Friday, August 2, 2013

a toast to the sprint

At times, I wanna be somewhere else.... but I'm here.  I'm glad to be here, don't get me wrong.....I feel gratefulness inside just bursting to break free like steam from a whistling teapot.  The past few years have seemed to be overrun with potholes that continue to pop my tires just when I've seemed to manage a steady pace.... but lately I've been able to dodge them and I'm finding rest in enjoying the ride.  I'm able to lift my eyes from the road a bit to feel the wind on my face and the warmth of the sun.
I am fond of this little nook I've found lately- the season... the stillness inside.
....but I've also just got this urge to SPRINT!
Okay, so let me explain something: sometimes I get the urge to actually do a literal sprint.... yea, like I get overwhelmed with the desire for a mad dash.... and I do it!  It usually happens to me when I'm by myself....(bahaha- thank God!).... because how weird is the random sprinting girl, right!? 

No, no.. I'm not sure if you get it?

Like I'll be walking all normal and then... BOOM!  A Nike-style, "just do it," full-on SPRINT takes over!  There is probably some theoretical explanation for this in the American Psychological Association's Manual of disorders, but for now, I shall be content with labeling it a "quirk" of my very own :-)  It doesn't carry with it the benefits of normal sprinting... like I can't term myself, "a runner".... I don't do this often enough for my quadriceps to be out-of-this-world muscular.... I don't have scheduled "sprint times," that I faithfully carry out every morning at 6 a.m. after I've made breakfast, read the paper, and fed the (imaginary) dog in one big swoop of productive charm (insert smile... and a tooth sparkle).  I don't foresee myself living out dreams of sprinting beside beautiful brown people from Africa as they take the gold every four years.  No, this thing is not like a "cool quirk" or a "productive" one.  Some people try and pretend that their ability to be unbelievably self-disciplined is like some sort of "weird quirk" about them!  Please.  Ya know, like those people who say they have this "weird thing" where they "just have to" like... floss their teeth everyday... you know those people?... the ones who act like its not the dream of everyone else in the world to have a so-called quirk that turns out to be so very useful and purposeful.  Yea, I'm not one who has all them "type A" quirks that make me ridiculously awesome at life.... I'm more of a "type B" kinda gal who needs to get her quirky sprint on at unpredictable times.  It's cool though... I'm embracing it. I mean, I'm tellin' you about it right now aren't I? Ain't no shame in this game. 

I wonder what God thinks about this sprinting deal.  See, I haven't shared this one important detail concerning the sprinting... it is usually inspired by some exciting thought or grateful praise on the inside that's just gotta come out... sorta like kids rushing down the stairs on Christmas morning in pj's as they anticipate their desired gift under the tree. Its that kind of feeling that takes over. So yea, this is way cute when a 5-year old is excited about his new G.I. Joe action figure.... but it's "inappropriate" for a 28 year old girl to get THAT overcome with an emotion that she just HAS TO, "sprint it out" for a sec!

Ya know something, though?  I think He likes these things that are done in the secret, silly place.  My name means "childlike/youthful" and I know that spark is in me somewhere.... it was woven into my design and so He must enjoy it!  He must be goin, "go ahead and sprint girl!" I've believed lies that have held me back a lot in the past and I'm ready for permission to SPRINT forward into a freer more faith-filled future. 

When I first became a believer, I had this sweet anticipation brewing on the inside... it was clear and unadulterated by the bitterness and unbelief that can come with the bruises and burns from the struggle we're strugglin'.  I remember hearing the simple truths of the Gospel and wanting to RUN full-speed into an abandoned life, believing this lovely Jesus at His Word, and leaving everything behind to surrender to His leading. It ain't been roses though.... shoot... its been a bit more like prickler bushes... but I've learned that joy always comes in the morning.... even the flowers testify as they open in brave faith to the new mercies that are waiting to be received.  He's been encouraging me all along, I'm sure.... Its just been too noisy for me to hear Him...."go ahead and sprint girl"
I think I shall :-)

I'd like to propose a toast:

Here's to the scars of yesterday to remind us how far we've come.
Here's to the budding of future Springs, and to the Winters that make them so kind.
Here's to the hope deferred, sick heart.... and the longing-fulfilled that heals it.
Here's to the walk forward in faith, and the look backward in gratitude.
Here's to the One who is a friend that sticks closer than a brother... and the sprint until we meet Him face to face. 

