hope with God!

I have a choice.  I can start with me.  I can start with simply being who I am.  I can study the Bible and pray and follow in the way that God leads.  I can do what God asks me to do and I can strive to change what I can for the better.  I can treat others with dignity and respect even if we differ in opinion.  I can look for common ground and work to find solutions. We all have that God given power!  We don't have to bow to the religion of opinion!  One person can make a difference!  And the change will happen when we start with being who we are and confess just like the tax man "God give mercy.  Forgive me a sinner." 

The difference between the tax man and the Pharisee comes down to humility.  One chose to listen to opinion, the other chose God as his source.  Each of us has the same choice as to who we will listen to and what path we will follow.  Choose your source!  Choose wisely!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Charred Lemons

I wish I had something really profound to say today but I'm a little sleepy since I've been up on and off since 1:30 this morning!  When life gives you lemons you make lemonade, right?  Even when they're charred!

We have dogs.  And for whatever reason, they decided that they needed to go outside at 1:30 in the morning.  Which meant I had to get up...ugh!  But, had they not decided to take a jolly jaunt outside I wouldn't have noticed that the house seemed to be warming up, nor would I have noticed the funny "hot" smell or the fact that the Air Conditioner was not shutting off in it's usual cycle.  Usually when this happens it is a sign that the condenser tray is not draining fast enough and water is backing up.  So I pulled the top cover and checked but it looked fine.  It was pretty hot outside and it seemed to be blowing semi cool air so I figured we would be o.k. until 4:00 when my husband Kenny got up for work.  By the way, did I mention we are under a heat advisory which means the afternoon air temp is supposed to hit around 100 before factoring in the humidity?  Yeah, we had a toasty day ahead of us!

Four in the morning is a hard time for having a good time!  Kenny got up and I told him about the AC blowing unusually warm air.  So he checked the top, just like I did-nothing there.  That meant checking under the house which meant unscrewing the skirting by flashlight to check the drainage line.  With flashlight and broom in hand he crawled under.  It was unusually wet.  So he crawled back out and went under the porch to check the outside drainage line-dry as a bone.  Meanwhile, he had me turn off the Air Conditioner inside the house.  The outside compressor shut off but the blower fan did not.  That was not a good sign!  We cut the power at the fuse box and then opened up the bottom.  It was wet.  So Kenny started taking it apart.  He discovered that the water had not run in to the drain, it had run straight down to the bottom of the furnace and the wiring and relay switches were wet, which caused them to char and just about completely charred and melted the relay switch for the furnace.  The furnace and the AC were both running at the same time.  Really bad would be an understatement!

Fortunately I am married to a guy who builds airplanes for a living and whose favorite weekend hobby is turning wrenches on vehicles.  He has the uncanny gift of being able to reverse engineer anything he takes apart!  So that's what he did!  He took the whole shabang apart, created his own schematic and then went in to town later in the morning to get the parts to fix it.  I have air conditioning again!  Woo hoo!

Kenny still needs to build the solution to the initial problem but he already has a plan, he just needs to get the pieces parts to build it and install it below the condenser coils. 

My husband-my hero!  Not only is he good looking, he's pretty handy to have around!  Pass the lemonade.  Pardon the charred taste.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Storm Clouds?

I'm not going to write a long piece today because what I read this morning speaks for itself. From The Message paraphrase of Ezekiel 22:
"The leaders among you became desperate...They grabbed and looted leaving widows in their wake.  Your Priests violated my law and desecrated my holy things.  They can't tell the difference between sacred and secular.  They tell people there's no difference between right and wrong...Your politicians are like wolves prowling and killing and rapaciously taking whatever they want.  Your preachers cover up for the politicians by pretending to have received visions and special revelations...Extortion is rife, robbery is epidemic, the poor and needy are abused, outsiders are kicked around at will, with no access to justice."
Needless to say I stopped right there and started to pray.  Is the storm coming full force or is there hope for a tide of change? 

