Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A Telling of Caleb's Story

Don’t you find Caleb’s story pretty remarkable and inspiring? I know I always did. As I read of his tenacious determination, I envisioned similar adventures and felt willing to take on such challenges. I was with him all the way!

Now that I am 50, somehow past the halfway point of my lifetime (although who knows for sure…) I read his story with absolute admiration and honor. I am somewhat in awe of the strength of this man. Who can imagine how I will feel about him when I reach an age comparable to his?

In Joshua 14:11 he tells Joshua that "I am as strong today as when I was first sent.” Now wait just a minute. Let’s take a real look at this! Forty-five years have passed since that initial scouting expedition for Moses. Caleb was forty years of age then. According to my math that makes him eighty-five when he said this! I don’t know what an average lifespan for that time period was, but he must have been at least near the halfway point! And here he was, claiming to be as strong as ever.

I myself must acknowledge a bit of weariness. Life knocks the stuffing out of you. All the dreams of grandeur, the hopes of great accomplishments, the goodness you have worked to attain – all undone. Oh, there have been achievements – don’t get me wrong. But the human soul always wants more – and the human flesh always fails. My dreams of leaving frailty completely behind, of living above sin and its consequences, of being a superhero for God are not materializing. (Not a hero in the world’s eyes, mind you. Oh, no. I just wanted to be great before Him - great apart from just boasting humility and complete dependence, that is. And I am learning that this is an impossibility. Ah, death to flesh again.)

So I look at Caleb with new eyes these days. His strength, which once appeared to be superhuman, is now seen differently. There is no human quality about it. It is divine.

So the next question: how? How did he get such divine ability?

I consider this man, this man of flesh and blood so very akin to myself. He went with his brethren to scout out the promised land. When they brought a report of evil tidings, he maintained a word of faith. If their words were able to melt the heart of the people, surely they had an effect on Caleb. But he refused to listen and let such tidings take root in his soul. He “had a different spirit in him”. He “wholly followed after the Lord.”

Good start, no doubt. The best. But this is forty years later!

What had he endured during those forty years? How come life hadn’t knocked the stuffing out of him? I conjecture that it had.

Every man who had failed to believe had died. That’s an awful lot of compadres. That’s a whole lot of family. That’s hard.

He had wandered with these people in that vast wilderness called the desert. He had partaken of all the same hardships, afflictions, and difficulties. I bet there were nights filled with doubts followed by mornings that taunted him of empty promises, boasting of just another hopeless day. Weariness.

So what allowed him to be in a place of strength at such a crucial time when the promise was about to be fulfilled? I think it was a lesson learned and willfully practiced. He knew that he must wait on the Lord.

Those that know how to wait on the Lord will find their strength renewed. If Caleb is not a picture of renewed strength, I don’t know who is! And if he didn’t wait longer than most of us, I don’t know who did!

The others, having seen God’s faithfulness in times past, failed to trust and obey. Caleb did not. Although the night may have overwhelmed him at times and the days been long and weary, he comforted himself with God’s word. In Joshua 14:6 he reminds Joshua of the word of the Lord spoken concerning them forty-five years earlier. Caleb had remembered, rehearsed, and found strength in waiting on the Lord to complete the promise given. He had determined to cling to it, to kindle the memory of those words, to insist on trusting the Lord, waiting wholly for His completion of the promise.

He waited, not striking out on his own to somehow fulfill his destiny. He didn’t strive against Him and didn’t trust in his own strength. Human strength wanes and peters out. His probably did. Mine most certainly has. He needed divine strength. I do, too.

Caleb battled. At times, I am sure, he faltered. After all, he was human. And when he came to the end of his strength he found himself waiting on God – and growing in strength.

At the age of eighty-five Caleb exhibited the strength of youth because he had learned to wait. Forty-five years of waiting and he still believed. I think he had learned a great deal.

Isaiah 40:29-31 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord;
be courageous and let your heart be strong.
Wait for the Lord.

Monday, February 27, 2006


I continue resting flat on my back most of the day. Have ventured into a recliner a few times but don't last long. It just feels uncomfortable on my leg and I've been told to baby it! So, back to the couch I head.

