Saturday, January 30, 2010
"There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort." Jane Austen
It is a delicious morning to wake up to a quiet house, with a quiet Lord, and know that the whole day is free to enjoy whatever way you would like. I decided to spend it with my dear Jane, Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth and all the Bennetts. I don't know why all her stories bring me such a comfort after sad days. From Northanger Abbey to Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion to Emma, sometimes reading the struggles and heartbreaks of her characters and seeing them come out on the other end...happy...makes life a bit more bearable. Our concerns can seem silly and superficial sometimes, and life or death other times...but really, it all comes out in the end just the way it should- happily ever after thanks to Jesus. Thanks to a merciful and gracious Father who carries us when we want to quit, and comforts us when we just want to cry.
Today I walked along the beautiful moors of Derbyshire, ran through the woods around Pemberley, and thoroughly enjoyed pretending I lived a few hundred years ago, when my greatest concern was who I would marry. I wouldn't know where Haiti was or have any idea of the suffering outside of my own neighborhood. No outside forces could steal my children's hearts as easily as the Internet, cable and school try to. And instead of the distractions of modern life (even blogging), I would play in my garden, work hard in my kitchen, and have the sounds of God's creation all around me everyday...without having to put "down time" on my calendar.
It's nice to pretend once in awhile. Now back to the real world...the one that needs us.
"Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelation 21:3-4
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
"MY PSALM" by Jasmine
"Praise be to the father in heaven who helps us survive the everyday horror of middle school.
Let every man, women, teen, tween, child and infant fall to their knees and praise the God who sent His only son, Jesus Christ, to save all people including teenagers with raging hormones who change their mind on average every ten minutes.
Praise my God who helps me walk through the valley of the shadow of death known as Ms. Whitman's Science Room.
Oh my God, Oh my God, thank you for helping me survive the cruel words of queen bees, for helping me resist the temptation of cute high school boys and thank you for giving me great friends who will always be there to pick me up when I fall face first in the mud at lunch.
Thank you for my fellow sisters-in-Christ who will always have their arms wide open for huge bear hugs that always guarantee you will end up falling, who always have their shoulders ready to be cried on, who will always be the first one to hear about the new cute boy.
Please help me to not be pulled into the crowds whose favorite brand has and always will be Victoria's Secret.
Please help me not to be overcome by the drama of girls who are currently PMS-ing and to not let anyone take a piece of my heart which belongs to You.
Thank you for all the fun in middle school- dancing in front of school with my friends, giggling when that boy stares at you, wearing flip flops in the rain and just laughing and chilling out with my best buds. THANK YOU, God!"
Her heart always astounds me. :)
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
YES! Two years later and I finally have them in my possession! The beautiful- excrutiatingly sweet and citrus fragrance causing me to walk out my front door 30 times a day just for a sniff- tiny and perfectly formed star covered- Daphne Odora!! Words can not describe my love for this shrub.
Were you expecting me to talk about my love for my husband or kids? :) I love them too, but this bush has been calling my name for two years, and now I finally have it. It took me about 9 months to figure out what type of plant I was looking for, I had just smelled a twig someone put in a vase at the hospital but no one knew what it was. Then it took a couple months to realize they aren't sold really after March due to their early flowering, so then I waited all summer and winter- but NOW, it's MINE. My kids are doing the same thing, no one can help themselves! We just keep going back out there to walk past the Daphnes and BREATHE in God's amazing creativity. Love it, love it. The absolutely best part is the little Japanese variety has only a few blooms and tons of buds left, and the big shrub hasn't even started to offer up it's beautiful and fragrant secrets. The next couple of weeks all I am going to do is walk back and forth past them to enjoy the intrigue while it lasts.
My friend Nicole went to the nursery with me and was just as shocked as I was when I first saw a winter Daphne. No one would imagine the little green bush with tiny little star flowers could smell so delicious. If I was rich, I would buy every single person I know a Daphne Odora, plant it next to their door and then reap the benefits of being "the best friend in the world". As it is, I am not rich, so I will just have to settle for telling everyone I can about these delightful little bushes and BEG them to go to Shorty's or Yard and Garden to buy one.