Here's the answer I got to my question.  Matthew 17:20 from the Wesleyan Study Bible:
"...For truly I tell you if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you."
 Father God, I believe that you are in charge of ALL things.  I have faith that you can work all things for the good of those who love you.  Although it may look like storm clouds are gathering I believe that you will turn them in to showers of faith, wisdom and blessing.  My hope in leaders is like a mustard seed but my hope in you knows no bounds!  Nothing is impossible for you!  Your will, Father, and your will only be done in this place I pray.  Amen and Amen!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"Elemental P" A Life with Meaning

When you are a parent of a child with Asperger's (Autism Spectrum Disorder) you sometimes have to get creative in order to get your child to do what he needs to do!  My son Randy was not fond of washing his hands.  He would turn on the water, stick a finger in and then proclaim he was done!  After trying all sorts of things I finally came upon something that worked!  I told him that he had to put both hands in the water, rub them together and sing the ABC song.  Once the song was done, he was done and he could turn off the water and dry his hands.  Since he enjoys singing he was delighted with this idea and continues to sing the ABC song to this day!

One day, I noticed that when he sings L-M-N-O-P it sounds like he is saying "elemental P" and I thought "hmm...that's interesting" and kind of let it go at that.  The Spirit though, kept nudging me and I had a very clear impression that I needed to pay attention to this because there was a lesson just waiting to be revealed!

Elemental P-what could it possibly be and why is it so important?  Well guess what happened this morning when I was reading in Proverbs?  I made the connection!  Chapter 9 makes a clear distinction between Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly.  In The Message paraphrase Lady Wisdom prepares a meal and goes out to a prominent place and asks:
"Are you confused about life, don't know what's going on?  Come with me, oh come, have dinner with me!...Leave your impoverished confusion and live!  Walk up the street to a life with meaning."
A life with meaning!  Elemental P!  It's not one word, it is many words and all of them are connected to wisdom!  So I made a list.  It is by no means complete, but these are words that jumped out at me in regards to living a life with meaning.

Purpose:  Who am I and why am I here?  At some point in time everyone asks themselves this question.

Plan and Picture:  What is God's plan for my life?  How do I fit in to God's big picture?

Prayer and Praise:  Prayer being a two way conversation where I ask but I also listen.  Praise where I worship and bring my thanks and remain awed by the wonders God has created. 

Promise and Peace:  Promise meaning I listen to what God is saying to me and believe what is being said-that it will come to pass.  Peace-that I understand that even though challenges still exist I rest in the peace of knowing that God is fully in charge.

Perception and Parallels:  Another word might be discernment.  When I read God's word what is it saying to me?  Am I making the connection between how this verse or story from the past is still relevant today?  Can I see the parallel and apply it to something happening now? 

Person:  When I look at other people do I see them as God sees them?  Or do I judge them by worldly standards?  Am I being asked to do something in their lives?  How do I help them connect to a life of faith?

Parameters and Pace:  Boundaries are set for a reason.  To follow Jesus means to accept parameters for my own good!  Pace-do I let God take the lead or do I try to rush out ahead?  Running the good race does not imply a sprint.  It's more like running a marathon and any runner knows that if you don't want to hit the wall you have to pace yourself!

Honestly, I've blown the opportunity in each and every item on this list at one point or another!  I've been impatient, I've pushed too hard!  I have forgotten to be thankful.  I've whined, griped and complained.  I haven't liked the answer to a question.  I have had to confess my folly and ask for forgiveness.  That's the beauty of Grace, you can fall flat on your face and God will still love and forgive you if you ask Him!  Even your failures on your life journey can bring you closer to wisdom!  The closer you get, the more you realize that yes, your life does have meaning!  You were put here for a purpose.  Part of the journey is getting your ego out of the way and listening to the plans that God has in store for you!  My darling friends, my prayer is that you find your "Elemental P" and have the courage to follow and trust God!  

