Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Thinning The Heard

Ah well. Politics happens, and from time to time I might make a small mention of it here; le is always welcome to post on any subject, including politics, so if politics happens, it happens, and what the world is going through in 2008 will show up in posts. This election is already more distasteful than I like, but maybe that’s just me.
Guliani and Edwards have stepped down, Huckabee is being marginalized by reality; I miss Dennis Kucinich. I really do-he was an honest contrarian, wearing his tin foil hat around his heart.
H. Clinton and B. Obama are left on the left, J. McCain the muddle and M. Romney the right.
I trust that whoever God decides to place in the White House, the country will continue to be fractured along political ideologies. This election is important; those ideologies are what are being debated, personified in a handful of politicians.
Appeal to God to have governance over not only your life, but your country and world. Submitting to His authority puts all of Creation into the proper perspective. His.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I Am The Grateful Dead

No, not Jerry and Mickey and company-they tour only in our memories now. I mean that I am grateful to God, and dead to this world, so to speak. As Paul said in Philippians:
“20For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”
The temporal is temporary; while we are here, living for God, we live, breathe, fall, get up, make mistakes and grow old. Sometimes we do good; often we mess up and it comes back to us that we are simply sinners saved by Grace. It is His Righteousness which grants us entrance to Heaven, and none of our own.
“15Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:15-17
Never give up, friends. I know that it is hard not to heed the siren call of the world. We are immersed in it daily, but the World doesn’t stand a chance against the Word.
Meaning that He Who has begun a good work in us will continue to perfect us, draw us closer to Himself, and away from the world.
Yes, we fall. Without His Spirit indwelling us, we would be ground to sinful mincemeat, with no hope of ever entering the presence of God in Heaven. But Greater is He Who is in you than he who is in the world.
The body of our humble state will be transformed into conformity with the body of His glory.
May God continue to Bless you, friends, to lift you up when you are down, enable and strengthen you for the coming days. It’s going to be Wonderful.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


My youngest son is getting married this weekend.

It reminds me of how often Jesus taught and talked about marriage. It is recorded in Scripture several times that the religious leaders of the day used questions about marriage to try to trip Jesus up, to try to get Him to say something they could use against Him and have Him killed. Jesus also used a marriage feast to teach His followers about the Kingdom of heaven:
"The Kingdom of heaven is like this. Once there was a king who prepared a wedding feast for his son. He sent his servants to tell the invited guests to come to the feast, but they did not want to come. So he sent other servants with this message for the guests: 'My feast is ready now; my steers and prize calves have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast!' Mat 22.2 - 4
When Jesus revealed that He knew that the woman at the well was living with a man without being married to him, she asked a controversial question on another topic. Because, you see, Jesus knew her. She perceived that He knew everything about her from beginning to end and that made her uncomfortable. When He made it clear that there was nothing she could hide from Him, she tried to change the subject.

You're invited to the wedding feast for the Son. Are you trying to change the subject so that you don't have to face the real question -- will you attend? Don't be like the poor saps in Matthew 22.5 who paid no attention and went about their business! Accept the invitation! Be part of the party, not part of the teeth gnashers.

See you after the wedding!


