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My hands are icicles. A few days ago I discovered that my TRANE XL80 furnace requires an upgrade kit. In car terms, isn’t that equivalent to a recall, that is typically covered by the manufacturer? I am annoyed at the unplanned expense, but gratitude skills are to be employed. I have a blanket, a roof, food, my health (oh, my health), and savings for the $855 repair bill, which is scheduled for this afternoon.

My house in the winter months has always been cold. I chalked it up to just being a drafty house. I had scheduled several NW Natural Gas visits to assess the heat efficiency, but work always seemed more important. March brought warmer temps, so I bagged the NW Natural Gas appointment altogether. Now that I think about it, they might have bagged me, due to all my canceled appointments. Sorry, NW Natural Gas. It was me, not you.

Ugh, is all I can say. This afternoon I’ll know the answer to the question that plagues me: Is it a drafty house? Or, has my furnace been broken for several years?!

Moving from fall into the holidays, I’ve had a lot to contemplate, both personally and professionally. Thanksgiving was emotionally difficult, but it forced me to be intentional in managing the holiday season. December has been a good segue regarding my new business. Here are some things I’ve learned as I engage in self employment.

REASONS WE REMAIN IN ONE PLACE

  1. Comfort
  2. Exhaustion
  3. Fear of the unknown
  4. Lack of focus

MY COMFORT

The side vinyl business has been great during the holiday season. Orders trickle in, but reluctantly, I’ve stopped promoting my items on social media. As my vinyl learning curve has slowed and I’ve become more proficient, I’ve discovered comfort in production that isn’t present in the drudgery of details that accompany creating a business. I’m reminded of my waitress days (yes, I want to use that old term!). I’d request closing down the restaurant, to be the last server on the floor. I knew the job like the back of my hand. Why not do that forever? Well, because it would limit my potential (in my case: make more money).

Creating a business from scratch is fraught with discomfort. Someone stole my intended domain name. See that saga here. Last week I spent hours on an Amazon issue. Well, I think I’ll do something more comfortable, like solicit more orders for pretty towels! Giving up entices my senses when success seems so distant. 

No words can describe how unprepared or the amount of effort that was required when I started my job as Principal’s Secretary. While I flailed to survive, not a speck of land was in sight. However, when I finally found land, I felt I could teach a course on how to get there.

MY EXHAUSTION

As I inch closer to starting my new business, I realize that I’m starting again. One of my hashtags is #constant renewal. I think I was born with a growth mindset, long before it was taught in schools. I am grateful for my teeth, my hair, and my growth mindset. On the other hand, constant renewal can be exhausting. This last month has been a relief from exhausting. If I were three I might stomp up and down and refuse to hand it over.

We all want more time. Even when I’m overwhelmed with the tasks of work and home, the flexibility I’ve had has made life more manageable. 6:30 am finds me in my PJs working from home, or driving to deliver a Christmas surprise to my son’s doorstep. None of my early mornings have me pulling into the parking lot at 6:25am and facing the demands that began as soon as I opened the door.

On Sunday morning I stood in front of CBS Sunday Morning (my favorite) with my hands wrapped around a hot mug of coffee (with chattering teeth). I picked up a friend for church and returned her home. I then ran errands for a friend, and in the evening I worked. I thanked God for a day that I could fully embrace without a battle against resentment or frustration. I didn’t have to wrap up the day by 9pm (of which I was rarely successful) in preparation for a 5am wake up that would have me out the door by 6:15.

MY FEAR

Fear has also justified the focus on my vinyl business. What does a day in the life of the new business look like? Will my idea convert to a practical reality? Am I capable to produce and deliver the very thing I am selling? Is my hard work, belief in my idea, and faith enough? Are financial security and personal well being possible with this endeavor?

MY FOCUS

I have to remind myself daily to zero in. I’d rather socialize, decorate, cook, write, read, discuss, enhance, engage with my kids, and understand today’s politics than hunker down on a work project. There. I said it. This person you think I am is a facade, masquerading as an ambitious person. I am ambitious, in that I want to do everything. But I am challenged to focus on the most essential objective: Will this task move me toward financial well being? God gifted me with a curious mind and a generous heart. I produce a lot, but I’m not always producing what pays the mortgage.