It has been an interesting lesson indeed! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Your Business is Life, Not Death...Life is Urgent

I enjoy The Message Paraphrase but sometimes I have to go back to my NIV or Wesleyan Study Bible to see what The Message is talking about.  The phrase that I used as the title comes from The Message paraphrase of Luke 9:60 which, in the Wesleyan Study Bible reads:
"Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God."
The comment in the Wesleyan Study Bible on this particular section is:
"The Cross is crowded out by the cares of life."
What is this business of life?  Why is it so urgent?  Every person's experience is different but, personally, I have recently had this sense that in the United States we are literally talking ourselves to death!  We're not using words of life but rather words of death.  Hopelessness, helplessness and despair.  There's plenty of doom and gloom to go around-the economy is bad, Congress seems to be doing nothing, the President seems to be unclear about a plan or direction.  Even in our own church, our leaders focus on decline and lack of resources!  I think we are all pretty clear on the challenges we face considering the fact that we hear about it in endless news reports!  There's an old saying that says you get what you expect, meaning you get what you focus on.  What has been our focus as of late?  Death.  Death of jobs, death of growth, death of the American dream, death of working together, death of hopes, ideas and possibilities. 

Our business is not death!  Our business is life and it is urgent business!  Jesus was very clear when asked what was the greatest command.  First, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.  Second, love your neighbor as yourself.  Do for others what you would have them do for you. 

How do you do the first?  Seek God's Spirit first!  Praise, worship, prayer and Bible study put you in a position of peace, love, joy, hope and faith.  You open yourself up to the possibility of new God given ideas and insights!  It's not about what you can do, it is about what God can do in you and through you!  When you take the focus off of yourself, it's like climbing to the top of a mountain where your view suddenly expands!  Praise, worship, prayer and Bible study are tools.    They help you seek God's Spirit.

That expanded view brings us to the second part of the greatest command.  We all want to be loved, cherished and respected.  We all want to be treated kindly.  No one wants to live a life of fear, a life of lack, a life of insecurity, a life that is so unstable that we go from crisis to crisis with no end in sight!  Fear, in my opinion, is the greatest driving factor behind self obsession.  It causes us to do whatever we can to protect ourselves and to protect what little we have.  It raises the question of "what's in it for me?"  We are so afraid of losing something that we are not willing to step out and give.  We become so entrenched that we choose not to work with others for the good of all.  The second part calls us to focus outward-to treat others kindly.  It could be as simple as offering a word of encouragement.  It could be as simple as taking the extra produce from the garden and bringing it to the local food shelf.  It could be as simple as risking some of that hard earned money and helping a local entrepreneur with a good idea expand his small business.  It could be as simple as mentoring a parolee and helping them get a solid start on a new life.  The list is endless but the point is simple.  How do you want to be treated?  That is how God expects you to treat those around you.  The Spirit of God is loving and forgiving and generous.  It guides us on right paths, corrects us when we stray and gives us vision and purpose.  It is not a spirit of despair it is a SPIRIT of LIFE!

It's time to start speaking life!  It's time to get our moral compass back on track and start focusing on the greatest command!  That doesn't mean we put on rose colored glasses and bury our heads in the sand and ignore our problems hoping that things will get better.  It means we stop the finger pointing and the blaming.  It means turning our focus from ourselves and this narrative of fear and death and instead focusing on God and climbing that mountain towards the bigger view.  It means using our God given creativity and acting on God inspired ideas.  It means rolling up our sleeves and working together!

Our business is life and it is urgent!  It's time to start acting like it and it is time to start speaking words of life! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What Do You Have In Your House?

It's always fun to get reacquainted with a favorite Bible story!  In Second Kings, chapter four Elisha is approached by a widow whose husband was in the Prophet Guild.  Her husband had just died, she was left with a mountain of debt and the individuals were coming to collect and she had nothing to give them!  Now if that isn't a story that people can relate to today!  You could substitute I've lost my job and they are coming to foreclose on the house and you have a modern day parallel! 

