Monday, June 30, 2014

Psalm 134

It's not long, but it's powerful in its simplicity.

"Behold, bless the Lord,
All you servants of the Lord,
Who by night stand in the house of the Lord!
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary,
And bless the Lord.

The Lord who made heaven and earth
Bless you from Zion!"


Sunday, June 29, 2014

You could just change lanes quietly, ya know...

"the teacher with the student"
1 Chronicles 25:8

Well today was an adventure!  My daughter had her first behind-the-wheel lesson today.  I went too, as I was curious about the instructor, and slightly uncomfortable with the idea of my girl driving off with a stranger, and because I'm passionate and possibly the teeniest bit of a control freak when it comes to my kids.

Just for the record, I don't plan on accompanying her on all of her behind-the-wheel lessons, just this one.

It was an uneventful journey, which is exactly what one hopes for when one's child is behind the wheel for the first time.  She was cautious at first, but as she gained a little confidence, she pressed on the gas more purposefully, and followed instructions more quickly.  She didn't make any U-turns, and she didn't back up, but she did just about everything else:  parallel park, perpendicular park, residential driving, and around town a little bit.

But here's the thing ~ and it shocked me.  When we were driving around town, she was behind a bus for awhile and when the bus stopped to pick up passengers, she of course was caught behind it.  The instructor encouraged her to just go around it.  There was room to stay in our lane and still go around the bus, but it was tight, so she did it very carefully, and I guess a little too slowly, because suddenly the car behind us leaned on their horn.  Honked!  At a car that has Student Driver written in big letters on the back!

I turned around to see the person who would do that, just in time to see the car pull out from behind us, and change lanes to go around us.  The driver was a middle-aged woman who glared at us angrily as she went on her way. 

I wasn't mad at her, even though she honked at my baby girl.  And that's progress for me.  After all, don't we all turn into momma bears when someone threatens our cub?

As we continued on our way, and the instructor told my daughter to just disregard rude people, I started thinking about a few occasions in my life where I've been treated similarly.  I remember particularly, driving in Utah several years ago to visit my sister.  It was winter, and it was snowing on the canyon road that leads to her house.  I don't have a lot of experience driving in the snow, so I was staying in the right lane, and driving cautiously.  There weren't a lot of cars on that road so it wasn't a big deal, but all of a sudden a car came up fast behind me, tailgated me for a few minutes, and then went quickly and recklessly around me.   Then he hastily changed lanes again, getting in front of us ~ a little too closely for my comfort.

It didn't really faze me; I'd been driving for long enough to know that every driver is different, and that I lean toward cautious, and that I'm not gonna be pressured by someone else.  That driver might have been fully competent and confident, but I was not.  I was new at it, and liable to over-correct, possibly getting into an accident.

I made the decision that day to make sure I never pressure another in similar situations.  Just because I'm comfortable under a set of given circumstances, doesn't mean everyone is going to be.

And it's not just about driving.  We can be too confident in a lot of areas that might prove to be detrimental to someone else.  Especially when it comes to salvation.  A cavalier attitude about sin, just because you're sure of your salvation, can cause someone else to swerve.  Proceed with caution, and pray for others in your path.

~ "beware lest somehow this liberty of yours
     become a stumbling block to those who are weak" ~
1 Corinthians 8:9

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Lifelong Learning

"of many books there is no end"
Ecclesiastes 12:12

I think I mentioned that I bought some schoolbooks last week.  I'm looking ahead to next year's schooling, organizing and planning.  I also need to pack away the books that my daughter used, until my son is ready for them, and find a good home for the books my son is done with.

Suffice to say, there are books all over my house.

There's a stack by my desk, that I need to go through, and evaluate.  There's a box already packed up in the garage, and two half-filled boxes in the family room.  Then there are two stacks in the garage, going to two different homes. 

But the thing I keep thinking about as I look ahead is the very strong awareness that my daughter will be a senior next year, and I'm running out of time.  Always, in the past, I  knew that anything that didn't get fully taught, I could spill over to the following year.  Or if I thought there was anything she was not quite ready for, I could choose to push it a little farther off.

I don't have that option anymore. 

I want to fill this next year with as much educating as I can, but I know, when it's all said and done, there will still be things I want to teach her.  I love learning, and there's so much I think is important for my kids to know, and I'm afraid if I don't tell them, they won't ever learn it.

That's silly, of course.  She will go on to college, and her learning will continue, both in class and out.  Life is learning, if you are teachable, and she is. 

Some things she'll learn from her teachers in college.  Other things she'll learn on her own, as life teaches her.  Some things she'll never learn.  And maybe that's how it's meant to be.  We can't know everything, and if I believe that God is involved in our lives, then He's involved in what we learn, too.

He's responsible for everything she will learn once she leaves my care.  But that's okay... He's been responsible for it all along. 

~ "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and lowly in heart, 
  and you will find rest for your soul" ~
Matthew 11:29

Friday, June 27, 2014

With a little help from my friends

"indeed she is truly my sister"
Genesis 20:12

I read a great story today.  And it was made even more enjoyable by the fact that I pretty much lived the story yesterday. 

What I read was my sister's blog.  She does a blog about the joys and trials of raising an autistic child, and she said an event that took place over the weekend.  You can read it here

In a nutshell, what happened was that through a slight mistake on my brother-in-law's part, and a slight mistake on my sister's part, she and her son got lost trying to find their way to a specific place in the mountains, where they were to meet her husband. 

She tried for a good long while to fight her way through the marital miscommunication that got her into that situation, but then she was ready to give up.  Her cell phone was useless in the remote area, she had tried several things to find him, and was tired and out of ideas. 

But her son encouraged her to keep trying.  He was earnest and supportive, so she kept going, and a short while later they found their destination.  It's a great story.  But she tells it better, truth be told.

Now, my similar story took place at the DMV yesterday.  I shared a little bit of that joy yesterday.  And I alluded to the fact that we had a little trouble with my daughter's social security number, during which the DMV agent was very pleasant and helpful.  But here are the details:

When we left the house to go to the DMV, I could not find my daughter's social security card.  I looked in several logical places, but a few months ago we had decided to find a new location for it, and of course I now rue that decision.  The kids helped me look, and I called my husband at work to ask him, and we all prayed, but still no luck. 

