Monday, May 30, 2011
I love a good mystery!
I found out at my recent garage sale, not everyone does. Loving a mystery writer who provides stories in a series, I provided all of my M.C. Beaton, Ann Purser, and various other Scottish and British writer series for sale. Nothing was moving. Finally, a police car pulled into our driveway. I thought there is no way a police officer wants to read about mysteries after dealing with such all day long. Much to my surprise, he pulled me aside and told me his wife ran a book club for those who loved mystery books, and would I consider selling several at reduced price?
Thrilled to find such kinship in a neighbor, I gave him as many as he could carry.
Oh, I know, many of you may think it is just brain candy. As a former English teacher, I have read the "deep-thought-provoking-humanity-revealing" books. I have joined book clubs and discussed the philosophical implications as well as judged literary techniques used in various passages.
Yet, I have to admit, for this time of life, I just enjoy sitting down to a well written mystery book and trying to solve the crime before the author reveals it. I have gone back to my childhood days where I started with Nancy Drew and read under the covers with a flashlight long after my mother told me to go to bed. The Tin Tin graphic novel series even thrilled me (and I am ecstatic to learn Spielberg is going to release the movie this winter)!
Yes, I love a good mystery. That is why today's headline on the internet news drew my attention.
The picture is of King Zedekiah's cave in Jerusalem. It seems this cave leads to an ancient city underneath the busy streets of Jerusalem. Archeologist are discovering more and more tunnels and evidence of a Jewish city. People can walk under the streets and see it for themselves and come out miles later into a busy shopping area above ground.
It was named after King Zedekiah tried to hide in the cave from the siege of the Babylonians. The caves supposedly date back to King Solomon.
Something hidden underneath. A mystery waiting to be uncovered.
I like that.
I believe that is so much like God to me.
I can forget His mystery and depend so easily on what I see, what I experience, what my senses tell me while all along He is working in, about, around, and under me, unseen.
I am going to rely on that Unseen Hand of Love and Protection this week.
How about you? Are you enjoying the mystery of God this week?
I pray you are.
For His glory,
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Every Memorial Day, my father went to the Herrin City Park where the Doughboy statue was and stood with his hand over his heart as taps were played and guns fired in the air in memorial of those who gave their lives for their country.
I can still see him standing there. I can still see the soldier statue. I see the white haired men in white shirts, black pants, hats indicating Veterans, shouldering fierce looking guns.
The CRACK! of the gun shots in the air always shocked me as a child even though I knew it would happen.
Dad rarely talked about his experiences in WWII. He saw horrific events. I do know that he could not watch any comedies on television or at the movies about war. He hated war. I remember one night watching an old sitcom called, "Hogan's Heroes." It was a very popular comedy show in the 70's about prisoners of war always trying to escape. One German guard kept saying, "I see nothing! I see nothing!" whenever he stumbled on yet another plan of escape or espionage.
Dad disliked that show greatly. He said POWs experienced no humor.
One day Dad finally wrote about his experience. He had to fly into the concentration camps at the end of the war for commanding officers who were documenting the Nuremberg trials. Sometimes he came just as people were being freed.
I came close to understanding his silence about the War after reading one of his accounts. His reason for sharing his stories was because he was afraid. He was afraid people would forget. People would forget how cruel man could be, was.
I told him I wouldn't forget. As a teacher, I shared his stories with my students. Every year 120 students heard his story as I prepared them for the study of Ellie Wiesel's NIGHT. Over 1000 students heard his story.
It wasn't just his story though. It was man's story. The story of loss, hatred, cruelty, suffering, and sacrifice.
Those scenes haunted my father. I know survivors of war, whether WWII, Korean, Vietnam, Iraq, Afgahnistan, and yes, the World Trade Towers... all have witnessed the cruelty of man and must be haunted by the impact of evil.
So this weekend many gather around the statue of the UNKNOWN SOLDIER or replicas around the country and see the flag and hear the CRACK! of guns.
-And I think of healing that comes from another greater sacrifice. I think of Rome where another statue stood. -One to the UNKNOWN GOD. I am reminded how the disciple Paul shared with the Greeks and Romans who that UNKNOWN GOD was and how healing comes from his son, Jesus.
My Dad is no longer with me. He is not in the Herrin cemetary though either. He is with the Prince of Peace where no evil has power. He is healed from painful sights and memories. He is filled with God's love and working for a much better kingdom. May God's peace that can only come from Jesus fill each survivor's heart today as well as our soldiers' families.
