krikketgirl: (Stairway)
I've been thinking a lot about Deuteronomy 6:10-12 lately. It reads:

So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, 11 houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant—when you have eaten and are full—then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

I've been thinking about it because we have been so blessed by so many people in the move from Indianapolis to Cincinnati, and truthfully even before then. There is so much furniture that we did not buy, but instead inherited or were given by family or friends. Our goods were transferred from place to place not primarily by us, but by so many willing hands--even people we hadn't met before they showed up to help lug our boxes. The cherry tomatoes we are beginning to enjoy are from a plant that we did not purchase, plant, or mulch; we did not weed or add good soil to the bed it lives in. All of that tending--and all of the other gardening around the house--was given to us from the goodness of a dear friend's heart. Many of the rooms that have been painted in the house were painted without my having raised a hand to do it, because I have been blessed with kind family and friends who came and painted as gifts to us.

This home is so precious to me, and I am so thankful for it. But I have to remain constantly in remembrance that it is not because of me or Chris that it is so nicely appointed. Instead, it is thanks to people whose hearts were moved by God to provide for us. It becomes, then, my responsibility to remember and to use these gifts not for my own benefit, but to give back to God and to my brothers and sisters.

Clothing

Jun. 14th, 2010 08:30 am
krikketgirl: (Forces)
In several places of the New Testament, Christians are told to "put on" something, or to "clothe" themselves with something (as th NIV tends to translate it). I find this concept interesting because it hints at a couple of different things.

The verse I was thinking of was Colossians 3:12. Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Now, the first thing that this suggests is that these attributes are things that we will have "put on," because they are not yet inherent to our nature. I think that this is both goad and comfort. Babies don't enter the world clothed; it is not the natural way of things. Left to ourselves, our natural bent is to look out for ourselves first and everything and everyone else, second. We are instructed, though, to put these things on--it will require some effort on our part, then. We are not going to wake up one morning and suddenly feel loving to everyone in all circumstances. Instead, we will put on love and compassion and kindness. We will choose to display those items, even if we have to suffer a bit sometimes for that particular "fashion."

Which leads me to the second idea that I think can be drawn from this: when people meet you, in public, one of the first things they see is your clothing. They may not notice it to the exclusion of all else, but it does tend to register. If we're looking for someone, one of the first things we ask is, "What were they wearing?"

And I think that this is pointing to that same idea. Earlier, in Romans 13:14, we're told to clothe ourselves "with the Lord Jesus Christ." Why? What does that mean? If we're putting on Christ, putting on His behaviors and characteristics, then like our clothing, those will be the first things noticed about us. If you've ever talked to someone who was very kind or very compassionate or very gentle, you know what I mean. Later on, when you try to conjure up that person in your mind, that attribute of their character colored everything you remembered about them. It was the first thing you saw, the first thing you remembered.

Now, my figure is not amazing. When I choose clothing, I am trying to choose things that will make it look less potato-shaped, if you will. And when I put on Christ and His ways, frankly those are layered over something (myself) that is not yet very attractive. I'm working on it, just as one might work on one's figure through diet and exercise. But I rely on those things that I put on to cover my inadequacies and to allow people to see what I am trying to grow into, moment by moment.
krikketgirl: (Bring It)
I need to tell you about my workplace.

Sometimes, my job is a pain. Sometimes, it's stressful. Sometimes, I'm tired and cranky. But there is one thing that I have learned this year: I work with some of the most amazing people I know.

Now, what's making me think about this tonight is that this afternoon I got to attend two different school-related events. I look at the teachers who are involved, and I feel better because of knowing them. I see them going out and making a difference in the lives of kids every day. And being around that makes me want to go out and do the same. Being able to think, "Oh, I work with that teacher," makes me stand straighter, like when you play sixth chair in the orchestra but the applause is for the whole group, you included.

I work with people who care deeply about kids, about each other, about education. I work with people who donate money and donate time. I work with people who run marathons, who hug kindergarteners, who raise money for good causes, who support one another with hugs and words and money and baked goods.

I sit amidst blessings I can't even count--but the greatest blessing that God has given me is to place me among people who are doing good things, great things. From my husband to my children to my church to my school to my friends, I know the most amazing people--people whose beauty flows in the lives they are changing with the work of their hands and hearts.

