Sunday, June 29, 2014

Do something (It's not enough to do nothing)

This is one of those times when I want to write something, but I can't think of how to frame it. I had more instances this week of trusting God's leading and feeling blessed by the results. The daily devotional I read compiled from Oswald Chambers' teaching and writings, "My Utmost for His Highest," often reminds me that the reason for doing God's will isn't for the hope of a reward or blessing, but solely out of love, devotion and obedience. And still, when I do seek God's guidance, wait to hear it and then act on it, the blessing always follows.

The biggest thing this past week was knowing that I wanted to volunteer to do special music at church. I made the decision Tuesday or Wednesday, and made the offer at choir practice Wednesday night. I knew what I wanted to sing -- Matthew West's "Do Something" -- but I also knew it was a contemporary song with a whole lot of words, and probably out of my vocal range, that would be difficult for me to learn and sing. I found an accompaniment track in a better key, but it had background vocals, which are another obstacle for me. Still, the message of the song called out to me, and so I endeavored to follow through: "Do Something." I spent more time than usual on Saturday trying to learn the words and cadence. It came together OK, but at some point, I realized this song truly is about the words and spirit for me. It's not a beautiful melody and arrangement. "God, why don't you do something? He said I did: I created you! ... It's not enough to do nothing ... It's time for us to do something."

I know I need to do more than just pray and sing. But I'm seeing that if that's all I can do, it's better to do that than nothing. And -- I am continuing to learn that if there's not time to pray, there shouldn't be time to do anything else. Prayer needs to come first. That's still a tremendous step of faith that I don't always take, especially when I'm traveling. I still pray, but it's more likely to be in bed before I get up, or along the way as I go about my day. I prefer to spend what is becoming "quality time" in prayer. But that requires discipline and time management -- and it still seems that when time runs short, the focused prayer is what gets sacrificed. This is true even though I've seen time and again that when I put prayer first, everything else does fall into place. (Changes of habits and priorities come very slowly.)

But yesterday, I did pray, and I did practice the song. And when I started to stress out about whether I would get the song learned or how to spend my time, I shifted my mind back to my decision to trust God with this. Highlights of my day ended up including my 12-step meeting, petting the kitties at Second Chance and then spending some time at a reining horse derby with my sister.

Today, in addition to the special music, Sunday worship also included an energetic anthem ("The Gospel Train") and favorite hymns ("How Great Thou Art!"), and the afternoon included a praise band practice and more favorite worship songs.

Other things (grocery shopping, clothes washing, some household chores and phone calls) fell into place. I feel grateful and blessed.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Primed with prayer

I truly seem to have to pray over every little thing. But thank God for pushing me past my inertia and dread to complete a task in a timely manner. The task would be no big deal to any number of people, but I am aware of how much more common it would have been for me to just blow it off. And then feel bad about it. So, I am very grateful to be done. 

The task was mowing the lawn. This is something my husband always does, but he was gone more than a week, and it had been raining more than usual. So, the grass needed to be mowed. I thought he was going to pay someone to do it, but each day when I got home from work, it was still getting taller. 

Meanwhile, he'd been gone for his birthday, and I hadn't really gotten him a present. I knew what he would most appreciate. But I feared it was the thing I would be least likely to accomplish. And then he pulled something in his back while gone, and I realized that since he hadn't gotten anyone to mow it before his return late Tuesday,  he would probably do it himself despite his back. 

I decided I really wanted to give it a try. Everything Tuesday shaped up to make it seem possible. It just became a matter of whether I could start the mower. 

Praying, I put on work clothes, then pushed the mower to the back yard (I had no desire to risk letting anyone watch me).  Following the instructions on the mower, I pushed the lever to choke and then, after saying another prayer, pulled the rope. I only got it about halfway, and the mower did not start. So I tried again -- and then a third and   possibly a fourth time, now with a two-handed approach that brought success. About 30 or 40 minutes later, I was finished and so grateful. 

When Gene got home about midnight, I asked if he was surprised I mowed. He said he was surprised -- and grateful. He asked if I had any trouble starting the mower. I said it took three or four pulls. He asked if I had used the primer. Ummm. No. That wasn't on the quick start guide printed on the front of the mower. Hmmmm. 

But it had started anyway! I really had no complaint about having to pull the rope multiple times. I just wanted it to start. And it did.

But later I realized I had used a different primer: prayer. Building up with months of First 15 daily devotionals, I was especially strengthened by the past week's emphasis on praying and living in faith. 

That very morning, I had prayed to know and do. Show me, Lord, and help me. And He did. He showed me the window of opportunity He had prepared, and He helped me get past the hard parts: inertia, procrastination and fear of failure. 

Thank You, God!!!!!

From June 11-17 week of the First 15 devotional: 
Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Faith is the undercurrent of everything we do as followers of Jesus. Without faith we lose all that Christ died to give us while here on earth. It is by faith we access the peace, joy, guidance, love and purpose that comes from restored relationship with our heavenly Father. As we seek an increase in faith in response to God's faithfulness this week, may you experience a greater depth of intimacy with your living, Almighty and loving heavenly Father.

"By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days." Hebrews 11:30 

"For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20 

 Where do you need the power of God in your life? Where do you need the help of your heavenly Father? 

