Sunday, July 31, 2011
Amazing picture, isn't it? I am glad I found it because it closely resembles a memory I have carried since I was 14.
That memory came back as I biked a section of the Katy Trail with my daughter the other morning.
On the hot, dusty path we were grateful for the arching tunnel of trees and bushes. The sounds and smells of a dieing summer wrapped around us as we peddled. My daughter did not notice it, but I did.
As we rode beside swamps and the Missouri River, the tree frogs continuoulsy serenaded us. Every once and awhile a brown and even a red leaf would float down on the trail signaling the impending fall yet to come. Browns and yellows were rapidly replacing lush greens of June. Even the humid air had the musty smell of decaying leaves and grass.
With the colors of August replacing those of summer, the butterflies along the trail stood out even more. Large yellow, orange, and black and deep purple wings flew up around us.
And I remembered....
I was 14. My mom and dad had an old pontoon boat they used to take the family out on Crab Orchard Lake. There was one inlet they especially enjoyed.
In the quiet cove away from speed boats and skiiers, they could bank the boat and walk into the cool shade of tall pine trees. I can still smell the scent of those pine trees and feel the soft mattress of the cushion their needles made on the forest floor.
After school started, our last excursion of the year occurred Labor Day weekend. It was time to say good-bye to our swimming hole, our water skiing, and our pontoon boat cruises around the small lake.
Mom and Dad's little boat sputtered across Crab Orchard Lake. The tree frogs' songs echoed across the smooth, glassy surface. Green banks were turning yellow, and even the birds' silenced songs seemed to signal their resignation to the impending winter days to come.
Then we saw it. As Dad started to bank the pontoons onto the small, sandy beach, we gasped as we saw hundreds of monarch butterflies swimming through the air of the forest.
My mother, giggling with glee, jumped out of the boat,swam to the beach, and stood with her arms outstretched.
Monarchs with their deep orange-and-black-etched wings flew to still-wet skin as though she were a giant flower. They landed on her arms and head as she smiled soaking up the rare moment.
I will never forget that sight.
It was magical.
And it all came back as my daughter and I peddled along the dusty road of the Katy Trail on a hot summer day.
I returned home still pondering over that image and had to look up information about the Monarch. I always knew, as do you, about the Monarch's migration.
I did not know, however, that the Monarchs who migrated were the FOURTH GENERATION of butterflies during the year. The Monarchs who hatch during the spring and early summer months are the first, second, and third generations and only survive a few weeks. It is the fourth generation that survives the migration and lives for up to eight months.
I thought about my parents and the generations to come. My parents' generation was an amazing one. That generation survived the Great Depression and World War II. They were the CAN DO generation.
My generation, on the other hand, had peace marches, Vietnam War, birth control pills, burning bras, and drugs. Yes, my generation did do good deeds as well, yet some how I have always felt we were a spoiled lot. We have whined and griped all too often over petty things.
And I have been part of that. It is thanks to the generations before us who have fought, worked hard, and had the spirit of CAN DO, that my generation has done so well.
I wonder. What has my generation passed on for the next one? What am I leaving for my own daughter and her children?
Will the path of my life help my daughter's migration toward heaven? Will her path and images be filled with God's beauty and faith in Him?
We studied this morning the life of David. When David came close to his own death, he did not focus for his last words on all he had accomplished. He did not pray to God thanks for the sword of Goliath hanging in his palace nor for the trophies during his reign from conquering his foes. No, he thanked God for using him in writing about and singing about God's glory (Second Samuel). All that mattered in the end, was what David did for God.
All that matters for us as we migrate toward heaven is what we allow God to do through us.
May your migration be one of beauty...
For His Glory,
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Yesterday at Starbucks, I ran into a woman I had not seen for over 15 years. How she recognized me with my now bleached blond hair to cover the gray, sagging skin, and aging face, I will never know, but she did.
As we talked, she shared with me that she now has 11 grandchidren!
ELEVEN! We are close to the same age. I introduced her to my 10-year old daughter.
As I drove home, I started trying to calculate if I will be alive long enough to see my daughter's chidren. I asked God to let me have that joy of seeing them if it is His will. I know my own mother had a profound impact on my daughter in my mother's last year and a half of life. Even with Parkinson's and in her late 80's, my mother could make my adopted daughter feel special as they played dominoes and joked.
I have no doubt that had my mother been healthy she would have enjoyed spoiling my daughter immensely.