I know- why would I know about both garden centers having Daphne? That would be because obsessed people such as myself should not be allowed to have days off. I went to Yard and Garden to sniff, then to Shorty's to check out what they offered- picked out my bigger Daphne Odora Marginata, then back to Yard and Garden to get the smaller but more agressive growing Daphne Odora Zuiko Nishik. You see, I couldn't decide which type would suite me better, and I thought, why not try both? The Marginata is the old standard, and the one I recognize, the Nishik looks very similar and smells as delicious, but does not have variegated leaves and (according to the backyardgardener.com) seems to be hardier and grows faster. The blooms also seem slightly more pink and bigger than the older variety.
Ahhhh...spring, come quickly. I couldn't resist any longer and also planted some of my containers with lovely spring colors, but will I regret it when this wicked winter decides to freeze one more time? Oh, please, don't freeze anymore! Let my trees burst into bloom, my flowers be warm, and the ground start to smell like spring.
It probably doesn't help that I am reading this kind of stuff- I should try to control myself and not bust out the poems until March:
"See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land." Song of Solomon 2:11-12
"Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.
And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.
For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil." A Prayer in Spring Robert Frost 1915
Dear Enemy Squirrel, (long story, I will have to share it sometime)
As much as your presence grates on me because you INSIST on eating the bulbs and roots of my flowers, I do feel guilty for digging up your trove of walnuts yesterday. Unbeknown-st to me, you had buriedyour tasties in a large wood planter, and when I was softening the soil to put in my hyacinths, tulips and primrose- out they went. Forgive me, squirrel. You won't go hungry, I put them under the quince bush.
Your new gardener
P.S. I know this property made a perfect hideout since it has been empty for a few years. But now that this home is occupied, please move your things to the neighbor's yard. I fully intend to dig and uproot every square foot, so it is quite likely I will discover another of your secrets and we both will be frustrated- me with guilt, you with an empty stomach.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
I came upon something yesterday that reminded me of yet another reason I adore my Jazz. I found a little card she had made me about 5 years ago. It was a crookedly cut piece of a 3x5 card, and she had written on the front " With my God I can skale any wall! You can do it, Mommy!" Oh- I remember the day she gave that to me! We were living in Yacolt, dealing with broken down cars, a broken down marriage, and a feeling of despair as we looked at our life and couldn't see God in it. I was in nursing school and had to miss a clinical assignment because I couldn't get the van to start...and just bawled like a baby. The kids and I took a walk down the driveway (it was a little over a mile to the mailbox) to get the mail and some fresh air. My sweet 9 year old decided to forgo her usual mode of transportation (her incredible purple bike complete with flowery basket on the front and ribbons shooting out the handlebars) and chose to walk alongside me, hand in hand, the whole two miles. I remember getting back to the house with a little more perspective. Later that night, my sweet faced girlie brought me her handwritten card. You see, we had been memorizing Psalm 18: 29 in school ("with your help I can advance against any troop, with my God I can scale any wall"), and I had just been encouraging her the week prior that nothing God wanted for her was out of reach if He was giving her a boost.
What an amazing reminder she gave me...a reminder that with the Lord, nothing would be too overwhelming, nothing too difficult. Sometimes it amazes me how God chooses to talk to us...and through what mouths. Chad Eastham says it really well "You NEVER know how God can use you when you just be YOU." Thank God Jasmine is willing to just be her...sweet, tenderhearted, and an absolute blast. (And we REALLY worked on her spelling...much better now!)
"You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light.
With your help I can advance against a troop ;
with my God I can scale a wall.
As for God, his way is perfect;
the word of the LORD is flawless.
He is a shield
for all who take refuge in him.
For who is God besides the LORD ?