In faith ask God to move in mighty, specific ways. Come before your heavenly Father boldly and ask him to make his reality, power and love known in your life. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day reflections

It seemed fitting to meet my Daddy's newest great-grandson on Father's Day weekend. Ian Charles is named after Charles Baker Davidson, whom I miss today and everyday. Immediately when I heard five-week-old Ian would be at the homeplace instead of more than three hours farther south on Father's Day weekend, I knew I would be there, too. The farm is where Daddy was born and where he died. Mom still lives there, and my heart is very much at home there. I liked being there when Ian Charles made his first visit with his precious mom and dad.

My strong awareness of Daddy's legacy wasn't just on the farm. I felt it this morning at the Gainesville church I grew up attending and where family members still filled about two rows today. Certainly his is one of the many empty seats in that Sunday school class that continues to dwindle in size, largely due to the attrition that comes from the passage of years. I don't suppose there is a place we could eat after church that I wouldn't have some memories of Daddy, but the Ranch House and Catfish Louie's is certainly one. (I can only imagine what his comment would have been as the waitress asked me if I was 55 and qualified for the senior buffet; she said she didn't think I would, but I did the math and realized I am 55 -- and this was my first official senior discount!) Yesterday included a 50th wedding anniversary celebration for a cousin on Daddy's side of the family, and of course that brought some Daddyisms to conversations.

He would have enjoyed this weekend. I think of how proud he was of his kids and grandkids -- and then those great grand ones. Ryan would charm him, and Ian would just make him beam with pride. But I was also reminded yesterday that cancer had taken away his health in a way that it became a blessing to let him go.

I guess the peace and joy I feel today is from gratitude to God for the strong bonds of family that include many, many amazing fathers and mothers. (As I wrote "amazing," I realized none of them would think of themselves that way; they also were and are extremely humble.) I thank my Heavenly Father for this rich and memorable Father's Day weekend.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Cruising past worry (Let it go!)

I awoke today feeling grateful -- and still fretting over something that I told myself I was finished with. Almost 10 months after I disembarked from the Crystal Serenity in Barcelona, Spain, the cruise story is finally out of my hands -- set to run Sunday in the press and online editions of The Oklahoman/ But my mind keeps running back to it, trying to come up ways to make me feel less disappointed in my presentation. Can I add more photos? What could I have done differently? I don't really think of this as worrying, but whatever it is, I know I need to let it go and shift my focus to God, with trust and gratitude and love.

After deciding to get up even though I was awake two hours earlier than planned or desired, I did my usual first thing, reading the day's Jesus Calling devotional. Guess what it's about? "My Presence with you is a promise, independent of your awareness of Me. Many things can block this awareness, but the major culprit is worry."

Even before I read this, I knew God was telling me: "Don't worry. Trust Me. Focus on Me. Have faith. Know that I am working all things for good. You may never understand why things are like they are. But you can always trust Me." And I believe this.

So -- if I don't fret over the cruise story (that supposedly is out of my hands now); what to wear to a "cocktail attire" reception tonight; what to do for my husband's birthday; figuring out how to be two different places that are 300 miles apart on Father's Day; what to do to get more donations for Relay for Life; and, of course, what about my hair and all those other things flitting through my brain -- what am I supposed to do?

God seems to be speaking to me through this devotional and Scripture. I will read it again -- and continue to pray, seeking God's guidance, trusting in His goodness and feeling His love.

"Who is in charge of your life? If it is you, then you have good reason to worry. But if it is I, then worry is both unnecessary and counterproductive. When you start to feel anxious about something, relinquish the situation to Me. Back off a bit, redirecting your focus to Me. I will either take care of the problem Myself or show you how to handle it." (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, June 7)

From Luke 12: "Then Jesus said to his disciples: 'Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. ... Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? ... But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.'"

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A good transition

I like it when the transition from one month to the next goes smoothly. That was the case yesterday and today. 

Saturday started with the festive camaraderie of a bridal tea. Who knew tea leaves could produce a taste like creme brûlée -- and without added sugar? Inspirations Tea Room in Edmond is pretty far off the beaten path for this Norman resident, but I may search that flavor out again. 

Later in the day, a walk along my preferred route, around the tree-lined pond in my neighborhood, further refreshed my mind, body and spirit. It seems I cannot refrain from feeling grateful and praising God as I breathe in the fresh air, see the beauty of nature, hear the birds and insects and contemplate more snowlike cottonwood in the air than I can ever recall. 

Sunday brought the blessed assurance of worship and praise and Holy Communion with my church family. After the weekly chore of buying groceries -- which I really would like to move to another time than the Sabbath  -- I returned to church to take advantage of a short-term opportunity to sing with a live band. Something there is about an electric bass, a couple of guitars, a keyboard and drums played by spiritually focused musicians that makes it worshipful just to practice the familiar praise songs of "Trading My Sorrows," "Blessed  Be Your Name," "Marvelous Light" and "Every Move I Make."

After that, I actually volunteered to cook supper rather than suggest Gene and I go out. And then another walk. Ah! Thank You, God. 

Besides the praise band commitment, which involves practice this month for a week of leading youth worship services in early July, my other big service focus for June is Relay for Life. But I guess I will wait until another time to write about why I Relay. For now, I'll just say that my awareness of the need for a cure -- and money to help fund research for that purpose -- has continued to grow in the past year. 

I am looking forward to whatever God brings my way. I pray to be of use to Him, to His glory.