Monday, August 24, 2009

Psalm of the Day - Psalm 24

Psalm 24
The King of Glory
A Psalm of David.
1 The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,
2 for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.
3 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?And who shall stand in his holy place?

4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.
5 He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,who seek the face of the God of Jacob.


7 Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors,that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty,the Lord, mighty in battle!
9 Lift up your heads, O gates!And lift them up, O ancient doors,that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory?The Lord of hosts,he is the King of glory!


Normally, when I read Psalm 24, I hear a song. That is to say, I hear it sung. I get caught up in the image of a great choir, and the full sound of their combined voices proclaiming "Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors,that the King of glory may come in." And then, in my head, the choir divides.

One half sings "Who is this King of glory?"

The other half responds "The Lord, strong and mighty,the Lord, mighty in battle!"

Then, louder "Who is this King of glory?"

"The Lord of hosts,he is the King of glory! "

Psalm 24 is a loud and lively my head, anyway.

But there is something interesting about this Psalm. The proclaimations, calls and responses are punctuated, if you will, by a single word, twice. The word: Selah. Now, I had to look the word up because I'm not that bright. According the the online bible dictionary, Selah is a hebrew word that is difficult to translate into English. Because of its usage, scholars believe it indicates a time to pause or to "stop and listen".

Stop and Listen.

Good advice. Hard to follow. Isn't it? Don't we all just seem programmed to "do"? To always be about something, moving on to the next thing, taking care of business? Stopping and Listening is downright un-American! But, David (thankfully) wasn't American, and neither is God.

That's all I got on this Psalm of the Day, folks. "Stop and listen". Whatever your situation, whatever business you are busy with, whatever hurt or crisis or choral activity you are in the midst of. Stop and listen and see what He might say to you.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Psalm A Day - Psalm 51

The other night, I went to bed at 9:30. Then, I woke up at about 10:30 and couldn't get back to sleep. This sort of thing doesn't happen to me often. Once I am out, I'm out 'til morning. But, this was just one of those nights. I lay there, head spinning, body willing itself to sleep, craving it even...yet it was elusive. I almost cried. For two hours, I wrestled and begged and prayed for sleep. In the midst of that time, I prayed for other things, too. One of those, was a renewed and revived relationship with the Lord. His answer was a starting a Psalm a Day. I love the Psalms, so I don't expect this to be a task I will resist too much. However, because I think better by getting my thoughts out, I figured it would be good to blog about each Psalm as I go. I pray it will also be a blessing to anyone who happens to stumble upon them. we go. The first Psalm of the Day:

Psalm 51

Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
1 Have mercy on me, O God,according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions,and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,O God of my salvation,and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;then bulls will be offered on your altar.

This is the quintessential penitenial psalm.

Say that three times fast. ;)

It is good that we have the note about the inspiration for this psalm of David - his sin with Bathsheba. Knowing this, I think, helps us to take this cry to God, this prayer, seriously. David isn't just some hyper-spiritual person that we have nothing in common with. We can't put him on a pedestal here and think that the way he speaks to or thinks of God is something we can never come close to. We can't idealize his words. David was a human being, like you and me. He was not perfect. He was not a monk. In fact, he sinned in ways most of us will never know beyond a flash of a thought in our heads. Yet, he was called a man after God's own heart. Perhaps this psalm, the heart that is revealed in this psalm, well help us understand why.

after he had gone in to Bathsheba: As I mentioned in the paragraph above, this psalm was composed after David had sinned with Bathsheba. We know from Scripture that, during a time of War, David spied Bathsheba bathing on her roof. It is implied that he watched her for a while, allowing his lust to grow. Nurturing his lust, then not only led to actually committing adultery with Bathsheba, but in plotting the death of her husband. Though most of us will never know these sins personally, they do fall on our list of "big bad sins". As such, there is no way we can read David's cry to the Lord and not apply it to our lives. If God can forgive one such as this, he can no doubt forgive us and our "lesser sins".

have transgressions,and my sin is ever before me: Can't everyone relate to this? Something happens, you know you are at fault, and no matter how big or small the situation is, its all you can think about. You worry about being exposed. About being embarrassed. About coming face to face with someone youve hurt or wronged in some way. You want it to go away, but don't necessarily want to have our faults come to light. It can be a difficult and consuming and distracting place to be. Like David, I'm sure we cry "have mercy", but often God's way of administering mercy is not just a "poof" and our anxiety is gone.

