Saturday, May 13, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I posted this as a Facebook Note last year and thought it might be worth a repeat...

For every woman who has ever...

Rocked a baby that refused to sleep...and then kept rocking when sleep finally came, just because the moment was too sweet to end.

Bandaged bloody knees and fingers, or put ice on bumps and bruises, or rigged steam tents in the bedroom to ease that non-stop cough, or sat in doctor’s offices and emergency rooms when the home remedies were insufficient...and held the child for the shot, with tears in her own eyes, or gritted her teeth and kept trying until the medicine went down.

Found an exuberant mess where no mess had been just minutes before, often at the most inconvenient moment.

Made pancakes in the shape of Mickey Mouse.

Taught a child to whistle, to cut snowflakes from a folded piece of paper, to bake cookies, to feed a pet or to blow bubbles.

Sat in car pickup after day after day....

Helped with the school Christmas party.

Sewed costumes for a school play

Gone through the stack of flash cards. Again.

Gone to Wal-Mart at ten pm for poster board for the project due tomorrow.

Taken the forgotten lunch to school. Again.

Explained the facts of life.

Read aloud to a kid. Or a group of kids.

Stayed up making goodies for the bake sale.

Manned the class booth at the PTA fall festival.

Sat through two hour award ceremonies to see one little second grader get a certificate for maintaining a B average.

Stood firm on a principle in the face of teen angst.

Watched that new driver back out of the driveway and head down the road alone for the first time.

Cleaned up after a sleepover.

Walked into a newly empty bedroom and turned off the fan that the fledgling left on after packing up and heading to the dorm or the new apartment.

Prayed for a kid, hugged a kid, was kind to a kid, taught a kid or gave up something to make a kid’s life a little better.

God bless you all on Mother’s Day.

And an especially Happy Mother's Day to my mom...who did so much for me!  Love you!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Mental Hairballs

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

We have a cat.

A cat who sheds prolifically.

Evidence is all over my black knit clothes, the sofas, the chairs, folded laundry left overnight in a get the picture.

I buy lint rollers by the case at the local buyer's club.

I also buy 'hairball control' cat food. Because hairballs are gross.

However, despite brushing and brushing and the not-so-cheap kibble, hairballs are a fact of life with this kitty.  They still get hacked up, hopefully not on the still-newish carpet, and they have to be cleaned up.  Some take more cleaning than others and sometimes there's a shadowy spot that never quite comes out.

Yesterday I  caught myself saying something I really didn't want to say.  As in, I'd lectured myself at various times about expressing that opinion.  Don't do it.  No point in it.  It can only upset folks.  And you're making too big of a deal about it anyway.

I did well.  Until yesterday. And the opinion came flying out of my mouth without so much as check at the door.

Fortunately, due to the circumstances, I don't think very many folks heard it.  And it wasn't a horrible, ugly thing...just an unnecessary thing.  But I was upset with myself just the same.

And I suddenly realized what I'd done is hack up a mental hairball.  Something that had collected over time until the  moment arrived when the brain couldn't process it any more.  So out of the mouth it came.

And, like some actual hairballs, I was fortunate that 1) it didn't appear to land on the newish carpet and 2) it didn't make a horribly big mess.  Sort of like one that lands on the linoleum in the kitchen and can just be sorta wiped up and tossed.

I have had much, much worse messes to deal with.  But that really didn't help my disgust at this one.  I'm tired of dealing with them.

So I does one neutralize mental hairballs? They are an irritant; demanding attention.  Distracting.  They need to go away them vocabulary and air time is not the way to do it.

It takes an act of will to do the 2 Corinthians 10 thing...take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.    See, that hairball needs to dissolve in God's grace.   I can't, by force of my own will, make it go away.  In fact, the more attention I give it the uglier and more irritating it gets.

It was kind of a revelation that we get rid of those things by releasing them to God.  Not focusing on it at all...but focusing on Him.  Those ugly opinions, gossipy tidbits,  self-justifications...all of that stuff...will fade right out when they're not given attention.  Taking a thought captive means cutting off its source of strength...which is our very own focus.

It's hard. But God gives us His grace to do hard stuff.

And it's less hard to turn it over to Him and focus on His grace and His beauty than it is to clean up the mess and get rid of the stains when those things are dealt with in the natural way.

Just sayin'.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Master's is DONE!

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Three weeks is long enough to go without posting...something...

I have officially finished my online master's degree.

I feel like I should put an asterisk by that, with a footnote stating that I don't think I did coursework comparable to attending a brick-and-mortar campus.

