Monday, March 23, 2009

Oh boy! Our Shoreway house is almost complete. There are a few things that need to be done yet but for the most part ….
We can’t wait.
As with many blended families/households our housing situation has been in flux for too long. Lisa and I knew, before we were married, that we had to address the issue of housing. Thank goodness that God places people in my life with more wisdom than I have the horsepower to muster on my own. Lisa helped me see that the best situation would be to sell both of our homes and get something that we could call ours. To have one spouse move into the home of the other in our situation just did not seem like a long term, healthy situation. As many of you know Lisa and her family have moved three times since Phil died. When we move into Shoreway it will be their fourth. We have boxes that they have not opened since moving out of their Woodsboro home in 2006.
When we were married in Feb of 08, Lisa and Kelli moved in with me in the home I had owned for nearly 28 yrs. We began working toward fixing things up sufficiently for selling, but that took time. Understandably that time period was difficult for Lisa. It’s way past time for Lisa and her kids have a place that they can settle into, a place to call home.
Even before we were married we started going through open houses just to get an idea of what might be available and what we may like to look for in a house. At that time we never imagined building a new house. We continued to look throughout the first half of 2008 and in some houses we would like some things and other things in other houses. We never really found one that we really cared to pursue.
Through a series of events we decided to consider building. We found a lot in a nice, new sub-division that a builder wanted to sell, badly. He made us an offer we couldn’t refuse and … here we are. The process has been interesting, at times stressful. We have always been excited about the progress and now the move in date is very near! A new start, in a new home, built on love and grace, is a gift.
We have felt tremendous support during our sojourn from all of you who have kept Lisa and me and our families in your thoughts and prayers. We can not thank you enough. We ask for continued prayer that our new home, Lisa’s and mine, will be a home where the love of God is always present and all who walk through the doors are as blessed as we have been.
Psalm 127:1

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sometimes, it seems, life is full of so many questions. Lately I have been thinking a lot about grace. As a “lifelong” Christian I understand grace. I understand how “amazing” it is. I think I have a good grasp of the concept.
My question is why do I feel so “disgraced” at times? Why do I feel that at different times something quite the opposite of grace is at work in my life? Does grace ebb and flow, increase and decrease? Is grace given then reneged upon? What does it mean to “fall from grace”? Do things I say, do or think cause this (perceived) retraction of grace? If so then was it ever “grace”…? Do I have to earn grace? Is it right for a Christian to assume grace?
I’ve come to believe that grace, God’s grace, is very foundational to my faith. I am constantly aware that I cannot earn love, salvation, Kingdom consideration, without grace. So what happens to faith when that foundation seams to dissolve? Inevitably it gets shaky.
I remember a poster that I had on my bedroom wall as a teen. It showed a chess board with one of the king game pieces on its normal spot and the only other piece on the board was a pawn, many spaces away. The caption said “if you no longer feel close to God, guess who moved”. I know God is constant. His love is constant. I know He is the same one true God yesterday, today and forever. I know that throughout history He has loved and lavished grace on others just as reject able as me. That gives me hope.
Recently, I have come across the following excerpt from a sermon by Lewis Smedes.
“Well, what's so terrific about grace? I’ll tell you. I'll tell you one thing: for me, it gives me courage and confidence to know that the Maker of the Universe is on my side and that the Judge of the whole world accepts me just the way I am, with all my blots and blemishes. The bad with the good all mixed together. He accepts me, all of me, with no strings attached.
Without the grace of God, I think I’d be haunted by a brooding, guilty conscience about some of the harmful things I’ve said and done in my lifetime. But with the grace of God, I can look myself straight in the eyes and say to myself: "Nothing bad you have ever done can get God to reject you." And nothing can get God to accept you more willingly than he accepts you right now.
Some days when we get sick and tired of trying to be good enough to be acceptable to other people, fed up with trying to make sure people like us and accept us, God's grace just may slip inside our ears and whisper to our hearts: "You are already accepted. You are accepted. You’re accepted. And you will never, never be rejected." That, that is what is so amazing about grace.”

I know this is true. I will try to live as one accepted, never to be rejected, a “child” of God!
2 Corinthians 12:9

Sunday, March 01, 2009

“The Shack”
I had heard a little about this book titled The Shack and it sounded like something I would like to read so I included it on my Christmas list. Sure enough, I did receive it as a gift, and am now reading it. My guess is that many of you have already read it. It is very thought provoking, particularly regarding the nature of our triune God.
I am not a swift reader and am not able to spend a lot of time reading so I cover only a few pages each day. In this book, on nearly every page, I have found words that are profound to me. As I read them I find myself thinking that I would like to explore certain concepts the author touches on and possibly write about them. But these days, it seems, writing doesn’t come as naturally to me and there is simply less time to do that sort of thing (and that’s ok, I’m not complaining).
One thing, though, that I’ve read recently is kind of sticking with me. In one of the passages the character representing God the Father tells the main (human) character that “life is a process not an event”. For some reason that phrase keeps floating around in my head. I’m not sure why it hits me so profoundly. It may be because of all the “processing” (could make a reference to being in a food processor here but that would be a little melodramatic) that has occurred in my life in the last few years.
We sometimes think of our life, our time on this planet, as an event, I think. Maybe it’s that we look at our lives as a series of events. We merely go from one thing to the next as time goes on and “that’s life”. I have come to understand that a series of events does not equal a process. A process can be defined as a series of actions but with a purpose. A process implies a change or on going developments, with growth and improvement as a result. Maybe the wise among us learn this very early on in life. Maybe for some of us it takes a little more time, like a “process”.
I am thankful that we are not alone in this life long process. I am thankful that the creator of this universe is with us every step. I am thankful that He loves us unconditionally, even when we screw up big time. If we allow Him to lead us, if we will follow, if I will slow down enough to listen, the process of healing, of redemption, of sanctification can continue more effectively.