Quotidian praises

I love finding new words. Of course, they may not actually BE NEW words, but when they’re new to me, I take great delight in them, just the same. It’s kind of like an odd little  present from God. It doesn’t cost anything and most people would probably skip over them and move on, but I feel compelled to look them up and find a use for them so I won’t forget them.

I’ll bet you can see where this is going, can’t you? ( Want to take a wild guess at what my latest one was? grin)

I’ve always loved words. I think they might just be one of God’s best gifts to us–and I love to see Him at the heart of making sure we have even more new words as evidenced by the Scriptural account of the tower of Babel. One of the side benefits of having more languages in the world is, of course, finding new ways to integrate them into our own–and mangle them in the process! Yes, I’m sure that God knew that would delight me and annoy others in equal measure, so I’m particularly grateful to be on the delighted side of that one!

IMG_20180416_212228055_LLFor years, I’ve made a habit of looking up words as I came across them in my reading. My old red hard-backed Random House College Dictionary was one of my favorite gifts as I graduated from high school, even though I now have no idea who gave it to me. (If it was you, then THANK YOU very much!–I hope you liked the card I sent shortly thereafter as a way to express my gratitude! I’m absolutely certain that happened because my mother and Miss Manners insisted that I use some of those words for every single gift I received during those summer months between high school and college!) My shiny new red dictionary joined the Roget’s College Thesaurus from Mrs. Coffey’s Senior English class, and the small black paper-backed New Handy Webster Dictionary (illustrated) that I had scarfed from my father’s possession long ago as one of my most treasured possessions as I moved out into my own future…into a land that had no idea about personal computers, much less accessing websites to find out information within moments on any given topic.

Along with holding a faded flower, a letter from a former classmate, my certificate of admission to and a note card with the combination for my new mail box at Mississippi University for Women, and a few other mementos, my big old red dictionary has been held and searched by many of the children–and more than a few adults!–left in my care for almost any period of time over an hour or so. I used it the way I was taught:  “When someone uses a word you don’t know, LOOK IT UP!” Countless games of Scrabble and even general conversations required little (and not so little) hands to search the pages and then use of that new found word in as many sentences as possible so that the knowledge would stick. (Y’all are getting a whole new level of how much of a word-nerd I am, aren’t you?! HA!!)

In any case, imagine my delight when I found a new word earlier this evening! I didn’t even stop to finish the sentence before I grabbed my phone and looked up the meaning. Times and energy levels being what they are, I didn’t get out of my chair and take steps to reach for that big red book until it was time to take a picture! In any case, I rolled that new word across my tongue and around in my head as I read the definition. From an online dictionary compliments of Google, I read the following:

quo·tid·i·an
kwōˈtidēən/
adjective
  1. of or occurring every day; daily.
    “the car sped noisily off through the quotidian traffic”
    • ordinary or everyday, especially when mundane.
      “his story is an achingly human one, mired in quotidian details”
      synonyms: dailyeverydayday-to-daydiurnal

      “the quotidian routine”
      ordinaryaveragerun-of-the-milleverydaystandardtypicalmiddle-of-the-roadcommonconventionalmainstreamunremarkableunexceptionalworkaday,commonplacemundaneuninteresting;
      informalnothing to write home about, a dime a dozen
      “her horribly quotidian furniture”

 

In my delight, I immediately informed some close friends about “my new discovery” and found it was a new word to several of them, as well. That these are particularly well-educated women made my delight even greater!

Eventually, I got back to reading the sentence where I first found the word in print–and had the audacious thought that, perhaps, the quoted person should have chosen another word…just to make things clearer, you know…even though it would have made me miss out on a new word. I had to share my merriment at being particular about the use of a word with which I had been unfamiliar just 30 minutes prior. As I laughingly shared with one of my friends, “These are the things that I think must make God put His head in His hand and just sigh deeply about me.”