We have been thinking ahead to Grandparent's Day and one suggestion made to Merrick is a pirate theme song and dance. So today Louissa borrowed The Pirates of Penzance from the Potsdam Library. What fun! When we did this G & S show 4 years ago, I watched this particular Canadian theater version several times, consequently the kids did, too. Merrick was 2 at the time, but none the less, he was elated the minute he saw it, remembering so much more than I would ever have imagined! We are thinking that he will sing "For I Am a Pirate King" with some group background singing from sisters. They should be good sports and dress as pirates, don't you think? We shall see!

Then it was on to Lonesome Dove, a TV miniseries featuring Robert Duval and Tommy Lee Jones. I saw it when it premiered back in the late 80's and have loved it always. There is plenty of lawless living, but I wanted Liana to watch it as part of a study on the Wild West. Great story and acting. Good opportunities to discuss the real world and where God fits in every day.

Now my husband, who sleeps on the floor next to my couch every night, has his sleeping bag pulled up over his head while the TV drones in the background (I lull myself to sleep each night with HGTV while waiting for the meds to kick in.) Soon I will finish this mindless post and crawl back to my couch and sweet slumber.

And that is how my days tend to look. Lots of reading and school and note writing as well. I'm halfway through Grapes of Wrath - I am definitely not a fan of realism and this seems to fall into that category. So similar to The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. I'm not sure I even finished that book. Too discouraging. Every single person is so dark, every situation is depressing, every road leads nowhere (or worse), and on and on. The Good Earth, although real in its depiction of sin and sorrow, somehow seemed more balanced. The people felt some joy in good things. This book, though well written, is totally dark. But, it is an eyeopener once again, to another stream of culture and another time in history. Interesting.

Off I go. Hopefully a good night's sleep will lead me to a new day with time for a better post!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

A Happy People in Darkened Places

Happy are the people whose God is the Lord. Psalm 119:15

Oh, how happy indeed. I am pondering afresh the reality of these words, trying to comprehend and imagine an entire culture neither permeated with Godly principles nor established in His ways – a culture predicated upon centuries of not knowing truth - a culture built upon ignorance and deceit – a culture whose every tradition and celebration is founded upon some evil notion woven by the enemy of God, the very Father of lies (for if we are not for Him we are against Him) – a culture whose people have for generation after generation promoted sinful patterns and whose lives are wholly gripped by Satan and all the sorrow and bondage that belong to him.

This is not our culture. We should daily rejoice at the light all around us. Yes, there is gross darkness encroaching upon us, but ours is a culture rich in truth whose traditions are founded upon righteous understanding. Those traditions are being threatened, but as of yet, they are not swallowed up in darkness. They surround us and are seen everywhere, if we look. We can see examples of family as it should be. Honesty is still revered. Self sacrifice is honored. Vestiges of our Judeo Christian heritage are everywhere present.

But in most places it is not so. Satan has ruled entire nations and whole cultures for generations. In these places people have never had a thought that isn’t twisted and perverted by evil. From the earliest hour of learning they have been taught untruth; what they have seen modeled from their first perception is corruption of all that God intended. They have never had an inkling of how it was intended to be, they have never dreamed of proper relationships, and their minds are barren of knowledge of His word – His wonderful, redeeming, healing Word. In their world, it is nowhere present.

Barren. Broken. Hopeless. And even when they hope, it is brought to nothing because their hope is wrongly placed. So despair becomes the portion of even the most daring among them.

I just finished reading The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, a classic novel telling the story of generations, time, and life on this earth – life apart from knowledge of the Word. As I turned the final page I found myself in tears. As I lay in bed last night my eyes filled once again; I lifted my voice in prayer. And this morning my heart continued in heaviness and tears continued to flow and my thoughts were still full of these people – fictional people, I know – but people that represent a vast multitude in reality.

Oh, God - how does one undo centuries and centuries of abject and heinous living? How can such an enduring legacy of absolute deception be exchanged for one of truth? Who will teach them His ways?

When will that broken woman who has been stripped of all value find healing and acceptance? Must she die like her mother and grandmother, never knowing that she is beautifully and wonderfully made, utterly debased through wicked traditions of men? When will that twisted husband who has never experienced true love, but has only learned to manipulate and deceive and misuse in selfishness, know how to love? Will his father heart ever be free to communicate the pleasure he has found in his sons - will he be free to know such pleasure? Will he ever appreciate the woman beside him? What of that proud young son who believes wholeheartedly in age-old lies, thinking they will lead to happiness only to find his heart broken and his hands empty - and what of that beautiful young daughter who faces a lifetime of abuse and hopelessness which will end as all others, in complete despair? Who will bring them truth and real hope? How can they be rescued from the abyss of destruction in this life and for eternity?