I think the institution from which I am receiving the degree is changing and plans to make much use of social media to increase the workload, so I probably got through easier than those who will follow.

Not sure how accomplished I feel.

The only class that was a drag was the one in which I had to read a handbook of weddings and funerals.

The wedding ceremonies were nice, and some had very touching, creative bits.

But there were way more funeral samples.  How many funerals can you read before a dark cloud descends?

Some were about aged saints who went home to glory and left grand legacies.  Those were inspiring.

But the rest...oy.

Was glad to finish that one.

The textbook I was least impressed with was the last overview of the entire Bible and Apocrypha.

The author wrote two or three points that were just plain wrong.  As in, I don't know how those statements got past a proofreader.

But more than that, he couldn't seem to decide if he were writing to give evidence that the Bible is accurate or to cite folks who wanted to logically explain why it was inaccurate.

It felt...mushy.

Still, there were some good insights so it wasn't a total washout.

By and large, the year of study was good for me.  I commented to a friend that even if I have no benefit to either my career or ministry, I'm glad I did it because of what I gleaned personally.

And, as it turns out, there's going to be a 'graduation ceremony' during 3rd service on May 21. There have been a few folks who have finished varying levels of work and the head of the online school is coming, with full academic regalia, to confer degrees and such.

Not sure if I'm going to be in cap and gown (I don't even know what the protocol is for Master's level headgear) or not.

But my grad fee is paid and all is in order.

My creative had kind of shut down during the push to finish.

Hoping it has had a nice break and is ready to come back online now.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Triumph of Love

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

As a kid, once I was old enough to grasp the significance of Good Friday...that it is the day we  observe the anniversary of the crucifixion...the name became an enigma.

In my head, it call a day 'good' that saw such unspeakable cruelty. A day on which, to all appearances, evil had its way. A day that saw innocence suffer for the guilty.  I had a hard time reconciling that with the word 'good'.

To be honest, I still struggle with it from time to time when I think of the human-ness of Jesus suffering the abuse and trauma he in no way deserved.  But I think I understand now why we call it 'good'.

It was the day evil ran rampant.  When the enemy threw his full force behind the destruction of good. And it seemed for a time that evil triumphed.

But, when all was said and done, when the enemy had delivered his best shot...that shot came up short.  Evil could not overcome good.  Or, to put it another way, when all the evil had been poured out, the good covered it and had more besides.

The enemy could not get Jesus to stop the process.  Jesus took everything the devil threw at him.  Physical pain, humiliation, verbal abuse, rejection, the horror of the guilt of sin...Jesus drank the cup to the very bottom.  He did it.  We see the triumph three days later, but I think the real triumph was in the words 'It is finished!'

He had endured the worst the enemy could do and it wasn't enough to stop the love and grace of God that day.

Oh, there may be liturgical and theological reasons why we call today 'Good Friday'...but in my mind and heart, it's good because today is the day love won.  Even if it was three days before anyone knew it.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

What is Truth?

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi
I had to make a quick stop at Publix on Tuesday night and glanced at the magazine rack as I checked out, in something of a hurry, and saw this:
Had I not been in such a hurry, I might have paused to consider that I might want to actually read the pertinent articles, but I paid for my purchases and left.  When I realized later that I really should have read it, I decided to pick up a copy when I got my next gallon of milk...which was today, but the new issue was in the stand.  Too late.

A little internet searching turned up that, first and foremost, they were discussing politics and the media.  There may be more discussion about the place of truth in our increasingly post-modern society, but that wasn't mentioned in detail in the little discussion blurbs I found.

But this has been percolating for a bit.  I just finished class number 11 out of 12 in the pursuit of the masters of ministry degree, which was on Biblical preaching.  But the textbook was a series of interviews with 20 prominent preachers of recent years.  Some were old school, while some were part of what is increasingly called the 'emerging church'.

It showed the tension between the modern exegesis, based on a structured presentation of a solid concept of truth, and the post-modern narrative, which comes at truth in a different, more experiential way.

It was eye opening, to say the least.  I found I am completely modern in my thinking; one of the characteristics of modern thought processes is the axiomatic acceptance of the existence of absolute, objective truth.  That certainty is reflected in the kind of engineering and scientific thinking that developed rockets and put men on the moon.  But the post-modern thinker is not so sure there is such a thing as absolute, objective truth and really doesn't consider it to be important if there is.

