Monday, March 19, 2018

Thoughtful... What do they see?

Thinking today about Jesus and His great love for us.

We receive His love 24/7 He knows when days are rough or difficult for us - He is using them to whittle us down, to conform us to His image.

That reality is difficult to imagine.

Me, conformed into His image.

Wow.

In American Sign Language, the sign for "Christian" is a combination of two components: the sign for Jesus + the marker for "person".

Literally, "Jesus person."

Am I living that way, tho? When folks are around me, do *they* see Jesus in my person? Do they feel that love that I receive so nonchalantly flowing through me to them?

Amy Carmichael, a missionary to India for more than 50 years, spent the last 10+ years of her life in bed, in pain from a fall into a covered ditch. How did she endure?
 
She once shared with someone who was feeling "put upon" at the moment: "See in it a chance to die."

Not an easy thing to do. I confess I am one of those who would like to live a Romans 12:1 life, but somehow I keep falling off of the altar. I am far from being perfect, as those around me can verify.

"See in it a chance to die."

Am  I willing to do that?  Willing to, in effect, *choose* the role of the foot washer instead of the one being washed? Not the poor, put upon, pitiful "saint", but a joyful and loving *chooser* whose 20/20 vision sees the chance to die to self - and does.

Oh please Lord, make it so.

Selah.



Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A big thank you to Mr.web runner for unlocking my blog -I thought I'd have to start over and that was A very unwelcome thought, indeed.

So...what's going on?

In January 2017, i began to become very ill, an AB probably would have coughed once and been fine. But for me, life doesn't 'work that way . Because of the Myalgic Encephalitis, nothing is simple. And because I couldn't move around much,,It translates into into a bowel obstruction .and then unleashed pain everywhere.One delightful add-on from ME.

The bowel obstruction cleared fairly quickly.

Unfortunately,  It stirred up my costochondritis, which is medical language for inflammation where the ribs insert into the sternum.  This time, the sternum ( the "breastbone} pain went thru the roof. It felt like a power tool ripping thru my chest.  All I could do was moan loudly, jt was embarassing and I tried to shut up, but the pain was so bad I couldn't. They were giving me the usual dose of morphine in my IV, 3 mg , and it did nothing.  ONe nurse got an order for Dilaudid and gave it right after the 3mg MS. Finally,after 15 hours of moaning, it released. I was sooo grateful!

But alas, the next day it began again, once more reducing me to moans.  All that existed was the pain and me.  I was begging for "somedy, please!" to help, but after 20 hours of it this time, I started begging them to just let me die.

When my bloodwork came back, the chemistry showed I'd had a small heart attack.  They wanted to do some cardiac testing, but I refused. I long ago decided to  be a DNR (do not resuscitate) . As a nurse, I know that CPR doesn't give you miracles every time like on TV, and the last thing I want is to be a problem for my family.

So when I got to CCU I made sure they knew. The pain was still crushing. They shot in another 5 of MS and some Nitroglycerine to oxygenate the heart muscle. One of the nurses, on her own, God bless her, called a palliative care doctor for me. She came in and evaluated me, And ordered a dose of MS 5x nomal -15mg . "We might need to go higher, " she said.  The nurse, eyebrows raised, said dryly, "Well, it will either stop the pain or put her into a coma."

It stopped the pain. Thank You, LORD!

The next day, an up and coming young cardiologist came in and tried to convince me to go thru the cardiac testing. He wouldn't give up.

Finally, I looked him straight in the eye and said:

"If I crash and you bring me back, I will sue your underwear off!!!!!"

l hadn't realized a nurse was in the room until she let out a guffaw. The doc laughed too and thru up his hands. "OK, OK1' he said, "I get it"

After 9 days in the hospital, I was really dizzy and weak. For every day you lay in bed you lose a week of conditioning They sent me to a nsg home to get back enough strength to be at home.

There went another 2 weeks.

Finally I was home! I coasted along slowly with a visiting nurse twice a week,

ON September 6th, my sil and I had planned to go out to dinner - It was my baby brother's birthday, who had died in 2003. I told her I needed a nap first. I felt exhausted, which is not unusual with ME.

About an hour later she was getting hungry and looked into my room. I was sleeping.

So she gave me another hour, until she was starving, and came in my room. When she couldn't wake me up, she realized I was in a coma.

She called 911, of course, and they checked my blood sugar.

It was 35 - a few above not breathing.

So I wound up in the hospital for about 15 hpurs. By God's blessing, I had no complications.