But that was okay, because we only needed the number, not the card.  I don't have it memorized, but my husband had it written down in his wallet, so he read it off to me.  But when I got to the DMV, and the lovely lady tried to verify it, it didn't work.  She typed it in several times, and clarified my daughter's name and birthdate, but it wasn't coming up on the computer. 

So I called my husband, and read back the number he had given me.  Yup.  That's the number he had.  Now what?  I didn't want to waste the two hours we had spent waiting for our turn, so I called my parents on the off chance they had some record of my kids' social security numbers, and lo and behold, they did!  So my father gave me my daughter's number, which differed from the number my husband had.  So yay!  Problem solved!

I went back to the window and gave the woman the number and would you believe?  It was wrong!  I was stunned.  The woman was so sympathetic, and she's sitting there with all these numbers on pieces of paper that I had given her. 

When all of a sudden...

Now ~ before I tell you the sudden inspiration, I'll give you a visual.

Here's my daughter's SSN:  123-45-6789
Here's what my hubby told me:  123-45-6798
Here's what my father told me:  123-19-6789

Can you believe they both had it written down wrong?  What are the odds? 

But here's the inspiration:  My dad had the middle two numbers wrong, and somehow seeing it written that way, I knew those two numbers were wrong.  Somehow, looking at my daughter's number enough times over the years, I guess there was some familiarity, and I knew my husband had that much of the number right.  I knew I had a light bulb over my head at that point, and I said to the agent:  "Try this..."  and I read off the first five numbers of my husband's version with the last four numbers of my dad's version.  And it worked.

I was the one who figured it out, miraculously, but only with the prompts I had from my hubby and my dad.  They gave me what I needed to make it happen. 

Same with my sister.  She was ready to give up on finding her destination, and just go home.  My nephew insisted they keep trying, and he looked out the window with her and tried to help identify the landmarks they needed.  My sister figured it out, miraculously, but only with the persevering encouragement of my nephew. 

Sweet, funny, wonderful reminders that God gives us what we need, in some pretty unexpected ways...

~ "Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot,
you shall have help." ~
1 Samuel 11:9

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Waiting Game

"they shall drive"
Daniel 4:32

Man, what a day. 

It started off fairly normally, but then I decided today was the day to head to the DMV.

Thank you for your sympathies. 

Though my daughter is well past 17 years old, she has yet to get her driver's license.  When she was 16, she just didn't feel ready, and we certainly didn't feel the need to push her.  But over the past few months, she has taken and passed the class, so it was time to get her permit so that she could start getting behind the wheel. 

Now, these days you can make an appointment before you go to the DMV, but when I tried, the earliest appointments were several weeks out.  So I decided to take my chances just showing up.  (You can also go online to find out what the current wait times are, so when I saw they were low, we hurried over there.)

And it went pretty well.  We only waited in line less than 30 minutes, which seems fairly reasonable to me.  We had her birth certificate, we had her social security number, and we had her certificate of course completion of the Drivers' Training Class.  The man behind the counter looked at everything, assigned us a number, and told us we'd get called to a window in just a few minutes.

Two hours later, we were called to a window.

At which point, our paperwork was filed, and she was given the test to take.  Then my boy and I sat a few minutes longer and waited for her.  Then she turned her test in and the three of us sat for a few more minutes while her test was graded. 

She passed.  Yay!

My point is:  a lot of sitting and waiting.  A lot.  I read for a few minutes, and the kids and I played several rounds of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, but most of the time we just sat and waited, and people-watched. 

The DMV is a fabulous place to people-watch.  I think it's because there is no one who doesn't have to deal with the DMV.  It's the Great Equalizer.  Rich or poor, young or old, US-born or naturalized citizen, of every conceivable race.  And as I sat there and looked around, I thought of how God feels toward each of these people. 

I loved two people in that building ~ the two who were related to me.  But when we got called to a window, we had a little trouble (I had written down my daughter's social security number wrong and needed to call my husband to give it to me again.)  The woman who assisted us was so helpful and understanding; I felt like she was on our side.  

In addition, I did a little bit of chatting with a few of my fellow prisoners.  The woman in front of us in line, and two women sitting behind us in the waiting area. 

So by the time we left, I loved two people, and liked one person, and felt pleasantly toward a few others.  And it occurred to me that for the most part, liking people is all about knowing them.  The more you know someone, the more you like them. 

Now, of course, the more you know someone, the more you know their flaws, too, but that doesn't necessarily mean you won't like them. 

So there's God, on His throne, looking down on all of these people He has created... the young guy with all the tattoos... the woman behind the counter who never smiled.... the older couple who chatted quietly the whole time as if the rest of us didn't exist... and that mom and two kids who passed the time playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon...

People, people and more people.  In my county, in my state, in my country, on my planet.  And He knows and loves each and every one.  Amazing. 

~ "Behold what manner of love 
   the Father has bestowed on us, 
that we should be called children of God!" ~
1 John 3:1

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to church we go

We made it safely to church and back on Sunday.  Praise God!

Normally I would be more nonchalant about our trip to and from church, but I got a good reminder this week about appreciation, especially when it comes to things we take for granted.

The Apple of my Eye was driving.  This in itself is unusual.  While he generally does the driving for the family, I drive to church.  This is for two reasons:  first, we go to church in my car, and I like driving my car.  It's fun.  ☺

 But also, first thing on Sunday mornings ~ like, really first thing ~ he plays pickup ice hockey with some friends.  Early on Sundays is when they can get the rink for free, and everyone can manage the time in their schedule.  So by the time we leave for church, he's already been up several hours and driven ± 20 miles, and he's quite happy to just sit, and let me drive. 

But this week, I was trying to help my daughter with something, and it made us a few minutes late in leaving the house.  Not a lot, but enough that he had decided to save a little time by starting the car and backing it out of the garage.  So she and I just ran out of the house and hopped in.  And off we went. 

