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Archive for July, 2005

Day of Rest

So, I overslept this morning and missed half of the first worship service.  Thankfully, I had no responsibilities this morning so that was good.  Let’s hope next Sunday I don’t have that problem since I’m preaching and most likely would be missed if I overslept.  As you can tell from yesterday’s post, Saturday was a late night again – several in a row.  I guess it finally caught up with me.

Today has been a good catch up day – bills paid; laundry done; dishes washed.  Needed to have my house in order before I begin the week.  Then I had some family time with afternoon and evening with my aunt and uncle from Tennesse along with my other aunt and my grandma.  We’ll spend some more time together this week while they are in town.

Don’t have much else to post tonight.  I’m hoping to get some sleep tonight.  I have three meetings on Monday and much to do in between those meetings.

Leave you with this word from my quiet time today: "If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father.  He loves to help.  You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it.  Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.  People who "worry their prayers" are like wind-whipped wave.  Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea keeping all of your options open."  James 1:5-8   The green highlights are the parts that really spoke to me today and I think where the Spirit had me focus for a while so perhaps I would get it.

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Thanks

Thanks for your prayers and encouraging words on the restless nights.  What great friends!  Things are a little better – thanks to Tylenol PM, some conversations and some extra work time.   I’m resorting temporarily to drugs for help.  I can just take so many sleepless nights until lack of rest makes me unable to function.  I also was able to work late Friday night and spent several hours at the office today which has helped.  I am very overwhelmed right now at work and this weekend I was able to chip away at some of the bigger things while no one was around.  I need the time without distractions to work on some things.  I have a lot with the children’s ministry that is coming up along with another sermon to prepare for next Sunday and a wedding message to write.   I can smell the changing of the church seasons and I’m a little leery.  With the end of summer comes the craziness of the regular church routine and I have so much to do before that happens.  So –  just a lot of things that are on my mind when my head hits the pillow at night.  Sorry to be whiney again.  I do love my ministry and working in the church for the most part.  There are some things I truly dislike about it and always have – like the lose of privacy and anonymity. In fact, the thing that I cried about the most before finally surrending to the ministry was this very thing. I’m a private person and need to have some areas of my life off-limits and protected from the public. People mean well for the most part (a few are just busy-bodies) but church family can suffocate without realizing it.  I try to explain that to people but it is hard to understand sometimes unless you personally experience it.  It is a fishbowl life and some days I hate it enough that I’m tempted to quit and run away to where people don’t know me or care what I do or where I go or who I date.  But most days I love the ministry more than I hate the loss of privacy and I recognize that the same people that meddle with good intentions are the same people who would help me in a heartbeat (and have).  I guess church families aren’t really too different from a lot of biological families, are they? 

My aunt and uncle from Tennesse will be in this coming week to visit and to take care of some family things. I see them maybe once a year so it will be good to visit with them.  They will be meeting Blake for the first time so I know that will thrill them to no end.  Who wouldn’t be thrilled to meet my handsome and charming nephew.

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Restless Nights Return

What was going to be a good night’s sleep has turned out differently and I must honestly say that I am pissed right now as I type this.  I was in bed by 10:45 pm and ready to have a needed 8-hours of sleep.  I was freshly showered and set to go.  That was nearly 3 hours ago and instead of rest, I have laid in bed thinking non-stop.  It has been awhile since I had restless nights but they have returned recently and it is so frustrating.  I hate being tired and sluggish during the day.  I hate laying in bed physically tired but unable to sleep.  Sometimes I know early enough that this is the kind of night I am going to have and can take something. Other times – like tonight- it takes me by surprise. 

Tonight was our Common Ground pool party and I had a great time.  We had an awesome turnout and some new faces and that makes me excited.  I played pool volleyball nearly the whole time – good workout for nearly 2 hours.  I should be tired enough to sleep -right?