For His Glory....
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Today was quite a day for most of us in the Midwest again. My daughter and I spent three hours yet again in the basement. It was a scary way to start the first day of vacation.
You see today was the last day of school for her and also her official first day of vacation.
As I watched the tornadoes and storms on the television from our basement sanctuary, I realized today was also the last day for the Oprah Show. While silly even to think about it, I did wonder how her show was wrapping up after two star-studded days of Chicago saying goodbye to her. I wondered what last words she would say to her audience to wrap up her 25 years of becoming a media mogul. (Please, realize we were in the basement for several hours.)
After the sirens stopped and the all clear given, and after I once again thanked God for keeping our home and neighbors safe, (not one person was injured in St. Louis today in spite of terrible storms and cloud walls forming with "hooks." Not one hook stayed on the ground! Baseball-sized hail did not injure any drivers or children going home from school! Praise God!)I went on the wonderful internet to see what Oprah had to say.
I wasn't very impressed. I guess I haven't been impressed for some time. Oprah seems to have lost her way somehow. She seems to accept all paths leading to God, much like Rob Bell's latest book. I listened as Oprah provided her own wisdom for the audience "teaching her media classroom" one last time.
Today was also the last chance for words of wisdom for my daughter from her school teachers and principals. I listened during her last chapel service, pleased with what I heard, but it was what I didn't hear that impressed me most.
Her teacher was crying and hugging the kids. She was truly touched as she hugged each child. These were not just misty-eyed tears either. Her eyes were red and swollen from crying. She was going to miss them. My daughter felt that and marveled at how much this teacher cared about her.
That was the best goodbye speech one could ever hear, wasn't it? I mean to know someone loves you and will miss you, that you actually mattered in that life, WOW! what a strong message for a child!
Tonight was another last moment, the finalist for American Idol was announced. My daughter and I curled up on the couch to watch it together. (Yes, we switched channels for the obcene and hedonistic Lady Gaga portrayal of sex. Sad to need attention that much to offend children and families watching, isn't it?)
The ending song was not that great, but I did like the final message by the winner, Scotty, when he said first and foremost, I have to thank the Lord who brought me here. Then he hugged each and every member of his family and each and every member of the cast as he tried to sing the final song. It was a bit awkward because he couldn't sing it very well as he hugged and patted folks on the back, yet I found it a touching and classy last moment.
So, I wonder about Lasts and Firsts. We've had a lot of publicity about the LAST DAY, the RAPTURE coming. We know it didn't happen, of course, since I am writing and you are reading.
-Yet I can't help but wonder about the last moment for our earth, especially as I try to study the book of Revelation. What will be my last moment? Will I be mid-sentence griping about the traffic light, about my daughter not picking up her room, about my diet, about the car, about taxes, about....
Perhaps it is what I don't say that will be most impressive, like my daughter's teacher. My last act I hope is one of compassion and caring.
I don't want to be like Oprah. (Sorry, Oprah fans.) I don't want to think I have the answers and feel the need to leave my words of wisdom to those who may listen. I don't want to have to have people cheering or screaming like American Idol either.
I just want to be able to give a hug and let those around me know they are loved.
--Because that is all I hope to have each day from those I meet.
How about you? What is important to you for your last day which will also your first day? I hope you are giving someone the knowledge that he/she matters and is loved.
For His Glory,
Monday, May 23, 2011
That sign sums it up regarding the prophecy made recently about the end of the world.
On the other hand, that same day, hundreds of Missourians had to deal with another sign, the signs of tornados once again reeking chaos and havoc and disaster.
Forty-seven times tornados have touched lives in Missouri since New Year's Eve. Many have learned to heed the siren warnings.
Sadness is evident everywhere I go.
-Even to the dentist office this morning. As my dentist prepared to clean my teeth, he shared how his relatives had been in Joplin on their deck having a normal BBQ only to look up and see a tornado racing toward their home at 30 miles an hour.
They barely had time to throw themselves into the basement before their house was torn to shreds.
That night, crawling out of the rubble, they searched for their friends, friends of many years, friends since high school. They could not find their neighbors.
My dentist commented, "News doesn't mean much until it hits your own family. It is hard to know what to do with it."