What's that you say?  Oh, you're sad I haven't been blogging lately?  Yes, truly sorry about that... I was in China....
Oh, what's that you say?  Why was I in China?  Well... there is this tall, white Chinese guy whose guitar I have.... its a long story :-)

Here's to that guy too...

With crazy love,
Julie Eileen

Friday, June 28, 2013

dusty tunes on ancient paths

There's something about an old hymn.  The sound of it seemingly familiar- even as your ears meet its melody for the first time.  Something in its depth calls to the deep in me.  Its more than sonnet language....more than a thee or a thou sprinkled here and there... more than the indescribable nostalgic bliss that can accompany such songs.  Its both a comfort and a challenge to let music and lyric take you back to the trail of worship that was blazed long before our feet touched down on the path... forerun by saints who are now in glory.  Oh the joy of a hymn that can lead one there... I want to nestle into the tattered curl of its pages and stay for a while. I want to let the words- exhaled from scripture- settle on down into my bones... to light up the dark places within and cause faith to spring up from old wells. 

I find there to be a woven theme through the lyrics in the hymns of old... and that is their ability to capture the sense of awe toward an unseen God.  Well, of course Julie.. that is the nature of a song of worship... true, but do you ever feel like we ...modern folk... could stand to take a page from the old hymnal and learn a little about the dying art of reverence? There's something about these dusty tunes... that speak of ancient paths... the good old way.  They can move the soul to heights that lie unreached in the present day I think.  I'm not trying to disregard the revelation and depth in a modern day worship song- I think I'm just trying to grant due affection to an old friend.  The hymn that's lost its mojo in the church these days.  The depth of a lyric, a resounding melody... stripped bare before an invisible, living God...void of all the bells and whistles present in the Millennium we wake up in.  Simply awe inspiring. 

I like old things.  I always felt I was born in too modern an era to suit my "old soul."  We grew up in a house of old things... and old people. Mom and Dad received free antique furniture from every Great Grand that went before us.  Our Great Granny lived with us for the first 5 years of my life....the last years of hers.  I have fond memories of walking her up the stairs to bed at night... both of us heavy-eyed and in full nightgown attire. I was her little shadow. Toward the end of her days, Granny lived on a diet of blackberry brandy and prunes... so Mom gave me sips of brandy, and coaxed me into believing that prunes were candy... (I still think of them as a treat... so weird). Great Granny and I were pals.  Because one circles back around to childlike simplicity at the end of life, the 90 years that separated us didn't seem to much matter.  Oh Granny.  You hold a sweet place in my heart.  I'm sure you were lovely when you were young... but I only knew you old... and I adored you old. 

History has always excited me too.  Maybe because perspective can widen our eyes to see things more fully... enabling us to long for Eden past and Eternity as it approaches.  To remember the city to which we call home.  To remember it's Builder and Maker... our Builder and Maker... and to groan and long to be with Him.  To gaze, wide-eyed, into forever as things are made right.  An old hymn can do this to me... in a measure.  It can evoke thoughts and feelings I seem to have known before... like a deja vus of sorts.  It can point my eyes toward the One who was, is, and ever shall be. The Rock of ages to which we cling.

