My laundry room often takes on a life of its own.  There are seven of us in this household, and six of us do our own laundry.  I will leave you to imagine how well that works!  I was in there trying to do Triage today, although it probably needed CPR, and it struck me that the laundry has a lot to teach me.  So, here are some of my favorite lessons from the laundry room. 

1. Let me get it out of my system first and give you my favorite quote from Erma Bombeck: “Normal is just a setting on your dryer.”  There is no one definition of normal.  Yet, I sometimes find myself trying to live up to some imaginary plumb line.  Both my washer and dryer acknowledge the differences in life.  They offer a lot of different settings and temperatures from Cotton/Sturdy to Delicate/Knit.  There is no one version that is normal.  The laundry room allows for a lot of differences.  So why do I, a child of God, keep measuring myself against some false standard.  God has His own standard.  It’s not normal either.   

2. The sooner you treat a stain, the more likely it is to come out of the fabric.  Even the simplest stains can become permanent if left to set too long.  My heart is like that.  I can allow the stains of sin, of attitude, of bitterness to set in.  If I stuff down my feelings or allow things to fester, they become much harder to dislodge.  The same is true of relationships.  Fix them quickly before opportunities are missed.  Both of these are lessons I’ve learned the hard way. 

3. Clean the lint filter regularly.  Life’s daily loads take a toll.  Lint accumulates quickly.  If we don’t clean the filter, not only won’t the dryer work efficiently, but we could end up with a fire.  My spirit is like that.  Daily life accumulates lint.  We have to take time to clean ourselves off.  To keep our spirit from accumulating too much of life’s lint.  Otherwise the next load could prove more combustible than you would expect. 

4. Some stains leave a permanent mark no matter what.  Like red Kool-Aid or red berries.  Sometimes what comes into contact with our heart can leave a permanent mark.  When the substance itself that comes into contact is impermeable.  Not Kool-Aid or red berries.  Guard your hearts and be careful what stain you rub off on others.

5. Laundry has rules.  When we fail to follow the basic principles, there are consequences.  I think all of us have had pink underwear at times!  Life is like that.  If we don’t follow Godly principles, pink underwear is the least of our problems.  Reaping and sowing apply in laundry and in life.     

Life, relationships, and our walk with God are a lot like laundry.  And fortunately for us, He is the ultimate spot remover. 

Psalm 51:2

Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

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Hope Deferred: Part Two

July 11, 2008

I closed Part One with Proverbs 13:12.  I think we have all had those moments in life where what we hope for is missing in our lives.  It does make the heart sick. 

Twenty years ago, someone at my church, not a leader, laid hands on me.  He had a “word” that I would be healed by my next doctor’s appointment.  That presented a bit of a quandry as I did not have a doctor’s appointment scheduled.  Hmm?  What to do?   Was there a special time to schedule?  Yes, I really did think about that, as naive as that sounds now. 

 Well, I made the appointment.  But, somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew.  I just wanted to hope.

The day of the appointment, my blood sugar shot to 300.  Just in case I was wondering….

I cried all the way to the doctor’s office. 

Then, I made a decision about what to do with my “deferred hope” and heart sickness.  I think it was one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made.  I decided to stop putting my life on hold while I focused on healing.  I decided that I would serve God with or without a healing.  That what he had in my life was too important to focus on diabetes as the defining part of my life. 

I started a mini-prison ministry the next day in my local jail.  I haven’t looked back.  At least not until recently. 

I guess that I got tired.  Going to Lakeland is really out of character for me.  I don’t regret it.  It was the right thing to do.  It was focusing on healing that was wrong.  Fortunately, I had the good sense/inspiration to pray for spiritual renewal as well.  I have to tell you, the spiritual renewal I prayed for there is coming in a very different way than I expected.  VERY DIFFERENT!

So now what is left to me is to renew that twenty-year-old vow.  I will serve him healed or unhealed.  I’m there.  It’s easier the second time.  I understand more now and know that I can’t worship at the altar of healing.  It’s not wrong to want to be healed, but it takes my eyes off God to focus on it. 

We all worship at different altars at times.  Do you, like me, see an altar in your life?  One that doesn’t focus on Christ?

Daniel 3: 16-18

Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego answered and said unto the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us from thine hand, O king.  But, if not, be it known to thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

Loyalty

July 10, 2008

Loyalty: a noun.  Synonymous with adherence, allegiance, bond, constancy, devotion, faith, faithfulness, fealty, honor, steadfastness, troth…. 

