The Accidental Pharisee

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Thankful Thursday # 13

"We become what we think about all day long."
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

With thanks to Iris at Sting My Heart. By sponsoring Thankful Thursdays, you've helped me become a more grateful person--and to connect heart-to-heart with other grateful women. Visit Iris' blog and wander the other TT posts all over the world!
Today, my thankful list is truly random. It's been a random, oh-wait-what-am-I-supposed-to-be-doing-now kind of week! So, in no particular order, I'm thankful:
  1. that my new and wonderfully improved website for late-in-life moms is up! has been refurbished, revamped, and revved up! Come on over and check it out--and the kick-off contest, too!
  2. for my wonderful Web guru, Stacey at Digital Picnic, who held my hand through the website redo--and made it all happen!
  3. for my husband--and for pain medication. I think I broke my toe--and it hurts! But my sweet husband is loving on me and taking care of me with Tylenol and ice packs.
  4. that there are a few less piles around my den. Only a few--with more to un-pile. But, every step towards organization is a reason to be thankful, yes?
  5. that my caboose kiddo (the reason for the Mommy-Come-Lately website) is having so much fun in second grade! If she's happy, I'm happy!
  6. that when my car door broke on Monday, the repair was a quick and inexpensive one. And that my marvelous husband ran over from work and lassoed the door shut so I could drive my car to the mechanics. What a guy!
  7. for a sweet conversation with my younger sister today. We've played phone tag for weeks and weeks.
  8. my mom celebrating her birthday this weekend--and loving her gift of a digi-photo frame! Yea!!
  9. for all my Thankful Thursday friends!! You all are a highlight to my week and motivate me to be grateful for the next 7 days!!


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Picking Up a Brick, Putting It Down

Ah, me.
Will I ever learn?
I grabbed that old family heirloom of unforgiveness tonight--the one shaped like a brick--and held on to it. Tight.
At times, I felt like hurling that brick right at someone I loved.
Some things just come so naturally, you know?
But, after a while, I felt the unforgiveness burying me. Weighing me down like a ton of bricks.
And I knew that I faced a choice: Keep walking in unforgiveness or let it go.
So, I reached out and took my husband's hand--and let go of the unforgiveness.
And--wonderful, godly man that he is--he forgave me too.

I have a one word definition for marriage. Marriage = work.
Don't get me wrong, all that work is worth it. But it's still work.
And some of the hardest work for me is choosing to be forgiving. Sometimes my husband does something and needs to be forgiven.
But,to be honest, there are plenty of times I just get upset at him. I'm just mad. And I convince myself that I have good reason to be mad.

This less than shining life moment is brought to you by me--an Accidental Pharisee who is choosing to let go of the Law and grab hold of the grace!

Just Thinking Out Loud: Where is God in the midst of all my less than shining moments? He's right there in the midst of them--offering me grace. Telling me not to cast the first brick. Reminding me to walk in a manner worthy (Colossians 1:10) and to clothe myself in Christ (Romans 13:14). Not so I can proclaim, "Look at me!"--but so I can look in the mirror and be amazed that God can be glorified even in an Accidental Pharisee.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Thankful Thursday # 12

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” ~ Psalm 4:8 (ESV ~ )

Psalm 4:8 has been one of my all-time most-treasured Bible verses for years and years and years.

I struggled with fear for most of my life. Only in the past 10 years have I walked in freedom from fear that kept me in bondage. I hated being by myself. I had nightmares. I hated the dark. I couldn't sleep at nights.

And wouldn't you know it? I married a doctor. Rob was gone a lot. That meant I was alone at night a lot.

I was afraid.

I was also a mom of little kiddos--and I didn't want them to grow up learning to be afraid. So, I acted like I wasn't afraid in front of them as I tucked them in bed at night.

And then it was me and a quiet house and my fear.

So I memorized Psalm 4:8.

There were countless nights I lay awake in my bed reciting "In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety . . ."

Over and over again.

I prayed it by faith.

I didn't feel safe. At times, the fear felt like it was smothering me.

But I chose to believe what God said in his word: I could crawl into my bed and lay down and be safe because God was watching over me.

Sometimes I pretended that God lived in the attic over my house--of course, I had to pretend there was attic too--and that he was just upstairs in his room while I was just downstairs in mine. Silly, I know. But, I felt better. And I never heard God laugh at me for that bit of foolishness.