I didn't grow up knowing hymns... so in college my lovely southern sisters enlightened me, and from then on, I could never get enough.  The Tarleton girls and I would sit on the rocking chairs, overlooking old Milledgeville, and harmonize the night away.... one of my favorite things on the planet.  They'd always sing those old hymns up-to-tempo.... as they'd learned them in their country Methodist church growing up... but I begged that we could slow each one down and let the harmonies ring out (Yes, Daddy... this is all due to the barbershop tags that flow through my very veins because of you :-)  ....Being from the gene pool of a long line of Barbershop singers, its always seemed to me, an injustice, for one to cut a harmony short without letting it complete its magical work of resounding. Hah. Poor Beth and Amy Tarleton... what sacrifices you both made to sing with me in slow motion... sweet girls. 

Here are the lyrics to one of my newly acquainted old friends.... its one of the very best I've ever heard.... This hymn came to me by way of a dear one :)
... and goodness... if you've read this far... for the treat of being stirred in your soul.... read the hymn :)

He is worthy of all honor and praise.... and He inhabits the praises of His people.
with great love,

In the Secret of His Presence

In the secret of His presence how my soul delights to hide!
Oh, how precious are the lessons which I learn at Jesus’ side!
Earthly cares can never vex me, neither trials lay me low;
For when Satan comes to tempt me, to the secret place I go,
To the secret place I go.

When my soul is faint and thirsty, ’neath the shadow of His wing
There is cool and pleasant shelter, and a fresh and crystal spring;
And my Savior rests beside me, as we hold communion sweet:
If I tried, I could not utter what He says when thus we meet,
What He says when thus we meet.

Only this I know: I tell Him all my doubts, my griefs and fears;
Oh, how patiently He listens! and my drooping soul He cheers:
Do you think He ne’er reproves me? What a false Friend He would be,
If He never, never told me of the sins which He must see,
Of the sins which He must see.

Would you like to know the sweetness of the secret of the Lord?
Go and hide beneath His shadow: this shall then be your reward;
And whene’er you leave the silence of that happy meeting place,
You must mind and bear the image of the Master in your face,
Of the Master in your face.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

from the back door

this isn't going to be clear.  like a story or a tale. not like my usual blogging.  I'm not even going to bother with correct punctuation....well maybe I will for some of it...when my pinkie feels like reaching over to the "shift" key...and when Reverence calls for it... and when autocorrect takes over  :-)

these will just be ramblings.  so at the risk of being misunderstood (yea so might wanna skip this blog...I promise in the next...I won't be abstract...I'll maybe even throw in a chemistry equation...just for logical fun) we go.

I feel so tired. like a mess. but such peace too. strange how they can live together.  peace and a an old married couple named Marge and Wilbur... (nice job with the shift key pinkie...way to look alive)

I guess its like calm in a storm. but the winds don't seem strong right now, and the boat isn't rocking. its more like after a storm.  like when the water is murky and debris is scattered. 

in this moment im astounded. baffled by this God. who dips His toes into the murky waters...and in a moment you can see to the bottom.  wondrous. 

im filled up with awe by the gallons. at His mysterious ways. how He likes to surprise us at the back door. He comes around back because He comes all the time....He's no no need for the doorbell.  i remember times when He seemed like a no-show. through the cycles of seasons. years even. what were You doing then?  felt like you were in China or somewhere the only way i could meet with You would be to start digging 'til I got to the other side of the globe. oh, is that just a myth?

i know You were near.  because You don't lie.  and You say You don't leave.  maybe You were in the tree house out back...watching over....ever present.  but i like You at the back door.  i like You familiar.  amaze me always ok?  i guess i mean- take my blinders i might stay amazed.  soften my heart so i might be tender. noticing You in the breeze. watching You sway through tall grass. seeing you rustle the leaves.  beholding You in another's eye.  do away with this plank in my own....its really getting annoying. wash it away with tears. filter it out through the cross. that my eyes would be clean. clear of debris from the storm.  from the ship that went down. 

ever present. even when i thought of digging to China to find You. You would've just sat there and let me sweat wouldn't You? grinning down from the tree house out back. You got a sense of humor for sure. humor is in the clay.. and You are the Potter... where else would it come from? funny how we don't know You're funny... we don't even know "funny" I'm sure.  we don't even really know the "good medicine" it is when You tell a joke. You probably cure cancer with a joke. You've got jokes for days.... eternities.