Then I heard something a bit startling to me on Family Christian Radio.
There are no grandchildren with God.
I had just never thought of it that way before, had you?
God has no grandchildren. He does not get the relief of handing one of us younger, weaker, less mature Christians over to someone else when tired of watching over us. He does not get to spoil us and let someone else worry about the repercussions of doing so.
Once we commit to His sovereignty and submit to His Lordship in our lives, we are His.
A huge commitment on His part. To love so many as first-born and never to see us as grandchidren or great-grandchildren or great-great--
We are His.
Directly in line to His grace, love, mercy...and all that goes with Him.
For His Glory,
Monday, July 25, 2011
She was nervous.
-Yet she wanted to let her husband know how much she appreciated the thought behind his gift.
The gift of a massage after a year of battling liver cancer sounded like a great idea after all.
A spa weekend getaway after all she had been through was wonderful.
She still had the portal in her for the chemo-radiation treatments. Surgery would come next month to remove it. After a tormenting visit to the doctor to try to remove it as out-patient, the doctor informed her the scar tissue would not let the portal budge and surgery was required.
She was nervous. Would the masseuse react with disgust at the portal? Would she be able to administer the massage with the portal?
She was torn.
Not wanting to upset the massuese...
Not wanting to disappoint her husband who had bought this special spa package for her...
So she prayed.
Going into the spa, she anxiously explain her situation.
Smiling the massuese said she understood completely and...
showed her that she, too, had her own portal for cancer treatments!
Isn't that just like God?
He sends the right person at the right time when we need that special encouragement to know He cares and is with us.
What are the chances, the odds that a cancer patient with a portal would travel to the mountains for a spa treatment and have a massuese who also was going through cancer with a portal?
Needless to say, the massage made her feel special. With her body's strength returning, my sister-in-law, Tabby, relaxed as never before, knowing once again, she is constantly in God's hands.
Share this, won't you? Someone may need to know God is with her/him even in small things; He understands how we feel, and oh, how He loves us! He is our safe port in our daily struggles.
For His Glory,
Sunday, July 24, 2011
What a fun memory!
Friday night, my family decided to splurge our diet and funds on pizza at a small, family-run joint near our home.
Entering the small restaurant, I noted the plastic-covered-red-check tablecloths complete with silver napkin holders. That was a bit nostalgic of our favorite college hangout, but it wasn't the grand surprise.
In the back, behind a sign posting "PLAY AT YOUR OWN RISK! NO REFUNDS! NO EXCEPTIONS!" was THE MACHINE.
Like kids opening our first Wii or IPOD or Nintendo DS, my husband and I dragged our daughter to the old-fashioned arcade machine of GALAGA.
As 23-year olds with very little money to spend on vacations, our summers were spent biking around our small town, walking to the local DQ (this was BEFORE malls and Wal-Mart and Target spread across small-town communities), and stopping by to get a BIG GULP from the local 7-11 or Hucks. Our town had no movie theatre and computers as well as video games were not for the average consumer.
In our local HUCKS store was a new fad spreading across the country. Instead of pinball, it was an arcade machine. Pac-Man and Galaga beckoned us. For a quarter, we could play for what seemed like hours as we slurped our large sodas.
I can still hear the "waah waah waaahhhhh wahhh" sound signaling the game was over and we had lost.
Seems like an odd way to pass the time, yet...
when we saw the machine glowing in the back of the pizza parlor, we quickly introduced the game to my daughter.
It was contagious. She could not get enough and $5.00 later, she was begging for more quarters.
No Wii game matched our fun that night, not even Just Dance or Wii Resort....
We just like battling the little fuzzy insect-like aliens, with their stun rays and all.
I realized how I had so easily introduced my daughter to something from my past. I had done so with enthusiasm even, and she was quickly caught up in it.
I wonder what other things from my past I have introduced to her so easily, without thinking?
Last night, as she came in to snuggle with me (she calls it "snuggle-buggle" as she holds her favorite stuffed toy, special blanket, and curls inside my arm while I read), I looked at her peaceful face. While she slept, I thanked God for allowing her to be in my life once more, and I vowed to be a better Mother, one worthy of such an amazing gift of life next to me.
I knew as I prayed that I would never deserve this gift. It was pure grace that brought us together: her, from China, needing parents; I, from Missouri, needing a daughter. God's grace....
-And I did reflect on what "things" I have so easily introduced to her, shared with her, that will be passed on to her own children some day.
