Thursday, September 30, 2010

What Dave Ramsey Did for Me.

I grew up poor. Uhm, no, that's not right. I grew up broke. My father was a mechanic who showed up drunk to work a few too many times so was often out of  a job. Because he was honorably discharged from the Marine Corp, we received a check from the government every month. I'm not sure what to call it.  At times that was all we had for the month. All we had to make the house payment, utilities, pickup payment, buy gas, food, clothes. Everything a family of 5 needed had to come from that check.

At times we had carrot soup, which was just water, salt, pepper and carrots. We had that because that was all there was. I remember always knowing when the check came because we feasted for lunch like we were kings. Bread, lunch meat, and chips. Sometimes we even had pop. (soda, coke)

I grew up learning by osmosis and example that if there was something you saw that you needed/wanted and you had the money in your pocket you had to buy it right then. If you didn't, you either wouldn't have enough money later, or it would be gone. Thinking about a purchase for 24-hours was unheard of.

Saving money was another thing that wasn't heard of or talked about much. I grew up thinking saving was what rich people did. Savings accounts were for those who were rich enough to have extra money to save. We weren't that rich.

I heard once that "A budget is a systematic way of running out of money." I didn't need a systematic way, I could run out of money just fine in my own loosey-goosey way. I was extremely opposed to a budget. I saw no use for a savings account, because if you weren't saving for anything in particular, what was the point?

Several times in my 20s I would think I should do a better a job with my money. One time I bought "A Woman's Guide to Financial Peace of Mind" by Ron Blue. The only thing  I learned from the book was I couldn't afford the book, but Focus on the Family wouldn't take it back.

I carried all this excess stinky baggage in to marriage. You can imagine living in my house...sometimes it wasn't quite all love and roses.

This past Spring my church offered Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University as a Sunday School class. I was the first one to sign up. I didn't necessarily care if Russ was on board (although I knew he probably would be) with the whole thing or not. I only wanted help with the household money I worked with every month. I thought if Dave Ramsey could help with that, he would be worth his weight in gold. (in a good gold market when it is really paying to have stock in gold.)

I started setting aside a certain amount every month immediately after starting the class. This went into a checking account that had very limited access. I could only write 3 checks a month. I requested no debit card with it. For what I planned to use this account for, I contemplated opening a savings account, until I saw this account offered no minimum balance, and it earned interest at a greater rate than a savings account, I chose to go for the checking account.

At times the money I put in the account hurt. I could think of 150 different things I could do with that money. But still I put it in every month.  I am close to having my emergency fund fully stocked, and already it has come in handy.

For years I thought there was no way I could ever afford to shop at Sam's or Costco.  I knew I could get more buying in bulk and over time it would be cheaper, but initially I knew I'd spend more. And I didn't have more to spend. Every pay period I was spending all I had on food and other things we needed, like toothpaste, toilet paper, kleenex' soap, etc.

Six weeks ago or so, we traveled to visit family and check out Sam's.  I took my meager money with me, hoping to get enough food to last at least for 2 weeks and hopefully a month. It worked. I even went home with money in my pocket.

Two weeks ago, I went to a nearby town to again shop at Sam's. I spent a little more than I had the first time, but I was able to get more.  And again I went home with money in my pocket.

I was noticing earlier this week that our bath towels are getting to be rather sad looking. Elizabeth's towel has a hole in it, all the towels have the frayed edges. But instead of thinking we could all ask for towels for Christmas, I realized I can go buy the towels we need.

Because of Dave Ramsey, I am able to say "We need towels." and go buy new towels. I didn't have to think of what I could do without this time to get the towels.

Believe me when I say six months ago, that wouldn't have happened.  This lifestyle is so freeing. Yes, some people think I'm crazy for denying myself certain perks of life, but honestly the more I save the less likely I am to want to part with any money. Especially money on things that are just a perk. I have a hard enough time spending money on some needs of my own (my families needs I have no problem spending money), to spend money on a "want" is enough to send me into a near panic. (only slightly kidding)

Getting rich was not my intent by taking the class. I just wanted help to have enough, even if our income never increased, I just wanted to have enough to get what was needed.

