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TruthNotes

Timeless truth in a changing world

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Encouragement

Growing Out of Faith

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This morning I dropped my daughters off at school and they both walked in without looking back. This is quite a change from the beginning of the year, when my kindergartner would cling to me for dear life before I left. I had to walk her down to her classroom, help her put her backpack in her cubby, and give her a dozen hugs before leaving. After a few days of that routine, we shortened it so that her big sister walked her to the classroom, so long as I stood in the entryway where she could see me until she got to her classroom. Then when she got more comfortable with school and more self-reliant, I was able to wave at her from the doorway when she turned the corner to go to her classroom. And now she doesn’t even bother to look back. She’s on her own.

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What Does This Mean? (Beyond Confirmation Class)

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I can practically sing “Phantom of the Opera” in my sleep. My son is in the marching band, and their program was “Phantom” this year. Besides the fact that he practiced it at home, we also have the advantage of living but two blocks from the school, and therefore we can hear the band when they practice outside. We heard “Phantom” every school morning, every Monday night when they had three-hour clinics, every halftime show for home games, and every weekend in October for competition.

But here’s the thing–the harder the competitions got, the more they practiced. You’d think by the time they’d done it a few times, they had the thing pretty well under their belts, but no. They worked on fine tuning the performance, sometimes quite literally. They held chords to figure out which instrument was out of tune. They played the same sixteen measures over and over to make sure everyone was stepping exactly where they ought. They needed to know every single detail about their part, and know it well. It was inspiring to observe their focus and dedication. And it’s a good lesson on what it means to live as Christians in the world.

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Exposed by the Light

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It is a beautiful sunny morning today; a welcome relief from the gray days we’ve had recently. So I opened the blinds to let in the light. That was a mistake. We have tile floors through much of the house, and the natural light that brightened the day also illuminated the dirt and crumbs on the floor. Every. Single. Particle. It looked awful. Without the natural light, I could almost fool myself into believing that the floor was clean enough, but once the light was shining on it, that illusion was gone. There was no other way around it. My floor was dirty.

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How do You Smell?

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Every house has a unique smell, and ours is no different. Most of the time you don’t notice the particular scent of your own house, but the past few days that hasn’t been the case here. I noticed a distinctly awful smell that wasn’t going away. At first I tried my usual tricks. I pulled out my air purifier, I sprayed air freshener, I washed towels and washcloths, all to no avail. The smell was still there, underneath it all. So I decided to sniff out the source. Shockingly, it wasn’t the bathroom this time. It was definitely emanating from the kitchen. My journey took me to many exotic places until I came to a remote one I’d never before visited—under the oven. I tugged the thing slowly out of its place and was shocked at the abject squalor I found there. Months (or years…) of neglect had taken its toll. Who knows what had long since spilled and been forgotten? Even the sides of the oven were dirty from food drippings and crumbs brushed aside. It was disgusting and humbling, but once it was scrubbed squeaky clean and everything put back into its place, I realized the smell was gone. I’d gotten to the source.

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When You Don’t Get Anything out of Church

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“I didn’t get a thing out of that.”

These words were spoken by a resident of a nursing home some years ago when I was in college. A group of students went to a local nursing home every Tuesday evening to sing with the residents and lead them in a short devotional time. One week after the Bible message, a man who was hard of hearing turned to his neighbor and announced rather loudly, “I didn’t get a thing out of that!” We laughed about it then, and it still brings a smile to my face now. Clearly, he meant he couldn’t hear the message. But have you ever felt that way after church or a devotion? Like you didn’t get anything of substance out of it? And that begs the question, is it even worth it?

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Caution: Work in Progress

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Had anyone stopped by my house yesterday, they would have been greeted by complete chaos. The kids and I were taking down the Christmas tree, so ornaments, boxes, storage bins, and strings of lights were strewn about the living room. Branches of the artificial tree were tossed around haphazardly. My two-year-old’s blocks and wooden train track pieces were mixed in with the Christmas stuff. One could hardly walk through the room, it was so cluttered. It was a total disaster. But that was okay. It was, after all, only temporary. It was a work in progress. Continue reading “Caution: Work in Progress”

Less-than-Ideal Circumstances

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His circumstance were hardly ideal. He had been beaten, was falsely imprisoned, and there was a price on his head and a plot to kill him. Not the sort of situation In which I’d want to find myself. But the apostle Paul didn’t look at the unfairness of the situation or complain about it. Rather, he looked at the people God was placing in his path. These were people to whom he could witness: fellow prisoners, Roman soldiers, even the king. God used Paul’s circumstances to further the spread of the Gospel. In fact, one could say God even orchestrated those less-than-ideal circumstances.

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A Parent’s Love

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Our Saturday started out as a “normal” day, whatever that means in our household. My oldest was off with marching band, I gave the dogs a bath with the assistance of my sixth grader, and the girls were riding their bikes. Nothing unusual thus far. But while I was fixing lunch, my kindergartner burst in to inform me that my third grader had fallen off her bike and was bleeding. Okay, I’ve patched scraped knees before. I can handle this. But when I saw her, it wasn’t just her knees that were scraped. Her lip was bleeding too, and when I wiped the blood away I knew we were looking at a trip to the hospital for stitches. So much for a normal day. My entire afternoon was effectively wiped out by the hour-long trip to the children’s hospital and the time spent there, and I’m sure the bill from our ER visit will be exciting when it arrives, but it was totally worth it. After all, she’s my daughter.

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Snorkeling in Stormy Seas

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In retrospect, maybe it wasn’t the best move to try snorkeling for the first time in choppy waters. Every time a wave came at me, my instinct was to gasp in a quick breath. Breathing through my mouth into a snorkeling tube was completely unnatural, and immersing my face in the water while breathing through that tube was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done. I was sure I would drown. I didn’t have the rhythm of the breathing down yet, and the waves added to my discomfort. I was fairly hyperventilating into the tube, which as anyone can tell you, is most certainly not the way to snorkel. I clung desperately to the floatation device our instructor threw out, scarcely daring to let go when I dared to peer underwater. Once when I took my face out of the water, I spit out my breathing tube and promptly sucked in a huge mouthful of saltwater. If I thought snorkeling was terrifying before, I assure you, it’s nothing compared to the feeling I had after swallowing saltwater. I coughed violently and couldn’t take in air. I sounded like I was having an asthma attack (or maybe even like I was dying), so much so that our instructor swam over to me, ready to save my life. Yeah, nothing to see here, folks. Just your typical novice doing everything the wrong way. The trouble was that I wanted to trust myself and my own instincts rather than trusting the equipment to do its job.

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