We hadn't gotten far ~ only to the first major intersection on our route ~ when my hubby made a left turn and nearly hit a cyclist who was crossing the street when it wasn't her turn.  He braked hard, and the kids and I all flew forward in our seats, and the cyclist looked up with an expression that could have been "whoops!" if you were generous, but really seemed more like, "hi, how are you?" 

Which seemed a surprising response, considering we could have killed her, if my hubby hadn't been aware, and had a quick response.  But, ya know, to each her own.

Then as we turned into the parking lot of church, we had another near-miss.  This time it was us making a left turn, when all of a sudden we had to brake hard ~ again ~ as a car that we thought was going to turn before it got to us, didn't.  It was coming straight, and we were in its path.  It wasn't coming fast, and they slowed down, allowing us to go ahead into the parking lot. 

Neither instance was anything more than a small error, with huge possible consequences.  But in both cases, everything turned out fine.  Disaster was avoided. 

I hadn't prayed for a safe journey when we left the house.  But I was certainly thanking Him for it by the time we arrived.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Closer Look at Psalm 145

This particular analysis of a psalm is so interesting to me.  As I read this psalm yesterday morning, I pondered and thought and wondered what made it unique and different.  I focused on the words and the rhythms as I normally do, and you know what I found?  Well you will in a minute...

I found a wonderful pattern ~ here, I'll show it to you visually... {Although, is there another way to show something to someone, than visually??}

"I will extol You, my God, O King;
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
And His greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.
I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty,
And on Your wondrous works.
Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts,
And I will declare Your greatness.
They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness,
And shall sing of Your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and full of compassion,
Slow to anger and great in mercy.
The Lord is good to all,
And His tender mercies are over all His works. 

All Your works shall praise You, O Lord,
And Your saints shall bless You.
They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom,
And talk of Your power,
To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts,
And the glorious majesty of His kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.

The Lord upholds all who fall,
And raises up all how are bowed down.
The eyes of all look expectantly to You,
And You give them their food in due season.
You open Your hand
And satisfy the desire of every living thing.

The Lord is righteous in all His ways,
Gracious in all His works.
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He also will hear their cry and save them.
The Lord preserves all who love Him,
But all the wicked He will destroy.
My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord,
And all flesh shall bless His holy name
Forever and ever."

The pink is first person:  "I will declare Your greatness."  The blue is third person:  "Your saints shall bless You," and "All Your works shall praise You."  And the red lines are the facts; the truth of why He is to be praised.

I love that David did this, and I thought (not for the first time) about what a great writer David was.  If I were in charge of psalms, I just never would have thought to mix and match, ya know?  I'd have done a psalm about me praising Him, and then another psalm about others praising Him, and then a different one altogether about reasons to praise Him. 

Of course, David did that, too.

But mostly, I thought this was a beautiful representation of the truth of Philippians 2:10-11 ~ "every knee will bow and every tongue confess..."  It's sort of "I praise; you praise; he, she and it praise."

What a wonderful conjugation. 

~ "at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow, 
of those in heaven, and those on earth,
and of those under the earth,
and that every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father." ~
Philippians 2:10-11

Monday, June 23, 2014

Psalm 145

"I will extol You, my God, O King;
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever...

One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.
I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty,
And on Your wondrous works.
Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts,
And I will declare Your greatness.
They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness,
And shall sing of Your righteousness.

All Your works shall praise You, O Lord,
And Your saints shall bless You.
They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom,
And talk of Your power...

My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord,
And all flesh shall bless His holy name
Forever and ever." 

(verses 1-2, 4-7, 10-11, 21)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

I may not know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future

"Write these words..."
Exodus 34:27

Okay, this one's gonna be a little confusing, so stick with me...

I'm going to have a new job come Autumn.  Well, not a paying job, but a wonderful writing job, with the Bible Study organization I've been involved with for 14 years.  It's an international group, and I get to be a part of putting together teaching materials for the children enrolled in the program.  It's an exciting opportunity for me to study the Bible, grow as a writer, and help others study the Bible. 

I don't start until September, and I haven't met anyone else on the team.  I've only had phone and email conversations with a few of them.  So I'm eager to meet them and get to know the women I'll be working with.

I also don't entirely know what the work will consist of.  How many hours a week will I be working?  What book of the Bible will I be working on?  What aspects of the job will be hard for me, and what parts will be a breeze for me?  I have no idea what I don't know.  And yet I'm excited.

The way this whole opportunity came about was sort of unexpected, too.  My friend J found out from K that they had an opening on the team, and J recommended me.  Then K talked to the director of my class, who apparently seconded the recommendation, and some days of prayer later, it was a done deal.   That all happened about a month ago.

Now, last week, my friend J had occasion to speak with Y, another lady on the team.  Afterward, when I was chatting with J, she said to me, "Y is so excited to have you on the team!"  It was sweet of her to say, but all I could think was, "Why in the world would she be excited??"  I've never met Y, and I don't know that she knows anything about me.  And even if she does, it can't be much.  Plus, I live in California, K lives in Texas and Y lives in Colorado.  Other than being involved in the same organization, we don't have much to go on as far as knowing each other. 

And frankly, I honestly don't think I'm much to be excited about.  I'm just me.  Flaws and weaknesses and whatnot, galore.

But immediately after wondering why Y would be excited about little old me, I realized that I'm excited about being on the team, even though there's so much I don't know.  And it occurred to me that that's what faith is.  It's not just the knowledge that God holds the future in His hands, but that what He's got in mind is exciting and wonderful

It's a great outlook on life.  Tomorrow, next week, and ~ yes, September ~ all hold exciting things for me.  It makes me eager for for every bit of what the Lord has planned for me, because all I have to do is trust Him.

~ "Behold, this is the joy of His way" ~
Job 8:19

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Lesson from a Fitted Sheet

 "a good fold"
Ezekiel 34:14

I asked my daughter to help me with the laundry today.  It's not the first time, of course.  My kids have their own chores over the course of a day and a week, and one of them is my "laundry assistant," and one of them is my "kitchen assistant".