There is a current trend that encourages us to work doing what we love. I believe God desires that every single one of us live vibrant, balanced lives. That no person, regardless of the wealth or social status they were born into deserves anything but the best. An oppressive work situation is not ideal. If possible, we should find employment that allows us to receive, as well as give. We should manage a life that provides us with the best case scenario, within our circumstances. We should take care of self. However, that means sacrifice of self. It means saying NO to the things we enjoy, which requires more discipline from some of us than others.

I’m not a 100% certain, where is “there.” But when I walk with my creator, any direction is the right direction, and ultimately, that’s where I’m headed.

This phrase pops up in my mind a lot. The “If I can, you can” part.  I don’t like that it does. I feel arrogant, like I know what people are capable of and I get to decide who has capacity and who doesn’t. So, it’s with sensitivity that I share this. I don’t want to sound arrogant, and even worse, be arrogant. But I know how hard things can be for me, and there are moments when the voice inside me says, “If I can do this, anyone can.”

That probably speaks a lot to how pitiful I am at times. Not more pitiful than you, but just pitiful, like all of us are on occasion. While there are some who naturally came out of the shoot ready to account for every minute of the day, most of us aren’t born life coaches. I think my my kids and some friends would say that I have to have everything planned, or at least my way, but they don’t know me like I know me. Once I commented to a friend that my kids don’t understand the effort that goes into the things I accomplish. It was a mom moment of frustration. My friend replied, “That’s a compliment. That means you make it look easy.” I don’t know if that’s the case. In fact, I hardly make packing for a trip look easy. 

Getting ready for a 4 day summer trip, by car.

But I loved where she was coming from, and it helped my perspective in that moment.

Most of my evolution has come out of necessity, because the alternative wasn’t acceptable to me. For example, when my first child was born she awoke each morning very early, like around 5:30. As a young adult, I dragged myself out of bed to run at 5:30 before work. But I did it 3 times a week, looking forward to the other four when I could sleep in. I hadn’t yet discovered the prize that awaited me in an early morning before the rest of the world began to put dents in an untouched day.  A baby interrupting my sleep and needing my immediate attention was not how I wanted to begin my day, so I began to set my alarm about a half an hour earlier than I anticipated her tummy to start growling. And, so it began; I officially became an early riser, and I began to appreciate the reward. But I still dragged myself out of bed, regardless of whether I’d gotten 5 hours or 8 hours of sleep.

From “Why am I doing this?” to “This is why I’m doing this.” Come winter,  I won’t be doing this.

 

In Proverbs 6 Solomon says:

9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard?

   When will you get up from your sleep?

10 A little sleep, a little slumber,

   a little folding of the hands to rest—

11 and poverty will come on you like a thief

   and scarcity like an armed man.

I’d often asked myself those same questions! I like to think Ben Franklin liked Solomon. I like both of those men.

Along the way I’ve chosen to do a lot of things that were counterintuitive to my nature. Verses like this helped a lot. And wisdom from Ben Franklin, too. Recently I began riding a bike, now riding it at least a couple of times to work and back. I would have never thought I would have ridden a bike to work, or on a weekend for exercise. I used to enjoy running, regularly. I’d always been advised not to do that because of how hard it can be on one’s body. I have scoliosis and running messed up my back, hips, and knees. I’d take a break, recover, vow to reduce my mileage, but like many runners, break that vow as soon as the pain was but a distant memory. Or also like many runners, proceed forward in denial. I stopped for good when signs of divorce presented itself. There wasn’t time, and my self care became praying and crying, which I highly recommend.

In between running and not running, I’ve been on various exercise plans, but nothing has stuck. Exercise for a multitude of reasons has taken a back seat. Riding a bike however is beginning to give me the same sense of satisfaction I had as a runner. But I’m not in great shape and when I get on the bike, I know it will be hard.

Yesterday I had planned to ride in the early evening, once the heat subsided. I needed to stain my fence and according to YouTube, that should be done in the morning or evening, not in the heat of day. But as the day wore on, so did my body as I stained the fence and worked in the yard. I also fit in reading a book called Sensible Shoes that my friend Melanie loaned me. I allowed for a little over a hour to read, anticipating knocking off more of my To Do list and the bike ride.

