Pragmatic Compendium

inspiring the pragmatic practice of intimacy with Christ

what if I DON’T have plenty of time?

The other day, I heard something that I can’t stop thinking about:

“I’m only 24. I have plenty of time.”

maybe.

But who can know the mind of God? Who can predict the future? I don’t know what will happen in the next half hour, much less the next year.

How much time have I wasted because I’ve been a coward? How many opportunities have I let slip by when I KNEW God was prompting me to take action or speak? How many times has my inaction led to disobedience? How many times have I rationalized that inaction?

Warning: my sense of urgency is radiating outward. If you get too close, you may get caught in the wake. Either avoid me or prepare for extreme encouragement.

What is God prompting you to do that you are waiting to do? Do it now. START it now. Even if you can’t see the finish line. Even if you’re not sure you can reach the finish line. Because God can work good from everything, even the things we view as failures.

Is God prompting you to share your faith with someone? To talk with someone about something in particular? Is He prompting you to extend graciousness and encouragement to someone? Talk to them the very next time you have an opportunity. Don’t let time slip through your fingers.

Make no mistake, what ever the obstacle you are facing now, you will find another one when the current one has passed.

When I don’t choose to do anything, I am choosing to do nothing.

Complacency. It’s one of Satan’s favorite places to keep me – and you. I turn my back on him and run when I have to, but when I remember the POWER of the Holy Spirit, I can pray for courage and strength and determination and faithfulness, and I can stand strong, with Jesus by my side, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and I can look Satan straight in the eye and say, “kiss off, I’ve had enough of your lies.”

I fear, however, that we are so attention-deficit that we settle for bearable when beauty is just around the corner.”
(Beth Moore)

“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
(C. S. Lewis)

August 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I believe.

When PinkGirl was 2 1/2, we moved her from daycare to Montessori school. She loved it. One of her favorite things to do at recess was to climb to the top of the monkey bars and SING at the top of her lungs. She sang songs from Disney movies, Dragon Tales, the Wiggles, Doodlebops and Veggie Tales. But her favorite thing to sing? Her own compositions.

Many, many times, those songs were about Jesus and how much she loved Him.

One day, after school, she was very quiet and sad. I asked her what was wrong and she said,

They told me I couldn’t sing about Jesus anymore.

I had a feeling I already knew, but I asked anyway: “You can’t? Did they tell you why?”

Tearfully, she answered: “They said some kids didn’t believe in Jesus and their parents might not want them to hear my songs. Mommy is that true? Do some people not believe in Jesus?”

I was struck. I thought she was sad because they told her she couldn’t sing about Jesus anymore – and she was, don’t get me wrong. But these tears were because she just found out that some people didn’t believe in Him. She was heartbroken and began praying that “people would know who you are” every night during her bedtime prayers.

__________

The next year, we enrolled her in kindergarten at a private Christian school. There were uniforms and lines and LOTS of new rules. Even so, the first day after school, she literally skipped to the car, talking a mile a minute and then she jolted to a stop, whirled around and said:

“and the BEST thing EVER? I can sing about Jesus ALL I WANT!!! We even get to PRAY!”

__________

For decades, I didn’t “sing” about Jesus. If you had asked me about it then I would have said I believed it wasn’t appropriate. Some people didn’t want to hear about Him, so I never talked about Him or the difference my relationship with Him made in my life.

The truth?

I was afraid. and ill-equipped to share Christ with any confidence or graciousness, much less love or acceptance of someone who believed differently than I did.

Then, I read a book. “The Taste of New Wine,” written by Keith Miller in 1965. I think of this book every year about this time because I found it a the Whale of a Sale (our church rummage sale – I’m the “book lady”). Through Keith’s fearless testimony, I saw that it was possible to live an authentic, DE-compartmentalized life. I believe God had been preparing my mind and will for this message for a very long time.

I realized that I could “sing” about Jesus as much as I wanted without offending people who believed differently than me.

Over the last few years, I’ve come to realize that sharing my faith doesn’t mean I’m responsible for leading someone to a saving faith in Christ.

That’s not my job. That’s HIS job.

MY job is to be open and authentic in ALL areas of my life. My job is to make sure I don’t hide who I am just because I’m afraid I might offend someone. To be brave enough to share the most important thing in my life with those I care about. My job is to intentionally and fearlessly place myself in that position of vulnerability.
__________

I believe God is sovereign.

