Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My valuable toe

I was reading Matthew 1 a few days ago--all those names. They represent generations of the Lord's earthly family, listed one by one. Some of the names are very familiar while others are hardly mentioned in the scriptures. Yet each one of those people was valuable to God. God knew, throughout history, the role each would play in the centuries that led up to the birth of Jesus.

In a very vivid way, I realized the value of things that seem tiny. I stubbed a toe. Not the biggest toe, not the smallest toe, a toe in the middle that until I stubbed it, I wouldn't have thought of as particularly valuable.

And of course my youngest daughter stepped on my toe twice the same day I stubbed it. I felt terribly cheated that my toe didn't turn a spectacular shade of purple. I had only a small bruise but I was very aware of it every time I took a step!

It was such a tiny thing, but it really made a difference in my daily life when it was injured!
Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts... (Romans 12:4-6)

Do you feel about as valuable as a tiny toe today? You are valuable to God.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I promised you a funny post

So here it is, my Monday Oops on my other blog.

Monday Morning Psalms

I will sing to the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God while I live. (Psalm 104:33)
I delight to do Your will, my God; Your instruction resides within me.
(Psalm 40:8)
This God, our God forever and ever—He will lead us eternally. (Psalm 48:14)
I will praise You, because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful, and I know [this] very well. (Psalm 139:14)

Today I ask for a new song--
a song of praise no matter what the day holds--
a new delight in following Your will,
and a new contentment in being the person You made me to be.

Friday, September 16, 2011

food trucks, purple tongues, blessings and questions

This might be another Kleenex-y post. This is out of character for me. I'll post something hilarious next. I promise.

During the summer we discovered food trucks. These restaurants on wheels announce their daily location and menu on Facebook or Twitter, and their food is often unique. I like supporting local artists, and who is more creative than a chef?

Today there were four food trucks in one place: the parking lot of a cancer treatment center. I knew they were planning to be there, and at lunchtime, I suddenly decided to take my children out.

We tried Hawaiian shave ice for the first time. My children thought it was fabulous, and I remembered that I don't really care for foods that are bright pink and blue. We all loved the pulled pork over french fries with barbecue sauce and melted cheese. The kids laughed at the way their tongues all turned purple from the shave ice. It was a beautiful fall day and we all delighted in the spur-of-the-moment lunch.

As we threw away our paper plates, my oldest daughter announced that she had to use the restroom. Now. We were five minutes away from home and I thought she could probably wait. I wasn't sure I wanted to take my sticky purple-faced children into the lobby of the cancer center. “We don't really need to walk in there,” I thought, “we could just drive home.” But Lydia was insistent, and I realized there was really no reason to rush home. So we walked in, through the spotless lobby, under the sparkling glass artwork hanging from the high ceiling, past a display of lovely hats and wigs, and into the bathroom.

And then it hit me. We didn't have to be there. We had come to a cancer center just to get fun food outside. We were only there for fun. We didn't have to be there.

When I was a kid, I walked through quite a few hospital lobbies and doctor's offices, not for fun, but because my mother had to be there. Mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was six months old. For a long time, I had no idea that cancer was a scary thing. It was just part of my mother: she had green eyes, thin brown hair, and cancer. We went to the doctor every month for years. Occasionally she'd get a fabulous report and she'd get three months off from the doctor visits. Most of her doctors were in Seattle, several hours away from home, and my parents would try to plan something fun into the trip too. Because my mom loved plants, this was often a walk through a plant conservatory.

My parents added fun to those trips they had to make. Today my children and I had a fun little lunch--just for fun. As I stood there in the restroom, waiting for Lydia and watching the other girls stick out their purple tongues at each other, I felt overwhelmed with blessings.

And then I thought of my friends who visit places like this because they have to be there. My mind began to ask those “Why?” questions. Why are our paths all so different? Why do some lovely people have to carry such heavy burdens?

I know I won't find answers to those questions. I've asked them often. But I know two things for sure:

None of us have to carry our burdens alone.
May the Lord be praised! Day after day He bears our burdens;
God is our salvation. (Psalm 68:19)
And though we each have our individual path to walk (or race to run), we all need the same focus.
...let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith... (Hebrews 12:1-2)

On the way home, I listened to this old hymn, and I thought of the Joy we all share, and the Living Bread who satisfies a deep hunger of my soul...a hunger that pulled pork will never fill.

Jesus, Thou Joy of loving hearts,
Thou Fount of life, Thou Light of men,
From the best bliss that earth imparts,
We turn unfilled to Thee again.

Thy truth unchanged hath ever stood;
Thou savest those that on Thee call;
To them that seek Thee Thou art good,
To them that find Thee all in all.

We taste Thee, O Thou living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still;
We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead,
And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.

Our restless spirits yearn for Thee,
Wherever our changeful lot is cast;
Glad when Thy gracious smile we see,
Blessed when our faith can hold Thee fast.

