"For skillful and godly Wisdom is better than rubies or pearls,
and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared with it." Proverbs 8:11 Amplified

Monday, August 31, 2009


I wrote this and it seems to ramble but please stick with me.

I’m sitting outside at “Squeak”, a soda shop by our branch library. It is a beautiful day, not too hot, not too cool. It’s 11:30, lunch time and people are going into “Salsa Brava” for lunch, the smells are delicious.

My husband is at work, yeah God, after over a year of unemployment. My daughter and son-in-law were in for a brief visit on their way to a much needed month long vacation in Australia. They have just sold their business and have wonderful, but scary choices in front of them. We are dog sitting while they are on their trip. Otis is a 150 pound black Great Dane. He is a sweetie and he is getting along great with our golden retriever, Sammy.
Everything seems to be right with the world.

I am having feelings of guilt as I sit here. I should be home so I can finish washing sheets and making beds, and vacuuming the double amount of dog hair accumulating along the walls and in the corners. There must be something that can be made with dog-hair. It seems such a waste, the dogs produce it, drop it as a gift to us and we sweep it up and throw it away. I sure am glad God doesn’t do that with the gifts I bring to him.

Sitting here I am doing what I love, writing. I need to have more respect for my writing, treating it as my job, setting work hours and sticking to them. Why does that seem so hard to do when I am at home? No one is there, except the dogs, so I have a quiet atmosphere and comfy furniture. Maybe it’s the laundry, cleaning, food prep, cleaning up the dog hair, etc, that is always calling to me. If I am at home shouldn’t I be taking care of these things?

I find it easier to work at locations other than my home. The rub is when I sneak off to a coffee shop to write I feel guilty. Like, why do I need to go somewhere else to write, I have a nice office at home. Ugh!

When I am writing I feel so good I don’t want to leave that spot. I am at peace in part of me and at war in another part.

Any other writers struggle with this? I am open for input, help please.

Well it is time to leave this spot, go to the grocery store, go home and make those beds, and vacuum floors. Then a little later it is off to get gas, make a couple of stops before picking up my granddaughter from day care, take her to her home until her mom or dad get home from work. When I get home it will be around 6pm, time to fix dinner and get ready for Tuesday, another full day planned, leaving the house at 6am and getting home around 6pm. Sigh.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

No Guts, No Glory. Leadville!

What is it that challenges you?
What goal have you set that you are willing to lay down everything to achieve?

This past weekend I saw over 500 men and women come together
to start a journey of a hundred miles. A journey that would take them over mountains and through icy streams, a journey that started in the dark, at 4am on Saturday August 22nd, and for the majority of the 274 finishers would end sometime between 4am and 10am on Sunday August 23rd.

My husband has competed in this journey many times over the 26 years of its existence. This year it was our daughter, Coleen Voeks, who set the goal of being a victor in the Leadville Trail 100 mile run, known as The Race Across the Sky.

With the support of her husband Erik, she put aside comfort and sleep to train endlessly for this race. There could be no mornings where she chose sleep over running. She knew the mountains of Leadville, Colorado would eat her up if she slacked off; she lives in the flatlands of Kansas.

She became a victor on Sunday August 23rd with a time of 29 hours 48 minutes 07 seconds, just 12 minutes shy of the 30 hour cut off time. For those who are not familiar with this type of race, the runners keep moving during this whole time, running and walking in light and darkness. There is no time for sleep. Keeping your body fueled for this type of calorie burning event involves eating large amounts of food, which means eating at every aid station and carrying food with you.

This is a grueling race physically and mentally. At times the mind tells you that you can’t go on, and your body will very happily agree with your mind. This is where you rely on the crew of family and friends you have brought with you. They step in and evaluate your physical condition, give you something to eat, change your socks, get you dressed warmly and tell you to “get your butt in gear, you're not quitting.”

Along with training, having the right people around you when you are going toward your goals is critical. The wrong people will let you quit. The ones who share your vision will feed you, warm you, and push you forward.

There is a saying printed on the shirts given to the participants of the Leadville 100 that says:
“Don’t be fooled by her beauty, Deep within is the grit, guts and determination to move mountains.”

What mountainous goals do you have for your life?
Do you have the guts and determination to achieve them?
Do you have the right people with you to push you and pull you across the finish line?

"It's not the mountain we conqueror but ourselves." Sir Edmund Hillary

The race at Leadville had a 30 hr. limit, your time limit is your lifetime.

Coleen Voeks, finisher of Leadville 100, The Race Across the Sky

Monday, August 17, 2009

Trash Talk

"I am so angry that he said that to me!" I seethed.

Going to my room I stop just short of slamming the door. Tears spurt from my eyes, and my nose is running.

I reach for the phone to call a friend, but before I can lift the receiver I hear:

"Counsel with Me, and look to Me alone for your direction and your encouragement."

"God, can't I call someone?"

"No, talk to me."

"But I need someone with skin on to talk to."

"No, I said, talk to me."

"I don't want to listen to you right now."

This is a frequent conversation between God and me. From the time I became His child this is how He and I have worked things out, together.

If I pour out my anger and anguish to Him, seeking His direction and encouragement, I never have any regrets.

However, when I have gone to others, when God has said "no," there are always regrets; I wish that I could take back the spoken words.

The phone call, or the visit made to someone with skin on, in the guise of seeking advice, is really me seeking someone to dump my garbage on.

