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April 2008 entries

A Little Bird Once Told Me...

One day recently while working in the house I would occasionally hear a racket coming from outside. It actually sounded like a squirrel running through our gutters at break-neck speed. It would go on for a few seconds and then subside. I left for a while to run errands and returned not thinking anything else about the noises from earlier.

Later in the afternoon, I went outside to check out my little garden. I watch it constantly checking on each and every bud. I compare it to waiting and watching for water to boil. As I went around looking for signs of growth, I noticed that our dog, Buffy, was standing at the gutter downspout with ears perked and tail half-wagging. She would occasionally whimper. I went over to see what she was so focused upon and heard a faint scratching coming from inside of the gutter. I tapped on it and again would hear the noise. I began to realize that the sounds from earlier that morning had evidently resulted in some animal, probably a squirrel, taking a tumble down our gutter downspout.

Ken was out of town with Andy on a father-son weekend so it was up to me to decide what to do. As I could see it, I had two choices: leave the situation alone and wait for the aromatic results which certainly would come OR make every attempt to free the animal. I did what any self-respecting woman would do, I began to plot how I would get this animal out of my gutter!

To get the complete picture and dilemma, you need to understand the design of our house. It is very tall. Two stories. No roof break at the first level. Straight up and straight down. Probably 30 feet. Whatever found itself in the gutter probably fell all the way down and landed in a 45 degree curve at the very bottom where the gutter is bolted/welded into a french drain that runs underground. Definitely a problem and a challenge.

I pulled and tugged but to no avail. I was hopeful that the 45 degree piece would let go from the rest of the gutter, but it did not. It did not even budge. All signs of life within the gutter had disappeared at this time. I decided that I needed a flathead screw driver to wedge the gutter seam apart. I worked and I worked, it barely budged. I do not know what company installed these gutters, but my hat is off to them!

Finally, after several feeble attempts, I could see where my efforts were paying off. Still, it would take more strength than I had so I went inside and got Adam to help. There we all were...Adam, the dog and myself...noses at the gutter...tugging and pulling. All of a sudden...the gutter gave slightly and we all jumped back. I could just see this wild-eyed squirrel lurching from the darkness of the gutter attacking hysterically the first thing in sight. Absolutely nothing happened and we deduced that the gutter needed to move more.

After more attempts, the gutter finally gave way and we all again jumped back about 10 feet. We waited and watched. Nothing happened at first, but then we began to see leaves beginning to be pushed out of the end. Then, there he was...a bird. He tumbled out. Gains his footing and composure. Takes everything in for a minute and then quickly flies to the nearest branch. He looks back down at us probably trying to figure out exactly what had just transpired.

As I was trying to figure out what I would be blogging about this final time with you (and having some difficulty...it is not as easy as it seems), I was reminded of the bird incident. I am just like that little bird. From time to time, I find myself having tumbled down into very dark places of doubt, fear, anxiety and worry. Initially, I put up a really good fight...I analyze, scrutinize, worry, experience sleepless nights and run out every conceivable scenario in my mind with the situation. It consumes me trying to find a resolution. Eventually, I am left totally exhausted and just a breath away from hopelessness. Then, I remember! I cry out to the Lord for His mercy and help. He is faithful. Immediately, I know that He has a perspective on the situation far better than mine. He knows exactly what needs to happen and when. All I have to do is be patient and let Him have the whole thing.

7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

The verb cast is an action verb. It does not imply that Jesus will take our burden away from our clenched grasp. We must give it to Him freely. I must then let it go trusting that He will take care of it in His time in His way bringing Him the most glory.

I am really trying to learn this. It is difficult because I could be a professional at worry! Unlike the little bird freed from the gutter, I can choose to allow the Lord to have the situation right away preventing a lot of sleepless nights!

Thanks for allowing me to share these past few weeks. I love you all. You are a treasure to me!

Marilyn


Books! Books! Books!