Then 2 weeks later, I fell and hit the door jamb.  My sil came running,  and when I started to sit up, blood was spurting everywhere. I had torn my scalp open on the jamb. Took around 13 stitches.

Since then, thank You, Lord, Ive been ok. (I'm hoping this year will go a little easier.)

The word I've picked for this year is "Savor."

Each moment, each day, each anything, I want to be fully aware of it.  I realized That I've not been treasuring my days, and @ 70 this year, I have not-so-many left. If you are reading this, I highly recommend it - it's already made a difference for me.

May the Lord richly bless you this year. Savor each day - and, please, remember that we are not promised a tomorrow, As the Psalmist said, "teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." (I'm a little late putting this into practice - don't be like me!)
.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Feeling Sad about Judas

As we draw ever closer to the harrowing last week and triumphal victory over death, I've been doing a lot of thinking about Judas lately. He's often seen as such a one dimensional character, I felt sure there was more to it than that.

He is so often called "Judas Iscariot" that people often think Iscariot is his last name, so to speak.

It's not.

Iscariot means "the one from Keriot," a small southern town in the lower part of the country.

And all the other disciples seem to have come from the Galilee, which is in the North.

Was it something they called him to tease him?

Did it grate on his nerves, as constant teasing tends to do?  Make him feel "less than", not included?  Did it stick in his throat and fester?

Things that fester have the unhappy attribute of spreading a bitterness in your heart that taints everything.  Perhaps his heart became super-sensitive, taking offense at the smallest thing.

Is that why he stole money?

It couldn't have gotten him anything - Judas would know if he suddenly started throwing cash around, everyone would know exactly where he got it.  So the only thing he could have done with it is bury it, or put it somewhere "safe" for use later, when they got to be big man on campus for the new kingdom.

And then there's the fact that Jesus, Who knew he was money hungry, had selected him to carry the funds.

I think He was giving Judas an opportunity to learn how weak he was, to choose right instead of false security.

I always wonder how 30 pieces of silver could have been enough money to buy a field. Did the money he pilfered go into paying for that field too?  As a potter's field, it wouldn't be good for much else - the potter would have scraped every bit of useful clay from the topsoil to make his pots- if there had ever been any topsoil to begin with.

Perhaps he realized that Jesus knew every penny that should be in that moneybag.

And perhaps there should have been enough to feed the 5000 and then some. If he had piped up and offered the $$ to feed people, would Jesus have multiplied the money instead of the bread and fish? Or done some other miracle that would have blessed Judas and changed his heart.

Every phrase having to do with money became a billboard for Judas.  Many times quotes are attributed to "Peter said" or "John said" - the words about money are rarely so noted.

And their inclusion in the Word is interesting.  Nothing is there by chance.  Every word is there for a reason.

Maybe Jesus was showing us that He warns us subtly when we begin making wrong choices.  His response to remarks about money bears study.  Was He speaking to Judas about his wrong choices?

And then there's the kicker.

When Mary of Bethany brings her precious carved marble bottle of nard to break for the purpose of anointing Jesus, Judas loses it.  All that lovely money - wasted!  He can't control himself.  I hear him in my head, speaking in a derogatory tone - "this could have been sold for a hundred denarii (100 days wages) and the money given to the poor."

Those reporting this incident add as a side note (all paraphrases mine) "Judas didn't give a fig about poor people.  He said that cuz he was a thief."

So they knew.

They all knew.

The question is, did they know before or after?

I can't imagine they knew before. Judas wouldn't have been a beady-eyed shifty character they could all recognize -or he never would have gotten the moneybag in the first place. At the same time, I can't believe that Judas was tight with the other guys. Did they trust him?  Like him even?

Jesus was always taking Peter, James and John with Him for special things.  To raise someone from the dead.  To be transfigured.  Always those three.  Peterjamesandjohnpeterjamesandjohnpeterjamesandjohn. Never him.

So when the nard was poured out and he didn't have a chance at all that dough, he couldn't stand it.  Jesus didn't seem to care about any of the things he thought were important.  This wasn't working out the way he'd thought it would.

Jesus went up on that mountain and prayed all night and the next day He chose him to be one of His special 12 followers.

Him!

And Judas thought there would be a lot more...well...prestige in the position.  But it was Peter, James and John who got all that stuff. He did get the moneybag.  And he knew how to take the most out of what he'd been given.

And did.

So when he lost the money, his disappointment made itself known.

And what did Jesus do?

In front of them all, all the people at this feast, Jesus rebuked him.
Put him down.

