Pragmatic Compendium

inspiring the pragmatic practice of intimacy with Christ

whatever may pass and whatever lies before me.

Sunday evening. Easter Sunday. I was sitting at the kitchen table, focused on my laptop. PinkGirl came over and turned my chair sideways so she could curl up on my lap and lay her head on my shoulder.

“Mom? How can I find joy in God?”

wow.

13 years old.

Immediately, I prayed.

“Lord, is this moment one of the reasons for everything that’s happened over the last year? Have you been preparing me for this question? Please help. Please speak through me.”

Me: “Well…for me…the way I find joy in God is to grow closer to Him. There are a few things you can do to grow closer to Him. You already know what’s first though, right?”

PinkGirl: “Pray?”

Joshua 1 9 prayerMe: “Yep. There’s lots of different ways to pray, but I think the way that brings me closest to God is practicing His presence. You remember what I told you about practicing the presence of God? How I first started doing it?”

PinkGirl: “No.”

Me: “I imagined Jesus physically with me everywhere I went – in the passenger seat of my van…”

PinkGirl: “oh yeah.”

Me: “Jesus is right here with us now.”

I pointed to the chair next to us.

“If you imagine Him sitting right here with us – not just sitting here, eavesdropping on our conversation, but actually participating in it, it changes everything. And sometimes not in a way you might expect. It won’t be all rainbows. You won’t be thanking Him and praising Him all the time. If you really do imagine Jesus with you wherever you go, you may find yourself crying and yelling at Him sometimes. Telling Him all the things you don’t think are fair, begging him to help you and heal you and protect you and getting frustrated or mad or even heartbroken when He doesn’t do what you want or expect or if He’s slower than you think He should be. But you have to be honest with God.”

PinkGirl: “He already knows anyway.”

Me: “Yeah, He does.”

We sat there for a while, talking about all the different ways to pray. We talked about honest, wide open prayer, without holding anything back. We talked about how authentic prayer helps us to grow closer to God and how growing closer to God helps us find joy in Him, no matter whether we’re happy or sad about what’s happening in our life. We talked about how happiness is temporal and based on our circumstances, but joy in God is eternal and based on who He is and our relationship with Jesus.

Me: “Prayer is when we tell God everything. But we also need to listen to Him. What’s the best way to hear from God?”

PinkGirl: “Be alone with Him?”

Me: “That’s one way. I call that abiding in Him. But that’s next. Something else comes first. The best way to hear God speak to us is to read His Word.”

PinkGirl: “I try, but I don’t understand a lot of it.”

Me: I get that. There’s a lot I don’t understand either. But here’s the thing. There’s a lot you do understand – way before you even get to the stuff you don’t understand. You understand what you learn in Bible [class], right?

PinkGirl: “yeah.”

Me: “So, see? You understand more than you think. Outside of Bible [class], what’s the last thing you read on your own?”

PinkGirl: “I don’t remember.”

Me: “You understand the scriptures in your devotion book, right?”

PinkGirl: “yeah.”

Me: “What was your last devotion about?”

(thinking)

PinkGirl: “I don’t remember.”

Me: “When do you do your devotion, in the morning or at bedtime?”

PinkGirl: “In the morning.”

Me: “After your devotion time is over, how often do you think about the scripture you read later in your day?”

PinkGirl: “none.”

Meditate on Gods Word Read BibleMe: “Just reading the Bible isn’t enough. You won’t grow in your relationship with Christ if you don’t remember what you read. You have to engage in God’s Word. That takes effort. How can you remember the scripture from your morning devotion throughout your day ? And for days after that?”

We talked about how on our own, reading the Bible isn’t something we want to do all the time and that God knows that. We talked about forgetting to read the Bible or not making time for it. We talked about how we make time for the other things we love. We talked about the first and constant thing we should do: pray and ask God to give us a desire to read His Word. We talked about the fact that we can’t just “do better” on our own. We talked about asking God to give us – to bless us – with a hunger for His Word – with a hunger for Him. We talked about setting reminders on her iPod, bands on her wrist, special jewelry, even writing notes to herself on her hand.

Me: “After reading the Bible, another good way to hear from God is to abide in Him. You called it being alone with Him. When are you ever truly alone. Quiet and still?”

PinkGirl: “When I’m in my room.”

Be still and know that I am God Psalms 46 10 Pause the noiseMe: “I mean really alone and quiet. No itouch, no iPad, no tv, no internet, no youtube, no text, no instagram, no facetime…”

PinkGirl: “oh.”

Me: “Sleeping doesn’t count.”

