Saturday, April 30, 2011

You Are Just Like Your Mom---Bleh!

24-hours ago I was driving home my daughter from getting her wisdom teeth removed. Her face was tear stained and swollen.


The dental nurse who assisted the doctor in the procedure looked at me, smiled and said, “she is just like her mom.”

I was not a compliment. I had my teeth pulled 2 years ago and had to be sedated. A lot. My eldest panicked in ways familiar to the maternal family line.

I paused to consider two things. The power of inheritance, legacy and our ability or inability to control the impact of a harmful legacy. When I see my inadequacies in my daughters, and how it limits them, I wonder how can I encourage them to limit the limiters? I am reading a book that says a huge mistake we naturally make is to try and build up our weaknesses instead of building our strengths.

I was sick to see my weakness so strongly expressed in the next generation. I had intentionally worked to downplay my anxiety and encourage (build up) my daughter as she experienced what for me was a trial. So do I have to settle for her just being like her mama in this regard (and why did they not inherit my love for a well made bed)?

One of the lessons is the blessing that comes from perspective, and as uncomfortable as my eldest is right now, she is also experience the boost of confidence that comes from going through something hard, knowing it’s worth it in the long run. Will that benefit take the edge off of her fear?

She can’t be something she is not, and she is not like her daddy confronting painful treatments or procedures with a bring-it-on- approach, but is, instead like her mama, a wee bit wound up. I am not convinced I can unwind those genes but I am now acutely aware of what my personal weakness looks like in my child—it’s a bit disturbing to see.

John 8:36 says, “so if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed.”

I can’t free her from the all too familiar traps that trip me up, but I can point her to the one who can. She, like her mama needs to learn to trust and lean on faith to free up from the temptation to yield to fear. That truth is best legacy I can leave with her.

Encouraging her to respond differently than my typical response won’t work, but encouraging her to respond faithfully first might just yield something that looks unfamiliar and so much better.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Stringing Pearls

Pearls is a catch all of what my friends, who are consistently more witty and wise than I am, have given me lately. The purpose of pearls is: “perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.” Proverbs 27:9.


PEARL 1: One from a lady who shares Bible study with me: she forwarded an article by Lorraine Murray for the March 16 AJC (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) following a class discussion on death (really a discussion on hope, that started with the reality of death).

Anyway Murray wrote about Lent and said, “It’s the soul which lives on forever though many give it little thought. They spend more time in spas than in sanctuaries. Let is a time to put our spiritual house in order. Forgive, pray, repent.”

I thought much about that over this season of Lent that is coming to a close. Connecting my thoughts to my time. What would it look like for, “my spiritual house” to be in order? I don’t think it’s in chaos, but would I claim order? While I am not in a season of doubt, I am in a serious season of distraction (thus the spa comment caught my attention).

What’s the answer to distraction? I don’t think its self determined discipline—not sustainable for me. Instead I think its remembering.
  • Remembering the purpose, the pain and the power captured in all of Holy Week.
  • Remembering those on whose shoulder’s I stand with a view that includes much freedom, and therefore much opportunity.
  • Remember God’s word, which sounds so much different than my own.

PEARL 2: A completely separate pearl from a completely different study group. I have a friend whose mother’s family is Japanese. She has cousins currently living in Japan. In the course of sharing the pain of the tsunami tragedy and resulting suffering she told me about gaman. It means a cultural patience, like perseverance.

Gamati is the highest compliment one can give a Japanese—the idea is to live through it—whatever it is.

Until very recently Japanese patients were not given their own personal diagnosis, only the family was. The patient was treated for whatever was the issue but the knowledge of the diagnosis was not considered helpful in maintaining gaman. It’s not a spiritual state, certainly not a Christian response as faith in Japan is rare.

For many Americans the first response includes a flurry of

o How did this happen?

o What are you/they/we going to do about this?

o Why and Fix It!

o Why and End It!

o Why and Whose responsible!

Scripture is full of mentions of long suffering (patience), perseverance, endurance—more of a gaman like quality I think to confronting that which is in fact out of control. The difference is that a Christian would not lean on cultural norms, but the working of the Holy Spirit, not just stay in control when things are out of control, but to not be defined by circumstance (or culture) but by faith in God.

Answers to Questions We Often Are Intimidated To Ask

I participate in a weekly Bible study that just finished Max Lucado's curriculum:  Experiencing the Heart of Jesus and it was excellent.   So, I jumped at the chance to read his latest work:  Max on Life;  a collection of 170 faith centered questions and answers posed to Max Lucado as a pastor over his career. The range covers hope, hurt, help, him/her, home, have/have-nots and the hereafter. There are additionally, Topical and Scripture indexes which add multiple approach options for the reader.


