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Archive for May, 2010

This afternoon we sent daughter number three on a cultural exchange program to East Asia.  She waved goodbye with a face that was bright with anticipation and spoke words of love  through the open window as the vehicle pulled away.

She will board the plane tomorrow morning and spend a full day in airports and airplanes and then more time in a train getting to her destination.  All sorts of adventures await her there. 

I wave and  smile bravely and then begin to drive home.   Grand baby  number one, who we have for the weekend,  was sitting in her car seat playing with a toy and oblivious to the situation or what was going on in Grandma’s heart.

When did this happen?  When did our babies grow big enough to leave the nest and take trips overseas or get married or have babies of their own?  I find myself humming the  song from Fiddler on the Roof, “Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset, swiftly flow the days.”

She and her traveling companions have been well-trained by the organization that oversees the trip and it’s only for  six weeks, so why does my heart have a dull ache inside?  After humming a bit more of “Sunrise, sunset” I realize that it’s because I’m anticipating the time when all of our little birds will have nests of their own and none of them will be home any more for Christmas and summer breaks.

The grand baby fell asleep in her car seat, so we carried her in and laid her down  in the same crib her daddy slept in a just a few years ago.

My mind returns to daughter number three.  Of course this is just as it is supposed to be. Our desire was to give the children roots and wings so they would be confident young adults.

But when this last little bird flits and lands for awhile back in our nest, I’m tempted to grab hold of her and not let her go.  Of course I know better and the temptation fades as I lift  my face upward and thank God that He “sent her to our house to live”.   God has placed this desire in her heart to go, see, do, sing, love, relate, share…

So fly away, our little bird.  We’ll lift you up with our prayers.

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Process.  Isn’t that a great word?  It’s a noun that means something is going on, there are gradual changes that are leading to a particular result.

Process.  Process isn’t an excuse word (as in- don’t expect anything, it’s in process), no, it makes it clear that a work is ongoing, and best of all, it implies that it is going in a forward direction towards a specific end.

We are in process.

Paul said, “I press on to the goal of the upward call of Christ Jesus”.

When I was young I wondered if I was really a Christian because I still did things wrong.  I asked Jesus to forgive what I did wrong and come into my heart over and over thinking that perhaps this time I’d get it right.  What a tremendous relief it was when someone made it clear that God makes a person good, He removes the heart of stone, forgives the wrong doing,  and then replaces the heart with one that is perfectly holy so that He can set up residency there.

So my heart is a holy place because the Holy God made it that way.  The rest of me is, well, in process.

Yes, we’re in the process of becoming holy throughout this life… but we’re not alone in that journey.  The God of the universe honors a believer with His very presence and strength as the director of the process.  He wants us to be Holy like He is Holy.  By ourselves, that would be impossible.  Believe me, I’ve tried.  But nothing is impossible for Him, if He’s allowed to direct.

Ever wonder why God did that?   Why He didn’t just make us perfect the moment we committed our lives to Him?  Seems that there is great value to Him that we are in process together as a team.  That we turn to Him, the director of the process, constantly, in every thing we do, in every aspect of our lives, each and every day.  He values constant relationship and does not condemn the process of pressing on to the goal, because our goal is to be with Him… He is the one calling us upward towards holiness.

It’s a win, win, win.  We’re placed in process by His cleansing our hearts of sin, we’re with Him in the process of becoming Holy as long as we live, and He is the goal at the end of our process.

I am in process.  You, my friend, are in process.  We are in process together.  Let’s press on to our goal with God who is our Goal.

Dear Lord.  Sometimes I am frustrated by being in the process of  the upward call of becoming holy.  Thank You for being present and active in me and for providing the direction and strength for the journey.  Please help me to allow you access into every area of my life so that you may direct my process.  Forgive me for trying to go it on my own.  Help me to desire being in relationship with You more than anything else and to set my eyes on You only.  May I give encouragement to others as well as receive the encouragement they give as we press on each day towards the goal of being with You forever.

Philipians 3:7-14

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To live on a farm and work on a farming schedule is both a great joy and a great challenge.  It is a gritty occupation with little buffer between the worker and nature.  As my husband says, “nature always bats last”.

A farmer is said to live by faith.  He or she places seed in the ground in faith that the cycles of nature will continue for another year and there will be sufficient sunshine and rain to bring forth a crop.  Personally I have a love/hate relationship with this occupation as its’ uncontrollability does just what it is supposed to do, challenge my faith in God’s provision.

But lately I was again presented with the thought that God linked the events of His plan for human kind to the farm calendar.  One could say He “planted” His plan in the calendar that He set at the time of creation.  It is not a coincidence that the festivals for His people, the Israelites, were connected to the yearly farming schedule and the crops that they grew and harvested.  Their work and celebrations placed them in a God given rhythm that pointed them to Him.