Me: “If you want to be closer to God, if you want to find joy in Him, you have to spend time with Him. Think of it this way. When you and PeterPanFan (her BFF) hang out together, you grow closer, don’t you think? You talk to each other, you have inside jokes, you start to think alike, finish each other’s sandwiches…even when you two are at your own houses, when you interact over the internet through text or instagram, you’re still spending time with each other even though you are miles apart. But if you were at your house and she was at her house and you weren’t interacting over the internet, you wouldn’t be able to hear her. What would happen to your friendship if you didn’t spend time together?”

(thinking)

Me: How connected can you be to God if you don’t spend time alone with Him?

(quiet. thinking)

Me: So. Prayer. Reading God’s Word and Abiding in Him. There’s something else you can do to find joy in God.”

PinkGirl: “what?”

Me: “Gratitude.”

PinkGirl: “Thanking Him?”

Me: “Actually there’s two kinds. Giving thanks for His blessings and praising Him for who He is. When you thank Him for blessings, you begin to recognize those blessings in your life more and more. And when you praise Him for who He is, no matter what your circumstances are, it helps you remember that God is sovereign and nothing happens to you that He doesn’t will or allow.”

We talked about disappointments, God’s providence and the peace that comes from trusting that all circumstances – which lead to both happiness and sadness – are God’s providence. We talked about tapestries. And praising Him, no matter what.

We talked about a lot of things. The things I’ve shared here are the things she gave me permission to share.

Afterwards, I realized.

Prayer. Reading God’s Word. Abiding in Him. Gratitude. P.R.A.G. The first four chapters of the book I was writing about how to experience a more intimate relationship with Christ. Seems so easy, just looking at them here. Not so easy. To do or to write about. If they were easy to do, every Christian would do them. If they were easy to write about…I haven’t been able to write for months. But in these precious moments with my daughter, I was able to articulate a summary in kid language.

He has been preparing me. Not only for that question at that moment.

God is Good. All the time.

(CLICK HERE for the story behind the song.)

April 22, 2014 Posted by | christian living, learning curve, music, pinterest, pragmatic communion, pragmatic parenting, praise team music, prayer, thankfulness, the search for Joy, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“churched”

The other day, someone asked me if my kids grew up “churched.”

The pause before my reply was noticeably long.

I was thinking.

What does that mean? I realize my personal background and filters contribute to my way of thinking, but no definition I could come up with made it seem like growing up “churched” would be a good thing. Merriam-Webster defines it as:

adjective: “affiliated with a church.”

Well. That’s vague.

churched.

The word has connotations. Through my personal filters, adding “ed” after the word church makes it reek of religious knowledge and practices, not relationship with Christ.

So, if growing up churched just means my kids grew up knowing the traditions of church – whatever church or religion that might be, then yes, they grew up churched. They know what a call to worship is, they can sing the doxology, they know what to do with an offering plate, they know the different ways to take communion and what an alter call is. They know what the Apostles’ creed is and they know the Lord’s prayer doesn’t end with the words “with liberty and justice for all.” They can follow the verse order of a hymn and even though they both have searchable Bible apps, they can find a scripture in a Bible with paper pages by it’s reference. In more contemporary churches, they know that a worship service usually begins with what we in our family affectionately term a “giddyup Jesus” song, and they know why this video is funny.

So, if all that means my kids grew up churched, then yes. My kids grew up “churched.”

Some might say, “Well, it’s better than nothing.”

Not necessarily.

Here’s the deal. If all that stuff is a precursor to a personal decision for Christ or an expression of a growing relationship with Him, then yes. It is better than nothing.

BUT, if all those things are part of their life instead of or apart from a growing relationship with Christ, I don’t necessarily think growing up churched is better.

It might actually be worse.

I’ve personally met so. many. people. who grew up going to church and as an adult, have not only abandoned church, but faith altogether.

A few months ago, I asked God to break my heart for what breaks His. (CLICK HERE to read that post – and if you ever think about praying that, brace yourself.)

One clear and constant answer has been the fact that so many people have turned away from faith in Christ without ever really knowing what it is.

Who He is.

Growing up churched has kept more than a few people from relationship with Christ because they think that all those things I mentioned about church is evidence of a relationship with Christ.

Not always true.

That’s what I was thinking during the extended silence that followed the “Did your kids grow up churched?” question.

But when I broke that silence, what did I say?

“uhhhhh. Well. We took them to church if that’s what you mean.”

I am so articulate sometimes.

The truth is that despite all their knowledge and understanding of religious practices, my kids never heard the gospel explained in kid language at the church we attended. Hell was too scary for kids and Jesus was a role model, not a Savior. Discussions about asking Jesus to come into your heart? The Holy Spirit as a helper after you ask Jesus to come into your heart? No. (By the grace of God and through an extended, painful revelation process, we now understand that we need to be part of a Christ-centered church.)

