I have a friend who is getting married today. I love weddings. I love everything about them. I even like weddings of people I don't know. I like movies about weddings, songs about weddings (I even sometimes think, "oh that would be a great first dance song" or "oh, that would be a good walking down the aisle song.") I love looking at engagement pictures and wedding pictures and bridal registries. I love knowing about everything people have chosen for their weddings. I really cannot think of a single thing I don't love about weddings.

I think I love weddings because they feel so full of promise. Weddings are like being pregnant with a marriage. All this planning goes into THE DAY. Sometimes months or even years of planning go into THE DAY. Some girls plan out their entire weddings when they are just that, girls. (Maybe boys do this too, but I don't know any who do.) Then suddenly, boom, there is an engagement and the couple is "expecting" but not a baby, they are expecting a marriage, a life together.

I tell a friend of mine all the time these days, "remember to say this to yourself when your wedding plans overwhelm you . . . your marriage is more important than your wedding. Keep a good perspective about all this."

You know, when people are planning on having a baby, almost all of their planning is for the baby's life. Very little of the planning is for the baby's delivery day. Only the childbirth classes, and maybe what to take to the hospital or whether or not to have the baby at home. MOST of the planning is related to how that sweet baby will be welcomed home and how it will live the rest of its life.

Imagine if we had marriage planners, instead of wedding planners? :) Crazy notion, huh.

All that to say, weddings are great fun. Marriage is even better.


Psalm 104 says "The whole earth (creation, animals, man, everything) waits for the Lord."

Yet, left to our own desires, we will tire of waiting and act. Look at the Israelites when Moses took them to the mountain to be consecrated and to hear from the Lord. While Moses was up on top of the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments, the Israelites tired of waiting and acted. Stupidly, I might add. They created an idol and worshipped it, because they tired of waiting.

Oh, how often have I tired of waiting and acted stupidly? Far too often I think.

For the past three days my entire church (those who were physically able) fasted from food. We didn't eat, but sought the Lord. The first day of not eating was not that hard. The second day of not eating, also not hard. My stomach didn't even growl! But on the third day, when I knew the end was near, I started anticipating the end of my fast. The end of "waiting" was coming soon. And the closer it got, the grumpier I got. I almost ate a cheeto at 5:00 rationalizing that if I were Jewish, I could eat at 5:00 p.m. (I read that somewhere . . . don't judge me!)

And that made me start thinking about other times I have fasted. When I fasted for one day, by the end of that one day, I was DONE with waiting to eat. But in my mind, when I knew that my fast was for three days, fasting for one day was very easy.

I might not be making sense here, but what I am trying to say is this. When in our hearts and minds WE establish how long we are to wait for something, when the end of that time draws near, we don't really care what God might want. We ACT. If God had called me to add another day to my fast, I don't know that I could have done it because my mind was so filled with what I wanted and thought I needed.

I have been in a season of waiting. And I will confess that the time has come and gone in which I expected the Lord to move. And now, very often, I am tempted to act, to move for the Lord, because He has not acted on my time schedule.

I think the psalmist meant more than "the whole earth waits" as in sitting-idly-by-doing-nothing-while-waiting. The "whole earth" is waiting and trusting, knowing that when His time is perfected, He will act. The longing in my heart should not be for the things that I want, but for the things, in the time frame, that He wants.

So today I say to you Lord, I will wait for you, though my heart longs to move. I will wait for you though my mind says to ask again. I will wait for you because having reached the end of myself, I can finally see You . . . and now I am waiting and trusting.

All that to say, the whole earth, even Carol, waits.

Why Jesus Loves Children

This is a prayer request we received at our church today. It's from a little 9 year old girl who is waiting for a heart transplant. Children have the most incredible faith. They never seem to waver, no matter their circumstances.

She wrote:

"Hi everybody it's Gracyn and I had a fantastic day today....I am getting a lot stronger. Today I walked to the sink to brush my teeth and hair and wash my face. After that I went for a walk around thewhole PIC unit. I sat by the window and cuddled with my mom for a while. I dont like my medicine but God is with me when I take it and He gives me strength through it. .... Please pray for my new heart to come in God's perfect timing. Also please pray that my new heart will be a perfect match for me. I am thankful for my nurses and doctors and please pray for them too.I want anybody who is going through tough times to know that God is with you and He will watch over you like He is watching over me.Thank you for your prayers. God is truly with me and healing me. Love, Gracyn"

All that to say, please pray for Gracyn.

New Year's Resolutions

You know, every year at this time of year, we all sit around wondering what about our lives we should change. Most of us pick something fairly similar every year . . . lose weight, save some money, quit drinking, quit smoking, something like that.