Do I have faith to believe that our God, even our God, the God of Love Himself, can affect a change? Do I really believe that in such dire circumstances our God, the God of Hope Himself, can bring hope?

He can. He alone can. And the entrance of His word can bring light and understanding.

Oh, the beautiful light of His word! The joy of walking in understanding!

Have you ever ventured through a black tunnel or cave, or a darkened hallway? What about that instant when the electricity is hindered and all our incandescent bulbs cease to shine? Our eyes instinctively, frantically, search for light – any light – desperate for the aid it lends to our pathway. A simple match set aflame, small as it may be, inspires renewed hope. It fills the entire scope of our view with expectancy and anticipation. We know where to step next; it is as elementary as that. We need to know where and how to walk.

But there are those that have been born into darkness – absolute darkness. There has never even been a faint glimmer of light from any direction around them. None. They have never heard words of light, never seen light infused into someone’s life. Their blindness is such that they have adjusted their expectation accordingly. Some have never even imagined a lighted path – the concept eludes them altogether. They sit right where they are, not venturing on. Others stumble in the darkness, thinking that somehow they will find their way, even in the absence of all light.

Who can imagine what feelings flood the soul of just such a one when suddenly a glimpse of heavenly light touches their world? It is blinding - even if it is as small and simple as a solitary match! They immediately shrink back in pain as light strikes at the blindness. Then some will respond in fear, some in doubt, but many will be drawn, as we are – drawn to the light that shines now upon their pathway and the hope it represents. Oh, that they might know it is the fulfillment of all truth and all things good - that they would comprehend that this light brings healing and release from bondage! That those women who live in pain, those men who have broken lives, and those children who are shackled from the earliest of their days might let that light dispel all darkness in their shadowed lives.

And, oh, that there would be those who would be willing to bring such a light to shine in such places as these. Oh, that it might be so.

Oh, God of all ages, Great and Mighty One who holds all of time and eternity in Your hand, rescue these people! Break through the centuries of bondage and shame, shine Your glorious Light upon their blackened pathway, teach them, as You have graciously taught even me, Your Holy Ways.

And, oh, Merciful King and Redeemer of all flesh, let them also become the happy people whose God is the Lord.

For we are happy people indeed.

Monday, February 20, 2006

"Stuff and nonsense."

It is human nature, I suppose, to “want in” on everything. A sense of power is gained with knowledge of plans and purposes. We smile with smugness when we are “in the know”.

Christians are far from exempt from such tendencies. We like to imagine that we can understand the mind of God. When we find ourselves left in the dark, we grasp for clues in an attempt to make sense of the bare facts, believing that somewhere there is a perfect answer to the puzzle presented. We search the past, examine the present, and hypothesize the future in hopes of discovering His secrets.

But perhaps we will not be privy to the motivation for every occurrence. Perhaps we do not need to know.

I am not seeking to belittle a desire to know Him and be close to His heart. We should hunger to know and be known by Him. He Himself has chosen to call us friends. And, after all, friends are “in the know”. Then, as well, there is the promise given by Him to teach us His way. His law will be written on our hearts. It is clearly our portion to live with His very Spirit indwelling our spirit. But here, as so often in this Christian life, we are once again confronted with a paradox – we can and should know God intimately and yet we must walk in fear of His awesomeness. We may be His friends but we will never be His equal.

I smile as someone conjectures God’s purposes in my life (as we are all wont to do for one another.) Numerous ciphers of “knowledge too wonderful” have already been suggested. “Perhaps it was for this reason.” “God is providing this opportunity for this purpose.” “He caused this suffering to accomplish this end.”

I myself join in with postulation of my own, offering a variety of feasible explanations for this current dilemma. But in the end I come to one conclusion: “Stuff and nonsense.” (Thanks, Marilla.)

God is my refuge and my strength. His ways are above my ways, His judgments unsearchable. I understand in part, I see dimly.

God did not determine exactly what would happen to Job. Satan was allowed some choice in the matter. Perimeters of jurisdiction were inscribed but within those limitations our enemy was free to exercise his diabolical will. Boils weren’t inflicted or destruction meted out, nor were demeaning friends sent with specific assignment from God; but neither was His hand completely removed.

We know that Paul had to accept his “thorn in the flesh” after beseeching God for its removal. God had determined that Paul's demonic companion would serve His purposes. Satan touched Paul’s life but God’s hand was never completely removed.