When I talk about restless nights, people who don’t experience these kinds of nights ask me what I think about.  You know – those annoying people who go to sleep as soon as their head hits the pillow – the people I’m tempted to hate.  So, I’ll make an attempt to answer the question – What do I think about that keeps me from sleeping?  Many times it is about something in life that I am stressing or worrying about.  If I don’t have peace in an area of life, that can be the focus of my thoughts. Often it is replaying events related to that area that have happened recently.  Sometimes, I imagine different scenarios and play them out – without realizing it.  It isn’t like I consciously say to myself, "Now, imagine how this would have been different if "A" had happened instead of "B".  It just happens and it is much later into it that I realized that I just replayed hours of events based on one or two minor changes in mine or someone else’s behavior or speech.  Sometimes they are changes for the worse; sometimes for the better.  Rarely does it do me any good. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with several things that I need to do.  So I go through the list and think about each one that needs to get done. I guess it is just one of the ways I deal with stress and let me just say – it sucks.  Seriously – I may sound like I’m being slightly humorous here but that is only because I don’t wish to sound so negative and whiney. (is it working???) I really am quite angry and frustrated right now.  So not only do I have the frustration of life issues that keep me from sleeping but I am frustrated that I can’t sleep.  And what needed to be a productive Friday is very likely going to be unproductive because I will be tired.

Sorry to rant but I needed to do something other than lay in bed and since this is my blog, well – tough.  I have paid for the right to rant and you don’t have to read this if you don’t want to.  Oops – sorry, too late. 

In other news, my talk in Troy went well. Thanks for your prayers.  I had safe travel and a great chance to catch up with my friends from that area.  Today I had my eye appointment – first one in about 8 – 10 years.  When I paid, I remembered why I don’t do these appointments.  I made the transition to soft contact lenses from gas perm lenses.  This is a necessary change for three months to prepare my eyes for the Lasik surgery that I am going to have later in 2005 most likely.  I’m tired of messing with contacts.  Cut my eyes.  Bring it on.

Okay – I’m quitting.  I’m hoping that my blogging has been a successful transference of my anger and thinking so that now I’ll collapse into bed for the remaining hours I have to sleep.

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Spiritual Lamaze

I’m heading out Tuesday afternoon for Troy, Missouri, to speak at a youth camp.  In the past, I’ve spent the week at this camp as a small group leader.  This year I will be bringing the message for their evening worship service.  I’m finishing up my talk tonight and will put finishing touches on it tomorrow morning. Should be set to go.  I’d appreciate your prayers for God to open the hearts of the youth to receive it; for me to be void of me and full of Christ, and for my safety and alertness as I travel to and from.

I’m excited about seeing several of my friends that live in the area.  I should be able to catch up with several at the camp and then I am staying the night with one of my friends and hopefully catching up with a couple of others on Wednesday morning.  The last time I saw many of these friends was December on our ski trip. So many of us are so busy with life that we cherish the few times we have to catch up.

Today I made three appointments: optomologist; dentist; and doctor.  You see – this is one of those areas I’m really bad about neglecting.  Just so you can understand how much I neglect this let me tell you about my phone call to the dentist.  I called them to see about setting up an appointment and to see if they would accept my dental plan that I’ve been paying for for over two years and I’ve never used.  When I asked about my dentist, I discovered that he had retired 8 years ago.  Yep – that was probably about the time of my last appointment.  I know the lady on the phone thought I was crazy. Why the sudden effort to make health appointments?  Ask Steve.  Once again – it’s his fault. 🙂

I came across these two quotes on prayer and they really spoke to me. 

"Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of Himself".  – Mother Theresa
"Prayer is exhaling the spirit of man and inhaling the spirit of God."  – Edwin Keith

Prayer should be our spiritual breathing.  Paul talks about praying without ceasing.  I remember when I was a child how I thought that was funny.  How could you pray without stopping?  What about when you were driving or walking or going to the bathroom? How could you pray when you had to see where you were going or what you were doing?  Over the years I learned what Paul meant.  I love Edwin Keith’s quote and it is an image I can not only grasp but can remember.  With every breath I exhale, I can think about making room for the Spirit of God in my life by getting rid of selfishness and with every life-giving breath I inhale, I can remember that I am receiving the life-giving Spirit of God.  Exhale – less of me; Inhale – more of God.  Exhale – less of me; Inhale – more of Christ.  I take breathing for granted anyway.  Maybe this will help me savor the fact that – indeed, I am still breathing.  Seriously – breathing is one of those things that we take for granted until we can’t do it any longer. When was the last time you thought about your breathing rather than just breathing?