Some are good, I am sure.
Love of God.
Love for His Word.
Reliance on God.
Need for Christian fellowship/friends.
Love of reading, math, education...
Some are not so good, I am sure.
Panic when things go wrong, like losing my credit card, cell phone, keys for the upteenth time.
Having home repairs that take away vacation monies and griping about it...
I pray God will help my precious gift to remember the good things, and seek His will.
I pray God helps her overcome the bad influence I have had as well.
What about you? What "things" have you passed on so easily to your friends, your children, your loved ones, your neighbors?
Join me in being a bit more aware today of that influence and how easily we share our likes and loves, good and bad, with those around us.
In the meantime, my daughter just bought a used version of Galaga Remix for the Wii and is playing it now. It is fun to listen to her responses as the "wahh, waahhh, wa wa" signals the game's end.
For His Glory,
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Today's tidbit comes from my husband who forwarded the following to me because he knew I needed a smile.
PARAPROSDOKIANS … unusual wisdom
I had to look up "paraprosdokian". Here is the definition:
"Figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently used in a humorous situation."
"Where there's a will, I want to be in it!" is a type of paraprosdokian.
1. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on my list.
2. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
3. If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.
4. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
5. War does not determine who is right - only who is left.
6. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
7. Evening news is where they begin with 'Good Evening,' and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.
8. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
9. A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.
10. I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.
11. Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says, 'In case of emergency, notify:' I put 'DOCTOR.'
12. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.
13. Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.
14. A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.
15. I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness. Do not use this one!
I hope these Paraprosdokians gave you a smile today. I know I needed one. For some odd reason, the last two weeks in July are my toughest part of the year. It seems to be a very unpleasant INBETWEEN part of the summer season. MidWest humidity builds; heat rises; grass turns brown; watering plants seems futile; pool water reaches 90; and finding ways to entertain my 10-year old increases in its challenge.
Today, though, I was lifted up not only by the paraprosdokians sent me but by reading the last chapter of Revelation.
Spoiler Alert! If you always wondered how the earth would end (Some say with fire, some say ice for Robert Frost poem fans), Revelation spells it all out.
It is a happy ending. Evil is defeated. God rules. Believers live forever with Jesus.
There is a lot of hurt and drama before the end though, isn't there? Satan does not want to go down alone. He tempts, entices, then accuses us when we fall.
Jesus does just the opposite. He loves, asks, provides, and forgives.
It is really a form of a paraprosdokian, isn't it? It is not expected that a ruler, all-powerful, who gives so much still provides and loves us when we fail to meet expectaitons. It is not human nature.
Thank goodness, or thank God, though, it IS God's nature.
May your day be filled smiles as you rest in the knowledge that the ending of this world is unexpected for Satan, but known for us as believers.
Good wins. Evil fails.
For His Glory,
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
I just spend two hours in Target and Walmart searching for the dreaded school supplies from the teachers' lists!
Yes, it is already that time!
Can anyone tell me, though, why teachers (and yes, I was a former teacher, but thankfully never did this to parents) have things on their lists no one supplies?
Here are a few examples:
1) Five packets of 200-count wide-ruled paper.
They are only sold in packets of 150 count. College-ruled paper comes in counts of 200, of course.
2) Solid-color pocket folders in SPECIFIC colors.
Have you seen the 60's psychedelic covers? The 60's and 70's covers abound along with Hello Kitty, Monkey, ICarley....
3) Solid-color pocket folders with clips, three-holes- AND pockets in SPECIFIC COLORS!
4) 2-Subject notebooks.
They come in single subject, 3-subject, and 5 subject. Good luck finding a 2-subject notebook.
5) Red pens, ERASABLE ONLY.
Are you kidding me?
6) Red pens, non erasable.
OK I can relate to that one.
7) Pencil boxes: only 1" high and 2" wide, please.
8) Magazine holders no wider than 2.5 inches.
Need I say more?
...and the list continues.
It was humorous to watch me in the aisle cheering over each "found" item on the lists. Last year, I had waited until the second week in August to buy the supplies, and I ended up running from Office Max, Target, WalMart, Home Depot, Lowes, and raiding our home for anything resembling what was on the list. This year, I was determined to get there while supplies were plentiful.
I entered the SCHOOL SUPPLY section just as they were unboxing the wide-ruled paper.