The one aspect that I most appreciate in this fine work, is Max Lucado’s gift to directly and completely answer many difficult question in a way that does not diminish the truths of faith, but never condescends or scolds or dismisses the question. It struck me as the answer to the UnChristian climate that shadows many Christians.

Max on Life works as a great read for both those who are devoted Christians and those who are skeptical of faith. The format and topics take on that we wish someone would ask about, but too often we remain silent. Realities within the work move from sexual morality to the theology of hell to the use/misuse of Romans 8:28 during a period of suffering.

In spite of this scope, no one subject is short-changed; each one Lucado takes care to thoroughly answer without rambling or redundancy.

Max on Life would be a great teacher, graduation or confirmation gift. I read through it twice, considering familiar territory in new and inspiring ways in both reads.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, for this review. The opinions of this review are my own and were not influenced by the company or author.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"The Boss of My Brain"

At age 4, my youngest looked right at my husband and proclaimed, "No Daddy, You are not the boss of my brain!"  It was one of the moments that was hard to respond without gales of laughter.

I remembered that yesterday, I considered in two separate discussions the reality of authority.  I asked myself last night, do I sound like my 4 year old?

In the gospel of Matthew, Matthew seems to go out of his way to point to Christ's identity as Messiah and his authority as Messiah.  My shorthand is Jesus as both Lord and Savior.  The Saving part is not much a problem for me to embrace--I need some saving!  The Lord part, I don't contend in theory but in reality, I wonder?  How do I live minute to minute as Lord being Lord?  What does it look like for Christ to be the authority in my life--decisions, relationships, opportunities?

A picture of authority:
  • Power to determine
  • Adjuciate/settle an issue
  • The right to control
  • The right to command
  • The right to detetrmine
  • The right to influence
  • The power to enforce
  • A confidence that comes from great expertise
What would it look like to be able to claim, yes Abba, you are the Boss of my Brain?  Jump to Paul who lived with that reality:

We demolish arguements and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  2 Corinthians 10:5

I thought, what does it mean to put my thoughts under the authority of a person, not a concept or set of ideals? How does my mind, my thoughts,  which are too often:
  • Critical
  • Silly
  • Worried
  • Spinning in an unhealthy direction
  • Way too often self centered
  • Small
become obedient (exousia--the power of choice, the right) to person, the Lord, Christ?

Should I ask for permission to do things (prayer)?
Should I be familiar with the record of responses and expectations (scripture)?
Should I be in a posture of one who is not in control or holding power, but looking to one who is (worship)?
Should I remember that the mind of Christ is almost always upside down from my natural thought process?
Should I listen and learn from others whose thoughts are often not independent ones, but dependent on Christ?
Should I review the list above, what makes up authority and pursue ordinary ways to cooperate?
Should I not only care about what my Lord cares about--but be willing to do something about it (serve)?

It's Lent:  as season to consider closely, the breadth and depth of God's mercy and sacrifice and majesty.  Given the brilliance of it all, the answer is, I should.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Venti Caffinated Grace

In Luke 6 Christ teaches that:  "someone takes your cloak (or coffee pot--Carol Translation), do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you."

Grace:  a cornerstone of Christian faith.  The unmerited mercy and kindness God shows us through the work of Christ.  But what about small doses of uncommon grace, granting favor that which we don't deserve, a gift or even a gesture, beyond our ability to earn or repay?  The power to bless the recipient with a freely given act from the giver.

You shall NOT (Carol emphasis) steal.  Exodus 20:15

I stole a pot of coffee.  At church.  Stealing is wrong, but at church it seems particularly wrong.  Ms. B  had provided coffee for her council meeting, and in typical Ms. B. fashion had left the unused portion in a gathering spot for all the classes to enjoy.  Flash to my classroom, where the coffee pot and coffee can sit empty.  Once the class hour began I tip toed to the main area, snagged the coffee and returned victorious to my group.

About 5 minutes later, Ms. B. slipped into my class to retrieve the pot, I was caught red handed. I muttered a lame apology--you know the one that is packaged in an excuse and wrapped with an explanation about normally having it, but running out...also muttered without making any eye contact, like a puppy who is caught.   I am sure she did not hear any of my ramblings, and I returned to my teaching on temptation--file under irony. 

About 3 minutes later Ms. B. was back with the coffee pot, full of fresh coffee for the to enjoy a second hot cup.

Uncommon, common grace.  I deserved a scolding, or a stern look or at the very least a pursed lip and exasperated sigh.  I receive a hot fresh pot of joe for my class with a smile and a word of encouragement about the growth of the group.  Unearned and much more than I deserved.  Uncommon grace.

A simple act left a strong impression. 

What if that was the rule of Christian expression, not the delightful exception?

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Roswell, GA
Loves to find the answers to three questions of a sound Bible study: what does it say, what does it mean, what difference does it make?