Let me propose an experiment – a spiritual lamaze course, if you will.  In our effort to birth a new Christ-Spirit within ourselves, we will learn to breathe in a special way. Instead of "hee-hee-whoo;  hee-hee-whoo" like they teach in the pregnancy classes, we will breath "less-of-me" on the exhale and "more of Christ" on the inhale.  I don’t know . . .it’s 12:30 am and I’m tired.  This is when I get weird ideas but what can it hurt?  If you try it, let me know how it goes and if it works.

Peace – Melissa

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Another weekend has come and gone.  This weekend was significantly slower paced than many of my weekends lately even though I had significant things to do – primarily the completion of a sermon that I delivered this morning.  The weekend was rich in God moments though.  Friday night Steve and I had a wonderful evening at the home of friends of ours.  It was one of those perfectly delightful evenings – great food; great company; great fellowhip. Such savored evenings are sabbaths in my life and it was a great way to usher in the weekend.

Saturday I worked all day on my sermon – pretty much straight from 10 am until 1:30 am.  I took a break in the evening to walk outside and pray for the upcoming service, for God to work in lives, for personal matters.  To walk and pray is very centering for me and I need to do it more often. 

Sunday was a full day with preaching, a bridal shower for which I was hostess but it ended well with time with Steve.  Dinner and then we went to see War of the Worlds.  Interesting and intense movie. I had a similar reaction to the movie Signs with Mel Gibson.  They have me appreciating the plot, the possibility of the story line until they throw in the funky aliens.  Then, I have to surpress a giggle.  I’m not sure why that is.  I guess I just find the continued stereotypical "alien" presentation to be humorous.  Large, odd shaped heads; lanky arms and legs . . .   I’m pretty sure Spielberg wasn’t going for comedy but my blog deals with honesty so there ya go. 

In my sermon this morning, I shared this quote from Billy Graham: "Unless the soul is fed and exercised daily, it becomes weak and shriveled.  It remains discontented, confused, restless." This summer has thrown so many of my schedules into chaos.  My diet and exercise program has been sporadic at best.  I’m thankful that I have not gained weight but I haven’t been as committed as I was earlier this year.  Time to get back to that routine.   But even worse has been my neglect to my spiritual wellness.  I was keenly aware of this lately and it was what prompted the theme of my sermon today.  I have truly felt discontented and restless the past week or so – floundering as I was trying to function without meaningful and quality time with God. Rollo May says that "the ironic habit of human beings is that we run faster when we’ve lost our way."  It is just like the classic scene in a movie where some guy is running in the jungle, swinging away at vines and leaves in front of him. He has lost his way and the more lost he feels, the faster he runs inevitably causing him to be even more lost than he was before.  God has forced me to stop the last couple of days to just breathe, to take a look at where I’m at and how I got myself here.  The past week I felt like I was spinning out of control from the inside out.  I can handle my outside world being a little chaotic (as it usually is) but when my soul is chaotic, I am restless and franticly running in circles. 