We went to church on Sunday mornings, did a few summers of VBS, went to some fall costume parties, some Christmas breakfasts with Santa and some Easter egg hunts. Sunday school was mostly Bible stories and crafts. VBS was a rotation of Bible stories, crafting sessions and outdoor games interspersed with music, snacks and cute videos with moral and ethical messages.

They learned that God loved them. They learned they should help people. They learned God wanted them to be “good” like Jesus. They learned that they should give joyfully.

teach children diligently Deuteronomy 6 6-7But my kids first learned about having a relationship with Christ from my husband and I. Because we knew that our faith couldn’t be theirs by force or wishes, we prayed that the Holy Spirit would draw them to Christ, and we told them about Jesus. Through our lives – our words and our actions – they saw what faith in Christ really is – a relationship. They knew Jesus loved them – no matter what – just like we loved them. We prayed with them, we did family devotions together, we were authentic with them about the lessons God was teaching us, we listened to their problems, their fears and their joys and we continuously helped them to view and navigate all three through faith in God.

By the grace of God, they both accepted Christ at a very early age. By the grace of God and equipped by the Holy Spirit, we did our best to disciple them as they grew in their faith.

We enrolled them in Christian school because we wanted them to learn as much about the Bible as they did about math, science, history, spelling and English. When they moved onto middle school and began building on that Bible knowledge and learning theology, we actively engaged them in discussions that helped them figure out and ground themselves in their own beliefs, some of those beliefs different from what were being taught at school. As my son has grown older and graduated from high school, he’s come to some beliefs that differ from his mom and/or dad. (No surprise, mom and dad don’t always agree either.)

Regardless of the tangential beliefs we each have, we share faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. All four of us depend on the Holy Spirit to equip us for the life we live, striving to follow the Father’s will.

My husband and I are confident that each of our children have their own faith in and relationship with Christ. We pray for those relationships regularly.

But “Did your kids grow up churched?” is a yes or no question. There wasn’t time to think through all that, much less say it.

Hence the blog post.

April 21, 2014 Posted by | christian living, pinterest, pragmatic communion, pragmatic parenting, praise team music, prayer, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

facebook fragments: 04/05/14 – 04/11/14 (Relay for Life, game room makeover & ignoring the haters)

Saturday, April 5, 2014
My FavoriteHusband and my FavoriteSon are building me a custom bookcase. I explained what I wanted, FH designed it and together they are building. I’ll be painting it. It’s got the potential to be seriously cool. Photos to come.
#bibliophile

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Was honored to deliver the invocation at the Oviedo/Winter Springs 2014 Relay for Life earlier this afternoon.
Tried to write it for days and kept starting over. Finally sat down with my prayer journal and a pen this afternoon.
As soon as I wrote “Lord, I don’t know the story and pain of the people who will be there, but you do. What do they need to hear?” it came pouring out.
#strengthinmyweakness

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Sunday, April 6, 2014
Finally posted the before and after photos of the game room. Kitchen photos to come. (Click the photo or the link below to see the post with all the photos.)

the home project that never ends: the gameroom.

game room 2014 after

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Monday, April 7, 2014
Book sale = book binge

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Haven’t posted fitness updates in a while.
Derailed by haters who called them “attention magnets” and said other things I won’t type out loud.
I’ve decided to ignore them.
The accountability of those fitness updates helped keep me on track. Besides, there are more supportive non-haters who join me in edifying with encouraging words than haters who tear down and discourage.
So.
Haters.
If my fitness updates make you break out in snark, you should probably unlike my facebook page.
Seriously. Just unlike my page.
That said, one hour of strength training. Done.
#pinterestisntaweapon #fightthefrump #GoodStewardofthisBody

snark card unless you fell and smacked your face nobody wants to hear about workout

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PinkGirl doing math homework at the kitchen table with me and FavoriteHubs: “I feel like I’m not going to have a good day tomorrow.”
(pause)
“This is where you guys come in. You’re supposed to say ‘Not with that attitude you’re not.’ Seriously, I feel like I’m raising myself sometimes.”
Me: “That’s actually backwards.”
PinkGirl: “Huh?”
Me: “You said ‘I’m not going to have a good day tomorrow.’ and then “Not with that attitude you aren’t.’
PinkGirl: “Huh?”
I think she’s tired. Good thing drama and math go so well together.
#ilovemydaughter

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“In desperate places He paid our wages, one time once and for all.”

lyrics Death in His Grave

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Thursday, April 10, 2014
If I spend $7.33 more on Amazon I will get free shipping. Current shipping cost is $8.03.
Well played Amazon, well played.
#mustbuybooks

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My latest blog post: toxic concoction“…where faith is required. And where doubt came in.”