I felt ecstatic thinking I was finding "treasures" I had missed out on last year for my daughter's first day of school. I would grab the required GREEN subject notebook, only to find when checking my list that it had to be a TWO-SUBJECT NOTEBOOK. Of course, no such thing existed at Target or WalMart. I settled for a yellowish, THREE-subject notebook hoping it would suffice.
I have sorted and labeled according to directions and have both of my daughters ready for 4th and 6th grade (other than the new shoes and clothes, of course).
I feel I passed some kind of annual rite of passage as a parent. Did I follow the directions so my daughter would not be embarrassed? Did I get the 160 count Kleenex box and not the 130-count supply required? Did I get the 32-count color pencils, self-sharpening crayons, super-glue-stick, enough pencil erasers, right-shaped backpack that is not too flashy but not too plain and heaven-forbid, not too "childish" as well?
And I have to tell you, part of me resented standing in the store aisle, sweating over this list of "required" supplies for school. I just don't like being told not only do I have to buy this stuff, but WHAT COLOR, SIZE, SHAPE, and STYLE to buy.
I know; it is silly to feel that way.
Then I return home to my Bible study time. As I near the end of my summer goal in studying Revelation, I read with joy chapter 20.
The Millineum! 1000 years of God's rule on earth.
I am surprised though that at the end of this chapter, Satan is allowed to be free one last time.
More surprising, people actually FOLLOW SATAN after experiencing God's rule of peace on earth! People actually join up with Satan to fight God.
I remember something my Dad told me. He told me, as people who are used to democracy, we need to prepare for serving under a KING when we are finally with God. God will RULE. He will not take a vote on what to do about Satan or evil. He already has HIS plan.
The difference, of course, is that God will rule out of love and care for what is best for us, unlike earthly kings and rulers.
Yet, it will be, as my Dad said, RULING. God will be IN CHARGE. In fact, He has been in charge all along. His plan has been played out throughout the centuries, not man's.
I guess not everyone can take that reality: being told what to do even when it is good for you. We like to be in control, or at least think we are.
So I guess during that 1000 years of no war, no terrible diseases, there will be people who resent being told how things are going to be. They resist anything on God's list, and then they will rebel, revealing their true hearts and attitudes.
When the Millineum is over and Satan is bound forever, no more to tempt, lie, murder, accuse, then we receive a new earth.
The book of judgment is open, and rewards are given. Those of us who believe in Jesus have the joy of living with Him forever. Those who believe and have served Him so well, sacrificing all, receive even greater rewards on top of eternal life with Him.
That part of Revelation has made me check my own list once more. It is not a school supply list this time. It is a spiritual list.
What have I done for Jesus lately?
Not so I can gain reward, but so I can show Him my thanks.
I find I come up short on that list.
It is time to get busy.
Join me, won't you?
For His Glory,
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Well, it was a nail-biter, as they say, wasn't it?
My daughter, an avid soccer fan, husband and I watched the World Cup after church today. It certainly appeared that the U.S. dominated the game from the start.
I even left the room after the first goal only to hear, "Oooooh, no!"
After the overtime, the now-dreaded penalty kicks were going to determine the winner of this important game.
I thought how like life this is. I know lots of analogies to sports are made with life lessons, but today certainly struck me fresh as I watched the views of amazing team work and effort throughout the game.
In life, we depend upon our connections: parents, siblings, friends, spouses, neighbors, children, co-workers.
These connections appear to get us through life's ups and downs: cancer, divorce, death, marriages, graduations, jobs, successes, failures.
In the end though, it all comes down to the penalty kick though, doesn't it?
I read today about a woman in St. Louis who turned 105. 105! Think about that! She saw the arch being built. Her dad never drove a car, only the horse and buggy.
She worked the same job until she was in her 70's. I looked at her picture, and I admit, she looked GREAT! She only uses a walker to steady herself a bit, and takes NO prescription medications. She said she felt she cheated the doctors because no doctor could get rich off of her.
Then the one little line in that article caught my attention. She has outlived almost all of her family members, including her children. She only has one distant cousln left who is 65.
She is at the penalty kick, isn't she? Today, I am missing my folks. After the soccer game ended, I channel surfed. (At 99 degrees, I just wasn't in the mood to journey outside.) There on the screen was the ol Lawrence Welk show.
I hesistated and selected it. There in some weird shade of peach-color outfits, dancers and singers performed cheesy choreography while taking popular tunes of the times and trying to fit them into the big-band style of Welk: The Beat Goes on, Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ol' Oak Tree, Yellow Bird Up High in Banana Tree, Blue Spanish Eyes....