It was a desperate time for this woman!  The outlook was bleak.  I imagine she felt very cold, very gray, but she had a little hope-a little blue sky!  She would go and talk to the great Prophet Elisha!  Surely he would know what to do!

Now Elisha could have listened and said "wow, that's sad, I'll pray for you."  Instead he asked "what do you have in your house?"  The widow said "nothing, oh wait, I do have some oil."  Ah ha!  Here was a way that Elisha could help her help herself.  He told her to go and get all the jugs she could lay her hands on and pour the oil in to them.  The oil didn't stop running until she ran out of jugs.  When she came back to him and told him, he said "go and sell the oil, pay off the debt and live off the rest."  The widow already had what she needed but she was so overwhelmed by the problem that she needed somebody else to point out the solution! 

Modern day life!  The problems come fast and furious, the domino effect kicks in, you go from one crisis to another and you are so busy dealing that you can't stop and think!  How can it possibly get better, you wonder, even if it is only to yourself!  You want to hang on to that blue sky hope but the storm clouds are closing in around you! 

Here's a thought, stick with me-there is a method to my madness!  What do you have in your house?  I'm not talking physically (although that is a possibility).  I'm talking figuratively.  I'm talking about that creative spark of imagination that lives within you!  What idea lives inside of you, that has been right in front of you that you haven't done anything with but could get you out of the rut of living crisis to crisis and instead live in abundance and blessing? 

Pie in the sky you say?  Let me tell you about my hometown of Waterbury, Vermont.  Back in the late 70's/early 80's Waterbury was considered a bedroom community.  You slept there but you worked elsewhere, usually in manufacturing.   About that time "outsourcing" came in to vogue and suddenly those jobs disappeared as the corporations decided to move manufacturing elsewhere in order to up corporate profits.  "Down sizing" also became an oft quoted buzz word as well.  There was a figurative sucking sound as peoples livelihoods went down the corporate drain!  Main street started looking pretty empty and people started moving away to find jobs.  Gloomy would be an understatement! 

There were some individuals though who had some ideas that were just crazy enough that they might just work!  Why not try to court some small businesses and see if they would be willing to come to town?  And while they were at it, why not come up with some ways for the community to celebrate and have fun together?  Waterbury always did fireworks on the fourth but how about having a parade and including the elementary school marching band?  Why not use the newly rehabbed park during the worst time in winter and have a friendly winter croquette tournament?  And why not see if those quirky crunchy granola guys by the names of Ben and Jerry might like to come to town?  And while they were at it, why not see if there was some way to help that gourmet coffee guy and the boat captain's wife running the cider mill expand? 

Long story short, Ben and Jerry's did come to town, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Cold Hollow Cider Mill did expand, a lot of small businesses were started because there was community support. Waterbury became a place that you wanted to be because there was always something going on in town!  Wednesday night Farmer's market with a free concert so you could picnic in the park with your family.  Historical Society lectures at the local library.  In the winter there was Cabin Fever Follies at the elementary school and the now famous Winter Croquette tournament in the park.  Throw in the church dinners and events and you had a local calender of events section in the newspaper full to the brim!  Waterbury was not alone in this pro-active approach, there were many other towns that did very similar things! 

Did every venture succeed?  No.  However, many did thrive and grow.  The overall moral of the story here is that the community took a look at what they had and decided to celebrate the unique and the quirky-the things that made life interesting!  In doing so they brought a sense of togetherness and hope and vitality.  It wasn't easy, there was a lot of planning and hard work involved.  Good ideas require planning and hard work! 