Every blessing comes from Him.

Every trial passes through His hands before it enters my life.

He is the source of my strength.

The influence of my relationship with Him is at the foundation of every decision I make, including the thoughtless, foolish decisions – which are the ones I make when I drift away from daily fellowship with Him.

He can work anything in my life for His ultimate good, even my biggest mistakes.

He loves me and accepts me despite my deepest doubts, my selfish choices and my rationalized rebellions.

It’s His stubborn love that draws me back every. single. time.

I am blessed, even when discouraged or afraid, because He is with me.

August 29, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

fragments: can’t. lazy bum. oil. p. muscle cars. tornadic activity. good times. intentional choices.

Here’s a few fragments of my week:

FavoriteSon vs. AP Lit.
FavSon: “I can’t.”
Me: “can’t is a four letter word.”
FavSon with a formal tone of voice and his signature grin: “I cannot.”

I have no idea where he gets it.

__________

Headed back to BodyInUnity yoga Monday morning (M-W-F at 9:15 am at First United Methodist Church of Oviedo in the youth room if you’re so inclined to join us)! I’m stiff and weak and flabby and reeking of lazy bum – all with no excuse! If I want do more than pay lip service to my commitment to be a good steward of this body God has blessed me with – it’s time to GET BACK TO WORK.

__________

Got a flashing oil light in the van today and drove straight to Auto Mech & Muffler. Turns out, that light is supposed to flash when you’re 6 months and 10,000 miles past your last oil change. oops.
(Since I’ve somehow become oblivious to the little reminder sticker they put on the top of the windshield, I just entered it in my phone calendar with an alarm.)

__________

FavoriteSon, doing pre-calc: “Dad, I know how to get ‘Q’ but can you help me get ‘P’?
Both FirstHusband and I answered: “drink water.”
FavSon groaned.
Me: “What? Did you not see that coming?
FavSon: “I thought you were more mature than that.”
nope.

__________

FirstHusband texting me while on travel in Detroit: “I’m driving a Dodge Charger.”
Me: “Oh no you DID NOT just tell me that!”
(Those of you who are aware of my affinity for muscle cars: Dodge Charger = Dream Car.)

__________

10 year old PinkGirl: “Mom, there may be some tornadic activity on Friday.”
(She knows who Jim Cantore is too.)

__________

Target snack bar. PinkGirl talking about her day, seemingly without taking a breath while devouring breadsticks. Good times.

__________

Thursday night. 10:30pm. Too quiet downstairs. Called down to FavoriteSon and FirstHusband:
“Are both of you on task and making intentional choices?”
At the same time, I hear:
FirstHusband, (playing a videogame): “He is.”
FavoriteSon, (on the internet): “no.”
Do I know them or what?

August 26, 2011 Posted by | exercise, family, fight the frump, fragments, goodsteward/body, laugh!, poor me some whine, pragmatic commotion, status updates | , , , | Leave a comment

test of faith.

Faced a test of faith today.

I often say that God loves my kids more than I do. Today, I had a choice: prove I believe it or hold on to my facade of control with a white knuckled grip.

I was working downtown and as it got later and later I knew I wouldn’t finish what I was doing in time to pick PinkGirl up after school. Do I leave my client, work unfinished, pick up PinkGirl and return to the client’s office tomorrow to wrap things up?

or

Do I keep working and . . . ask FavoriteSon to drive his baby sister home from school?

It would be the first time he drove her anywhere WITHOUT ME.

And it was raining.

I was wavering. Making a mental checklist of what I had finished, verses what was still left to do. But right in the middle of deciding which of my client’s employees I would abandon until tomorrow, this question came barreling at me:

“Do you believe it or not?”

“yeh, I believe it, but . . . “

I had nuthin.

I didn’t have one good reason not to ask FavoriteSon to drive his sister home. They’re on the same campus, they get out of school within 30 minutes of each other and neither one had an after school activity. To top it off, he had driven home from school many, many times last year while he had his learner’s permit – but I was always in the car with them.

The ONLY reason I didn’t want to ask him is that I didn’t want him to drive her anywhere without me.
(Because my presence alone is enough to protect a vehicle from being involved in an accident. umm hmm.)

So I made the call. Actually, I made four calls:
1. One to the school office before his classes ended to ask that he be given a message in case he didn’t check his cell phone.
2. Then I called his cell after his classes ended.
3. Then I called a few minutes later to make sure he got her at after care during the “grace period” before they charged me, and
4. Then I called the house about 30 minutes later to make sure they were home.

