Monday, January 31, 2011

The Choice

So here's the thing about love: it's a choice.

It has to be. If we were compelled to love—I mean, if our free will was taken away and we were forced to love—it would have no value. No meaning. The whole reason love is awesome is that it's a choice. You know someone has chosen to love you. You've chosen someone to love. Out of all the people in the universe, you chose each other.

That's pretty cool.

But it gets me when people say they can't help it; they can't help who they love. They just fall and that's it. Such is not the case, if you really look at it. Love requires upkeep. In order to maintain a love relationship, the people involved have to wake up every day and say, "Yep. This is the person I love. I'll make the effort today."

The effort is what makes the difference. Love isn't simply butterflies and heart palpitations. Love includes the things you do for that person. Not just physical things, like hugs or kisses, or leaving love notes around the house. But making him or her feel respected and cared for. Letting your love radiate in every choice you make—how you speak to each other, how you resolve conflict, how you continue to build your relationship.

It's when you stop making that choice that love seems to die. It's not gone forever; once you start making the choice again, love will return.

It's not easy to make the choice sometimes. We're human. We irritate each other. We can love each other deeply; we can hurt each other deeply. Sometimes it's a heck of a struggle to choose love over harsh, angry words. But it's a choice we have to make if we want a strong, powerful love.

This doesn't just go for human-to-human relationships, either. Our love for God has to be a choice. He could have made it mandatory. That's what separates us from the angels, though—our ability to choose God. He did that on purpose. He wanted our relationship with him to mean something.

Sometimes we have harsh words for God. Sometimes we back away from him. We choose not to love him. We choose not to be in relationship with him. The difference between us and God is that God's love never wavers. He always makes the choice to love us.

No matter who you are. No matter what you think you've done. No matter who has made you feel unlovable or unworthy. If anyone has ever told you God hates you or couldn't possibly love you, they are liars. What they're telling you is a lie.

Did you know that? It's a flat-out lie.

God doesn't withhold his love. Not from any of us. Not for any reason. His heart yearns for every one of us, every day of our lives.

We just have to make the choice to love him back. With our words, with our actions, with our whole heart.

What is your choice today?

Friday, January 28, 2011

This Makes No Sense

Yesterday, I was sick. I felt like I was punched in the face but without the street cred.

Because, you know, I'm big on street cred.

My sinuses must have been attacking me. I didn't get out of my PJs. Neither did my son. Although he did change PJs three times due to further disasters. I felt lousy. I know I looked lousy.

But somehow it became the most productive day in recent memory.

What, what?

You heard me. I was productive.

  • I finished and formatted my book proposal. Hallelujah! I've only been working on it for, oh, a year. The stinkin' book proposal takes longer than the actual book. And that's not a year of solid work. That's a day, then stall for a few months, then another two days, then stall for six months. Ridiculous, yes. 
  • I wrote three scripts. Two of them are for our annual Night of Scenes production at church, and one is for the next sermon series. Although the latter is a little iffy. Might be too short and too vague. Still waiting for feedback on that one.
  • I had to comfort and clean my son on three separate occasions. No small task, that. He would wake up crying because his diaper was filled with toxic waste. Poor baby! At least he went back to sleep afterward. What a good kid. I still don't understand how getting teeth can give him a fever and the runs. Can anyone explain this to me?
  • Due to the blowouts, I had to do some laundry. And some other light cleaning.

Don't get too excited. We had a hodge-podge of sandwiches, yogurt, and salad for dinner. I wasn't that ambitious. And those stupid fish are still in my freezer. They may live there for quite some time. I'm not sure I'll ever be ambitious enough to tackle them. *sigh* Fish.

One day of productivity. One glorious, glorious day. I guess I'm not ready to change the title of my blog just yet, though, as today will be full of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and napping.

What do you have to get done to feel productive?

Friendly Friday: Julie Gillies

It's my second Friendly Friday! Yay!

What is Friendly Friday, you may ask? Why, it's a day for my blogger pals to take over for me! Because I'm lazy. But you knew that.

I'm not sure how many of the people who read this blog are bloggers themselves. If you're interested in doing a guest post for me, just send me an e-mail at with a link to your blog so I can see what you're all about. And, you know, make sure you're not insane.

Today's post comes from Julie Gillies. She's a real blogger, not a newbie like me. Her recent post entitled Prayer Goals spurred me to ask her for a guest post, and I'm so glad she agreed! She's got great thoughts, and she backs them up with great scripture knowledge. (Although she seems like the humble sort and probably wouldn't agree to either of those things.) Read this wonderful post and then go read up on her blog


That’s How I Roll
By © Julie Gillies, 2011 –

Confession: I struggle with God’s timing. After praying eleven years for my husband’s salvation, fifteen years for my back-slidden army-dude son’s salvation, and waiting for a grand total of 4.9 million years (give or take) for a publisher’s response on my nonfiction book proposal, you’d think I’d have this waiting/God’s timing thing figured out.

But I don’t.

Mary didn’t either. She said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Somehow, that brings me comfort. I guess I like knowing I’m not the only one suffering—not the only one who just doesn’t understand.