I put away the book, but found myself scrolling the Internet for jobs in Bend and New York and then ate leftover homemade peach ice cream. The sun began to inch its way down, and my bike riding opportunity was gone for the day. But there’s always tomorrow.  I got myself to bed earlyish, with a firm plan to ride in the morning before church. I set my alarm for 5:30. But in spite of having used picture imagery the night before of the summer morning I longed to enjoy, I still did not get out of bed until 6:15, allowing just enough time to ride my bike, return home to get ready for church, so I could arrive just after it started, when I kicked myself because I hate that, too. And really, I didn’t get up just in time, because I then decided to make coffee, and then I realized I was missing my most favorite show, CBS Sunday Morning, so I lingered even longer before getting on my bike. As I got dressed I listened to YouTube music and an advertisement for a life coach came on: Brooke Somebody, and she reminded me of my tendency to procrastinate. She said she used to drink a lot of Chardonnay and now doesn’t drink any. I thought, well, I only drink a little Pinot Grigio, so that’s not even my issue.

I have to guess at the distance I rode because I forgot to engage the new app I’d downloaded the night before, but it was an 8 to 10 mile ride. The elevation was high in some places and I thought I would die, but putting the bike in 1st or 2nd gear, as whimpy as I now know that is, helped significantly. I used my cheap Ifrogz wireless earbuds  and listened to some Christian songs, at one point belting out Hillsong’s “What a beautiful name it is, the name of Jesus…”I turned on to a busy street, and I was grateful to be riding at least as early as 7:30 on a Sunday. Typically this intersection has traffic coming from every direction, but I like this portion of rode because it’s so aesthetically pleasing. Opposite of the street I’d just come from, lined in maple trees with acorns that are beginning to drop, this portion of road is full of city energy, having recently been repainted. The bike lane is lime green against black tar with bright white sparkly boundary lines and it makes me happy for some reason.

The happy time morphed into a bike lane with barely visible lines. The elevation for about a mile was fairly level, but I knew what was coming, and I plowed forward, head down, probably looking inept as a cyclist. To get home, this portion of the route is unavoidable. I know I can do it, because I do it every time. It’s also a contributing influence when I decide against riding my bike. I have not mastered the incline to my house. There’s always a big boat parked just before my house, so that is my goal. When I get just past the boat, my legs give way and I all but puke, and I praise God that I did it, again.

This is what I think my life is, and this is not unlike many lives. Sometimes a friend will say to me something like, “I could never do that.” Or “You’re lucky you can get up so early.” Or “You have so much energy.” None of those statements is true. She could do it, I’m not lucky, and my energy is inspired by the things that are important to me, namely, I don’t want to be a sluggard. The other truth is that I don’t like regret. My strength is calling on God for His strength, to help me overcome my deficits, so I can get up over the hills.

If you will ask God to push you over the hill, you too can do it. I know this! If I can, you can.

For the record, I ride my bike mostly in third gear. I know that’s not a big improvement over 1st or 2nd, but the biggest challenge is that,  I’m on the bike.

I’m on a vacation that I’ve named, largely in part to remind me why I’m spending a few hundred dollars by myself and enjoying it. A purpose gives me some justification that eases my spirit if I begin to feel anxious about the money. Gosh, maybe I should keep my receipts. If my writing miraculously becomes a business I could write this off on my taxes. I’ve named this three night jaunt in Cannon Beach, My Writing/Reading vacation. There; documentation in case I’m audited. On second thought, it’s called My Writing/Reading business trip.

Marion Roach Smith and Anne Lamott both command want-to-be-writers (I’m not a “wanna be” kind of gal) to write every day. I miserably fail at that, or I should say, I’m a successful failure. Thus, the need to pay for a place that removes the distractions. I first had a place reserved in Rockaway Oregon, but in the end it didn’t work out. That would have been less distractions than Cannon Beach. My first day was filled with lovely distractions. On my way I stopped at Nehalem Bay Winery. My boss worked there and speaks so highly of it and the people she worked with, so I added that to my get away agenda.

The view from a deck

And then my good friend who has a beach house in Cannon Beach was here, and I decided that since I was already distracted, I might as well commune with my good friend. We ate at a restaurant called Harding Trading Company.  My friend and I shared chicken liver pate and Coq Au Vin with spaetzle. It was only my second time having that fancy chicken and it was so yummy. I considered going again tonight but opted for a slice of pizza and a scoop of ice cream, in case I get audited.