I was back in 1973 watching the show struggle to modernize with pop culture. I also remembered my folks watched this show every Saturday afternoon.
...And then I remembered how they "had my back" all those years. I relied on their advice, their prayers, their love. They were my anchor. They were the team members I could always rely on as I struggled toward my goals.
Then they were gone. Like the 105 birthday lady, I realize it is really just me and the penalty kick all along.
It is always great to have loved ones around. I know that. I crave that.
On the other hand, relying on others to face down my fears, sins, and battles in being the kind of person God wants me to be isn't what God wants.
He says, "My grace is sufficient for you."
He wants us to rely on Him.
You see, God already won the game long ago.
-When He let Jesus die on the cross.
Whether 15 or 105, we don't face the penalty kicks alone.
Satan may stand at the gate trying to block our joy, our love, our relationship with God, but he has lost.
Satan doesn't even see it coming either.
The soccer game was a sad ending for years of hard work for the U.S.
It will be remembered for a lot of things, and especially for penalty kicks.
Let's join with God in thanking Him for being with us in life's penalty kicks, when it is really just between you and the world as you battle for God.
For His Glory,
Friday, July 15, 2011
Recently I had to get a prescription for a cyst that grew on my finger joint.
"Yuck!" you think? Not something you needed to think about today?
It is really nothing compared to what I read while taking the prescription pills though!
I mean have you ever read the possible side effects they print on medications? It is enough to make one rethink even trying to take the drug to help cure a disease!
Likewise, the Bible provides many warning about the side effects of our actions.
This morning my daughter and I read about Samson. What a story! The guy definitely had a temper problem, didn't he?
Even though he was dedicated for God's service as a Nazarite, Samson's pride interferred with his mission and his own prosperity as a result.
Before meeting Delilah, Samson chose a wife his parents preferred him not to marry. She was a Philistine and not one who loved God. During the wedding feast, Samson bragged and put forth a dangerous bet among her people, causing his new wife's family to be threatened. After she betrayed Samson, he gave her away for awhile.
Returning later to his wife's family, Samson expected her to rejoin him without any problem. Revenge and fights broke out as a result. Many people died.
Seems like Samson would have learned a lesson, but he continues in his pride when he meets Delilah (Judges 18).
Although our actions are not as extreme as Samson's, how often does my pride get in the way of service to God? How often do I wish revenge on the person cutting in line in traffic or at a store or Starbucks or the boss at work who seems not to care about employees or the person whose service at the restaurant wasn't just right?
The side effects of even our small acts of disobeying God can rob us of an abundant life.
Praise God that He is so compassionate and willing to forgive once we confess our sins.
And even like Samson, God uses us even when we stray for His glory,
if we let Him.
May we do so today...
For His Glory,
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Time out for a book report...
(Yes, the ol' English teacher in me is still alive and kickin'.)
Months ago, my sister recommended reading THE HELP. She assured me I would thoroughly enjoy it.
Reading the blurb and seeing the previews for the upcoming movie, I knew it would address the civil rights movement and social justice issues. It is about the perspective of maids in Jackson, Mississippi, in the 60's just as the civil rights movement was escalating across the nation.
I enjoy novels addressing social injustice. Richard Wright's BLACK BOY was one of the first such novels opening my eyes to those who suffered so much in our country. I admire authors who are able to capture the difficult stories of the time. One such novel, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, is my all-time favorite. I loved it so much I named my daughter Scout after the main character. If I had more children, I am sure I would have found a way to continue with Atticus,Jem, Dill, Calpurnia, and a host of other names from the book (except Boo Radley or any of the Ewells of course).
I do enjoy a good read. I just wasn't ready to stop my mystery series by a Scottish author I had come to enjoy.
After a summer of brain candy, I finally purchased THE HELP.
My sister was right. It is a good read. The characters are well developed, rich. I enjoyed the different view points and suspense of the ever-developing conflicts.
It was the setting though that intrigued me the most, the time period that is. To me, it almost became another character.
The author would subltly make references without giving the exact date or year. For example, one of the characters would refer to a phrase from a televison show, or a lyric (Bob Dylan) being heard for the first time, or a snatch of conversation overheard by one of the maids.
As I read about the point of view of being a black person in the South in the 60's, I could not help but flash to where was I during these important events? Where was I when the struggles for civil rights were reaching their peak?
