Sunday, July 29, 2007

Enjoy It Now

"Let's all take a walk down to the Walkers' house and stroll down to their dock."

We ascended en masse upon this generous neighbor's freshly mown lawn. He chuckled and smirked as he uttered a "Wow!" - there were seven teenage and preteen girls (two Gonzales sisters, two Melville sisters, and three Sinclair sisters), three toddlers in a red wagon (Paladins), a little Sinclair boy, a grownup McGrath boy, and four adults (one considerably pregnant). Quite the herd, I must say. We all ventured down his well manicured pathway to the river, enjoying groves, fruit orchards, and footbridges. By the river, we arranged ourselves for photos; pictures were snapped quickly before the bugs swarmed and forced our return.

Back at the house some of the girls spent a short time in the lawn swing before the trip home began. As the several young ladies meandered ahead of us I thought of the full house: the many occupied beds, the mattresses laid out on the porch, the crowded kitchen at mealtimes, the family room at movie time with all seats taken and floor space at a premium. I voiced to my honey, "What special times these are, what nice girls, what dear friends. These are days to remember. Soon our girls will be grown and gone. The house will be emptier then, not so many visitors. This is a nice season."

Ah, yes. Treasured days. I know now that new seasons will bring new treasures. But for the moment, these seem the best. Isn't it that the way it always is?

So enjoy them I will. Cling to them I can't. Trust Him for the future I must.

He holds it all. And He is the best.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Let the Show Begin!

For the next couple of weeks, if you catch me in conversation or see me on the street you may not recognize me. Today I officially become an auburn-haired woman and I've been "puttin' on me Irish accent" on a regular basis for practice. You see, I'm playin' Mrs. Paroo from River City in the CPS production of The Music Man. So with "a new coh-lor done in a 1910 updo, a bit o' the liltin' to my speech, a few long skairts and I'll be good to go!"

It's fun. Kinda like grown-up dress-up.

And the music is great. I have always loved The Music Man. Meredith Willson, the composer and author of the show, really knew his stuff. As a student he studied at Frank Damrosch's Musical Institute (now known as Juilliard School of Music). He went on to play flute and piccolo with John Philip Sousa, then with Arturo Toscanini in the NY Philharmonic. From there he moved on to San Francisco and Hollywood, writing and directing and playing for who knows what. No wonder the orchestrations are so good - and no wonder he included a "River City Boys Band" marching to a great tune like 76 Trombones!

Hubby is playing in the orchestra and enjoying it. He is impressed with both the caliber of players as well as Mr. Willson's fabulous orchestrations. But he doesn't love the callous he's getting from not having played string bass in some time.

However, things on the homefront are a bit behind. Homemade bread is rare, the bin of "Mom's granola" is almost empty, my laundry is practically up to the ceiling, and... Well, I won't go on. With several house guests, it has proven to be an interesting week or two. We did manage a day trip to Lake Placid yesterday, and since the orchestra has the day off, Rick will take them to Montreal for some shopping and jazz music later today. So, they wouldn't be eating homemade bread anyway!

At any rate, be blessed and - "top o' the mornin' to y' all!"


From my journal:

I was reading good old Philippians 4.8 this morning: whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just... think on these things.

How prone we are to mull over the unkind comment, to analyze the sideways glance, to scrutinize a poorly thought through command from above. We spend our energy considering the what ifs, the how comes, instead of applying noble truth and considering justice. There is no room for what ifs and how comes in the kingdom. The truth is that He reigns over all. Nothing that the enemy or my own mind's contemplations can concoct can overrule His reign in my life.

So we need to stop the mental gyrations. Let the unkind word go, forget pondering the hidden meaning of the sideways glance, and trust His ability to rule over our authorities - even if there are some unwise commands coming our way. He is for us, all things work together for our good, nothing is wasted in His economy, and I am called to love and turn the other cheek.

When things aren't perfect and going our way, as a dear friend once preached from the pulpit, "What we really need is a good case of the Holy so whats!"

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Active Peace

"Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4. 6,7

guard - to keep safe from harm or danger; to protect
to keep under close watch in order to prevent misconduct
to keep under control or restraint as a matter of prudence or caution
to obstruct or impede the movement or progress of an opponent

We know that worry is not of the Lord. It is contrary to true faith and confidence in who He is. It belittles His care, mocks His strength, and insults His faithfulness. On top of that, it robs the believer of peace, the peace of God.

As I read this verse today, I marveled at the realization that diligent prayer results in peace that is not merely wondrously pleasant for the moment, but is actually proactive. This peace that comes from God alone guards my heart, providing protection from the enemy and from misconduct on my part.

The peace of God that passes understanding is not like the image we so often have of peace - a picture of passivity, of a quiet scene free from action. Instead it is a peace that, while providing freedom from inappropriate commotion such as stress and frenzy, is still very proactive; it is shielding me from taunts, poor confessions, and who knows what else.

