Faith/Spirituality

Without Excuse

My son and I made it to California. And in case you are curious about our progress on the afore-mentioned Rosetta Stone Marathon Plan, neither of us know any more German than we did before we left Springfield. Sigh. We made it here is 3 long days, but the hardest day, by far, was the stretch from Topeka, Kansas to Boulder, Colorado. It was 9 hours of nothing: no signal which meant nothing to listen to, nothing to read, nothing to watch and on top of that, nothing to look at (except the plains of Kansas-which equals pretty much nothing. Sorry Kansas.)

This day stood in stark contrast to the following day where we had full signal most of the time and the topography was breath-taking around every windy turn. In fact, it was so beautiful to look at that I didn’t even need to listen to or watch anything. I just wanted to take in the scenery and let it touch my soul. This confounded and I sensed, sort of bothered, my son. He had headphones in and would alternate listening to music or watching movies on his lap top as if he were making up for lost time. He kept reminding me that I was free to listen to the radio or pair my blue tooth to the car speakers. If you happen to be a Seinfeld fan, there is a scene where Elaine’s boyfriend, David Puddy, is flying with her on a trip. As time passes, she becomes more and more irritated that he clearly has brought nothing to do. He just sits in his seat and stares at the seat-back in front of him, contentedly. Eventually her agitation becomes unbearable. She yells, “So, you’re just going to sit there and stare for the rest of the flight!?!?”. He says, dumbly, “Ya, that’s right.” And despite her meager efforts to bite her tongue and mind her own business, she snaps and tells him that she can’t take it anymore and that they need to break up. I was waiting for a similar outburst from Berkeley. It’s possible that I may have put headphones in without pushing play, just to avoid such a scene. Call me simple, but I just didn’t need, or want, to do anything but look around.

Observing nature, especially views that are not ones I see every day, help me connect with God. And that’s really the way He designed it to be. What is seen in His creation is evidence of what is not seen. Romans 1:20 says that “since the creation of the world God’s invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made. So we are without excuse.” He is Spirit, but what He has created represents Him and is a visible stamp of His existence. Being in nature does for me what Yoga is supposed to do for other people; It clears my head and mind, leaving it open to spiritual things.  I am focused on the beauty around me rather than the bills, my job, my to-do list, my weight, my past or my future.

Maybe you are like my husband and are what he refers to as “indoorsy”. when I suggest we go outside to do pretty much anything but travel to another inside location, he has been known to say, “there’s nothing for me out there.” And that’s OK (weird, but OK 😉). But it’s still possible for him, and for you, to appreciate nature. (Through a window and from a cozy, bug-free and temperature controlled indoor environment). Maybe you can’t stare for hours without distraction, but this world is a gift to you. Maybe today, try to see God where you live, through what he has designed especially for people in your particular part of the world to enjoy.

Today I am at the beach in California, so any amateur can find something amazing about that. But even in Illinois from whence I traveled, I can celebrate carrdinals (they don’t have those out here as far as I can tell) and fire-flies and even locusts. I can see God’s hand in the corn fields and sunsets across the flat plains. I can embrace the weather that is distinct to the Midwest-humidity and sub-zero temperatures…

Well, I am not sure I am spiritually mature enough to be grateful for those components of His creation just yet.

In the over -load of life, maybe take time to just observe. Just “listen” to the world without the music or the media. And then thank Him. Thank Him that He put it there so you would see it and know in your heart that He made it just for you to.

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God is Like…

Right now I am in Real Estate Overload mode. I am working on several deals that need special attention, so the terminology and nuances of buying and selling houses are whirling around in my head consistently. But writing helps clear my head and focus on the parts of my job and life that truly matter. So, since I can’t really block the Real Estate thoughts, I figured I might as well make good use of them. Sit for a few and join me in my maelstrom of thoughts on how God is like various Players in the Real Estate Game.

God is like a Home Inspector. But let me set it up for you. If you haven’t sold or tried to sell a house lately, here’s how it goes. You are given a list of 23 areas that you can mark as either a yes, a no or a Not Applicable. Your agent cannot help you with that at all. Only you can give an honest answer to the questions that are in this list. In the past few years, a new question has been added and you will be relieved to know that a seller is required to disclose whether or not there was ever a methamphetamine lab in the house. Phew! As a seller, you reveal any defects that you are aware of and then give an explanation for them. Then, after your house is under contract, the buyer will send in a Home Inspector who will spend several hours searching for everything that is wrong with your house that you didn’t even know about. It’s a nerve wracking thing for a seller and they are often surprised that there has been mold lurking in their basement and that their toilets flush backwards. In this way, as I said, God is like a Home Inspector. There are many defects we have that we are fully aware of. But then, He takes it to the next level. He searches the nooks and crannies of our hearts and souls and finds dry rot and hot electrical wires and gas leaks and termites and all kinds of things that threaten our “house”. Dangers we didn’t even know about. Defects like pride, image-management, dishonesty, greed, lust and jealousy. Defects that aren’t as obvious to the casual observer but can cause structural damage to our lives if left un-addressed.

God is also like a Buyer. A really easy buyer. One who sees the results of the home inspection report and the laundry list of flaws and imperfections, and buys it anyway. He buys it AS-IS. I just love those kind of buyers. They understand that every house has its issues and don’t expect a 100 year old house to present itself like new construction. He has bought us at a great price. Actually, I am fairly sure we would “under-appraise” for what he sacrificed to make us His own.

And, He is like a Seller. He has a list of Disclosures in His Word. He reveals everything about His House, which is to say, Himself. He shares it thoroughly, honestly, and freely. It is our job, our privilege, to do the Inspecting. There are many characteristics of God that are obvious. Anyone can tap into them if they give it just the tiniest bit of effort. His love and compassion and forgiveness are available to anyone who asks. But it’s when we take extra time to explore His House that we really find the beauty of what’s often hidden from plain sight. Luckily, we are always pleasantly surprised by our findings. When we pray and meditate and read and open up our Being to His will and wisdom, we experience His presence intimately. We begin to anticipate what we will find around the next corner of our relationship with Him.

Today I am grateful for what God can teach me about Him, even in the midst of circumstances that seemingly have nothing to do with spiritual things. I am reminded that this is how I stay in constant contact with a God who is not just interested in my spiritual life, He is interested in my life. All of it. And today He and I are gonna do some serious Real-Estating together.

What is it that you and God will be doing?