We may or may not learn certain things. God let Paul know, in measure. Job simply found comfort in seeing God as God. So what should we conclude? That God can do as He pleases and is free to enlighten if and when He chooses.

In the final analysis of events, when clues are assembled and our best guesses proffered, when assessment of sin and consequence are determined, as prognosis is postulated and outcome prophesied, we must remember that His ways are higher than our own. Our reasoning and understanding is limited: it is only so much stuff and nonsense.

Therefore I will choose to trust in God. Mercy and authority all belong to Him and He alone has every answer. Because He ultimately holds all the cards in His hand, my bet will be on Him.

And besides, His hand will never be completely removed.

Ro 11:33 - Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

Another boring update

Yesterday was spent with visitors (I am so blessed with such faithful brothers and sisters), Olympics (I am also glad to have such entertainment - I actually enjoy watching the competition), and a movie with my favorite 10 year old girl. Camilla spent the day home with me (as well as Merrick, but we all know that it was her job to keep track of me, not his!) This morning as she prepared for church, I asked her to change her plans. Without a grimace or frown she complied. She is always ready to serve in such situations. What a sweetie!

The last pain medication I took was this past evening at 8:30pm. I have been able to change postitions and move around without lots of pain all through the night and now this morning. This is happy news! Less is better!

The kids and Dad just had breakfast. I heard them making the day's plan and discussing routine issues. *sigh* It is hard to sit here in the family room on my makeshift bed apart from it all. But I also realize it is good for me to know that my opinions are not needed and can even be omitted without detriment. I am the type that knows how I want things to be done and expects it to be so. So stuff will be organized a bit differently, chores approached in an order other than my choosing, and variations on my imposed schedule tested. Tweaking was called for - but I am not there to decide how and what! I am learning that it is now up to them to experiment and improve.

*sigh* I am either getting older or wiser because I realize that it just doesn't matter as much any more. I actually don't care how they do it as long as it gets done.

Well, almost.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Foggy Days

Have you ever been traveling a road on a misty day and you look ahead only to discover a heavy cloud settled upon the very path you must navigate? You see the entirety of it - where the road leads in and even the way out. You determine that it will be an unpleasant maneuver, but "doable". Quite simple actually. It is just a matter of staying the course. Yet when your vehicle is suddenly immersed in fog and everything is lost around you, it is entirely unnerving. Where in the world is that wonderfully utilitarian yellow line when you need it? Is there another car headed your way and if so, have you made room for it? Are you moving dangerously close to the siderail? You creep tentatively ahead wondering when this tedious obscurity will evanesce.

I hit a cloud this morning. I saw it ahead of time. I recognized the way in and the way out. Been there before. Yet I panicked for a spell when the immersion came. I knew that the pain and discomfort would get wearying. I recalled that sensation of feeling like I could handle nothing more. I braced myself as best I could, reminding myself of what to expect. But still, I succumbed to feeling overwhelmed. Funny how that is. Human frailty is always with us.

I'm not out of the fog, but my soul has been stilled once again. When you can't see, it helps to remember. When you can't remember it helps to have a reminder.

Today my honey did that for me. And I know the fog will be behind me again soon.

Just a report

Many are wondering how I am doing so I thought I would post an update here.

The pain is manageable - I seem to need the pain killer less than last time around, and, more often than not, simple ibuprophen is handling it. Still, from the left knee down it is perpetually achy, with intermittent sharp pain. Another problem is the numbness. The best remedy for that seems to be a massaging of the exposed toes. Ah, for the day when I will be able to gently rub down the entire area! I know, I know - it will come again!

I struggle with nausea from time to time, most likely in response to the pain meds, so I am glad to not need them as much.

If you are at all able to pray for me, my biggest concern is that of healthy tissue. The circulation to the injured area is all the more interrupted due to the lateral laceration I incurred from the fall. The incision from surgery was vertical, the tear was lateral, so blood flow has been hindered in both directions. This leaves me more susceptible to tissue damage. The doctor felt that could be more of a problem than the tendon itself. I feel this should be the prayer emphasis. So thanks for praying along those lines!


The Olympics have become quite familiar to me since I sit on the couch, rest on the couch, and spend my entire night on the couch. And it just so happens that the couch is facing the TV and the Olympics are popular fare for my son and daughters. I happen to enjoy them as well.