Ironically my daughter's last memory verse for her school year is from Ephesians. God tells us how to deal with hard times, with Satan, with evil, with sadness, with life on this earth. We must put on the full armor of God and STAND FIRM. The helmet of salvation reminds us of God's love and ultimate plan for us as good and not evil.
My heart is with those in Joplin. I can not imagine their pain and suffering.
God can though.
He has been through it all.
He did it for us.
Join me, won't you, in praying for those grieving. Let's also pray for protection for those hurt and for all in the Midwest facing yet more storms today and the rest of this week.
For His Glory,
Saturday, May 21, 2011
I'm still here!
Nope, the rapture did not happen!
The end of the world did not happen!
Did I expect it to happen?
As a child, though, when I first heard about the end times and the Rapture of the Church and Believers, I admit I became afraid. I never felt certain Jesus would take me home with Him before the tribulation. I always felt I wasn't good enough, or that my sins of that day would keep me out of heaven.
I know better now, thanks to the Bible. -But I tell you as a child whenever the house became too still, or when I could not locate Mom or Dad immediately (they were usually in the back yard), I pictured the Rapture occurring and imagined I had been left behind to be on my own.
Recently I shared with you how one atheist decided to capitalize on the recent rumors of the end of the world or rapture by offering to dog sit for people who go to heaven and leave their pets behind with the non believers.
While laughing about that paradox, I was amazed at the attention this proclamation of END TIMES received.
Didn't people read the Bible? It does give us a glimpse of our ending but teaches very clearly that we will NOT know when Christ will return, not the day nor hour. In fact, He could return in the blink of an eye.
It reminds me of a baby I watched at the Missouri Botanical Gardens today. There is a play area where the water pops up in unexpected streams soaking delighted children eager to cool down from the heat and humidity of the Midwest.
One mother took off the shoes and socks of her just-learning-to walk-son and set him free on the liquid obstacle course. All of us laughed as he was surprised by the first blast of water. Our entertainment continued as the baby became determined with his chubby hands to grab the water and control it. As soon as he did, the water disappeared much to his confusion and frustration.
Like the baby, we can not predict the timing of Christ's return. There are signs that the time is closer. That is evident in Revelation. -But to give the exact day and hour is like the baby trying to hold the streams of water tightly in his fists.
I do look forward to Jesus returning. I look forward to seeing my mother and father and grandparents once again knowing we will never be separated. I look forward to having all of my faults and pride and problems gone forever. I look forward to being enveloped in Jesus' love.
I look forward.
How about you? Did you think of today's possibilities with dread or excitement?
Hope you join me in looking forward.
For His glory,
Thursday, May 19, 2011
The dreaded e-mail came today. After planning since last October for a once-in-a-lifetime family trip to Hawaii, I received a notice of flight changes.
I was relying on frequent flyer points and had booked flights months in advance. Connecting flights are necessities in St. Louis, and I admit some lay-over times are going to be crunched in trying to make it on time.
I was feeling pretty good though as our dream vacation approached.
Then the e-mail notice. "There has been a change to your flight schedule. Please, contact this number for further information and assistance."
Next to the number was information about "guest services." Clicking on that, I read all the worst-case-scenarios: what to do if you have been bumped, cancelled, reasonably delayed....the list went on and on.
Panic hit me. I quickly dialed the number.
"Your business is very important to us. We are experiencing numerous calls, however, and your call will be addressed in the order it was received. We estimate an agent will be with you in 25 minutes."
25 minutes? I am supposed to sit on the phone to find out what changed for that long?
I had my husband go to his own cell phone while I was on hold and try to call yet another number only to hear him receive an automated menu. When trying to skip all the automated choices by saying AGENT, the menu recorder responded with GOODBYE.
Whew, talk about frustrating. So while waiting for 27 minutes on the phone for an agent, I decided to vent my frustration and panic by writing a letter of complaint to the GUEST SERVICES that appeared as a choice on my monitor.
I hit send before praying.
What a test I had experienced, and I failed miserably! I mean so what if I had spent the day driving in mud and rain to the Daniel Boone home field trip for my daughter's 3rd grade class? So what if two of the little darlings had stepped in horse manure and climbed on TOP of my cloth car seats leaving the odor ground in to the car? So what if I had to rush from the field trip, driving another 55 minutes for my daughter's orthodontist appointment only to have him see her for a full five-minutes tops and hear him say, "Looks fine. Come back in 8 weeks."