It’s true…or perhaps it would be, if God weren’t a spirit. Either way, as I thought more about the meaning of my new word, I decided that it actually fits the intent of this blog. In a strange way it is one of my deepest desires that I would offer praise that is so regular and so common as I go about my daily life that it becomes quotidian in the way I live my life. I certainly have the means, the opportunity, the desire, and the option of making it so.

Perhaps you’ll join me? Let’s be quotidian–in the best sense of the word!–in our praise of a God who is anything but, and yet relishes it all. I don’t think God will find that mundane, unremarkable or uninteresting at all, and I’m certain that He would enjoy the change of pace from some of us…including myself.

Grace and Peace!

Learning New Old Things

As odd as this sounds, I think I may have grown up a little bit this past week. A few of my friends are snorting hysterically right now because they think  I may or may not have been “born old” and, maybe (again, Ha!), I’ve acted like that ever since.

I was (AM!) the first-born. A daughter.  A responsible one. The oldest female of the second set of grandchildren on both sides of the family—after a few years break—so I got plenty of attention for just by showing up in the world. That attention came with a lot of expectation, as well, because they seemed to think I could do anything and everything well and, with that much focused attention and instruction everywhere I turned, I learned a lot and I learned it fast or I kept at it until I was satisfied. Sometimes that took awhile, but I’m also stubborn, so that time element never really got in my way other than making me impatient with myself, because—truth be told?—my own expectations for me were even higher than theirs for me.

Knowing how to do things made me more independent and made them excited to see their instruction pay off, so it was a win-win situation for all of us. I just automatically assumed it was my job to keep on meeting  those expectations as I got older, and so I did so…on the surface, at least. I’m grateful for those expectations. Personally, I think they were good for me. I KNOW that the people who expressed them love me and are good for me and that was enough to make me just go DO whatever goal was set… sometimes without even thinking about whether or not it was I really wanted to do or something they had suggested for me.

On the inside, I wondered sometimes what it might feel like to not have those expectations, but then, I’d usually pick up another book and lose myself in the words and find new worlds to conquer and new things to learn and more expectations from myself that came with having all that information up in my brain. You can see where this is going, can’t you?  I come from a long line of seriously capable people and I suspect this pretty much describes their path, as well.

Stubborn, firstborn, introverted-yet-over-achieving female with a large built-in encouraging support system…yes, I was born old…and that’s not a complaint for me, just a comment…and more of a blessing than I’ve given it credit for being until just recently.

I’m not the smartest person I know—not by a long shot!—but I can hang in there with them for awhile and finding out what I don’t know has been as valuable to me as gold over the years. That information helped me focus on what I wanted to learn next, do next, be next.

In fact, I’ve often been so focused on that “next” part that I ignored the “now” part of life. That has been a mistake. I don’t often admit to making those (Mike, quit grinning!), but that’s one of my biggies. All of that go and learn and do has gained me skills, but often left me wondering what I planned to do with all of that…and feeling more than a little frustrated when I couldn’t fill in the blanks for those questions. I still don’t have all those answers.

This past seven months, however, of having the most definitely unplanned luxury of being with my husband and choosing to slow down and enjoy our unexpected time together has taught me a lesson I hope I never forget:  how to just BE in the moment.  I realized just this week that I’ve finally learned that those skills and that knowledge don’t have to be put to work every single second. There are times when you just need to breathe, times when you can fill a whole day (or weeks or months!) with counting the blessings God has poured into your life, times when gratitude for every single thing—good AND bad–about your life needs to consume you and put you on your face before God.

I don’t want to lose that knowledge going forward! I don’t want to go backward and be so determined to know and go and do that I forget to just BE God’s grateful child. I’ve always said that being stubborn was both my worst characteristic and my best—especially as it pertained to my faith!—but now, I want to apply it to this filling gratefulness; this drenching awareness of the goodness and grace of my God. I want to be stubborn about holding on to and living THAT out for the rest of my days.