Resonant

Apr. 19th, 2010 07:13 am
krikketgirl: (Smug)
Last night, we were attending a charity auction to support the United Church of God's "Good Works" program. The proceeds of the auction went to sponsor the education of children in east Africa, and it was a wonderful evening. Along with the auction, we were entertained by students of the church's Ambassador Bible Center.

It was during one of these--a song accomanied by piano--that I noticed that the snare drum up in the stage area was vibrating with the sound coming from the piano. Though the two instruments were separated by a little distance, they were close enough that the music from one moved the other to sound as well.

At first, I only thought of the logistics of musical instruments, of unintentional accompaniment that would have benefited from a little more space between drum and piano. But then, I thought about human resonance and how sensitive we are to the things we are near. What are the things in my environment that vibrate my heart and my emotions, that resonate in my actions?

I find it true that we will in some way hum along with whatever "tune" we are nearest. When I had a close friend who used shocking language, for example, it was very hard not to think in those words myself. Those who are in perpetual bad moods pull my mood to the flat side, too. The only way to make sure that I stay on my chosen pitch is to pull myself closer to the things and the people that are in tune with the things that I profess to hold dear.

And of course, for me, that has to start with God. Am I drawing closer to Him? Am I setting myself free to sing the song that He would give me? Or am I belting out something else and edging away, uncomfortable with the resonance?
krikketgirl: (Stars)
When I still had a household cat, there were certain negotiations that had to be entered into whenever we were planning to travel for an extended period. An obliging next-door neighbor was an integral part of this plan: we would leave our key with him and ask him to pick up the mail and to feed our cat.

Now, when we asked him to feed the cat, we were actually asking him to do a great deal more than just unlock the door, dump some food in the bowl, and beat a hasty retreat. We were asking him to take care of her--to keep her fed and watered, surely, but also to talk to her, to pet her, to ensure that she was well and happy and healthy in our absence. In a larger sense, he was to keep an eye on the house, too, and be sure that it wasn't destroyed or broken into while we were gone.

I was thinking of this today when I thought of Christ telling Simon Peter to feed His sheep. In John 21, we read:

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?"
"Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."
Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?"
He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."

The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."

Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."


He is told to feed them, to take care of them. I take this as something that can be applied to all who are in Christ--if we love Him, we ought to feed His sheep, His people. And here again, I think that there is much more intended than simply feeding people (though that is good) or simply preaching (though that, too, is good). I think that in considering this, we ought to consider it a command to nourish, to build up, to cherish His people. When we look to Christ's ministry, we see teaching and also miracles involving food; but more than that, we see compassion and care and concern.

Where are we in this "If/Then" statement? If Christ is saying, "If you love Me, feed My sheep," are we doing so? Are we practicing outgoing care and concern? Are we looking for ways to care for His people? Are we doing more than just the minimum? Or are we the neighbor that has grown tired of caring for His beloved and looking after the house? Are we starting to slip in doing what we agreed to do?

If...then. If we love Christ, we love our brother. If we love our brother, we feed him, clothe him, and build him up. How are we doing?

Jealous

Apr. 11th, 2010 10:21 pm
krikketgirl: (Haughty)
When I first met my husband, we were visiting an area in which neither of us lived. At the end of three days, we each headed home to our own towns; mine was Green River, Wyoming. His was Indianapolis, IN.

I remember very clearly the pangs of being separated by geography from one whom I adored. I would think, "I wonder what he is doing now. I hope he's well." But secretly, I would hope he wasn't too happy without me, as I longed so much to be with him. I had fun without him there, but I knew how much more fun everything would be if we were together.

I was jealous of people who got to see him every day. I was jealous of the activities he pursued while we were far apart. It wasn't an angry jealousy, a jealousy that demanded that he should do nothing but sit at home, pining and writing letters (though, well, I didn't mind when he was pining and writing letters, because hello! Letters from my guy!). It was a jealousy that hoped he would remember me, that the people he was with wouldn't distract him from me completely, that he would still, somewhere, be thinking of me--because I thought of him.

Confession: I'm still jealous over him. We've been married for fifteen years (well, come July). Still, when we are apart, I always hope he's having fun--but not too much fun. It delights me when he calls during the day, or brings home some little something, or sends me an e-mail...it tells me that I am not forgotten, that even if I am temporarily eclipsed by something important, he still thinks of me and loves me more than almost anything.