And all because of a woman. How embarrassing!

He couldn't bear it.

The next paragraph always stood out to me in chilling tones.  It reads, "Then Judas looked out for an opportunity to betray Him."

And even then, Jesus gives Judas more than one last chance.

He tells the whole group that one of them will betray Him.  And  they all ask "Is it me?"

Can you imagine how Judas felt at that moment?

Everyone was saying "is it me?"  He couldn't say that, and he knew he had to.

I always thought they said it dramatically, one at a time.  But thinking of Judas, I changed my mind.  If they had, they all would have heard Jesus say "You know it's you (my paraphrase again).  Instead it's recorded that when Jesus told him to do quickly what he had to do, they all thought he went to buy something needed for the Passover.

I think Judas panicked.

It is recorded that the Pharisees did not want to have Jesus killed @ the Passover.

Did not.

I think he ran out of the upper room straight to the Pharisees.

"We have to do it now!  He knows!  He knows!  We have to do it NOW!!"

The pharisees must have scrambled to get enough people together to hold a "court" and a mob big enough to take Him from the apostles and disciples and all His followers, even if they wanted to fight to protect Him. How they must have celebrated in their hearts. "We've got Him now.  We have the power.  Not this ragged Galilean."

So Judas leads the mob to where he knows Jesus will be. When Passover came, the city grew to an estimated million or more people. Remember, the men were required to come to Jerusalem three times a year.  And there were not that many places to buy lodging.  Often the Mount of Olives was a camping place - the families would find a piece of ground to make a fire and cook dinner, to sleep - it lasted a week. And since Jesus didn't have so much as a hole in the ground to sleep in, He would take His disciples with Him to the place across the street from the Temple.

And how heartbreaking it is that Judas betrays Him - with a kiss.

And even then, even then, Jesus gives him another chance.

"My friend!  Why have you come?"

Judas knew He knew why he'd come.  He knew this was his chance to distance himself from this act of betrayal.

And then Jesus asked the mob who they were after.

When they said His name, He responded with "I AM." (the "he" in your Bible was added.)

And they all fell down.

Power went out from Him and dropped them all to the ground. All the cheap ruffians with their clubs and rough ways.  All the guard from the Temple that had heard Him teach and yet could ignore the memories that had so impressed them.

What would you do if you were going to beat up on someone and they turned to you and whoop! You were laid out on the ground?

I should think you would pause and reconsider what you were about to do.

Then Peter chops off some one's ear and blood spurts everywhere and this guy is screaming and grabbing his head - and Jesus calmly picks it up and sticks it back on!

The screaming stops.

The blood stops.

The guy is perfectly healed - no muss no fuss. But with a soggy, bloody garment all could see.

Again, a subject to ponder and a chance to re-evaluate your plans.

But no one even seems to notice.

Doesn't this seem a bit odd to you?

It does to me.

And all I can think of is how Satan blinds you - the further off track you go, the less you can recognize things as being "a bit odd."  And these folks were white-cane-and-dark-glasses blind.

I think Judas had a moment of clarity here..

I think he re-evaluated.

Perhaps he thought to force Jesus' hand and make Him declare Himself king - but surely he would know that his betrayal would disqualify himself from being a BMOC in the new regime.

Was it really because he got in a snit and had a hissy fit? Seriously?

We'll never know.

What we do know is that Judas, indeed, had second thoughts. I think he realized, finally, that Jesus did love him, that He was his friend.  And that he had betrayed very innocent blood.

But, true to form, Judas never humbled himself. He could not repent.  He felt he had to fix it himself.  So he ran to the Pharisees and to show he was really serious, he threw the money at them.  Money!  He willingly threw it away.  Perhaps he thought they'd let Jesus go, and he could undo what he had done.

"Sorry 'bout that Jesus.  I don't know what I was thinking!  But we're ok now, right?"

But the Pharisees laughed at him.  "That's not our problem, buddy - you did it, not us. And what's done is done."

So Judas is left guilty.  He couldn't undo it, though he tried.  He couldn't fix it.  And the ones he thought would value him for giving Jesus into their power laughed at him.

Everyone would know he did it.

Perhaps someone from the twelve would discover and spread it around that he was a thief, too.

There was no place to go, no place to hide.  He'd done an awful thing that he couldn't undo.

Jesus would never forgive him.  Never.

There was nothing left.  He couldn't bear being exposed like that.  He couldn't repent - he couldn't get close to Jesus to talk to him.  Perhaps he tried.  Another thing we'll never know on this earth.

