Saturday, July 27, 2013

Psalm 139

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand
when I awake, I am still with you.

This section of Psalm 139 is one of my favorite passages of the Bible. The poetry is exquisite, but the words and message are even more beautiful.

The psalmist reminds me that I can’t escape God’s spirit. And why would I want to? I am fully known only by God. He has known me from the moment of my conception and He has supported my growth through my entire life. Nothing that has happened to me has been a surprise to God – not my headaches, not my work (or lack thereof), not my good days, not my bad days, nothing.

What a blessed thought – the creator of the universe is able to know me individually. And I can know Him. And it only makes sense for me to do what it takes to walk every day closer to God. He’s big enough to manage the universe and yet makes himself small enough to care about me. Amazing grace.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday–July 19, 2013


1. Central air conditioning!! They put it in today – after three days of heat indices in the 90s and 100s. I think I could stop the blog post here. That’s how significant air conditioning is to our lives this week.

2 Earlier in the week, we had one little window air conditioner trying to keep the downstairs from becoming an oven. We kept offering to read it the story “The Little Engine that Could” every night just to keep it’s morale up.

3. Rosie Girl and I have to go buy linens and other supplies for her dorm room in the next couple of weeks. Can I just go bury my head in the sand?

4. And Wild Man starts Driver’s Ed on Monday. Again, more head in the sand burying needed.

5. Two and a half weeks till the new shop location(The Knitting Nest)! The carpet was cleaned yesterday. There’s a little more painting to do. Otherwise, it’s just time to start moving in! Yippee!

6. I put a moratorium on house cleaning during this last week of super high heat (aka living on Hell’s doorstep). Now that we have air conditioning and I’m willing to do something besides sit in my rocking chair reading a book, I’m appalled at the amount of house cleaning I need to do in the next few days. Ouch.

7. Speaking of reading books, I got Inferno by Dan Brown from the library! Yes, it’s complete junk food for the brain, but who cares?!

What are you up to these days? Check out 7 Quick Takes at Conversion Diary to see what others are doing on these long summer days!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Faith: A Choice or a Gift

In some of the books and blogs I’ve been reading lately, the authors have talked about becoming agnostic or atheist because they are no longer able to believe in God or Christianity. They say they “can’t” believe.

What does this mean? Does this mean that they are unable to will themselves to believe somehow? Does it mean that the preponderance of evidence is so strongly against God or religion that their intellect will not allow them to believe? I’m not quite sure I understand.

Until a few years ago, I didn’t understand doubt at all. Faith was easy for me. It’s still not too difficult most of the time. There are times, though, when doubt creeps in and I feel like I have to make myself believe again. It’s almost like I could “not believe” if I became careless. Does that make sense. But, then, a few hours later, faith goes back to being easier for me. (It’s a little harder now than it was in my 20s, but it seems easier for me than it is for some people.)

So, is faith a choice that we make? Do we say that we believe in God even though we don’t understand and our intellect is pushing us away from it? Or is faith a gift? God gives us the faith that we need to believe? In that case, why would God give some people faith and not others? Is faith the part of the equation that we need to do in our spiritual walk? Or at least need to be open to faith?

I have far more questions than answers on this topic. I’m inclined to say that being open to faith is the step we have to take – even when our intellect questions things. That’s not to say that we overrule our intellect, but that we allow for the spiritual things to coexist with our intellect and see where that takes us. I think.

What are your thoughts? Do you believe in God? In Jesus? In Christianity? Is it easy for your to believe? Do you have to consciously choose to believe? Is faith a choice or a gift?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Random Thoughts on a Hot Summer Night

Central Wisconsin feels like Hell’s doorstep right now. It’s almost midnight and still 84 degrees outside. Yikes! But, the good news is that we’re getting central air installed in our house tomorrow. Right when the cold front comes through. Yes, I see the irony.

Our house is in a complete state of disaster because none of us have been doing any physical activity, including cleaning, in the last 4 days because of the heat.  And I’ve had a migraine for two days (although I got enough of a break this morning to go get my Botox shots – yay). I think Saturday and Sunday will be house cleaning days.

We get our new washer and dryer on the 30th. It’s currently the 18th. I last did laundry on the 13th. Can I wait till the 30th to do laundry again? Probably not. I think I’ll have to break down and do a couple of loads next week at the laundromat.