See, Jesus knew that Mary’s brother was on-the-verge-of-death ill. He had received word from the sisters, yet he chose to stay put.  That’s right. Jesus didn’t budge. And Lazarus died. (See John 11:32)

How many times have I worked myself into an emotional tizzy because God didn’t make His triumphant, obvious move when I longed for him to? If yearning, tear-stained requests always influenced God’s timing, let me tell you, the world would be a far different place. But then God wouldn’t be God.

The two sisters spent four days mourning their brother’s death, and then Jesus finally showed up. And though they were happy to see Jesus, they couldn’t comprehend the magnitude of what He was about to do.

But Jesus knew.

I don’t know what you’re waiting for God to do, but if you’re anything like me, you probably wish He’d just hurry up and get to it. We want the stone-rolling moment! And there’s nothing wrong with wanting Him to move, expecting Him to move in our situations.

But I have learned one thing on this crazy journey toward holiness: I can trust God.

I can trust Him when it’s taking far too long for my prayers to be answered, when the dreams He put in my heart are unfathomably, painfully slow in unfolding, and when I’m flat-out frustrated wondering why He hasn’t intervened in my situation.

No, I don’t understand God’s timing. But I am learning to understand God’s character (I’ve had plenty of time to learn, after all.) And what I’m learning is:

  • Jesus intimately knows every detail of our situations. (See Matthew 10:30)
  • He’s in the situations with us, and He understands how it’s affecting our hearts. (See Mark 2:8
  • His timing, while perhaps tardy in our sight, is preparing the way for plans far bigger than all we could ever think or imagine. (See Ephesians 3:20)

I may struggle with God’s timing, but I’d like to officially announce that I’m going to trust God, period. Because, like the rock that covered Lazarus’ tomb, that’s how I roll. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I took my son to the Children's Museum of Indianapolis yesterday with some friends from my MOPS group. We left the house in good spirits. And fully dressed.

We didn't come home that way.

Just a little while after lunch, we rode the carousel and then started playing pretend in these little playhouses they have. So cute! I stood on the porch talking to a couple of my friends. One of them ducked inside to say something to her son. She came back out and announced that someone in there had a stinky diaper, and that it might be my son.

My son? Smelly? Surely, you jest.

But I picked him up, and—wouldn't you know it?—his little dupa was the culprit. I bummed a diaper off a friend (for the second time that day, since I'd forgotten the diaper bag in the car), and headed for the restroom.

I was completely unprepared for what I found.

The kid had poop up his back to his shoulders and down his pants to his socks. Shoulders to socks poop, people! Nasty! I didn't even know where to begin! Fortunately, I'd dressed him in layers. His onesie was shot, but his shirt wasn't poopy. Then in the process of getting him undressed to clean him up, he got poop on his socks.

The extent of the nasty required me to strip him naked, put him in the sink, and wash him off with paper towels as best I could. In the museum. I apologized to the other moms who came in wanting to change their kiddos, since my son's explosion had made the changing station a hazardous waste site. They shook their heads and smiled and sympathized. I don't even want to know what they were really thinking. I'm grateful that my friend April happened to bring her daughter into the bathroom while I was in there. She helped me assess and control the situation.

Disaster. Epic disaster.

We entered the museum fully dressed. We left the museum with my son in only his shirt, diaper, shoes, and hat, and I left without my hoodie (which had gotten poop on it in the cleaning process). I wheeled him through the museum as fast as I could, his little jacket draped over his naked legs to try to provide some semblance of modesty for my poor toddler. Wonder of wonders, my car was parked right outside the entrance. Miracle of miracles, there was a towel in the trunk to put in the car seat to provide it with some insurance against another disaster on the ride home.

And in case you're having a hard time visualizing the scenario, I took this picture when we got home:

That's what he wore outside. In 30° weather. No pants. No socks. My poor baby.

To make things worse, I never give my son his baths. My husband always does it. So when we got home, I had to give an emergency bath for the nastiest mess of all time, and I barely knew what to do. Based on the strange looks from my toddler, I must not do things in the same order Daddy does. At least I got it all off! I hope!

Now, I don't have any words of Christian wisdom to go with this. I wish I did. Something about being prepared for whatever "poop" life throws at you? Thanking God for small blessings, like that close parking space and that mystery towel? I'm just spit-balling here. My personal lesson is that your kid is never too old for a diaper bag with a spare change of clothes.

Oh, and God bless the cleaning people at the Children's Museum. On our way out, I notified several people of the toxic bomb that exploded in the fourth floor bathroom to ensure they got there quickly. We're at DEFCON 1, people. Move it, move it! They've got a special place in my heart from now on. I will thank every single cleaning person I ever see there. No. Joke.

And I hope this made you laugh. It made me laugh, if only to prevent me from crying. 

That is all. 

Oh, but just so you have an idea of what my son looks like fully clothed: 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Letting Him Lead

My husband has started taking me ballroom dancing. It was his idea.

Settle down, ladies. He's taken.

Dancing has always been my thing. That's probably why he thought to suggest it. I'm not a dancer, per se, but I like to dance. I've been in musicals, taken a few classes. My phys ed credit in college was Intro to Tap Dancing. Holla!

So I like to dance. I've done it before. It's all new to my darling husband. He researched the dance studios, he found a coupon for a free lesson, and I made the appointment. You know, because chicks keep the social calendars.

When we showed up for our first lesson, I was so excited to go out dancing. I felt like we were grown-ups! Dinner and dancing, just like in the movies! We met our instructor, Colton, and he started teaching us some basic dance steps.

