Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wandering Jew and accompanying Gentile

I was roaming around the house on the phone (cell phones are so cool!) with my daughter yesterday, and found myself in the sunroom. We were discussing our morning quiet times (having a Christian “adult” daughter is so cool!) when I noticed that one of the plants had decided to jump its pot. I don’t know where it thought it was going, but lengths of the vine had severed themselves from the momma plant and landed on the carpet.

“What craziness!” I thought. Closer inspection revealed that the vines had “dampened off”- the stems had rotted an inch or so above the soil. So I rescued the still-living (that is so cool!) escapees and pinched off the dead ends and set them in a glass of water to re-root. I exiled them to another part of the room, where they could be protected until they were ready to re-plant.

The name of the plant? Wandering Jew.
My quiet time study earlier that morning? The return of the exiles to Jerusalem.

Tell me God doesn’t have both impeccable timing and a keen sense of humor.

I’ve never considered myself to be much of an Old Testament scholar. But recent Sunday School lessons have had me digging into history to try to put it all together. Basically, I’m trying to gain some chronological understanding of the prophets, the exile, the return to Jerusalem and all the kings involved. Stuff that I’ve “historically” (smile) found boring has now piqued my interest. (Tell me God doesn’t work miracles! Next thing you know, he’ll have me fascinated with numbers. Hear that sound? My husband and children are laughing uncontrollably. One day I will tell you the story of The Fit of Rage and The Algebra Book, by Lisa Roszler.)

Did you know that not all the Jews returned when they were allowed? Nope. Some just stayed behind in Babylon. “Y’all go on ahead! Be safe! I’m happy for you!”

Maybe they’d been there so long that it felt like home. Their children were born there, their new homes were comfortable. Perhaps they had no need of the old ways, couldn’t identify with the homeland, had lost their religion? Forgotten what it was all about? Maybe they had become so assimilated that they were unrecognizable, even to themselves, as being a different, chosen people.

Then a profound thought hit me.

I am a modern-day exile. Where is my Babylon? America? This planet? Am I so enamored (see that root “amor”-love?) with this present life that I have failed to remember where I truly belong? Am I trying to make my heaven on earth? Have I forgotten what my life is to be about? Am I recognizable as being a citizen of Heaven, Zion, New Jerusalem? Do I long to return?

Those sprigs of vine will soon grow roots, but they can’t live forever in a glass of water. They need soil. They need home soil. Just like this Wandering Gentile. Praise God He gives us His Word, His Living Water to remain in until He takes us home!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Not to goad you, but...

It has been reported that before the Indonesian tsunami hit, the wildlife started heading for higher ground, even before the humans were aware it was coming. Scientists call it “instinct”.

What is instinct? It’s a prompting. In comes from a Latin root word that means “prick or goad”.

Goad. That word makes me smile, because a scripture I never understood comes to mind. I remember reading in Acts 26:14 when Saul was blinded on the road to Damascus. Jesus said to him, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” Do what?

Evidently, “kicking against the goads” is old Greek-speak for “useless resistance”. Ever seen a child throwing a (non-public) temper tantrum in the presence of a patient mother? She’ll let him wear himself out, because she’s not giving in.

Hmmm. So instinct has to do with a pricking or goading. Seems to me it comes from our patient Father. He prompts. He waits out the temper tantrum. Maybe we get wise and listen and follow His lead. Maybe we continue to kick against Him.

There’s another scripture with “goad” in it: “The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails- given by one Shepherd.” (Ecclesiastes 12:11) What colorful imagery! Lest your imagination lead you astray, those nails are not the Shepherd’s fingernails in your arm, pulling you along! My Bible references the term back to Ezra, who speaks of God’s grace in giving the remnant of Israel a “firm place”, literally a nail or peg, in His sanctuary.

I like the thought of having a peg in His sanctuary, a place to hang my coat and stay awhile. In my mind I see a row of personalized nursery school cubbies: there’s even a place for my shoes- but baggage is left curbside.

Do I hear God prompting me? He’s singing Newsboys- again:

“It’s just a Spirit thing, it’s just a Holy nudge,
It’s like a circuit judge in the brain.
It’s just a Spirit thing, it’s here to guard my heart,
It’s just a little hard to explain.
It pushes when I quit, it smells a counterfeit,
And it works a bit like a teleprompter.
When it’s teleprompting you, I pray you let it through…”

And the Spirit whispers, “Travel light, go in haste! Head for higher ground!”

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


This will not be a long post. It will also be my only post this week.