When I am honest with myself I admit I want someone else to know the "hardships I am enduring," and to hear them say to me, "you poor thing." I want to have a Pity Party and I want to invite others. The problem with a Pity Party is you aren't serving chocolates, and we all know that any successful party must have chocolates; what you are serving is stinky, smelly, rotting garbage. So now instead of one person carrying the foul odor you have two or more.

When I take my heartaches to God he takes the stink I offer Him, accompanied by my rants, raves, and tears and He dries my face, washes away the stink and covers me in the fragrance of His grace, mercy and unconditional love.

He doesn't always give me answers, I usually already know the answer, but He listens, attentively, no matter how much I rant and rave, and that is what I am most in need of, a listening ear that will not be made stinky by my waste products from a bitter and unforgiving heart.

How do I feel after my time with Him? Sometimes refreshed, sometimes convicted, but always, always loved.

Photo: Dreamstime.com

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Magical Summers

Everyone seems to be in the midst of back to school preparation. Some have already returned to school. Children waiting at bus stops in their new clothes with empty backpacks that will soon be carrying loads heavier than the children whose backs they hang from.

I am from the older generation that truly had a summer vacation. School was dismissed the first week of June and we did not set foot through those doors again until the day after Labor Day. The whole wonderful, warm summer stretched in front of us. Lazy days to ride bikes, go to the beach (Lake Michigan), read books, lay under a shade tree to stay cool, no one had air conditioning, and play baseball in the street. After dinner walks to the drug store to buy a Popsicle and then a stop at the park to swing finished the day light hours.
When darkness fell, the games began. The neighborhood was filled with the sounds of kids playing kick the can.

Empty jars, clutched in our hands, were the receptacles for the fire flies we caught.
The only things that spoiled our night time excursions were the mosquitoes and the calls coming from mothers that it was time to come in.

The empty lot on our block became a neighborhood, in itself, as trees began to be dotted with tree houses constructed by teams of kids. Each had their own design, no cookie cutter houses here.

We didn’t have sports practices to hurry off to, or camp, just neighborhood fun.

Every family of kids spent part of the summer collecting wood, wheels, and rope to construct go-carts. Each planned carefully trying to make theirs the best looking and best working. The power behind the cart was another child pushing. Wonder if we could use them for the Cash for Clunkers program?

Our neighborhood invented the garage sale for kids. At least once during the summer we would each go through our toys and decide what we were ready to part with. Tables set in front of each house carefully displayed what we had to offer. We excitedly searched other tables looking for something from our friends cast offs that we couldn’t live without, great recycling plan.

We played “dress up” and acted out weddings and family situations, dad coming home from work, mom home with the kids, trying to discipline the unruly ones.

Several summers we put our talents out there for the world to see. Our neighbor’s garage became a theater. The blanket hung from a rope extended across the garage opening was our curtain to the world of entertainment. There was music, very amateurishly performed, no America’s Got Talent candidates here. A small play was presented, homemade costumes and all. We set up chairs in the driveway and invited all the moms to attend. Lemonade and cookies were served, we knew our talent wasn’t going to draw them so we thought, give them food.

We were just being kids having fun, no schedules, no responsibilities. We had no idea that in all our play time we were learning. We were learning physics as we assembled our go-carts. The base had to be wide enough that you didn’t turn over when you made turns. The front axel (a piece of wood) had to be able to rotate to make the turns. The rope that was used for steering had to be the right length so you could control the direction of the cart. The brake, (another piece of wood) had to be positioned on the back, at the right angle, so you could reach back with your left hand and pull it. If you placed it right, it would rub against the back wheel, sending the cart into a spin, and hopefully stopping it. You may be wondering where we got our wood. We had a source three blocks from the house at the grocery store, orange crates. We would pull them apart and they provided most of what we needed, we would raid our garages for the rest of the wood. Wagons lost their wheels for our more sophisticated transportation.

We learned about life skills in our play acting of home life, and games required team skills and cooperation. Our toy sales demonstrated our entrepreneurial skills.

We had our share of fights with the other kids but our parents knew how to handle them, we had to come into the house for a cooling off period. Soon all was forgiven and we were thinking of new adventures together.

I guess those children standing at the bus stops had their ways of having fun during their school break but I can’t help but wish they could have some of the magic that we experienced.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Vassal or Vessel?

Acts 9:15 NKJV
…he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.

“God please use me.”
Have you ever prayed that? Sure you have, most of us have, but what are we saying when we pray that? Do we really want to be “used” by God?

Be truthful, no one likes to be “used” by another person.

What is your reaction when you realize that someone has “used” you to promote themselves? Do you respond with anger, or bitterness, maybe you find yourself saying, “I will never let that happen to me again.”

In light of this, why would we pray to be “used” by God?

I know, I know, it sounds so spiritual.

What God desires from us is the willingness to be a vessel though which He can work.

God wants VESSELS, not VASSALS.

A vassal is a person who is a servant or slave. It also means to be subjected to control, to enslave.

A vessel is a person into whom some quality (as grace) is infused.

We pour into vessels, and then pour out of them. God pours into us what He needs us to pour out to others. This isn’t” using”; this is sharing in the work.

God wants to do a beautiful work through us. In the book of Acts He says about us: “he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name.”

Chosen: “to want; desire.” God desires to impart into you a quality that will be used for His kingdom. You are not a servant or slave, you are a son. Gal 4:7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Josh 24:15 NIV… then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…

So what is your preference?

Choose this day; will you serve God as a Vassal, or as a Vessel?

Image from MorgueFile