They both know how to do the laundry and the dishes of course, but those are two chores I like to have my hands in.  I guess I want them done just right, ya know?  And that includes folding the laundry, and then they put it away. 

But I needed to get ready to go today, and she was ready.  So I tossed her a fitted sheet and asked her to fold it for me. 

Now, I don't know if you have any experience with folding fitted sheets.  If you're not the laundry do-er in your house, maybe not.  Or maybe you do the laundry, but you're one of those who just sort of squishes or crumples the sheet to get it to fit in the cupboard. 

For those of you who don't know, there's a trick to folding a fitted sheet.  You have to tuck the corners inside each other, so that you have a rectangle one quarter the size of the unfolded sheet.  One corner of this rectangle will be rounded, and the others squared off.  From there it's pretty easy to fold it as you would any rectangular object. 

There are videos online if you can't quite visualize all that. 

Anyhow, my girl doesn't have a lot of experience with this.  She has seen me do it many times, but I'm not sure she's ever soloed.  She kind of grinned at me suspiciously as I handed it to her and walked out of the room. 

Now, the reason for the grin was twofold:  First, she knew that I knew that she didn't quite know what she was doing.  But secondly, she knew that I know that she's got a bit of an obsessive-compulsive streak.  Not only would it be hard to for her to do it perfectly, but that fact would drive her crazy. 

And as I left the room, I tossed these words over my shoulder:  "There's a lesson to be learned from the folding of fitted sheets!"  She called back, "What's that?"  And I poked my head back around the corner of the room, grinned at her and said, "Life's not perfect."

I don't know about you, but I have a lot of control in my life.  My schedule, what I buy at the grocery store, my bedtime, what I wear each day, who my kids interact with, etc.  Not everything of course.  I don't buy caviar when I go to the grocery store, because I know it's not prudent.  But that's my choice.  I have control over that.  And of course, I get sick occasionally, or my car breaks down, or my dog and my cat both die in the same month, but for the most part, I'm sayin', the events of my life are largely in my control.  And that fact sometimes lulls me into a happy little complacency here on this earth. 

And I don't know if I've got the same obsessive-compulsive streak that my girl does, but I do know that she didn't get that from her father. *

 { * Except when it comes to their artwork.  
They're both such perfectionists when it comes to their art! }

And that's why it occurred to me all of a sudden that it does us good to be reminded that we live on a fallen planet.  That while we make our lives as good as we can here, it's not perfect, and the better is yet to come.  I read someplace once ~ maybe C.S. Lewis ~ that for those who are going to heaven, life on earth is as bad as we will ever know.  And for those who are destined to spend eternity apart from God, life on earth is as good as they will ever know. 

I'm grateful for the reminder that my life here ~ no matter how much I try to make it as good as I can ~ is far from perfect.  He's got something even better for us.

~ "Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!
    For indeed your reward is great in heaven" ~
Luke 6:23

Friday, June 20, 2014

There's nothing new about the news

"that righteous man, dwelling among them..."
2 Peter 2:8

See anything interesting on the news lately?  I saw a U.S. soldier receiving a Medal of Honor today.  William "Kyle" Carpenter got between a grenade and a fellow soldier in Afghanistan in 2010.  Today he has multiple scars and a glass eye, along with other "mementos" of his heroism.

photo credit:
He also has a very sweet smile.  Made me feel proud and happy, all at the same time.

photo credit:
Plus, he looks a little like my brother-in-law.

I also saw, on the news today, updates on the IRS scandal, the rescue of a caver in Germany, and the election of the new House Majority Leader.  All interesting stuff.

But you know what was an interesting story?  How about this:  a principal in New York who wrote a letter to his graduating seniors to be printed in the yearbooks.  Only trouble was, he plagiarized sections from another principal's letter.  So his letter congratulated students from the wrong school.

A principal.  It was one of those stories that made me say, "What is wrong with people??"

I tell you what I didn't see on the news today:  any of those stories about the terrible things that people do to other people.  I'm pretty sure those things happened, but I don't like hearing about it, so I avoid those news stories.

Pretending that those kinds of things aren't happening helps my daily happiness level, but in a way, maybe it's a form of denial.  After all, I still know that terrible things are going on. 

I thought about this today, and it made me think of Lot, in the Book of Genesis.   Chapter 19 tells us of his trying to intervene when the men of his town were sinning.  2 Peter 2 tells us that Lot was not only righteous, but oppressed by the wicked conduct around him.

Lot was tormented by what he saw and heard.  Am I?  Generally not.  I turn my head to a lot of it, and for much of the rest, I roll my eyes and chalk it up to the state of the world we're in.  I have no outrage, and I'm certainly not tormented.

It bothers me how little I'm bothered.  And I wonder if I've just got my eyes on this world too much.  It's what's normal to me.  And maybe if I thought about heaven a little more, thought about God's standard, then I'd be horrified and offended by what going on here, whether halfway around the world, or in my community.  It's just another way of wanting what He wants.

~ "The Lord is righteous,
    and my people and I are wicked." ~
Exodus 9:27

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Listen, my children, and you shall hear...

"sent to speak..."
Jeremiah 26:15

It's a bit of a historic week this week.  Well, it is if you're a bit of a policy wonk, like me.  This is the last week of Jay Carney's stint as White House Press Secretary.  He is President Obama's second, after Robert Gibbs, having taken over the job in 2011.  Next up:  John Earnest.

I first learned what a Press Secretary was when Ronald Reagan was shot, in 1981.  James Brady was injured, along with the president and two others.  Brady was left paralyzed.  I was young when the assassination was attempted, but naturally it was an event I remember well. 

But I really didn't start paying attention to White House Press Secretaries until the late 80s.   Five Presidents, twelve Press Secretaries.  I remember each of them very well, and almost without exception, I either loved them or hated them.  It's a very tricky job, and in my opinion, one that's hard to do well.  Press Secretaries have to make statements and answer questions, being honest and cooperative, but sometimes without saying too much.  And always, everything they say has to be what their boss wants them to say. 