We also get a dishwasher on the 30th, but it needs to be installed by a plumber because our plumbing is ancient.

Those are my random thoughts at the moment. I have a few more serious thoughts that I might write about in a few minutes, hours, days, or weeks. We’ll see.

Friday, July 12, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday–Fort Wilderness 2013


We’re home!! We had a splendid week enjoying God’s creation in the Northwoods. For today’s “7 Quick Takes”, I’ll tell you about 7 high points of the week. Be prepared, though, for more fun Fort facts in the next few days.

1. Wild Man loves archery and shooting. This year, he won the archery tournament for his age group – and also scored higher than any of the adults in the tournament. For his prize, he got a double scoop of ice cream!!!

2. Speaking of ice cream, I had more ice cream this past week than any one person should have. But, it was delicious.

3. For a special breakfast this year, Grandma and I went to Trapper’s Breakfast. “Jacques” took us on a walk out to Cranberry Point and told us about the history of trappers in Wisconsin. At the end of the walk, we found waiting for us staff members who were making french toast, bacon, and cooked apples. It was a yummy breakfast and lovely morning.

4. Rosie Girl spent her time playing her ocarina, guitar, and tin whistle along with making a leather journal cover. Basically, she was creative at camp, like she is at home.

5. We took Wild Man’s girlfriend with us this year. She seemed to fit right in with our family and enjoyed herself.

6. We went on the Loon Float, which is a boat ride on Spider Lake to see some loons (if they’re around – which they usually are) and learn about them from the camp biologist. It was a very pleasant afternoon excursion.

7. The speaker for the week, Kent Carlson, spoke about the Kingdom of God, which was very interesting and helpful.

I’m sure I’ll be blogging more in the next few days about camp activities and what we did and learned.

In the meantime, check out Conversion Diary and 7 Quick Takes to see what others have been up to!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Faith, Certainty, Doubt

I am a Christian. This means that I believe certain things about the world and about religion and God. But, I am not equally certain about all my beliefs. Sometimes, I doubt. Sometimes, I even doubt about the “biggies”, like whether God really exists or really cares about me. Thankfully, those doubts don’t come very often.

What is faith? According to the book of Hebrews, it is “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”(NIV). Ephesians 2:8 tells us that our salvation is by grace and through faith, not from our works. Faith is from God, not something we muster up ourselves. But, in Romans, we are told that faith comes by hearing the word of God. So, it certainly sounds like we can put  ourselves in a better position to increase our faith by studying the Bible and hearing preaching.

I like to think about faith as believing that Jesus is walking right beside me even though I can’t see him. That fits well into my theme this year of “walking”. Some days, it’s easier to believe than others. Some days, I talk to Jesus, and I feel like he’s answering right back, either through Scripture or even things other people say or do. Other days, not so much.

There are some things in the Christian faith that I’m almost always certain about. (Note the almost. Some days are so hard that I’d probably beat Peter to denying Christ. Sigh.) Most days I can recite the Apostle’s creed with certainty.

I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead, and buried:
He descended into hell;
The third day he rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
The holy Catholick Church;
The Communion of Saints;
The Forgiveness of sins;
The Resurrection of the body,
And the Life everlasting.

And then there are things that I want so badly to be sure of. I believe God created the universe billions of years ago and guided biological evolution to get this world to the state it’s in today. But, I’m not enough of a theologian/Ancient Near East scholar to explain in detail why I can legitimately interpret the Bible in that light.

I really believe that God intended for men and women to be equal and to have equal roles in the church and that all of the Old Testament laws putting women in submission to men were a result of the Fall. Most of the time, I’m completely sure of this. But, not always.

And I’m never sure what I believe about end times theology except that I really don’t believe that God intended us to interpret the Bible using flip charts and trying to figure out the exact day of the Second Coming. I know God wants us to be ready and to live every day as if it’s our last.

What is Certain in my faith? Jesus. At the end of a three day long migraine, he’s still there. I pray, sing, read my Bible, and Jesus is right there. Yes, he’s saved me from Hell. But, mostly, he’s saved me from insignificance. He’s saved me from insipidity. He’s saved me from wallowing in my own pain. He’s saved me from myself.

What causes you to doubt? How do you handle these threats to your faith?