im almost at the end of this thing but gosh i could go on forever. and You'd be worthy still.  praise leaves me breathless. mindless. if not for this body of death....I would go on adoring you, God.  if not for this temporal frame... I would forget sleep.  but here i sit. In the tired messy peace.  and that'll have to do for now.... until glory takes over.  You just wait though.... I'll show You Potter... i'll show You praise You deserve... but now it would just be zeal. because the truth is... only You give me strength to lift a voice or a hand. only You give me might to give to You.  What in the world Lord?  I guess that's just it.  You're so out of this world. so other than. reason fails. words fail. everything fails to speak You.

I guess I should retire now. Pinkie is tired from all of the reaching and its a wee hour.  You're incredible You know that?  I can only ask that you give me a dream so we can keep this going.... this adoration. wow. this really is all up to you isn't it.  I can't even will myself to praise You in sleep.  that too lies in Your hands.  cause you're holding the globe.... so my digging wouldn't have worked anyway huh? I guess all I can do is abide here. and let You let me praise You. 

love you more than words. more than milk from the farm.  and no one even really gets that but You.

See you at the back door,
Julie Eileen

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"Lets go for a drive Jack"

I went to Target today.  To get TWO things.  Neither of them were clothing items.  I've been striving to simplify my life and needed to make sure that I did NOT get clothes.....but the craziest thing happened: as the sliding doors opened, somebody grabbed me, picked me up, and threw me clear across the store to the clothing department and I was like, "Hey! That was SUPER rude!" I kept yelling at them... ya know, saying how you can't just do stuff like that to people....(as I picked up some really cute pants and a few shirts.)  I mean that's how it is right... you walk in with fierce resolve... and then "someone" screws it up... or you screw it up :-/ ....but I didn't!  I didn't end up wasting money on clothes I don't need.  I looked at the pile in my hand and thought, "what the crap am I doing!?" Absolutely nothing in my hand was a necessity (and sadly...I probably have similar varieties of all of it in my closet already) I put every last item back.... and as I walked away, I gave a defiant look of strength to the sucker who had thrown me over there in the first place...
When I finally got the things I needed, on my way back up to the front of the store to pay, I fist bumped the clothes on the rack ...ya know, to show that we can be civil even if we can't be friends...
As I got in line, the Cashier was having a conversation with the Customer in front of me, which she then transferred to me.  She was telling me that she'd always been a "Daddy's girl," but had lost her Father in 2003.... that he'd given her his car and now- every time she gets in it to go somewhere- she says, "Let's go for a drive Jack." Who was this woman who shared such pearls with passersby who, soon before this moment, had so shallowly been thinking only of clothing? Her vulnerability was refreshing and it warmed me.  She had kind, sad eyes and I smiled at her and expressed my sorrow that she had lost her Daddy- to which she responded that her Mother had died of cancer and she had lost her sister too.  Checkout was over.  The next person had taken my place and was geared up and ready for transaction.....of money, not conversation... but the Cashier and I were still interacting and as I went to take the receipt, she placed her hand on mine and said, "Thank you honey."  I felt helpless...and rushed.  I felt sad that we are so often rushed out of connecting, even just for a few moments, with another human being.  The truth?  My people-pleasing of the hurried Customer behind me might have snuffed out a greater response... that the Cashier was worthy of.  It's not like I even know what I should have or could have done differently, the moment just didn't feel adequate... and it just got me thinking.  What are we in such a hurry for?  What is more important than the moment we are in?  Another thing about it hit me too... the ugly thought I had that the lady just might share this kind of thing with every customer.  That maybe she is just, "needy."  Maybe so....but who isn't?  I just wonder how much of the rhythm of our day is created by our lack of ability to hear a different beat?  Unfortunately, a lot of times, we tend to shame or ridicule those who march to the beat of a different drummer in life.  Brave souls who would actually take a moment to engage with the homeless man... or sit and talk with the odd person on the bench at the park.  I thought about how much of my energy is expended on the internal chaos that acts as a distraction to the beauty offered in the surrounding world. 