Against you, you only: Here, David sees something that will help him move past the anxiety of what seems the most immediate consequence of his sin. He has sinned against Bathsheba and her husband and, also, against his subjects...but more than that, he has sinned against God. Every step we take away from what God calls good and right and true is sin.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice: Every time I read this, I think of someone beating me with branches. But, that is not what David means here. Hyssop was an herb. Its branches were used to administer sacrifical blood during religious rites. Moses is instructed to dip hyssop in lambs blood and apply it to the door posts on the first passover. Here, David is asking for the same mercy, the cleansing that follows when we experience repentance. This is also, of course, a foreshadowing to the cross and the Blood of Christ which is far greater than a lamb without spot or blemish.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,and renew a right spirit within me: Here, David is acknowledging that only God can grant repentance and regeneration and turn our hearts to Himself.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise: Interesting wording following the verse above. "Broken spirit" and "Right spirit". A right spirit is a broken spirit, but not a spirit broken by sin. The right spirit is one broken by the grace and mercy of God, filled with awe and gratitude, and yearning not for its own way or to satisfy its own desires but to do the will of God and be pleasing to Him.

From start to finish, the Psalm covers the gamut of emotions and tracks the progression of sin to repentance...and beyond. I think my favorite thing about this psalm is that, while it acknowledges our emotions and weaknesses and the temptation to want to hide or cover or make up for our our sin rather than truly face it, it never throws the proverbial baby out with the bath water. David says, rightly, that God does not desire sacrifices or works of righteousness to bring us into right fellowship with him. Yet at the end he says: "Then I will teach transgressors your ways,and sinners will return to you...then will you delight in right sacrifices,in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;then bulls will be offered on your altar."


No way! God does not desire sacrifices or works of righteousness to bring us into right fellowship with Him. This is a work of the heart. A work He does in our hearts. Sacrifices, works of righteousness, walking in His law, and teaching others of His all of worship...should be the result of right fellowship, or a right spirit, not what produces it. God never despises us for desiring to walk in a manner worthy of the calling He has placed on our lives or wanting to abide by His law...when our hearts are aimed at loving and honoring him. The minute we see obedience or any spiritual act we perform as a means to the end of being accepted and loved by God, we've missed it; we've lost; we are worse off than before. Why? Because we are seeking our own. God seeks hearts that are completely His, not those who just want to feel like they are because they did this or didn't do that. David saw this. He didn't need to slay a ram to be cleansed of his sin, He needed the one who provides the lamb to have mercy and make him clean. And, we...well, we don't typically go out looking for lambs to slaughter when we have sinned, but we do go looking for a sacrifice or some work we can do to make ourselves feel we've balanced the scales, somehow, don't we?

It doesn't work. God does not delight in punish work. He delights in us when we delight in Him...when we turn our whole heart to Him....even in the midst of sin and failure and weakness, as this Psalm clearly shows us.

Psalm 51 is quite counter-intuitive to the way the human mind and heart works, but it really demonstrates the heart of God and work of God in us sinners. Do you have any thoughts on this Psalm or the ideas I felt led of the Lord to share here? Any sections of the Psalm stand out in a particular way to you? Feel free to share in the comments. :)

My People

I have some news that I want to share but I can't on account of it not being my news. But I feel like it is my news. But feelings are not facts. - Feelings are NOT facts. - So...I have to wait.

The news involves a dear friend and I am just over the moon for her!

Over the moon? Do I say "over the moon"? Am I 65 or a publicist for Sarah Jessica Parker? NO!!

What I meant so say, is, like, I am so, SO totally psyched for my girl. Yeah, that's what I meant to say. But, I can't tell anyone why, yet. Hopefully, soon, though.


Having this news and waiting to share, however, made me think about how wierd it is that I am so excited for her. She's not family. She's not my bff. But, somehow, some way, there is this spot in my heart just for her. She's one of my people. One of my people that I just love, just because I do. One of those people I love and kinda act like they belong to me, sometimes. Not in a creepy way, more in a momma kind of way. I think about them and pray for them and hug on them whenever they are around. I can't explain it. It just happens sometimes.

I'm glad it happens sometimes!

The last time it happened was with Nin. She's Canadian. And...before I tell you anything else about her, let me ask you a question. Do you know any Canadians? If you don't, rectify that immediately! I don't care what the movies tell you, Canadians are awesome. They aren't backwards. They don't all wear overalls. They don't all say "eh"...which is actually kind of sad for me. But, regardless, find a Canadian and become their friend today. You won't regret it! So, anyway, back to Nin...

