Quoted: Day One

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its
whole life believing that it is stupid.”

This quote has been, perhaps erroneously, contributed to Albert Einstein although it is possible that he was paraphrasing the work of Dolbear. This article shows the many versions of the quote and other fables that are similar. An interesting read if you are so inclined. 
I am not a fan of the word stupid since I have had to insure that it not be used out of context. It used to really mean something – had an IQ score attached and everything. But now it typically means a child is judging another child on his or her ability to do something that said child was not necessarily designed to do. 

The above quote was originally brought to my attention by a former student. (GR you know I’m talking about you.) She typically felt that her own immense creativity was played down as it was compared to her older sister’s. They were both smart girls and very creative – though in completely different ways. It isn’t often that technical writers are compared to Shakespeare or vice versa. And that’s the way it should be. Both write, both are needed in the world, but they are different creatures – not designed or gifted to do exactly the same things. 

I ran into another stupidity quote yesterday. One of our pastors used a John Wayne quote in his sermon yesterday that went something like this, “Life’s hard. It’s even harder when you’re stupid.” The pastor explained that to him, stupid meant that a person tries to live life out of his own ideas, Biblically based though they may be, rather than living life out of God’s leading. So, God created you as a fish but you are trying to climb trees because you think you are supposed to because the other Christians you know all climb trees. (That’s my combination of the two quotes not his.)

Another leader in our church welcomed us yesterday by sharing his love of the following verses, 

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭4-9‬ NIV)

At first glance these may seem to be unrelated thoughts, but here comes the connection.

Yes, we are to put into practice what we have learned – but what we learn is sometimes not what the lesson was intended to teach – we learn that good Christians climb trees (only if they are Zacchaeus), so we try to climb trees. But what the lesson was supposed to be was not about climbing trees, but about putting ourselves in a place to see Jesus with no one hindering our view. So we were not supposed to emulate Zacchaeus’s tree climbing, but his wholehearted desire to meet his savior and Lord. 

We get so caught up in the comparison, that we forget the part about focusing on what is admirable, lovely, pure, etc. It wasn’t the act of climbing the tree that was so admirable, pure, and lovely (he probably flashed a few people on his way up the tree and offended them and their sense of propriety by doing it – surely Jesus didn’t want him to expose himself like that) – it was his pure desire to see Jesus that was lovely and admirable. 

Just like a child being able to explain E=Mc2 (where IS superscript?) appropriately isn’t what other children should try to emulate and teachers should try to duplicate in every other child – it is that child’s desire to learn, and to explain what he learned, and his excitement in learning it that should be emulated and duplicated. 

We have to see what the pure and lovely and admirable things are through God’s eyes in order to know whether we were meant to climb or swim or fly. And how can we be sure to know what God sees? 

Philippians said it all – to rejoice, to be gentle in our manner, and to know that He is near. Our gentleness allows Him to speak to and through us so that we can see the best in every person He created (which is everyone) so that we know how to point them (and ourselves) in the right direction without comparisons that just don’t make sense. 

It is about our IDENTITY – that gift that God gave us that is who we are. 

God, I ask today that you speak gently to my heart and to the hearts of any others who may read this. Show us the loveliness we may have missed in ourselves or in someone else. Help us to be gentle in our dealings with all. Let your eyes guide us to see the best in all. Free us from the comparison to anything or anyone, even if it is Biblically based, if it doesn’t come from you. Thank you, Lord, for your words spoken into my heart and for the time you take each day to meet with me and to remind me who I am.

*Most of my posts don’t require an acknowledgments section, but this time it’s necessary. First, thank you, Greg, for inviting me to join the three day quote challenge. (I may be bending the rules a bit, but I’ll challenge some others in the next day or two.) 

Second, I must thank some of the leaders at my church: Pastor Mike for the illustration of Zacchaeus’s mad climbing skills, Daron for yesterday’s sermon on freedom (and the John Wayne quote), and Breck for the focus on Phillipians.  If you need an encouraging word, please visit the sermon archives – they are great! 

Next, GR for her diligent quest to find her own identity beyond expectations of family, friends, and other naysayers.