And who is the Rock except our God?" Psalm 18:28-31
(In other related news...God blessed me yet again yesterday in an unexpected way. My insanely patient husband knew I was feeling crummy, and this is what I came home from The Zone to:
Just call me "Blessed". May God bless and keep you today, with His people surrounding you, His Spirit within you, and His grace abounding for you)
I have Haiti on my mind all the time, and wonder what the mamas are feeling like in Port-Au-Prince today. I wonder how much more damage will be found, and how many more dead. One missionary letter I read said that their courtyard at the school they teach is filled with the homeless families on one side, and dead bodies on the other side...literally. There is no where yet to take them. They have 300 people using the yard as bedroom, kitchen, and toilet. And how do they get food and clean water for all these? How?
The Living Proof Ministries Blog (www.ivingproofministries.blogspot.com) posted a letter from a missionary family in northern Haiti that gave me a better perspective this morning. Pam McCormick and her husband are graduates from the Moody Bible Institute and have been serving for 3 years in Haiti. They have two sons, with a third baby due in the next two weeks. Pam wrote this post from her experience, feeling just the trembles of the quake and now trying to bolster her community through their mourning...she says "everyone has family in Port-au-Prince". I hope it encourages your heart as much as it did mine. This is an excerpt but you can go to the LPM blog to read the whole letter... it is worth it. Bring them YOU, Lord...bring them You.
“Bondye pa renmen Ayiti” (God doesn’t like Haiti) is the word on the street. And though I know it is the furthest from the truth, I can’t blame them for feeling like that. From its beginnings as a slave colony, the people of Haiti have suffered and endured unimaginable tragedy, abuse and injustice. When you think things just couldn’t possibly get any worse in Haiti, they do. Time and time again, Haitians display their iron resilience, and somehow find a way to press forward.
These are the days they don’t prepare you for in Bible College. These are challenges I don’t remember hearing about in my missions classes. It was all so fun back then—translating the book of Jonah from the Hebrew text, studying the historical backdrop of Jeremiah, and understanding the literary structures in the Psalms. And yet, what do I say to my neighbor who believes that God has forgotten about them? And even if I knew what to say, who am I to say it? After all, I have a roof over my head, food to eat, clean water to drink, and…at the drop of a hat, I can get out of this mess and go back to the comfort of the US if I want to. If I offer them myself, I offer nothing. But if I offer them Jesus, I offer everything. For who better to understand their pain and suffering than He who endured the pain and suffering of the cross. Who better to comfort than the Father who watched his own son as he was crushed under the weight of the sins of mankind. Why He allowed it to happen? I don’t know. But in times like these, I can only cling to what I do know. And I know that He is good, and that His thoughts are higher than my thoughts, His ways higher than my ways... Please continue to pray for the people of Haiti. May they turn to the God of all comfort, to Christ the Savior, and to the Spirit who intercedes on our behalf." Pam McCormick- Fort Liberte, Haiti from LPM blog post January 19, 2010
Pam's husband keeps a blog running as well, it has the current efforts and prayer requests.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
drink, don't expect an allowance, don't voluntarily get their body parts
pierced, don't hog the remote, don't waste the whole weekend watching
football with their friends, don't talk back to you, don't compare you
unfavorably with their friends' owners, don't keep you awake with their
snoring --- and no horse ever left the toilet seat up after going to the
It is still so interesting to me that you can go from a pretty mediocre week, to one that wants to put you in a tail spin. I started Monday off with finding out that my very first oncology patient that I have worked with for an extended period of time, treating and evaluating her over the last 7 months, had died last weekend. I was on vacation from the clinic for a couple of weeks, so the last time I saw this dear woman, she was feeling good, doing well and "knew that God has healed me". That was before Christmas. Now she is gone. I deal with death and physical suffering on a daily basis, but this cancer fighter had a face. And more than that, the only thing I could see when I heard she was gone was her little 5 year old son's face, and her young husband's smile. Broken hearts abounded last week as I thought of her sweet family trying to press on.