But I thought it might be helpful to give people new ideas on an age old ritual. So here are some suggestions for your new year's resolutions.

1. Be more patient when you get stuck in a parking lot. Especially at church. It just is not nice to flip off (or flick off if you are younger than me) the poor volunteer guy who is trying to direct traffic. I mean, come on people, is that REALLY what Jesus would do?

2. Be grateful for the people who serve you your food at a fast food restaurant. Don't be mean to them or treat them like they are stupid. I cannot imagine their jobs are a whole lotta fun.

3. When someone does something nice for you, say thank you. Don't act like they owed it to you. Not cool.

4. Keep in mind that the teenager at the pharmacy is probably making minimum wage and she's NOT the reason your kid is sick. Be nice to her and don't take out your frustrations with the insurance company on her.

5. If you go into the bathroom, and you see that the toilet paper roll is empty, go ahead and take the time to put the new roll actually ON the toilet paper dispenser. Seriously.

I could probably think of a few more, but I'll give you a chance to add your own suggestions.

All that to say, new year's resolutions can be way more fun if you are making them for someone else!

Thank God for Good News

Yesterday, we trekked up to the Houston Medical Center to listen to doctors tell us the findings of our son's medical mystery. For months (for those of you not keeping up) he lived in agony caused my intense muscle cramps and spasms, happening all over his body, all through the day and night.

The first round of doctors conducted an EMG which measures a couple of things but basically it is designed to tell you if your nerves and your brain are communicating to your muscles. The doctors told us they were not communicating properly and that he probably had MS or some other very serious neurologically debilitating disease.

Those doctors sent us to "House" of the neurology world. He ordered an open muscle biopsy, which if you don't know what that is, just trust me that you don't want one. They thought he had a rare form of muscular dystrophy.

We prayed. And we prayed. And we prayed some more. And we waited, and we waited, and we waited some more. With about as much notice as they started, all of the serious symptoms stopped. Just one day, our son noticed he was symptom free, and thought, "wow, no symptoms today." And one day led into the next, led into the next, led into the next.

And though we had prayed for immediate healing, I think in reality, I had stopped believing that it would happen. I was afraid to believe that healing had indeed occurred and that as soon as I said outloud, "yep, he's healed" that the symptoms would start over again. I know that doesn't exemplify a very strong faith, but it is honestly how I felt.

For over six weeks now, the symptoms have been gone, except for one day, our son noticed that he was twitching, and the day before he had consumed caffeine. (He'd been caffeine free for about 6 weeks). So he decaffeinated himself again, drank a little caffeine, and sure enough, symptoms returned.

Here is an excerpt from my prayer journal, "Lord, I know the news looks bad, and it seems this would be a medical impossibility, but would you please let whatever is wrong be something so simple, so easy to fix, that we would all be astounded by it?"

Yesterday, the doctors told us that they could not find anything wrong. None of the tests, no lab reports, no biopsy reports, showed anything. As the doctor said, "There is no medical finding for why the symptoms started or why they stopped. . . maybe he was just dehydrated" (for 5 months, I don't think so.)

All that to say, Thank God (literally) for Good News.

Blah, Blah, Blah . . . Wrestling. Blah, Blah, Blah

It's been a year of struggling and wrestling for me. I'm okay with struggling to understand something, but at the end of the struggle, I sort of expect . . . well . . . understanding. But at the end of this year of struggling and wrestling with God, I cannot say that I understand any more now than I understood a year ago.

Recap (and this isn't so I can say OH my life is soooo bad - it isn't - that's my disclaimer) but,
  • broken arm that takes 8 months to heal
  • husband's company of 20 years doesn't transfer him and we live apart for 7 months
  • husbands' new company lays him off after 4 months due to economy
  • husband breaks arm
  • husband has gallbladder surgery (never hospitalized his entire life)
  • house in Atlanta still not sold after 15 months
  • we've lived in 3 different residences and about to move to our 4th in 15 months
  • son has some sort of mysterious debilitating disease
  • twist my back all up

None of these in and of themselves sound so bad, but they sure feel like a pile right now. So in all of this I have questioned God. "Did we not obey you in moving to Texas to go to work at this new church?" "Are you punishing me for something?" "If I am sinning, why don't you just show me what it is so I can quit doing it, you can forgive me, and all this can stop?" I have gone from questioning God to having an incredibly superficial prayer life, fearing that everything I ask Him for He does just the opposite anyway, so why bother.

But as I am reading through the book of Job, some of his words to God are so striking. And these the most of all, "Only two things do not do to me, then I will not hide from Your face: Do not remove Your hand from me, and do not let the dread of You terrify me." In the midst of all the horrible HORRIBLE things that have happened to him, losing all he owned, losing all of his children, his skin is rotting off, in the midst of that, and even amidst his incredible anger and agony, he says, "but God, please just stay near me and don't let my fear of what else might happen by Your hand terrify me."