And finally, Proverbs 31 Ministries for the challenge to write a prayer describing our need to hear God’s voice.

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Saturday Slideshow: Fresh Food

My younger son has laughed at me because I’ve taken so many pictures of random things, particularly foods, over the past couple of weeks. “Why do you want a picture of that? It’s just a tomato!”

I told him it was because I’m keeping track of all the things for which I am grateful. So, I thought I would share some more pictures this week. Some are foods still growing, and some are things we have prepared lately. I hope you enjoy.

 You can’t live around here without eating some crawfish every now and then.  
    
   
Those pineapple spears were AMAZING! After we took the crawfish and vegetables out, we used the broth to boil some peanuts – so good!  I have got to hand it to my husband -he is one of the best cooks around and he outdid himself on this day.

In the garden: 

My cilantro is blooming. I’ve never kept any alive long enough for that to happen before so I’m not sure what to expect next.

   Also a first for us – strawberries without bugs or birds getting to them first.

  

  Tomatoes- red and green.

   Oops! These weren’t supposed to be planted until the fall. The roots are growing well, but summer bugs have taken out my turnip greens so far. 
  Green onions and mint grow pretty well in containers and add lots of flavor to everyday foods.

   
  Eggplant from a friend’s garden.  
  Sweet Vidalia onions. An Asian recipe I had said to place onion slices in ice water for thirty minutes before placing in soup or on salad – it brings out the sweetness and crisps them up too.  
  Our meal with eggplant, cucumber, green onions, strawberries, and banana peppers from our garden and neighbors’ gardens. 
I crushed some mint leaves and added them to water and gave it a splash of lime on top. Very refreshing on these hot southern days.

Here’s a special treat – my Granny Hunt’s Eggplant Casserole recipe:  

 Add the soup in when you add the eggplant.  You can tell this is a well loved recipe – handed down with all the grease spots and all.  I would have included a picture, but we ate it all before I even thought about it. 
Have a great 4th of July weekend and I’ll see you on Monday.

Oh, Precious . . . 

Each tail of the whip whistled a slightly different pitch as it sliced through the air. The susurration ending dully with a drumroll as each barbed end bit into waiting flesh – a spray of blood fanning out to land on the faces and feet of the onlookers each time the lictor drew back for another blow.

A king? They would not condone such mockery of their precious state. Again and again the flagrum found its mark, not stopping, as the law prescribed, at 39, but continuing. On and on.

Opening the skin until it hung like fringe, exposing muscle beneath. Muscle that was so recently used to lift the bread and the cup. Muscle that once lifted arms to gesture to the waves – calming them as a frightened child. Muscle that once opened the scroll to announce its fulfillment.  Muscle now letting go of its life, pouring it out upon the stones.

A reprieve made only of a scratchy cloth draped over open wounds – soaking in the life, sticking to the flesh. Thorns piercing the scalp and sending more blood running, matting hair and stinging eyes. Blows inflicted by a makeshift, eagle-less standard that no one would search for when it was lost. The cloth torn away again as the taunting continued – releasing more of the precious liquid. The legionaries’ hands covered in thick redness as they fought and then gambled for the cloth, fully unaware of the utter pricelessness of the staining liquid.

The heavy tree forced atop fleshless back, splinters like needles bringing more blood. Step by tortured step it seeped into the ground, drop after drop imprinted on the soles of feet that followed behind.

Knees scraped open as they hit the stones below leaving more blood behind on the road. The Cyrene called in to carry the tree when it’s bearer could no longer stand. The blood dripped down over his shoulders, transferring strength and new life.

The climb making His heart pound with increased elevation, blood pouring through every wound.

Arteries straining as nails carved their way into wood below.

Running, pouring down the tree; rivulets pooling and pushing through the dusty ground to find more recipients kneeling or standing there below.

Final rush as pilum is thrust. Water and blood spilling to earth pushing the rivulets further, wider, faster down The Skull.

Reaching into eternity; I am plunged beneath the fount. Cleansed, saved, adopted, redeemed.