On my drive I played favorite songs over and over, pretending I was Lady Antebellum and Miranda Lambert, just in case I go to a karaoke bar, I’m prepared. My navigator to the Nehalem Bay Winery took me down Hwy 53, which I’d never been on. It’s one of those turns that I’ve passed a million times and have wished I had time to explore. It’s beautiful, rural, and curvy.

On Hwy 53

I wondered how Winky was surviving my singing and the windy roads. I discovered that he wasn’t handling it well at all when I pulled off on a road owned by Weyerhaeuser to let him relieve himself. I’m glad I’d left his kennel door open so when he needed to escape, he could.

Ready for potential karaoke performance, it was time to start some good edification with a sermon by Timothy Keller. Yes, the Timothy Keller of the Reason for God. My daughter would probably say I’m obsessed with him. I tend to share things I’m enthused or impressed with, so hence, “I know mom, you’re obsessed with him/her.” I’m “obsessed” with a lot of things.

The sermon I listened to is called The Healing of Anger

The message about anger was beautiful. I’m not going to focus on that message now. But just so you know, it could change your life. Inside of that message was an affirmation I received about parenting that I’m certain I learned from God, my ultimate guidance counselor. God is doing this a lot for me lately. Attitudes that I’m adopting in life are being affirmed, as kind of a nod from Him. As I listened to Tim’s sermon I wondered why God hadn’t sent this YouTube sermon (and other messages I’ve recently heard or read) my way long ago, giving me instant solutions when I’ve been at crossroads with so many options. I’ve had to work hard for answers, and YouTube might have been much more efficient!

But as I think about the process of some of the hard decisions I’ve had to make, especially when it comes to my kids, I needed it to come from God.

That’s not to dismiss the valuable messages and lessons we can learn through trusted friends and leaders. We should seek counsel from others. A favorite verse is Proverbs 15:22, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.”

But so often people keep seeking, over and over, looking for the answer. The one that we can digest, one that satisfies a form of godliness and also satisfies our earthly senses. Our best answers, the right answers, lie in God, and his answers are laid out for us in the bible. This is best received when we are in prayer, as in Philippians 4:6-7. “… in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

When we are in communion with God, the answers we receive are more palatable, which really is another way of saying, these are the answers that provide us peace. If our answers aren’t coming from God, or we aren’t in communion with God, and we are seeking an answer we want to hear more than what is best, then the peace we are seeking is elusive, and we will continue to ask everyone we know and search the Internet high and low, for the answers we want. Answers I’ve received from God have been heartbreaking, yet I had peace that it was right.

Parenting has been hard. The difficulties are magnified in a broken family when parents don’t unite. I have friends who have solid structures and they face the textbook difficulties of parenting. But there are other levels of hard that aren’t of the mainstream parenting textbook. I have combinations of friends, some married, some divorced, some with good relationships with their former spouses, etc. and the difficulties among everyone are varied. But what is certain is that the painful parenting is a different kind of hard.

Our first tendency is to retreat from a child who is hurting us. Maybe our child is lashing out in anger and saying hateful things, or maybe he is rejecting or dismissing us, or possibly betraying us. None of us responds well to any of that. It can be excruciating. Because of our deep love, we agonize over it. Our natural tendency might be to give him space, as a disguise to give ourselves space from the hurt. “I’ll give him space. I’ll give him all the space he needs,” a friend considered one day.

I might have considered that for a millisecond. My reaction has been more along the lines of another option: to lash back. To convince my child that they are wrong. I’ve got a lot of ammunition ready to right this wrong and in my longing to make things right, my cartridge is fully loaded.

Depending on the personality of the child, both of these reactions can work. But personality and environment are everything in regards to interpersonal dynamics. What works for one set of people may be explosive for another set.

In that explosiveness, there’s lingering shrapnel. It can be removed, but it takes time. In the meantime we’re left with wounds that can debilitate us if we aren’t intentional about recovery. I don’t want to be debilitated as a mom. Without a partner to back me up, it has felt as if my credentials were tossed in the trash can with my marriage, as if suddenly my parenting authority had been revoked. It feels like that, but I know that in spite of our marriage being dissolved, I am still my kids’ parent. I am still mom.

In that role I want to convey truths and I want to do it in love, even when I anticipate that I will be rejected in my effort. Timothy Keller calls this strategy “performing a surgical strike.”

It means getting in close, knowing it will hurt, and absorbing the pain.