We're awesome. I mean, not Dancing-With-the-Stars quality just yet, but pretty good for beginners. Colton praises us up and down, and he even teaches us more advanced moves than he'd typically teach newbies, since we're doing so well. We've been going to lessons for almost a month now. We can do hustle and swing with several turns, and the basic steps of waltz, rumba, and salsa, each with one turn. Not bad!

Sunday afternoon, my husband and I took time to practice. He's big on practicing. He likes to feel prepared. What struck me during our practice is how far we've come when it comes to leading.

At first, dancing was my thing. In my head, anyway. My poor husband couldn't possibly know what he's doing, I thought. I don't want him to fail or get frustrated, so I'll help. I found myself leading every dance. Not by his choice, but by my force. I'm not even sure he noticed. I'd gently push or pull him into the steps. I'd dictate when it was time to start the dance with my step instead of waiting for his.

While we were dancing on Sunday, I realized that he leads now—and he knows the difference when I try to lead. He gives me an admonishing look and then pulls me back into place. For turns, he sends me out and pulls me back in. Now that he's getting good, he can stick turns in whenever he wants! Willy-nilly and helter-skelter! I don't know what's coming next, so I have to watch for his cues and do my part when the time comes. I feel good when he's leading, and he seems to enjoy dancing more now that I allow him to lead.

It's a perfect metaphor for our marriage.

My husband is the leader. Yes, it's a partnership, but, ultimately, he's called to be the leader of our household. I'm kind of a strong-willed individual. Sometimes it's difficult for me to trust that he'll take care of me, since I've always been used to taking care of myself. I need to learn to watch his cues and go with him instead of against him. When both of us try to lead, we end up stepping on each other's toes. When he's filling the role God ordained for him—and when I'm allowing him to fill that role without hesitation—he's successful. He's happy. He feels respected and loved. And what wife doesn't want her husband to feel like that?

I think we're really going to like dancing. Watch for us on Dancing With the Stars! In ten years or so...

Monday, January 24, 2011

I'll Take Two, To Go

I don't always know how to pray for people. I'm gaining more confidence in my prayers—I'm willing to pray for some pretty bold stuff without worrying about whether God's going to answer the way I want him to. He knows what he's doing. So I'm willing to pray some pretty bold stuff on behalf of other people, too.

The problem is that sometimes I don't know what folks are really praying. I mean, people may tell me to pray for comfort or peace, but in their heart of hearts, they're praying for miracles. Healing and the like. They just don't want to tell anyone because they think praying for something so big sounds silly.

They're wrong. It's not silly. I've got proof.

Still, I understand the sentiment, and my new outlook is fairly recent. But I'm determined to pray boldly, no matter what the prayer is. If for some reason it was crucial that dogs started falling from the sky, I would pray for it. I can't think of a situation where that would be necessary, but nothing's impossible, I guess.

So my new thing is the "I'll have what he's having" approach. When I'm not sure what someone truly wants prayer for, rather than praying superficial prayers for comfort and hope, I ask God to dig into their hearts and find out what they really want. Then I tell him that that's what I'm praying for. A double helping of whatever they're praying for. Whatever they think is too silly or too impossible to say out loud, that's what I want to count as my prayer.

The reason this works is that God knows the heart. I don't have to know. Well, I can't know. I just have to contribute a bold prayer to the cause. This also works with people whose stories you don't know; secondhand news that you don't have an "in" to obtain information. Just tell God that you're praying for what they're praying for, or tell him you're praying for their most urgent need. Pray with confidence that God knows their heart (and yours), and that he'll make the connection. Because he will. He's awesome like that.

But, most importantly, pray with confidence. God isn't deaf to our prayers, even if it doesn't end up the way we think it should. He does want the best for us. He wants to hear your voice, and that can make all the difference.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. (1 John 5:13–15)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friendly Friday: Newby at Home

Welcome to the first edition of Friendly Friday! As much as I would love to blog five days a week, I need to keep my lazy rep. Clearly. That being said, I've decided to outsource Fridays to fellow bloggers. Maybe not every Friday, but as many Fridays as I have bloggers!

I'm not sure how many of the people who read this blog are bloggers themselves. If you're interested in doing a guest post for me, just send me an e-mail at with a link to your blog so I can see what you're all about. And, you know, make sure you're not insane.

Today's featured friend is Catie, (relatively) sane person and author of Newby at Home. She's a Christian (like me), a mom (like me), awesome (like me), and humble (unlike me). Read her entry here, then head over to her blog and show her some Lazy Christian love!


On our daily walk to the post office this morning, my 2-year-old daughter and I passed a neighbor shoveling snow off her sidewalk.

We hadn't seen her since before Christmas so I called out, "How was your Christmas?"

"Well! Merry Christmas to you, too! And Happy New Year!" she said with a big smile on her face.

"Umm," I thought, "that's not what I said. That's ok; just roll with it, Catie."

"Thanks! So, did you have a good Christmas?" Round two.

"Yes! It was great, how was yours?" she replied. The small talk continued for a bit, and then we were on our way.

I chuckled as Gillian and I walked away, thinking our neighbor must think I'm nuts wishing her a Merry Christmas in the middle of January!!