Took a walk with Mom this evening.  My lovely, steady, practical Momma (who I have never actually called, "Momma..." but it felt poetic in the sentence ;-)  I've cherished the times with her- especially lately.  If I haven't told you that out loud, Mom, I hope you read this and know it now.  A bird flew in front of us and my Mom commented on how pretty it was. Normally, our walks aren't like this....normally Mom is staring at the concrete sidewalk and speed walking....while I use my breath to keep up and to remind her to slow the pace....about every five minutes :-) But today was a different walk and Mom noticed the bird.  I told her about some specific people that I know who always just seem to take a moment to notice birds.  I told Mom about Janet- who goes with her husband yearly to upstate NY and they bird watch.  She is a connoisseur... seriously.  She knows every tweet distinctively and it always amazes me.  She could have invented twitter... ;-)

My friend Kathy is also a moment snatcher.  We will be walking along the canal trail and she will extend her arm in front of me, as to motion a pause- as she gets her phone's camera ready to capture something.... and then my eyes are opened to the flock of geese that are taking flight right before us by the hundreds it seems.... how could I have missed that before!? Or there are many times that she will stop, mid-sentence, to gush over a dog that's passing or to smell a daffodil.  It never fails to bring dimples to my face :-)  I adore that quality in people.  As we walked this same trail, my friend Haley made a comment that, I think, sums up what snatching a moment has the ability to be.  She was talking about all of the plants around us.... and how it was amazing what God created.  When I looked around to see what she was specifically referring to, I noticed how they were so crowded and wildly reaching a manner of praise it seemed. The world is full of beauty because God is beautiful.  We sometimes don't see the beauty in the world because we fail to take the moment.  Maybe we miss it in Him too for the same reason? 

Jesus was the ultimate moment snatcher....that's probably why I love it when I hear that note played in so many people that I know.  I'm thankful for those who call attention to the precious things that surround us. It is an evident light of the God that's within us.....and greater is He. 

Much Love,


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Keepin' the love on

A few months ago, my friend Christine introduced me to the idea of, "keepin' the love on."  The thought behind the phrase is: not to withhold love toward those around you, no matter what you may be feeling or the state of your own heart.  It can be so easy to turn the love off in response to the circumstantial lows of everyday fallen living, but real love "keeps the light on for ya..." like Motel 6... ;-)

I was reminded of this concept the other day as I realized just how much I fail to, in fact, keep it on.

Love, (True affection for God and Man), rises to take its place above faith and hope as the greatest among these.  However, love is probably the most overused word, whose true meaning has been compromised more than that of any other.

Love... actual love.... like the bearing up under all things kind of love, is rare to witness upon the earth.... yet it is the very example that was portrayed when God's son stepped onto the planet, living 33 years in human skin to display heaven's splendor for us who were made from the dirt.  Love is to be our greatest lesson if we would surrender ourselves to its teaching.  It is so costly though.... that's the usual deal, right?  The worthy things are costly, otherwise: everyone would be doing them...
Man, some things in the Word can seem really broad and hard to understand... churches split over foggy doctrines and people part over disagreements about the seemingly gray areas of gospel living... many things are just so difficult to come to truth about.  What is crazy about all of this though... is that we forfeit huge opportunities to learn love (the greatest thing... the one thing that we can take with us into eternity)... and we choose the opinions and thoughts of our own finite brains over the chance to discover how to love our neighbor.