I almost wrote that I wish I’d learned this lesson earlier, but on second thought, I realize that God’s timing is always perfect. All the steps that led up to now and made me who I am today give me an amazing list of things to be grateful for right now. I may have been a little bit slow (it’s only taken me over 50 years!), but as for tomorrow, well, I plan to know more then, so I expect to be more grateful then…and I plan to be stubborn about that in the future, as well.

“Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;

Praise him, all creatures here below;

Praise him above, ye heavenly host;

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.”

                                                                         ~Thomas Ken, 1674

(1674! And still worth singing.)

Go, GOD!

The proper response to fear

Since I wrote the posting for yesterday, I’ve been notified of at least two more situations where people I love are facing extreme difficulty or threatening health issues and pain.  Frankly, I’m a bit tired of all the bad news and I’ve wondered aloud when the phone would ring to let us hear something positive for a change.

I saw a friend and dear sister in the faith while I was in town earlier today and she mentioned that the same thing is happening in her life.  She commented, “Satan knows he can’t get to me here (pointing to her head), so he’s attacking me here (as she pointed around her).”  I know that can happen.  I also know that God can use anythng He chooses to help us get to where we need to be spiritually…and having this many beloved people in such dire situations has definitely made me draw closer to God in prayer over the past few weeks.

For more years than I can remember, I’ve turned to 2 Chronicles 20 in times of stress and when in need of answers to many of life’s problems.  God seems to delight in reminding me of His greatness through these verses and the margin along the page is covered in dates where He has used this portion of His Word to redirect my focus from my crisis to my Christ.

I had the privilege of doing a short teaching on this chapter a couple of weeks ago and found it, once again, a fabulous reminder of God’s plan for His children.  Since I know that I am not alone in needing this reminder, I thought I’d share a few thoughts about what God has to say in this chapter of the Old Testament…you know, that part of the Bible that some people don’t think it has much relevance for today’s Christian?  (grin)

  • Background:  King Jehoshaphat had done everything right since assuming the throne.  He had prepared his military, took delight in the Lord, removed the places for idol worship and sent out people to instruct the people in the Book of the Law.  John MacArthur says he had “put God’s kingdom in greater spiritual order than at any time since Solomon.”  That is a key point here:  you can’t expect God to make answering your prayers a priority if you aren’t making Him your priority.
  • Verses 1-3 describe the situation–and it was dire…even life-threatening!  The king’s first response the the approaching disaster was quite natural:  fear!  His first action, however, shows that he was well aware of the fact that there are situations where only God can make a difference because  he “set himself to seek the Lord.”
  • Verse 12 is very important.  Oh!  If ever there was a prayer for the scary things we face today it is this one!!  It shows us the proper response to any fear-inducing situation:  in Becky vernacular, he prays,  “O God, we have no power and we don’t have a clue, but our eyes are on YOU!”
  • God’s answer (verses 15-17) didn’t seem to make sense from a human perspective.  Sometimes that’s still the case today.  It doesn’t mean that He’s wrong.  It means He knows things we don’t.  These verses have been beacons of hope for me because I know that nothing can defeat my God, so when He’s fighting my battle for me, it’s as good as over!
  • God’s people made a point to praise Him BEFORE the battle even started.  This is SO important!  Don’t wait until your situation is resolved to remember how great your God is!  Just taking time to praise Him for what He’s already done in your life will do amazing things for your faith–and it may even make the difference you need to see in your current situation.
  • God’s answer for His people in 2 Chronicles 20 was spectacular…and so was His reward for those who served Him!  (Verses 22-25)
  • The people’s response to the victory was even more praise!  That’s pretty important, as well.  Always, always, always keep praising God!  People are watching to see how you handle your Problems AND your Provision—it will make a difference in how they see Him and it will make a difference in how they view you, as well!!!

Naturally, there’s a whole lot more truth to be found in this chapter, but I’m shortening it for this posting on purpose.  I’ll finish with one other favorite portion of this chapter.  It’s found in verse 30:  “Then the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.”

Me?  I think I’ll just keep praising Him in these storms and waiting for His victory to become evident in the lives of these people I love so much…and, in the meantime, I’m really looking forward to that time when my God gives us “rest all around.”