Something similar happened with my husband and I several weeks ago. I had made a meatloaf for dinner with some venison burger I was trying to use up. I really didn't like the venison burger in our meatloaf. In fact, I pretty much hated it. But since I knew we needed to use it up and Aaron liked it, I never said anything and just ate it. (This was one of several meatloaves made with the venison.)

At this particular meal, I nonchalantly mentioned that the venison wasn't my favorite. My husband was like, "Yeah, me too."

"Oh, you don't love it?" I asked.

"No, I really don't like it at all." He said.

"WHAT!?! I've been suffering through all these meatloaves and now you tell me you hate it too?!" We laughed about how we'd both been eating it only because we thought the other person liked it.

Miscommunication is a *funny* thing.

I'm glad it isn't like that with God. We don't have to worry if He'll understand what we are saying. Nor do we have to hold back our true feelings from Him. He knows what we are going to say before we even say it.

He always knows what's on our hearts and what we mean to say regardless of how well-spoken we are. He understands even if our prayers consist mostly of two words - "Lord, HELP!" Not that I would know anything about that.. *cough, cough*

 You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me.
 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
 Before a word is on my tongue
you, LORD, know it completely.
 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Psalm 139: 1-6

If I'm having a particularly hard day, I'll feel like such a failure that I don't even know what to begin praying for! But that's ok. He knows. And I believe in those times, if we just acknowledge our need for Him and maybe mouth a quick, "Lord, please help me," He will.  

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (Romans 8: 26-27)

Thank you, Lord for knowing me better than I know myself and for helping me in my weaknesses!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Yo, Yo, Yoga!

I don't like that title (I couldn't think of a better one), but I like to do yoga. It's somehow relaxing and strengthening at the same time. No, I'm not all, "Namaste" when I talk to people. I just really like the way I feel after yoga, and it's especially great for my problematic back.

Now, what about all the Eastern religion stuff that goes with it? Clearly, I'm not about that. I pray throughout my yoga practice, and I'm learning to use it as a time of worship—to respond to God because of the amazing creation I am. Not like, "Oh, I'm so amazing! My body is awesome! Woohoo, me!"

Trust me on that one.

But our bodies are such incredible (and, in my case, delicate) machines, I'm just in awe of my Creator. No reason I shouldn't respond to that and inform him of his awesomeness. As if he didn't know, or like he needs my validation, right? But it's a reminder to me of who God is.

The one thing that always gets me is what great sayings yoga people seem to have. Every yoga instructor I've ever had has always known a bunch of profound quotes from yoga masters ("yogis") or Indian mystics and philosophers. They're always thought-provoking. I thought I'd share a few of them with you today.

The winds of grace are blowing all the time; you have only to raise your sail.

This is my favorite. And it's true. God's grace is always available to us, but we have to be willing to accept it and let it move us—let it be the driving force in our lives. But it has to be our choice. God is out there whether we accept him or not, and we have the free will to accept him (or not). But he's never less available to us. It's all about our willingness to meet him.

If you are not in the present, you are nowhere.

There are lots of New Testament verses about this. Be in the present. Don't dwell on the past—the old creation has gone; you are a new creation in Christ. And don't worry about the future—tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. If you're constantly putting yourself in the past and in the future, you're living in today. And today is the only real thing, right? The past and the future are just shadows. I, for one, need to stop living in shadows. You?

In theory, practice and theory are the same. In practice they are not.

Wait, that's Yogi Berra. Different kind of yogi. Moving on.

Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.

Yeah, I don't have any deep, spiritual explanation for this one. I just think it's true—for bodies and minds. I'm an inflexible person sometimes. I like what I like, and I don't like to deviate from that. But the more rigid a person is in spirit, the crankier they get when things don't go their way. Give a little.

Real peace is unshakable. Bliss is unchanged by gain or loss.

This is how our joy in the Lord should look. Whether things are good or bad, God is the same. Our joy in him should be unchanged. Easier said than done, I know. We get grumpy with God or with situations. But God is love. He is peace. He doesn't change when everything else does. He's a good place to go when life is unstable because he's always stable. He doesn't change like shifting shadows, no matter what the situation in our ever-changing world is.

If you've never tried yoga, I recommend it. Things that sound silly at first (like "send your breath to your spine") make sense once you figure out how it's done. It's a very visual practice, which may be why I like it. A lot of visualizing. Plus you can go at your own pace and do what you can do. It's very forgiving.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Roly Poly Fish Heads

In my freezer are two fish. With heads. Eyes and everything. No scales, no guts. But heads.

It's freaking me out, yo.

I have a recipe that requires sole, bass, or pike. The grocery store didn't have any of these options, so I went to a new international market (would that be the NIM instead of the NIV? Ha!) near my house. Their sign said they had a fish market. A place where one might acquire fish. And you can't call yourself a fish market if you don't have some kind of selection, right?

Oh, they had a selection. Shark, bass, tilapia (tanks of live ones, too, in case you wanted to choose your dinner while it was still swimming), flounder, smelt. Smelt! That's what they feed the walrus at the zoo. I'm not eating it.

And all of them had heads. I didn't know what to do.

I thought to myself, "Self, you used to fish. You've seen fish with their heads on. You caught an eight pound walleye on Lake Erie! You can do this!"

And then I thought to myself, "Self, you never took the heads off. Daddy always did that for you. He put the worm on the hook for you, too. And you may have hooked that walleye, but he reeled it in because you were pouting over the fact that Dad yelled 'Fish on!' instead of you. Silly girl."

