Clearing the Blurry View

Somehow, I left my glasses on my desk at school yesterday. At least I hope that’s where I’ll find them…

Without them, I can’t see as well as I used to. Because of my insatiable need for words, I wear them all the time. If I see anything in print, my automatic response is read. Years ago Van watched me for a few minutes while we took the shuttle from the local junior college to our church. When my eyes finally settled on him again, he commented, “You read everything on the bus, didn’t you?”

Well, yes. Doesn’t everyone? How can anyone see a word and not need to know what it says?

I discovered my missing glasses at the first stop I made running my after-school errands. Leaving the sunshine to enter the building required changing from my sunglasses to my regular glasses. But they weren’t there. I searched my purse frantically. Three times. I returned to the car. No glasses.

When I finished after-school duty, I grabbed my purse and headed out the door, determined to complete my errands and be home at a reasonable time. My glasses, which I intended to put back on to grade a few papers before l left school, stayed on my desk.

Fortunately, my last pair of glasses live in my glovebox. They serve in a pinch.

But I don’t see as well with the old ones. Everything takes more effort. There is more struggle. I get frustrated, irritated, impatient.

My relationship with God works best when I see Him clearly too. Days started with prayer and time in His Word set the tone for my day. Without Him, I respond to people and circumstances with a clouded view–a view more self-centered, impatient, irritated, confused, and harried. Taking the extra time to be sure I haven’t overlooked Him helps me throughout the day. When I think I reached my breaking point, His loving Spirit brings Him into the center of my situation and reminds me Who is in charge. Who I serve. Who I want to glorify.

It is only with God that I see clearly. I cannot live well if I forget to take Him with me. If I forget to see Him in every part of my day.

An extra pair of glasses serve in a pinch.

Nothing can replace God.

Psalm 121 A song of ascents.
1I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Do Whatever He Tells You

John 2:5 Do whatever he tells you.

I must admit, I never took time to think about this verse in relation to myself.

Mary, Jesus’ mother, said it to the servants at a wedding when the wine ran out. The servants did what Jesus said, which was incredibly simple, “Fill the jars with water.” Their obedience resulted in the most delicious wine of the entire feast—so amazing, the master of the banquet found the bridegroom to compliment him, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
This marked the first of Jesus’ miracles, pointing to the fact He was the Son of God.
Whenever I read this, I breezed through it, already believing the Truth.
But this year I saw it in isolation.

“Do whatever he tells you.”

And again my initial response caused me to breeze over it. I joined Ann Voskamp’s “Scripture Memorization for the Rest of Us: The Jesus Project,” in January. I keep memorizing the verses, but this week I spent extra time focused on “Do whatever he tells you.”Jesus Project Tree
I think I glossed over it at first because my response was, “Yeah, yeah, of course. Do whatever Jesus tells me.”
But I don’t.
I think it. I want to. I mean to.
But I don’t.
So I started to think about what really happened that day in Cana, I reflected on three different people and their actions:
Mary’s faith. Once again, Mary showed total confidence in something incomprehensible. Her son, the person she knew as only a mother can, was exactly who God announced He was when He chose her to bear His Son. For thirty years Mary watched, pondered, and wondered about this gift from God. She knew he was special. She knew God had a plan, and even though she didn’t know what that plan was or how it would work out, she knew the result would be amazing. She hadn’t wavered or questioned when asked to accept the impossible about the baby conceived by the Holy Spirit. She didn’t waver or question now. She trusted. God could do anything. She knew the result would be amazing.
The servants faith and obedience . What an odd thing to do so there would be more wine, fill jars with water; it certainly didn’t make sense. These servants could have ignored Jesus’ solution. They could have asked the master of the feast where to get more wine. They could have waited for orders from someone from the event with authority to tell them what to do. Instead they followed a woman’s advice, “Do whatever he tells you.” The master of the banquet couldn’t believe the deliciousness of this new wine. No one ever saved the best for last.
Jesus willingly provided wine far beyond what anyone expected. God always does. He is able to do more than we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). What God provides is good. In fact, it’s the best.

Do whatever he tells you.

Five little words.

How should I respond? These words are not just part of a Bible story. These words need to be obeyed by me. I need to do whatever he tells me. Like Mary, I’ve known Jesus for a long time. I KNOW I can trust Him. There isn’t one single reason, there isn’t one single time, I haven’t been able to trust Him. So, like Mary, I should share Him with others. Let others be surprised and amazed at the goodness of God and what He provides.
Like the servants, even when the directions don’t make sense or seem impossible and even silly, I must surrender and obey. Jesus does the work. My job? Trust and obey. Jesus plan, His end result, will be more and better than what I expected. I should enjoy it and delight in it.
But mostly, I should be like Him: provide good. Provide my best. Provide more than what people expect of me.
Then the Truth of who God is will show and others will benefit.
God will be glorified because those who benefit will know God provided.
Do whatever He tells you. Watch what happens.

Garden Update

In July, I wrote a post titled “God is My Gardener.” It ended:

 I am getting ready to start a new school year. I want it to be a fruitful one. A year where other teachers, students, and their parents do not see the weeds of pride, bitterness, resentment, or annoyance and impatience.

 Instead, they will see the beautiful garden planted and maintained by God: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22)

 God’s fruit.

 No weeds.

I pray the Gardener gets the glory. All of it. Because without Him, I’m just a patch of weeds.

 Today is the last day of the second trimester. Twelve weeks more of school days. Sixty-two days in the classroom. 118 days done.

 My garden?

 Way too many weeds.