It would be very challenging to capture in words the difference in how I feel when my spirit is connected from God and when it is not.  At this moment the best analogy that I can conjure up is this:  On a warm, summer Saturday, you escape to the local zoo for an afternoon.  You find yourself at the entrance to the Reptile building and decide to explore.  You slowly walk down the path, hedged on both sides with cases of fascinating and frightening reptiles that make your skin crawl.  You are fully aware of all that is around you but you feel safe because you can see.  Then, in a flash, the lights go out and you are left in complete darkness, in surroundings that are unknown and with the very real images in your head of what is surrounding you behind thin veils of glass.  There is an immediate frantic state that sweeps over you and you struggle to gain some symbolance of control over the situation.  You pat down the walls as you inch forward – unsure of what you may accidentally grab hold of.  You steps are uncertain and timid and you wonder if the turn you just made in absolute darkness is leading you to the nearest exit or taking you to the belly of the Reptile den.  You continue to do this just long enough to where you feel absolutely helpless, lost, and begin feeling like every nasty spider has escaped and is crawling up your legs. 

Then, the switch is flipped. Light floods the building. Two seconds and you finally realize that the hellish experience is over.  You can see where you are at, where you need to go and that there are absolutely no spiders on you. The feeling at that moment . . .

Yep – that’s the difference.

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Work continues on my sermon for Sunday.  Several interruptions to date and haven’t had the time to just sit and chew through my notes to self about the topic until this afternoon.  If you ever hear me preach, you can almost always take to the bank that I am speaking from recent dealings by God in my life.  I think the most powerful sermons are usually soul-bearing to some degree.  And this is not any different.   

It is so easy to get caught up in "doing life" that we forget to stay plugged into the Source of life.  Talk about walking the tight-rope without a net or in our case for Sunday, racing the Tour de France without any training.  Are you serious?  How idiotic would that be.  We would never consider doing such a thing but yet we race through life in this manner.  I have been doing that for awhile – actually, most of the summer I confess.  And it is catching up with me.  I feel chaotic, out-of-sorts, ungrounded.  I feel like I am making decisions and choices in a haphazard manner.  I’m wheezing on the Tour de Faith and need to just pull over, throw back a cold glass of Living Water and get back to the journey. 

I wanted to share these two quotes that I was reflecting on today in preparation for not only my sermon but for me to return to soul-care by God:

"There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God.  Those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it; yet I do not advise you to do it from that motive.  It is not pleasure which we ought to seek in this exercise; but let us do it from a principle of love, and because God would have us."  – Brother Lawrence from The Practice of the Presence of God

"Earth’s crammed with Heaven, and every common bush afire with God; but only he who sees takes off his shoes.  The rest sit round and pluck blackberries." – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Take off your shoes with me and taste that the Lord is good –

Melissa

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Sister Day

Today was "Sister Day"!  I took a vacation day and spent the day with my sister.  We went to Columbia, MO, to have lunch at the Macaroni Grill. Yummy, yummy.  I had whole-wheat penne with grilled chicken and tomato-basil sauce.  Ang had the Tuscany Lunch (grilled chicken sandwich and a ceaser salad.)  It was delicious.  I’ve eaten at MG a couple of times but Ang had never eaten there.  She liked it!

Then we shopped for a little bit – nothing major or excessive.  Just enough to make us feel like we were having a true girl’s-day-out.  I bought two pairs of sandals for work and some trousers.  We went to Ann Taylor Loft at Columbia Mall which is my favorite store.  I could overspend so easily there and outfit my entire wardrobe.  I managed to just walk away with an awesome set of pants for only $12.  I love sales!

Then, we went to Riversong Spa in the afternoon for manicure and pedicures.  (We sound so girly!)  Dsc02962Neither of us have ever had this treatment but Ang’s husband gave her a gift certificate for her birthday so I suffered and kept her company.  I’ve posted a very nice picture of my toes for you to admire. It is the first time I’ve beared my "sole" on this site.   According to my spa assistant, I have amazingly healthy feet.  She couldn’t believe that I do nothing to my feet other than wash them in the shower.  I must admit I was quite proud.  I walked a little taller when I left there today. 

Ang and I had a grand time today and it was good to just get away together.  We don’t do that enough with work, life, family, etc.  Thanks for a great day, sis.

Tomorrow is another day off for me (my regular day off.)  I have a morning tennis match to play; a slammin’ dessert to make; a sex book to finish and a sermon to complete.  Gonna be one fun Thursday.

Peace – Melissa

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