Written in response to The Literary Lion’s weekly flash fiction challenge word: bleeding. Obviously this is NOT based in fiction but on the truth of God’s Word.  However, it is my imagination of the sounds, sights, and feelings that would have occurred based on the Biblical depiction of Jesus’s last hours. So to write about something so precious to me and try to make it succinct enough to fit into 400 words or less – I had to try.

Warning: the video below is extremely graphic – it contains scenes from The Passion put to Hillsong’s Oh, Precious is the Flow.  I promise, I didn’t see it before I wrote.  After I finished writing, I was only looking for the song that inspired my title to include here, but when I saw the song put with images so very similar to what I was seeing in my mind, I just had to use it. Some of the scripture is in Spanish (I think), which I can’t read, but I am trusting that whoever wrote the scripture in did it correctly for those of you who can read it.  (Please feel free to correct me on my amateur language identification if necessary – I would appreciate it.)

Remember Who You Are

My mom never let me leave the house during my teenage years without calling out to me, “remember who you are!”

It’s a great reminder – if you know who you are to begin with. 

Sometimes during those years, I resented her saying those words to me. Mainly because I felt like I didn’t know who I really was and not knowing for myself meant that I could only remember who she expected me to be. 

I have spent many years, even after I decided to give my heart to Jesus, trying to live up to the expectations of other people. You may already notice how contradictory that is, but if you don’t, I’ll take a moment to explain. 

When I gave my heart to Jesus, I was only looking for a savior – someone to fix the problems I had created or otherwise gotten myself into – but not someone who would show me how to not get into trouble again. I wanted Him to come along, make it all better, kiss my ouchies, and let me run off to play again.  In short, He was welcome to my heart if He could make my feelings better, but I didn’t want Him in my head messing up the way I thought things worked. 

For years, I proclaimed His place in my life without really giving Him a place in my life. I am so grateful that He is so patient. 

I’m not sure when the real change began in my mind, but I am very aware of when it actually began to make my life different. And it was not beauty and roses and lollipops. There was beauty in it later, but at first it hurt. 

What did it hurt? My pride. My absolute certainty that I was always right began to take some pretty powerful hits. The whole of the Trinity was after me – my Abba God, my brother Jesus, and the Holy Spirit whispering in my ear – they were relentless. 

When my redheaded temper began to flair – they let it – and then showed me all the ways that I had done more damage than good with my tantrums. 

When my indignation at an offense rose up – they asked me to take another look. 

When I felt rejected by someone that was important to me because my best efforts to meet their expectations were just not good enough – they were there – asking me to really look at why I was even doing things in the first place – to please someone and gain that person’s approval, or to bless that person with my efforts?

I am certainly not finished with this process, but I can happily tell you that my temper doesn’t find nearly as many reasons to show its ugliness, and I don’t find myself pouting as often when I’ve been rejected instead of receiving another human’s stamp of approval. 

I am able, most of the time, to actually listen to someone instead of assuming that I understand. 

I have found more quietness in my heart and can therefore respond to people with a quiet answer instead of my old tirades. 

I am finally allowing Jesus to tell me who I am – who He created me to be – instead of trying to make myself be something I think everyone will like. 

There is so much more peace, so much more joy, and there is beginning to be a sense of direction that I’ve never had before. 

I encourage you today – stop, be still, feel the pain as your pride begins to fall, and let Him tell you who you are. Let Him be the one that says to you each day, “remember who you are.”

Here are some verses, passages really, that God is using to help me to understand these things. I pray that they will help you too.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (‭Romans‬ ‭12‬:‭2‬ NIV)

Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them. ”
After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (‭Mark‬ ‭7‬:‭14-15, 17-23‬ NIV)

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. (‭James‬ ‭1‬:‭23-25‬ NIV)

You Light up My Life

Yet again, I must thank the FCA for inspiring today’s post. 

While I sit here on my steps with my coffee, I am already beginning to notice the change from springtime light to summertime light – it’s a small shift in the angle of the sun (well technically it is the earth) that places the light a little more behind the neighbor’s pine tree, a little more behind the edge of my roof and my crepe myrtle instead of coming directly in over our open yards. It actually keeps my steps a little cooler a little longer – oh but when it is directly overhead – watch out! Burn notice for my red headed, freckled skin!

It reminds me of recent experiences with my son and my husband. 