Mission accomplished!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

COFFEE!!!

Sweet Nectar of the gods. on TwitpicThis morning I read Psalm 66. In verse three we are told to "Say to God, 'How awesome are Your works!'" I prayed for my eyes to be open so I could see Him at work and see His works. I know I really only had to look outside and I could see His works, but go with me here.  I want so much to be able to exclaim, "God, You are awesome for... ."  In the midst of my prayer, God gently whispers to my soul, "I made the coffee bean." And I began to "Shout joyfully to God..."


God made coffee! God made coffee and He is awesome!! Coffee is good, even great, but God alone is awesome! If you look in Genesis 1, God exclaims "It is good!" after every thing He created. So coffee is good.

Could I get an amen!!!

Not only did God remind me that He made coffee, He had the radio play "Low Fat Latte" by Michael O'brien just as I was leaving for Bible study. The song lasted, and yes was blasted from the speakers, until I got to Dear Man's office to drop off the girls.

At Bible study this morning, I learned so much. Most of which I'm still processing...or maybe I'm just not ready to share yet. But I will share this. My family is in the Bible. Yup. We are there.

I went down to the garden of nuts to see the fruits...
Song of Songs 6:12 (kjv)


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

For Beth Moore.

I just read Beth Moore's blog. She talked today about her "happy place"...the Tetons. I live only one state east of them and I haven't ever been. Maybe I should.

Beth closed by asking what was our happy place. I commented quite honestly that since I was in dire need of a nap, my happy/favorite place was bed. Before I hit the submit button, I pondered a while to see if I had another place I liked better. And the answer is a resounding NO! I am such a slug. My favorite place to be is bed, either sleeping or with a good book and a cup of good coffee.

However, since I can't stand to sit still for 10 minutes, I can't just lounge in bed all day. I would make myself crazy.

The next part of the comment was my realizing and since I can't have an unexpressed thought, I said, I told 50 million people that I had been too busy since crawling out of bed to have it made yet. It is after 3pm.

To prove it I snapped this.
And no, I'm not proud. I hadn't even opened the windows!
But never fear, I quickly rectified the situation.

What is that on the bed? 
My Bible study lesson. 
And okay it was staged, but I had to have some place to keep it. 

What is your favorite place to be?

Mourning into Dancing

This morning I read Psalm 116.  I was in the throes of death Friday and Saturday so I could really relate, and after my day yesterday, I could REALLY relate!!

I love the LORD because He hears 
My voice and my 
supplications.
Because He has inclined
His ear to me,
Therefore I shall call upon
Him as long as I live.
The cords of death
encompassed me
And the terrors of Sheol
came upon me;
I found distress and 
sorrow
Then I called upon the 
name of the LORD:
"O LORD I beseech You, 
save my life!"

Gracious is the LORD, and
righteous;
Yes, our God is compassionate.
The LORD preserves the 
simple;
I was brought low, and 
He save me.
Return to your rest, 
O my soul,
For the LORD has dealt 
bountifully with you.
For You have rescued my
soul from death, 
My eyes from tears, 
My feet from stumbling.
I shall walk before the LORD
In the land of the living.
I believed when I said,,
"I am greatly afflicted."
I said in my alarm,
"All men are liars."

What shall I render to 
the Lord 
For all His benefits 
toward me?
I shall lift up the cup of 
salvation
And call upon the name
of the LORD.
I shall pay my vows to 
the LORD,
Oh may it be in the
presence of all His
people.
Precious in the sight of 
the LORD 
Is the death of His godly
ones.
O LORD, surely I am
Your servant,
I am Your servant, the 
son of Your handmaid,
You have loosed my
bonds
To You I shall offer a 
sacrifice of 
thanksgiving.
And call upon the name
of the LORD.
I shall pay my vows to 
the LORD, 
Oh may it be in the
presence of all his 
people,
In the courts of the 
LORD'S house,
In the midst of you,
O Jerusalem,
Praise the LORD

(from the nasb)

Monday, September 27, 2010

My day...thus far.

