I have never been accused of being the sharpest tool in the shed.
I blame a fall at age three in which I fell on my head on the concrete floor of our basement in Newfoundland where my dad was stationed.
Given the technology and location at the time I am quite certain the X-ray machine was as advanced as the cartoon versions we remember from that era where the cat patient and all the technicians jolted whilst viewing the bones and such on a black and white screen.
So on Sunday I learned something that the rest of you all have probably known for years and years and it is so incredibly astounding to me as new information that I have gone over it in my brain numerous times.
One of our class mates shared a prayer request for upcoming cataract procedure but used the term “getting a new lens.”
I had no idea that is what cataract surgery involves.
I knew something grows across the eye and clouds vision, but I just assumed they removed the growth somehow.
Not at all.
In fact, I have had such a time processing this that I googled it and here is what I found.
“In cataract surgery, the lens inside the eye that has become cloud is removed and replaced with an artificial lens to restore clear vision.”
And as I have sat mulling this whole new perspective over and over in my mind it kind of hit me this morning as a spiritual truth as well.
Because sin clouds over our vision you know.
And God doesn’t just clean it up.
He completely removes the part of us that has become ruined and replaces it with (and this is where the analogy must take a slight detour) not with an artificial lens but with a true and genuine one that cannot deteriorate.
We see and feel and think with His heart and His mind and He is constantly renewing us.
First off I have to acknowledge the specialness of this day in our family as we celebrate the birth of our first child, Rachel.
We are so thankful for her and the ways she loves not only her little tribe but us and her siblings and so many others.
Growing up, she was always the quietest of our three…but she loves fierce and she has a quick wit that makes us all laugh so hard and an eloquent way of expressing herself in words and prayer that moves me to fits of both tears and giggles…simultaneously.
So Happy Birthday Dachel <3
You are deeply and dearly loved.
Second, I am dragging out finishing the No Other Gods study because it is just soooo good and sooooo rich.
Like this nugget that I have been chewing on for two days now…found in Day 3 of the final week of the study.
Deuteronomy 6:23 “He brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land that he promised on oath to our forefathers”
Kelly says regarding this passage:
“Leaving our idols is not the final goal. We leave them so we can experience the fullness of Christ who is our life!…We make room for God to fill it. We say goodbye to say hello.”
No Other Gods Study page 173 Kelly Minter
I couldn’t help but think of the passage in 1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you OUT of darkness INTO his wonderful light.
Called us out…to bring us in…
So many love the darkness now.
In fact they are dragging their darkness out into the open and embracing it.
But it is still darkness.
Remember today that He called you out of it…to bring you in.
Live in the light that you were brought into.
No matter what.
The darkness may not be able to comprehend the light, or love the light, or want the light….but darkness cannot put out the light.
Light always invades the darkness and overcomes <3
We finished well yesterday a journey that started 22 years ago when someone asked me at our church would I teach an adult Sunday School class and I definitely did not want to and yet I felt my head nodding yes and I heard come out of my mouth, sure…I would like to do that.
I remember vividly having a heart to heart with God as I walked away where I basically asked Him…What in the heck just happened there????
And thus began the thing, besides my marriage and parenting, that has been the longest straight-running and consistent commitment of my adult life.
It couldn’t have been a more perfect ending.
I decided to share my three favorite sections of Scripture that are my go-to’s for life strategy. Then my number one student and supporter and encourager for all those weeks that added up to years shared some letters from former people who had been involved in our class over time and finished with his own kind words.
We gathered last night for a potluck and the weather was even perfect so we could actually have some people sit out on the patio…this never happens when we plan a function where we have more people than tables and chairs inside.
God is good.
Because I know some of you who read this were once in our class, I am including a letter I wrote to share but I wanted to add a couple of thoughts before I close with that.
Just things on my heart about this opportunity I was given and what it has meant to us.
<3 People are so sweet and keep encouraging me that God has something for this new season, but I think it is important to remember…it’s okay if what I have is just more time to devote to the other things I am already doing. Or maybe my assignment was finished. And there really isn’t a reason beyond that. And that’s okay.