My son had an opportunity, just before he graduated from high school, to work with a polymer chemist  as she conducted experiments for her dissertation. An arrangement between a university that’s not too far from his school and either the school district or the state (not sure on that) allows doctoral students in STEM areas to co-teach certain classes. 

If you are a chemist, you might understand the words that my son uses to describe the work they did – I don’t. I do know that the idea was to use a powerful dye within some kind of polymer structure to be used in a coating. The dye, if it is able to be contained properly, absorbs light in such a way that it helps the light to kill microbes on the surface of whatever the coating will be placed on. 

The work they did showed that the dye worked better in certain types of light, but the chemist and her team are still working on the containment issues. All of which is at the molecular level as far as I can understand. I’m probably saying it all wrong and if you are a chemist you are guffawing at my ignorance right now. That’s okay – I never claimed to be a scientific genius.  I laugh at myself too. 

The experience with my husband is not necessarily recent nor is it a one time thing. He is excellent at pointing out what is yet to be done – those little, oft-overlooked tasks that you let go by without realizing how much they could contribute to a more functional day. Things like cleaning out cabinets and drawers that you don’t use that often, but that really need to have order so that you can find something in them when you do. (Instead of looking all over the house and garage for whatever it was because it was hidden behind something else in the cabinet. Talk about a wasted afternoon!)

Truth be told, I’m not a great housekeeper. I don’t even delegate housekeeping tasks to others very well. I am the proverbial absent minded professor – if I don’t trip over it, I don’t notice it. My mind is just often focused on theoretical ideas rather than the concrete spaces I live in. Well, it isn’t only the concrete spaces I ignore, but I sometimes ignore myself; my own habits and quirky behaviors that I don’t realize can be annoying to others. 

Which actually makes my husband and I a pretty good match. He has such laser focus that it makes up for my lack of focus. Most of the time. Meaning that sometimes I don’t want to hear how my propensity to procrastinate made someone else have to wait on me, or that my forgetting to go to the store, like I promised to do, meant we didn’t have a tool that was necessary to fix something that really needed fixing. 

You all know me by now – there is a connection.

The verses that the FCA used in the devotional were these: 

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (‭1 John‬ ‭1‬:‭5-7‬ NIV)

When I read this, I realized that Jesus is the light that comes to purify us (clean out and kill the bad microbes), and that my husband’s habit of noticing small things is similar to the dye in my son’s experiments (focusing the light where it is needed). But there is still that containment issue. 

And that is where God started tugging at my heart – that containment issue? – that’s all on me. How, you ask? Because it is my attitude, my willingness to hear, that allows me to benefit (or reject the benefit) of what is being said. 

My attitude is like the polymer matrix that is necessary to hold the dye and filter the light in order to drive out the big (umm little) bad microbes. 

Now, Jesus can certainly do his job without any help from my husband, but that isn’t how he wants to do it. The Bible clearly shows us how he wants to use husbands to help their wives: 

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭5‬:‭25-27‬ NIV)

The word radiant in that verse means two things (both of which describe the kind of woman I’d  like to be):

  1. Emitting rays of light, shining bright
  2. Bright with joy, hope, etc.

So if I allow my attitude to be open, I can walk in fellowship with my husband – just like the verses from 1 John say I can. 

If, however, my attitude is, well – attitudinal, then I miss the fellowship that is supposed to exist in my marriage, deprive my husband of his place in my life, and keep walking in the dark. Which then means I am allowing myself to be a liar. That is really what it says, folks. Choosing to walk in the darkness when the light is available and you know it, makes you a liar. 

God didn’t create us to be liars – it isn’t part of our true identity. So why would we hold onto things, even abstract things like our attitudes, that aren’t part of our God-breathed identity?

It is amazing how God creates the real world in tandem with the theoretical one, isn’t it? Don’t know what I mean? – I challenge you today to find a nice sunny spot, soak up some lovely vitamin D in the form of sunshine, and let it infiltrate your brain with all that great serotonin that helps you maintain a good attitude. And if it’s raining where you are they actually bottle the stuff. Boost your attitude so that you can let the light of your relationships shine on your heart today. It is so worth it!