I am packing to go out of town (to Charleston and Georgetown, SC) for our 13th anniversary. We are celebrating a marriage that almost didn't make it past the shaky 8th anniversary. I spent the 8th (July 03) packing up my kids' stuff to take to them when they'd had to move in with their biological dad after our lives fell apart in June of 03.

Now, with God's grace, we not only celebrate our anniversary, but will also soon celebrate a year of being back in the same house together! I will have to post more about that later.

For now, I am posting pictures of my garden.

During those four years of separation, I clung to Isaiah 51:3.

"The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins: he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing."

My wasteland has become a garden. You can often find me there, because it brings me great joy. Sometimes I am hidden among the plants as I weed or tend, but all you have to do to locate me is listen for the sound of singing.

May God put a song in your heart today!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Get the Point

Remember how your mama told you not to point your finger at anyone because you’ll have three pointing back at you? Go ahead, try it. Point your finger. See your other three fingers pointing right back to you? Hmmm. Guess that old saying had some truth.

Today, I pointed someone to a scripture. And guess what? God pointed it right back at me! But, hey, this was a good thing!

I sent a new friend to Psalm 63:7: “Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.” (NIV) I just love that scripture. It was the one I put in my pocket last year at our Christmas production when the character I played had to sing. I’m a nervous one when it comes to being on stage in the first place and singing compounded that nervousness by about six hundred times. But I knew I had that affirmation right there in my pocket and, ladies and gentlemen, the show went on! It was in my pocket again on Mother’s Day, when I sang Anita Renfroe’s “Mom Song” before our congregation.

Scripture is powerful, my friends!

Well, today I was doing my quiet time. I usually do it before getting on the computer and checking on my bloggy friends, but today, I did it after pointing the new friend to Psalm 63. That was still on my heart, so I decided to read it for myself again. And then I looked across the table to the books I was reading yesterday. There sat The Message, which is a modern Bible translation.

Here’s how The Message translates Psalm 63:7:
“Because you’ve always stood up for me, I’m free to run and play. I hold onto you for dear life, and you hold me steady as a post.”

Steady. Not exactly my physical state right now. My husband calls me his “Weeble Wife”. According to the old commercial, “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.” Why? Because they have heavy, rounded bottoms. Yep. OK, while I do acknowledge the similarities and admit that this baby do got back, that would not be the reason why this particular Weeble Woman does not fall down.

I am holding onto my Jesus for dear life and He holds me steady as a post.

And that part about being “free to run”? Did I just not sing those very words in a Newsboys song?

What a fantastic thing to find! An old favorite scripture has fresh meaning! Are not God’s mercies new every morning? Hallelujah!

OK, now I just gotta go inquire of old King James and the Living Bible and…

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ode to Beautiful Feet

Cute shoes are climbing up my list of life’s good things.

It’s because I find myself looking at my own feet a lot lately. I have to watch where they are going so that I don’t a) fall in my “disequilibrium”, or b) step in an ant hill, after last month’s allergic reaction episode. (Read the June 9 post entitled “Kiss My Grits!”)

Now, generally I do not pay much attention to feet. I have not considered them to be worthy of noting. I mean, c’mon- how many famous pieces of artwork have been devoted to them? Can you even think of any? In fact, many artists say feet are the most difficult body part to accurately render. Feet are utilitarian. Mundane. They are (forgive me) pedestrian.

I was watching TV the other day and a commercial came on for this egg-shaped callous remover thingy. The women were shown scrubbing it all over their scaly feet. Then they demonstrated the effectiveness of the device by (GAG!) emptying the reservoir onto a cloth…in full view of the audience! Boy, talk about an appetite suppressant! I ran into the bathroom (well, “ran” is probably an exaggeration considering the fact that I can’t even walk fast right now) and soaked my feet in the tub as a preventative measure.

Nobody wants scaly feet. We want beautiful feet.

God has something to say about that.

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news,” He says in Isaiah 52:7. And in Psalm 121:1, He talks about lifting our eyes to look to the hills, to search for help. That help, the psalmist says, comes from God, who made the mountain. Put it together and you’ve got a vision of one coming from God with good news. That one is Christ. And then, because we are to be His hands and feet, it becomes our legacy. We are to have the beautiful feet that bring the Good News, to help others.

He enables us to go on the heights. (Habakkuk 3:19) That’s where we are empowered.

He leads us through the valley of the shadow of death. (Psalm 23:4) That’s where the lost are.

He will not let our foot slip.(Psalm 121:3) That’s His protection.

Jesus had the most beautiful feet in the whole world and I can inherit them!