Need I go on.  Really, I can.  I was an English teacher after all and know how to use a Thesaurus. 

Most people who know my dear one and myself would apply these words to us.  We’ve been married for over thirty years, attended the same church for almost twenty-five years, stayed true and constant to those who call us friends, tithed faithfully, and raised four children through thick and thin.  Faithfulness isn’t something taken lightly in my house.  I think that almost everytime our pastor has prayed over my dear one, “a faithful man” is the phrase he uses.  That’s a strong indicator. 

But, tonight I struggle with breaking a loyalty.  (NO, not divorcing!)  With removing my self from a commitment that I feel I can no longer sustain.  With walking away from a long-term relationship. 

And, it breaks my heart. 

When do you walk away from something you have had in your life for almost half of your adult life?  How do you decide when to remove loyalties, break a fealty? 

Perhaps when the relationship is no longer healthy.  When it’s like being codependent.  When your heart is broken and there is probably no fixing it.  When you see no other way.  When the others involved are on a self-destructive path and won’t hear. 

Tonight I struggle.  I am angry.  Hurt.  Incredulous.  Betrayed.  Oh, did I say angry?  Well, I am. 

I know this post is vague.  I have very strong feelings tonight, but don’t feel that it would be right to share the specifics of my struggle with the world.  So, out of respect, I won’t air “dirty laundry” on the internet.  I know very well that I will have to forgive.  And, I will.  But I’m not sure the relationship will continue.  And, for that, I grieve. 

Psalm 12:1

To the chief Musician upon Sheminith, A Psalm of David.]] Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.

Apparently just mentioning Todd Bentley or the Lakeland Revival is guaranteed to improve your blog readership.  Wow! I had no idea that sharing my personal experience would tap into the controversy.  Frankly, I believe that my post “Shredded Lives” was much better and more relevant to the church.  But really, my point wasn’t to comment on the Lakeland revival per se.  It was to share my heart about my experience and my hopes.  And one of those had been physical healing. 

I have never sought out or followed after healing.  At least not in the sense that I traveled places, became a revival groupie, or looked for the big names in healing.  But, I have always believed in healing.  I was just content to let it happen where I am. 

I always believed that it would happen but lately I find myself with a growing doubt.  Maybe it won’t is the quiet little refrain in my brain. 

It isn’t that I haven’t been healed before.  I have.  My most memorable moment in healing was when I was pregnant with my younger son.  At five months of gestation, I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.  I had to sleep propped up and didn’t have enough breath to sing in praise and worship.  When my endocrinologist told me what was going on, I freaked.  I was already dealing with a dangerous pregnancy and its complications due to my diabetes, and this was just one too many things for me.  So yeah, I freaked.  And was then sent straight to the cardiologist office who confirmed but said we would test to be sure.  Come back in four days, he said. 

I remember standing later in the hall of what is now our youth building.  Standing there with my husband and telling our pastor what was going on.  My upset was obvious.  So, he did the only thing he could when faced with a woman who just might go on a crying jag.  He prayed.  Laid hands on me and prayed right there.  We then proceeded into service.  Over the next three days, the symptoms began to disappear.  By the time I went to the cardiologist for the tests, he couldn’t figure out what had happened since he had last seen me.  He did the tests just to be sure, but there was nothing there.  He shook his head and said to cut back on sodium just to be sure.  I rejoiced.  It was obvious what God had done.  I was healed.

But now I live with an entrenched disease and its complications.  It has been twenty-five years since I started on insulin.  I have used an insulin pump for over twenty-one years.  I first received a word shortly after being diagnosed.  This was when I still lived in Kentucky.  I heard God speak to me about the fact that I would be healed.  Later that same night, in church, I was singled out with the same word from my pastor.  His words were exactly the same as what I had heard.  No variation.  I believed.

Through the years, many people have prayed for me.  Some have been sincere but weren’t hearing from God at the time.  Some prayed in complete faith.  All had compassion and great hopes. 

But the bottom line is that I still have diabetes.  I still wear an insulin pump.  I still have to struggle through each day dealing with my blood sugar.  And, I still look to God to be healed.  But, lately, I have to wonder.  I wonder if I will be.  And this wonder challenges me to examine what I believe, to struggle with what I have believed, and to wonder what to believe. 