I love to read; however, time is limited with a busy family, parttime job and lots of "things" to do around the house. I do like to have a book going on at all times even if it means snatching 10 to 15 minutes before bedtime or while waiting in the car for an appointment to read a few paragraphs.

I thought I would share some books I have read over the past few months with you in the event you like to read books that build your faith. ..my favorite kind! Apart from my daily scripture reading and devotion, it really helps me to read another person's take on faith or new insight into a Christian's daily walk with the Lord. Just a side note...you've heard it before...be careful what you read and by whom. There are false teachers aplenty out there. Checking a book or author out on the web makes it easier, as well as asking other Christians you respect if they have heard of a particular book or writer. We are all human and will not agree on every little thing, but there is a basic belief we should share if we are to invest our time and energy into reading another's work.

Mosaic by Amy Grant - Although I knew I would enjoy reading this book, I had no idea how much! I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is broken into little chapters that do not build upon each other so you do not lose your train of thought should you have to lay it down for several days. Her insight and life experiences are remarkable and she is a very talented/gifted writer. I think I've just convinced myself to re-read it!

Creative Marriage by Ed & Lisa Young - Great book for newly married couples or those contemplating marriage. It hits all of the basics including children, finances, etc. It is all biblically centered and would be a great book for a couple's discussion group or small group!

Beauty Full by Ed Young & Mac Richard - This books says "that each year, society spends billions of dollars to convince us that beauty is exactly skin deep." Another great little book based on God's definition of beauty. Could see this being formulated into some type of small group Bible study for college women. Would be a great book for all women to read especially if you struggle with self-esteem issues.

Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver - I wondered what else I could learn from this very familiar passage. I found out quickly...a whole lot! There is so much packed into this book that I had to read it and digest it in small bits and pieces. It has a Bible study format for those who want to do it as a study. I had a lot to learn from this book.

Get Out of That Pit by Beth Moore - I've read it twice! Beth says that we've either been in a pit in the past OR we're in a pit now OR we'll be in a pit in the future! We've either jumped in OR been pushed in OR slid in without a clue! In her engaging but straightforward way, she gets the point across. Pits are serious stuff. Most importantly, she shares how to get out of the pit God's way!

The Shack by William P. Young - I was given this book for my birthday. I am not into fiction books, but wanted to honor the gift and read it. I am also not one to read book prefaces. Halfway through the book, I decided to go back and read the preface. Lo and behold, it is a non-fiction, true account of one man's journey through tragedy! It reads like fiction. The story is amazing. It is not like anything you have read. It will rattle you at points and test your preconceived notions about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. If you start it, hang in there with it. At some points, I wondered where is this going and do I like the direction, BUT it was worth the read. The story thankfully does not go into exactly what happened to the victim so don't worry when you see where the story is heading. (I did not want to know the details.) As a side note, there is talk of a movie deal.

A Woman of Moderation by Dee Brestin - This is the Bible study I am currently doing on my own. Unfortunately, my schedule did not allow me to join in one of the women's studies at the church so I decided to do this one on my own and I am glad that I did. It specifically addresses some women's compulsion to turn to food for emotional comfort, stress relief, etc. It is a drug of choice for many, including myself. It is biblically based, of course, and strongly stresses scripture memorization, self-examination, daily question/answer, etc. I am really enjoying it and am having fun with the memory verses.

Embrace Grace by Liz Curtis Higgs - This was a gift from a special, dear friend and sister in Christ. It is a very sweet reminder of what grace truly means and what a precious gift it truly is. It gets you out of a fog and helps to refocus the day. Refreshing!

These are just a few. There are more. I hope you enjoy reading books and devotions that express true biblical principles and undergird your daily walk with the Lord!

Talk to you soon!

Marilyn   


Marilyn's Second Insightful Blog

Thanks to all of you who are reading "Out of the Box" during my sabbatical. Many of you have commented on the insightfulness of Marilyn's words. Well, here is another from the First Lady of Dallas Bay.