<3 One of the things that I always questioned was the Scripture that says in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 that Paul did not allow a woman to teach or have authority over a man. I questioned all of my pastors at various times regarding this and each time I was told I was under their authority and that of my husband. I taught what God laid on my heart and it humbled me that both men and women got something out of it. I am thankful to God for the opportunity He gave me and the wisdom and discernment to serve the Body of Christ and I am thankful for the love and support of my husband and the pastors of our church.
<3 I am deeply thankful for the friendships gained through a weekly commitment to show up and be the constant for a group of people. It wasn’t always easy but God gave me strength every single time. It is so cliche, but it is the absolute truth…He doesn’t call the equipped…He equips the called.
<3 I am thankful for Russ who scheduled vacations and activities around the class as much as possible because he believed what I was doing was important for others. I am thankful for the Sundays he got me there and dropped me off and walked in late because of my tardiness…and I am thankful for his grace toward me when I felt like I had said too much or shared too much or was too transparent. I am thankful for the times he took a pass on doing some kind of something on Saturday so I could work on the lesson some more. I am thankful for the times he took over the prayer because I was a mess and couldn’t do it and the ways he would give me advice and counsel when I needed guidance.
and with that…here is the letter…and I used twenty years because I am terrible at math so here is the edited version of the one I handed out yesterday <3
Dear class of friends who are part of our family <3
In some ways, I want to reminisce and so I hope you will indulge me.
Twenty-two years is a lot of life we have lived together. Your stories are part of our story and we have walked through much of life together.
Twenty-two years ago John was 7, Sarah 9 and Rachel 12.
In that time we have, among other things and in no particular order:
Brought my aunt and parents here and walked through dementia, Alzheimers, strokes and three deaths and funerals, made multiple trips to Iowa as Russ’s parents health failed and then said goodbye to them. Got three Reimer’s through Jr. High, High school sports, show choir, choir, band, orchestra, youth group, proms, homecomings and drama. Obtained and then said good-bye to our Mitzi. Had three high school graduations, went through college applications and graduated three from Millikin, Greenville and ORU. Two weddings, one divorce, four grand babies, two surgeries, two bouts with depression. Moved us to a new house. Started the newsletter and then the blog. Added substitute teacher, classroom teacher, cheerleading coach, gift wrapper at Von Maur, assistant manager at Talbots, Tournesol and Sensory Panel at ADM to my resume. We visited each other in hospitals and attended funerals for parents, spouses and sadly, children of class mates.
Subs I can remember: Chris Peterson, Tom Howard, Tom Pistorius, Russ, Tabitha Bilyeu, Dave Campbell, Jonathan Grunden, Ron Black and even Jimmy Peck, bless his heart <3
Lessons I can remember: Ruth, Jonah, David, Job, Psalms, Minor Prophets, Celebration of Discipline several times! Harmony of the Gospels, Fruit of the Spirit, Traveling Light by Max Lucado, Pottery Class, Prayer – multiple times, Spiritual Warfare, Parables, Sermon on the Mount, Random rabbit trails from my journal, Nehemiah, 2 Chronicles 20, Moses, Exodus, Passover, Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Prayer of Jabez book, Easter, Old Testament Feasts, Isaiah, Christmas stories, Bible Stories for grown ups with Jon Keck one summer, Current events, Studies based on sermon series, Small group studies we were given, Islam/Qureshi, 1 Thessalonians, Names of God, multiple walks through books of Bible that took forever.
I have quit at least fifty times in the wee hours of the morning on our living room couch and still well remember working on lessons as I waited up for a teen to hopefully make curfew. I walked away from watching a movie in the family room some nights and wrote some in the car as we drove.
I never ever felt I really put the time into them you deserved and I always struggled with wanting to convey every single thing God showed me so you could have the full experience.
I am forever grateful for the pastors who helped me not quit, learn and mentored me in the pitfalls of teaching: Wayne Kent, Darren Embree, Brian Talty, Tom Sager, Jon Keck and Jonathan Grunden.
Looking at your faces on Sunday morning has been one of the greatest joys of my adult life and the fact that you all would come back Sunday after Sunday blew me away. The words of love and encouragement you have given to me and to our family – the prayers you have prayed over us – the acts of kindness you have extended to us – the relationships from this class that have been the friendships of our past twenty plus years…these are treasures stored up in heaven for sure.