O Jesus, ever with us stay,
Make all our moments calm and bright;
Chase the dark night of sin away,
Shed over the world Thy holy light.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Three Cups and Treasure

Here's an encouraging message about tea and treasure.

I shared this with my Bible study class as we began studying Only for My King. I'm going to lead an online group through this book, beginning the first week of October. To participate, join Ministry for Women   and look for the Only for My King group.

I'll also link this to Some Girl's Website for Thought-Provoking Thursday.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Only for My King study

Today I began facilitating a women's Bible study class, using my book Only for My King. Here are some of the thoughts I shared today.

In chapter one, we looked at the Biblical character Timothy. His life gives us a good illustration of the consecrated life. Everytime we read about Timothy in Scripture, he is obeying and serving God. When he travelled with Paul, he probably met Lydia:

...from there [we went] to Philippi, a Roman colony, which is a leading city of that district of Macedonia. We stayed in that city for a number of days. On the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate by the river, where we thought there was a place of prayer. We sat down and spoke to the women gathered there. A woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God, was listening. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was spoken by Paul. After she and her household were baptized, she urged us, "If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house." And she persuaded us. (Acts 16:12-15, emphasis added)

Lydia was a Gentile woman who lived in Philippi. I wonder if she felt like a bit of an outsider as she met with these faithful Jewish women to pray. There weren't enough Jewish men in Philippi to have a synagogue there, but a few women gathered for prayer on the Sabbath day. Lydia was a business woman, a seller of fine cloth. She heard the truth, the Lord opened her heart, and she committed her life to Him.

As you read and study today, ask the Lord to open your heart to hear His voice.

As soon as Lydia responded to the gospel, she immediately served the Lord by offering what she had: her home.

That is what the Lord asks each of us to do: serve with what we have, without comparing ourselves to the way others are equipped to serve Him.

Just offer what you have.

Serve the Lord with gladness...(Psalm 100:2)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 Years ago -- 9/11/01

My mother died in September 1999, on either September 8th or 9th.

Our first baby's due date was in September 2000, on either the 8th or 9th.

I've forgotten which date is which but I remember what an emotional week that was in 2001 as I thought about both dates.

In 2001 I was pregnant for the third time, but because the first two pregnancies had ended in miscarriage, I'd really given up hope that I would ever have a living child. I was depressed and frightened. Life was dark and gloomy. No one told me that post-natal depression can occur after a miscarriage.

The 8th and 9th of September were difficult days as I thought of my mother in heaven with my two babies. Why did she get to meet them? Why didn't I ever get to hold them? I was angry.

On the 10th my husband and I attended our first childbirth class. All the couples around us were so happy! I felt out of place. The nurse-midwife asked us to write down our biggest fear about childbirth. The woman beside me shrugged her shoulders and smiled brightly and said, "I just can't think of anything to worry about!" I wrote, "I am afraid my baby will die."

So on the night of September 10th I went to bed with a feeling of fear.

On the morning of September 11th, my in-laws were planning to fly to Scotland, so of course my husband and I were thinking about them and talking about their trip.

My car was parked behind Mark's car in the driveway, so I went outside to move my car to allow Mark to drive to work. As I walked back to the house, Mark rolled down his car window and said, "Turn on the news. The radio station is saying something about a plane flying into a building."

I said, "That's not something your parents want to hear on their flight day!" I expected to find out that a tiny private plane had crashed accidentally.

But of course that wasn't it at all. I laid on the couch and watched the news and prayed "God help us!"

My husband and I had only had a television for a few months. I hadn't watched a tragedy unfold on television before. It was intense. I remember going to the midwife the next day; she was concerned about what I was eating so she asked, "For example, what did you eat yesterday?"

"I don't know," I said. "I was lying on the couch staring at the tv."

"Yes," she sighed, "we all were."

I cried for those who lost their loved ones on that terrible day, and as I did so, I began to climb out of my dark tunnel of depression and grief. I began to realize that I wasn't the only person grieving. I meditated on the fact of loss and the comfort of God's presence.

For me, September 11 was the beginning of a new and brighter chapter in my life. It was a wake-up call to me--to get my eyes off me, to see others and to listen for God's voice.

When I hear Alan Jackson's song "Where Were You when the World Stopped Turning?" I think that yes, my world did stop turning that day. It was like my washing machine when it's out of balance and making that awful ka-thumping noise. My world stopped, some things were rearranged and refocused, and then my life began to spin a bit more smoothly. Oh there have been ka-thumps since then, but I began to look at me a little less and at Jesus a bit more.

The last ten years have brought many changes to my life--three beautiful living daughters, a move to Las Vegas and a ministry leading Bible studies.

Tonight my church has a special memorial service that includes the Lord's Supper. As we remember the tragedy, we remember our Hope.