None of that matters. It is no excuse to expect to be treated better. Nancy Leigh De Moss's Gratitude Devotional book talks about the trap of feeling we have the right to be treated better, and as a result, complain, complain, complain.
On the way back from the orthodontist, I started praying aloud in front of my daughter, asking for forgiveness. I started thanking God for the rain, the mud, the smell, my car, the dentist, the drive. As I did the thankful list changed to thanks for the ability to drive, the fact no one was hurt in the rain or mud, the fun the kids had playing charades and hangman with each other on the drive, the lessons learned, the fact that my daughter's teeth were doing fine....I started feeling better. Then I got home.
Walking into my home, a light bulb crashed shattering tiny shards of glass all over the floor as my dog, soaked from the muddy backyard (I did mention it was NOT supposed to rain today when I left that morning for the field trip?), bounded into the house leaving tracks throughout and jumping excitedly upon me.
Well, I guess I am needing a lot of practice on this being thankful thing and attitude in general.
What about you? Has your flight, day, life, schedule ever been delayed or changed? If so, how are you handling it?
I hope better than I. And yes, by the way, I did get through to an agent only to find they merely changed flight numbers, not the schedule as indicated. For that, I am truly thankful. :-)
For His Glory,
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Today's blog is about talking to the devil. I know the picture above is the Tasmanian Devil from Bugs Bunny, but I just couldn't put any of the pictures of Satan on my blog. So I hope you don't mind the cartoon instead.
I had the opportunity to hear yet another humorous story this morning while studying the book of Revelation. (By the way, thanks, Becky, for your encouragement in studying this amazing book in the Bible!)
It seems a preacher found in an airport $20,000 stacked and bound as hundred dollar bills. Going to turn it in, he saw a shabbily dressed character coming his way. The man asked if the preacher had found his money. After asking for specifics, the preacher gave the money to the man. Without even a THANK YOU, the man turned and quickly walked away from the preacher.
When the preacher got into the cab, he said the devil got in with him. The devil started whispering to him what a fool he had been. It was obvious the money must have been for or from a questionable purpose. It would have been better to have kept the money for himself and lied to the man.After all, he didn't even get a thanks from the man. The man had more money than the preacher could ever have in his work.
The preacher started talking right back at Satan. "Look what I have though! I have the gift of life!"
The cab driver looked in the rear view mirror, and said, "What? Did you say something to me?"
The preacher said, "No, I was just talking to the devil." The cab driver kept an eye on his strange passenger the rest of the way to their destination thinking he surely had a crazy man in his car.
The point of the true story was to warn us as Christians not to be envious of the world, especially the world of Babylon in Revelation. Money, power, easy life, fame...all of these "things" will be amassed by the Anti-Christ and his followers in the end times.
We don't have to wait for the end times to be tempted though. I am reading Daniel at the same time. Daniel was taken from his homeland and brought to Babylon as well. He was told to eat from the king's table and drink the king's wine. He was given a new name after the gods of the new country. Daniel, a young man at the time, refused to give in to the new culture in order to prosper. His faith never failed. He knew sin would never succeed. His God, THE God, was greater than the powerful ruler who overthrew his homeland. He trusted this in spite of all that surrounded him.
I began to wonder upon hearing this and reading about Babylon as well as about Daniel, when the last time was I really argued against the Devil? When did I actually, physically say, "NO!" to him? Have I been listening to the subtle whispers he offers as he tempts me to anger, to envy, to depression, to sin?
If so, it is time to speak out to him now, and I do so with Scripture as Jesus demonstrated we should do when Satan tempted Him:
Isaiah 61: He has sent me to preach the message of salvation to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to release from darkness the prisoner and to set the captive free.
Jesus is freeing me from the temptations of my own "Babylons." Satan, you must flee! You have no power over me or mine! Jesus has given me victory in Him. Praise, God!
How about you? When is the last time you confronted Satan? You know he is real, cunning, and seeking ways to keep you from God's love and peace and from ministering to others, don't you?
Let's rejoice today that Jesus is the Victor today as I write and in the end times; so says Revelation!
For His Glory!
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
This morning while biking once again on the Katy Trail (who can resist these cool, sunny mornings?) I listened to Adrian Rogers' sermon entitled "Beauty and the Beast."
Knowing he was going to discuss the book of Revelations, I was not prepared for the funny lead-in story. I have to share it with you if you did not yet hear the broadcast on Family Christian Radio.