(click the link above or the photo below to read the entire post)

Doubt and Faith Toxic Concoction Mark Buchanan Your God is Too Safe

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Friday, April 11, 2014
“…my objective is to walk when he prompts me to walk, talk when he says to talk, fall silent when I’m at risk of saying too much, and stay put when he leads me to stay put.”
from Just Walk Across the Room by Bill Hybels

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1 hour of strength training. Done.
and I’m back up to a minute 15 second forearm plank.
#fightthefrump #GoodStewardofthisBody

If its too heavy you need to get stronger_______________

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PinkGirl is watching Frozen for the 21st time (12 times in the theater – and no I didn’t pay for it).
She knows every. single. word. She’s even got the timing and inflection down perfectly.
It’s like listening in stereo.
#ilovemydaughter

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To see more previous facebook update and compilation blog posts, CLICK HERE.

April 13, 2014 Posted by | 2014 home makeover, exercise, fragments, goodsteward/body, pinterest, pragmatic commotion | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

facebook fragments: 03/29/14 – 04/04/14 (dining chairs & #ihateshopping)

Saturday, March 29, 2014
Loveseat hogs.
#lazycats

lazy cat loveseat hogs

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Sunday, March 30, 2014
It’s been a couple of weeks since we got tired of shopping for dining chairs. If we ever wanted to eat dinner together at the table again, we had to buy SOMEthing.
Sam’s Club. $129 a pair. On sale.
Done.

leather parsons chairs from sams club

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014
I’m $6 away from free shipping on Walmart.com. What to buy…what to buy…Maybe something heavy so I don’t have to carry it.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014
I called my husband from Publix: “Please log into the bank & tell me the last place I used my debit card was at the vet’s office this afternoon. I think I left it there.”
(pause)
Hubs: “It says ’1800PORN’”
His mother always said he was a smart alec kid.

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Me to FirstHusband: “You know my favorite thing about having an open floor plan? I get sucked into TV shows I don’t even like.”
FirstHusband: “You like it. You just wish you didn’t.”
#AlanaBarfieldisdaman
(http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/naked-and-afraid/bios/alana-barfield.htm)

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Thursday, April 3, 2014
Got my permanent crown, but w/ temporary bond, until tooth sensitivity is totally gone. Clearly, I need to go to Tijuana for a nacho test.

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Shopping for (small, cheap) end tables. I don’t understand how this qualifies.
I can’t put coffee on this.

walmart end table

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PinkGirl’s beloved ankle boots are peeling apart at the sole like a banana.
Me, when I picked her up from school: “We need to go shoe shopping.”
PinkGirl: “NOOOOOO!! Please, NO! I’mtiredI’mhungryThisismyonlydayoffIdon’twanttoWecanjustbuythemonline!”
She’s definitely my daughter. #ihateshopping #ilovemydaughter

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Hubs & FavoriteSon working late.
Gave PinkGirl her dinner plate while she was hunkered down on the couch watching a movie.
“MOM! I can’t eat FISH while I’m watching The Little Mermaid!!”
#ilovemydaughter

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Friday, April 4, 2014
Sitting in the school parking lot, waiting for PinkGirl. She wanted to come to the 6th grade wax museum in the school gym tonight. Of course, she and her friends (boys included) are outside between the football field and the softball field making a “Frozen” video. I told her to wrap it up. When they turn off the softball field lights she’ll have to leave. Unless she moves the production to another “set”
#ilovemydaughter

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To see more previous facebook update and compilation blog posts, CLICK HERE.

April 13, 2014 Posted by | fragments, pragmatic commotion | , , , , | Leave a comment

facebook fragments: 03/22/14 – 03/28/14 (Pentatonix & a lesson from Job)

Monday, March 24, 2014
Tomorrow night PinkGirl FINALLY gets her last Christmas present. We’ve got VIP tickets to see Pentatonix at Hard Rock. Bought the tix the morning they went on sale and they’ve been sold out for months. She’s a little excited.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014
I tend to bleed words. And I’m really, Really, REALLY exhausted from pressing down so hard on some festering wounds. Trying to figure out if they may heal better and faster with some fresh air. It’s either that or more home improvement distraction.

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PinkGirl:
“We started reading The Screwtape Letters in Bible today.”
Me: “What did you think?”
PinkGirl: “Wow.” (pause) We’re not reading the whole book, just the first few chapters. MrBibleTeacher says he doesn’t think we can handle it all.”

Wow is right. I have a feeling we’re going to have some deep talks very soon.

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“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?”
Psalm 8:3-4

psalms 8 3-4
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Friday, March 28, 2014
I need to hear that sound.