The set of spring feasts, between the barley and wheat harvests, recount the events of the Jewish exodus from Egypt.  It is no coincidence that Jesus died on the day  Passover is celebrated (Passover remembers the death of the historic passover lamb) or that the Holy Spirit came on the day Pentecost is celebrated (Pentecost is celebrated to remember the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai).  They are divine appointments set at the time of creation to show God’s glory in His plan of salvation.  Nothing is by accident.

On this day in May, we are currently in the time between these spring feasts when the Jewish people count the 49 days until Pentecost.  They count the  days with a daily blessing.  It reminds them that they had to learn to trust God for His promised provision each day in the desert.

What a reminder, to count on God daily for His provision and blessing.

For all the times I bang my head in frustration over the challenges of farming, it has certainly provided me reasons to count on God.  The rhythm of the calendar (not just the rhythm of me banging my head!) and the lack of control over nature are reminders to lift my eyes to God.  He made the regularity of the seasons, the water and mineral cycles, the seed that is able to reproduce its own kind.

What is it that you are banging your head against?   What is providing the opportunity to depend on God?  What is the “gritty thing” that is the constant reminder that you are not in control?  Is this the very thing that may be teaching you to live by faith, to count on God?  Nothing is by accident.

As uncomfortable as this position may be, could one actually say “thank you” to God for this gritty thing, grateful it brings us to count on Him, and counting the blessing that each day is one day closer to the fulfillment of His promises?  Follow God on whatever path He provides and celebrate His presence within you as His child.

Lord, thank you for the gritty things in life that cause us to count on You.  We acknowledge Your sufficiency to meet our needs and our inability to go it alone- for in times of strength it is easy to forget Your presence and provision.  In times of weakness help us to seek You and focus on You to lead and empower us to walk through the situation in Your strength.  Grow us up into a person that reflects Your glory as we count each day with a blessing until all of Your promises to us are fulfilled.

Deuteronomy 16:9-12;  Deuteronomy 8:10-18

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On a Saturday afternoon in May it was beginning to warm up as the sun came out from behind the clouds.  One by one, cars found their way down the winding, dirt road out to the lake situated several miles away from the college town. Out tumble laughing students with bright eyes.

More and more came and they gathered around to sing songs of praise and hear the Scripture that was read.  Various words from the songs stir the individual hearts as only the Holy Spirit can do.

For me it was a line from Amazing Grace.

“The Lord has promised good to me,  His word my hope secures,  He will my shield and portion be,  as long as life endures.”

Hearts are readied and seem to meld together as knowing glances of deep meaning pass between various members of the group.  Tears fall and a quiet spirit of worship makes the tree shaded area a sanctuary.

The group moves to the bank of the lake and each of the ten give words of testimony.   Their stories tell of their journeys to this point of time, this pivot points of decision.   The details of their journeys vary, but their purpose for today is the same and is crystal clear.

This is an outward sign of an inward reality.

“I want to live a decided life, committed to following Christ.”

“I am all in, no matter what, no matter where.”

One after another were placed under the cold water, decided, all in, committed and wanting to make this commitment public.

Each came up smiling and laughing, with hearts that were warm from excitement despite the chilly wind off the lake.

My mind has returned to this experience many times since that day.  “I want to live a decided life, I’m all in.”

How often will each of them revisit this event in their minds and hearts to remind themselves of this outward sign of their inward reality, using it like an anchor for their faith?

How many times have we returned to the pivotal points in our faith journeys, the anchor times that help steady us in difficult or uncertain times?

We return to those events in reverence, for they are personal Holy Places that bring us back to that act of commitment to following Christ.   “I want to live a decided life, I’m all in”.  It isn’t a one moment deal, it’s all moments of one’s life, it’s being “all in”, it’s belonging to Christ.  All means all.  It is a decision that sets one on a journey of discovery as to what that means for each day.

So what “all” in life needs to be “all in”?

Dear Lord, Thank you that when I come to You and say, “yes, I want to live a decided life for You, I’m all in”, You receive me into Your arms and take me all in.  Show me the areas of my life that cause me to struggle, knowing these are the areas that I’m not trusting You to guide me through and arrange for my greatest good.  Help me to rest in Your presence and see You at work in and around me through the circumstances You have allowed to touch my life.

Romans 6:3-7

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What is it about some spots of paint on a styrofoam plate that make me almost giddy? As a “hands on” person, working on a project is like a dose of medicine for the heart, soul, mind and body.

Time disappears and a sense of energy rises that feels like a massage for the things that are sore inside. Thoughts are totally focused on the project and solving the issues at hand, they do not wander to and fro but are absorbed in the present, the “now”.  It’s as if nothing else exists, like one has taken a short step off the timeline into a place of creativity.  I call it my right brain world and it takes some effort to pull me back onto the timeline to visit about anything that requires an answer!