Naturally I don't always know what the Press Secretary knows and what they don't; what they're allowed to say and what they're not.  I judge their abilities mostly on how well they interact with the press, whether they show respect or get snarky too easily.  As far as the information itself, I'm more likely to have issue with the president they are representing.  My opinion there, of course, often falls along party lines. 

It's an important distinction, I think.  If you have issues with the delivery, take it up with the messenger.  If you have issues with the message, your issue is with the one who sent it. 

My thoughts on press secretaries have got me thinking about prophets.  The Bible has such a vast array of prophets, who have been received in every possible way.  Revered or reviled,  heeded or ignored... And the prophets themselves ~ some devoted, some reluctant.  But all of them ~ just the messengers.  The messages came from Him. 

I love that God used all sorts of people to bring His messages to the world.  I love reading their stories, appreciating their personalities, learning from their perseverance, their faithfulness, and even their mistakes.  I love that we know them well enough to have favorites, or to develop an admiration for one style over another.  But the words are the thing.  For in them, we hear Him.

~ "Like the cold of snow in time of harvest
   is a faithful messenger" ~
Proverbs 25:13
Answers to yesterday's quiz:
1 = F
2 = D
3 = E
4 = C
5 = A

1 = Bethlehem
2 = an angel
3 = in the Jordan river
4 = with Scripture
5 = turning water into wine

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Quiz Time!

"to teach the children"
2 Samuel 1:18

I'm getting set for next year's schooling already.  I both hate and love this time of year.  Part of me just wants to concentrate on finishing this year, but I can't wait until late August to get organized.  At the same time, it's always exciting to look through books and plan how and what my kids (and I) will learn next year. 

The trigger was a box full of hand-me-down books from a friend of mine.  She moved last weekend, and found some stuff she didn't need anymore, so she gave them to me.  So I went through the stack, and got out the stuff I already had in my garage, and laid books out all over the dining room table, and made notes and rearranged the books and then rearranged them again.

Anyhow, one of the things I discovered was some Bible study curriculum, including a quiz book.  So I thought I'd let you get in on the fun!  This is going to differ from quizzes I've given you in the past, however, as these are not multiple choice.  We've got some matching, and some short answer.  You ready?  Then allez-cuisine!

Match the description with the correct name:

1.  father of John the Baptist                                 A.  Emmanuel
2.  brought to Christ by Philip                                B.  Gabriel
3.  prophesied where Christ would be born           C.  Herod
4.  attempted to kill Jesus                                      D.  Nathanael
5.  means "God with us"                                        E.  Micah
                                                             F.  Zacharias

Short answer:

1.  Where was Jesus born?
2.  Who warned Joseph to flee to Egypt?
3.  Where was Jesus baptized?
4.  How did Jesus answer satan at each temptation?
5.  What was Jesus' first miracle?

Answers tomorrow!

~ "You, O Lord of hosts,
     You test the righteous,
      And see the mind and heart" ~
Jeremiah 20:12

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

And then there were none

"I shall die in my nest..."
Job 29:18

So, well, here's the thing.  The hummingbirds are gone from our apple tree. 

A few days ago when I looked in the nest, there was only one baby.  We didn't know if the momma had taken one for a flying lesson, or what.  I've done a little research on how baby hummingbirds grow, but we didn't know how old ours were, so it was hard to gauge if they were old enough for that.  And when we looked again that day, and the next, we saw only one.  We saw no evidence of foul play, so we could only assume that the stronger one (and one was definitely stronger) had left the nest and found an apartment of his own. 

Then yesterday I saw the momma, flitting about near the nest.  I watched her for a few minutes, but she didn't go to the nest.  She perched nearby, and then a short time later, she flew away, and I got on with my day.  A few hours later, when I looked in the nest, I saw only one baby.  And he was in an unnatural position, and clearly not breathing. 

I came back in and told my family, and my son went and looked, and came to the same conclusion I did.  Something had gone wrong, and the little one had died. 

We were a little sad ~ it had been fun to check on their progress every day, and to know that little lives were growing, so very close to our home.  And knowing that his life was over so soon was unfortunate.  I thought about cutting off the branch with the nest on it, to keep.  The nest is such an amazing creation, and so lovely, I thought maybe I'd set it on one of the bookshelves in our living room, so we could appreciate it. 

But I decided against it.  I had read that sometimes hummingbirds reuse their nests, and I didn't want to keep that from happening.  Besides, I could admire it just as well from my dining room window, right?

Sadly that is not to be, either.  This morning when I looked out the window, the nest was destroyed.  About one-third of it remains, clinging to the branch.  The fluffy stuff had been pulled out and scattered, and the little baby was gone. 

The kids and I were bummed, but at the same time, there was a sense of resignation.  "It happens..." we each thought to ourselves.  Nature does what it will do. 

But I was having another feeling, too.  A sort of reluctant realization that I needed to be thankful for the death of that tiny creature, and the destruction of that perfect avian cradle.  I had felt privileged that we were "chosen" to witness this bit of nature that often takes place in hiding.  But what ultimately happened was also natural, and if I was going to be thankful for one, shouldn't I also be thankful for the other?

Many moons ago, before I became pregnant with my beautiful daughter, there was another.  Our first baby was lost, early on, to miscarriage, and more than one person said to me something along the lines of, "It's probably a blessing, because probably that baby wouldn't have been able to live."  And that might have been true, but it didn't make it hurt any less. By the same token, whatever happened with the birds and the nest was exactly what was supposed to happen.  Only God knows what, and why, but it was just as much a part of His plan. 

The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away, whether it's babies, jobs, or hummingbirds.  And if I'm gonna trust that He knows what He's doing in the happy things, then I need to trust Him in my disappointments, too.

~ "My righteousness is near,
    My salvation has gone forth,
   And My arms will judge the peoples;
 The coastlands will wait upon Me,
       and on My arm they will trust." ~
Isaiah 51:5

Monday, June 16, 2014

Lord Have Mercy

Psalm 136

"Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Oh, give thanks to the God of gods!
For His mercy endures forever.
Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords!
For His mercy endures forever:

To Him who alone does great wonders,
For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who by wisdom made the heavens,
For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who laid out the earth above the waters,
For His mercy endures forever;

To Him who made great lights,
For His mercy endures forever -
The sun to rule by day,
For His mercy endures forever;
The moon and stars to rule by night,
For His mercy endures forever.