Pastor Rogers shared that he owned a Model T-Ford and how much he enjoyed just looking at it in his garage. He rarely drove it,but his granddaughter requested that he drive her groom and her from their wedding to their own car as a favor. Of course, he was happy to accommodate.
The bride and groom gingerly climbed into the bumper seat of the old car. A sign, JUST MARRIED, was on the back with tin cans and balloons. After driving them to their get-away-car for the couple's honeymoon, he went back to the church where his other granddaughter who was 20 asked for a ride home.
Not thinking about the sign still on the car, he drove down the highway as truck drivers passed him blaring their horns and giving him the thumbs up.
He finally figured out what was going on. He knew all who saw them wondered about this beauty and the beast.
While a funny story, Rogers went on to share that unlike his granddaughter who has the beauty of God inside and out, Revelations shares the prophecy of the Beauty who feasts on the saints of God with the Beast in the end times. The Beauty in Revelations embraces religion, rather than fights it. In fact, he pointed out how Satan does not fight religion; he uses it. He tempted Eve by saying how she would become LIKE God if she ate the apple.
Likewise in the end times before Christ returns, Satan will create a one-world religion. As a former public school teacher, I can already see the ground work prepared for our children as all world views are valued, are all deemed correct, and morals relevant while absolutes cease to exist. Abraham Lincoln once said that the classroom of today becomes the society of tomorrow. When teaching, I heard from intelligent young souls challenged about characters' actions in literature that actions could not be deemed as wrong or right in and of themselves but only in context of the situation. Very often that situation included whether or not one was caught doing an inappropriate act in society's eyes.
It wasn't the fault of the children. It was our fault, those of us who allowed such world views to have a toe hold in the classroom. The Beauty and the Beast will not have much fight, I am afraid, from the world as they pull all religions together, indicating how all walks lead to God, all faiths are from God.
If true, then Jesus need not have died such a horrible death.
But He did. Christianity is the only religion to serve a risen Savior.
I don't want to be here to see the Beauty and the Beast. It will happen so subtley, so easily as our world financial system takes over any privacy or individuality, as technology opens doors to those who would dominate or take advantage, as classrooms continue to hear how every decision is relevant and yet strive to teach "morality of man."
Praise God, I serve a risen Savior whose Love is Beautiful, whose plans are for good for His people, who tarries so that He does not lose one soul, who waits like a handsome groom for us, His bride.
I guess the broadcast had an impact upon me. I have now decided to read Revelations and have purchased a commentary to help me through the symbols of numbers and visions John was given from God. The Bible says those who read the book and study it will be blessed.
I'll be counting on that blessing. Join me, won't you? If not Revelations, then choose one book or even chapter upon which to focus today. God's Beauty will be yours.
For His Glory,
Monday, May 16, 2011
After days of being deluged with gray skies and rain, I was ecstatic to awake to clear blue skies and fall-like temperatures!
My husband took a vacation day to celebrate with me. We donned our windbreakers and rode the Katy Trail noting the green canopies of trees, twenty turtles basking in the sun on logs by the trail, and birds doing what we wished we could do without offending anyone, sing!
Coming home, I could not resist the hammock in the back yard. I sat sideways so I could rock myself and look up at the sky which now was sporting various fluffs of small white clouds. With a cool breeze at my back, I was able to watch the clouds float by and felt like I did as a child. You know the times when you watched the clouds and saw pictures in them? I always struggled as a child to see any pictures at all. Now, reflecting on that, it was probably because I was so near sighted. I only saw white blurs. No one discovered how poor my eyesight was until I was in 7th grade!
But that is another story.
Today,thanks to contacts, I smiled as I saw lobsters, rabbits, and numerous shapes float by me. The shapes disappeared almost as quickly as they formed because of the strong winds today. Just as I was about to leave, one shape formed much like the one above yet it pointed down. In fact, it went horizontally then bent down pointing at one of my backyard neighbor's homes. There were no jets, by the way, making arrows in the sky either. This was a thick, directional arrow very much like the one in the picture.
A little prompting inside me told me to call that neighbor. Well, that just felt silly. Then, I thought, if a star could guide wise men to Jesus, perhaps a cloud-arrow was prompting me to call my neighbor.