Touché, self.

I've never had to take the head off of a fish. I'm sure I could; I'm sure I can. I've just never had to. Someone else has always done it for me. But, naturally, when I recall going fishing with my dad, I don't think of that. I think of what a tomboy I was. How I loved to fish! How I loved to sit and watch the bobber...

No. No, I didn't. I wanted to talk the whole time. My dad is, well, reticent. At least when it comes to fishing. So a lot of it was me wanting to talk, wanting to walk around, not wanting to sit and watch my bobber, wanting to reel in my line as soon as it floated a foot away. My dad was very patient with me. He eventually learned to let me use a lure. I thought it was because I'd improved at fishing. It was probably just to give me something... Maaaaaaan! I should have known! Funny how I remember things. Or misremember things.

Is that a word? It is now! Misremember™.

I remember people and places differently. I remember my accomplishments differently than they happened, I'm sure. It's only with careful scrutiny that I can look back and say, "Oh. That's not how it was. I didn't do that. Bummer."

So many things in my life have happened because of God. When I was going through events, it was all me. I did everything. I accomplished everything. It's only in hindsight that I realize that God did all those things. He did things for me, he did things through me. He knew who'd I'd be and what I'd have to do to get there. He had a hand in everything.

Maybe God even has a hand in how I remember them. Instead of remembering that I was a nuisance to my dad, I remember that I got to spend all day fishing with my dad. We'd wake up and it would just smell like a fishing day (if you grew up on a lake, you might know what I'm talking about). We'd get all our stuff, pack a lunch, and go find a place to fish. One time I dumped a whole bucket of minnows in the front seat of our car. And I don't recall him getting mad about it. He may have; he may have ranted and raved and yelled at me until he was hoarse, but I don't remember it. I remember laughing as we scooped the minnowed water out of the car and into a storm drain.

Our lives are full of events. Some are good, some are bad. Some involve fishy cars. We can't always tell as we're going through life, but God is present in everything. Some people choose to overlook him; some people need to focus on him just to get by.

Which are you? Do you see God in your past, or do you overlook him purposefully? And where does he fit in your future?

And, for Pete's sake, does anyone know how to cut up a fish?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Book It!

No, you don't get a button or free pizza with this one. *sigh* I miss elementary school.

Anyway, there's a blogger reading list for the year that I'm hopping onto. I got this one from Catie, who got it from Life as Mom (though I'm not entirely sure she was the originator of this particular list). But the titles sound interesting, so I'm in! Here's the schedule with the "read by" dates, in case you'd also like to join.

Just don't request them from my library, yo. The queue is already too long.

Some others I'm including that I plan to read this year:

I'd list a few more, but that Washington book is going to be a doozy. It's crazy long and crazy dense. Glad we own that one, or the library would own me!

Whether or not you join this reading list, do you have anything on your reading list this year?

Friday, January 14, 2011

God, Interrupted

Knock, knock.

Who's there?

The Interrupting Rachel.

The Interrupting Rach—



Yes, well. It's not quite as bad as all that. But I've learned that I'm a bit of an interrupter. It's not because I really mean to, and I'm not trying to be rude. And I know I do it, but I only catch myself as I'm doing it, not in the moment before. Inconvenient.

Here's what happens: I have a thought. The thought doesn't just slowly rise to the surface like most thoughts. No, my thoughts tend to bubble right out of my head through my mouth at the exact moment I think them. This is inconvenient, not just because I'm going to interrupt the current speaker with my bubbly thought, but because my bubbly thought has yet to be, well, thought through. This results in an interruption, typically with something half-baked and silly.

It's just like this blog post. This morning, I thought about how I'm pretty sure I interrupted some people Wednesday night at a meeting (sorry, Worship and Creative Arts Ministry leaders!). In the very next moment, I started blogging about it. Hopefully this isn't half-baked and silly.

The reason I blurt and interrupt with my bubbling thoughts is that, as quickly as they come to the surface, they disappear. I feel like if I don't get it out there, that idea will be lost forever. That happens a lot. I'm an idea-y person. My thought isn't more important than someone else's; it just feels more urgent because I know how temporary my thoughts are. I'm sure I would be much more polite if I just kept a little notebook or something in my purse. I'll have to look into that...but I'm sure I'll forget by the time I'm done posting this.

Good thing I'm writing it down, huh?

Anyway, I thought about interrupting people, and now I'm thinking about whether or not I interrupt God. God put The Lazy Christian on my heart several years ago. It was his idea. But in the past few years, I've also had lots of other ideas—scripts, novels, inventions, you name it. I haven't started on them in earnest, but because they bubbled up to the top quickly, I had to devote energy to developing them enough that I wouldn't forget them completely.

Yeah, I'm kind of interrupting God.

His ideas are better, but mine are more fleeting. He hasn't finished his thought yet because I'm bouncing along to my next idea. I'm interrupting his plans—plans that I know are far superior to mine—but somehow I just can't stop myself.

And I hear you saying, "Take every thought captive, Rach. That'll keep 'em from bubbling over." Yes, yes. Easier said than done. My thoughts are kind of willy-nilly in here, and it's tough to hang onto them long enough to inspect them. My thoughts are bubbly and quick. Does anyone have slower, more deliberate thoughts? I'd love to know what that looks like!