With a strong hand, and with an outstretched arm,
For His mercy endures forever...

Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven!
For His mercy endures forever.

(verses 1-9, 12, 26)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Making Progress

"to floor the house"
2 Chronicles 34:11

We are in the throes of re-flooring another room.  My daughter's, this time.  We took everything out of the room on Thursday evening, and then yestereve ~ yup; I'm goin' with "yestereve".  It's accurate, and it's got panache.

Anyhow, yestereve we got absolutely nothing done, because we were too busy watching our Los Angeles Kings win Lord Stanley's Cup.  In double overtime.  I mean please, who can work after that?

So today we got back into it.  The floor had to be scraped to get the last of the glue that was holding down the padding, and the pieces of padding that were stuck to the glue that was holding down the padding.  And the tack strips needed to be pried up from around the room.  And I gotta be honest, I was less than helpful. 

I was good once we got past that point.  We got into a good rhythm in the evening ~ hubby was measuring and marking, daughter and I did the sawing, and then hubby and the boy put them into place.  So I was able to do my part then. 

But in the morning, I just couldn't help.  My knee has been hurting me, so I'm not able to bend it for long periods, so that leaves off crouching and scraping.  And the vertigo I've been experiencing prevents me from excess bending.  So you know what I did instead?  The dishes.  Normally one of the kids would be responsible for them, but since they were helping with the floors, I did their chores for them.  I tidied up the living room, putting away a few of their things.  I emptied the trash and got lunch ready ~ all things that I wouldn't normally have done.  But today it was my way of helping out.

They were on the front lines, you might say.  I was the support team. 

I read a long time ago that the average army is made up mostly of support.  Some number like 80% of the army supports the 20% who fight.  I don't know if it's true, but it sounds true.  I've seen it to be true in other areas of life, too.  So that's what I've been concentrating on.  The kids have each had a turn being forced out of their rooms, and having to sleep on a mattress in their sibling's room.  There is furniture in every room in the house, and in the garage, and it's all made me work even harder at making the house run smoothly.  Everyone needs all the normalcy they can get.

We can't all be on the front lines.  We can't all be doing the "important" or the noticeable work.  Sometimes we are the ones doing the regular stuff, so that something big can be achieved by someone else.  When the floors are all done, I'll know that my kids and my sweetie did way more than I did to accomplish that.  But I'll also know that what I did enabled them to do what they did.

~ "there are workmen with you in abundance...
  all types of skillful men for every kind of work.
   Arise and begin working, and the Lord be with you." ~
1 Chronicles 22:15,16

Saturday, June 14, 2014

It's like wearing special glasses

"break forth in song,
rejoice and sing!"
Psalm 98:4

I had a fun experience today, thinking about this post.  And I learned a little something new.

You see, I had a song in my head this morning ~ well, a portion of a song.  It goes like this:

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace"

I have long loved this sweet chorus, partially because of the simplicity of the words, and the truth in them; and partially because I love the tune.  It's fun to sing.  I've heard it at church, and on the radio, tacked onto or interspersed between verses of more contemporary songs.  It seems to complement so many other songs; there's just something so delightfully understated about it. 

And I had a thought I wanted to share with you about this song, which I'll do in a minute.  But I decided to do a little research, to find out who wrote the song, and lo and behold, there's a whole bunch more song than I ever knew!  Those words I love are just the chorus of a song called "The Heavenly Vision," written by Helen Howarth Lemmel in 1922.  Don't you just love, by the way, how many of the old hymns were written by women?  The verses are these:

"O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There's light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Thro' death into life everlasting
He pass'd, and we follow Him there
Over us sin hath no more dominion
For more than conquer'rs we are!

His word shall not fail you ~ He promised;
Believe Him and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell."

So that's the new thing I learned today.  And now so have you.  And if you knew already, why didn't you tell me?

Now here's the point I wanted to make originally, going back to that glorious chorus.  The message in those words is to keep your eyes on Him ~ well, more than that:  to bring your eyes back to Him, when they've wandered or been distracted.  It's about focus, and the promise inherent in that devotion, namely, the things of earth will fade when He is at the center of our thoughts.

For a long time those words were a balm to me, in times of stress or anxiety.  They were a reminder to not focus on my struggle or trial, but on His love and salvation, and His plan for me.  But at some point I came to the realization that my eyes should be on Him all the time, not just when I'm worried or scared.  I realized that it's something I should strive to achieve when I study the Bible, when I pray, when I sing, when I interact with people, etc. 

I know, with something like praying, you'd think my mind would be automatically be on Him, but it can so easily be about me, as soon as I'm finished saying, "Good morning, Lord."  Keeping my eyes on Him has to be a frequent, deliberate decision, but it's well worth it.  Y'know, in light of His glory and grace.

~ "my eyes are upon You,
   O God the Lord;
      In You I take refuge" ~
Psalm 141:8

Friday, June 13, 2014

Reasons to Praise

Praising Him today...

Because of His Grace
"And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus."
Ephesians 2:6-7

Because He Cleanses
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
1 John 1:9

Because He was First
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
Genesis 1:1

Because He is our High Tower
"My lovingkindness and my fortress, my high tower and my deliverer, my shield and the One in whom I take refuge."
Psalm 144:2

Because He is the Bread of Life
"I am the living bread which came down from heaven.  If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."
John 6:51

Because He is Last
"This is what the Lord says - Israel's King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty; I am the first and I am the last; 
apart from Me there is no God."
Isaiah 44:6

Because He is the Provider
"Those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing."
Psalm 34:10


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Not your usual "thanks-giving" birds

"every good and perfect gift"
James 1:17

So this is how my priorities have shifted this week... every morning when I get up, one of the first things I do is head to the dining room, and look out the window to see how our momma and baby hummingbirds are doing.