So, he killed himself.

And suicide is always a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Satan whispers incessantly that it's the only way out.  You can't endure it. Your name will be everywhere.  You'll be laughed at and never trusted again.  You'll have to do the meanest of manual labor just to survive.  No new reign and no prominent position. Nothing. No way out.

And yet, when he died he faced something a thousand times worse than exposure.  He sought out peace on his own terms. He didn't go to the Father Jesus had taught him about for 3 years and ask forgiveness. He remembered only too well Jesus saying the Son of Man would be betrayed - and woe to that man doing the betraying.  "It would be better for that man to have never been born."

The evil one blinded him to repentance, stirring his guilt so much he actually thought it would end with death, and he would have peace.

And got hell instead.

In the end, I think Judas worshipped only himself. His pride couldn't take the blows he himself had dealt - he willingly gave himself to the love of money, which the Word tells us is the root of all evil.  It puts you at the center of your existence, it gives you a false sense of power, it makes you think you need no one and nothing else.

So you do things that, at first, singe your conscience.

And then they don't.

So money, and the person behind it, become what you worship.

And salvation something you laugh at.

And you forget, if you even ever knew:

"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God."

Selah.



Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The LORD be with you

My great-nephew left today.

He has been living with us the past few years, going to school, falling in love, making a life for himself. Within a short period of time, he had a group of friends from church that I called his "posse", and shortly after that, a girl that lit up his eyes and heart and became his constant companion.

And then he joined the army.

He is in love with helicopters, and can find and fix its problems. And the army needs men who can fix helicopters. Only two weeks from completing Basic, they got 2 weeks off for Christmas. He went to his sister's house for Christmas, and then spent the next week here.

His sister lives in Redlands with her hubby and 1 and 1//2 year old little son.  They have always been very close.

Well, that's not entirely true.  She did not like the little interloper to her family for the first 10 or 12 years of her life.  One Christmas in particular, she was 6 and he had just passed 1 year old, he wanted to see what she got, too - with the endless energy of a toddler, he circled and circled and never gave up. She did NOT want his fingers "all over her stuff!"

After  almost melting down with exasperation, she gathered it all together, to make it easier to guard ,
but still he could reach it.

So... she sat on it.

Mission accomplished.

But I digress.

At the age of 11 her girlfriends thought he was soooo cute -  so she granted a truce.

And then the most wonderful thing happened.

She accepted Jesus Christ into her life.

And her heart grew 10 sizes that day (Sorry Mr Grinch - got you beat, hands down!) From that day on, she and her brother grew closer every day. They hung out together and she counseled him and they shared their hearts.

And still do.

So at Christmas she invited the entire family to come for Christmas dinner.

Of my original family of 4 kids, 2 parents and a grandmother , only myself and one brother are left.

And he, curmudgeon that he can be, refused to go to Redlands - a mere 3 hour drive.

And I could not find it in my heart to leave him alone on Christmas Day.

So my niece had one less person to bother with, and he and I shared a frozen lasagna for a few hours.

And after that I was alone.

But this kind-hearted young man called me on Christmas to tell me about a special present he ordered for his grandmother and me, checked how my day was, and then told me, "Everyone here loves you,"  ending with "Merry Christmas!"

Quite a lad.

Somehow, after his call, the alone feeling left me. (pausing here to clear my throat and blink my eyes a bit - think I got a piece of something in one…)

My usual New Year's meandering is spent deliberating on my word for the coming year, a thought to concentrate on, day by day.

This year, I've decided on "considerate."

I want to put others first with a heartfelt letting go of my "self".

To train my heart to walk with Jesus and pray for my Father's eyes to be my eyes, my hands to be His hands, my heart to belong fully to the love He offers to one and all, and to let it be poured through my hands and heart - daily, without a moment's hesitation, without withholding a second's worth of energy or a teaspoonful of affection.

I want an open heart, open hand, and arms open continuously to anyone who needs a hug   - or can't move fast enough to escape one.  I want to think up the small things that are really big things when put in the proper perspective, and make sure no one ever suffers that "all alone on Christmas Day" feeling on whatever day it happens to be. To look for those little things that mean so much to curmudgeons and  non-curmudgeons alike. And to drop-kick that "me first" attitude that so easily creeps in thru the cracks in the walls of my heart.

In short, to have an attitude that says, "Everyone here loves you."


I'm gonna miss that boy.

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Boomer Christmas Memory

Kids the world over are getting ancy.

BUT they are shining up their halos and trying to be "good" for only a couple more days.