Saturday, January 19, 2008


Having gone through my high school years relatively unscathed by my choices, I was under the mistaken impression that bad things really couldn't happen to me. It is putting it mildly to say the pregnancy shocked me into facing reality and almost immediately thrust me into adulthood. Looking back now, I see the gentle hand of God, mercifully protecting me in so many situations. I remember being in a circumstance that was almost certainly escalating into a sexual assault, but in my drunken stupor, I started to sing and the guy just got too weirded out, I guess, and left me alone. I remember waking up once under a truck after an all-night party when I heard the driver start the ignition, and just barely getting out from underneath in time. I remember being abandoned by my rides at parties at locations far outside of our town, and just getting into vehicles with anyone who would get me home. I remember hearing about kids being busted at a pot smoking party I had just left before the police arrived. But one can only go so long without reaping the harvest of one's bad decisions. I knew an out-of-wedlock pregnancy was going to be quite humiliating for my family, but even more so for my boyfriend's. They were very involved in their church, and his parents already didn't like me. I wouldn't like my son's girlfriend to behave or dress anything like I did, so now I can certainly understand how they felt.
It was 1974, so Roe v. Wade had already been decided, and legal abortion clinics were popping up, even in my remote neck of the woods. Being a good liberal, I was all for women having a "choice," but even so I couldn't bring myself to think about me having an abortion, and my husband-to-be, bless his heart, wouldn't even consider it; he considered abortion to be murder. In a magical moment, certainly a moment that I can now see that God intervened in His sovereign way, we decided to do the “right thing.” I dropped out of college, we married, and then we faced a daunting vision of adulthood with a child and very little money. My husband struggled to keep food on the table, to finish college, and to begin a teaching career. Any dreams I had for my own career as a music teacher were set aside as I quickly realized my life was no longer my own, that I had to devote myself to my children (another one quickly came into the picture) so that they would be successful people. I was not very happy with my own situation, but I loved my children and my husband, and I saw that my own choices had brought these situations into my life. My husband managed to finish college and found a teaching job in Montana, far away from friends and family.
A couple years later in the small Montana town where my husband had taken his second teaching position, while I was in the hospital having my third baby, my husband signed me up at the local church to sing at funerals. I thought it was a peculiar idea, but he persuaded me that it would be something to do besides watch children and I might make a friend, so I became agreeable to it. My husband had bought me a guitar a year earlier when I had resumed some college music classes at the last town we were in, so I pulled it out to learn a few chords in case that would be useful, and I ended up being the "accompanist" for the several other women who had signed up for funeral duty as well. Before we finished our first meeting together at my home, one of the women suggested we pray. I thought that was odd and it made me very uncomfortable. Then even more strangely, they prayed just as if Jesus were in the room with us and was our friend, instead of the sort of omnipresent disinterested God to whom you just prayed memorized prayers in church. These women had a different sort of understanding of who God was. For days afterward I was bothered and aggravated by the whole situation I had let myself get talked into.
To be continued...

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Winter Of Our Content

“14Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. 17But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. 18You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.” Philippians 2:14-18

Ouch. In a world full of trouble, the first emotion which bubbles up is discontent, which sets us to grumbling.
It’s also the very first impulse of the flesh which we must fight against, so as to prove ourselves blameless and innocent, children of God.
What does a child of God have to complain about? We’ve been re-united with our Father in Heaven, will live Praising God through all of eternity, as co-heirs with Christ will have Everything beyond everything we could ever comprehend, and then some idiot cuts me off in traf…wait a minute!
To complain is human. To …uhm…uncomplain (?) is divine.
Complaining casts aspersions upon the One Who gives us Life.
Look at Paul writing in the above verse: “even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.”
Paul had been stoned, jailed, shipwrecked, been an outcast from his own people, had known sickness and infirmity with that thorn in his side, but he lived to Praise God and share the Gospel. Further on in Philippians we find:
“4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
I wish I always ‘let my gentle spirit be known to all men’. God is continuing to work in my life, has made me a better person than I was, and will improve me in the future.
Praise God from Whom all Blessings flow.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


I spent the last half of my high school years making the transition from nice girl to bad girl in grand style, at least in my own estimation. I still managed to keep my grades up and have some sense for what it would take to get into a good college and make something of my life. But with all my extracurricular activities, I was certainly tempting fate as to whether I would make it there alive. My parents were at a loss when their little girl started staying out all night and coming home smelling of smoke and whatever. I managed to hide a lot from them and, quite frankly, I don't think they wanted to know or would have known what to do about me if they had confronted me. And I really didn't care much if I hurt them or not. I also continued, if you can believe it, to sing in a guitar mass at my church on Saturday afternoons. I don't know why, thinking back on it, and I guess my church didn't care if their worship people lived any sort of Godly life. Either that or I was better at hiding things than I thought. Practically as soon as I left mass, I would jump in a car to go to some party and drink and party half the night. I can't even imagine now living such a duplicitous existence. Imagine having such a seared conscience that you could be in church at four in the afternoon and within hours somewhere else doing any immoral thing you wanted without a moment of guilt. My girlfriends, whom I had always considered a lot looser than I and I also thought were all doing likewise, started to express shock at my blasé attitude regarding premarital sex and drugs. I just thought I was being very modern and liberated and fun!
I don't think I need to mention any more of the things I did during those years. Some of you are living that life right now and the rest of you can imagine what I'm talking about. During this time I met my husband-to-be, who would be quite mortified if I wrote about him in my blog, so I will forego any discussion of our life together during that time. I finished high school and made my plans to start college in the fall. College began and soon I discovered I was pregnant.
To be continued...

