Wednesday, January 25, 2012

exceptional living
The other day I got a Twitter post, which I suspected was hacked. Still it got my attention. I knew better than to click on it, but I waited a while. Like a dog sniffing around roadkill, I circled around the temptation inviting me to be outraged.

Because that’s what the lure incited: “You should see the bad things they’re saying about you,”—or words to that effect—words we used to whisper to each other in fourth grade to gain the alliance of a friend and not be third man out.

So why was I even tempted, I wondered? What‘s with this proclivity to mull over the negative like a tongue obsessing over the tiny hole in a chipped tooth? Or to be curious about a bad report about myself or my book?

Proverbs 26:22 advices that “the words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, and they go down into the innermost parts of the body,” where they sit, releasing their fats and sugars into the bloodstream, but “the words of the LORD are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.”—Psalms 12:6.

I don’t know about you, but I know it takes a disciplined mind for me to stay focused on what is “true, honorable, and of good repute.”  Sometimes I just want to sit in a corner like a thumb -sucking kid while I nurse a hurt. 

But today as I’m getting ready for an up-coming trip, I’m mindful of those streamlined overhead bins that have redefined the meaning of “carry-on.” And as I choose what will pack and what will stay, I realize I have neither the time nor the room for carrying on old, heavy hurts.

I’m choosing to travel light today and leave room for something good I might find along the way.

Blessing abundant, friends.

Friday, January 20, 2012

What do “Cloud Suck” and Waponi Woo Have To Do with Each Other?

Just this: both emerged from a writing warm-up exercise I engaged in, and now I’m stuck wanting to pen a respectable few words about trusting God and doing the next thing, but my mind is entertaining itself with the words “Waponi Woo.”

Whether it simply likes the sound the words make when they roll around, or it is hoping that repetition will reveal inspiration, I don’t know, but here’s what led to all this—which is why, by the way, I do not like writing warm-ups.

I have been dogged by a sense of ennui lately, a condition I described to my husband as a “brain cloud” like the one Joe, in the 1990’s film, Joe Versus the Volcano, supposedly suffered from.  Just as Joe was convinced his condition was terminal, I began to believe I would never again write an intelligent thing, utter a wise word, or think a bright thought. My brain cloud was fatal. (But unlike Joe, I wasn’t about to offer myself as a sacrifice to the Waponi Woo volcano god.)

While mulling over the idea of “clouds,” I picked up a copy of the latest Discover magazine and opened to (don’t you love when this happens) an article titled, “20 Things You Didn’t Know About Clouds.” Huh.

One of those things was that a few years ago a paragliding champion, Eva Wisnierska, survived “cloud suck.” She was sucked up 32,000 feet (higher than Mt. Everest) into a cumulonimbus cloud. Although oxygen-deprived, covered in ice, tossed around in thunder, lightning, and hail stones as big as golf balls, incredibly Wisnierska lived to tell about it. 

An online article quoted her as saying, “"I don't believe in God. But I do believe in angels. I think they were the ones who brought me back safely.” 

At first I was astounded she could say such a thing. Why would you believe in angels but not in God?

Maybe because God demands accountability; angels may bear us safely home but they don’t require commitment, trust, or obedience. They don’t ask us to entrust our lives, our wills, our hearts to them. They let us think we are in control. But God reverses the order and realigns the perspective. He: Creator; I: created.

However, before I got much further with my self-righteous rant about how someone could believe in angels and not in God, the Holy Spirit shone His light inward on the dark cloud on my own horizon that was sucking me in. “And what are you believing in today, Marcia? The frumpy lies that are bouncing off like hailstones? the lightning that’s scaring you? an angel bailout?”

“Or—the One who made the storm, who sustains life when everything in nature screams “Impossible!” who requires you to actively respond to Him by diligently putting your hand to all He gives you to do, and to trust Him with the results.”
Ah, I do believe my brain cloud is lifting. Sorry Waponi Woo—no offering today.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Chipchick and the God of her Mistakes

Alongside our pledge to have and to hold in sickness and in health, the husband and I have made a pact not to buy anything that costs more than a few hundred dollars without thinking about it for a couple of days.