It was a shock; having just come to the realization that my core value is truth, I suddenly saw myself as a dinosaur.  That kind of conviction affects absolutely everything I think and believe.  That anyone would be basically unconcerned about truth is...incomprehensible to me.  I just can't fathom it. So how can I communicate with a person to whom the word 'truth' has a whole different meaning than it does to me?

One of the interviewees in the book (I'd look it up, but I took the book to work and it's on my shelf there) made a statement to the effect of '...millenials don't care so much if Christianity is true.  We can't argue them into accepting Christianity because it is true.  What we have to do is convince them that it is beautiful and good, then they will be open to considering that it might be true.'

All of my logical arguments for Christianity...why I believe it...are basically meaningless to a post-modern thinker.  I might as well be speaking a foreign language.

And the enemy has done a very thorough job of throwing bad examples of Christians before people who have no basis by which to know they're bad examples.  All they see is something that, to them, looks harsh and judgemental and controlling and...ugly.  If it's true, they don't want it.

This is the challenge of the 21st century for the modern thinking Christian...and it's going to require a lot of effort in uncomfortable ways.  We can no longer proclaim Christianity...we have to display Christianity in a way that is relevant to folks who aren't at all interested in learning more about something they think they know already.  I think it was the same person who made the above statement that also said something close to 'They will come to Christ not through argument but through influence.'

That's going to be quite a challenge indeed. 

Friday, March 17, 2017


Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Two weeks ago I sat down to write the Friday something and, when I had it all written out, realized it discussed the topic-of-the-month for our churches' women's ministry blog, which is now soliciting submissions from folks in the ministry or who have been influenced by it.

So, instead of posting it here, I submitted it there.  And that used up all my blogging time for the day.

It got selected for publication and went live last Friday, so I thought, 'Oh, great!  I'll link it up!'

But wouldn't you know.

Somehow the format gremlins got into the wordpress account that day and turned off the word wrap on the paragraphs.  Several just ran right off the page into oblivion.

My friend Paulette, who's editing the submissions, worked on it for about three days trying to get  it fixed (it had happened to one other post earlier in the week as well).  Finally, she pasted the submissions into Notepad and then back into the posts, which somehow stripped out all the weird formatting and all the words showed up in their proper spots.

Of course, it also stripped out the italics and the bold that I'm so fond of using, but, hey, at least it's readable.  You can read it HERE.

You can also click around and read the other submissions as well; this month's topic is  'She is Worth'...which hearkens to our women's conference theme last fall.  And you will quite soon see that there are some fabulous wordsmiths amongst our ladies.

I am coming down the home stretch on the Master's of Ministry; I should finish class number 10 this weekend.  I just ordered the books for the final two classes; I may make it by the goal I gave myself of the end of April yet.

But blog posts will likely be scarce between now and then. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Current Reading Feb 2017

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi 

Friday being the one day I try to get something posted, I'll give you the best I have right now...which happens to be the books I'm reading at any available time.

Starting at the lower right, The Power of Humility by R.T. Kendall is required reading for everyone in the worship department at church.  We're discussing it at choir practice, as are the other arts ministries.

Humility is not a popular subject, but, wow this book is good.  I'm about halfway through chapter 5, as I took it with me to a couple of dr appointments this week and read in the waiting room.  Chapter 4 was on wisdom, and it was an eye opener, to say the least, to see the connection between wisdom and humility so clearly laid out.

The second book,  The Complete Book of Discipleship by Bill Hull, is from Navigators and it's the textbook for my current class in the online Master's program.  It is rich.  It's also dovetailing nicely with the choir study, since...surprise...humility is a key part of discipleship.

In other words, my paradigms are getting punched one-two, left-right.

The cover on the discipleship book is curling badly; I couldn't get it to lay flat for the picture.  My Bible was laying on the table, too, so I used it to anchor the cover on the paperback and then realized that yes, it belongs in the picture, too.

I'm still plugging along on the 3 + 1 reading, although I did get a bit behind on the trip to Indiana for my dad's birthday last weekend.  But I have so far finished all the writings of John (Gospel, Epistles and Revelation) and I'm heading into Matthew.  I'm 1/3 of the way through Psalms and I'm well into Leviticus for the Old Testament.  This is a relatively new Bible,  so I've got my 4 color pen to hand and I'm marking as I go, which keeps me paying attention to what I'm reading so I don't fall into just skimming through.

But being a bit behind on the Bible reading and definitely behind where I want to be on the schoolwork, I'm pushing to catch up.  Other things that I want to do are, well, not getting done.

But it's just for a season...right?