When one of the characters mentioned man landing on the moon, I flashed to sitting in my small-town church. The preacher stopped the sermon so everyone could see on television the "small-step-for-man-giant-leap-for-mankind"-moment.
I started remembering how sheltered I was from racism in my town, but it did exist. We never had maids like the white ladies in the book, but African Americans did not live in our town; they lived in a separate town, went to separate churches.
I grew up, not thinking about this at all. I never had a black teacher. It wasn't until the late 70's even that I had a black student in my English class. I remember the impact having that lone African American student in my class while teaching THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN. Issues of race were now evident as I watched his struggle in a predominately white school.
Later, my first year as assistant principal in a suburb of St. Louis, I witnessed teenagers from the city riding buses for hours to attend wealthier neighborhood schools as a result of desegregation attempts. The love parents had to put their children on a two-hour early morning bus ride so their children could experience a better education was evident every day I walked into the building and saw their eagerness, their fear, and sometimes their resentment for having to ride a bus to achieve what should have been theirs in their neighborhood schools. I witnessed the tension and lead discussions during the O.J. trial, the Rodney King news, and even when ROOTS was shown in a social studies classroom resulting in fights from frustration and racial tension. Later, I drove to the city to meet with parents, talk to teens, and recruit children for education.
I remember as a principal hiring a wonderful woman who became known as the first black assistant principal in a large school district, and hearing her tell me what it was like to feel the pressure of "speaking and acting on behalf of her race in a white school district." She also told me tragic stories of growing up in the Midwest and experiencing racism daily. Her own mother died because she was not allowed to go to the nearby white hospital, but had to be driven, too late, to the black hospital much farther away. She told me to have hate for white people would demean her mother's memory. All of this and more I saw later as an adult, and I still do not have an inkling of what it is like to experience racism. I will never understand it. And for that, I am sad and grateful. Sad that it exists and grateful that I have not had that experience.
Growing up, racism was hidden from me; I never saw it around me because my town did not allow it to be seen.
Sadly, I realized reading this book, that I was more aware of the struggle and protest over the Vietnam War than I was about civil rights while growing up in the 60's and 70's.
After finishing the novel, I thought what are the struggles going on today about which my little family and I are oblivious? What issues and struggles are passing by me unnoticed in my protected middle-class white world?
As a result, this morning, my daughter and I read Luke 10. You know the story there, don't you?
It is the story of the Good Samaritan. We discussed the attitudes of the time toward the Samaritan people. They were looked down upon, even hated, yet it was the Samaritan who stopped and gave aid to the beaten, robbed man left to die on the road.
The parable Jesus told was the result of a scholar's question, "Who is my neighbor?" Previously, Jesus had affirmed to the scholar that the two greatest commandments were to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, strength. And the second was to love your neighbor as yourself.
After telling the story of how many "holy, educated" men had walked by the beaten man on the road and only the Samaritan stopped to help, Jesus then asked the scholar, "Who was the neighbor?"
The scholar replied, "The one who showed mercy."
Jesus then said, "Go and do the same."
That is my call today from God. I don't have any marches or protests or mission trips to go on. The 60's and 70's have passed me by, but there are many needs all around me...
if I will only open my heart and eyes to see and hear those needs.
In closing, I flashed to a childhood memory illustrating for my daughter and me the modern-day Good Samaritan.
It is a true story of my dad. We used to travel from our small town each Christmas to the BIG CITY of St. Louis. To us, the then thriving downtown with store windows of robotic Christmas figures, the noise of the traffic, the rush of the air from metal grates as we walked gingerly over them, all added to our excitement of seeing Santa on the 7th floor of Famous Barr.
While walking on the busy streets, it was not unusual to see pan handlers or people asking for money. People just walked by, used to the sad sight.
In the middle of one busy sidewalk, a man lay moaning. Like the priest and Levite in the parable of Jesus, people made an arc around the man. Some even stepped over him.
Not my dad though.
He stopped and called for a police officer to get an ambulance and help the man. The response from people passing by was, "Oh, he's probably drunk. Don't touch him. He could be dangerous."
It did not matter to Dad.
Thank goodness, too. It turns out the man had had a stroke. He had been lying on the sidewalk for hours with no way to communicate his need for help.
Oh, Lord, let my heart not be hardened by the problems in the world nor my mind so overwhelmed that I miss the opportunity to help even one soul for you today.