That is the hard stuff in being a parent. Being that person who teaches them when we see them making a bad decision, starting down a wrong road, or just causing them to consider a juncture they’re about to take. I think about some conversations I’ve had with my kids. Recently my daughter and I were at odds about something, and I told her that we all need that person who causes us to ask ourselves, “Is this the best decision?” When we want to be self sufficient and independent, that question might feel like a reprimand, when really it’s a blinking light that causes us to reconsider.

Like surgery, I know there are times when my words are going to hurt, that the patient is going to flinch, and the reaction could be anything from a tolerant acceptance in the moment, with a delayed painful reaction later, or it could be a roar, rejecting any effort I make. On more than one occasion you have probably said, “Parenting is hard.” It’s especially hard when we’re performing a surgical strike. And when you’ve got no back up? UGH!

This is in essence what God showed me a few years back. This is what he did as our father. He lived in truth, he did the hard stuff, and He absorbed our pain.

As our kids become young adults, our parenting is different. But they still need us. Everything in our society says they are adults when they’re 18. That message kind of drives me crazy. Our brains aren’t fully developed until we’re about 25 years old. We give them the title of adult, but they aren’t living the life of an adult in the truest sense. In the book Age of Opportunity, Laurence Steinberg urges us to not give up our efforts to teach and influence our kids. He believes that in the time before their brain is fully developed we have a unique opportunity to help steer them. We are not done when our kids turn 18.

Our kids have a way of evoking anger in us. It’s no wonder this topic was included in Tim Keller’s sermon about anger. It’s really really good. I hope you’ll listen to it!

A few pictures of my place in Cannon Beach at the McBee Cottages during my three day business trip. These cottages are super cute!

Trimline phone…even has an old fashioned coffee stain next to it. It’s a clean coffee stain.

Winky had never been to the beach. He looks pretty, and is happy to sit with me, but he’s a scaredy cat, so I had to carry him down!

On July 4th I shared my road trip / vacation and the book I was listening to on my way to Central Oregon. That four day vacation by the way was nothing short of heavenly. I don’t vacation often, primarily in an effort to preserve money for other things, like taxes in April. I don’t want to harp on a shortage of income. It’s true I need more of it, and I’m persistent in looking for opportunities to increase it, which is also something I don’t want to expand on publicly. Although, I did share a dog walking story in an April post. It was that story and more like it that caused me to stop that side job. While I wish I had more income, or maybe I should just say money, I don’t necessarily stress over it.

Maybe because I’m intentional with it. One day I might spend a fair amount on a meal with a friend, but rarely do I pick up food to go. I can be starving at work because I didn’t take time to make a lunch. Rather than run to the store, I’ll eat lemon heads and pound down more coffee or water. Better yet I’ll hope someone appears with a baked treat from New Seasons. Admittedly this isn’t a preferred strategy of a healthy person. By the time I get home I’m famished and chips and salsa are calling my name, if not some ice cream, and that’s before dinner. I’m spending some extra money on the wedding I didn’t plan on, but that is with joy and hope that Bridgette’s wedding will be magical. I might spend a little bit more on a Mother of the Bride dress, but rarely do I buy new clothes for everyday wear. So there you have it: intentional. And here’s to hoping intentional continues to replace stress when it comes to money.

Speaking of magical, that is what I call Timothy Keller’s book: Belief in an Age of Skepticism – The Reason for God. The messages in this book penetrate first to the mind, and then steep deeper into the heart, which feels like magic. It’s not that this never happens as I listen to my local pastor (whose messages I love). But Timothy Keller shares perspectives on the issues of skeptics that admittedly, I accept easily. I’ve been blessed with faith in God. While I get frustrated with Him, I hardly ever question His existence. His presence in my life has been so tangible, I can’t deny Him. 1 Peter 3:15 says “… Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” Don’t you just love that last part!? I think some people overlook the tail end of that passage.

My story is filled with God’s faithfulness and expressing my love for God is usually as easy as breathing. I felt expressions of God all around me in Central Oregon; in the mountains, the rivers and lakes, and when the sun rose and when it set.

But this is my interpretation of God, and Timothy Keller bases his interpretation on intellect and his passion for the truth. As a result, he has studied many religions and philosophies. I love and appreciate this passion and grateful that he has shared it with us. The ease of faith that I possess has rarely ever challenged God. During my dry spells when I didn’t walk with the Lord (which is when I made pivotal junctions) I continued to believe He loved me. I was simply ignorant and didn’t walk the path he’d laid out for me. There might have been more to it than ignorance, but that was definitely a component.

