Blindsided in Church

With all God has poured into me in the spiritual and natural realms I remained speechless and dumbfounded. The elder had shown nothing but concern for me in our previous conversations. Yes, I had thought it a bit odd that she brought me pantyhose and kept volunteering to exchange them for the correct size when she didn’t see me sporting them after a couple weeks. But I just laid that to the charge of generational differences. We live, after all, in a dessert and I rarely wear skirts above my knees so I don’t see the point of wearing stockings even if they’d give my uneven skin a bit more polish. The same can be said for make-up and you’d be hard-pressed to remember a time when I was found sporting anything beyond lipstick and that rarely.

So when she made that remark about all those Hispanics lined up for immunizations at some grocery store or other and that she was now debating about paying her taxes as a result, I was caught off guard. The only thing that came to mind after sharing Christ Jesus’ command that we love one another was the great festival my husband and I had seen on a recent furniture-hunting expedition to the East Side. It had been similarly wall to wall Latinos enjoying the games and getting their kids’ shots. She said she’d only been joking and turned away.

What I might have said was, yes, isn’t it wonderful what great care Latinos take of their children! Or, after more than a decade of being a practitioner of the NCBI model, I could have pulled a Columbo and asked her what exactly she was getting at, the better to hear her into action. I might even have invited her to tea so I could have the chance to dust off more than 14 years of my Re-evaluation Counseling Art of Listening skills. But no, I became a smiling deer in the headlights, and stood there, blinking.

I wonder this morning at her motivation. Was she inspired to make the comment because she saw me sitting with my husband and thought perhaps he was only a love interest and therefore she had time to stop the presses, derail the union? Or, was this part of Jesus’ plan to answer the tearful prayer offered up on the way home after church while listening to the gift He’s given Whitney Houston, that I more effectively give to others what He’s given to me?

Or, is it His way of allowing me to understand better and to live what Oswald Chambers discusses about reconciliation in today’s devotional?

“First be reconciled to thy brother . . .” Our Lord’s direction is simple, “first be reconciled.” Go back the way you came, go the way indicated to you by the conviction given at the altar; have an attitude of mind and a temper of soul to the one who has something against you that makes reconciliation as natural as breathing.

Whatever the reason, I accept this challenge as a call to go up higher in my daily walk and talk as an ambassador for Christ.

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A Word Released

When God directs, a word released will hit its target. This was part of Pastor’s Heart of a Champion message at today’s 10:45 a.m. service. And, as target, I am living proof. God’s word hit its mark. I get to remember that when the lock’s on the inside, it’s up to me when I walk out of whatever prison I find myself in.

I’ve been thinking a lot about being vs doing lately and Pastor reminded us that the battle is the Lord’s. While waiting on the Lord to make His move we need simply:

  • Show up and believe in God.
  • Hold on to our faith.
  • Refuse to operate out of fear.
  • Go deeper in conviction and confidence and…
  • Listen to God’s directions.

Like Benaiah, the man Yahweh built, we too were made for precisely this moment. Our DNA is that of Jesus – the Champion.

“Sometimes, you’ve gotta faith your way out”.   ~ Clinton House, Sr.

And, as Oswald Chambers reminds us, “God does not ask us to do things that are naturally easy for us – He only asks us to do the things that we are perfectly fit to do through His grace, and that is where the cross we must bear will always come.”

Choices, Choices

A plausible answer to the question, Do we have free will or destiny?, was given in a movie I saw this evening, The Answer Man. Jeff Daniels played the misanthropic auteur who gave the sage response: “Free will moving us toward or away from purpose.” Is that what I come up against more than half the time I sit down to blog? Free will? What if it’s moving me both toward and away from purpose at all times?

What if I was supposed to fight to keep my puppy? Or to get him back once the couple who says they are going to adopt him do? If the purpose is to glorify God, does it matter what the actual outcome is as long as He gets the glory? It’s not always crystal clear what that might look like in any given situation, after all.

It was a refreshing perspective to consider though, when Daniels’ character, sweet-talking a woman who, together with her son, were the answer to every one of his questions said:

God can’t wait to fall in love with the world all over again each day through your eyes.

Imagine. If I really believed that, how would I live? Maybe I’ll sit in silence next  year instead of daily blogging. Maybe I’ll write that book this NaNoWriMo. Maybe I’ll invite the 098 sections to take up the NaNoWriMo challenge to complete our collaborative textbook chapters…

To Love and To Cherish

Elizabeth George does it again. She stopped me in my tracks with the following observation: Finding the right person to marry is easier than being the right person. This week I had more than one opportunity to realize how Jesus is using my home life to make me a better teacher. The realization came out of my mouth this way while encouraging a student who was tired of waffling back and forth between sticking with and dropping the Preparatory Composition course she signed up for not knowing it was half in the classroom and half online: Sometimes, the only way out is through.