This is not a neighbor I talk with regularly. In fact, I met her for the first time last summer. She came to my neighborhood prayer session. I had put a yard sign in the front of my house inviting any neighbors to come for bagels, coffee, and prayer. I met many women from my neighborhood who shared their stories and blessed my life. This neighbor was one of the women. She shared with us how she had retired to care for her husband who had developed suddenly a rare, painful brain disease. Her sacrifice and love were strong testimony to us seated around my kitchen table.
She could not attend our prayer sessions often because it was hard to leave her husband. Denying offers to help watch him while she took a break, she simply asked for prayer.
I realized seeing the cloud-arrow that I had not checked on her in a long time, not since after Christmas.
I called. She shared with me her husband had just passed away. We talked a little. Again, she turned down offers of help and asked for prayer. She was at peace knowing her husband was out of pain and in heaven. She missed him, of course.
I hung up the phone, puzzled. I knew that call was meant to happen, but why? What did it accomplish for her? For me? I was too late.
Then again, perhaps not. Now the arrow must point up, right? She needs my prayers. Our prayers.
Being a care giver day in and day out for a loved one takes its toll. Now her home is empty and her time...well, her new-found excess of time may become a conundrum.
So let's pray for Deanna. Lift her up for God's Holy Spirit to comfort and continue to show her God's love and plan for her life, even now without her husband.
... And no, I don't go looking for signs or arrows in the sky. -But this has taught me to listen to those promptings from God to act, to call, to check on others and get out of my own little world, my own obsessions with my own problems more often.
What about you? What promptings have you received lately from God? Here's hoping you are able to act on them...
For His Glory,
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Recently, I had a pretty horrific experience with assumptions. It opened my eyes to my own assumptions about people and life as well. It also reminded me of a humorous story my Dad told about two soldiers on a train in Germany after WWII.
Many troops were still in Germany after WWII as the country began reconstruction or rebuilding. A soldier who was the attache' or assistant to his colonel were on a train traveling for some time through the mountains. Seated across from them were two beautiful German women, obviously mother and daughter from their striking similarities. Neither spoke the others' language fluently enough to talk, not that there would be much desire to converse, so they traveled in silence. The conductor announced there would be a series of three tunnels coming and the last tunnel would keep the passengers in the dark for some time.
Within the first minute of the last tunnel, a loud kissing sound and SMACK! were heard by the passengers. Coming out of the tunnel and into the light, people could see the hand print burning on the cheek of the older superior officer as the mother and daughter glared at him.
The mother thought, "Hmmph! I know my daughter is beautiful, but that man had no right to kiss her. Now I know my daughter can take care of herself though as she gave him just what he deserved!"
The daughter thought, "Well, I know my mother is still quite pretty, but that officer had no right to try to kiss her! She certainly gave him what he deserved and showed him who is in control!"
The superior officer thought, "I know the young lady is pretty and the boy is young, but I do not like taking the blame for what he did. I most certainly do not!"
The young officer smiled to himself as he reflected, "What an opportunity! How often do you get to kiss the back of your own hand and slap the face of your superior officer and get away with it?!"
Assumptions. Dad told me the story with the point that I should never assume.
Yet I assume all the time. Like the cartoon, I get used to the road and path of my life. I use my experiences with people and relationships and trust those as I move forward.
That can be a problem, can't it? It keeps the illusion by doing so that I am in control of my life.
Just recently, I realized what it was like to have someone make bad assumptions about me. Like the officer in the story, there was nothing I could say to change that person's assumptions.
All that was left was to apologize and ask God to heal that relationship.
At the same time, I now examine under what assumptions am I operating daily? Is God a part of my daily thinking? Am I assuming things about God and others that are not true? How do I know truth from assumptions?
So, here I go again. Trusting God for healing of relationships. Praying for forgiveness.
-And re-examining my own assumptions.
How about you? What do you assume about others' behaviors? What do you assume versus what do you know about God's love and reaction to your own behavior?
I hope you join me in praying for healed relationships hurt by assumptions as we wait in-between-times.
For His glory,
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
By now, you have heard about this website:
I was sure it was a joke.
I mean it takes dog-sitting to a new level or low, right?
Atheists are advertising taking care of Christians' dogs after Christians are raptured.
The paradox amazes me.
The underlying assumptions by both parties are comical as well.
So, pet-owner. What do you believe?
Is the rapture so real to you that you wonder about your pets?
Do we wonder about our friends and family even more?
