Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Outcast’s Renown

The Book of Zephaniah is so deeply buried in the Old Testament, it’s easy to forget it’s even there. In fact, I do a double-take when I come across it. Zephaniah, where did that come from?

Nevertheless, I do come across it, on occasion. And once past the chapters of judgment and woe, there are real gems to be found. Today’s ruby is from Zephaniah 3:19, a promise, delivered through this prophet, that God will deal with oppressors.

The verse goes on to promise praise and renown, a restoration of fortunes. Oh, if we could just get there! Past the fear of disaster and the rebellion. Past the injustice and the shame, to the refuge that is promised in the Lord. A Lord who “will exult over [us] with joy…will be quiet in His love…will rejoice over [us].”

“He will be quiet in His love.” How many times do we question God’s presence when we don’t “hear” from Him? But here, He is reminding that He is showing us His utmost love when He’s quiet. This can suggest many things. Like He trusts us? Or He wants us to trust Him? There’s a lot in that verse alone.

The second part I love is the promise. There is a promise of a reversal of fortunes and fame. He says that He Himself will gather the outcast, and turn their shame into praise and renown. What would it take for a person’s shame to become their renown? I can’t even imagine. How can those things I carry with me and turn over in my mind, conversations and choices I would take back in an instant, how can those become my fortune?

This is so our God, though! He loves to confound us – just when we think we’re wise – with something so simple. When I think about it, it is just that, my ridiculous mistakes, my relentless, repeated flops that have carved out it me a space to do what it is that I do. I couldn’t be the teacher, mother, wife, friend that I am without those precious learnings. I suppose I do make my “fortune” from my shame, in that sense. Not sure I’m renown, but I’ll leave that to God!

Lights Out

The lights went out last week, but I still had battery power. And I make sure I put it to good — fun — use!

From Revelation 7:3

From II Kings 3:17

And after reflecting on how much it means to have a space in life to pause and SEE all the gifts we’ve been given.

 

 

A Paper Trail

It’s good to leave a paper trail at work, evidence that we’ve been effective and we have the data to prove it. At home, not so much. The last thing I want to see on my kitchen counter when I get home from work is a pile of papers. Each day, as my sweet husband goes through the mail, it is his intent to organize it. He makes for himself not one, but four piles. Piles I am supposed to be able to identify and take action on. Ask me if I can identify which is which.

For me, the first sign that my house is in disarray: PAPER. Paper everywhere. Between kid crafts and junk mail, I am fighting a losing battle. This week, I set boundaries. If you want to live in my house, all unaccounted for paper must be confined to a lovely, vintage locker basket.

This label and its locker basket make me happy for paper, if only to drop it into my new “Inbox.” From there, it gets placed in one of three files: Do Now, Do Later, or File. And Brandon can take it from there.

Every election year, I am reminded of ancient Israel and the people clambering for a king. I wonder what made them beg for a king in a society that had never had one. What is this inborn need for a leader? And what are the implications of our choosing our own? I believe in God’s sovereignty, but I also believe in His careful protection of our free will. And it is our will that elects the “king.”

When it’s time for me to vote, I always feel this weight. Especially in a country where neither majority party represents my views. Sheesh, just take a look at the top few Republican primary vote-getters! What a history each has. But we can say the same for the king that God called a man after His own heart. How does one ever choose the right man — or woman — to lead us?

Think, Act, Sow Generously

It’s tempting in times of want to hoard. I know I’m tempted. I don’t relish sharing the last bite of my meal. I’ve thought about that bite. I’ve mentally prepared myself: “This is the last bite.” I’ve worked my way toward it, and I anticipate it with satisfaction. If I’m asked to share it, I panic.

January for me, and 200 million other Americans, means a new budget. In our home, we don’t have CDs or annual interest payments that float us through the year, so we have to be thoughtful in our spending. We’ve made life choices that allow us time together as a family – SOW – but those choices come with a price – REAP. And that price has a name: BUDGET. In a budget, every dollar feels like that last bite.

It’s easy to look at our electronic envelopes (care of our newest free app EEBA) and wonder at the proportionality of our spending/saving/giving. It doesn’t add up. It really doesn’t, but I have to trust God on this one. In our home, giving is valued, even when I don’t know how it’s going to add up for my own family in the end. One thing I do know is that it always works. We live in a beautiful home with two healthy kids. We drive two reliable cars to two jobs that allow us to use our talents doing what we love. It adds up, for certain!

And because it adds up – even when my calculator says it shouldn’t – I decide again in 2012, I will sow generously with my finances.

And as my daughter reminded me tonight with a “Mom, you need to cuddle us longer,” money isn’t all I have to give.

I’ve been telling people for years, especially when my work becomes difficult, that I dream of moving to the coast, buying a lovely little storefront, and opening a shop that sells…CAKE PLATES.

I emphasize that we would only sell cake plates — not cake, not piping utensils, not cake knifes nor napkins.

There will be no aisles, just five levels of shelves that run along the walls of the entire space. The darling plates we will display a single layer deep and the lighting will inspire even Transcendentalists to find comfort in a gently pedestalled platter meant for cake and only cake.

The dear town that hosts us will become Destination-Cake-Plate. People will either travel to our beachfront town with the purpose of visiting our shop or stumble across our visionary store and forget entirely all other reasons for visiting the beach.

We will travel the world in search of beautiful, flouncy plates and send orders across the globe. But that’s all we will do — CAKE PLATES. And when it turns 5:00 and the sun makes its way across the plane of the sea, we will turn our sign to Closed and walk barefoot to our sand-strewn cottage beside the shore.

Isn’t it dreamy? A life like that?

And then I remember, it could never make me happy. Not for long, anyway. And my childhood lessons from the Parable of the Talents invade my daydream, and I put my cake plates on the shelf for another day.