There are a lot of things I could be thankful today. But I'm going to focus on this one thing: I am thankful for the steady anchor of God's word. I am thankful that God meets us at our greatest need and is sufficient for that need. And I am thankful that today I walk free of fear.

Thanks to Iris at Sting My Heart for hosting another Internet opportunity to be grateful!


Family Heirlooms Part 2

Family heirlooms. Treasured items passed down from generation to generation. You can almost hear the whispered admonitions: "Whatever you do, don't lose this!" "Don't drop it!" "Be careful, this has been in our family for years!"

Last week, I shared about one of my family's heirlooms: masks.

As I read through 2 Corinthians 5, I was reminded once again of another family treasure that I held onto for too many years: unforgiveness. Paul talks about how we've been reconciled to God--and how we are now God's ambassadors. Verse 18 says we've been given "the ministry of reconciliation" to share with others.

And I thought about all those years I struggled with unforgiveness. I struggled to say, "I'm sorry" or to accept someone else's apology, no matter how heartfelt.

And, yes, I hate to admit that.

Like an oh-so-precious load of bricks, unforgiveness was passed down to me, generation to generation. I am not fault-finding here. I am not pointing fingers. I picked the load up and accepted it.

Carrying that load of unforgiveness, how could I be an ambassador of Christ? How could I participate in my God-given ministry of reconciliation?

The answer is painfully obvious.

Just Thinking Out Loud: Sometimes black and white is dangerous for an Accidental Pharisee like me. And sometimes, like now--looking at something in the stark shades of black and white is a very good thing. Holding onto unforgiveness hinders my participation in the ministry of reconciliation that God has called me to. It's not anything I haven't heard before--forgive others in the way I've been forgiven, right? But, I'm hearing it in a different way--and I hope I'm listening.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

What's the word?

" . . .Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation." 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

I know a lot of people who have a favorite verse in the Bible.
I do too--it's Colossians 1:13. You can read the why of that on this post.

I also have a favorite word in the Bible.


That is a wonder-filled word.
14 letters.
6 syllables.
And a whole lot of God's power jam-packed into that word: reconciliation.
It's a miracle, really.
In the margin of my Bible right next to 2 Corinthians 5: 18-19, I wrote the meaning of the word reconciliation: Enemies becoming friends.
Now, wait. Don't rush that.
Enemies--like Hatfield and McCoy, Capulet and Montague--you fill in the blank--those kind of "I hate you" relationships that can't be bridged.
And God's love is so much bigger than all that we can think or imagine. Even though he hates our sin, he loves us and he forgives us. He reconciles us to him. He makes his enemy--that would be me--into his friend.
And that is amazing.

Just Thinking Out Loud: I've been a believer for a long time now. Sometimes I'm a "me-of-little faith" believer. I think my mansion in heaven may be somewhere on the same street as the apostle Peter's mansion. But that's another blog.
Anyways, as the years of my faith walk go by, sometimes I forget. I forget how amazing my relationship with God is. I forget that I was once God's enemy and that his love--his sacrifice--made me his friend. I forget the beautiful magnitude of the truth that I have been reconciled with God.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thankful Thursday #11--Back from vacation!

I've so much to be thankful for this week--and it's all about last week when my husband Rob and I had 7 whole days together in Mexico on the Riviera Maya. What more can I say? Uninterrupted time to walk along the beach and hold hands and talk and relax and just be with my best friend . . .

The photos are just glimpses at some of our special moments--the Gulf of Mexico, a sunrise, Rob and I getting ready to tandem parasail--and, yes! that's us up in the air under that parachute!

I am so, so thankful for our older kiddos who kept up with our 7 year old so that we didn't have to worry about her while we enjoyed ourselves. One of my favorite moments was the day before Rob and I left. My daughter, Amy, and I were making a Starbucks run and she looked at me and said, "I'm so glad you and Dad still like each other--and that you want to spend a whole week together!"

Me too!

I also came back to find out I'd received a couple blogging awards from Nancie and Sharon B: the Friendship Award and the Share the Love award. They both blessed me so much!

Thanks to Iris at Sting My Heart for encouraging so many of us to be thankful--for creating a place on the Internet where our lives intersect in gratitude!