Crab hears the ocean

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Philip Yancey quote Disappointment with God Message of Job

(this book is $3.79 on Kindle right now: http://goo.gl/wpfhw6)

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To see more previous facebook update and compilation blog posts, CLICK HERE.

April 13, 2014 Posted by | fragments, pinterest | , , , | Leave a comment

facebook fragments: 03/15/14 – 03/21/14 (spring break)

Saturday, March 15, 2014
shared Judah Smith’s status:
“If we’re not careful, we’re going to take the greatest message on the planet and turn it into a horrible form of humanism.”
#JesusIs #Passion2014 http://goo.gl/SDO77w

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Sunday, March 16, 2014
Me, as we were leaving IKEA today: “You’re welcome.”
Hubs: “You ain’t kiddin.”
That’s Mills code for “We NEVER have to come here ever again.”
(Our 1st visit today. I wanted to sue the building for harassment. & I wanted OUT.)
#wherestheexit #wheresthepassinglane #ihateshopping #clickaddtocart

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Shopping/hunting online.
Answer: 18. so far.
Who knows the question?

(How many browser tabs do I have open right now?)

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Monday, March 17, 2014
Our two new living room chairs are cat approved.

new chairs cat approved

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If you hear someone screaming “OMYGOSHOMYGOSHOMYGOSHOMYGOSH!!!” it’s PinkGirl. The Frozen DVD we pre-ordered just arrived in the mail. The day BEFORE it is supposed to be released. “ITCOMESWITHPOSTERSOMYGOSHOMYGOSHOMYGOSHOMYGOSH!!!!” When I went to the mailbox to get the rest of themail, my neighbor just asked me if she was okay. True story.

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There’s a book I want. It’s in stock at Brightlight Books. I wonder how many books I will actually buy. #cantbuyjustone #bookbinge

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014
My latest blog post: four minutes with God: break my heart for what breaks Yours. (click the link above or the image below to read the post)

walking wounded compassion
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Can you tell we like symmetry in this house?
lazy cat symmetry

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(Ellen and Genie were best friends when they were kids, but grew apart over the years. Until this reconnection in their early twenties, as written by Genie.) “For the next hour I stormed the conversation with highly exaggerated accounts of my great successes…
She [Ellen] listened quietly and at one point when my voice was way up and bragging she broke in: “That’s all very interesting. I know you’ve done some fine work, but you’re probably the unhappiest looking person I’ve ever seen, Genie. What’s really the matter?”
from Burden is Light by Eugenia Price
#seepeople #edify

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Thursday, March 20, 2014
EPCOT. Norway. 3 hour wait for Anna and Elsa. #ilovemydaughter #springbreak2014

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Only a 3.5 hour wait for Anna and Elsa today. MUCH better. (than 6.5) Time to put some steps on the fit bit zip. #ilovemydaughter #springbreak2014

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Dear fellow Disney patron: I do NOT commiserate at the most Magical place on earth. You complain to me about ANYthing while waiting in line with me and you will be subtlety innundated with a steady stream of reminders of why you are here: Making dreams come true. I’m either going to turn your attitude around or annoy the crud out of you. Your choice. #NOcranky

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We’ve been at EPCOT since before it opened. Met Anna, Elsa, Jasmine Aladdin, Aurora, Alice, Mary Poppins and of course Mickey, Minnie and Goof. We’re going to Magic Kingdom tomorrow. 5:10pm PinkGirl: “Can we go home now? I’m tired.” #disneypassholderscanalwayscomebacktomorrow

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oops. The only sunscreen I remembered to wear today was the tinted sunscreen I wear instead of makeup. #themeparkproblems

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9578 steps today because pedometers don’t count hours of standing on concrete as exercise. 30 minutes for the sauna to heat up. 20 to 30 minutes in the sauna (depending on how many times I go in). Quick shower, with an ibuprofen chaser. I should be curled up in bed with my Kindle app by 9:15pm. Hopefully, I can stay awake until my hair dries.

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shared Carlos Whittaker‘s status:
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is nothing. Many times the best thing to do is nothing.

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Watching PinkGirl dance and lip sync. “Hello my name is child of the ONE TRUE KING!!!”
Amen.
#ilovemydaughter

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Friday, March 21, 2014
Got on the Peoplemover for a break and it got stuck.
We were secretly hoping for that.
#wdw #magickingdom

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Back row of Carousel of Progress. #naptime
But we may wake up with a song stuck in our head. #wdw #magickingdom

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“There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow…” It’s just wrong. Who remembers the original song/lyrics? #wdw #magickingdom

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THIS is what Carousel of Progress should sound like. #wdw #magickingdom #throwback

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PinkGirl and Gaston. Just before he dipped her. #ilovemydaughter

PinkGirl swooning over Gaston
(He was SO funny. She hugged him and he immediately asked,
“How does it feel to have your arms around me?”
And he kept telling people “It’s nice to meet me.)