I think that's how I feel. I have been terrified that God has something up His sleeve that I don't know about and that when I least expect it, He's gonna lower some boom on me, just to prove He can. In my heart, I know that doesn't sound like God, but in my mind, that's what I have conjured up. I have allowed some unknown fear of this God who loves me to dictate my prayer life, my relationship with Him. I beg Him, "Lord, please let me know you are near." And yet, at the same time, I am saying to Him things like, "Does it do me any good to pray because you are going to do what you want anyway? And everything I beg You BEG YOU for, it seems that just the opposite happens."

What a crazy bi-polar prayer life. But as I read Job, I see this glimmer of understanding. Not about why I am struggling. A glimmer of understanding about my response to the struggle.

All that to say, wrestling with God is not a foreign notion. All His "favorites" wrestled with Him. It's allowed. It's in the book.

Jim and Casper Go to Church

I just finished reading a book called "Jim and Casper Go to Church." It's a weird book about this guy, Jim Henderson, who hires the other guy, Matt Casper, to go to church with him. If that isn't weird enough, Jim is a 50 something retired pastor, and Casper is a 30 something atheist. Jim hires Casper to go to a bunch of churches with him, some big ones, some small ones, some "emerging" churches, some traditional ones, some contemporary ones, in order to help those of us who call ourselves Christian to see church through the eyes of someone who doesn't believe.

His premise is that for most of us, the idea of evangelism means inviting our friends to church. And if the main place we expect our friends to "get Jesus" is at church, then what does our church, what do our churches, look like to these friends?

It's a pretty good read. Casper (the atheist) asks Jim some pretty pointed questions, but one of the ones that just really gripped me was this one. After attending some fairly "slick" contemporary churches, with huge productions and cameras and light shows and fog machines, Casper turns to Jim and says, "Is this was Jesus wanted you to do?"

Oddly enough, Casper thought that Jesus wanted us to be out in the world bringing the Kingdom of God to those on earth, specifically those less fortunate. He had this crazy notion that Jesus wanted us to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and rescue the perishing. Casper, the atheist, wondered why most of Jesus' reaching people happened out in the open, as he was moving among the people, and not in large church settings. He wanted to know if we, as Christians, had any Biblical back-up for what we do on the weekends. He wondered if most of our $$ that gets collected on the weekends goes to do "bigger church" or to loving others.

All that to say, I am very challenged by the words of a man who doesn't even believe in ANY God, and yet seems to have grasped exactly what it was that Jesus did intend for his followers to do.

Study Aids

Each year, I set a goal to study three or four books of the Bible in depth, sometimes less, depending on the book. Less it be confused with a New Year's Resolution, I don't set this goal in January, but rather July. (Long story as to why July that you don't need to hear).

So anyway, I have just launched into an in-depth study of the book of Job. On New Year's Eve, after a pleasant evening out with my husband, I bent down to pick something up off the floor and pulled my back. It REALLY hurt. The next day, I sat in a chair for most of the day, with my legs kicked back, alternating heat and ice all day long. I got up periodically to walk around and see if my back was feeling better, but alas, it was not.

By bedtime, I could hardly walk at all, and was in such pain that I could not fall asleep, despite taking 4 Advil ever 4 hours for most of the day. Finally, after more than an hour of tossing and turning, I slept. This morning, I awakened, not really feeling pain, so excitedly I got out of bed to start the day. Sadly, that pain-free experience last for about 5 steps, and then the pain of yesterday returned with a vengence. OUCH!!!!!!!!!!

So, back to my reading. I sat down with my coffee, my Bible and my journal this morning and started reading Job. Suddenly, I smiled just a bit, thinking that God had a great sense of humor and/or He is a really great instructor. Because I promise you, I will read a whole lot more into this study when reading it in pain, then I would if everything was just peachy in my life.

All that to say, just in case the two are related (reading Job and being in pain) I am going to read this book quickly! . . . just kidding.


January 1, 2009. It is a new year. A new day filled with the promise of new opportunities. New chances to right wrongs. New opportunities to forgive old debts. New goals to set. New relationships to begin. New.

Oh, but new feels so foreign. It looks good, and we like to take off its wrappings, but in such a short time, we are tired of new, and look fondly behind us, to old. And old looks good again. So we reach for it. And it feels good, and familiar. So we set aside new. And we welcome old back into our lives.

Such is the habit of old that the writings of Paul and the Words of God tell us to be done with . . . "but one thing I do; forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

All that to say, new is calling.