I look forward to seeing what God wants me to do for Him today. In the meantime, take my sister's advice and read a good book, THE HELP.
For His Glory,
Sunday, July 10, 2011
My daughter came home the other afternoon asking for spaghetti tacos!
This may not be unusual for those of you familiar with the popular iCarly teenage sitcom.
-But my daughter is known for being one of the pickiest eaters I have ever met! I even attended an Oprah show about how to get your kids to eat....not just eat healthy food, but eat!
Lately, I have noticed she is trying to eat other types of food other than Ramen Noodles or Stir Fry Rice. She does not like hamburgers, fries, chicken nuggets, milk, cereal, and any green vegetable no matter how well I disguise them.
Now, to my amazement, she comes home from a visit to a friend's house asking for spaghetti tacos. Later that day, she asks to sample my steamed broccoli!
With her serious 10-year old face, trying to look and act so much older than her years, she announces to my surprised reaction, "Mom, I like to try new things."
There is a silence of about five seconds before she cautiously adds, "Depending on what they are."
I can't help but break into laughter at the irony and also the relief of seeing my daughter's true nature returning.
I am reminded of my own naive responses though to God.
I often tell Him I will trust Him...
depending upon the situation, of course.
I hope He finds me amusing instead of so disappointing.
My daughter and I read Jonah's story this week as we continue our morning devotions together during the non rushed summer days.
I was struck how Jonah was so angry at God for not destroying Ninevah, how he did not rejoice over the people's repentance to God.
Jonah even told God, "I knew this would happen because you are a compassionate God, slow to anger."
Jonah wanted God to be like he was. He tried to define God by his human standards. He wanted revenge on Ninevah.
Instead of being grateful that God had delivered Jonah from the sea, from the sea monster, and from death...
Instead of being grateful the people of Ninevah actually listened to Jonah's warnings about God's wrath...
Instead of being in wonder at God's mercy in sparing the city as a result...
Jonah becomes angry and bitter.
God still showed His compassion even to Jonah in trying to teach Jonah about God's view and love of His most precious Creation, mankind.
Yes, like my daughter, I may naively say, "I want to trust God...depending on the situation."
I am glad He is a compassionate God. Slow to anger and forgiving and merciful. I am counting on that mercy today.
In the meantime, I might try a bite of that taco...
For His Glory,
Thursday, July 7, 2011
O.K. I seem to be on a water-creature theme this month. Dolphins, sharks, sting rays, and now the fish caption.
My husband sent it to me because my daughter enjoys Batman cartoons lately.
Looking at the cartoon though, the fear of the fish reminded me of the sermon I heard on Family Christian radio today. I just caught the tail-end of the message.
The speaker asked what was the listener's name? After a poignant pause, he named the following options, "Fear, Anger, Bitterness, Disappointment, Resentment...."
I thought once again of the new names we are given in heaven once we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior. Remember Revelation where our new name is written on a white rock? (see previous blog about Hawaii)
The lecturer then encouraged listeners to give up their old names, confess those names to Jesus, and let His new name take root in our hearts.
I realized my tendency to hold onto my fears and disappointments in life can cloud the joy of my freedom in Christ. I used to fear death. Strange to do so as Christian, I know. After holding each of my parents as they slipped from this earth, I do not have that fear any more.
I do fear, instead, loneliness. If you knew me, you'd find that even more strange. I used to crave being alone. I loved getting away from my family and being on my own when I was young. As a former principal, I longed to go some place where folks would not recognize me and want to discuss school or life problems or even worse, politics.
Now, I am retired. I long to be with people. I love being around folks. I like hearing about their lives. I have seen too many nursing home rooms where no one visits, no one calls, and no one writes. I have seen loneliness.
So, I had to pray today upon that realization. I gave Jesus my old name of "fear of loneliness" to Him. I confessed not trusting Him as I age and face life's uncertainties.
What is your hidden name you hold in your heart, Dear Reader? Are you free from the things Satan can use to hold you back in enjoying God's freedom?
Like the fish in the cartoon, I hope to God...
And unlike the fish...I hope you are free from fear...you are free indeed.
For His Glory,
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Early this morning, my daughter and I took advantage of the St. Louis free zoo. Arriving between 8 and 9, we were allowed free admission to see and pet the stingrays and SHARKS!