And are you interrupting God in your life, too? Are you putting aside his plans for your own?


Knock, knock.

Who's there?

The NON-Interrupting Rachel.

Yeah, right.

*sigh* Even my jokes don't think I can change.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Sound of My Own Voice

No, this isn't a post about how much I like the sound of my own voice. Although that probably would be a fun post, full of admonishment. Yay, admonishment!

My husband and I pray together several times a day: at meals, at our son's bedtime, and at our bedtime. We hold hands. We pray Luke 2:52 ("And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.") over our son at his bedtime and usually at ours, since we truly want all those things for him. We pray over our day, and we pray about anything with which we're struggling.

My husband and I take turns praying each night at my son's bedtime (though I frequently take that), and we take turns at our bedtime (though I usually opt out). I'm not going to lie; when my husband asks, "Who's up?" I usually say he is. I don't know why. I mean, I'm not averse to praying. Part of me likes when he prays because he's the spiritual leader of our household. He always prays for dinner now. I like that our son watches him pray.

The other part of me is, well, lazy. Are you surprised? I thought not.

One night last week, we were praying—well, he was praying. And I don't think it was a night that I opted out. I think I'd prayed the night before and it was actually his "turn." As he started praying, a voice in my heart said, "I want to hear your voice."

Say what?

I thought it was silly at first, but then it got a little louder: "Rachel, I want to hear your voice."

I actually had to interrupt my husband's praying and say, "Umm, apparently God wants me to pray tonight. Mind if I take over?" He didn't think it was strange at all. He dropped off and I continued the prayer.

I wish I could tell you that it was some amazing, cathartic prayer that I prayed. That the world was changed because I said something important. I didn't. It wasn't. I think I may have even thrown some jokes in there (yes, God has a sense of humor), so profound, it wasn't.

But what it did remind me of is that, while praying in your head is well and good, and sometimes it's what you have to do, it's different to say it out loud. To let God hear your voice. The one he gave you. The one he'd know anywhere. No caller ID needed.

This struck me again today as I was preparing lunch for my son. I held his hands to pray, and he said, "I do it!" and folded his hands in front of him. While I waited for him to start, he said, "Mama, help me!" So I said, "Dear God, thank you for this day. Thank you for my family, and thank you for this food. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen." In his little toddler voice, trying not to trip over the phrase "for my family," he repeated each line after me. Well, except for "In Jesus' name I pray." When I get to that, he knows "amen" comes next and he skips to that.

But I thought, I'll bet God likes to hear my son's voice. That little voice that says so many funny things over the course of a day ("bum cereal," anyone?). I know I like to hear it. Why wouldn't God? He loves my son more than even I, his mother, could possibly imagine. Of course he wants to hear my son's voice talking to him. I like to hear my son's voice talking to God, too.

I need to stop pawning my prayers off on my husband. God wants to hear my voice. He wants to hear yours once in a while, too. Just so you know.

When was the last time God heard your voice?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's Not Fair

In an interview with the London Telegraph in November, PJ O'Rourke said something interesting:

He said his teenage daughter was complaining, "'Life is not fair, life is not fair.' I got fed up. I said, 'You're cute. That's not fair. You're smart—that's not fair. Your family's well off—that's not fair. You were born in the U.S.—that's not fair. Darling, you better get down on your knees and pray that things don't start getting fair for you.'"

Hello, perspective.

I've never been one to expect life to be exactly the way I want it (or what some people call "fair"), but I'll admit that I've had my moments. Most of them involve wondering why I wasn't born rich and famous. You know, because that seems to work out so well for those kids. *insert sarcastic smirk here*

But then I realize: I was born rich, comparatively. I had clothes and food. I went to school. We weren't well-off by America's standards, but we had what we needed. I often wonder how I had the good fortune to be born where I was. Then I realize it's not good fortune at all; God put me here for a reason. He put me in a country where people have a voice (which I'm using) and opportunity (which I'm sadly not using).

My life is unfair. Not to me, but to the people of the world who live with poverty and oppression. It's not fair that I live like a queen while others can't feed their kids or have a roof over their heads.

What can I do about this? Hmm. I made some loans through the other day. Not sure it's a giant step, but it's a step. I sponsor two children (Sofia in El Salvador and Margaret in Zambia). Another baby step. If I were given $1 million, I know I'd be the only millionaire in the world with empty pockets (and not Hammer style). Silly bleeding heart of mine.

What more can I do? What do you do? I'll take suggestions!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How Do You Like Them Apples?

At a recent meeting of the creative minds at my church, I said the following phrase:

"Well, I don't want to look like a jackapple."

Some people laughed. Other people had puzzled looks. I had to explain that I don't like the "a" word, so I insert the word "apple" in it's place.

Then they all laughed. And tried to come up with as many "apple" words and phrases as they could. "I don't give a rat's apple." "I laughed my apple off.""That's badapple." And the like. There were a lot. I can't remember them all now. But we were rolling, it was so funny.

I've never been good at cussing. I never cussed growing up—a little bit in high school. Quite a bit at the end of college. But every time I said a curse word, my brain recoiled. I also sound a little silly cussing. I don't know why. I felt like I was a little kid trying to use "grown-up" words. Now I think cussing is silly. I mean, there are intelligent ways to use cussing; you can use it to amplify what you say. But most of the cussing I hear is people who use it instead of saying anything. Like they don't have enough words in their vocabulary to say what they want, so they fill their sentences with cuss words instead.