Just as none of us leaves this planet alive, none of us escapes the lessons adversity has to teach us. We may think we’re choosing a path wide of fill-in-the-blank, but in reality that thing we’re trying to avoid will simply morph and meet us around another corner wearing different loafers. Whether we learn the lessons or keep repeating them is another matter entirely. We can cling stubbornly to our resistance to accepting, admitting or releasing a certain perspective, paradigm or person or we can embrace it, plow it under, and use that same energy to cultivate something worth nurturing, nourishing and passing on. If only it were as funny as it is instructive walking in one’s own moccasins, eating one’s own words, taking one’s own medicine.

Lucille always said, balance or be balanced. Nubia’s translation of the same sentiment was “humble yourself or be humbled”. Doing both is an awkward cha-cha but it makes me oh so happy to know that Jesus is my dance partner and the Holy Spirit is conducting the orchestra.

Curriculum Committee & Independent Consulting

Took the next step to complete the course proposal process today by waiting for the dean to return from a lunch meeting to sign the revised proposal form. The responses from colleagues at sister institutions gave me an opportunity to call, more than a few times, a colleague who has always been dear to my heart. She obliged with advice, encouragement and her wry blend of humor and hyperbole that kept me chuckling even after we’d hung up the phone. We walked together to the Dean’s Office and hung out there getting to know the dean and each other through talking-story. She clued me in to the fact that I had yet another two signatures to secure and that they would not be available until Monday. In the meantime, the Dean generously offered, and I accepted, to take the form to a meeting on another campus tomorrow. There, she will attempt to secure one of the signatures needed and see that the original get back to me for anything remaining.

Upon leaving her office I forewent the dash to the consignment store where a tree we purchase last month is still waiting for us to claim it. It’s been quite funny attempting to secure a truck and today I finally asked the shopkeeper how much they would charge to deliver it. The fact that the tree cost barely $10 more than delivery, we decided to find another way of getting the tree home, having declined the offer of yesterday’s handyman to pick it up – for  a fee. We’ll try to wedge it into our truck tomorrow. It was great that the ginormous prints we purchased yesterday fit in the back with the passenger seat folded forward. Why shouldn’t a six-foot tree fit.

After deciding in favor of heading home after dropping off a recently discovered, year+-old Make-A-Wish Foundation donation, I headed to the supermarket to grab a little more than a few things for tonight’s DoTerra Essential Oils class. It was a great success though several people who confirmed did not join us. One friend joined me as an Independent Product Consultant before she left and ordered a great enrollment kit to safeguard her family’s wellness for a long time to come. I’m just glad I took the first step and shared something that’s made such a great difference in my life.

Hanging In There

Class begins with a few students sharing their frustration about not knowing what to do and when in ENG 098. It is Week Four and they are still limping along, shrink-wrapped in learned helplessness. Only a few are absent or arrive late. The majority are there early. They enter the room with me five minutes ahead of the hour and begin to avow or disavow whatever understanding they have forged to date. I ask for victory and praise reports. One student stands and says how until last night she had struggled with one or another aspect of getting the assignments done. Her talk creates an opportunity for me to illustrate from my own life what a glass half-full perspective looks like.

From there we take questions and allow several students to attempt to login to access the electronic text. This creates a palpable sense of relief so I make efforts to move us along to freewriting and discussion. The topic is Time. What’s it to you, how do you use it. What does it mean? Rich discussion follows our five minutes of writing and the student who volunteered earlier to give her praise report appreciates the Discussant for her choice of topic. By the end of the period there is a good buzz among the groups and half the class seems to linger behind huddled in their various teams.

When I get to my office, I call the absentees and create teams, intending to create Discussion boards for each after I print and get signed the revised Migrant Literature Course Proposal forms for Curriculum Committee. On the way to pick up and deliver the printed pages and get a bite to eat, a student from the morning’s class who told us she’d be meeting with Retention Services and Student Success later in the day asked if I’d have time to meet with her. I asked her if she could wait 15 minutes and we agreed to meet up at my office.

Though I did most of the talking, she was able to share more of her journey, struggles and current situation and agree to “trust God in the process” as she stays with the class. Her remarks create opportunities for me to touch upon resistance, perseverance and the ultimate tipping point each student comes to if they approach the freewriting exercises with gusto.

Bible Study later this evening confirms it. We must trust God for His promises of the impossible. Pastor had us read from Exodus 6:2, Genesis 2, 18:12, Romans 2, Philippians and Colossians 2:9. I am committing to memory the verse from II Timothy 2:19 as I celebrate God’s transformation-in-progress in our lives. I was doubly grateful that Pastor seemed to give me time to cry on his shoulder after Altar Call even though he remained in the pulpit and I was seated in the fifth to last row from the back. I am encouraged by his reminder:

I am not chasing a blessing. A blessing’s chasing me. I belong to God. He wants to and will provide for, protect and prosper me.

Big Day

Nothing much to report beyond the injunction to be perfect treated in Oswald Chambers’ devotional for today.

God’s life in us expresses itself as God’s life, not as human life trying to be godly.

Try that one on for size. As I understand it,  Matthew 5:48 wasn’t written to exclude or deny one’s identity the way say the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was written. It was penned as a reminder to all of us for whom Jesus died to invite Him consistently to stretch out in us as we stretch beyond our limits to embrace more of Him.