It was a morning adventure to be sure. Feeling the velvet-like backs of the stingrays as they brushed against our flat palms was thrilling. Likewise, the silky sharks' skin reminded us of swimming with dolphins earlier this summer.
Encouraged by our experience, we even tried feeding the rays. Holding shrimp pieces between the index and next finger while trying to keep my palm flat was a coordination test, but feeling the soft suction of the ray's mouth was worth it!
Just as we were about to leave, an announcement came telling the audience NOT to touch the baby rays they were now allowing to come out to swim with the larger ones. Much to our surprise one baby kept trying to suction his way up the side of the tank to us tempting us for a little pet. We did not do so, but it was funny to see his beady eyes and little body struggle toward our perch.
One of the trainers came over and reminded us not to touch because he was getting so close to our perch. I asked why in the world would he try to come up and out of the water?
She said, "He is a baby and just hasn't learned his boundaries yet. But he will. He is going to grow up like the large ones gliding on the bottom of the ocean."
While we chuckled at the little pup, as she called him, I was reminded of how often we, as Christians, refuse God's boundaries. The little pup was meant to glide along the ocean floor so beautifully, so smoothly, so swiftly, but here he was flopping and flapping awkwardly, wasting his time trying to climb the side of the tank.
Not only was he awkward in doing so, he was moving closer and closer to danger. Toddlers' chubby little hands waited to grab him, not knowing of the hurt that could result. Car keys, sharp objects, and just plain ol' lack of water also were over the ledge.
We often wonder at God's boundaries in our life, too, not knowing the benefits God has planned for us with His boundaries. God set boundaries not because He wants to spoil our fun, as our preacher pointed out last Sunday in church. He did so out of love. We are meant to glide with Christ, smoothly, flowing in His love. God's Word provides boundaries for us to keep us healthy, safe, and in relationship with Him.
I pray today I am not as foolish as the little sting ray pup, but I know I can easily become that way, awkwardly pushing metaphorical doors and windows open in life, trying to do things MY way, seeking control.
Reading God's Word, helps me swim in God's Living Waters and enjoy His presence. I hope you join me in enjoying God's boundaries today.
For His Glory,
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Before you think I'm crazy, or at least before you confirm it, give me a chance to explain the title.
The morning I time traveled. I reached for an object on my desk, and it reminded me of a similar object on my parents' table back in my hometown in Illinois. It was a simple magnifying glass.
As I reached for it, I saw every detail on that bay window table: My dad's bright yellow plastic coin purse, you know the ones where you squeeze the ends for the slit to open and reveal your change? -His brass magnifying glass to see read the paper or mail as he lost his eyesight later in life. The ivory letter opener with the handle shaped like a fish given to him by missionary friends.
Then I remembered the backyard parties on the 4th of July. In the humid July weather, numerous friends would pack into their tiny yard. As a child, I remember thinking that yard was huge and how we had a yellow, plastic slippy slide that rivaled any water park in our minds (of course it was long before water parks). The garden hose kept the plastic strip slippery as we ran and flopped on our bellies sliding and laughing all the way to the end. Do they still make slippy slides?
I remember Mom and Dad marching around the yard carrying a flag and trumpet and asking all guests to sing patriotic songs and march with them. The night ended at our hometown park where it seemed all 10,000 community members gathered on blankets to oooo and ahhh at the spectacular fireworks.
No recorded or timed music used back then. Our ooos and ahhs were the only music needed to accompany the pop and pow of explosions.
All of those images happened in 10 seconds, if that long. I was there, in their house, in my childhood home. -And all I did was reach for a magnifying glass.
And I must tell you, grief overwhelmed me. I almost didn't make it out the door to church.
I miss my family.
I know. I have a new family. I know my parents are in heaven.
Yet, I miss them. I long to hear their voices.
I was fearful to tell anyone this because the 4th is after all, a joyous time. Backyard BBQs, fireworks, festivals, smiling faces, good food.... but I did share it with my sister-in-law.
Thankfully, instead of scolding me, she said it was natural to think of past times on holidays. It happens to her on holidays, too, but she pushes forward by thinking of the future, of where her loved ones are now.
So, while I say, "Happy 4th" to you, and I join you in prayers for our country and thankfulness for our freedom, I also join with anyone who has recently time traveled as you remember celebrations with loved ones in your past who are not here with you now.
I know in my future God has prepared a place where memories will not bring sadness and where time will be no more.
Thanks for letting me share my travels today with you, Dear Reader.
For His Glory,