This agreement was born more out of experience than wisdom. We have discovered that our otherwise practical and intelligent natures are easily swayed by smooth-talking salesmen on our doorstep.

In years past, we’ve bought a freezer full of frozen meat from the back of truck that showed up in our driveway (an unexpected surplus from a gourmet restaurant delivery, the driver said), knives that supposedly cut through nails, and vacuum cleaners powerful enough to suck up both bed mites and small children. The college-age Kirby crew who arrived with their Sherman tank cleaner was so convincing we even fed them dinner.

The day I saw my husband’s eyes glaze over as the telemarketer promised him a Caribbean vacation for a small deposit on his credit card, I knew we were in trouble. And so for years, we’ve wisely waited for reason to prevail before purchase.

At least that’s what we did until the man armed with papers to prove the numbers convinced us to invest a small fortune in The Vending Machines. It sounded like a good idea at the time—I could peddle my wares once a week and be free to write the rest of the time; then when we retired we’d have a prosperous little business up and running—a  classic case of Bad Idea dressed up as Good.

Oh the things we do to make a buck. In all fairness, there are many successful vending machine operators— but regardless of my dubious moniker as the Chipchick,  I wasn’t one of them.

After three years of schlepping soda cans, we decided to cut our losses, sell the machines for the proverbial song, and put our best foot forward. We will probably never recoup our losses, but I am not looking back.

Today as the last machine went out the door, I gave thanks, that in spite of my failings, my future is not in the quarter slot of my machines, nor in my decisions, which are not always wise.

 Thank God my future is secure in the hands of the God of my Mistakes.  

Thursday, January 5, 2012


And  I’m not talking about the kind hauling off to the gym this week. Nor about the ones uttered by plaintive, excuse-making people.

The ones I’m thinking about are the buts that plant themselves squarely in the interface between curl up-and-die and stand- arms outstretched- and immovable.

These buts, which don’t deny they are in a pickle in this visible reality, can see through to the world beyond—the world shaped by and anchored in a belief in God’s word, truth, and being.

Many people I have talked to say they are happy to put 2011 behind them. It was a difficult year for jobs, security, health, and all things familiar. For me, 2011 was bookended by loss—the death of my father in January and the death of my mom in December.

In between, the Lord blossomed a book and set it on a journey of its own. I marvel at what He has done and will do with my ignorant foray into the land of publishing.

Now, as I hold my new red leather journal, spanking clean pages awaiting forms of lessons learned and life observed, I contemplate the months ahead—a pivotal country election, a position as “matriarch” (oh my) of my family, uncertainty in all things financial and secure, nuclear potential in the hands of enemies, and isolation for a country once considered “friend.”

It looks kind of scary.

BUT . . .

Then there’s God. GOD with whom all things are possible. I am determined to fix my face on the reality His presence and possibility this year—in all things, large and small.

An email received this morning reminded me that there are many women entering the Women of Faith Writing Contest right now, women who hope their story of faith and God’s faithfulness will make its way to publication.

And I think about Ann Voskamp—mother of six, hog farmer’s wife, washer of dishes and swiper of noses. A friend challenges her to find a thousand things to be thankful for. Her pursuit not only puts her on the New York Times Best seller list, but draws her deep into the heart of God.

Who knows what God will do with our offerings? With our fears? And our confusion between rocks and hard places?

The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.—Prov. 29:25
And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good. . . . –Gen. 50:20
And the waters returned and covered the chariots and horsemen and even Pharaoh’s entire army . . .But the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea,-- Exod 14:29  

Even in the face of death: And . . . they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead.—Acts 13:29

Yes, there are some big buts we can cling to. May the Lord encourage you with the triumph of these three small words—But with God . .