A little background.

I am going through Anointed, Transformed and Redeemed. A Bible study that uses Priscilla Shirer (If only she would get off my toes for a pair of minutes!), Beth Moore and Kay Arthur. Each speaker is given two weeks of homework and two weeks of video lessons. I have worked my way through Priscilla's and I am working on week one of homework with Beth. Kay is yet to hit me. I think maybe I should duck.

Beth has for her key passage in her first video session and first week of homework, 2 Samuel 7. In this passage, King David wants to build God a house and God says instead that He will build David's house and establish his throne forever. Now we know this is accomplished through Jesus.

In verse 18 David sits back on his heels and says, "Who am I? And What is my family that YOU have brought us this far??" (my paraphrase based on the New International Version) We are supposed to ponder the "this far" God has led us.

To be honest, I have struggled with that. Not that I have lived a life of ease by any means, but I've struggled because at times I don't see God leading me. To be completely honest, at times I'm not sure I really like where He seems to have led me thus far.

Yesterday in church we sang "I surrender all." I don't normally sing that hymn because quite frankly it isn't true. How can I sing "I surrender all" while telling God, "You better not even think about touching that!!! Or that! Or nope, not that either." But I realized I did want to surrender all. I contemplated what a life totally surrendered would look like, I counted the cost to see if I could. I came up short. I know I can't. But I also know God can.

Last night I had trouble sleeping so I'm mulling over a surrendered life, I'm praying again through the verses I had to in the day's Bible study lesson I had completed. I found myself praying that I would be a living sacrifice. I heard myself whisper the words in a dark world, "I present myself to You, Lord, as a living sacrifice. I am willing to move to the next "this far" part of my life. I am willing to step forward. I don't want to and I can't stay here."

It was then I had my answer to the "this far God has brought me...." question. He brought me to being alive at 40 years 6 months and 15 days. I thought back on all the times and all the reasons I should not be here now. Yet I am I kept here alive because of Him.

I had a time of sweet thanking God for my many blessings after that revelation. WOW!

Which brings me to my day.

  • I woke up too late to run.
  • I overfilled my one cup of caffeinated coffee.
  • I tried to take a picture but my photo card was not in my camera.
  • I can't find the cord to the camera so I can get the pictures off it's internal memory.
  • I almost lost it completely with my 10-year old and her math.
  • I had to remind the girls again to pick up all their dirty clothes and inform them that dire consequences will befall them when next they don't.
  • Just as I was stepping into the shower I heard a "clunk" and there was almost no water coming out the shower head. I have that soaking now in vinegar to see if I can fix it. If not...guess I get to spend $$ to fix it.
  • I thought bad thoughts about the previous owner of our house for their cheap fixes. 
  • I put my thumb through my shirt as I put it on. I've only worn this shirt two other times. 
As I was washing my hair in the sink, trying not to think bad words because of my horrible morning, and trying desperately not to blame it all on Monday, God gently spoke to my heart.

You surrendered all to Me. You meant it. Your enemy does not want this. He wants anything but for you to live a life of total surrender to Me.

I then thought of verses like Ephesians 6 that says after I've armed myself with the armor, I am to stand firm. I thought of the verse in Peter I am told to "Resist the devil and he must flee". I found myself muttering "Resist. Stand firm". I also found myself once more offering my body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing in His sight.

I do have an enemy and apparently he loves to torment me on a Monday. I know that I am already a victor over him because my Jesus died on the cross assuring me victory.

And now that is something worth getting my praise on!

GO MAD Monday

Do you remember a few weeks ago when I was pondering why it was so hard to see if I had done anything to make a difference? I wondered if I was simply so self-absorbed I couldn't even begin to think of meeting a need in someone else, or was I merely spending all my time pouring myself into others, making a difference in their life that nothing came immediately to mind.  (You can find that post here)

Today I was so self-absorbed, I completely forgot about GO MAD Monday.