Proverbs 13: 12

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.

Like a lot of people in the church world, I have been hearing about the revival in Lakeland, Florida.  For those of you who don’t know, there has been a strong move of God there for the last 90 days, with many stories of healing and salvation coming out of it.  People that I’m close to have urged me to go.  So, instead of heading home with the rest of our family after our trip to Universal Studios, my husband, younger daughter, and I booked another hotel and attended the Lakeland revival on Friday, July 4. 

I went expecting.  I’d heard of the strength of God’s presence.  The healing miracles.  The awesomeness of God in that place. 

I went expecting.  I expected to feel an incredible presence.  I fully expected to receive a healing from a condition I had recently been experiencing.  I went expecting.

When we arrived, I saw an above-ground pool that had been placed in the sanctuary.  I knew immediately that I would go forward to be baptized there.  We had arrived before the start of the televised portion of the service.  The front was full, but we easily found seats in the back.  We were encouraged by a man on the stage to pray.  His encouragement was quite fervent.  Almost like a pre-show warm up time.  It involved a lot of shouting and my younger daughter was quite distressed by it.  But, we settled in to pray and eventually the service began.

The praise and worship was great.  There was a freedom to worship there that I haven’t experienced in many years.  A freedom that I’ve really missed.  After a while, Todd Bentley came out and spoke.  He recounted stories of miracles.  Watching him, it was easy to see how sincere and open he was.  I don’t doubt that about him.  His enthusiasm was genuine.

I went forward to the baptism line.  I watched several people before me get baptised.  Some seemed profoundly affected.  I was ready.  As I stepped down into the pool, the first thing I realized was that the water was freezing.  I mean really freezing.  Todd Bentley asked me why I was there.  I told him for spiritual renewal and physical healing.  I went under. 

I got out and was helped down a slippery walkway where I was greeted at the end by a group of people praying.  The shaking and trembling I experienced was from the freezing water.  Other than that, I felt nothing profound. 

I did receive a word that was very much on target when I was prayed for in the back after the baptism.  It was about God helping me not to intellectualize or think so much.  Not to worry.  An appropriate scripture was given me about this. 

After I returned to my seat, we left.  Fortunately, I had towels in the car because it was an hour drive back to the motel.  I was cold and I was a little let down.  I knew that I had obeyed God by going forward, but I guess I expected a miracle.  Something immediate.  Dramatic would have been nice. 

It has been three days since I went.  A condition with my lymph nodes that had been bothering me has improved in a noticeable way.  A condition that was exacerbated by caffeine which I haven’t had for four days.  So, did the baptism heal me? 

No, I don’t think so.  But I did see into the past.  Remembered the freedom I’d experienced before.  The passion I felt in the past.  And, I began to pray for more of a revival in my heart.  Because ultimately, it isn’t about any particular evangelist, or any particular meeting, it is about the path I let my heart take.  It’s about expecting God to work in my life daily. 

So, I am expecting.  Expecting God to show up in my life.  To meet me wherever I am.  My own personal revival.

Isaiah 57:15

For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. 

 
 

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

There are several things I learned while there or wish I had known before I went to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.  Here are the Top Twelve:

1. Most any day, an Express Pass is necessary. 

   This is especially true if you have young children whose capacity for waiting is limited.  Several days the wait would have been 30-60 minutes on a lot of rides.

2. Staying at a Universal property hotel gives all in the room a key card.  This card is your express pass. 

   When you consider that an express pass is $50.00 a day per person, the cost of the hotel room looks a lot better!  We got a stay four and play more package that gave us the room, 2 7day passes, and a card key for all to be an express pass. 

3. Take a lanyard to hang around your neck and hold your ticket and room card.

   There is a reason that most every shop in the park sells these.  You have to show your room card/express pass at every ride, so you are constantly pulling this out of your pocket. 

4. If you stay at one of the property hotels, you can purchase souvenirs and have them sent to your room.

   If you are not staying on property, you can still make purchases and have them sent to wait for you at the park exit.  Either way, no need to carry this stuff around.  You have to ask for this though, because the shops did not automatically offer this. 

5. The parks have a meal deal that is relatively inexpensive. 

     For around $20 per day, an adult can eat as much as they want at designated restaurants.  I think kids were about $10.  There were stands all through the park selling this deal.  We did not do this deal because we planned to eat in our rooms.  We took a cooler and kept milk, sandwich fixings, etc. in our room.  We carried waters in one backpack and juice coolers.  About the only thing we bought in the park was the occasional large, soft pretzel. 