Speaking of spending the nights in the family room, have I mentioned that my husband is a real trooper? I think I feel most badly for him as a result of this injury. He cares for me and pampers me. He even sleeps on a floor mattress so that he can be near me. It can mean enduring the TV all night long (if the pain is keeping me awake, I find the TV helps me pass those long, dark hours - I now know every face on HGTV and every decorating trick in the book!) He was just getting a functioning wife back and suddenly here we are, catapulted back in time - and I am pretty dependent upon him once again. So much for being the helpmeet!

We won't even discuss the bedroom, which is already desperate after three months of neglect! Who knows what it will look like in three more months!

But perhaps I will finish the daily devotional I have started working on, or maybe I could write out the study guide for Titus Two that has been requested. In a few days, I will be able to determine some plans, I am sure. But for now, it is pretty much minute by minute and hour by hour, just trying to keep on top of the physical needs presented. And that is okay. To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.

And I will fully accept and live the season given me.

Friday, February 17, 2006

An Anniversary to Remember (or maybe forget!)

Thursday, December 22, 2005 @ 10:30 am
Injured achilles tendon; completely ruptured, followed by surgery

Thursday, February 16, 2006 @ 10:30 am (8 weeks later)
Reinjured achilles tendon; completely ruptured, plus a deep laceration to my ankle, followed by surgery

I think that from now on, when it is around 10:30 on any given Thursday morning I will pay more attention to what I am doing. You never know what an anniversary may bring!

But one thing we do know - He is so very good and kind. Thank you for your prayers and thoughts of concern. I am doing very well!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

LOVE - It's All About Him

Reading through Joshua we find that God has commanded them to utterly destroy every nation, to leave no man, woman, or child alive. As they walked in obedience to this command, God prospered them.
But why this command? Let's look back to the original issue given to Moses in Exodus 34:11-17.

"Your responsibility is to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then I will surely drive out all those who stand in your way – the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites.

Be very careful never to make treaties with the people in the land where you are going. If you do, you soon will be following their evil ways.

Instead, you must break down their pagan altars, smash the sacred pillars they worship, and cut down their carved images.

You must worship no other gods, but only the LORD, for he is a God who is passionate about his relationship with you.

Do not make treaties of any kind with the people living in the land. They are spiritual prostitutes, committing adultery against me by sacrificing to their gods. If you make peace with them, they will invite you to go with them to worship their gods, and you are likely to do it.

And you will accept their daughters, who worship other gods, as wives for your sons. Then they will cause your sons to commit adultery against me by worshiping other gods.

You must make no gods for yourselves at all."

God's command to Moses was to utterly destroy every altar, every god, and to make NO covenant with these nations. His reason: lest they be tempted to worship other gods and play the harlot.

More than anything (well, actually, it was the only thing) God was concerned that they remain devoted solely to Him. Any other devotion would ensnare them and render their love for Him divided and impure.

He was a jealous God. He still is. We are not to be devoted to husband or wife, mother or father, family or friends, work or school, fame or money. Our devotion is to be to Him ALONE. He will share it with no other.

He may direct us to love and serve our husband or wife, father or mother, teacher or employer, but it is born out of love for Him. It must start and end in devotion to Him, our Father, Redeemer, and Saviour - the true Lover of our Soul.

God's plan was to destroy everything that would draw them to other gods and loves. In our lives that is accomplished by laying all these other loves on the altar, sacrificing them to His will, putting them to death, if you will. Every wish, dream, and desire. Even Godly dreams must be laid aside if our hearts are to be wholly devoted to Him.

Consider this: any love we have to give to these loved ones has come from Him, for apart from Him we cannot love. It has come from Him to begin with - we love because He has first loved us. The greatest gift of love that we can give our loved ones is a heart devoted to Him. Only then are we free to truly love them.

Happy Valentines Day to you all!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Childhood Memories

Two little boys were battling with great animation, plastic light sabres flying, arms poised in the fashion of their favorite character. Soon they returned to the TV for a second look at Star Wars III Revenge of the Sith. Ah, the joys of play days with friends on a Sunday afternoon. I suppose such is the stuff of memories.