I am in the process of slowing decluttering my house. I love it. I love seeing things go out the door in some form or fashion. I have had garage sales and I've found my best friend, Craigslist. I have had some measure of success selling things using that service. Some items I have had to list multiple times before they sell, but for the most part I'm incredibly happy with craigslist.

A few weeks ago or so I re-listed my canning jars. I don't can at all. I have tried. I've tried making my own jam but honestly, it's not for me unless I have someone to can with me. And all my canning buddies have left me.

I had a fairly large box of canning jars and lids. And since canning season is upon us I thought they would go quickly. But several days went by and no one seemed interested.

Last week I received an email from a girl wondering if I still had them. We emailed back and forth one morning and I discovered she didn't live locally, she had an 8 month old baby, was in school full-time, she has three boys, one with Aspergers, lives in the country and works part-time.

And she was asking for my address so she could mapquest it to see how far she would have to drive. I offered to meet her halfway.

We met in a small town and I gave her the jars. She was happy to get them. And probably happy she didn't have to drive three hours round-trip to get them.

I know I probably spent more getting there than I made, and finances are tight but I can't help but think I ministered to her somehow by meeting her. And I know it was a God-thing because who in the name of getting rid of things and making a few dollars, drives 90 miles (round trip) to deliver jars, knowing it would cost them all the money they should be making?

(my apologies for the disjointedness of this post....we are fully entrenched in our school day and I had multiple interruptions to my thought processes)

What did you do to GO MAD Monday?

A weighty issue

Hey, my friend Kathi, is requesting prayer. Prayer that she would believe God, have Faith that what He says is true.  Even when it involves a "weighty" subject. So head over to her blog (Kathi Lipp) and since we can all relate, leave your prayer in her comments! You will be blessed and so will she!

I would like to take the time to say...

I would KILL for a good hard freeze RIGHT NOW. I am so very tired of headaches and a runny nose.

That is all.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Contentment vs. Complacency

I've been pondering this two things a lot lately. I want to be contentment but I do not want to be complacent in anything.

I think contentment is being happy with what you have, while not denying there might be a need in the future. Jesus says we are to be content with housing, food and clothing. If we have those basic necessities we have all we need to be content.  That does not mean we won't need more food, more clothes or a different house/neighborhood.

Complacency is a lazy contentment. A contentment that says, "I don't want anything and I refuse to acknowledge a need because then I will need to do something to meet that need." Complacency denies needs because it deems everything a want. Complacency says, "I have food. I will never need food and I will be content with the food I have. I have clothes. I will never need more clothes. I have a house. I will never for any reason need a different house.  So I won't even bother grocery shopping, clothes shopping, or house shopping for any reason."

That might be overly simplistic, and taken a bit too far. We all know we'll need to get more food and we can't wear the same clothes all the time. That is ridiculous.

But so is denying any need we have because we're content with what we have.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I love love to save money!!!

I do. I am always so thrilled when I do. I tend to be more "free" than Russ. Not free in the sense of driving us to the poor house, or not paying bills, but free in that I'll see something I know someone would LOVE and okay I'll admit it, I know they would LOVE me for giving it to them. So I'll buy it.

But that has changed...somewhat. I still enjoy doing that but more often than not, I'll count the cost and find something else.  My favorite place to shop is the clearance rack, and even still my girls will tell you I more often than not will say, "That's not low enough for me." and I'll walk away. No more impulse shopping for this girl. Instead of burning a hole in my pocket, money now burns a hole in my hand, so I leave it safely tucked away.

My favorite grocery store closed down early this summer and I was in a definite quandary as to where to shop. We have a super Wal Mart and well..no thanks. The other two stores left a lot to be desired in my estimation. To me they seemed dirty and that wasn't counting the "soft" porn in the check stands.  I started shopping at the least of the evils and had to force myself to go.

Fast forward to last month, August. I was desperate to get out of town. Desperate. D.E.S.P.A.R.A.T.E!!! I thought if I just casually mentioned I'd like to travel, we would find a million and fifty reasons why we couldn't afford it. But if I said I wanted to go out of town to check out a store we don't have here, and "hey why don't we combine it with a trip to see your sister", it would seem so much more...legitimate.