She lives in Canada. She has piercings. She likes to dye her hair a lot. She is fearless in a way I may never know. She's married with 2 adorable kids. And, the year she was born, I started my period, tried my first cigarette, and got grounded often for wearing make-up without permission. Good times.

We couldn’t be more different, really. Well, except for our love of movie quotes. But, I love her? We already have several inside the question mark after "love her" and, though we've never met in person, or even talked on the phone, I feel connected to her. She is one of my people. I can't explain that. It just happens sometimes. And, I'm very glad it happened this time.

Then, there is Yves. He's my brother from an African mother. He speaks French. Adores hip hop. Wears really cool outfits that include members only jackets, trucker hats, pink Chucks, and fake gold “$” chains. He is very cerebral and philosophical and theoretical. The year he was born, I fell in love with Michael Jackson and wanted to be Olivia Newton John. We met on an RV at midnight not quite 2 years ago and, for whatever reason, I decided he was going to be my friend. He disagrees with how our friendship "went down", but I tell him all the time, he can be wrong if he wants to...its ok. Regardless of the origin, or the organic outgrowth of it all, and the fact that we pretty much disagree about everything, I love him. I really do. As I type this, my brother from an African mother is in the custody of the Immigration Department. So, if you think about it...please pray for him.

Finally, there's Jonathan. (Sigh) My hairy little atheist. When it comes to polar opposites...we be it! Not only is he an atheist (which is kinda wierd because he sorta looks like the popularized version of Jesus), but he is also a liberal and a vegetarian. I was a sophomore in high school the year he was born, so I, quite literally, am old enough to be his momma. That is, of course, if I had slept around in high school...which I didn't. Anyway, I first met him in his dad's cubicle at our office. He was half asleep and didn't even raise his head to say hello. But, for whatever reason, I felt compelled to speak to him every time I saw him in the halls. Sometimes, he would grunt back a reply and then run away. But, after about a year of this, I was feeding him crackers in my lap at lunch time. Ok, that's a slight exaggeration, but we did get very close very fast and, still, I love him like I birthed him. And, my heart breaks when I pray for him.

I can't explain how all of this happens. But it happens sometimes...and I'm so glad it does!

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Ovaries Didn't Hate Me Today

Today, my friend Steph delivered her second child...a boy...named Carter Edison. Steph's husband's name is Eddie, so...get it? Eddie's Son. Cute, huh? Anyway, I decided to bump up my lunch hour and try to squeeze in a visit to the hospital to meet Carter, check on my friend, deliver the androgynous gift I'd purchased over the weekend and, of course, snap a photo or two of the new little one.

Generally, when I meet brand new babies, I cry. If I also hold them, and get to sniff their heads when I meet them, I cry more. Furthermore, after said meeting (and optional holding and head sniffing) my ovaries wage an all-out assault on me as I drive home. At times like these, when there are new babies around which I did not grow in my womb, my ovaries can be down-right mean! They do painful things to my body, obliterate my mascara and threaten to shrivel up and die on me if this happens one. more. time!

But not today.

Today, I met little Mr. Carter Edison. I watched him snuggle in his gram's arms, suck on his fingers, and god help me, even yawn real big and my ovaries barely made themselves known. Well, one time, I think I detected a sigh, but that was about it. So, either they did shrivel up and die on me, or they are getting better at accepting reality and rejoicing with others, OR they are on vacation in Fiji. Either way, me and my mascara are greatful. More than that, I'm just super excited for my friend! Pretty much everyone was convinced she was going to have another girl...including me! But, in this case, I don't mind that I was wrong. :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Freedom or a Cell?

A few weeks ago, I saw an acquaintence's status update on Facebook. It said something about finally being released from prison or paroled or something like that. Several of his friends chimed in and congratulated him. The only thing is, this friend wasn't really in prison...he was speaking of his divorce being final. His status and his friends congratulatory remarks made my heart sink. I know his wife. I know his kids. I know what divorce does to families. Most of all, I know God hates divorce. As my friend was rejoicing in his freedom, God was not rejoicing with him. I believe God was grieved. I know I was.

But, thankfully, before I could harshly judge my friend, the Lord turned his light on my own heart. He hates my sin no less. My sin grieves Him just as much. Like my friend, I often mistake sin for freedom. The steps I take in that direction lead just as certainly and swifty to the opposite of freedom. Indeed, every step we take away from God and what He calls good leads to slavery and a prison cell...albeit a very clevery disquised cell.