The two little ones are getting just a little bigger every day; we can actually see them poking their little beaks above the surface of the nest.  But we've still got the ladder near the tree, so once a day I climb up and peek into the nest while the momma is gone.  Today I actually saw a tiny wing.  Up until now they've just looked like tiny fuzzy blobs.  You can't even see the beaks, for the most part, cuz they're tucked under.  I'm tellin' ya, these creatures barely fit in that thing!

It's also funny to just sit and watch the momma sitting on the next.  There is so much movement underneath her, as she keeps getting jostled by her babies. 

The kids and I are enjoying having this little nature show so close to our home, and I love imagining that God is enjoying our enjoyment.  You know how you feel when your kids are over-the-top pleased with something you've given them, or done for them?  I think God loves sharing beauty and joy and miracles with us.  I was thinking that about the snorkeling I talked about yesterday, too.  I think He loved sharing that with me.

I often think about God as Creator when I'm appreciating something He created.  But it's fun to think about Him as Abba in those times... as a loving and giving Father, who daily gives us reasons to smile, and be grateful.

~ "The hand of the Lord has done this,
And the Holy One of Israel has created it" ~
Isaiah 41:20

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Unlike any other

"all the fish of the sea"
Genesis 9:2

We didn't have one of those snazzy underwater cameras, so these are from the aquarium a few years later.

My family went to Kauai in 2006, and one of my strongest memories from that trip is the time we spent snorkeling.  I was completely unprepared for how amazing it was.  We had bought the gear ahead of time, so that we and the kids could get used to using it, and we'd all been practicing in my folks' pool.  And I was a little worried, cuz it's hard to get used to that thing in your mouth, and not being able to breathe through your nose.  But once I got in the ocean, I totally forgot about all my discomfort.  It was awe-inspiring to be right in the midst of the fish.  They went whizzing past my head ~ right by my head!  And they totally ignored me as they swam by, or picked at the ocean floor, doing whatever it is fish do.  I was entranced.

The fish were so beautiful, in colors and patterns and combinations I had never imagined.  I mean, I've seen Jacques Cousteau, I watch the Discovery Channel, but nothing prepares you for actually seeing it.  All the beauty and colors and complexity I have appreciated all my life, in butterflies and birds, are the in the ocean, too, and I was almost overwhelmed.

It frustrated me a little that I couldn't share it more with my husband, or my sister, but you can't very well say, "Ooh!  Look!" or "What a gorgeous color!" when you've got that thing in your mouth.  So after awhile my sister and I developed a sort of code.  We had been holding hands so neither of us would drift off, and we decided one squeeze would mean, "I've got to surface," and two squeezes would mean, "Look where I'm pointing."  But my sister told me that I was so excited, that I was just constantly and violently squeezing her hand.

Then, when we did surface, we would have conversations like:

"Did you see that striped one?"
"No, I was looking at the one with the blue diamond shapes; did you see that one??"
"Well, I saw one with purple shapes; you mean that one?"

And I found that even though we were in the same place, doing the same thing, we still weren't quite sharing the same experience.  So I became content to share the experience to the fullest, with the only One who truly understood.  God knew which fish I was looking at; He knew which way I was going to be looking next, and He knew exactly how I felt about what I was experiencing.  I simply relaxed and floated along, not even directing my movement, but letting His ocean, and His waves take me to see more of His fish.

Later in the summer, I was having dinner with two friends, and one of them was talking about some TV show she'd seen that did a piece about unusual medical conditions.  She mentioned a condition I had never heard of, but when she described it, I said in surprise, "I have that!"  I never knew it had a name.  It's synesthesia, which I've described here before, and it enables me to see letters and numbers in colors.  My friends, after finding this out, were quizzing me on the colors of the days of the week.  "What color is Friday?"  And I said, "It's kind of a greeney-whitey color."  And my friend said, "Isn't that just light green?"  And I said, "Well, no, cuz it's all very speckledy."  But then when I relayed this conversation to my sister, she said, "Well, it's not so much speckledly as blobby."  So even though we both totally understand each other ~ way more than anyone else ~ we don't even totally understand each other!

I began to realize that these two experiences are like my relationship with Jesus.  My Bible study, my prayers, my worship, are for me.  It's about my growth; my walk; my becoming more like Him.  And that's a beautiful thing; just like ~ but totally different than ~ your beautiful thing.

~ "I am His workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand,
that I should walk in them." ~
Ephesians 2:10

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Imagine my thought process if it had said, "Compact Only"

"why should I not be impatient?"
Job 21:4

So I had a doctor's appointment a few weeks ago.  Just a well-check, but I was really not looking forward to it.  I felt too busy and stressed to take time out of my schedule for it, and I knew I was going to end up waiting in the lobby for awhile before I was called in for my appointment.  Because that's just always the case, isn't it?

It was an office I had never been to before, but I wasn't worried about locating it.  I know the area very well, and though I didn't recognize the street address, I knew if I got close, I'd be able to find it. 

When I got close, I glanced at the address again, on a brochure I'd gotten from my referring physician.  There was a crudely-drawn map on the bottom, but I realized that it was so crudely-drawn that it didn't even have the street labeled; just the cross streets.  So again I thought, "Well, I'll get nearby, and I'll figure it out."

Well, as you can probably guess, it wasn't that easy.  The street address of the office is a street that runs north/south.  But the front door of the building (and the actual number on the building) face a street that runs east/west.  So I drove up and down the north/south street, not seeing the number I was looking for, and then finally pulled into the hospital parking lot and called the office.  She gave me more specific directions, and I found my way there.

But as I pulled into the parking lot, I was frustrated.  While I was only going to be a few minutes late to my appointment, a few minutes can make a big difference, the way doctors double-book themselves these days.  I was irritated that the map wasn't more help, irritated with myself for not leaving a few minutes sooner, irritated that doctors double-book, you name it. 

I headed toward a parking spot, but as I turned my car into it, I realized that the spot was labeled:


Now, I realize that they meant "Patient/Customer," with "patient' being a noun, but my immediate, and ironic thought was, "Well, I obviously am not allowed to park here, because right now I am a very impatient customer!"