For your weekend…

At the risk of being repetitive and sounding maudlin, for some of us, this week has been a tough one.  For others, it has been a great one…or, perhaps, just a “normal” one.  I know there have been celebrations of life and milestones reached, goals met and lessons learned, changes in jobs and in locations.  Some of us have experienced profound grief and disappointment and some of us have been the catalyst for those emotions.  There have been births and successes…opportunities for joy. Others  have experienced changes of the deepest, most personal sort and feel we are forever changed.

What hasn’t changed is the fact that, wherever we find ourselves today, we are loved and valued by God Most High…and He hasn’t changed a bit.  He’s still right where He’s always been, doing all that He’s always done:  loving, providing, sustaining, encouraging, directing…BEING with us.

Our circumstances and our knowledge/understanding may change.  God remains the same.  That’s comforting to me.  It’s just one of the reasons that He deserves our praise and worship.

Years ago, I found myself at the end of all my resources.  It had been, perhaps, the worst week I’d ever known.  My husband was battling cancer and it had been a rough time for him.  I was working full time and caring for him and our home and I had just reached the end of everything I could manage.  I stood alone in the middle of our living room and I just cried out to God.  There were no words—there was no spare energy for them.  I was simply overwhelmed with grief and I ached in places I didn’t know could hurt.

As I stood there, a praise song came to mind:  “We Bring the Sacrifice of Praise.”  I couldn’t believe that THAT was what God sent me!  It just wouldn’t go away, so I began to sing; slowly at first, because it’s really difficult to sing when you’re crying.  Before long, my hands were in the air and I was singing much stronger.  It was truly a sacrifice of praise at that moment.  I didn’t feel like it.  It brought the word “sacrifice” to a whole new level for me.  I would never have made that choice on my own, but it was totally the right thing to do.

God used that experience to bring me to a deeper level in Him that day.  He taught me about a God who never waivers and my need to praise Him regardless of time or place or circumstance.  He taught me about drawing strength for the next breath as I used that breath to sing His praises and using that newfound strength to get to–and through!—the next thing I would face.

It will work that way for you, too.  For some of us, praising Him will come easily this weekend.  For others, not so much.  Your challenge is to do it anyway.  Take some time and get away from everyone else and just praise God for who He is in your life.  It doesn’t have to take a long time; it doesn’t have to be in song; you don’t have to raise your hands or do anything that feels strange to you; it doesn’t have to even feel a certain way—if fact, you may feel silly at first.  Do it anyway.  Do it as an investment in your relationship with God.  Do it because he deserves our praise…do it because no matter what we’re dealing with or how easy or difficult it may be right now…there is always a reason to praise Him.

See you back here on Monday!

Grace & Peace!  (and lots and lots of praise!)

When the next day isn’t better…

Well, yesterday wasn’t much better than the day before.  The wait is over and the result is the same.  The answer I hoped would be different…isn’t.  It isn’t medical or life-threatening to anyone.  It isn’t even earth shaking to anyone but the two of us.

What it is…well it’s difficult and it’s personal and it’s business and it’s rejection without a hint of feeling and it just hurts.  It really doesn’t matter what it is.  What matters is that every single one of us will have things that do this to us.  There will be things out of our control that make absolutely no sense to us and bring the angry emotions and the frustrated feelings roaring up to the surface and have them threatening to boil over onto every other detail in an otherwise beautiful day.

We knew it might end this way.  As a matter of fact, my husband was kind enough to read my previous post and then say, “Well, honey, just remember your second point on here—it may not go the way we hope and if it doesn’t, He’s got a reason for that, too.”  I hate it when he does that.  I hate it when I know something and I say it and then it gets handed back to me as proof that I was right to begin with over something.  I don’t want to just be right.  I want what I want!  (Can’t you just see the tantrum over here?)

Ever been there?

