Monday, August 31, 2009

1000 Gifts List

517. a morning of hugs, smiles, and laughter with Malli

518. a weekend with family

519. reading Psalms

Lifting my hands


I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.

Psalm 63:4


Sweet child at my feet early this morning.
Arms raised, stretched up.
Longing for me to pick her up, hold her.
Do I hesistate one minute?
Linger?
Question?
No.
My heart swells at the thought that she needs me.
That she wants me to speak to her.
Spend time with her.
It is not an effort.
It is a joy embrace.
This sweet child.

I, too lift my hands, my arms, outstretching to the One.
Longing for Him to hold me, speak to me, comforting me.
His child.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sharing

This was written by Pat Layton. Perhaps, it will speak to you as it did me today.

"When I was very young, my dad taught my three sisters and me how to water-ski. You might imagine the amount of patience that took! We would go out in our family boat into the middle of the lake where one of us girls would jump into the water. Then we would each take our turn around the lake as many times as we could go without falling.

Onc
e you fell, another sister was waiting to jump in and take your place. If I fell too soon, before I was ready to give my turn up, I would struggle with all of my might to grab the ski rope back and try getting up again before another sister jumped into the water to take my spot.

I remember gathering up all the 8-year-old strength I could muster to get that rope back in my hands. I floundered and struggled in the water with all that gear attached to me - a life jacket that seemed the size of a small car and water skis that seemed a mile long. I would get exhausted trying to get to that rope in time not to lose my turn.

One day I remember my dad calling out, "Pat, just relax, lay back on your life jacket and I will bring the rope to you!" And he did. I would rest in the water and my dad would drive the boat slowly and carefully around me until the ski rope would just float right into my hands. No struggle, no fear of missing it, no one jumping in and taking my place.

After 22 years of women's ministry, I have often found myself or watched a sister in her struggle to grab something she was afraid she might loose. A ministry spot, a child, a husband, a friend.

Some
times, we feel that if we don't struggle and strive, we will lose our "turn." That somehow, what God has called us to do, have or be, will be missed or that another "sister" might jump in and take our spot. When those times come in my life, I try to remember the words of my dad, "Pat, just let the rope come to you."

Maybe you can relate. Have you been struggling to make something happen in your life or to protect a position or opportunity that you are afraid you will miss if you don't strive for it?

Let's listen to the words of our Abba Father, let's just relax in the moment and trust God to "bring the rope to us." If it's His best for us, He will do just that. "

The list goes on...




Stretched out
in this heat
pressing these crumpled,
deep folded wrinkles of my life
these interwoven threads twisted,
somehow untangling
making something useful,
presentable
covering me, hiding my flaws.


510. ironging clothes


511. a lunch of peas from someone's summer garden


512. rain


513. thunder in the distance


514. sweet notes from friends


515. reading late into the night


516. celebrating daughter's Calculus test results

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Exceedingly Abundantly

Fun Times - cooking with "K" in the kitchen - July 2009


I met "K" during the summer of 2006 on a family short term mission trip to the "Island of the Spices" and we became instant friends. Both of us Special Ed. teachers, we seemed to have many of the same interests, and common beliefs.

"K" is a pioneer and advocate for the developmentally delayed children of Trinidad. Parents of children with special needs must pay extra for education in the public schools where they are basically ignored by teachers and taunted by other students. She has selflessly given her life to teach and manage a Christian Special Education school that reaches out to children and families of many different faiths. The work and ministry done at that school is amazing!

Before leaving Trinidad in 2006 we prayed that there would be a way that I could return to help in some way with the school. A year later, August of 2007, someone called and asked what they could to help the work in Trinidad. When I shared about the needs of the school, she told me she wanted to give a donation that would allow me and my family to return to Trinidad.




Exceedingly Abundantly

In the summer of 2008, I was able to lead a parent workshop and a teacher workshop in the school, sharing materials and ideas for instruction and offering support for parents. What an honor! My friendship with "K" grew that summer as we enjoyed working together and sharing good times touring the island. I got to know her family and was especially drawn to her son, "J."

"J" suffers from a mild case of cerebral palsy which impairs his ability to walk normally. Quality medical care is very limited in Trinidad and it was obvious to me that "J" needed better care to correct his mobility issues. So, again we prayed.