So once again, where do I find this peace? How does one come by this wonderful commodity?

Stop worrying and begin praying with thanksgiving.

As Corrie ten Boom was known to say, "KISS - keep it simple, stupid."

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Priceless Display

Philippians 4:2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord.

Interesting. We find that Paul is basically asking these two women to decide to agree, to be of one accord. "Just make up your mind and do it."

Our culture is so "feeling" oriented and dominated. We are essentially told to be controlled by our feelings and not vice versa. You know, the old "if it feels good, do it" paradigm. Consequently we see marriages dissolve because "we don't feel in love any more." Anger is allowed - it just needs to be redirected. "Punch the living daylights out of that pillow instead." (Granted, better to punch a pillow than a wife, but how about not giving ourselves to anger at all?) We find disrespect accepted as a viable display of opinion.

All of that is, however, in absolute contradiction with the Word of God. (Imagine that.) The counsel given by our Creator is to rule over one's spirit; it is better than capturing a whole city. (Proverbs 16:32)

The Biblical paradigm assumes an understanding and knowledge that this is possible. Our culture does not. "But I just don't feel that way about this situation." Or we hear, "Something inside of me just can't agree - I can't accept that." "The hurt, the insecurity - that is who I am and I am not able to think differently."

"Stuff and nonsense" according to the Word. Paul wouldn't plead with Euodia and Syntyche if it wasn't within their grasp. He wouldn't tell them to determine to agree in the Lord. That's the same counsel given to a man and wife, to children and parents, to brethren and leaders. It's the kind of counsel that is foreign to our way of thinking. But it is the very counsel that is imperative for healthy relationships, for church growth, and for the prosperity of the gospel.

Unity. It means laying aside our will for the greater good - changing our mind so we can agree for a larger purpose. It is costly. That's what makes it so unusual, so special, so priceless.

That's what the world is longing to see.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Sting of Righteous Rebuke

"Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men."

My heart breaks and cries whenever I read those words. After all, they were spoken to Peter. Dear, real, down-to-earth, impetuous Peter.

And after all, they could have been spoken to me - on more than one occasion.

More than once I've been an offense because my mind was not full of His thoughts nor was my heart imbued with His passions. More than once I've failed to understand His purpose, spoken sentiments contrary to His plans, and agreed with the enemy's whispered words.

And He has had to tell me that I was not mindful of His things, but men's. I had failed my Lord.

The sting of such failure is great. It should be. My wonderful Redeemer was offended, He who suffered and died for me. I had let Him down. Could there be any sadder thing?

And so, once again I pray a prayer that has become so very familiar to me:

Lord, let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight. Keep me, Jesus, always loving you more than life itself. Keep me as the apple of Your eye. Amen.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Longing and Waiting

It's rainy outside.

It's chilly here in my kitchen by the open window.

And it's a bit blue in my heart.

Missing my daughters in faraway places, missing my daughter and her family just down the street (I got a bit spoiled with them staying right here for almost three weeks), missing routine and wondering if fall will really be able to provide such a thing. Projects loom before me, things that I would like to get done before a school schedule can really be put in place. But perhaps they will need to wait for another time. It wouldn't be the first time projects have been put on hold around here.

Sad, too, because a young woman I watched grow into adulthood is settling for less than He has for her, for her family. Did she not see His wonders? Did she not taste of His goodness? Why would the sin of this world seem better?

And so, my heart is a bit blue. Most of all longing for that heavenly place where we will be free from the tyranny of time, the pain of separation, the stress of sin. After all, He'll be there, ruling and reining over His Kingdom, having destroyed the enemy and sin.

Does anyone remember the Psalty song? "Heaven is a wonderful place, filled with glory and grace. I wanna see my Savior's face cause heaven is a wonderful place."

Sounds like just the right spot to me.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

That Continuous Balancing Act

The following excerpt is taken from my daughter's blog. It speaks to an area of concern I often have considered. "Muse" along with us!

The Musings:

One thing I simply have to comment on in regards to the weekend outreach activities is my appreciation for the couple who headed up the children's programs at 2pm & 3pm yesterday and today. They did such a great job with planning and preparing, involving a number of children, and then presenting skits and songs and games. I sat there knowing firsthand just how tired their 3 young children were (like Daniel and I, they will celebrate 6 years of marriage this October and are expecting #4 this year) and exactly how many hours of their weekend were spent on these events, and I was very challenged by their sacrifice.

To be brutally honest, if someone like Daniel had asked me to oversee such programs, my first response would have been, "2 and 3pm? Are you crazy??? Don't you know that's my kids' naptime? Sorry, buddy." And even if I'd gotten past that point, I doubt I would have found a way to write skits and stories, prepare children for acting and costumes for children, thought through games and prizes, etc. But that was not their response.