6. Free lockers that use your fingerprint are available at the rides where you cannot carry anything on.

   There are also large lockers at the front of the park that you can rent for the day.  Good for putting sandwiches in an insulated cooler or anything else you want handy, but don’t want to go to the room to get.

7. The best ticket deal is done online and you must purchase it 2 days in advance.

     Go online to Universal’s official site.  For $90, your ticket is good for both parks for seven days.  You can park hop as much as you want.  The seven day count begins the first day you use it.  When you get to the park, you will see the electronic ticketing and you can pick up your ticket.  YOU MUST HAVE YOUR CONFIRMATION NUMBER FROM THE PURCHASE.

8. Tickets can not be transferred from person-to-person. 

   Unless it is a very busy day, you will be keyed to your ticket by a fingerprint.  So, don’t plan on switching off tickets or giving them to someone else to use any days you didn’t use. 

9. If you stay on property, talk to the concierge frequently. 

     If you are going to eat at a restaurant or or go anywhere, ask for information, they will frequently give you discount coupons or priority seating cards. 

10. Wal-Mart sells neck coolers and they really work!

     I found these bandanas hanging near sporting goods.  You soak them in cool water for about three minutes and tie them around your neck.  Yes, they look dorky, but they work.  They only problem is that out of the five I bought, one of them didn’t have a good seam and so it leaked the little beads and felt slimey. 

11. The Pteranodon ride in Islands of Adventure does not have an express line. 

     If your kids want to ride this, go there first at the park’s opening.  Even at closing, the lines for this were long.  Wait times were up to 60 minutes. 

12.  Have fun above all and save the souvenirs to the end!

     Don’t wear yourself out.  Go back to your rooms, take a nap.  Spend time at a pool.  Don’t exhaust yourself at the parks.  And handle the munchkins’ shopping requests by setting a limit and waiting till the last day.  Even my fourteen-year-old changed her mind multiple times until the last day.  Bring home a good souvenir and fun memories.

I really am enjoying this vacation.  I just think that this post needs that initial disclaimer. 

I have this little problem with motion sickness.  Okay, it is a big problem.  At least when it comes to amusement park rides.  I get car sick too, but usually only if I am focusing on small details or trying to read something. 

Until this vacation, my most memorable motion sick moment was when my younger daughter was about three and we were on a half-day fishing boat expedition in Florida.  While the rest of my family was enjoying the fishing, my daughter and I sat on the outside bench, mid-boat, while I periodically ran to the rail to heave. 

Okay, not a pretty picture.  But what made it memorable was the woman sitting beside me who felt she had the perfect captive audience to question about adoption issues.  For those of you who don’t know me, my younger daughter is Chinese.  So, in between trips to the rail, I get asked things like this:

What happened to her real parents?

How did she learn to speak English? ( No, I’m not making that up)

Don’t the Chinese (Insert any inappropriate comment in front of a three-year-old here)?

Okay, maybe that is still my most memorable motion sick moment.  I really don’t know why I didn’t just redirect my heaving at that point.  I am older now and over being that nice….

But, back to now.  My dear one really enjoyed the Hulk roller coaster.  Really.  So, despite my motion sick moments, ones that included even the Jimmy Neutron ride, he urged my to try it.  After all, it didn’t go backwards like the Mummy, a move guaranteed to make me nauseous.  He saw my fear, not of nausea, but of the whole upside down thing.  “It is the smoothest coaster I’ve ever been on,” he cajoled.  “You’ll like it.”

Famous last words. 

I thought about my first post on this blog and the whole idea of taking risks.  Surely, I could overcome my fear and ride a roller coaster that turns me upside down.  Finally, after many urgings, a “puppy-dog” face, and a slight guilt over my published status stating I was going to take risks, I agreed.

He was right about the smoothest coaster part.  It is an awesome coaster.

He was WAY wrong about the motion sick factor. 

(READ SLOWLY, TILTING SIDEWAYS AS YOU READ)

I have now ridden the Hulk. 

I will never ride the Hulk again.

After all, in some sense I have ridden it twice: THE FIRST and THE LAST TIME.

 

Jonah 2:10

And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry [land].