I fondly recall lovely afternoons shared with girlfriends, experimenting with hairstyles, dressing dolls, checking out the mom's makeup drawer. As years passed, such times consisted of listening to the newest Beatles' album, watching Saturday night TV (Sonny and Cher, Tom Jones), studying fashion magazines. Even then I was a student of my surroundings. With avid interest I observed every element of decor, every family pattern that differed from my own. Watching one friend's mom fold jeans from the dryer one day has changed the way I care for my Levis (or Banana Republics!) ever since. It was at my best friend's house that I first experienced 'eggs over easy' and pizza made from a box. I savored with absolute delight such newfound delicacies. How did I miss out on this all my life?

Funny now to think that was my life. I could more readily believe that it was a movie, a dream.

This afternoon I looked at a photo album with my good friend. Images of young boys on their first hunting expedition were followed by posings on Christmas morning. Family gatherings and birthday parties from just a few short years ago had been captured there. As I turned the pages we saw likenesses of a little redhead and her older sister joining in the fun. I recognized them immediately. Why were they such little girls then? How could so much change in so little time? How could 7 years already seem so long ago and far away?

I do not have a good memory. In amazement I listen to stories recalled by so many. They often are telling about events I attended, adventures in which I was involved. Maybe, just maybe something said will jog my memory; there may be a faint recollection. If I strain at the vague image stirred I may possibly bring it into clearer focus. Most likely not. Still, the few memories that remain are precious. It is a gift from God to remember.

Often I ponder the impact of childhood years. As seasons come and go, these days will become vague recollections, images faded with the passing of time. But I do believe that the importance of character and values established during childhood far supercedes that of cognizant memories. I hope they have warm fuzzies when they think of home and all that we shared, but I know they won't remember it all. Still, something of essence will remain. I absolutely believe that.

Friday, February 10, 2006

A Quiet Life

Having surgery on your Achilles tendon can bring an element of simplicity into your life. I am rather enjoying this forced discipline. Oh, that I might continue in it even when I am fully back in the swing of things.

Today my Louissa and I did errands in Massena. As I meandered through the aisles at Wal-Mart I was quite aware of the quick pace most Americans assume. At times I actually felt as though I was moving backwards! How surprised I was when my watch indicated that we were quickly running out of time and would need to scramble through the checkout if we hoped to arrive home at our appointed hour. When we left the house first thing in the morning, I had anticipated visiting several stores and still having time for lunch at Taco Bell (big spender that I am!) We usually fit multiple stops into our Massena trip. But not today. Slow is the name of the game.

Still, I didn't miss the rushing. Stress free living certainly can be an asset!

I doubt that as I regain mobility I will continue to do errands only once or twice every six weeks - that would be too good to be true! But I do hope that I can learn to just say no to all the extras, to wait patiently for things so that trips into town can be consolidated, and just plain go without if it means I get to stay home with the kiddos and live life a bit more simply.

1 Thess. 4:11This should be your ambition: to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we commanded you before.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The God Who Will

Here I sit in my solitary chair in my single small room in my inconsequential house on little ol' Main Street in smalltown, USA. My energy is limited, my time restricted, and my abilities finite. Pretty insignificant, pretty puny, pretty unimpressive, all things considered.

At times I have glimpsed the largeness of His plan, the scope of this world, the desperate need represented all around me and I have been inspired. But not so much these days. Now, more often than not, I can feel overwhelmed. My natural strength and fervor are ebbing and challenges are not as welcome from this natural vantage point. So what am I to do?

Get a new vantage point. Remember who I am and whose I am.

Children expect parents to handle everything. They have no concern, no doubt, no worry. If they are tired, Daddy will carry them in from the car. If they are hungry, Mom will provide sustenance. Is there a wound? Mom will wash and care for it, tenderly applying that coveted bandage. Do they need an answer? Daddy knows everything - at least until they have reached that magic age when they suddenly know much more than him!

We all know that natural parents are actually limited in their resources. What we need to remember is that our heavenly Father has no such lack. His provisions are never ending and He is never overwhelmed by the task at hand. We may be unequal to it but He is not. He is not daunted, therefore neither should we be daunted.

I have let my gaze settle upon my own finite abilities, my time which is quickly sifting through the allotted hour glass, and my emotional fortitude which is growing weary. So I comprehend the work to be done, the plan which He has disclosed to His people, the call put upon His Church and then I look at us apart from Him. Is there any wonder at the concern, the unbelief, the discouragement that sets in? I have failed to see with His eyes and His perspective. I have seen only half the plan ; His plan includes His empowerment - His work in us and through us. Oh, how we must depend on Him!