Bottom line, do we trust God to take care of our lives or do we turn to non believers for our care?
After having a good laugh while checking out the website, see if these questions come to your mind as well.
For His glory,
Monday, May 9, 2011
O.K. I have to admit it.
After years of knowing I do NOT snore, I finally woke myself up...with the sound of my snoring.
It was a weird experience. I came home from my part-time job, let the dog out, and saw the inviting lounge chair on the deck. The breeze was cool, the sun warm. The chair called me to sit, just for a moment before I returned to household chores and picking up my daughter from school.
I sat down and was out. In seconds, I had drifted into a NAP!
Yes, I actually took an afternoon nap, unplanned, a nap!
Not only did I nap, but I woke myself up with one of those unladylike snort, snort snort sounds. You may know it if you are older than 40.
It was the sound of my father snoozing on Sunday afternoon. It was the sound of my mother dozing off in the middle of a conversation.
Now, it was MY sound.
Sigh. I have to admit, it felt awfully good. I mean, I don't sleep that well at night any more. The doctor said that just comes with age as my body temperature varies each night waking me up hot, then cold, then hot.
I am very aware of this new part of life for me. I am aging. No, truth be told, I am considered old.
Returning to the classroom to substitute teach for a young teacher who went on maternity leave has emphasized this fact for me the past few months.
I am not comfortable with that fact. I don't like knowing I snore, or rather snort, nor that I can doze off in the afternoon unexpectedly and wake with a start surprised at the flight of time.
As I face new territory, I pray I keep a sense of humor about it. I pray I keep a grateful heart for all I am still able to do. I pray I keep a relationship with God fresh and alive each morning...and afternoon.
It is an in between time of life. Each new stage presents its own challenges and fears. I find myself watching old people in the community and trying to guess their ages. I find myself wondering what battles they are fighting and how they are handling the aging process. It seems to be a secret until it happens to you.
...And I get it more and more with each passing day, with each loss of a loved one, with each realization of new limits, that all of this life is an in between time. All of this life is only a waiting space for the time we go to spend eternity with God.
I hope to use this in between time wisely for Him, don't you?
I hope He can still use me even as I am drawn to that chair on the deck in the afternoon sun.
I hope he doesn't mind if I snore.
For His glory,
Friday, May 6, 2011
O.K. I know. You were expecting the other picture of Tom from the movie, "Risky Business," but ironically I thought it too risky to post.
Today's thoughts are about risks though. A couple of "events" have happened this past week that are risky and make me reflect on what God expects of me as I am in this in-between part of life.
The first risky situation is that we are going to have an exchange student from Korea live with our family and become a member of our little family for one year starting in August. She will be twelve, two years older than my daughter, and speak very little English. Attending my daughter's school, she will become immersed in American culture and life as well as language.
I am a little nervous. What will our family look like to someone from another country? Will we demonstrate Christ to her daily? How will we help her in her own walk of faith? Will we all get along well with each other? How will our own lives change?
It is a risk. I believe God put this desire though in my own daughter's heart as well as mine to do, and I am going to trust He has a plan for this girl as she transforms from stranger to "daughter" in our lives. I am also trusting He has a plan for us as a result.
It would be so much easier not to do this. To be able to relax fully each night during the fall and winter, not worrying about someone else's needs and work on our own normal lives are appealing thoughts as we face the coming year. However, God does not call us to complaceny, does He? We are to be His witnesses and caregivers. So say a prayer for our family as we embark on a this new risk.
The second risk I did not take. A woman from my childhood days took the risk. Its impact was unusual on my own life.
The risk came in the form of a letter and a check. Expecting the usual mail of bills and advertisements, my sister was surprised by a letter from a woman she had not conversed with since my father's funeral three years ago. Before I tell you the letter, I must share my father's testimony for context.
My dad ran a small lumber company in a community of about 10,000 people. It had been his father's business as well. I remember my dad putting in long hours trying to make the company successful. Sometimes he paid his employees but not himself. You see, Dad ran the business before credit cards were used. People could come in and charge accounts to their name. Dad would trust them to pay their debts.
He was not a good business man. He said so himself. He trusted people too much. As a result, Dad had many people not pay their debts. They were large debts, construction debts. In addition, my dad's small business could not compete with the large discount places like Home Depot, Lowes, and Wolohans. Dad's business floundered. At the age of 60, my dad was able to sell the company and find a job as a clerk in a Wolohans. Watching him worry about making ends meet each night, reminded me of George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life."