I was mesmerized throughout the book as Timothy reveals truths and addresses those who do challenge God. He does it with a tone of acceptance and love toward the unbeliever, as well as the believer who thinks they’ve got it altogether. Unlike me, he has been a skeptic, and his empathy toward the one who questions God is apparent.

I recall two instances in the book that touched me deeply.

One is in Luke when the rich man dies. From afar he sees the poor beggar named Lazarus who used to sit outside the gate, hoping for a morsel of food. In Hades, the rich man is tormented while Lazarus lives peacefully next to Abraham. The rich man begs Abraham to send someone to “the other side” to warn his brothers, so they too will not die and go to Hades. But Abraham says the following:

‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ The rich man urges, “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

But Abraham replies, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” Luke 16: 29-3

I’m reminded of the many times I read God’s word, but don’t heed His instruction. I think back to when I took what I call my detour, leaving the path I was walking to do things my way for awhile. That’s when I made decisions based solely on my own, without praying or consulting with Him. Things didn’t go so well, and in fact, they went horribly. That’s not to say that those decisions couldn’t be redeemed, but it would have been a lot easier to go the speed limit. I’ve renewed my walk with God, but in this world, I am paying the price.

We also do this to each other. Somehow we don’t hear when someone is hurting, or needing help. We nod our head in agreement, but we continue on our way without adjusting our step in their direction. When my mom was dying I told friends she was in the hospital and the difficult time I was having. I’d shared that she’d had a toe amputated and I was in a position to decide if we would amputate her leg. If we didn’t, she risked death. A dear woman from my bible study held close to me during that time as I made the difficult decision not to amputate. I knew my mom didn’t have the stamina to care for herself after such a severe loss. When my mom passed, friends asked why I hadn’t told them she was “that” sick. I’m sure I’ve done the same, half listening to someone, not getting it. Just like I often don’t “get it” when I’m reading God’s word.

As parents we laugh about this (or not). We ask our child to take out the garbage and they don’t respond. We ask again and they still don’t respond. Then we raise our voice and they wonder why we’re upset. “I’m not upset! I just want you to hear me!” I’ll bet God wanted to say the same to the rich man, but God doesn’t yell.

I thought about the rich man and his desperate attempt to adjust the course of his brothers, and his own life, and I was overwhelmed when I thought about the good fortune I have that I’m still living with the opportunity to do God’s will, and be more than a rich man, I can be Joni.

Keller points out that the rich man was simply, “the rich man.” He had no name, but the poor man had a name: Lazarus.

“Dear God, let my name mean something. That I will be more than the girl with the nice yard, or the devoted mom, or the good food or the conscientious employee. May these things that are important to me not define me, but may I keep perspective and may my name, Joni, reflect a woman who is faithful to God.”

The second moment of revelation in Timothy’s book was about forgiveness. For anyone who has been hurt or betrayed, that word can send pricklers up a back or tears down a face. Forgiveness is complicated, especially if one continues to be hurt or betrayed in some way. It’s a personal conversation with God that is ongoing, and if you are at least having that conversation, you’re ahead of the person who resists forgiveness. For me, it’s a constant conversation. However, I’ve had a shift.

The subject of forgiveness came in the context of why Jesus had to die on the cross. Apparently some people like the concept of God without Jesus having to go through the unimaginable experience of being crucified. It’s like, “Lets just have a nice God and call it good.” As Timothy explains it, I now understand forgiveness in a completely different light. Without repeating the complete context, ultimately forgiveness is paying the debt for someone else. As I read this, this sounds obvious in the Christian sense. But what I thought was obvious, wasn’t the whole story. Keller illustrated a neighbor who broke a shared fence. One neighbor pays for it, entirely. He completely forgives the debt. THAT defines forgiveness. I swear I’ve never considered forgiveness in the extreme like that, and it has made a difference for me.

Forgiving a broken fence is a lot easier than forgiving betrayal or broken hearts. But Jesus knew both. In the garden of Gethsamane, Jesus’ anguish is palpable. He says, “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” In paying the debt there will be excruciating pain, but in honoring our heavenly Father, we get to sit with Lazarus in heaven.