Yes, if I were an Eskimo, I could rationalize spending money on an ice machine. Just sayin'.

We went. And I shopped. And I loved it. I loved filling my grocery cart full of good healthy food for a month. For a fraction of what I would have spent at home.

I kid you not. I spent about $175 on food for my family of 4 for a month. I did need to purchase more milk and fruit mid-month, but the bulk of the shopping was done.

I just returned home last week from another shopping trip. The girls and I went on Thursday, not to visit my sister-in-law, but to a town a little closer. I was amazed! I spent about $100 more than in August but I also bought some non-food items. I will still need to get milk and fruit mid-month but I won't be spending all the household envelope every two weeks.

I have been asked for some tips on saving money. It can be done!!! I'll be sharing those tips in the next few days/weeks. So stay tuned!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Waiting for God

When I was in college I was bound and determined to make it big in Hollywood. In my History of Theatre class, my professor spent a lot of time talking about his favorite play, Waiting for God. Which is not pronounced "God" but "Guh-Doh".  I don't remember much about the play but I do remember it ends with God not showing up.

Fast forward a few hundred years, yesterday my girls and I traveled to a larger town in Wyoming to do some serious shopping.  I rocked the "Saving Money World." It was as if I became Dave Ramsey. Or at least I had him in my back pocket.  I saved so  much money I thought I would go back to college and finish my degree, only I would not study Waiting for God again, I would study finance. Forget that simple math can drive me batty. I knew I could rival Dave Ramsey at his own game. I knew it.

In order to get to this larger town, I had to drive through some pretty desolate places on some pretty deserted highways.   I do not live in a large urban area. Farm ground and ranches are much more prevalent here than any high rise office buildings. You are more likely to see farm stores and men in cowboy boots caked in manure than anything resembling Wall Street wear.  My part of the world has a definite beauty, but for some, it's just to desolate. Maybe you have to live here to see and appreciate the true beauty.

To keep myself from going batty with silence (the girls were working on school in the back seat), and to keep my spirit focused on WHAT is truly important, and to prevent my panicky about buying twice as much groceries with half the money, (that is another post!) I listened to KLOVE  until I ran out of the signal. When that happened I popped in my Aaron Shust cd.

On the way home, Aaron's song, My Savior My God, was playing when I was passed by a semi-truck heading in the opposite direction. As he passes, I look in the rearview mirror and I am shocked to see all of this truck in my lane. I could only pray over and over, Thank YOU! I have no idea how he could pass me and immediately be completely in my lane without hitting me.

 "My Savior loves, My Savior lives, My Savior's always there for me." 
What might have been simple platitudes before became very real. There is nothing more real, than hearing My Savior Lives and realizing had God not stepped in, the semi most certainly would have clipped at least the back of my van. At 65 miles an hour, I most certainly would have lost control and it could have been deadly.

 I am no longer Waiting for GOD, He showed up in a big way.  And I will never be the same.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

GO MAD Monday

I know it's Tuesday but yesterday was a busy day with no computer time. So today you get my Go MAD Monday post.

I really had trouble this week. I seem to be so busy I forget to go M.A.D.  I don't know I'm just so self-centered that other people don't even hit my radar or if I'm just so busy giving my life for others that nothing stands out as "you did this to make a difference in someone's life". I do know I don't often sit down and think, "Go MAD Monday is coming up and I need to do something for someone else because I need blog fodder."  It seems rather fake if the only reason I do something is so I can blog about it.

We home school. This year has been different and difficult to say the least. If you follow my homeschool blog, you might know a little taste of the year we've had.

My oldest is now a 5th grader and her sister is in 3rd grade. For a couple of years A has become convinced that she hates math and therefore doesn't want to/can't do it. We use Singapore math and it is advanced. She is learning things in math I opted out of in high school.