He will accomplish that which He intends. I simply must yield to Him today, for this hour, in this moment. And right now He is reminding me to look up, to remember Him, to recall His promise of provision, and rest in His declared completion of His glorious plan.

Isaiah 46:9,10 Remember your history, your long and rich history. I am God, the only God you've had or ever will have - incomparable, irreplaceable - From the very beginning telling you what the ending will be, All along letting you in on what is going to happen, Assuring you, 'I'm in this for the long haul, I'll do exactly what I set out to do,'

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Guitar, Piano, and Dickens

Julia has busily been recording again and again a 23 minute program that she will be submitting tomorrow as an audition tape for an international guitar competition in California. This will be the first round of judging. We shall see how she does. It is due on the 13th and she will have an answer by mid-March. It has been such pleasure to hear the clear melodies of Mozart and the hauntingly beautiful "Melancholia" drifting in from the front room. My gain, for sure.

The other girls are quickly getting on top of their practice regimen and making such good progress. I never cease to find joy in such improvement! So from that room I hear Bach and those charming Clementi sonatinas.

Meanwhile, while the tape rolls in the front room we lock ourselves into the family room, lest we should forget to be silent, ruining Julia's attempt at a more perfect rendering of her beautiful pieces. And we watch Dicken's "Our Mutual Friend". The story has a dark side, of course (could there possibly be a Dickens tale without poverty and crime?) But, as Jamie says, "The John and Bella [part of the] story is such a cute one."

And I still sit. Today I have taken it easy on my poor little ankle. For the past few days I have been walking a good deal - it is quite exciting. But my leg is feeling a bit weary, so I am babying it. As long as I am nice to it, it seems to be nice to me! A suitable arrangement in my estimation.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

To Read or Not To Read

The following is the written narrative of a young boy's adventure:

Delicious mystery beckoned the small, young boy into the shady labyrinthine plantings of the towering green hedges. Haltingly he ventured forward to find himself instantly faced with the challenge of choosing a direction, not knowing where he would be led. The corridors drew him further into the maze, on and on, and still he found himself continually confronted with choices. Uncertainty flooded his senses. Enchantment and intrigue soon gave way to fear. Quickening his pace, he hurried on, the path twisting and turning in endless and seemingly random patterns. In no time at all, he was completely confused as to his direction. His tender age had afforded him no experience such as this. Bewildered and undone, tears began to prick his innocent eyes. And Mother was nowhere to be found.


Now imagine the above scene in cinematographic form:

Open with an aerial view of the holly maze at The Governor's Palace in Colonial Williamsburg
Slowly pan down to an eager young boy standing at opening of path leading into the maze. Follow him as he moves along the paths. Convey the boy's growing panic and confusion - he is obviously lost as he ventures toward the center of the maze. Slowly pull camera view away, returning to original aerial view.


Now you tell me - which form of entertainment is more successful in engaging and stimulating your thought process. Hmmmm. I wonder.

Just food for thought. How much have you and yours been reading lately?

Sunday, February 05, 2006


Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean,
And the pleasant land

So the little minutes,
Humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages
Of eternity.

We are probably all familiar with that little verse. Simple as it may be, it is worthy of our reflection.

Scripture exhorts us to be faithful in the little things. You know - the mundane routines, the stuff that doesn't seem to matter in our limited perspective, things that don't amount to a hill of beans.

Youthful perspective almost always needs an adjustment in understanding what is truly important. Even I remember those years filled with budding dreams of grandeur; I would slay dragons, take mountains, defeat foes, endure persecution. Oh, the speculations of deeds to be done for God were endless – and great (might I add!)

In time there is a modification of definition; we begin to understand faithfulness in altered terms. Greatness, we learn, is equated with servanthood. Servanthood is equated with - wait - could it be? Servanthood is serving - doing, more often than not, menial tasks.

So we embrace this new definition and throw ourselves wholly into service. Daily we remind ourselves that these insignificant chores will add up to something truly consequential. And most certainly they will. But what?

After years of diligent “doing”, we must be careful not to lose heart. Testing may prove that we have simply exchanged certain self-wrought goals and ambitions for different aspirations. But whose? Is He the engineer, or are we still dreaming our own dreams? Are we allowing Him to plan the outcome or does the tendency to expect certain results continue? When events fail to meet our expectations, we encounter disappointment – real and crushing disappointment. Our hopes have been dashed. Faith and confidence in His promises are shaken. What have we been doing this for? What was the point of these weeks and months and years of service? Is this all there is?