In my family, the kids( of whatever generation) couldn't hack it.  Time stopped. Presents under the tree, from relatives "back East," which, growing up in California, was the whole world, cuz West was pretty much water for a loooong ways away.

After the youngest sib found out the jolly old man wasn't really related and thus had no power over us, we began to celebrate the holiday the Swedish way, which is, to open presents on Christmas Eve, because Christmas Day was the birthday of baby Jesus.

heh-heh-heh….

No more running screaming down the stairs at 0600 (or earlier) -  and altho the excruciating wait for the morning light was over, my dad, with a twinkle in his eye, found plenty of ways to keep "excruciating" in view.

After a dinner he ate soooooo sloooooowly, all the dishes had to be washed, dried and put away. No such thing as an automatic dishwasher in antediluvian days, my brother and I washed by hand, dried by hand, put away by hand - and, for one day of the year, no dawdling occurred.

None at all.

Then we had to "go get Grandma."

Now, my Grandmother was made of spun sugar - and steel. I loved her Swedish accent and ancient gingerbread cookie recipe, only concocted at Christmas, and decorated with little silver balls that broke your jaws with their rock hard exterior.

No one can make her gingerbread cookies.

All of us got the recipe directly from her.

And all of us agree: she didn't write down the entire recipe.

And no one has figured out what secret ingredient she forgot to include.

But I digress (a touch of excruciating here - just so you get a bit of the feeling)

She, of course, was in cahoots with my dad on the excruciating part.  My normally spry, up for anything, moving right along grandmother was always having a bad day on Christmas Eve.

Altho her eyes were also twinkling, she limped her way in from the cottage behind the main house, accompanied by the traditional Swedish moan of "Uff da!" with every step.

Every excruciatingly slow step.

Offers of "Let me help you, Grandma" were met with brave refusals of help, and in that Swedish accent I so loved, she would say "no, no, I come. I come."

After Grandma was seated, my dad would say, "Where's Mom?" and the search would begin anew. My mother was somewhere upstairs, wrapping a last minute gift, or looking for one she had misplaced, or whatever ex-cru-ciat-ing idea she came up with.

FINALLY all would be assembled and one of my brothers would begin to read the tags on a present and pass them out.

Trying to add a little speed to the process.

Only to have one or the other of my parents say, "Not so fast! Not so fast! One at a time."

Which, of course, would be met with the traditional chorus of our long, drawn out, excruciated Christmas groans.

And so it would go, until we had turned the pile of presents into ripped off sheets of obviously not recyclable wrapping paper, drawing from my mother the perfected, sad Christmas sigh.

Because we were not a wealthy family. My father worked many Saturdays doing painting jobs for a bit of extra cash.

My mother would always wrap a new pair of sox for each of us 4 kids to make the number of presents seem more prolific. She never agreed with my ungrateful, indignant and disgusted comment of "Moooom! Sox are NOT a real present!"

She would calmly smile - and say, "Yes, they are." And that would end the discussion.

The next generation of kids had, of course, one parent that wasn't used to the Swedish Christmas Eve early-opening-of-presents dispensation, so the kids would come over on Christmas Eve and open their presents from the grandparents and assorted uncles and aunt, and then get a second gig on Christmas morning to open stuff from Santa and/or, depending on their ages, their parents.

The generation after that had yet another parent unschooled in Swedish ways, and this one adamantly against this Swedish hocus pocus…. but got bartered into the position of the kids being able, on Christmas Eve, to open ONE single Christmas present of their choice, but they had to choose a gift from one of the non-parent people.

Which never seemed to be a problem.

Ever.

And now another generation has begun to appear.

Another non-Swede has been added to the mix.

And it remains to be seen how this one will react.

The excruciating experiences of Swedish traditions 60+ years ago are now, seemingly, stowed away with the ghost of Christmas Past. I don't know if the barter will work with this one.

But I'm pretty sure of one thing:

I'll bet the kids growing up would agree with me 100% that sox are NOT a real present.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Have you ever felt like ...

…you fell off the edge of the earth?

No landmarks…
No footprints left in the dust…
No trails…
No sign anywhere that anyone has gone thru this desolate place…
Not even - thankfully - a dinosaur track…
No bloody trail - not as a Brit would use the b word, not as a medical person would use the word, nor as an unsuspecting explorer on the edge of a cliff carefully perusing his environment, but never
looking over the cliff, where he would no doubt find a swiftly climbing animal/aborigene/escaped murderer  (and again, noting the absence of such a one with thanks!)