As I think about disappointments or a relationship that didn’t go the way I’d hoped, I am enthusiastic in wanting to pay the debt. If I am to truly share the Spirit of God, I can only do it if I am not holding on to a hurt that I’ve experienced. I am taking that hurt from that person and paying for it. They don’t owe me anything for it. There’s no negotiating. Not as my will, but His will be done. I’m paying for the fence.

I wonder, will I feel this way tomorrow, or the next day, or in a couple of months when a new hurt presents itself? I’m on the right track. It’s been a week!

So, that is my book report on The Reason for God. I purchased the hard copy and hope to find more of these magical moments when I read it versus listening to it. I hope you will magically know the Spirit of God in the most beautiful unexplainable way possible. And this might be the book to do that.

By the way, my grilling skills are improving and I might be able to give a tutorial on using a charcoal grill in the near future.

Love those peppers!

 

Happy 4th, everyone! I haven’t posted since Father’s Day. So much for writing every day as instructed by every author who teaches writing. These last few weeks haven’t afforded me much time for hobbies, and thus far, that’s where I have to place my writing effort. Bridgette graduated from college, which is a huge reason to celebrate. But if that weren’t enough, her boyfriend also proposed to her! A wedding is now in the works and I have a new son-in-law to be. He is a wonderful young man with an engineering degree, which I’m hoping comes in handy once in awhile around my house. Plus, he loves the Lord, so if he can’t find time to put that degree to use for me, I’m still his fan.

I’m on a little vacation in Bend, Oregon as I write this, which includes a favorite spot for us Oregonians called Sunriver. I know it’s different to visit a city than to live in it, but it is as close to perfect as it gets. When my kids were young I remember Bridgette begging to move to whatever city we’d be visiting for vacation. She’d plead with me, “Mom, can we PLEEEZE move here?” My constant mantra was reminding her that if she lived here, she wouldn’t be on vacation, and everything would be different. I’m sure that’s true for Bend to some degree, but my friends who live here sure love it.

A large part of me was sad to not be with my kids for the holiday, but I knew the chances of us not being together was big, so I accepted my friend’s offer to join them on Lake Billy Chinook, a place that I absolutely love and miss. Another friend lives in Sunriver currently, so I tacked on another day or two so I could visit her.

This is not reflective of my housekeeping

Getting out of the house for me is comical. Preparing for a vacation, whether it’s over night or a week, has always been an event for me, even when I was married and had help to manage the household needs. I don’t know what one would call the process now, except possibly pitiful? If I left more often, I might have a routine that could look a little better. But I resist leaving because of this unfortunate personality trait.

But once I’m outta there, it’s so worth it. My dream husband would indulge the multiple stops to take pictures and analyze wild flowers, would stop at a roadside cafe for a latte, and listen to a book on tape, while pausing to discuss. Maybe I’ll copy and paste this on Match.com one day and see who pops up.

A perfect latte!

 

Central Oregon drive

On my way down I listened to a book called The Reason for God by Timothy Keller, which I got through the free Overdrive site I’ve referred to. Timothy Keller is incredibly intelligent, so I have to listen carefully and rewind often, but I’m riveted by his assessments of God’s word. He is a former pastor of a church in New York called Redeemer Presbyterian Church which he began and grew to thousands of parishioners, and not by today’s modern strategies focused on entertaining the audience. Timothy Keller is passionate about finding the truth, which he addresses in his book, asking us how we know what “the truth” is. If someone claims to know the truth, doesn’t that mean that the person who claims that he knows, arrogant? How does that person have an advantage of knowing “the truth” over another person? He also addresses the fear many people have that living for God will eliminate their personal freedom to be themselves. Tim beautifully explains why living for God creates more freedom to find our identity as God designed us to be, not defined by a secular world. This piece in his narrative is what brought me to tears.

About 3/4 of the way through this book I was thanking God through tears as what I believe more of his truths to me were revealed.

Well, this post is done. My friend is up and it’s time to move on with this day.

But before I go, let me leave you with a before and after picture. I will blame this on the Central Oregon climate. It must have an affect on my appetite. Or I was honoring Tim Keller’s Redeemer church in NY City.

New York Strip Steak

Happy Fourth, everyone. I am fortunate to live in this country. Thank you to everyone who has ever served and for those of you who vote.