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Magic Kingdom really is beautiful at night. #wdw

Cinderella Castle at Night

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To see more previous facebook update and compilation blog posts, CLICK HERE.

April 12, 2014 Posted by | family, fragments, pragmatic commotion | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

toxic concoction.

Doubt and Faith Toxic Concoction Mark Buchanan Your God is Too SafeI got cocky.

I thought I could logically justify my faith in God.

You’ll find some Christians who’ll tell you they can do it.

not me.

not anymore.

When someone told me my faith was illogical, irrational and unreasonable, I bristled. Or should I say, my ego bristled? I challenged them to prove it.

They couldn’t. (Their emotionally charged reasoning was circular and redundant and they completely ignored me when I poked questions into the holes in their arguments.)

But in the aftermath of those discussions, I discovered I couldn’t disprove it either.

Science and logic have limits. There are some things that can’t be understood or explained (and a definition isn’t an explanation).

Like what causes gravity.
Like human consciousness.
Like quantum entanglement (what Einstein called “spooky action at a distance”).

Like God.

Doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Just means we don’t understand why. Or how.

Somewhere along the way, I forgot that God cannot be completely understood. I forgot that a God I can understand is a God I create. Confine. Any God I can completely understand is limited by time and space and the extent to which I can understand.

Any God who is limited by my understanding is not transcendent.

I was reminded – the hard way – that I don’t want a God I can understand.

It was a season of extreme paradox in my life.

My faith had never been stronger and I had never been more aware of my weakness apart from Christ.

My faith had never been stronger and I had never been more intimately and desperately dependent on the Holy Spirit.

I prayed daily for wisdom and discernment and empathy and compassion. I prayed daily for Him to continuously make me aware of opportunities to be the hands and feet and voice and ears of Christ. Watching and listening for the promptings of the Holy Spirit had never been more in the forefront of my awareness. I prayed not only for the Holy Spirit to prompt me when to speak and act, but when to be silent and still.

I prayed for Him to equip me in what I honestly knew to be beyond my capabilities.

and then.

The person who told me my faith was illogical, irrational and unreasonable asked me a simple question:

If God is sovereign, why pray?

You’d think I would have considered that question before, me being all spiritually “mature” and everything.

Turns out, I had never really thunk it through. I had dismissed it, thoughtlessly citing Biblical platitudes like “I pray because Jesus prayed.” and “I pray because the Bible tells us to pray.”

When I finally looked at the question straight on, my entire relationship with God came to a screeching halt.

I couldn’t pray.

I wanted to turn back the clock. To unthink what I was thinking. I wanted the faith of a child.

I wanted stronger faith.

Suddenly and overwhelmingly, I identified with Philip Yancey when he wrote:

“I envy, truly I envy, those people who pray in simple faith without fretting about how prayer works and how God governs this planet. For some reason I cannot avoid pondering these imponderables.”

What was so different about this question this time? It came at a critical juncture in my life. After arguing with God for months, I had finally taken the terrifying step of obedience by sharing something I believe God was revealing to me. Something I tried to ignore. Something I didn’t want to see: That I was part of a church which marginalized grace, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, prayer and relationship with Christ. That we forgot 1 Corinthians 2:2-5 and were ignoring Matthew 28:19.

I was genuinely repentant and prayed desperately for God to bring revival. Heartbroken, I asked for people to pray with me. I was blindsided by how angry people were, how fast and how much they misunderstood what I said and how vehemently they rejected not only what I was saying, but me.

I had argued with God, finally doing what I believed He was prompting me to do and I was faced with closed hearts, closed minds and slammed doors.

So I did what anyone “mature” in their faith would do. I ran into a cave and hid.

A dark cave.

“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there.

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
1 Kings 19:4-9

Go ahead, sing-song it with me.

“Julie and Elijah, sitting under a tree, w. h. i. n. ing.”

I prayed.

and then I couldn’t.

Because God is sovereign and God’s gonna do what God’s gonna do.

And then I prayed because I couldn’t help it.

Because a life void of intimacy with Christ and utter dependance on the Holy Spirit was vastly empty. and hopelessly dark.

Desolate.

I prayed because I couldn’t help it while at the same time believing that praying to a sovereign God who’s working a plan and doesn’t need my help was…pointless.

Not logical. Not pragmatic.

And that’s where faith is required.

And where doubt came in.

I never doubted the existence of God. I never doubted Christ or the Cross or the redeeming power of His blood. I never doubted my salvation.