True Love is easy to distinguish because it goes against the grain and strikes an un-strummed chord within us.  Like Salmon do, love swims upstream and beckons the attention of the schools who are swimming the other direction as they go with the flow.  I sometimes wonder how this story might have panned out differently if Adam would have laid His life down for Eve and, "taken the fall," for her instead of blaming her for the whole apple deal.... would that have been enough love to cover a multitude of sins?  I guess we'll never know... because Adam didn't do that, Jesus did.  He took the fall for all of us.  He, who did no wrong, took on our wrong... so that we could be made right.... amazing. 

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  That sentence alone should evoke something on the inside of us who believe.  However, it somehow becomes so easy to remain unmoved by such miraculous wonders... yet Tom Cruise can arouse our adventurous side and Julia Roberts can bring us to tears while we eat popcorn and drink soda and leave a movie theater... changed? Meanwhile... God wrote and walked out an unbelievably adventurous and miraculous story... and put us smack dab in the middle of it... and we're bored...

Maybe our hearts are a little hard?  Maybe we've let our outward circumstances dictate our inward stance?  We lose our faith because the deaf guy that we prayed for still can't hear.... we feel hurt by the church, and life, and people, so we clam up and withhold love and hurt more people.... and all the while, we came into this whole relationship inspired to love when we understood that He first loved us...  We were love struck by the man on the cross who... while we were yet sinning.... laid down His life for us.... and greater love has no one than this... that a man would lay His life down for His friends.   God became a man and walked around on the very dirt that He once blew breath into to create the first of our kind... and then the Father allowed that dirt to crush His Son.  It is too much to consider.... and Tom Cruise could never do it justice on the big screen. 

The divine will of God will come to pass... and then prophecy will be no longer.....tongues will cease.... knowledge will be superseded by Truth..... and all that will be left to posses is love.  What if we laid it all down for the sake of learning love instead of trying to strive to gain what we can't take with us anyway?  The other day I was at my Grandparent's house and my (eighty-something years young) Pop-Pop couldn't find where he had put his new ipad that he'd gotten as a present.  He was really anxious about it and I said, "Pop-Pop, don't let it stress you out.... you can't take it with you when you go anyway."  His response was so witty... and true.  He said, "Yea, you're right Jul... you never see a U-Haul following a hearse to the graveyard..." :-)

I'm not under the false impression that loving unconditionally is easy.... or that I've ever even really been successful at it for more than like 5 minutes... haha...  I'm not saying that keepin' the love on when you don't even feel loved will just be all warm and fuzzy.... it probably won't.... but love does not demand its own way.  I believe it is worth it though.  The worthy things are always costly... and if this life is all about learning love and knowing God... then when it's all said and done, we will count everything else as dung anyway compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus. 

With love,


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Opposite Day

There have been more than a few times in my life when something difficult happened and I thought, "wow, Lord, I really didn't need that."  My Dad actually said this to me recently and the thought took on a shouting echo in the hollow spaces of my head. 

I've been thinking a lot about Character lately... about how we attain it... about the road it takes to posses it... and its not a walk in the park, but more like a walk in a sewage ditch.... not a bed of roses, but more like a blanket of thorns.  Unfortunately, the path to Character has no shortcut and the ground is uneven.  Its hard to keep your footing.  Its painful.  It tears your skin and draws blood. 

The first stop on the journey? 

Suffering. This part sucks... lets just be real.  It doesn't last forever but its the stage where you go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning and as the light touches your eyes- revealing their first few blinks- your heart gets a signal from your brain that calls to remembrance the reality of your difficult season.  I always hate that feeling.  Sleep carries such sweet denial... and the moment when denial gets shoved out of the way by the abrupt sting of reality.... yea, that moment bites. This is when you wish the blinking had never started, but that instead, maybe your brain could have signaled your eyes first to tell them that today would be a good day to stay closed....but this is not how we were designed I guess.  The light comes in, the signals are sent out, and that is that. 

The only way to make our way through this part? 