And noting, I confess, it sounds like a 1942 war movie filmed on some deserted island (like Maui) with Bing and Bob…….and if you don't know who this is referring to, I say:WHAT? you never took a basic B&B romp BW movie class or …ahem…WATCHED SOME CLASSIC SHOW IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT WHEN YOU COULDN'T SLEEP?? (or live in a cave waaaaaay more primitive than Maui?????)

OK, deep breath, tirade completed…

…for the moment…

If you are still with me after all that, I apologize, but when you have cabin fever, tirades, for some reason, seem appropriate - after all, people feel like you did fall off the edge of the earth where the sign is. (you know the place - that cozy little map corner that has a sign when that point is reached - any map worth it's salt has this sign - in flavorful script that flashes red when viewed from the correct angle…)

The sign reads :

"BEWARE...

"BEYOND THIS POINT THERE BE DRAGONS!!"

Now, personally, I have (thankfully, again) never encountered said dragons, altho I will confess, the people who live with/around me probably have (blush blush). And I agree that cabin fever is no excuse. I am trying to own my crappy attitude and not kick it away, as if to say, "How did THAT get in here?" and "No, it doesn't belong to ME, thank you for asking…"

But alas! The  Holy Spirit of the Sovereign Living God has a flashlight in His pocket that is a little bright for fudging… and my fingerprints glow in the dark in neon colors even without it. So when He turns it on… let's just say, I have nowhere to run.

And I am tired.  Bone weary, cranky, I-don't-want-to-thumb-in-the-mouth tired.

And the afore-mentioned HSOTLG crosses His arms and taps His foot a little…can the Holy Spirit tap His foot? OF course! He's God - He can do anything! So crabby me sits - pouting and shamefaced - before the tapping foot and finally get the guts to look up into His eyes, with tears oozing out of mine tho I am trying not to let them drip, and when my eyes finally blink the blurry stuff out of the way, I''m stunned.

Because the disappointed look in His eyes that I was soooo expecting, and steeling myself to accept - is nowhere to be found! Honest!!

All I can see there is Love.  Capital L love.

And I feel myself being lifted to my feet, and in the tenderest of whispers,  Love says," Let's try again now, shall We?"

Selah*

*In case the meaning of this Hebrew word has slipped your mind, "Selah" can mean anything from "How about that!" to "Sit quietly for a moment, and ponder that thought…"(I generally favor the latter.)







Monday, June 6, 2016

I'm back again - for now

It's taken awhile to get back here - obviously. My illness waxes and wanes, and right now it's very active. So I've not been posting a lot or doing just about anything.

No sketching - no painting - no blogging.  Even tho the materials needed are right at hand.

I can't seem to gather enough energy for a simple sketch.

It's an odd situation. I haven't been this sick since it first started in 1988. I am surrounded with the tools of creativity, from pencils to watercolors to yarn. I usually have several projects started and ongoing.  I've been borrowing gorgeous travel photos to sketch, of Italy and Hawaii and Japan - I usually keep them a week and sketch them out - this one, of Venice, I've had for a month.  My perspective is wonky and the times I've tried to sketch turn out lousy.

It bugs me.

And now I think God is trying to get my attention.

He's led me to the book The Daniel Prayer, and there's a list of sins to consider prayerfully, quoted from "an old timer revivalist" that are forming a substantial burr under my spiritual saddle. Anne Graham Lotz shares how this old timer person listed these probing questions - essentially to draw a circle around yourself and make sure everything in that circle is pure. She shares how the first time thru she was a little smug.  "I don't do any of those things," she thought. The second time thru she was uncomfortable. The third time thru she was on her knees, crying.

I've been thru once.

And that burr is digging into my heart and spirit.  I can taste that smugness she spoke of.  And I'm wondering where that list is going to take me.

I have  a feeling I don't really want to try a second time.

Job says that "man is born to trouble as sparks fly upward."

And I agree.

I've set off a few fireworks in my lifetime. And they weren't the pretty kind.

I know somehow I've become so comfy in my "Christian walk" that I've probably rationalized some things - and refused to see others.

So, if you are a praying person, please pray for courage for me - the courage to comb my soul with God's viewpoint, to agree with whatever He shows me and to repent with my whole heart.

Because when I get right down to it, I want to know that inside that circle, all is well. That there's no grey areas, no spots where I have compared myself to another sinner and shined up my halo. I want nothing hiding in my heart, no barrier between my Holy Holy Holy Lord God Almighty and the deepest spot in my soul.

Period,