We switched curriculum last year and had her redo third grade math. She struggled. She finished third grade math and started fourth grade. She didn't quite complete half of fourth grade math before the year was finished. So this year she is finishing fourth grade and I'm hopeful she will be able to finish 5th grade as well. The things she is learning, she is learning well enough to do quite well on her achievement tests she takes every April.

Last week I had a meeting and came home to find all three of my family members doing school at the table, Elizabeth was working on correcting her grammar and Ariana was doing math. In tears. When at 9 o'clock we sent her to shower and go to bed, I said I was finished with that math. Every night for over a week our family time had been spent working on school and I was done. I was done with every waking moment spent on school. I was done done done. I reasoned, "If I wanted to do school all night long, I would send them to school and we'd work on homework all night long. I homeschool so I can avoid that." (among other reasons.)

I planned on printing off math sheets for her while I perused curriculum again. But I hate to waste money.  I already had math curriculum, surely there was some way to use what I had already.  I decided to, instead of telling her, showing her and having her do it while I got something else done, we would start first thing, when she was fresh and we would work every single problem together.

I started that last Wednesday, September 8. We spent just over an hour working on math. And she finished three pages with all the answers correct.  We were completely done with school by 12:15. It felt so good.

I continue to sit with Ariana and we spend an hour working on math. It is amazing the difference a little sacrifice on my part has made in her. I think I heard her tell Dear Man she liked what she was learning in math!

What did you do to "Go MAD Monday"?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Oh brother

Hahahahahahahahaha.

I thought today was Monday. But it's not. It's Tuesday. My Go M.A.D. Monday post, should have been posted yesterday.

Go M.A.D Monday

I knew I should have thought of this a little more. When I went MAD this week, it wasn't in any real tangible way, and I'm not sure it had the desired effect.

You know the saying "The more things change, the more they stay the same"? That thought kept running through my mind Sunday as our pastor of 19 years (!!!!!) stepped down to partially retire.  The transition from our associate pastor moving to the role of senior pastor has been planned and in the works for a couple of years, so it wasn't a harsh, abrupt thing.

It isn't like Jake died suddenly and we were all left in the lurch. It isn't like he won't be attending our church anymore, because he will be.

It isn't really like there is a huge sense of loss either, at least not on my part.  I still get to see him, talk to him, interact with him. I still get to tell him the funny things my children do.

Sunday morning when I walked into church I glanced at the darkened sanctuary. We normally have 2 services so the sanctuary is not dark when I arrive.  As I glanced in, I saw Jake sitting there alone with just his thoughts for company.

I quietly slipped in the back and sat next to him in the pew. I didn't say much ( I know...hard to imagine), I did say he was forbidden from dying. I simply wouldn't allow it. We chatted about chastening, and he told me I could not send my girlies to him because he was done with that. But I know if he ever sees them behave in a way that is wrong, he will step up and correct them.  We talked about how we were all younger when he first came to our church.  He was only a couple years older than my dear man is now. My mind kept going to the day in May of 1995 when I wore white and walked down that aisle that seemed 10 years long. We chatted about weddings and agreed that mine was the best. (I might have been the one to say it and he might have just agreed and I might be just a little bit biased.) He told me a friend of his preferred funerals to weddings because "he's never buried someone who became unburied."

I kept quietly wondering what it will be like to have a pastor who is less than a year older than I am. I haven't ever had a peer be my pastor. I do know, that while I love both men, I won't have the same relationship with Dan as I have with Jake.  Jake has, maybe unknowing, stepped in and filled a lack in my life. I've been mentored by him and his wife, I've looked to them, I've watched them and thought, "I want to be like that!" 

I went into the darkened, almost un-inhabited sanctuary early Sunday morning to minister, but I am the one who walked away ministered too.
 


Monday, September 6, 2010

Motivationally challenged.

Cassidy took my Hop-a-long.

My get up and go, got up and went.

If I had zero motivation, I would have more than I have right now.

Last night we were asking the girls what they learned. It was Beanie's turn to share and this is what she said, "I learned that if you put a bumble bee in a tumbler and roll it down a hill, it will die."