Perseverance. Well, perseverance and Oreos.  Okay, no- just perseverance.  Its the next natural progression.  In this stage, you consider your choices.  Do I stay in bed and beg for sleep's comforting anesthetic to return... or is it time to get up slowly, walk to the door, and allow your fingers to test their courage as they reach for the handle and turn...?  We must give credit to the small decisions that we make in perseverance, because they do not go unnoticed by heaven.  Someone may look at the tiny choices you make to advance forward in the fight and not recognize the victory because they cannot see the battle within.  God sees the battle though.  God made Himself well-acquainted with the battle of humanity when he chose to make His entrance into this life through the birth canal of a virgin girl.  What?  is that too intense?  Well take it up with Him then... not me.  Would you expect anything less though from a God/Man who would later choose to leave this life with sharp metal pegging Him to wood as a hammer pounds repeatedly?  I'm not being dramatic... its just what happened.  One cannot pay such a heavy price, carry such a burdensome load.... without excruciating pain and sacrifice... its simply not possible.  So we persevere with the strength of the guy who did that instead of flexing our own wimpy biceps in a haughty attempt that is predestined to leave us face down on the floor before we even take the second step out of bed.  This stage takes a really long time.  None of this really comes to fruition over night, but perseverance is especially time consuming.  Endurance is key and Gatorade just doesn't do the trick.  Part of successful perseverance is to draw our energy from His well and not our own.  I think its in this stage that our faith becomes real.  Its no longer ethereal but you can now almost taste it.... you recognize that its becoming tangible.

So when the crap hits the fan we think, Wow I really didn't need that...but we did. we SO did.  After I get over the immediate reaction (which is: "Oh really, James... consider it joy?  Why don't I punch you in the face and you can show me all the joy you are considering!!)... I take a minute- and then I actually do consider it joy... because it means I'm on the road- I'm on the road to Character and I can't wait until perseverance finishes its work so that I may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.  Because this is what its all about, right?  Being sanctified into the character of Jesus? If its hard to look at it this way, just consider everyday to be "opposite day"....because basically that is what living out the gospel is.... one big opposite day.  Someone strikes your cheek?... well, just give them the other too. Have an enemy?.... let your belly just fill up with love butterflies for them (yea that doesn't really happen... its more like swallowing knives to love them, but I guess just pretend the knives are butterflies?) Opposite Day.

The icing on the cake is that Character produces hope... but this hope is not like any other hope.  No, this hope "does not disappoint."  Its the only kind of hope that doesn't end in our shame for having believed in it in the first place.  That sounds like music to my hope deferred ears :-)

I'll come in for a landing with a little wisdom from my husband, Graham Cooke (OK...he is not my husband, that was just a test to see if you are a faithful reader of my blog... if you are not, *see previous blog ;-)  Graham says that it is stupid that we ask for the presence of God... because He is already here.  What we should actually do is practice this presence... to "Practice the presence we believe is present."  My idea of the best way to do this is to take every thought captive and body slam that sucka down to submit to the knowledge of God.  Uh Uh Lie... I don't think so!  It's Opposite Day Playah, so you can put me on trial and try to bring me down all day long and I'm just gonna consider it a big fat joy fest...

"...but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And this hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us" -Romans 5:3-5

So don't be afraid if life makes you take a stroll in a sewage ditch... and just go with it and curl on up to that fire with a thorny blanket... its good for your Character.

We were never promised that we would not suffer... but we do not suffer alone.  We have a High Priest who can sympathize... in every way.  He truly is so very faithful.

Trying to make every day Opposite Day,
~Mrs. Graham Cooke

P.S. Graham Cooke's actual wife, if you ever read my blogs... hopefully you have a sense of humor...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Julie "I lean" Doggendorf

I've been listening to a guy named Graham Cooke because he is basically my friend Kathy's other husband... I mean he's not reeeeaaaally, and she might be mad that I said that... but it shows her appreciation for what he has to say... and what kind of man he is.  My friend Kathy is happily married... to one man... she is not a sister-wife... don't worry.  She has always told me about Graham Cooke and she let me borrow a teaching of his.... way too long ago to admit, and I am just now listening to it... and now he is my husband too... no, but I now understand her esteem :-)

I love to listen to people speak of Jesus.  I don't just like sermons all the time, but I like when people communicate Jesus as they see Him through their eyes... and in truth of course. 