See what I mean about “control?” Let’s just add the word “freak” on the end of that right now.

Will it be easier for me to trust God to protect my children the next time I need FavoriteSon to drive his sister somewhere?

defini . . .

probably not.

August 24, 2011 Posted by | pragmatic presence, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

fight the frump: August fitness goals

In my continuing quest to be a good steward of this body God has blessed me with, I’ve set my August fitness goals.

How did I do in July? shhhhhh. Let’s not talk about it. July was pitiful.

pit. i. ful.

no excuses. wasn’t sick, not overwhelmingly busy, just easily found other things to do.

But I MISS sweating, believe it or not. And I miss the sore muscles that come with the knowledge and satisfaction of working them to failure. The way I see it, strength training that doesn’t fail the muscle is a waste of time – and if I’m going to take the time to do strength training, I want the time to be well spent.

But I digress.

It’s the fourth day of August and I’m back on track with my fitness goals. Here’s what I’m shooting for this month:

In addition to averaging two 6.5 incline miles & one 2 minute forearm plank EVERY day,

I’m trying a three day rotation this month:

1st Day – Work Upper Body
(20 BOSU push-ups, 20 shrugs (holding a 12 lb dumbbell in each hand), 30 tricep dips, 3 sets of “21s”)

2nd Day – Work Lower Body
(20 Lunge Walking Steps, 20 one leg chair squats, 40 Abductor Leg Lifts, 40 Adductor Leg Lifts (ALL each leg), (2) 30 second wall squats)

3rd Day – Work Core
(20 balance ball back extensions, 15 (each arm) bent rows, 20 balance ball oblique crunches each side, 20 Jackknife Sit-ups), 10 balance ball leg lifts

sweat and repeat.

And my FAVORITE yoga classes start up again the week of August 22nd!

So far, so good. To check my progress, CLICK HERE to see my fitness log.

August 4, 2011 Posted by | exercise, fight the frump, goodsteward/body, health, microactions, status updates | , , , , , | 1 Comment

song? or seed?

I recorded my version of “Waiting Here for You” last month. Here’s what I wrote on my facebook page earlier that same day:

“Praying that God would use the music & the lyrics to draw the “sound guys” closer to Him. That the Lord would bless my voice & the session. That the people who will be listening to & working on the recording over the next few weeks will come to an undeniable awareness of the the presence of the Holy Spirit.”

I’ve been recording once a month for almost two years and due to multiple obstacles (professional mixing, funds for licensing, duplication and distribution), I haven’t been able to do anything with the music. It appears that God is teaching me patience.

Again.

But it’s also possible that the ministry of this music is centered on the recording sessions themselves.

Every session – every MONTH, I’m blessed with a rare opportunity: To sing powerful Christian lyrics in the willing presence of 4 to 7 non-Christians – for nearly FOUR hours! The sessions are totally vocal – no band, no other vocalists, just me, singing the lyrics to the same song over and over and over again. They usually need three or four complete melody tracks and three or four tracks of each harmony. I always prepare at least two harmonies, usually more. And you can bet I don’t ever get it right the first time around, so there are lots of “punch-ins” where I have to fix a line or a word here and there. This means I sing those lyrics so many times during the session that the sound guys can pretty much memorize them. Then, they listen to the music again and again over a number of weeks as they work on mixing the song. Then the next month, I get to do it all over again, with an entirely new group of people.

How cool is that!?

I pray about every song selection, that God would lead me to choose a song that at least ONE of those people NEEDS to hear at that time in their life. I pray for the people who will be at the session, that my offering can be of some use to God as He moves in their lives.

Last month, the Lord allowed me to see (or actually, hear) that I planted a seed.

It was a late night session, from 9pm to 1am and midway through, my voice was showing signs of fatigue. We broke for 30 minutes and I drove across the street to 7-11 for some warm coffee. As I was getting out of my van, I looked two cars over and saw four of the sound guys getting out of another vehicle. One started singing my song and the others joined in.

They had the song stuck in their head and the month of mixing hadn’t even begun!

That’s a seed.

I’ve been praying that it grows.

Now I’m also praying – even if I don’t get to see any evidence of it – that my session this Friday night will result in more seeds being planted.

August 3, 2011 Posted by | christian living, music, prayer | , , | Leave a comment

   

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