Monday, January 07, 2008

My Story

I was raised in a home that today might be considered quite religious. We went to Catholic church every Sunday, and I was brought up with religious training. When I was very young I remember kneeling at our bed and praying before bedtime with my Mom and siblings -- “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep and if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. God bless Mommy and Daddy, Teri and Jeri, Andee, Jobie and Robbie, and Grandpa and Grandma Greff, and Grandpa and Grandma Liebnow. Amen.” Reading that prayer now, it must have been a little scary at age 3 going to bed every night with my last thought being dying in my bed.
I spent most of my youth in confusion about God and how He fit into real life. I knew that I loved God or, more accurately, that I should love God, but as the years went by, it seemed to me that He was just a far off God who did not actually interact with people, although He used to. Now He simply had requirements that we could ignore if we desired. Mass and catechism and sacraments became merely obligations imposed by my mom with a lot of ineffective guilt and improbable divine retribution attached. I became very disillusioned about church and God. My home was moral and loving, but there was never any talk about God being a part of how one was to deal with daily matters. Prayers slowly discontinued as we all objected as being too old for that sort of thing. God was only a Sunday thing, a being Who in my mind was capricious in granting wishes and really quite powerless to stop anyone from doing any evil act. Oh, in the Bible He was great, but in my life and family, He was of little influence, it seemed. I was raised to believe that kindness and goodness were virtues that everyone should exhibit, but the more I was unkind and not good, the more I despised my own character, and in my bruised pride I became confused about what was right and wrong. It was much easier to imagine that society could decide what was wrong and right than to try to follow an overabundance of antiquated rules that no one else was following. School and society seemed to indicate that believing in God and attending church were old-fashioned activities, and for losers, and I certainly didn’t want to be uncool. My life soon began to revolve around trying to have “fun” and be “happy.” I mean, what was the point of doing otherwise? For me fun seemed to mean partying and running around, drugs and drinking--in general, pandering to every whim of my conflicted flesh. After a time of indulging in these sorts of activities I noticed that my conscience didn't even bother me anymore concerning them and I grew less and less worried about appearing to be a person with bad morals. Anything went as long as I wasn't hurting anyone else! My younger sister, in the meantime, had become a “Christian” and seemed to be inordinately concerned that we weren’t all going to be going to heaven after we died. She had the nerve to insinuate that we weren't quite up to par when it came to being Christians. We all thought she was quite arrogant, since clearly, we were Christians! We belonged to a church, didn’t we? We were baptized. We hadn't murdered anyone, right? We weren't criminals. What more could anyone expect?

To be continued...


Friday, January 04, 2008

Patience Makes The Bread Rise

I love 2008 so far. Things are good, Blessed by God, cool like Winter. Things have been so busy at work that our office Christmas Party will actually be a New Years celebration or, if still rushed, a Spring party. It doesn’t matter when it happens; I am glad that this time the drinkin hootenanny won’t be a “Christmas” celebration.
My group is having a ham dinner potluck tonight-when asked what I was bringing I said, “What do you want?” Rolls, and butter, and I wasn’t to be seen at the grocery store before work picking up store brand rolls. Okayfine.
I just finished baking rolls, which turned out fine. For those of you who haven’t been bored yet with my back story, I have at times been a cook and baker, including nearly a year in a hotel bakery turning out breads and desserts. Baking is easy, and fun. As I now sit at a computer, I don’t often have opportunity to mess up a kitchen.
Patience makes the bread rise. As we now see the official start of the political shenanigans, I just want to have the election over and done with. Caucus and primary, general and take the oath, lets get going please.
But we have nearly a year of nasty ahead of us. Patience, Doug. Accept that it is going to take awhile for the election to run its course (downhill, no brakes) while talking heads and pointing fingers sully what is indeed a beautiful year.
I encourage everyone to become involved in the election process, because if all of the good people stay away, disliking the mud, then only the bad people will be left, who revel in it.
First and foremost, pray that God will Bless the United States. He is in charge of all of Creation, and He does indeed hear every prayer. Ask Him to raise up good leaders for our country.
Second, educate yourself on the candidates, and good luck.
Patience, Doug-less than eleven months to go until election day. Sigh.