Keep Austin Weird

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Georgetown is a far northern almost-suburb of Austin. A few months ago, I stepped out of an elevator and found myself face to face with a friendly woman wearing a bright pink T-shirt emblazoned with the words, “Keep Georgetown normal.” That’s not what most people say around here. The T-shirts I’m more likely to see say, “Keep Austin Weird.”

Yes, my friends, that’s the slogan for my new hometown! Does it mean I must be weird to live here? Probably. Truth be told, we’re all a little weird. I’ve heard a couple of great sermons lately reminding me that, in some ways, we’ve been called to be weird:

Give away money—even if the budget is tight. Who knows how God may use your “widow’s mite”? And many times, when we give, we get to see how God provides for our needs anyway. I’ve been reading about George Muller and the miraculous way he provided for thousands of orphans without ever asking anyone for money.

Give away time—even though life is busy. There’s time enough to do all God wants us to do. (Of course, we may be caught up in a few time-consuming pleasantries that aren’t really part of his plan. I have to keep looking for those and weeding them out.)

Forgive—even when there’s no apology. Apologize—even when it’s awkward. Forgiveness isn’t a suggestion. It’s a command. Bitter grudges only harm us and dim the joy God has for us. If our bodies kept every bruise we ever received, think what a physical mess we’d all be. In the same way, imagine the mess that would come from holding on to every hurt inflicted on our inner selves.

Submit to authority—even when we don’t agree. (I don’t mean we should submit to sin or sinful edicts, of course.) Silent submission may require great strength and courage. The Bible is full of ways God has honored this: Daniel, David, Joseph, Sarah…

Speak with kindness and respect—even when we’re angry. Perhaps this is what “In your anger do not sin” means for many of us.

So, as I close, I’m wondering if there’s a market for T-shirts that say, “Keep Believers Weird.” No? In that case, I hope you’ll simply keep that slogan in the back of your mind this week, smiling as you follow Christ—even if that makes you weird.

 

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These Are a Few of My Favorite Things!

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This week, I’d like to share a few favorites with you.

 

 

 

 

Recent sermon:

“Guardrails of the Heart” Ky Faciane, Bannockburn Baptist Church 2/18/18. Listen here.  (If you’re short on time, start at minute 15.)

Recent Movie:

Wonder. Read about it here.

Older Movie:

The Kid. (The Bruce Willis one, no offense to Christ Pratt, who stars in a movie with the same title.)

Recent Book:

Skirting Tradition by Kay Moser (Fun fiction available here.)

Older Book:

All things written by Hannah Whitall Smith.  Here are a few of her wonderful words:

  • The presence of God is the fortress of his people.
  • What is within us makes or unmakes our joy.
  • Pay no attention to your feelings as a test of your relationship with God, but simply attend to the state of your will and of your faith
  • Never, under any circumstances, give way for one single moment to doubt or discouragement.

New Habit: At least 20 minutes of sunshine every day possible.

Old Recipe: Don’t Knock It ‘Til You’ve Tried It Breakfast Smoothie (For the first time in my life, I don’t get hungry until lunch.)

Into a blender add:

  • 1 ½ cups almond or soy milk
  • 3-4 cups of loosely packed baby spinach
  • 1 banana (unfrozen)
  • 2 T baking cocoa
  • 1-2 T ground flaxseed or chia
  • 2 pitted dates or 1 T honey
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1 ½ –2 cups frozen blueberries

Blend thoroughly. Serves 2.

Tip: Blend together everything except the berries in the evening and refrigerate. Add the berries the next morning and blend again.

Okay, your turn! What are some of your favorites?

 

Secret Shopper

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It was only a table, well, two tables actually, and their matching chairs. The kitchen set was worn out by two childhoods’ worth of homework and supper, birthday parties and art projects. At the dining room table, family dinners once melted into lingering conversations, multiple generations swapping stories and sharing laughter.

Those tables don’t fit in our new home. Their replacements, chosen through long pleasant hours of shopping with Steve, are truly lovely. After months of navigating a garage clogged with cast-offs, I knew the Salvation Army truck was sorely overdue. But I still cried. My tears were happy and sad and unexpected. They surprised me, because I didn’t know that sticks of wood could mean so much.

I walked outside and headed two doors down, where Nick saw me right away. He waved and said, “Hi, Nana!” His mom, having already seen the truck, asked how I was feeling about parting with my longtime belongings. Love. Compassion. Understanding. They comforted me. Soon I was almost as good as new.

Someone around you is holding back tears today. You can’t see their emotion. You don’t know their struggle. Chances are that person is hiding it all rather well. ‘Could be over something as simple as a table or something far more serious. Often the people who need our love, our compassion, and our understanding are the ones we least suspect. So, the only answer is to offer it to everyone. A tall order? Yes, but one I believe pleases our Lord.   

Sultan and the Frisbee

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Since I’ve asked you to share some of your miraculous moments (and please keep them coming), I thought I’d tell you one of my own today.

We were still newlyweds, and hadn’t lived in that first house in northwest Houston for very long. Homeownership was a both a blessing and a burden.

