I've gotten behind in my studies again. This is something I absolutely need to remedy! As I write this, I am sitting in my sister's kitchen. I came here to babysit the carpet layers while she was at the doctor for an ultrasound on the new baby--getting a 3-dimensional image this time. She's excited.
Anyway, I am here, and it's quiet. My day got off on the wrong foot today, and I was greeted with the absolute truth about why it is important to do my study at the beginning of the day, even if I think better in the evening. I need to do something to get myself in the habit of thinking about the things of God and responding to people with a right attitude. I didn't do that today. I started to be very critical of myself for it; but that is no good and I found that when I let go of the critical thoughts there were things waiting for me to think about that were helpful and the entire rest of the day could be fruitful for me.
A few rambling thoughts just to catch up on the week's events...
Yesterday I decided on a topic for a weekly podcast. Beyond that, I decided to make it a lot more casual than I first intended. Part of the idea is to get my devotional thoughts online; and part of it is for me to get comfortable talking and doing oral presentations. I decided it might be fun to experiment and let C help me with it--if nothing else I could call it something fun for us to do and put it on CD for her mom to keep. I was actually very pleased with the results, and I am going to do just a bit of editing and think that perhaps this might be a good regular activity for us both. The topic is devotional thoughts based on things my animals have taught me. I think it's a perfect idea for something that I could turn into a family-friendly podcast that is just as relevant for adults and children alike. C is a total natural on the air, and I had a blast recording with her! J is even ok with the concept of her doing this with me, and I think when she hears them she'll be really excited about what C is doing. The only other child podcaster I know is a couple of years older than C. Her name is Rachel. Her show is called Rachel's choice and is hosted on the Godcast Network. C is very relaxed and conversational, and this helped me tremendously in getting my mind off the abstract listener.
This morning I did some other recording of some quick thoughts I had for some other potential podcasting ideas. I think I need to make this a regular activity. If I can't join Toastmasters because of my work schedule, at least I can record myself and critique my own recordings and maybe share them around.
Now on to the topic of my studies...
I don't believe that I am a mere pawn; but I believe that God has designs and Satan has schemes designed to interfere with God's designs and that the only way he can succeed in this is by messing up people's lives. God is too big for him to hurt, and ultimately God will be victorious over him. I've not known exactly how to put this belief in words; and often when I try, people think I see demons behind every bush. I don't. I do believe that we live in a world corrupted by our fallen nature and that this is not God's design. This is not the result of demonic work; it's a consequence of sin. Death is sometimes a slow process. I'm too tired to write deeply about this, but someday I will write about it in more depth. The wages of sin is death... I don't think this refers to one sin. I think it refers to sin in general and the fact that sin as a state of dependency on self rather than God bring death because God is the source of life.
I'm getting off track... i do think that most of the things that have happened this month to take me away from my studies have been matters of spiritual warfare, things used to distract or prevent me from studying. I don't believe that I am powerless to overcome them. I believe that there is something important for me in this stuff, and I need it.
There is a discussion happening regarding unemployment of people who are blind on one of the email groups I moderate. The question of providing "something to do" has come up... I thought when I read the email of the number of times I've said that I can handle not getting paid if I know that I am provided for an I know that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. Where things get hazy for me is the issue of me potentially taking any responsibility for others. I've felt for a long time that someday I want to adopt a child with disabilities;. So if I am not actually providing for my own needs, this is a difficult thing to discuss with anyone. I can accept the concept that what I do is unpaid work; and many people encourage this. But those same people are critical of the concept of me taking responsibility for a child who is supported by the state. In my view this is little different from a foster parenting situation except that the child now has a permanent home, which is important for a number of reasons.
How did I get off on that? What I do is unpaid work... I have never felt that I was "doing" the wrong things. By the same token, I have never felt that I was not "doing" the right things--except where I was lazy. When people ask what I would like to do with my life, I would like to answer honestly that I'd like to do exactly what I already do. I'm having a difficult time describing what I do; but I know that there is a description. It occurs to me that what I do is likely a precursor to whatever God is preparing me for in the long run. David was a shepherd of animals; he then became a shepherd of people.
I'm doing some catch-up work in A Heart Like His and looking at just this concept...God uses experiences to shape our character for His purposes. The book talks about experiences that make people feel unwanted...
Have you ever felt like the youngest son, the consummate "little brother?" You don't have to be male and you don't have to have siblings to feel that way. In fact, I don't think anyone escapes the feeling completely. Sometime, somewhere, you've probably been treated as if you didn't exist, weren't wanted, didn't matter. ...
The few glimpses we see of David and his brothers suggest that he too knew the "sting" of being left out. I believe his wisdom and meditative nature got their start in the loneliness of a little brother accustomed to being put down and ostracized. Did he inherit the duties of keeping sheep, or were the woolly creatures preferable to the company of taunting brothers?
This makes me think back to my own childhood--more specifically, junior high. I felt left out a lot at school and often at home as well. It seemed that my sister had friends running in and out all day long. I might have a friend over a couple of times a month to spend the night; but my friends were all people with disabilities who were spread out geographically. Our play dates were dependent on the availability of transportation. I didn't begrudge my sister her friends; but I felt every moment of my aloneness, and I felt every rejection from classmates at school. Staying home alone after school, I began writing songs. I, too, developed a contemplative nature--but I often despise it because it seems to keep me from forming friendships.
On p. 30, the fact that David possessed both tenderness and strength is pointed out. Lately I have struggled with a tendency to respond to things with an intense anger. Is that intense anger a sign of dueling tenderness and strength that need to be cultivated to work in harmony under the control of the Holy Spirit?
Side note: I looked back at some entries from last fall, trying to see whether there were any significant things in my notes from doing bits of this study previously... I got distracted by an entry from one of my other studies and thought I'd make a note of what I learned.
On October 23, I was grappling with a comparison between Matthew 15:22-28 and Matthew 17:14-21. I see it now! The "lesson" isn't about how Jesus related to the people themselves. It's about the impact of his interaction on the disciples! In the first passage, the disciples are telling him to send the woman away because she is bothering them. So he starts to do just that, and she persists. So he rewards her persistence even though she is not Jewish. This demonstrates that (a) persistence indicates her faith; and (b) you don't have to be Jewish to be close to Jesus. In the second passage, his interaction is more direct with the disciples. He clearly has the power to deliver the child himself. But for some reason he says that some (demons, illnesses?) only come out by prayer and fasting. In the future I'll think about why he would say this to the disciples. For now, at least I understand the first passage better.