I doubted the point of me.

If God is sovereign, why pray?

If God doesn’t need me, why would He even bother with me? Why did He even bother with me?

And that’s why I say I can’t logically justify my faith.

In my darkest night, when God was completely silent, when the logical, rational and reasonable foundation for my faith was beyond my sight,

I still had faith.

I still have faith.

April 10, 2014 Posted by | apologetics, books, Christ-Centered Church, christian living, pinterest, pragmatic communion, praise team music, prayer, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

the home project that never ends: the gameroom.

If you missed the living room makeover, CLICK HERE  to see part one photos and CLICK HERE to see part two photos.

After the living room floor was down, we continued through the opening into – what would be for normal people, the formal dining room – but for us is the game room, (or what the kids used to call the playroom when they were younger).

The game room got its own makeover back in September of 2009. You can CLICK HERE to see those before, during and after photos, but here’s one of the “after” photos that gives a frame of reference with regard to the opening connecting it to the living room.

game room charging station

And after the flooring in the living room was down, that opening looked like this:
(the navy blue curtains you see in the above photo are tied in a knot in the photos below)

game room before

Here’s a full shot of the opening from the game room side.

game room before 2

Ready? Here we go.

All the living room furniture that we had been storing in the family room while we were laying the living room flooring had to be moved OUT of the family room so we could store all the game room furniture in the family room while we laid the game room flooring.

Did you follow that?

Here’s what it looked like. Living room furniture in the in family room:

temporary familyroom living room combo

Game room furniture in the family room.

game room in living room

And a week later. Notice how much messier the family room looks after what at that point was over a month of continued home chaos. That’s paper shredder guts in the middle of the floor, but vacuuming just seemed so…pointless.

game room in the family room 2

In the process, we had to unhook all the electronics and come face to face with the chord chaos we had been ignoring for…a long time.

game room cord chaos

What a mess.

Then I went to EPCOT.
Seriously.
I took PinkGirl to EPCOT and my FavoriteHusband and FavoriteSon tackled the game room floor prep while FavoriteHusband took breaks to hack my facebook and post photos of their progress.

game room floor sand

Take note of that round appliance in the photo above.
It’s an air purifier.
We had three different ones running the entire time.

First the guys pulled up the old carpet and carpet pad. If you click to zoom and look closely, you’ll see some of the glued down carpet padding that FavoriteHusband and FavoriteSon meticulously scraped off the floor. By hand.

game room floor sand 2

After the floor had been scraped, there was a fine layer of white powder EVERYwhere. On the walls, the curtains, the light bulbs…EVERYwhere. The air purifiers definitely helped. I took them apart to vacuum their filters. Here’s one mid-vacuum:

air purifier filter

Then FavHubs ripped off all the old baseboards. They were those standard, boring baseboards and we had long since replaced them in the rest of the downstairs with 4.5 inch baseboards.

game room baseboard removal

After scraping and vacuuming the floor, FavoriteHusband sealed it with Kilz.

game room sealed 4

Another reason I left the house that day. That stuff has a strong odor. Gives me a multi-hour headache.

After the sealer was dry, FavHubs cut and laid the plywood subfloor. (We had to lay a subfloor in the previously carpeted areas to raise the level up to meet the existing kitchen flooring – which we were not going to remove. The new flooring is a floating floor. We installed it right on top of the existing kitchen flooring. But that’s another post.)

game room subfloor 2

Then I got back into the project. These planks have some STRONG adhesive on them, so we learned hard and fast that this job was going to go much more quickly and with less errors if we laid every single plank TOGETHER as a team.

I can’t believe, with as many photos as I took, I can’t find any of the flooring mid-install.
Here’s the end result:

game room new flooring

game room new flooring 3

Then came the new baseboards. You remember that shot above showing the old baseboards mid-rip out? Here’s that same corner.

game room new baseboards 4

FavoriteHusband borrowed a miter saw and a compressor from a friend, watched a few youtube videos to learn how to use a coping saw and look at these beautiful baseboards!

game room new baseboards

Then I needed to mop it.
Or let my irobot Scooba mop it for me.

game room scooba 2

Here’s the nearly-finished room. Still have to finish the dreaded decorating.

game room 2014 after

game room 2014 after 2

game room 2014 after 3

game room 2014 after 4

I’ll post the kitchen photos soon. I hope.

April 6, 2014 Posted by | 2014 home makeover, clean house, home sweet home, poor me some whine | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

facebook fragments: 03/08/14 – 03/14/14 (Tom Sawyer, hate & big red X’s)

Didn’t post much between March 8th and 14th. Blindsided by passive-aggressive actions. It was a painful, praying, processing, healing, closure-filled week. Now, in hindsight, I’m thankful for the lesson.