Not at all.

They responded with enthusiasm and energy and then they went above and beyond what Daniel had asked for. And even in moments like when their not-yet-2-year-old was crying because of spent emotions and too little sleep, there were still smiles on their faces and expectation of good in their words.

It reminded me of a very wise man's challenge to Daniel a couple years ago: "How are you doing with leading your family in sacrifice?" I remember when Daniel shared that question with me, struck by the word in when I might have inappropriately chosen the word through. I was challenged because he was right and I was wrong. After all, the call to discipleship doesn't ask us to simply cheerfully endure the sacrifices (even this is often challenging for me, I confess), but to go so far as to look for opportunities to die to self.

I tend to be so over-protective of our family boundaries and I'm often afraid and hesitant to place demands on Gabriel, Bronwyn, and Jackson for the sake of local church and Kingdom work; and yet I simultaneously want my children to grow up with a willingness and eagerness to give of themselves. If my example to them is one of self-preservation-- even in the name of family-- how can I expect them to serve beyond what comes easily and pleasantly to their flesh? And who better to teach and lead them in sacrifice than their very own mom and dad?

At any rate, I applaud this family for their tireless work over the weekend. Not only were many small children blessed by their efforts, but this wife and mom was convicted and refreshed in a vision to sacrifice as a family-- gladly and cheerfully!-- for the Lord and His bride.

Great thoughts and observations, Bri! Here are some of my own along those same lines.

One of the pitfalls (as I see it) in a strong message on family is the tendency to respond by "hunkering down" to the point of non-active service in the kingdom. It's true that we need to have our minds renewed regarding the need to invest in children and families. Guarding our time and energy so that our children have all they need is necessary. Knowing boundaries is, therefore, essential - but, having set our boundaries, we must also then be willing to abandon those very boundaries from time to time for the sake of sacrificial service.

Being encouraged to love and good works, knowing how to sacrifice in service to the church, and continuing in giving above and beyond what is comfortable is the flip side of focusing on family. We must understand and practice both sides of the coin.

Kids learn to sacrifice for the church and the brethren when they've seen it, tasted it, loved it, and practiced it themselves. Nothing can replace modeling it before them, then doing it as a family, and finally, releasing them to it. Much as we all would like the world to go away at times so that we can just live life simply (at least, admittedly, that has been the cry of this mother's heart at times), we are called to serve the kingdom and the local church as well as our homes.

Learning to hear His voice becomes essential. Messages of family investment and then a call to local church service seemingly contradict, pulling us in two different directions. "What is too much? What is too little? Can someone just tell me how many hours or activities are allowed?"

Nope. It's not that simple. You are you and I am me. How we function, what we can accomplish, and what we should accomplish are not the same. So don't feel condemned by what someone else is or isn't doing. Find challenge, yes. Feel freshly inspired, of course. Glean ideas and ponder anew what your family is focusing on, practicing, and sacrificing. And then do with confidence what He is asking you to do.

And remember, these two claims on our time and energy are not incompatible. Serving cheerfully and sacrificially side by side with your children not only kills two birds with one stone, providing inestimable opportunity for teaching and building relationship as well as fulfilling much needed ministry, it also leads them automatically (well, almost...) into a sense of accomplishment and purpose in His kingdom, cementing in their hearts a determination to serve Him always. They grow in a sense of value and worth as well as a love for Him as they see His blessing upon their labors.

Know the seasons, be sensitive to your family's true needs, sacrifice regularly with a cheerful heart, and regroup when needed. Make boundaries, but be flexible with them.

Sounds contradictory? I don't know if you've noticed, but many things in the kingdom can appear that way. I guess that's why He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. His true sons are lead by the Spirit - we'd be lost without Him on this one!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


She opened in her second summer production for CPS last night. It was good, entertaining - a shoe-in for anyone who enjoys nostalgia. You should plan on going!

She auditioned for a St. Lawrence High School singer competition (pop-oriented). Yesterday was her song of choice, and the judges were pleased with the performance. We will hear soon as to whether she made the next round. $300 first prize, so that would be nice. At the moment she is in the music room reviewing her original tunes in preparation for a concert at the Potsdam gazebo this Sunday at 3:00pm. Also something you may want to hear.

She is busy with me rehearsing for The Music Man. I am Mrs. Paroo, the middle-age Irish mother from the mid-west. She is a River City teenager. We are having fun. That show opens at the end of the month. Another fun event to see!

She is finishing her last segment of ministry in Germany. Only a couple of months and she will be home! Exciting (but nothing for you to attend. Sorry!)

The rest of them? Work, play-time, practice, chores, etc. You know, the stuff of what real life is made. They are the real champions around here!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Movies and Mattresses

"Why do you sleep with the girls? I think they would have more fun if you would let them be alone," came the stern admonition from the onlooker. She had a clear and strong opinion on the matter.