Lesson Learned from Palm Trees

As a little girl, my family went on a yearly pilgrimage to

Florida

. I anticipated the trip for days. Each year, I was given a brand new bucket and shovel for the beach, and a crisp $5 bill for souvenir shopping! Boy, have times changed!

As we climbed into our car and headed south, I always found myself car sick just a few hours into the trip. I eventually figured it out. It had less to do with the motion of the car and more to do with the summer heat in the back seat. We did not have air conditioning in the car… Before you feel sorry for me, neither did anyone else at the time.

As we motored down the two-lane, excitement would begin to rise when in the distance we could see a lone palm tree. This was a true sign that we had arrived in sunny

Florida

(along with the free orange juice at the

Florida

Welcome

Center

.) Palm trees almost seemed magical to me. They were so different from our oaks, maples and dogwoods. It was such a welcome and exciting site! Finally, we had almost arrived, although there could have been another 2 – 3 hours in the car before our final destination was realized.

A couple of years ago, I was reading through Psalms and came across a scripture that caused me to stop and ponder. I had probably read it before, but this time, something intrigued me about it. I guess at the time I was feeling a little blue. Life was changing rapidly…the boys were growing up quickly…my role was changing here at home to a degree, as well as at the church, and I guess I was questioning how I would move forward and still feel productive and purposeful.

This scripture spoke to me…

“The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree,

He shall grow like a cedar in

Lebanon

.

Those who are planted in the house of the Lord

Shall flourish in the courts of our God.

They shall still bear fruit in old age;

They shall be fresh and flourishing.

To declare that the Lord is upright;

He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”

Psalm 92:12-15 (NKJV)

I began to wonder why the Holy Spirit would compare “the righteous” to a palm tree…I guess my old fascination with palm trees began to float to the surface. At first, I thought perhaps it had to do with the resiliency of the palm tree. It sways and bends during the worst of storms, but rarely do you see one uprooted. Could this be the Christian comparison? I was so curious that I read about the root system of the palm tree, but it just didn’t add up to my initial instinct.

As I thought and researched more, I began to read about the date palm which is a native tree in Middle Eastern countries. This made sense to me especially when I found that there are sources stating that this tree can be traced back in these countries to 4000 BC. It has been used for centuries in a number of ways and continues to be a vital commodity today. One internet source states that the fruit from this palm tree, dates, can be used from everything from livestock feed to a variety of edible forms for humans including an additive to flour for making bread to cooking the leaves and using them as a vegetable, as well as making a special sugar and type of honey. The list is so long, I wouldn’t dare bore you with it all. You get the picture! These babies are valuable! But this isn’t even the best part!

The date palm can live a very long time and bears fruit equally as long! One source cited 100 years! Wow! No wonder the Holy Spirit used the date palm in this passage! It is a long-time fruit bearer! Although the passage mentions bearing fruit in old age, it just didn’t hit me until I saw the wonderful picture the Holy Spirit was painting for me through the palm tree.

I began to see exactly what He was teaching me. As Christians, we know that we are to “bear fruit” but do we sometimes feel that because of age or changing circumstances that our ability to bear fruit will diminish? Will we become less productive, spiritually speaking, over time? Perhaps, we can feel that we aren’t mature enough or know enough about the things of God and His Word to be useful no matter our age?

Back in my beautiful Psalms passage about the palm tree, I began to understand that I do have a purpose throughout all of the changing seasons of my life. God wants to use me  and shows me that there is no age limit or self-imposed limits to prevent Him from using me throughout my life. Seasons will change. Health issues will arise. Children will leave the nest. Change is inevitable, BUT the Lord is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and He says that I can be purposeful and productive for the remainder of my life. All I have to do is look at the palm tree to be reminded of this and just let Him do the cultivating. I need to be faithful and teachable. He says that as a result I will be “fresh and flourishing!” That’s icing on the cake!