Gotta go, y’all. My feet (and my spirit) need a little soak in preparation of some mountain climbing and valley searching. I’ve got the added benefit of Old Navy’s black and white scrollwork satin flats on clearance for $15. But as for that TV scrubby thing...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

In His Hands

Hey, y’all! I am still here, though not able to sit and type too much at this point!

I had a lumbar puncture/spinal tap a week ago, in hopes of uncovering clues as to what disease/condition I am “experiencing”. Then I had a “blood patch” to take care of a complication of the lumbar puncture. Now I am having residual effects from the blood patch, as well as the symptoms of the disease/condition we’re trying to diagnose! So, I am on my back a lot.

But God is good. I’ve seen Him at work. I’ve cried and He’s comforted. I’ve asked and He’s provided. I’ve heard Him singing to me when I’ve been unable to rise or turn over in the bed, when I’ve been physically unable to read or watch TV or do anything but lie on my back for hours upon hours. Mostly, He sings Newsboys songs and old hymns! Hey, God has eclectic tastes!

I cried like a baby about having to go for the blood patch. I did not want any more needles injecting or removing anything from my body, spine in particular! I knew God could just heal me, so why wouldn’t He? WHY??? I already knew the answer, but that did not make it easier to accept: He had a bigger purpose. He was going to use the experience for something good. Yet, I cried and cried. I even cried on the phone to several good ministry friends, who prayed for me on the spot. (Lisa does not generally cry on the phone, y’all!)

Desperate for evidence from Him, I called out, “God, I know that You should be enough for me. I know You really are enough, but, please forgive me, I can’t feel that right now. I am scared and I’ll be alone in a strange place with people I don’t know and I’ll have to trust them and I am terrified! Is it too much to ask for an angel to be there with me? Will you send me an angel? Please? And please guide the doctor’s hands as he injects the blood into my spine. Please just help me feel Your touch in his hands.”

I finally gave in and accepted the peace that my friends asked to be given me and rested until time came to go.

I was lying on the bed in the pain clinic when the door opened and the nurse walked in. It was Kira, from our church! God immediately opened my eyes to see that this was the angel I’d asked for, someone I could trust who would be with me every step of the procedure. An image came to mind of our Christmas play in which the praise/dance team representing angels surrounded me and escorted me. Kira used to be on that team, but had been unable to take part at Christmas due to her pregnancy. God was now allowing her to play the angel’s part! I broke down sobbing again. How good is our Lord? How perfect in plan? How merciful and loving?!

That’s just one story from this adventure. There are others. In fact, I know God is calling me to write to the doctor that performed the blood patch, to thank him for helping me- and to share with him about the God who used his hands.

Stay tuned! God is living and active!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Of Bedpans and Ice Cream Trucks

Ah, yes, new doctors.

I mean really new. Like “ink still wet on the diploma” new.

Yes, my new neurologist is a young one. Board certified in 2005.

But I didn’t ask him what flavor of ice cream he would be, as I intimated in my last post. He seemed much too serious for that.

As I thought we would, we rehashed my medical history of the past twenty years. (Twenty years ago he was probably running after the ice cream truck!) Same ol’ tests. “Follow my finger with your eyes.” “Walk for me.” “Can you feel this?”

Guess what we get to do next? That’s right! More tests! Lumbar puncture, anyone?

So pray for me on July 8. That’s when they draw spinal fluid and I get to lie flat for 24 hours. Hey, do I need a bedpan? Oh, the lovely thoughts!

Submit, Lisa, submit.

I heard a preacher on the radio Sunday. He was talking about feeling the “chains of our flesh”. That’s quite a visceral punch. And accurate, I must say. It’s no wonder that I’ve been having dreams about being able to fly, diving upwards into the sky, like jumping off a diving board but it being a springboard instead! Be gone, chains of gravity! Be dismissed, laws of physics!

For now, I guess I’ll have to stay earthbound. At least bodily.

My spirit? It stays up most of the time. It’s free!

(cue Newsboys' “I Am Free”)

I am free to run! Hmmm. Physically, not so much. Got that cane, remember? Couldn’t chase the ice cream truck if I wanted to. But I am running the race set before me.

I am free to dance! Oh, most certainly, cane or no cane. It ain’t pretty, but God doesn’t care! And my husband is here to hold me. I couldn’t say that last year at this time!

I am free to live for You! Christian and American. There’s nothing freer than that.

I am free! Hear me praise God! Sing it with me, friend!

I think I’ll go decorate my cane with red, white and blue ribbons! :)