The humor of my thinking both cheered me a little, but also made me realize what a bad place I was in, emotionally.  I thought, "what if we were excluded from things because of our attitudes?"  But in truth, we are.   We miss out on things because we're distracted by ourselves, or we flat-out ignore things because of our misdirected focus.   What do we not notice, hear, or see when we are irritated, impatient, or selfish?

I went ahead and parked in that spot, but in a weird way, I felt like I had a responsibility to improve my attitude.  A few deep breaths, and a few prayers later, I was in a better place.  Blessed are the patient customers.

~ "The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit." ~
Ecclesiastes 7:8

Monday, June 9, 2014

One of my favorites!

This one's got everything covered...

Praise the Lord!

Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!

Praise Him for His mighty acts;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!

Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet;
Praise Him with the lute and harp!
Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
Praise Him loud cymbals;
Praise Him with clashing cymbals!

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord!
(Psalm 150)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Right in my own backyard

"eyewitnesses of His majesty"
2 Peter 1:16-18

How's that for a verse?  "Eyewitnesses of His majesty..."  I came across those words several weeks ago, in our study of 2 Peter, and they've just been bubbling in my head ever since. 

Peter was referring to Jesus' transfiguration in this passage, saying,  
"we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.  For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'  And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain."

It was an amazing experience, truly, for Peter, James and John.  But those particular words of Peter sort of stuck in my craw.  How can you see majesty?  I mean, yes, Jesus' appearance was drastically altered that day.  Matthew 17 says His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.  It sounds glorious.  But is that majesty?  My dictionary says that majesty is impressive stateliness or dignity; or power.  But if I see someone who is dignified, I'm really, literally, still seeing a person, you know?  I know, I'm being very literal, but I like to do that.  Sometimes parsing the words of Scripture are my way of meditating on them.

From there my wondering went to, "What chance do you, or I, have to see this majesty?"  I mean, not even all of the disciples were invited to the mountain to see what Peter, James and John saw.  I have to imagine that only if Jesus returns to earth in my lifetime, might I see something so glorious and wonderful. 

And then this weekend... Friday morning I was out in the side yard, cleaning up the leaves, and the half-ripe apples that have started to fall from our apple tree.  I looked up, and saw a hummingbird nest in our tree.  I pointed it out to my son, and then got my daughter, and then went and got the ladder so we could see it better.  And when we did, lo and behold, two tiny, fuzzy beings were sleeping in that nest. 

I stopped cleaning the backyard, and we went back into the house to give them their privacy, and later that day, when we looked out the window, the momma was back where she belonged.

Several times yesterday, I felt compelled to look out the window again.  It's such a pleasant view already, under our apple tree, but now even more so.

And this morning, when I got up, I peeked out again to see how she was doing.  I'd been pondering the idea of God's majesty again, and when I looked out the window and saw that tiny, perfect creature, carefully snuggling her even tinier, just as perfect babies, I thought:  There it is.

I don't have the privilege of walking with Jesus, as His disciples did.  And He didn't invite me to the Mount of Transfiguration.  But His majesty takes many different forms.  He is perfect in His power and might, and in His delicate hand of creation.  And if we look, we can see evidence of His glory and majesty, all around us. 

~ "All the birds of the heavens 
made their nests in its boughs;
Under its branches all the beasts of the field 
 brought forth their young;
      And in its shadow all great nations made their home." ~
Ezekiel 31:6

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Dirty, but Clean

"first, cleanse the inside"
Matthew 23:26

I got my car back from the mechanic today.  It's been gone for a week.  Blown head gasket, which I do not recommend... Last Friday evening I left the house to run an errand, and before I got a quarter-mile from home, there was smoke billowing from my exhaust pipe.  That's a little disconcerting, let me tell you...

So a week, and several hundred dollars later, my car is back home where it belongs.  When we picked it up, I was impressed with the mechanic.  He explained things fairly well (which can be difficult, as I insist on asking questions to learn more in situations like this) and told us to come back in a couple hundred miles for a free check-up.  Plus, I was impressed that he called my husband a couple of times over the course of the week to let him know how things were progressing, and to assure him that they'd be able to be done when they said they would.  That's so much better service than if we'd had to call him, don't you think?

But with all that said, I was slightly off-put when I got in my car.  Though the mechanics had put down those paper floor mats, there were grimy fingerprints on the door handle, and I could tell the radio had been touched.  {I knew that because I'm not in the habit of listening to "Hot 92," or whatever that station was...}

So when I got home, I had a very strong urge to clean my car.  My daughter came to help me, and we cleaned all the handles and surfaces, and then used Armor-All on them.  We cleaned the windows and wiped down the dash and the knobs and etc.  I had vacuumed it not too many days ago, so it now felt fresh and clean inside. 

But here's the thing:  the outside is a mess.  We cleaned both the inside and outside of all the windows, but the car itself is filthy.  Because we are putting down new flooring in my son's bedroom, much of his furniture is in the garage, and my car has been in the driveway since Memorial Day.  This, combined with the several days it spent at the mechanic, has resulted in a very dirt-covered car.

Notwithstanding, we did not wash the car.  First of all, it was nearly dinnertime.  Secondly, I knew it was still going to be sitting in the driveway, so I had a bit of why bother?

Now, it seemed a little absurd to me to have a car that's only clean on the inside, but that's how it had to be, at least for the time being.  And if you saw me driving down the street, you might say, if you are that type of person, "Wow... that's a dirty car."  But you would have no idea that under all that dirt was a spotless interior. 

This, my friends, is the portrait that God sees.  When we look at one another, we see dirt ~ impatience, selfishness, maybe gossip or forgetfulness.  But when God looks at us ~ though He knows full well how dirty we are on the outside ~ He also knows how clean we are on the inside.  He knows because He does the cleaning Himself.  So though the world sees sin, He sees righteousness.

Sin, confession, repentance, forgiveness.  Repeat as needed.  But know that your faith has already accomplished your righteousness. 

~ "with the heart one believes unto righteousness" ~
Romans 10:10