We are so fortunate to serve a caring and compassionate God! I hope you never look at a palm tree the same way again! I sure don’t!

Talk to you in a few!

Marilyn


Here's Marilyn's First Entry in My Absence

“Mary, Mary…Quite Contrary”

This time of year I become anxious to get out into the yard and “play in the dirt.” The more technical term is “gardening.” It is hard not to refer to it as “play,” because there are no clean dishes to show for it, no neatly pressed clothes in the dresser drawers as a result and a sparkling bathroom cannot be found when I spend time outdoors. When you think about it, there’s not even a real guarantee that anything will even grow after all of the hard work!

As women, we have become so conditioned to think that unless we are “working” from sun-up to sun-down and have lots to show for it, we are wasting valuable and precious time. I think that most of the time this is not a view that is placed upon us, but one we place upon ourselves.

I always felt that “someday” when the boys were older, I would have all of this additional free time to do the “extras.” Can I say that someday has arrived and there is still no time! Our boys are 21 and 17. Ouch! It still hurts to admit they are that old…or that I’m that old. Anyway, I’m off the point (and there is a point!).

I love that little poem from a Golden Book I read as a child, “Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” Just as a garden requires time and focused attention, so does the life of every believer. We can get so caught up in the very important things of life like earning a living and taking care of our families that we sometimes neglect tending to our own garden, spiritually speaking. We need opportunities to rest our weary minds and bones.

What would happen to a garden if the flower beds were never cleared, shrubs were never pruned and plants were never fertilized or watered? It wouldn’t be much…just a pile of dirt. If we fail to spend time in the Word, pray, share with other believers and feed our souls, then we really don’t have too much to give to anyone or anything including our families or the Lord.

As Christian women, if we say we need to rest, we immediately think that means we must stop all activity. Actually, the noun form of the word “rest” in the New Testament is “anapausis” which can mean refreshment, along with cessation and rest. Sometimes, we can become increasingly fatigued in our minds and spirit and desperately need refreshment. I know it is hard to believe but you can actually become refreshed when you are physically exhausted. Ever been to Disney!?

Let me encourage you as women to take advantage of times of refreshment even when it may delay you in getting “everything” done on your list. Women’s Bible studies are a wonderful way to rest your mind in the Word. Join one of the several studies gearing up right now or do one on your own. I am currently doing Dee Brestin’s “A Woman of Moderation.”

Find time on a regular basis to clear your mind, even if it means walking around in the yard a couple of times! On May 2 and 3, the Women’s Ministry at

Dallas

Bay

is hosting the Live, Love, Laugh Weekend at our church. Check it out!

Women’s events and Bible studies are just a couple of ways to refresh yourself. Don’t neglect your time with the Lord daily even if it is reading a short devotional and scripture passage. Journey, a monthly women’s devotional, is available in the magazine stand in the LEC for any lady in our church. It is typically placed in the rack the last week of each month for the upcoming month. It is first-come first-serve and they go quickly. We will be bumping up quantities in the near future since they readily disappear.

In the meantime…Take a deep breath and REST!

“The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought. And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:11

Love ya, Girlfriends!

Marilyn


The First Lady of DBBC Blogs

Hey guys and gals, as many of you know, the church has given me the month of April as a sabbatical. (That's and extended vacation for you non-religious types) I begin 4 weekend services when I return the first Saturday in May. So they figured I could use a breather.  More about how that's shaping up in a later entry. I just wanted to briefly let you know that Marilyn is going to blog in my stead here at "Out of the Box" for the next little while. Many of you had a lot of positive feedback when I copied her thoughts at Christmas about our son Adam and his fight with childhood cancer. It's great to hear from her perspective about life as the "First Lady" at DBBC. So the next few entries beginning as early as tonight or tomorrow will be from her. She has some great spiritual insights into life that I totally am oblivious of. Don't worry, I'll be back so you don't have to think so hard for long. Blessings!

At Rest,

Pastor KenGold_wing_4_medium_06