Today, I was thinking about God and His jealousy. I wonder whether He is the same way over my heart. Does He wish that I would remember Him more often? Does He know that I need time to nap or play or be silly, but hope that underneath, I will remember Him and not tarry too long? Do the times I remember Him--the Sabbaths, the prayers, the hymns--do they delight Him?
krikketgirl: (Kat Sparkle)
I was reading John 1 today, and I had forgotten about the interchange between Jesus and Nathaneal towards the end of the chapter:

43The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, "Follow me."
44Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."

46"Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked.
"Come and see," said Philip.

47When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false."

48"How do you know me?" Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you."

49Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel."

50Jesus said, "You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that." 51He then added, "I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."


Reading it reminded me of the story of Hagar, and how in Genesis 16:13, She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me." That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.

When I was younger, the idea of a God who sees me was not comforting, but threatening: I thought of Him seeing me in my mistakes, displeased and frowning. It is only as I have gotten older that I have been able to understand why this idea of being seen would be anything but scary.

Being married and having children has perhaps been the biggest piece of enlightenment on this. "Seeing" my children means so much more than just monitoring their behavior; it means I see their hopes, their dreams, their fears, their worries. I see their laughter and I see the slump of disappointed shoulders. I see them strive and grow and change. I see their likes and dislikes. I see their love for me and their father, their battle to be independent people and yet to try to please us. I see us working together to be a harmonious, loving people.

The aspect of being married comes into it because Chris is the one person who knows me the most. He has seen me in triumph and despair, in sickness, in health, angry enough to kick a wall and happy enough that I seemed to walk on clouds. And amazingly, this seeing doesn't lessen me in his eyes; instead, he loves me--and in his love for me through all things, I learn to love him through all circumstances...because he sees me, and I see him.

And I think that this is where I wrap back around to Nathaneal and to Hagar. They saw God, they learned to look for Him--but only after He had seen them. They learned to trust Him, because first He sought them out, saw them, and entered their lives. In the same way, I am learning to love Him because first He loved me enough to see me.

Planting

Mar. 8th, 2010 07:19 am
krikketgirl: (Amélie)
I think we've reviewed--many times--the fact that I am not a gardener by nature. I'm too impatient, and fickle and--let's face it--find nothing exciting about getting my hands dirty. And though I rather wish I did enjoy it, as it seems such a responsible thing to do, I've made peace with the fact that one person can't do everything and stick to my passionate pursuit of all things involving sitting down and books.

But that doesn't mean that the imminent approach of spring leaves my heart unturned. Spring, while not my favorite season, is one of the top four. Much like fall, it's a turning season, a time of transition and anticipation. Anything could happen, surely, with the scent of spring on the breeze!

And while others pore over seed catalogs that arrive in the mail, or plan their flowerbeds and vegetable rows, I'm thinking about the sermon that my husband gave on Sabbath. In a by-the-way fashion, he mentioned that we are all responsible for building and for planting seeds, and that those things require stepping out on faith. If I put a seed in the ground, I want to run out there every day and see whether it's growing, much the same way that Chris hovers over his beloved sassafrass tree all spring long, nurturing it, tending it, and threatening the neighborhood rabbits.

But seeds take their own time. Some germinate in a week, some take much longer. And although it's not obvious to my eye, once that seed is in the ground, there is change happening. There is action and growth. But it will not be revealed to me until it is the right time.

I am a creature that likes definition and control. I like to know what's happening, why, who's involved, and what my responsibility is. When I put forth effort, I want results--now! I want immediate feedback! And yet, that is not what I am called to do.

Whether it is at home--with my own sons--or at work with others' children, I am only planting seeds. I don't know which will blossom and grow and which will remain dormant for perhaps a lifetime. I don't know which seeds will be a lasting legacy--what will my children, for example, rememenr? Will it be my special recipe for swiss steak? Will it be the family trips? Will it be talking while grocery shopping? Will it be hugs? Reminders? Monologues? The pattern of the fabric on the sofa? The hundreds of books? The weekly trips to church and then to grandma's house?

