Monday, February 24, 2014

The Agitator

As I mentioned in the previous post, the year started off with the purchase of a new washing machine.  As with any electronic, I quickly realized that during the thirteen-plus years between the time I purchased my previous washer and now, the basic washing machine has undergone a major transformation.  There were no longer just top loaders; there were also front loaders.  Based on the scores on Consumer Reports, the clear choice was a front loader.

I was surprised that a front-loading washing machine sans an agitator could get clothes as clean as a top-loading washing machine with an agitation stick in the middle of the drum.  But review after review said that the agitator had the potential to damage clothes and that this new engineering, which uses less water and less agitation, somehow produces better results.  So I decided to trust the reviews and paid the extra money for the front-loading washing machine.

After almost two months, I haven't noticed that my clothes are any cleaner with the new front-loading washer than they were with the old top-loading, agitator-laden washing machine.  Instead, the big thing I've noticed is that it takes more time to do a load of laundry.  My guess is that the lack of the agitator has something to do with that.

And with my one-word resolution this year being "perspective," this whole agitator versus no agitator cleaning process has gotten me thinking about how God removes impurities from my heart and refines my character.  It seems like I pay attention to the refining a lot more when He allows some painful or stressful event (agitation) into my life that requires me to cling tighter to Him and His Word.  This process is not fun, but on the whole, it seems to produce results.  And though the results might still take some time, I'm so aware of my need for Jesus that I tend to notice even the smallest changes He is making in me or my circumstances, which feels like progress is being made.  On the other hand, when I don't have noticeable obstacles (agitation) in my life, I know the Lord can still change my heart.  But I usually don't recognize the change or the growth because I'm not looking for it and because it's harder for me to notice.

When I think about it like that, I'm actually grateful to have an agitator in my life (even if I no longer have one in my washing machine) because I like being able to see the changes and knowing that He loves me enough to continue molding me to be more like Christ.  And maybe it will help you view the agitators in your life a little differently.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  James 1:2-4

Monday, February 17, 2014

2014: Perspective

Over six weeks of the new year have flown by, and I have not managed to type a single blog post.  Today's holiday will hopefully enable me to change that, even if it's just to recap quickly in list format. 

--Christmas at home was a sweet time as always.  Mom was sick for the first couple of days, but we managed to get in a trip to eat Chinese food and to watch Saving Mr. Banks (which was not the happy movie that was portrayed in the commercials, but I'm glad I saw it).   My sister and her husband arrived after Christmas, and the time flew by.  We enjoyed putting together puzzles, cooking a few meals, and attending church as a family.

--There's nothing quite like getting back from a trip and realizing that (1) your key ring does not possess a key to your front door because you never come in that way, and (2) the faucet you had turned off under the sink has been dripping for 8 days.  But there's also nothing like a friend who will drive over 20 miles round trip to bring you a key, and a plumber who comes and solves the problem quickly.

--Two days later when your 13-year-old hand-me-down washer does its last load, you will sing its praises for its long-suffering service and be grateful for a $6.95 monthly subscription to Consumer Reports and for Lowe's Sunday delivery.

--When choosing a word for this year, I found that the word chose me.  I read The Noticer and The Noticer Returns, both are fantastic books by Andy Andrews, and kept seeing the word "perspective."  It came up again in Priscilla Shirer's book God Is Able.  So "perspective" is something I will be concentrating on this year.

--I'm learning that "perspective" is imparted through God's Word and through the Holy Spirit.  It's the latter that I am becoming reacquainted with.  As I've been going through Jennie Allen's study Chase with my mentee, I'm seeing just how much the Holy Spirit equipped David and gave him the courage and perspective he needed to face the trials in his life.  Learning lots here.

--I love that the first-ever IF Gathering in Austin provided a livestream so that I could watch in the comfort of my home!  Incredible teaching on repenting, walking in freedom, and following one's calling.  And now they are equipping women with a daily email that has half a chapter from John, three questions to answer, and a 2-3 minute video featuring those same incredible teachers talking through the day's Bible reading.  Good stuff.

--Without college football on Saturdays, I've been devouring my reading stack.  (See the margin for recently read books from the past several weeks through the beginning of last year.)  I'm currently reading a meaty book called Respectable Sins that is also calling me to press into the Holy Spirit. 

I hope that your 2014 is off to a great start and that the Holy Spirit is teaching you how to walk through each day.

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." - John 14:26