Archive for the ‘Walking My Talk’ Category

Teacher As Student

May 27, 2014
Saturday Night.

Saturday Night.

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. Like you, I’ve been busy. I’ve enjoyed two vacations in the last six weeks, a rare variation in our yearly schedule. I’m training for a 10K. I had the unusual privilege of preaching five services at our church on Mother’s Day weekend. Remarkably, while speaking, I didn’t even mention Mother’s Day. Instead, I spoke from a passage our pastor assigned me from his sermon series in Ephesians, entitled Blueprints.

In the process, somehow the Lord used my lesson to teach me a lesson. I think the experience illustrates a passage in Ezekiel.

In Ezekiel 3: 10 you’ll find some of the most profound words in the Old Testament. God says to Ezekiel, “Son of Man, let all my words sink deep into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself. Then go to your people in exile and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!’ Do this whether they listen to you or not.”

My sermon came from Ephesians 1:15-23 and includes Paul’s specific prayers for the Ephesian church. When I first read it, I’ll admit feeling a little disappointed. It wasn’t exactly rife with inspiration. I doubt I would have chosen it as a preaching passage.

I spent a week reading the whole book of Ephesians, and the passage as it appeared in nearly every translation. I outlined. I underlined. I cross-referenced. Then, I began to write. When I finished, I went on a dive vacation. Every evening while the other divers went out on their night dive, I re-read and worked on my manuscript. I felt a lot of pressure to do my very best.

Some men in our congregation were concerned about having a woman preach. Back at home, I felt completely pummeled by the few men who wrote to our senior pastor explaining that because it was wrong for a woman to teach men, they would not allow their families to attend the service. I was so beaten by the opposition that I had to ask not to hear about any further “letters.”

I needed focus. I asked for prayer. I cried some. I got angry. I felt misunderstood and unfairly judged. I battled fear and discouragement. The week before Mother’s Day was one of the hardest I’ve known. By the end of it, I just wanted to get it over.

And then I realized that I had not yet fully absorbed my own message. Those three prayers, to know God, to know my place, to know his power had meaning in that week. When I know God and his nature, his purpose, his love for me, I cannot allow the disapproval of men to diminish my value. When I know my place in the kingdom, I can use my gift freely and without fear. HE is the only one who can judge my performance. When I know that HE works through me, I can let go of the crazy responsibility I feel for the results of my service. Spiritual results are God’s business not mine; it is his power working through me that achieves anything at all. “Without me, you can do nothing,” Jesus reminds us in John 15.
When I began applying my own words to my own situation, I felt a new sense of freedom. What a coincidence! (Yes, I am tongue in cheek!)

As it turned out, I was able to do my very best. Was I as good as Lucy Swindoll or Patsy Clairmont? Undoubtedly not. But I was the very best Bette Nordberg I could be. And my brothers and sisters in Christ have been kind and supportive beyond words.

How many of us would benefit from living the words we preach? How about you? Have you had a moment when your own lessons came back to change your life?



A Hot Mess

September 6, 2013

redhotmessSo, a few weeks ago, I attended the summer yarn sale at a favorite shop.

Though I have a shamefully large stash of yarn, waiting to be knit, I fell for a particularly lovely bunch of dk weight linen/cotton blend. In a slubby off-white, It reminded me of yarn that I’d knit during a 1999 trip to Israel. I loved that sweater. Unfortunately though, the cotton content made that old sweater shrink until eventually it revealed more than I was willing to show! No one wants to gaze at a fifty year old belly button. It went to the Goodwill.

This sale yarn gave me visions of recreating the sweater. Only this time, I determined, I would pre-shrink the yarn to avoid the eventual loss of a too-small garment. I asked the woman who had spun the yarn, “Here is what I’m thinking. I’m going to tie a bunch of little “ties” around each hank and then drop them into a very hot washing machine. Then, I’ll lay them out to dry. Do you think that will work to preshrink the yarn?”

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” she said. “This yarn has so many slubs, it won’t shrink like your old yarn did.”

I nodded. Smiled. Made small talk. Purchased the yarn. And went home to do exactly what she told me NOT to do.