Will the students at school remember that I smiled a lot? That my voice was high and breathy? That I wore billowing skirts and big earrings? That I found them a book that they fell in love with? That I knew where to find information on frogs? That I was a foe (or a friend) on the "underground railroad" that ran through our school? Will the seeds of care and concern and love of literature that I am planting come to fruition someday?

I don't know, any more than I could have foreseen, last March, that I would be working at the school this year. The seeds I planted over the years brought forth a harvest I could not have expected. And I am trying to remember that, right now, in the thick of my worries about school and work, that I am still responsible for planting, and that a harvest will someday happen. I can't see the growth fully now. I may not see it for years and years. But there is planting, every day that I am alive and move throughout the actions of life. I can't choose what I will harvest--but I step out in faith that God is a faithful gardener, so much more conscientous than I.

Music

Feb. 21st, 2010 04:04 pm
krikketgirl: (Piano)
Yesterday, I got the rare opportunity to talk music and faith with one of the brethren at church, and it made me realize how much I miss the opportunity to do that more regularly. While our church is full of talented people, we are all so spread out that it is hard to gather together to share our passion for music.

At one point in my life, I thought that music would be a main thrust of how I spent my time as I grew older. God has seemed to have other plans for me, based on ability and opportunity. Music is still interwoven through my life--it can't help but be there. But for me, music has always been an experience best experienced communally, in the company of others who yearn to sing and play.

Worship and music are intertwined to me. While praying and meditating and studying have their place in my life, I feel closest to God when I communicate in song. I know that my voice is a gift from Him, a gift I have tried to use wisely, but one that I have had no hand in developing, particularly. It's just there.

I long for this voice to call His people to worship and praise, surrounded by others who are moved the same way. When I read about the temple in the Old Testament, the thought that makes my heart beat faster is that there were people whose job it was to simply sing, all day. Just sing.

I hope someday--in this life or not--I will have the opportunity to use this loud, high voice in some way closer to my ideal. For now, I will content myself with the crumbs of opportunity that come my way, and hope that God will use it to His glory.
krikketgirl: (Default)
There are several passages in the New Testament regarding the relationship between slaves and masters. I think it's easy to read across these sparely, since we are no longer a people who practice indentured servitude or slavery. I think this skipping over is a mistake, though, as there are several lessons to be learned.

Let's Do a Little Reading First )

There's a lot right there, a lot to read and understand without my humble words in addition. Still, I think that there is more that we can take from this text.

The first thing that pops into my mind is that the slave/master relationship is not so dead as we might tend to think. Many of us have paying jobs; granted, being an employee has many characteristics that are not share with slavery. Still, we sign away a certain amount of our freedom and self-will when we agree to be employed by another person. If we look at these verses with this in mind, how are we "wage slaves" doing? Are we grumbling? Chafing? Eager to speak out against "The Man"? Are we serving our employers as though we were serving God? Or are we serving resentfully, angrily, moodily?

The second thing I think of is that it is very easy to put ourselves into the "slave" role here--but many of us are also "masters," aren't we? Even if we don't have employees, many of us have people in our lives that we boss around: children, volunteers, spouses, coworkers. Are we harsh? Are we making it hard for these "slaves" of ours to serve willingly?

A third thing is that God gives us no easy "out" here. There's no qualifier of "if the master is a nice guy" or "if your slave is obedient and cheerful." Instead, we are explicitly told that we are to serve well or manage well regardless of what the other person in the relationship is doing. That is, we are to be obedient and capable servants whether the master is Godly or not, because we are not serving only that human. We are serving, with our work, our Lord.

Likewise, we cannot say, "Well, I was harsh because he's a lousy servant," because we are serving under God's authority as well.

I think a nice summation of this comes in Hebrews 13:17, where we read, "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Even the face value of this is hard to do. Make someone else's job a joy? Even when they make our life havoc? Well, yes. But let's look at this in the opposite direction. If we are a leader, if we are in authority, wouldn't it be to our advantage to make it easy for that servant to obey? Easy for that follower to do as he is asked or told? Yes.

How is your work life? Whether you work at home, with children shifting between servants and masters? With your husband? With your wife? With your employer? With your employee? Could an investigative report be run on your work habits and turn up no black marks or black looks?

Let's use today to start putting our hearts right and to start speaking God's name through the excellence of our work habits and relationships.

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