My problem now is that even my non-cussing cuss words sound terrible. My son has recently started saying "crap" and "crappy." My bad. He got them from me. I say "crap" all the time. (Which is different from, "I say crap all the time," which may be accurate.) It's not that bad of a word, but coming out of the mouth of a toddler? It's horrible. Reminds me of when I used to say, "Shut up!" à la Seinfeld. My best friend's toddler repeated it. It sounded awful. I was in the doghouse for a while.

My stepmom used to say "sugar" instead of the "s" word when I was growing up. I had a teacher who said "son of a biscuit eater." I know some people who say, "Oh, glory!" in the place of pretty much anything. And I have my "apple" words.

What's your preferred word to express the thoughts you'd probably prefer not to have?

Update: My son now refers to Frosted Mini Wheats as "bum cereal." My bad. Again. I really need to watch what I say around that kid.

Monday, January 10, 2011


I had to go to a funeral this weekend.

The woman, Peggy, went to my church. She sang in the choir (as I used to—that's how we met), and always stood in the front row. She sang with so much heart—a real reflection of her joy in worshiping God. She was a snazzy dresser. I'm not sure I ever saw her not smiling. She was always so sweet to me, and especially to my son. He even let her pinch his cheeks! Quite an honor, since he doesn't like that very much.

It was a sad/happy funeral. Have you ever been to one of those?

We were all sad to lose her. It was very sudden. She wasn't sick or anything. Just one of those shocking things that nobody was ready for. We would certainly rather have her here than, well, not here.

At the same time, we were all happy for her. We all knew she went right to the front row of God's choir. And someone at the funeral said, "Right now, she's teaching that heavenly choir how to worship." No joke. The choir sang, which was a nice tribute—and a nice way to show people how to worship and be thankful in the face of grief.

Thinking about Peggy and her life (and death) naturally made me think about mine. I'm sure she wasn't a perfect person, but it just seemed like being good came naturally to her.

Me, not so much.

I admire Peggy. She was (and is) so loved by so many. I'll bet I couldn't find someone who'd say a bad thing about her.

Me, not so much.

How long does it take to be an awesome person like that? Does it take years of practice, or do you have to be born that way? It feels impossible! It feels like my personality at this point just doesn't lend itself to my being a well-loved person. People might say, "Rachel was funny!" or "Rachel was smart and interesting!"

At least, I hope they'd say those things. At least.

But, "Rachel was the most wonderful person I've ever met! So loving! So godly! What a gal!"

Not likely. Not at this point.

And I've got a lot of work to do before I'll make it to that point. Knowing someone like Peggy gives me hope that maybe she was imperfect at some point and grew into a wonderfully amazing, loving, well-loved person. Maybe I can grow into that, too! But that's not what I am right now.


Sad I'm not there. Happy I have the hope of getting there. Sad that it might take a lot of work. A lot, lot, lot of work in some areas. How does one start such improvements? Hmm.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Mystery

My heart is full of unrest today. I can't seem to figure out why. I mean, I just woke up. Nothing unrest-worthy has happened yet. I opened my Daily Message to read some scripture, and today is my day of rest! I may have to ignore that, although I'm not sure how much the beginning of Exodus is really going to help me. I'm sure God will find a way!

So—I guess that's all. Nothing brilliant today, since my heart is so randomly heavy. Have you ever had mystery unrest in your heart? How do you go about finding the source?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

How He Loves

I love this song. I love to just close my eyes and think about the words. The video isn't great, but the lyrics are crazy good.

He is jealous for me.

That line always strikes me. A few years ago, Oprah had an episode on spirituality (of some sort), and she said, "I was raised a Baptist, and we were too hung up on traditional ways. I was sitting in church and heard that God is a jealous God. I asked, 'Why?' Come on, let's get over it!" She then wondered aloud what kind of God would be jealous of her.

I remember thinking, "Dude, he's not jealous of you. He's jealous for you." And that's when Oprah lost the little bit of credibility she had with me.

God is jealous of the things that keep us from him. The things that we give our attention to instead of him. He wants what we give everyone and everything else: love, time, attention, devotion, worship. And I'll admit, I do give my love and adoration to too many things that aren't God.

[He] loves like a hurricane; I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.

God's love is overwhelming. If we truly understood the weight of it, we wouldn't be able to breathe. And this is why I don't understand how people can spew so much hate on God's behalf. God isn't all rainbows and puppy dogs all the time, but he's not full of hatred for people, either. He loves you whether you return his love or not. For reals.

If his grace is an ocean, we're all sinking.

That's a lot of grace. Sometimes I think the stuff in my life is too much for God. That he couldn't possibly forgive me for all the awful stuff I've done (and the awful stuff I do). But he puts our sins as far from his mind as the east is from the west. His grace is more than sufficient; it's overflowing.

I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way he loves us.

It's difficult not to have regrets. To think of the better choices we could have made or how we could have done things differently. But all the things I've done have led me here. To God. To redemption. To you. I'm right where I'm supposed to be, and I'm sure it's because God's has been at work in my life.