The sermon illustration actually went more like this, "If you put a bumble bee in a tumbler, and leave the top open it will poke along the bottom looking for a way out until it dies. Because it doesn't think to look up and fly out."

A few weeks ago I was challenged to run every day. Okay actually a friend told me he had run every day for 51 days. I thought "I can do better than that."

Because I'm nice that way.

And my goal is running every day for 52 days. I don't have to beat him by much, just beat him.  I started August second, today was my 36th day of running.  I was not motivated in the least bit. No, in fact to say that  doesn't begin to touch how unmotivated I really was.

So I ran for a grand total of  five minutes. Yup, I ran a half a mile and walked the half mile home.  I don't  have to run long or hard, I just have to run. Shoot, I could have run from the bedroom to the chair and called it good.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm


I write like
Dan Brown
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

It is time

It's time to announce the winner of my Wise Giveaway!!! I would have announced it yesterday but we started school and let's just say...it was most decidedly NOT a good day.

So, our winner is Maura!!! I'll be in contact with her about her winning and I'll pop it in the mail. I'm sure she will be thrilled!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Go MAD

This morning I am continuing my study of the gospel of Luke. I am supposed to be reading verses 25-37, but I don't think I'll make it through those 12 verses.  Because I was forced to stop after verse 29.  Don't you just love it when God jumps off the page and you're forced to stop and ponder what you just read?

I do. I love it when God says, "I don't care how many verses you're "supposed" to read. Stop here! Ponder this. Meditate on it. Make it a part of you."

These 4 verses reveal the story of the scribe who asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. This scribe was, pardon the pun, well versed in the law.  He had written it (and other things, to be sure) probably at least once and probably more often. Yet, he came to see what Jesus said he would need to do to obtain eternal life.

This passage says nothing about the man wanting to trap Jesus in any way. Maybe he was and maybe he wasn't. But obviously this man, who knew the law, knew that eternal life could not come from the law.

But Jesus ever faithful to meet us where we are, used what this man knew to give him an answer.  He asked the man;
What does the law of Moses say?  How do you read it?
 The man answered Jesus:
'You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind.' And 'love your neighbor as yourself.''
 Jesus tells him to "do this and you will live". I don't think the man misunderstood Jesus' point. But his next question is what stopped me. He asked, "Who is my neighbor?"

I noticed he didn't ask who his God was. I wonder if it is easier to love a somewhat abstract God than it is to love a tangible neighbor? Is it easier to love and serve God, or at least profess to love and serve God, while ignoring at best or hating at worst our neighbor?

Can one love God and hate their neighbor?  We see other teachings of Jesus that deny that possibility.

Was Jesus calling this man's love of God into question, or his love for his neighbor? Obviously the man had trouble loving his neighbor. (and we know from Jesus answer, our neighbor is not only the one living next door)  This man is not the only one, I need look no further than my own heart and know that is true.

KLOVE is promoting a "Go MAD" campaign of sorts. They encourage listeners to "Go MAD Mondays", or "Go Make A Difference". Go do something to show love, kindness and compassion for your neighbor.  I enjoy listening to people call in and share what they have done in the past week to Go MAD.

I think the more often we "GO MAD!" the more our love for our neighbor will grow. And I don't know about you but I want to live. And since loving my neighbor is part of how I will live, I'm all for it.

I know it's Wednesday, but I'd like to issue a challenge to my readers. Let's Go MAD! Let's think of things we can do and then take it the next step and actually DO IT, between now and next Monday. Then on Monday, let's blog about what we have done, what the reaction is, and how it affected us.  Please make sure you leave me a comment so I can come read how you went MAD and if you need to, link back to this post.

Some simple ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Pay for the car behind you in the drive-thru lane. Tell them "Jesus paid for them"
  • Leave enough money with the barrista to buy the next customer one speciality drink
  • Carry in groceries for your neighbor
  • Offer to walk a dog
  • Offer free babysitting to a harried, frustrated Mom
  • Make something for someone else, either a meal, cake, or a craft