Then the horrific disaster in Haiti. A country that very likely has loose, if any, building codes, and even fewer EMS and humanitarian services is struck with the awesome power of our Creator. It is a surreal feeling to see that kind of devastation, that kind of suffering, and be nice and cozy in my fancy suburban hospital, with middle aged women whining that "the tape is making me itch" on their dressings, or "the taco salad they served for dinner didn't have very much flavor". I felt guilty all week for being spoiled rotten. You send money, you pray, and you cry- but it still feels like a world away.
Then the call comes Saturday- "Can you come help?" A nursing group I joined sends RN's to the front lines of natural and traumatic disasters to triage, bandage and provide relief to the medical personnel in places just like Haiti. And they want to know if I can come and help. My heart immediately says "Of course", and then the questions and concerns come. Timing couldn't be worse, with Steve working minimal hours, taking two weeks off work with no pay won't be easy. Teenage issues are abounding at our house, can I leave my children and let them figure things out for awhile, my two greatest disciples God has given me? Marriage is tough and ours has had a shake up with the last month of craziness, is it o.k. to put the relationship on pause while I go play "nurse"? And the health issues. This isn't like going to Katrina in all of the filth and contamination that happened, this is a filthy and dirty country, with poverty, disease and sickness already...no FDA or CDC keeping things in check the rest of the year.
The question I heard discussed most by people around me was the "why". "So sad, and so senseless" this massive destruction and pain. Some would say "hey, it's a good thing- now developed countries will come in, rebuild, and Haiti will be better off". Some would say "sad but oh well, Haiti doesn't matter that much". Jesus had words for the people of Jerusalem who wondered "why, whose fault is it, did they get what they deserved" when a similar (albeit smaller) tragedy happened- a tower at the pool of Siloam fell and killed 18 people senselessly- and Jesus dared to say "Take heed". Check it out:
"Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." Luke 13:4-5
Do I dare say that we all should take heed? As we cruise around in our daily life, and push God to the way side, how long will He be patient with our neglect? Please don't misunderstand and think I am pointing a finger at Haiti or anyone who deals with what seems like meaningless loss and suffering. I am simply asking- have we prepared our hearts for the Creator of the Universe to test them, and when we see His hand, do we repent and say- "Oh, God...I am dust"?
John McArthur wrote in a commentary on Luke 13: "The question in (the peoples) minds was regarding the connection between calamity and iniquity ("more guilty"). Jesus responded by saying that such calamity was not God's way to single out an especially evil group for death, but as a means of warning to ALL sinners. Calamitous judgment was eventually coming to all if they did not repent."
Should we all take a moment to reflect on the condition of our hearts and offering ourselves up to the cleansing and refining work of God in our lives? We could get in a car accident today, struck with cancer tomorrow, or lose a baby...just like that. Can we still trust that He is sovereign, just and mighty- in the face of calamity?
Whoa- just call me Debbie Downer. But right after this Jesus- boosted my spirit. In context, right after Jesus said the above words, He told a story about a fig tree that wasn't giving any fruit, and hadn't for years. Someone said the fig tree owner should just chop that stupid tree down, but the Tree Owner said, "Let it alone, sir, for one more year, and I will dig around it and put in fertilizer, and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down." (Luke 13:8-9) Yet another example of the extreme patience and grace of our loving Father. He gives us warning after warning that He is REAL...then He patiently waits for us to wise up.
Oh, Lord- fertilize and tend the soil of my heart. Help us all to repent from our evil ways and bear beautiful fruit for You- pretty to look at, healthy for the communities we live in, and GOOD for the people of this world.
Tomorrow, I will start the paperwork to get to Haiti. And we will see what God will do. God be with you, friends.
Monday, January 11, 2010
In the middle of an 8 day work stretch, and I am just so glad that we had the chance to get together with some friends for a couple of nights of laughter and fun. James and Kerry were in town visiting family, and we were so blessed that they gave us two nights to share with them.