So…what to do in the midst of this emotional storm?  First, I could choose to go back and read my earlier post.  I was right, after all, so maybe it will be helpful.  (Ok, I really was so hurt and angry that I actually did need to go look to see what my second point was!)  Here it is again:  “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm.” Psalm 37:8 (Thanks for the reminder that my immediate reactions aren’t the end of it—You have provided a better plan for me that doesn’t include anger or worry.)

Well, Hrumph!  Can I just say that this is where I really just wanted to scream or say one of those words my mother would still try to wash my mouth out for using…and it wouldn’t do any good at all because then I’d just have something else I needed to apologize to God about before I was finished?

Actually, I made a drastically different second choice–because while it may not be our first reaction each time we’re hurt or angry, we can still make a choice about our subsequent actions.  This is where I chose to start telling God “thank you” for:

  • Having a plan—and better than that, having one that is for my good (Jeremiah 29:11).
  • Always being right and for loving me even when I’m like this.
  • Having the Psalmist write verse 8 of Chapter 37, so I could have wisdom in the heat of the moment.
  • Having Paul write Ephesians 4: 26 & 27, 30-32, so I know that I can be angry and still choose not to sin and that, instead, I can choose to start forgiving even in my anger.
  • Giving me a husband who will allow me to vent and yet hold me accountable for doing it God’s way.
  • Time to process what is happening.  I didn’t just automatically jump from that incredulous angry hurt straight into a full-blown heart of thanksgiving.  I am choosing to be thankful while the hurt is still present and while the anger is still receding.  It is the quickest way I know to get past it.  You simply cannot be consumed with gratitude and anger at the same time.  God will always get the upper hand and I’d rather choose to be grateful and rest on what I know to be true about Him than wallow in what I may never understand about someone else–don’t miss that because it is really important.
  • Having a plan.  I know.  That was my first one.  It needs to be repeated because God does have a plan for us in this situation.  Now it becomes our job to tune in to Him and find out what it is…once I get a little further down the path…right now, I’m still giving thanks and processing.  Maybe tomorrow?  I’ve got a lot to process…and a lot to be thankful for…

Heroes: Olympic and otherwise…

The 30th Summer Olympiad came to a close in London last night and, speaking from the comfort of my own chair, I thought London did a fabulous job!  In fact, their Olympic torch is probably my absolute favorite—leaves with the names of all the different competing nations engraved on individual parts that rose and joined to create a unified source of inspiration for those competing in the games.  It was a beautiful representation of the games and the spirit of camaraderie they engender.

Throughout the previous two weeks, we’ve been able to see the competitors of varying sports and we’ve been given insight into what brought some of them to this point in their athletic careers.  We’ve been treated to sights of glorious efforts to excel and seen passionate tears in both triumph and defeat.  In addition to the actual games themselves, I’ve enjoyed this time of Olympic heroes and hearing all the wonderful stories of how these committed people began to show signs of talent—maybe just enjoyment!— and how those around them began to encourage the development of skills which helped bring them to where they are today. 

The Games are over, however, and today we return to the regularly scheduled programming of our normal lives with all of the media coverage and the 24 hour “on” life available to us.  The subjects of our stories will shift once more and I, for one, will wonder aloud that we take too loosely that “hero” and “role model” idea.  I believe those terms should be reserved for those who actually exhibit characteristics that are worthy to be emulated, not just skills acquired through hours of practice and genetic ability or beauty, the family you in which were privileged to be born or the wealth you’ve been privileged to inherit. 

Individually, you and I can’t change the national media coverage, but what if we began to look around at those we love and encourage the development of character and the use of ideas to improve our world right where we are?  What if we embraced the fundamental idea that God made every single person you’ll ever see, so there is an inherent value there?  What if we began to compliment people on their kindness and generosity or taking a back seat so someone else can give it a shot instead of being the center of attention at all times?  What if we started complimenting people as we saw fruit of the Spirit in action?  What if THAT became our benchmark?  What if, in the process, we became the standard in our communities?

It can happen.  Let’s not wait four more years to celebrate the ‘heroes’ in our midst.  Who will you celebrate today?  Share with me!