What my friend did in divorcing his wife and rejoicing is what I do when I choose nachos over the word or vain imaginations over being where God has called me to in that moment. Every day we are capable of, and often do, exchange what is truly good for what seems good right now. And, each time we do, we are exchanging God for a lie...freedom for prison...good for sin.

God, help us to choose rightly and desire you above all things! Amen.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

One Year Ago Today...

Since I migrated over all of my old blog posts, I have spent a little time taking a bit of a trip down memory lane. Because I'm naturally curious and nostalgic, I thought it might be fun to see what I was up to one year ago today. Here's what I found:

My oldest brother, Nicky, thinks he looks like my maternal grandpa (we called him, Pa Pa). He doesn't, really. He acts a lot like Pa Pa, or at least tries to emulate him, but there is no strong physical resemblance outside of hair color and skin tone and bow-leggedness. In reality, Nicky looks like a fair-haired member of my Dad's side of the family, especially when he wears glasses. He has the nose, the eyes, the bone structure of a Gaspard. Granted, there are a few pictures in the family album where Nicky could easily pass for a Lemoine and bears little resemblance to the Gaspards. However, more often than not, if you lay out every school photo ever taken of my poor, deluded brother, he is Gaspard all the way...except for the blonde part.
Me, I have no delusions. I look like my mom. She couldn't deny me if she tried. The only things I inherited from my dad were his "birthing hips" and "thunder thighs". Well, that is, only in terms of physical resemblance. When it comes to personality, at times, the resemblance in each of us to our parents is far more striking than the physical.
I laugh like my mom and share her inability to do math when it comes to money.
My brother Brad is not only another fair-haired version of my dad but also shares his temperment down to a "t".
Our "middle child", I think, inherited the best qualities from each of our parents. He consistently works hard, is kind, thoughtful, insightful, generous and funny without being cutting or overly sarcastic.
These thoughts came to me the other day as I was driving and listening to a new CD titled, Sons and Daughters. The theme of the CD is about our standing in Christ with God our Father. As I meditated on this idea, and the Lord brought to mind all the ways I resemble my parents, I was almost immediately aware of all the ways I don't resemble my Heavenly Father.

I didn't finish the post or publish it. I'm sure I had tons of insightful and possibly witty things to say, but, alas, they never made it into type. Perhaps my lunch break was over or I was distracted by a small shiny object. We may never know.

Around that same time, though, I also blogged about a dream where I grew fur, my response to a friend's divorce, my ovaries, and some of my people. And, that's just a small sampler platter of the seriousness, silliness, and randomness you're sure to find here at It's Just Me!

Aren't you just, like, totally excited?!?!


(crickets chirping)

Hmmm...guess its just me, then. ;)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Another Odd Dream

The other night I had what could arguably be called the oddest dream of my life. It all started in my bathroom, however the dream had a sort of "en medias res" quality to it...which, in regular people speak means it seemed like it was in the middle of the story. I was looking at a large black, swollen area just below my arm pit. I had seen this black thing before and was growing concerned. As I examined this spot in the mirror, I looked down at my arm and saw what appeared to be werewolf-looking skin and fur all the way up my arm. I turned around and saw that the the black skin and fur was well over my shoulder and making its way towards my back. "I should see a doctor. It seems to be spreading." I thought. "Seems to be spreading?!!?" I would say so.

After that stroke of genius, I walked out of the bathroom and had another. "I'll just rub the blackness a bit and see if it peels". At first, the fur started pilling and peeling off. Then, a bit of black skin separated and turned up enough for me to grab...and before I knew it, I was pulling the blackness off like a really gross legwarmer. Only it wasn't a legwarmer and it was on my arm. And it was gross.

That is all I remember. I think even Dr. Freud would have a hard time finding the meaning in this one, folks! Though, I suspect, he might think I have a "thing" for hairy preternatural creatures. But I don't. I promise. Really.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Today's Daily Light

His mercy is for those who fear him.

Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues.

If you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.—The Lord is near to all who call on him . . . in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.

“Because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the Lord, . . . and you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the Lord.”—“But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”—The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

(Luke 1:50; Ps. 31:19, 20; 1 Pet. 1:17; Ps. 145:18, 19; 2 Kings 22:19; Isa. 66:2; Ps. 34:18)