·       We had a big yard, but finding time to cut the grass was a bit of a challenge.

·       We had a dog, Springer, who, despite turning out to be half the size the pound said she would be, brought us great joy for over a decade and a half.

·       And we had terrific neighbors, two of whom had the coolest dogs we had ever seen. (Sorry, Springer!) Steve got his “big dog fix” across the street.

Prince and Sultan were jet black Belgian sheepdogs, gorgeously groomed and perfectly trained. They were also very well fed. One winter weekend, their owners went out of town. We volunteered to care for the dogs in their absence. We learned to prepare the rather complicated meals to which those pampered pooches were accustomed, placing several ingredients into each dog dish and then squishing them together by hand. (Fortunately, Steve didn’t mind. I kept my hands clean.)

The neighbors left. We fed the dogs. Then we stayed outside playing Frisbee until well after sundown. Back inside, washing up for our own late dinner, Steve realized his wedding band was missing. His first thought, of course, was that it might have become an unplanned addition to the dog food. This was not a pleasant thought in any way shape or form, as by then the dog dishes were licked clean. Then we thought about the Frisbee game.

The grass was a bit longer than usual at the time. And rings can be a bit loose on chilly nights. Had that precious bit of gold been flung who-knows-where into the yard? Although beginning to search felt like a needle in a haystack impossibility, we pulled out a flashlight and prayed. God used the very next moment to teach us that he cares about every detail of our lives. No prayer is too big, too small, or too difficult for him. Steve turned the flashlight toward the lawn and there, right there, in the first spot the spotlight lit, was his wedding band. Enough said!

God’s Sweet Gift by Beth Smith

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Bees are remarkable creatures! It takes the nectar from about 2,000,000 flowers to make just one pound of honey. To produce that amount of honey, bees travel a distance equal to twice the circumference of the earth. It’s no wonder honey has been a treasured substance throughout history.

·       In the Old Testament, when Jacob wanted to send a valuable gift to Egypt, he included honey.

·       Manna, the food God supernaturally supplied to his people when they were wandering the wilderness, is described as tasting like wafers with honey.

·       In 1 Kings 14:3 a package assembled to bribe the prophet Ahijah contained bread, cakes and a jar of honey.

In many places in the Bible, the words of God are equated with honey.

·       “The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb” (Psalm 19: 9b-10).

·       How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (Psalm 119:103).

·       Know also that wisdom is like honey for you: If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off” (Proverbs 24:14).

In God’s Word we find wisdom and our eternal hope. We need to “eat” God’s Word—to read, devour, search, and study it. Long ago, honey was hard to come by. It was searched for and treasured. We no longer think of honey in that way. We can go buy a five pound jug of honey that required bees to travel the equivalent of ten times around the earth. We don’t give that a thought. We don’t really treasure honey any more.

We often take the Bible for granted as well. Maybe, because we can pick up a Bible any old time, we no longer think of it as precious. What if, suddenly, there were no Bibles? What if we had to depend upon each other for memorized verses and stories? What if it were against the law to have a Bible or to speak the scriptures out loud? Then would we realize how precious God’s words are?

I hope every time we eat honey, or anything sweet, our thought will be “Yum, that’s good! But the Word of God is even better.”

·       Get a Bible.

·       Read it.

·       Taste and see that the Lord is good!

And have a bit of sweetness in every day.

 

 

 

Miracles in the Mundane

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Where have you seen the miraculous in the mundane, in your everyday life? I’m starting this blog with a question in hopes that right now, before you even finish reading, you’ll take a moment to share an experience in the “What are your thoughts?” section below.

While we can always experience the persistently miraculous around us (natural beauty, the grace of God, the wonder of human health), today I’m talking about the “coincidences” and interventions that surely must be touches of God’s love and blessing.

During our move I saw simple blessings arrive just as I needed them. For example:

My son Tony told me we needed to mulch our beds and trim back our monkey grass as we prepared to sell our home. (Groan. Yes, you’re right. I’ll add those two items to my list, my loonnnggg list.)  A week later I was headed out the door, and there in the street was a man with a truck full of mulch looking for a place to put it.  As the deal was struck he said (I kid you not), “I prep a lot of yards for market. You really ought to trim back that monkey grass. I can do that too.”  A few hours later, my whole yard (I had a BIG yard) looked incredible.

My realtor Mark said, “You need to get all those boxes up off the closet floor.” (Sure, I do, but where am I going to put them since they are too heavy to heft onto a top shelf, too heat sensitive to put in the garage, and…) A few hours later, Ben, Tony’s strong young brother-in-law, said, “I’m heading to Austin this weekend IN A TRUCK. Want me to take anything there for you? Eight heavy boxes? No problem.”

Mulch and boxes? Those were big deals to me at the time, and I noticed God’s hand. Sometimes, though, we allow the miraculous to become mundane. We forget within the hubbub that we’re walking in the presence of the Almighty God, and that he cares about us enough to know the number of hairs on our head.

So let’s have a praise session here. When have you noticed God’s hand?