There is something so refreshing about being renewed with the love of God.  To remember such a simple truth... that He loves us.  Its an everyday thought but a rare belief. I taste it all the time but I can't always drink it down. Sometimes though, I get it for a second and I cry.  I love to cry because of love. 
Sometimes I feel like old cheese... gross I know... I do though sometimes, like I've been aged by the cares of this shadow life... its only a breath.... here and gone in a moment.... yet it has great capabilities to wound us.  I wish I could remember, say like on a Tuesday at 3pm while in the grocery store... that life is so short.  That no matter what comes our way in the shadow, there is the hope of eternity just waiting to be pondered.  Maybe that would make me stop for a moment amongst the one million cereal choices and remember Jesus.  I want to remember in the moments that feel meaningless- that there is actually so much to glean because God did an amazing thing and that gives meaning to even the moments that are hidden in the isles of mundane grocery shopping.  I want to remember in the moments where conscious thoughts seem to evaporate from our minds as we turn down the same streets in our cars like robots in the routine of our everyday.... that this moment is actually extraordinary.... because God did an extraordinary thing.  But oh how easily we forget... and we let the cereal isle overtake us; our routine leaves us thoughtless... and all of these things muddy the moments that have the potential to be crystal clear snippets of praise.  Sure, life is not always adventurous, and sometimes the event of the day is deciding between Captain Crunch and Cocoa Pebbles, but we are actually, simultaneously seated with Christ in heavenly places too... we just don't grasp it... and its hard to grasp it under the florescent light of the grocery store while Cinnamon Toast Crunch is flirting with your heart.  I want to spend my moments in grace and truth... whether in the grocery store or deep in worship.  I want to age well with God.  Some things get better with age.... like wine.... and I'd like to be wine instead of old cheese.  Could I be wine Lord? Let every wrinkle come with wisdom please.... 'cause if not, then I will just be stinky, old cheese. When my hair goes gray and crows land their feet on the outer corners of my eyes.... let it not be for naught Lord, but if it must come, let it be accompanied by the wisdom of Solomon.

I'm glad I'm not 17.  I mean... 28 can be really hard sometimes... but I'm not 17.  I remember 17. So epic and gut-wrenching.  The thought of getting older is avoided and believed to be tragic in our culture... and I admit I hate it too sometimes, but the beautiful wisdom that comes with age and another year of life-lived is priceless.  Something that would have absolutely killed me at 17 is only a bump in the road these days.  Imagine when I'm 70... sigh.. I'll have this life thing in the bag... no problem.  I know that's probably not true... but I won't be 28... and I'll remember 28 and think, "I'm glad I'm not 28..."  The actual truth is that I'm not all that much greater than I was at 17, but I've learned to lean a little harder.  With every passing year, I find that I'm leaning just a little more on Jesus as life throws me curves and twists and sometimes punches me in the face.  I get tired and can't stand up as straight as I did before, but its a lovely thing to know I can lean..... that He can take the weight of some of these burdens I'm toting around. Graham Cooke says the cross is light.  We are to take on His yoke... because it is light and easy.  How nice.  Why do we make it seem so heavy?  He did all of the heavy lifting for us and now our burden is light.  He took in the milk and all of the soda cans out of the car from the grocery trip and left us only the chips to carry.  So nice.  I hate taking in groceries from the car... hate it so much, but I don't mind carrying the airy bag of chips.... I can handle that. For real though, life is too short to take on burdens that have already been carried and the moments are too few to waste.

Thank you God... for being extraordinary... and for doing extraordinary things.  You are what makes life worth living.  You are more than reason enough to lift our gaze and You are worth every snippet of our praise.  Thanks for your shoulder to lean on.... and thanks for carrying in the milk.

Julie Eileen