I am sure that each person loses themselves in various ways- reading a good book, solving a puzzle, loosening the dirt and placing plants in a garden or landscape, cooking a new recipe, playing basketball, organizing a workspace… you know, the type of activity where you suddenly look up at the clock and can’t believe that two hours have passed?  Don’t you wish we could operate in that realm all the time?

This short absorption in a task and the loss of a sense of time seems like a small taste of heaven.  One senses a bit of Holiness,  a sense of God’s pleasure in discovering this place of timelessness and creativity, a sense of belonging.  It develops a stronger hunger for the eternal and an increased desire to be finished with the pressures and concerns of this world.  But it also refreshes a person to return to the other tasks at hand knowing that God’s  thumb print  can be seen in all activities and His presence will help guide the decisions of how to use the time He gives.  It is a gift that colors the world with His presence.

Thank you Lord for the gift of Your creativity that you have given each person in some manner. Thank you for the way that it connects us to You and makes us hunger for the eternal.  May we see You in every aspect of our lives, explore the ways that You have gifted us , and enjoy the ways You uniquely created us.  We do all things to glorify You.

Genesis 1:16-31; Psalms 139:13-16

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“Today’s the day! You have to come and see the cactus, it bloomed!” a friend called to say. The sprawling cactus had sat growing for years in her sun room before she even knew it could bloom.  The catch was this, the bloom would only last for about 18 hours. We had to go today or we would miss it for at least another year.

Time was of the essence. We had the “now” or not at all.

We stood in awe around the delicate tissue paper like petaled flowers that were white and edged in a blush of pink.  The five blooms were trumpet like and in various stages of blooming. They projected out of the mass of thorny appendages of the cactus plant with grace and dignity, as if posing for royalty,  yet we knew most of these  blooms are produced in the desert and never seen by a human eye.

What extravagance from the Creator, what obedience from the created plant to produce 18 hour blooms of praise for the Creator’s eyes only.  I think we actually felt humbled to have the opportunity to view the Creator’s flowers.

We stood silently for some time, then sat in comfy chairs and drank tea, visited and prayed together. Friendship, humility and need breed the desire to pray.

As we closed and moved to the kitchen, the friend pointed to her stove with a laugh. This is always a bit spooky, after the timer goes off it says “End”, like it means the end of time!  She poked the button to put the time of day back on the display.

Makes a person think though, doesn’t it? The short duration of the cactus bloom pushed it up in priority that day. What things in life belong at the top of the priority list but don’t have a deadline to get them there, no timer to say the moment has ended? Perhaps it is a nap to rest the weary mind, a walk with a loved one to listen to what’s on his or her heart, a morning to paint a picture and connect with the Creator, a chapter to read in the Bible or a good book, a little nose to wipe or a hand to hold, a call to ask forgiveness…

Time is of the essence. We have the now.

Dear Lord, Thank you for the boundary of time as it makes the present moment such a gift.  Help us to learn how to live in the “now” and focus on the things that are of true importance.  Forgive us for worrying about the future or fretting about the past.  Instead may we make simple plans with Your help and trust You with the future. May we reflect on the past only to remember with gratitude, help us to grow, or to forgive. Thank you that you are the same yesterday, today and forever.

Hebrews 13:8; 2 Corinthians 6:2; 2 Thessalonians 3:16


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May 9, 2010

May 9, 2010. Today is a strange one.  My siblings and I celebrate the life of our mother on this Mother’s Day and we also mark the two year date of our father’s death.

Mom always told us that every day is Mother’s Day, but today is marked on the calendar as a special one to celebrate the place she has in our lives and in our hearts.  We didn’t get to choose her as our mother , but we couldn’t have chosen any better. Dad always proudly asked what we thought of the Mother he picked out for us and we loved to shout out comments like “she’s the best“!  She modeled deep faith in God and faithfulness in marriage and we have been told by many how she stood in that faith daily while dad was overseas in the military.  Her love for family is made evident through her gift of hospitality and she has cheerfully made the table in our home a gathering place to sit, eat and visit.  We love to come for “coffee”, but the reason we really come is to be with Mom and to be together.

Dad was a fighter pilot in both WWII and the Korean War and told us that God brought him through those many missions and home to be our daddy.  He was a lifelong learner, was full of ideas to talk about, and was known for drawing those ideas on napkins and placemats.  He always desired others to succeed and I honestly can’t think of a time he spoke in jealousy of others’ accomplishments.  God gave him the gift of service and I see that gift in all my siblings.  He called us his “investments”, said he was worth millions because of us, and then called his grandchildren his “dividends” (does that make the great-grandkids  his compound dividends?).  We all miss his consistent love,  advise, and his laugh!  We can’t wait to gather around the table in Heaven and sit, eat, visit and be all together again!

May 9, 2010.  I love you Mom and Dad.  I’m glad God brought me to your house to live.  Love, Bubbles

Dear Lord, Thank you for setting us in families. Today may we especially honor the mothers that you chose to bear us and care for us in this world.

Psalms 131:1-3

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