 And not the pretty ones with bright yellow flowers.

 yellow weedOr the fun ones with fuzzy white fluff for blowing into the air and making a wish.fuzzy dandelion

 Ugly. Strangling the beauty of God’s garden.

 In my darkest moments, all I see are the weeds.

 Some days that’s all everyone else sees too.

 But then the Gardener tends His garden. He pulls out the weed. He fills the hole with forgiveness, mercy, grace. He waters with love.

 And His beauty blooms again.flower garden

Linking up with LIsa Jo Baker at Five Minute Friday today. Be encouraged by others who responded to today’s prompt: garden</

Write More

Write Some More

Last October one of the Five Minute Friday prompts was WRITE. Since I already posted using that prompt, today I’ll change it a little to write some more. Join me at Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday blog.

Writing more.

And more.

And more.

It’s what I want to do

There are so many things to say

about how God works

every day,

every hour,

every minute,

every breath.

There are so many things to say

about how I

respond,

grow,

learn,

know He is there.

 

Writing more.

It’s what I don’t do enough.

I let other things get in the way.

 I put it off,

assuring myself I can do it when . . .

 

My writing life reflects my spiritual life.

 I neglect it, and

 I grow uneasy,

 impatient,

I convince myself I will

do it soon.

But something else comes along to

distract me.

 

Writing more.

There is so much to say

about how I

 ignore God,

falter,

fall down,

break,

shatter into millions of pieces.

 

Writing more.

About how,

despite me,

He is still there

loving me

giving me a hand up

forgiving

cleansing.

Always.

 

Hero (Daddy, this is for you)

ImageOne of my heroes is my dad. I call him Daddy. I learned more things than are possible to mention from him. His birthday is on Sunday. I hope he knows how important and influential he is to me.

 When I was born in 1955, Daddy had just earned his degree and teaching credential from UCLA.  Since my grandma had to work all of his life, Daddy knew that was hard on the kids and wanted Mom to stay at home.  To make that goal reality meant he always worked two, and sometimes three jobs. 

Daddy’s primary job was educator.  He started as a class room teacher.  After a short time, he went back to school and earned his Masters Degree and Administrative Credential, becoming a coordinator of teacher training between UCLA and the Los Angeles Unified School District.  Next he became a Vice Principal and traveled long distances from our home in CanogaPark to schools in Central and East Los Angeles.  Finally, he became a principal.

Through all of this, he also worked after school and during the summers for Los Angeles School playgrounds.  He supervised children while they played on the playground after school, taught games, organized tournaments, and had crafts and other activities for kids to do.  He was a traveling magician. 

And on the weekends, and sometimes at night, he worked all kinds of other jobs: at Lumber City, cutting lumber; at White Front, selling toys; teaching night school to parents who needed help learning the “new math” or to adults working on finishing high school.

Sounds like he’d never have time for home and family, doesn’t it? 

Just the opposite. 

Here’s what I remember most about Daddy: His presence and influence in the lives of everyone he loves.

Daddy came to every Girl Scout badge ceremony, Father-Daughter dinner, or other event I was in. He was in the audience for all three vaudeville shows my troop performed to raise money for a camping trip to Yosemite. He taught me to roll my sleeping bag, pack my duffle, and provided the base I used for my sit-upon. When my troop wanted to earn the Life-Saving and Swimming badges, Daddy taught every girl and any siblings who wanted to learn.

Daddy bought my first Bible. Every night, he’d come in for evening prayer and taught me The Lord’s Prayer. He made sure I memorized John 3: 16. When Billy Graham came to the Los Angeles Coliseum, Daddy took me to hear the great evangelist. I can still see the green wool blanket laid on the floor of the Coliseum where I accepted Jesus as my Savior.

Every summer, Daddy took our family on vacation to Yosemite. He told stories about the animals, the valley, the trees, and the Indians. We went on hikes, bike and burro rides, and the campfire at Camp Curry every night.

On the Fourth of July, Daddy put my little sister, Robyn, in the basket of his big, red, bike. My brother, Keith, and I rode our own bikes to the local park. We spent the afternoon swimming. When it got dark, we laid a blanket on the grass and watched the fireworks together. On the way home, we stopped at Baskin Robbins for a rare ice cream cone treat.

When I was in sixth grade, Daddy started taking me and my brother to UCLA football games. We always took Italian sausage or meatball sandwiches from our local Italian deli. Daddy taught me every fight song and cheer. He bought me a program for every game. But the best day of all, he picked me up at school and took me to UCLA—just Daddy and me. It will always be one of the best days of my life. Daddy showed me the important and historic buildings, the Inverted Fountain, the student store, and a wealth of other fun things there were to do at this school he graduated from. He made sure I knew what classes to take so I could achieve my dream of going to UCLA myself. When I struggled with algebra, Daddy tutored me patiently until I could do any problem alone. Of course he was there the day I graduated from UCLA, wearing a big smile.

Daddy instituted our annual Labor Day birthday party for my aunt Bev, my sister, Robyn, myself, my grandfather, and my grandmother—all of whom have birthdays within two weeks of one another. We added my daughter, Kim’s, birthday to that celebration too. Even though we don’t make much of birthdays anymore, getting together on Labor Day is still a valued day for our whole family. We gather there for Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving too.

Family drives on Sunday afternoons let Daddy teach us about aqueducts, missions, box canyons, birds, geology, geography, and anything we wanted to know.

Daddy taught me—is still teaching me—the value of being involved in the life of family, of staying connected, of giving all you have to give.

Daddy, I love you. You are my hero. Happy birthday.