Some people choose not to see God in their lives. It makes me sad. Everyone should know God. And I'm not saying that for any selfish reasons. I can't even think of a reason that could be selfish. There's no quota Christians are trying to meet. We don't get recruiting bonuses when someone comes to know Jesus. We share God out of love. Out of the knowledge of God's saving grace. The knowledge of his overwhelming love.

And, oh, how he loves us.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I Need Answers

This is not a post about faith. These are just random questions I've thought of lately.

1. Why does my toilet bowl cleaner smell like mint? I remember cleaning products smelling like cleaning products until recently. Now my toilet is minty fresh. Why? I'm not drinking out of it!

2. Why does Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds" fade out and back in near the end? I love that song. I just don't understand the random fade.

3. Who taught my son "The Wheels on the Bus?" He suddenly knows it, but he's with me 99% of the time and I didn't do it. I've asked everyone who's spent time with him and no one will admit to teaching him. It's a mystery.

4. Why are poinsettias colored the way they are? I mean, really, they aren't flowers. It's just a plant with some green leaves and some red leaves. No real "petals" as such. Such a strange plant. It has us all fooled.

5. Why can I solve logic puzzles with three categories but not four? This is more of a personal frustration, perhaps, rather than a question.

6. Why do I have a Christmas ornament of a red bobblehead elephant with a maraca? Not two maracas, as one would expect. Just one. Why does this ornament exist and how did my parents obtain such a thing (since it was a hand-me-down from them)?

7. What kind of name is Skarloey? It's pronounced scar-low-ee, and he's a Thomas the Tank Engine train. The rest of the trains have normal names, like Thomas and Henry and Emily. Then there's Skarloey. Is there someone in the world with that name?

8. Is Paul Frank making millions off that one picture of a monkey? Can I draw one picture of something and expect an empire to rise from it? And is he related to that Lisa Frank who designed the Trapper Keeper folders I had back in the day?

Oops. That was three questions.

9. Why aren't there any cool cross-stitch patterns? It's a lovely art, truly, but hardly any of it would fit in with my decor. Isn't anyone making modern art out of cross-stitch? Someone should be.

10. Why does my stocking face the wrong way? Every other stocking in the world points to the right, and mine points to the left. My grandma made it for me, so I never want to part with it. I just wish it faced the other way. But why? Maybe I should be happy it's different! Happy I'm different! Happy about my nonconformist stocking!

I think those are all my questions. Any puzzles floating around in your brain lately?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Grumpy with God

For clarification, I'm not actually grumpy with God.

It's never occurred to me to be mad at God.


Sure, there have been lots of bad times. I've felt that things in my life have been unfair, or I've had things go really badly, but I've never thought God was to blame. I guess I just chalk it up to life being life, or me making lousy decisions. Then I just hope to break even and to have some hindsight that'll clear things up.

Very Christiany, right?

At the same time, I've not exactly clung to him in troubled times, either. When life sucks, I don't really want to talk to him. I'm not sure why. It takes effort? I don't want to talk to anyone else, so why God? I don't know. But I feel like I go into hiding. I pull some imaginary (or real) covers over my head and shut God out of my life until I feel better.

I was talking about it this morning with some of my MOPS moms, and then this was part of my Bible reading today (from The Message):

Psalm 22

A David Psalm
1-2 God, God! Why did you dump me
      miles from nowhere?
   Doubled up with pain, I call to God
      all the day long. No answer. Nothing.
   I keep at it all night, tossing and turning.

 3-5 And you! Are you indifferent, above it all,
      leaning back on the cushions of Israel's praise?
   We know you were there for our parents:
      they cried for your help and you gave it;
      they trusted and lived a good life.

 6-8 And here I am, a nothing—an earthworm,
      something to step on, to squash.
   Everyone pokes fun at me;
      they make faces at me, they shake their heads:
   "Let's see how God handles this one;
      since God likes him so much, let him help him!"

 9-11 And to think you were midwife at my birth,
      setting me at my mother's breasts!
   When I left the womb you cradled me;
      since the moment of birth you've been my God.
   Then you moved far away
      and trouble moved in next door.
   I need a neighbor.

Jeepers. Even David, Mr. God-Loves-Me-So-Much himself, got angry with God. And you know what? He told God. He didn't mope around and hide out (like I would). He got right in God's face and said, "You left me! You abandoned me! Life sucks and where are you? Nowhere! Show up, man!"

And this made it into the Bible. Interesting.

What this tells me is that God wants to hear it. Whatever's on your heart, whatever's bugging you—even if it's really unpleasant—God wants to hear it. He wants all of us, all of the time. The good stuff and the bad stuff. Even Jesus had bad days and got grumpy. He asked God to take away the torture he was about to face. He wasn't skipping up to Calvary; the man cried and prayed and questioned God's plan. And he sweated blood!

Talk about going through a rough time. Nothing in my life has caused me to sweat blood. That's heavy.

That's the thing about Jesus showing up here: God knows. Since Jesus was fully God and fully man, God understands what it's like to be human. The emotions we have, the things with which we struggle. So we can lay it all on him. Even if we're angry with him, we can tell him. He'll understand. He just wants to talk. He wants us to bring everything to him.

I've just got to be willing to bring it. I've got to understand that he can handle anything. Certainly more than I can handle on my own, that's for sure. And he can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. Anything we think of, God can do more. Infinitely more.

What do you do when life is crummy? Do you get angry with God? Do you still talk to him, or am I the only one who gives God the silent treatment?