Whether you are a church leader, community leader or an individual I think it is well worth asking the question that Elisha asked the widow.  Take a deep breath and then ask yourself, what do I have in my house?  Be creative and look at the things around you with a new set of eyes!  Then get to work, because you have a lot of jugs to fill!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Weekending-What I've learned this week (and some good blogs to read)

When you have children time seems to move much faster!  Today is my daughter's birthday.  It seems like we just celebrated her younger brother's birthday and Father's day.  And did I mention there was a wedding in the midst of all of this?!  As of tomorrow my oldest step-daughter will celebrate her one week anniversary!  The rest of the summer shows no indication of slowing down!  I've also discovered that a mild but extended fibro flare is far more exhausting than a short intense fibro flare!  I will survive but I sure would love to get a pain free night of sleep!  There but by the grace of God go I...

Second, I have discovered that I have more readers of this blog than just my daughter!  Thank you to all who have chosen to stop by and listen to my stories!  I appreciate each and every one of you and I hope you feel free to comment on the blog!

Along the blog line I have discovered that the top 3 blog posts on my blog are:

 Deep Spirited Friends
What Are You Being Asked to Do?
The Future is Bright Thanks to the Millennium Generation

I've also learned the importance of double-checking the spell check because it is a bit quirky!

Last, I've read some great blog pieces this week from around the Methoblogsphere!  I think you will enjoy reading them!

Robert McDowell at Nikos posted a great video with his blog post
"A New Country and Methodism"
John Meunier wrote a really great piece about what churches can learn from diners
Chicken and Dumplings
My dear friend Ann wrote a wonderful piece after reading one of my blog posts
The Web of Exchange
I really enjoyed this piece from Jon at Caffeinated God Talk about an experience he had as a youth minister Redemptive Empowerment
Last, but not least, Dan Dick tells a modern day parable about our obsession with numbers
An Unlucky Parable

Have a blessed wonderful weekend everyone!  Remember to celebrate the freedoms we enjoy and also remember those who serve in order to protect our freedom!

Friday, July 1, 2011

The World is my Prayer Closet

As a Lay speaker I have had to do my share of pulpit-fill over the years.  If I had to pick a general thread  that runs through the sermons I have preached it would be how scripture relates to my everyday life.  A good friend of mine asked me how I am able to make that connection.  She said to me "ya know, I read the words but I just don't 'feel' them!" 

Honestly, I don't always feel the words either!  More times than not, however, I do make a connection.  I tend to start off my Bible reading with an expectation that I'm going to get something out of it that I can use in my everyday life.  I'm not sure when I first started thinking that way but if my various Bibles with their multi-colored highlights and handwritten notes are any indication it's been many years!  I do believe though that I can point to one thing that pointed me in that direction-a book called "Experiencing the depths of Christ" by Jeanne Guyon.

I "rediscovered" it on my bookshelf yesterday.  I had read this book about 20 years ago.  The copy I have is an "updated to modern English" version of a book originally published around 1685.  It is a book about prayer and the discipline of praying.  The first type of prayer that she talks about is "praying the scripture".  It is a process where you pick some scripture and read slowly and pause to see what you experience-what message you believe is being conveyed.  I love these quotes:
"Praying the scripture is not judged by how much you read but by the way in which you read."
"In praying the scripture you are seeking to find the Lord in what you are reading."
"Plunge into the very depths of the words you read until revelation, like a sweet aroma, breaks out upon you."
In essence, she describes exactly the process that I use!  I have found over the years that the more I do this, the more I get out of my Bible reading!  I have been using this method all of this time without consciously realizing!  For me, it was a wonderful realization and a relief because I've had this sense that I needed to be doing more!  I've felt rather guilty because my life doesn't allow me the chance to lock myself away in a prayer closet for extended periods of time.  My study, my prayer, my praise come in bits and snatches because I have a family to take care of and needs that must be met! 

God is faithful!  He meets me where I am at and takes those small seeds of offering and waters them and makes them grow and bloom!  Life becomes a continual prayer.  Even when everything is going haywire and things are falling down around me I can still experience peace and joy and praise because God is there!  He is still leading, guiding and orchestrating even when I am not aware! 

It reminds me of Psalm 1:2-3:
"...their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night.  They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.  In all that they do, they prosper."
My life in this world is my prayer closet!  Whew!  What a relief!