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Family Heirlooms

Got any family heirlooms around your house?
Treasured items passed down from one generation to the next?
I do.
But I'm not talking about a crystal vase or an antique ring.
I'm thinking of intangible but oh-so-real family heirlooms that we can't see--but we hold on to them year after year, decade after decade.
Like masks.
I don't remember my parents handing me a mask while I was growing up. But somewhere along the way, I learned to wear one. I got pretty comfortable with covering up my real emotions with a mask of "preferred" emotions as I tried to live up to others' expectations. I got pretty good at pretending to be someone I wasn't--trying to be someone I wished I was.
I didn't realize it, but in my family I participated in a masquerade ball.
I don't think family is meant to be a costumed affair. Do you?
I've spent a lot of years untying the strings of the mask I wore. Getting used to being seen without my mask. During the first year I dealt with the truth of my sexual abuse, I actually felt like I had a mask half on, half off my face.
How appropriate.
I've decided that I don't want to pass that family heirloom--masks of any kind--down to my children. I can think of other things I'd rather they treasure. Like one another.

Just Thinking Out Loud: For where my heart is, there will my treasure be also . . . that's what Scripture tells me. Sometimes you have to decide that what you've treasured needs to be trashed. Literally. I need to take a close look at what I've got stashed in my pile of "family keepsakes"--and decide if it's truly valuable or just something I've been told I've got to hold onto.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Choosing to Trust

"On days when life is difficult and I feel overwhelmed, as I do fairly often, it helps to remember in my prayers that all God requires of me is to trust Him and be His friend. I find I can do that." ~Bruce Larson

I liked the simplicity of this quote.
But, true confession time again: I have not always found trusting God to be that easy.
Maybe it's because I have not always thought of God as my friend.
God, the friend of a pharisee, accidental or otherwise?
I don't think so.
And yet . . .
Was it that God wouldn't be my friend OR was it that I wouldn't let God be my friend? Was it, as someone once said, that my God was too small? Surely a great, big God could be gracious enough to love a pharisee.
If there wasn't enough grace for pharisees, why did Jesus talk with Nicodemus? He was a pharisee, after all.
If there wasn't enough grace for pharisees, then Saul (a.k.a. Paul) would have just kept walking the Damascus road--and never been brought to his knees by the power of a powerfully gracious God saying in an unmistakable way, "I have other plans for your life, Saul."
But back to trust . . .
Life is so crammed to the edges with hardships--mine and others. Sometimes I don't want to check my e-mail or answer my phone or read the headlines because, well, I'd just rather not know.
You know what I mean?
And yet, each conversation with a friend who is hurting or struggling with a physical or emotional heartache is another opportunity to trust God.
I can be overwhelmed by circumstances--and still choose to trust God.

Just Thinking Out Loud: This Accidental Pharisee likes the clarity of black and white--and yet, that is not the world I live in. Truth is, there are parts of God that are black and white--times when God makes complete sense to me. And then there are times when I have no idea why he said "No" to that prayer or "Yes" to that one . . . or why I'm still waiting for an answer.
And I have a choice.
To trust or to not trust God.
Trust is the better place to rest when life isn't making sense.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thankful Thursday # 10--Posting in Abstentia

If you're dropping by on Thankful Thursday, I'm not here today.


I'm on my first ever weeklong vacation with my husband. Yep, that's right! 1-2-3-4-5-6-7!! days together, just me and him! Can you guess what I'm thankful for this week? We're spending a week at the Riviera Maya in Mexico. Our older kiddos are taking care of my caboose kiddo, Christa. (If you're wondering what the "caboose kiddo" story is, check out my Mommy-Come-Lately Web site.)

And, about the photo: That was taken right after Rob and I ran for 30 minutes straight. No walk breaks in there at all.

Amazing that a non-runner like me is now running 3 miles, 3 times a week--and enjoying it.

Who would have thought?

Thanks to Iris for Thankful Thursday. And thanks to all the new friends I've met. I'll see y'all next Thursday.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Just a thought

photo by Rob Vogt

"Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths." ~Etty Hillesum


Monday, August 4, 2008

Pausing to refresh

photo by Rob Vogt

"Rest when you're weary, Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirt. Then get back to work." ~ Ralph Marston

I'm experiencing a time of rest and refreshment this week.
And, as I walk along the beach, I know I'll feel God's presence.
I always sense God in the sound of waves and in the immenseness of the ocean.
I'm not overwhelmed so much as I am drawn to God's strength.
May you experience God's refreshing this week, wherever you are.