Moth and Rust cannot destroy what God has given to someone like me and it literally takes my breath away sometimes that He has allowed me to do this for Him.
I can assure you, I gained far more than I ever gave. The way you all love each other has been icing on the cake. You are the beautiful Body of Christ and we love you and thank you for being part of our lives and family <3
Every year I get a devotional as a gift from one of my friends.
She prays about which one to get and so far she has batted a thousand every year.
Today’s thoughts included this expression attributed to an author named Jan Johnson and refers to being plagued by “the committee that lives in my head.”
Her committee was made up of four voices and they all were her own personality quirks…and I must say it sounds rather peaceful.
Because the committee that lives in my head includes all the voices of my own quirks PLUS…the real and imagined voices of my parents, my sister, my husband, our children, and other casual and influential people who make up my circles plus assorted media, culture and current trending statistics.
Which is why I sometimes have a melt down when the real live people I am actually currently in the presence of are all talking…because seriously…too. much. noise.
I have heard you cannot have more than one thought going on at a time, but my thoughts are often like popcorn popping and maybe they are just one at a time but they are bouncing all over the sides of my brain and it can be quite exhausting.
Making a decision is particularly difficult because as I am attempting to weigh my options and the possible consequences of any given choice, the voices in my head start joining into the discussion.
And as I mentioned…it may not be what they would really tell me if I could ask them..it’s somehow what I think they are thinking…so weird.
It is at these times that I truly have to discipline myself to bring all the thoughts…all the voices…all the opinions and suppositions…under the control of the only Voice that really matters.
Discipline is not always easy, but each time I do, I get stronger.
Recently I listened to a very helpful audio book on this subject entitled 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin and it was enlightening. It was also slightly encouraging in that not every single chapter left me going…yeah…that’s a problem for me.
I found great tips for identifying areas where I struggle in my thinking and ways to take steps that line up with Scripture.
Please note…this book is not overly Christian … but is rooted in spiritual truth.
I highly recommend it for reading because as she points out in the conclusion chapter…we all struggle with areas that need growth and maturity throughout our lives…we are works in progress…and as a Christian I know, I will not be perfect until Christ presents me perfected at the end of my journey…but I sure want to do my part in the process <3
Here is the link to her page for it…you can order through a variety of sources <3
It seems to be a good day for some randoms…so here we go in no particular order:
You may know I have a thing about Jeremiah 33:3 and how 3:33 is a time or $3.33 for a price happens that pops up frequently in my life to remind me of the verse God kind of laid on my heart to be a life verse.
Friends and family frequently text me when it pops up in their experience and recently our sister-in-law Sonja sent me a little card she received somewhere…
it is taped to our computer and says…
God will give you good ideas.
Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own. Jeremiah 33:3 The Message
Love it <3
I asked John to do a gratitude challenge with me for the month of August.
I set my alarm for 7:51 each day (please do not ask me why I selected that time. I can only surmise that was when I decided I would need an alarm set) and then I sit and think about something I am genuinely thankful for that I have failed to express to God.
It’s been good for me and proven true that if we practice gratitude it actually does enhance our attitude to be more positive and also flourishes into more gratitude.
Which is quite possibly why we are told in Scripture to be anxious for nothing, but in everything, with prayer AND THANKSGIVING make our requests known…
I wasn’t too excited about this Back-to-School thing happening so early in August and I still think we short-change summer these days…but I must admit…my love for all things Fall is getting stirred up.
Our family, thanks to John, did our Fantasy Football league the other night.
While I have absolutely no idea who the players are and had to ask Russ what a WR is (and he told me, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what he said), we had much laughter as John hosted a wide range of family members on a conference call that spanned seven homes located in Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Texas.
We don’t always have the most traditional family reunions, but we sure do enjoy what we can get.
In line with the gratitude thing, I surely am thankful for the variety of skills and trades of people who can do the things we don’t know how to do.
And I am also mightily grateful for the ones God has given us to use to help others.
What’s your skill set like?
Take some time to write it down and then ask God to show you where He is calling you to serve <3