I opened the yarn into a very large loop (what knitters call a hank), tied six inch pieces of wool around the loop every eight inches or so (to keep the many loops of yarn from becoming tangled) and threw it in the machine on HOT. Then, to be certain that no more shrinking would be present in the yarn, I let the machine agitate and spin dry. Yup. I did.  (Real knitters are cringing at this moment). You see, I was driven to avoid the pain of losing a garment that takes so many hours to knit.

When I pulled the six hanks out of the washer, my heart sank. Each one was so tangled I couldn’t believe it. There was no longer any sign of my little wool ties (I discovered later that they evaporated in the machine). The picture you see above is the progress I’ve made at rolling just one hank into balls. Every six inches, I have to untangle the whole mess. It has taken more time to untangle and roll than it will to knit the sweater. I have only 1200 yards of yarn left to untangle.

And the whole thing (to my shame) reminds me of sin. As the yarn maker told me, I was headed down a dangerous path, I chose my own way. I thought I knew more than she about the yarn she had created. I believed the danger of shrinkage was worth the risk of disobeying the maker’s instructions. I ignored the maker.

Sin is like that. Often we know the right thing to do. But some fear, or pain, or frustration, or impatience drives us to ignore our maker’s instructions and do it some other way. Our ideas seem reasonable. They ought to work. But instead, we reap the consequences of disobedience. Sometimes, it takes longer to undo the damage than obeying would have taken in the first place. Just like yarn.

I’ve talked to two different young people this week who are in the midst of choosing their own way, rather than obeying the Maker. Both have driving issues that seem huge to them. The pain is so big, this seems to be the only way to ease the discomfort. Neither of them realizes that they will spend much time untangling the damage their disobedience will cause. How I wish I could convince them to reconsider. Believe me, I’ve tried.

How about you? How do you warn someone away from the consequences of disobedience?

Walking My Talk

April 11, 2013
I can't lead if I won't follow.

I can’t lead if I won’t follow.

I had a little temptation last Sunday.

Perhaps you’ve had the same kind of experience. As I look back, I have to laugh; God was at work in something so mundane as a knitting show. Here’s what happened:

Tickets to the “marketplace” at the Vogue Knitting Live show started selling months ago at 35 dollars per ticket. 35 bucks for the privilege of spending money on yarn. A bit much for my taste. I didn’t buy.

But last Tuesday, I received an email saying that the tickets were now available for 7 dollars. Much more reasonable. I bought tickets for Saturday and had already closed the electronic ticket window before I realized that my daughter and the grandkids would be visiting on Saturday. No way would I go to a yarn show under those conditions.

Fast forward to noon on Sunday, when I realized that the yarn show was still in progress. I went to my computer to print out my receipt for the Saturday show (remember it’s already Sunday). I worried that the ticket wouldn’t be valid any more, and that after driving one hour to Bellevue, they would charge me the original 35 bucks to get in.

To my surprise, the receipt was a simple PDF file. I said to my hubby, “You know, I could just alter this to say Sunday. It wouldn’t be a big deal. After all, the Sunday price was the same as the Saturday price.”

He agreed, “It’s not like you’re stealing or anything.”

I spent the next 20 minutes tweaking out a new receipt that said, SUNDAY. And as I did so, my heart got heavier and heavier. I was feeling real guilt. “Lord,” I said, “you don’t care when I go to the yarn show. After all, I’m not cheating them out of money.”

The feeling wouldn’t go away.

As I packed my purse, I realized I wasn’t going to use the new altered ticket. Instead I took the original. “I guess I’ll just throw myself on the mercy of the ticket lady,” I said to the Lord,

And he said, as clearly as a voice in your head ever can, “Why don’t you throw yourself on My mercy?”

You know how the story ends, I’m certain. I took my paper up to the lady behind the computer and explained that I hadn’t come Saturday because of the grandkids (oh yeah, I love to have my daughter visit too!!!).

“No problem,” she answered, laughing. “We don’t really care. It’s no big deal.” And she handed me the wrist bracelet that would be my entry ticket.

You know, after so many years following the Lord, I’m a little surprised at how close I came to failing this test. But you know, I wonder if honesty, integrity, truthfulness all demand our constant sharpening. Like a well-used knife, even long practiced virtues can become dull. Mine had.

How can I ask anyone to follow me toward Christ unless I first commit myself to the deeper, truer, more honest path.

So there you know. I fail too sometimes. Have you had a similar experience? How did you do?