Dad struggled not just financially though. He struggled with bitterness at times. He went to church in our small home town or went into the town to shop and would see people who had never paid their debts, people he had to cover with his own money and as a result see his own business fail. It was hard for him to see them knowing they refused to pay the money owed his company.
Dad wrestled with God over this and finally, like the parable in Matthew 18, Dad forgave. He took the book of debts he had kept over the years and with his few remaining employees, Dad went to the Big Muddy River and threw the book into the murky waters, giving the bitterness to God and letting God's clean waters of forgiveness wash over his mind and heart.
Now, back to the risky letter. Over twenty years, later my sister received a letter from a woman who owed my father money. She had promised my dad to pay the large debt. She had been convicted by the Holy Spirit often to do so, but she did not. It was easier to pay immediate needs because she was not wealthy and to let this debt, especially such an old one, be forgotten.
For some reason, though, the reminder came back to her heart and mind. She found she HAD to pay this debt even though my dad and mother are now in heaven. Explaining this to my sister, she included a check for the amount and asked to split the monies among the siblings. She asked for forgiveness.
That was a risk. You see my dad never told his children who the people who owed him money were. This lady was a regular in our church. I had no idea the amount of money owed nor who the people were. I am glad because suddenly I started to pick up the bitterness Dad had fought for so many years.
I started remembering the nights my father was sick with migraines and worry over paying bills. I remembered the arguments over money and the long days and nights of work. I remember Dad working almost alone at his lumber yard because he could not pay any employees let alone pay benefits required by unions. I remember Dad's sadness in having to sell his father's business and how it was like a death for him. I remember Dad going from president of his own company to working as a clerk in a business that did not value small-town interactions or chats or shared coffees. I remembered how Dad ran his own company on a personal level and how he had to adjust to the impersonal large company for whom he worked. I remember Dad's company and the many carpenters and construction workers who used to come into Dad's lumber yard and sit by the fireplace he had ready for them and drink free coffee on cold mornings before starting their day.
-And I started wondering. I started wondering who else in our church stole from my father. I began picking up his struggle.
That was not right. That was not what God intended with the letter. This woman took a risk exposing herself to my family in what she had done, and she asked forgiveness. Reading Matthew 18, I knew I had to forgive as well. My sister and brother did, too.
We are sending the check back marked VOID with a note that the debt was paid in full long ago.
If Jesus can forgive me for all of my sins and can cancel the debt I owe God, who am I not to do the same?
My dad left me a wonderful legacy, one of modeling how to forgive even when people don't ask you to forgive. I am grateful for that.
Whom have you forgiven lately? -Or are you wondering like I, if there is a letter YOU should write asking forgiveness as well?
Perhaps it is a risk worth taking...
For His glory,
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Today's devotional is a simple one.
In light of all of the news lately, I need simple.
Tornados and death and CIA operations are rightfully on the headlines.
--Yet, no matter the news, there is singing outside my window. I have not heard this singing for many months. It awakens me each morning and is continuing as I write this note.
The cardinals and robins and of course my little mockingbird in the front yard are in full song. While I moan and complain over a gloomy, rainier than average past month of April, they are rejoicing! Worms, worms, and more worms for them appear on sidewalks and in the grass!
One bold cardinal and his mate land each day on my deck cautiously watching my large Golden Doodle. Cocking their heads side to side in small, jerky motions, they hop closer and closer to her dog bowl. Eventually, they dive in taking her left over morsels of dry food.
Much to my dog's dismay, I admit I enjoy the show and make no attempt to stop their bold forays into her food.
This world is not easy. I realize that more and more each day when I wake up with yet one more ache or pain from aging.
-Yet the birds are singing.
Their song reminds me of my own mother. She used to sing me a song that I now sing to my own daughter. It seems to resonate with children especially, perhaps because of its simplicity. When she is upset or sleepy in my arms at night, she asks me to sing the "bird song."
The lyrics are like this,
The birds up in the tree top sing this song.
The angels sing the chorus all day long.
The flowers in the garden sing it, too.
So why shouldn't you,
Why shouldn't I,
Praise Him, too?
So, Dear Reader,
The birds are singing in spite of storms, in spite of floods, in spite of war.
Let's join them.
Let's praise Him, too.
For His Glory,