We sang a chorus in church this morning:

“God’s ways are different than
The dreams of any man.”

Twenty, thirty, forty years later, we must continue to be faithful in little, and allow Him to be the Master planner. We don't need to know what the exact results will be. We may never even see the glorious outcome that He orchestrates through simple obedience. But I do believe that if we could get a glimpse of those who will be most rewarded in eternity, we would stand back in disbelief and declare, “But who are these? I did not read their names in history books or Charisma magazine. There have been no best selling testimonials written about them. What great exploits have they wrought?” And the simple answer will be that they were faithful in little and are now rulers over much.

I am learning once again to let go of my own dreams concerning what He will do with my life, the lives of my children, and the lives of others. That which I place a premium on and deem to be greatness is seldom what He has highly valued and commended. Indeed, His ways are different than the dreams of any man.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Lessons From The Baptist

More of Him and less of me.

I guess that more than anything the accomplishment of this requires a desperate cry from our hearts. We can put forth a concerted effort but all that will produce is flesh - humanity - a tainted odor rather than a beautiful fragrance.

All too often I lose sight of how much of me there is and how little of Him seems present. Complacency consumes desire, ignorance replaces knowledge, pride reigns over humility, contentedness blankets my hunger and thirst, or hardness of heart leaves me numb and unfeeling - in no time at all these things settle over me and I am satisfied with the status quo, ready to relinquish His promise to make me more like Him.

But He does not renege on His end of the deal. Faithfully He places me in situations which reveal the residual dross and darkness still pervading my heart. I can be so slow to recognize the truth of it all. I will reason away the error, strategize a remedy, or try to figure out just how to overcome problem. The tendency to analyze the weakness makes it seem clinical and less personal. It also seems to remove a sense of responsibility. But when confronted with the darkness often enough, I finally catch on. This is pride, fear, jealousy, or - you fill in the blank.

The only real remedy is repentance followed by a throwing of myself at His mercy seat, desperate for grace - that divine enablement to walk in His ways. Only He can help me love, and love is always the thing needed. If my heart is filled with love there is no fear, no pride, no jealousy, no - you fill in the blank. There is no darkness or residual dross.

More of Him and less of me.

How desperately I need to petition the throne room for this. Leave the lists behind, the foolish requests that can seem so pressing and get to the heart of the matter. Such distraction. How easily I lose sight of my heinous condition! How could that be? Oh, wicked heart that deceives to the utmost! We would be held captive but for Him.

More of Him and less of me.

"Lord, help me remember the essential request that is pressing Your heart. You desire to see me conformed to Your Holy image. And oh, how I want that, too."

John 3:27,30 John answered and said, "He must increase, but I must decrease."

Thursday, February 02, 2006


The blue van pulled into the driveway bringing my husband home along with my 6 year old son. They were returning from dropping my three year old grandson Gabriel off at his house. The "boys" had been out for lunch together at the Hometown Cafe. Hot dogs, french fries, and treats had been consumed by the little guys as well as "a small Pepsi that we always have with hot dogs."

"Just think," I said to my young son, "you were a son and an uncle at that lunch. Gabriel got to be a nephew and a grandson. And Daddy was a father and a grandpa! Everyone there got to be two things!" (Sorry for the juvenile speech - but he got it!)

From my chair inside the house I contemplated the wonder of generations extending families through the ages. "We are an American family." But perhaps not a usual one in this day - we possess an uncle that is a playmate with his nephew, aunts who are not much older, and a grandpa who is father to those playmates.

What a privilege my little guy has. He ingenuously claims his two brothers-in-law as brothers without batting a eye (even though they are both old enough to be his father) and has proudly owned the title of uncle since he was three. His sisters were pretty young aunts as well.

Heritage is a God-thing. It is a picture of His love and plan for mankind. Relationships that are immutable, abiding, and just plain fixed must have been His invention. Can you undo kinship? You may deny it, but you cannot undo it. Your bond is genetically transmitted, recorded in DNA chains. Family is such a clear reflection of His everlasting faithfulness and love. He desires covenantal relationships.

But even so, these are temporal bonds. For those who have believed, there is a greater kinship than all of these. The family of God transcends this realm. God the Father, Christ the Son, and us His adopted heirs. Brothers and sisters for eternity. Guess we should begin now to love each other. After all, we are family - it's in our spiritual DNA.