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Monday, March 10, 2014
“The enemy is NOT creative. He uses the SAME lies over and OVER again in your life.”

How God Handles Our Discouragement from Elevation Media on Vimeo.

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PinkGirl after reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: “HOW did Mark Twain even WRITE that book without falling asleep?!” #ilovemydaughter

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If she hadn’t taken the time and effort to be unkind, this wouldn’t have happened. Nearly 600,000 likes, 85,000 shares and nearly 27,000 comments. #edify

going out of her way to show hate

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Thursday, March 13, 2014 (breakfast)
Sometimes, when I read subjective (and incorrect) opinion obliviously stated as accurate undisputed fact, I put down my yellow highlighter, find a red pen and mark lots of giant X’s all over the page. I’m not saying that just happened. #wheresthefootnote #sayindontmakeitso

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To see more previous facebook update and compilation blog posts, CLICK HERE.

April 4, 2014 Posted by | family, fragments, poor me some whine, pragmatic commotion | , , | 1 Comment

facebook fragments: 03/01/14 – 03/07/14 (chairs, crowns and sarcasm)

Monday, March 3, 2014
1:03am. photos later, but it’s FINALLY down. Not done, but down. Tomorrow we rent the 100 lb. roller for the third and last time. Tuesday, I clean and “polish” the new flooring in the kitchen and eat in kitchen area. And at this moment, we have zero kitchen chairs around our kitchen table. Our comfortable but flooring killer caster tainted rolling chairs are on the back porch, never to be allowed inside again. I NEVER want to lay flooring again. Everything hurts except my ears. and maybe the top of my head. #thehomeprojectthatneverends

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Monday, March 3, 2014 (breakfast)
Me, to FirstHusband this morning: “Part of me says I’m going to take my minivan out into the world today and bring home 4 kitchen chairs. Then I think, nah.”
FirstHusband: “You know what I would say if I were you?
Me: “G’night?”
FirstHusband: “yep.”
(we laid flooring till 2:30am Saturday night and till 1am last night. I got up to take PinkGirl to school this morning and let him get an extra hour and a half in the bed. I think we’re both heading back to bed after breakfast. and after ibuprofen. #mycoffeeisbroken #thehomeprojectthatneverends

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Monday, March 3, 2014 (afternoon)
There’s some ugly furniture on Craigslist. And calling it “high end” doesn’t make it any less ugly. #ihateshopping

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Little known fact: My husband is a sucker for old war movies. I swear these ship and submarine scenes were filmed in a bathtub with toys. Does every sub have a red knob somebody has to turn to stop the water spraying in the sub after they’ve been hit? And now I can’t go to bed till I find out what happens. Good thing the music is so good. #ilovemyhusband Torpedo Run on IMDB

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Craigslist should filter and disallow certain words. Like “beautiful” and “gorgeous” and “MUST SEE!” These words are completely subjective. and more often than not, flat out WRONG. #ihateshopping

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One day, a loooong time ago, somebody looked at these and said, “I’ll take them.”

http://orlando.craigslist.org/fuo/4343888068.html

Ugly Chairs

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The house is completely empty. Time to sing. LOUD.

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In case facebook decided you didn’t want to read some of my facebook posts last week here they are, all on one page: facebook fragments: 02/22/14 – 02/28/14 (the kitchen, a loveseat & lessons from my daughter)

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Getting fitted for a crown this morning, and if you know me, you know I ain’t talking about a tiara – and if you know me, you know what I mean when I say I’d rather go shopping.

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This is 99 cents on Kindle right now.
Lent for NonLent People

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Thursday, March 6, 2014
The cats were digging around in the root veggie box in my pantry like it was a litter box. Turns out they were after this little guy. In my house? In my pantry?

Frog in Grass

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Reading too much on the internet today and keep thinking one thing: Sarcasm is an ineffective persuasive technique. It’s condescending, arrogant, divisive and shuts down dialog. It’s too often used by people in a manner to indicate that an issue is simple and anyone who doesn’t see the simplicity and logic of their side of an argument is an idiot to be ridiculed and dismissed. Seriously. If these issues were simple, they wouldn’t be so controversial. Anyone who uses trite, flippant sarcasm to make a point – especially without even acknowledging any opposing points of view, loses credibility with me – and my interest in any discussion with them about how stupid my point of view is. #seepeople #edify

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Social Media Guard. #seepeople

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To see more previous facebook update and compilation blog posts, CLICK HERE.

April 1, 2014 Posted by | family, fragments, home sweet home, pinterest, poor me some whine, pragmatic commotion, youtube | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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