"Well, it doesn't matter to me. I'll sleep wherever you want me to sleep," was the adult woman's reply, "but I really think they like me in there with them."

This was a scenario which took place on a recent short-term mission chaperoned by my dear friend. Two of my teen daughters were a part of the team there with her in Spain.

Last night, after being home for several days, a plan was concocted by my friend and my daughters: there would be an overnight with videos at her house tonight, including two friends, three Sinclair girls, and her daughter. As I talked about the scheme with my girls, their giggly lament (sounds oxymoronic but it happened) was declared - they wanted Nancy to sleep next to them. "She is so much fun!!"

"If that is to be the case, then I want to come, too. This could be a mother/daughter pajama party!" I quickly asserted. They all laughed and agreed that this would be a fun, fun evening.

Upon calling Nancy and letting her know I had invited myself along, she turned to her listening family and cried, "Mrs. Sinclair wants to come spend the night, too!" Gales of laughter and a simple request followed: just bring movies and mattresses.

Check, check. This will be fun, fun.

What that poor, confused woman in Spain failed to understand was that these dear teenage daughters are special. They actually enjoy being with their parents.

Unusual, I know, but wonderful - and fun!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A Sneak Preview

Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice!

When do we rejoice? Always! In all things? In all things. Every day? Every day.

Tomorrow in Sunday school we will be refreshing our understanding of walking in reverence before God - having a deep sense of awe and admiration, an honoring of who that person is and what they stand for.

Our God is faithful, always watchful, caring for His people in all places at all times. His salvation is ours, His care is for us, and He is ever on the job. That is why we can rejoice always. If we know Him, truly know Him - if we believe Him, truly believe Him - if we walk in honor of His promise to us, than we can rest in Him with great joy.

When? Always.

That's all. Pretty simple. But God is like that. Even little children can walk with Him!

So rejoice today and always!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A Glimpse

A few photos of the homefront can be viewed on my Flickr -
I thought my faraway daughters would enjoy seeing the summer yard!

It's Time For the Flexibility Card

The first call came yesterday afternoon. Upon arrival at Heathrow Airport they learned that due to high security alert there would be no flights out of London that day. Hmm. That sure put a wrinkle in the plan. They were bumped to morning

My daughter and husband immediately got online to reserve some rooms so Team Spain 2007 could rest before their newly scheduled departure early this morning.

However, upon arrival at Heathrow Airport they were greeted with a ginormous crowd and incredible chaos. It seemed as though every person in London was there. Instructions were given to "wait over here" - they quickly complied. Time ticked away until it was 45 minutes to departure. They pressed the situation and were informed that they had waited too long; they had missed the boarding time. Hmm.

So now they are there, waiting once again. We are wondering what flight they will be assigned. Most likely they will fly out tomorrow. So back to online help for hotel reservations we will go.

Maybe they should hop on the Chunnel and fly out of Paris instead.

Maybe next time we'll plan on that!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Coming and Going

One daughter is in California now, patiently awaiting her household belongings so that an empty house can be transformed into their new home. Sounds like a fun adventure to me! She has a unknown neighborhood to explore, interesting stores to browse, friends to make, and pleasant weather to enjoy. But most of all, she will discover God in California as well as New York. That's always a good thing.

Another daughter is in Germany. Her tenure there is coming to an end in a couple of months. Bet that feels strange to her. Isn't time a funny thing? It's so long and large when it's ahead, so short and small when behind. Soon she will return home; everyone here is full of excited anticipation! She is a dear one - if you know her you would agree.

Daughter number two has been staying here for close to three weeks now, with three little ones in tow as well. What a wonderful few weeks it has been. I'm hoping it can become a tradition. But today they head back around the corner, ready to inhabit the little yellow house once again. Why? The Daddy of that young family returns from Spain where he has been busily leading a small team from our church in ministry there. They have met with great success, bringing a blessing to the church in that nation.

With that team's return, I will regain two daughters as well. As part of that small team, they sang, danced, played instruments, shared testimonies, and even did TV interviews on their homeschool experience. Amazing - God is eager to use His people if we simply surrender our all - no matter how small that all may seem, to quote a song I once sang.

Two daughters of Paco Gonzales, a Spanish friend involved in ministry, will accompany my daughters. They are taking a month-long holiday here in America. Who would have thought a visit to the North Country could have such appeal? We will be glad to "adopt" them for the time!

So this season of my life continues. Change, movement, flexibility, availability. This are necessary commodities as I mother children who are adults, young adults, and young boys. It's interesting, there is no doubt about that.

In the meantime, I will weed my garden and learn my lines for an upcoming show. (I'm playing Mrs. Paroo in the CPS production of Music Man. It is tons of fun, I must say!)