Steve and I were doing the math, and it has been almost 11 YEARS since the last time we were all together in one place. I have seen Kerry a few times, Steve saw James twice in that time, but never all of us together, and never with their 3 beautiful children. I couldn't help but stare as I watched my dear brother and sister in Christ parent these little peeps. In my memory, they were still newlyweds! But now- they are awesome parents who are loving their kids, loving each other, and loving their God. It was such a privilege to watch.
God really does love to bless our hearts. James took time 12 years ago to hang out with some rough people, Steve and I, put up with their whining toddlers, and share Jesus Christ with those same skeptics. I remember James patiently fielding my questions, dealing with our ugliness, and directing me back to the Bible, back to the Bible, every time for the answers. I truly believe my love of Scripture started because James told me everything I ever would need to know was in that book. He taught me to read it agressively, and God taught my heart to hear Him and love His Spirit through that time. Oh, what a glorious, awesome Father we have!
(Hailey is such a lover, she and Jazz had lots of fun playing, goofing around, and cuddling up for a movie.)
After so much bad the last few weeks, this was a great good!
"How priceless is your unfailing love!
Both high and low among men
find refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light." Psalm 36:7-9
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Every single evening
As I'm lying here in bed,
This tiny little Prayer
Keeps running through my head:
God bless all my family
Wherever they may be,
Keep them warm
And safe from harm
For they're so close to me.
And God, there is one more thing
I wish that you could do;
Hope you don't mind me asking,
Please bless my computer too.
Now I know that it's unusual
To Bless a motherboard,
But listen just a second
While I explain it to you, Lord.
You see, that little metal box
Holds more than odds and ends;
Inside those small compartments
Rest so many of my friends.
I know so much about them
By the kindness that they give,
And this little scrap of metal
Takes me in to where they live.
By faith is how I know them
Much the same as you.
We share in what life brings us
And from that our friendships grew.
Please take an extra minute
From your duties up above,
To bless those in my address book
That's filled with so much love.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" Psalm 8:3-5
After my last, whiner post- it is only fitting that God would floor me with His awesomeness and I can bring you a thoroughly abashed response. It is so funny that no matter how hard I try, I really do feel like I am the center of the Universe. On the down side, I guess that is something we never totally out grow. On the upside, God will never stop reminding us that we aren't. :)
What we learn in Sunday School will never cease to amaze me. Perfectly ordinary day, perfectly ordinary person, perfectly ordinary building, but on some days- finding something perfectly extraordinary from God. Our regular teacher was absent today, so he set us up with a video lesson by a man named, Louie Giglio. (Google him, he has some great stuff out there) Who knew this message would very nearly BLOW me right out of my seat? I have heard talk of the indescribable nature of God, seen photos and video of the vastness of our universe, but given the right time, place and moment...God got my attention in a whole new way.
"Who has scooped up the ocean in his two hands, or measured the sky between his thumb and little finger? Who has put all the earth's dirt in one of his baskets, weighed each mountain and hill? Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor?" Isaiah 40:12-13 (NIV and The Message versions)
To look at this shot, a picture of the Whirlpool galaxy, you could walk away thinking- that is so pretty. But the message I heard today so challenged me to see God in a big, bold new way. He is a ferocious, magnificent, breath-taking, beautiful, HUGE entity- that my peanut brain will NEVER totally fathom or understand. Yet, I get to walk with Him someday, face to face...and I can call Him Father. Absolutely indescribable the warmth of my heart tonight.
Just had to share this photo too...This is a shot of the very core of the Whirlpool galaxy that the Hubble Telescope caught...and I can just see God smiling as you look at it. The climax of His grand story, the perfectly planned CENTER of all universes- His Son, Jesus Christ, by His name everything we know was created. Wow again. :)Only our Amazing God would think to put the image of a cross in a galaxy light years away...maybe just to make us smile.
Here is the link to part 1 of 5 of his presentation, I hope it blesses you as much as it did me. It's a comfort to know that- how small and insignificant I am, God is still in love with me. WOW. My non-existent blip of a life in the scope of the Universe matters to the Creator of it all. Double WOW. (Just select the next video in the series so you can watch the whole thing on YouTube)
"For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:10-12