This summer, the summer of 2009 "K" and her precious family came to the U. S. and stayed in our home. We enjoyed sharing meals together, shopping together, and exposing them to the culture of South Georgia. They were crazy about boiled peanuts! Although they did manage to slip in some much-deserved R & R on their visit, the main reason for traveling to the U. S. was to find medical care for their son, "J". Before their arrival in the states, we prayed and made numerous calls, talking to different hospitals and doctors throughout the southeastern U. S. We were so excited when we discovered a compassionate orthopedic doctor in our very own town that would see "J" free of charge.

Exceedingly, Abundantly

When the doctor examined "J" he advised that he see a physical therapist and be fitted for braces, a costly treatment. Concerned about the cost, we prayed again. Within a few hours, the doctor called to say that the physical therapy and the braces would be a gift. "K" and her husband "T" were overwhelmed with gratitude and struggled with how to thank the doctors' gift of care for their son. We sat in the den of our home talking late one night. I watched as they tried to grasp this gift. This love. This compassion.



Exceedingly, Abundantly

Ephesians 3:20 says He gives exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. He gives much more than you think He should give. He gives according to His riches because He is a rich God. He gives in full measure, just as it says in Luke 6:38: Give, and it will be given to you: good measure', pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put info your bosom. To give in good measure means to give abundantly. It means using a larger measure than is really necessary—the largest measure one has. "Pressed down" means packing the measure as full as possible, then shaking it together to add a little more. Finally, when the measure is completely full, even more is added until it ends up running over. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Be Still My Soul

God speaks in the silence of the heart.
Listening is the beginning of prayer.
Mother Teresa
I live in a part of the country where the temperatures can reach 100 degrees in the shade on a summer day. The 100% humidity in the air is heavy and suffocating. I stay indoors when it gets like this unless I happen to be fortunate enough to be near a pool. And temperatures with humidity this high make riding in a vehicle without air-conditioning unbearable. I should know.
The compressor went out in my car and I have yet to break down and pay the ridiculous price for the part/labor. You better believe, I think twice about what time of day I run my errands. And when I do, I lower those windows and let the hot air from outside circulate.
Reminds me of growing up in Florida. Riding in the car, legs sticking to the vinyl seats, windows down, me leaning out trying to get a draft of air with hopes of it evaporating the moisture collecting on my face and neck.
AC really is a divine miracle, in my opinion.
It was a much different childhood than the one I offered my children. We didn't seem to rush about so much. We had time for visiting. Playing outside til dark. Life was slower back then. And quieter.
The chatter of voices, keyboards, cell phones, traffic, loud music, television.
So much noise.
Could that be why I have a hard time hearing His voice?
And what about the noise of my heart?
The lists of things to do, the worry about finances, the child who forgot to call home, the mother who is ill.
Noise there, too.
The stop sign on a dusty, dirt road on this sweltering hot summer day caused me to get quiet. Still. For a moment.
I sat in my car.
Windows rolled down.
And I listened.
I heard the hum of crickets.
I heard the breeze blow through the branches of an old sycamore.
I heard His voice.
Because it's in these simple, silent moments where I find true communion with my Father.
He says, Be still and know that I am God.

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know His voice
Who ruled them while He dwelt below.
Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.
Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and bless├Ęd we shall meet at last.
Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.
Ka­tha­ri­na von Schle­gel

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pond Skater




How incredible nature is. I am constantly amazed at the whispered lessons God has taught me as I marvel at His creation.

At sunrise this morning, I gazed at an insect called a pond skater darting and skimming across the pond, its feet dimpling the surface tension. Funny how he seemed to just scoot across the pond as if it were a solid surface, unmindful of the deep waters below.

Later in the morning, a friend called. An invitation to dinner for husband and myself. We talked. We shared. She understands. Encouragement.

She talked about the disciple Peter in the storm. The fisherman. After feeding the five thousand, Jesus sent his disciples ahead of him in a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee. Several hours later in the night, the disciples encountered a storm. Jesus comes to them, walking on the water. This terrified the disciples and they think they are seeing a ghost. Jesus tells them in verse 27,
"Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
Peter replies,
"Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water."
So Jesus invites Peter to come. Peter gets out of the boat and begins walking on the water toward Jesus. But when Peter takes his eyes off Jesus and sees the wind and waves, he begins to sink. Peter cries out to the Lord and Jesus immediately reaches out his hand and catches Peter. As they climb into the boat together, the storm ceases. Then the disciples worship Jesus, saying,
"Truly you are the Son of God."

Sometimes I feel as if I am sinking. I look around at the circumstances of my life and at the storms and think I’m going under! Everything is going wrong! No matter how hard I try, all I get is problems and more problems and more problems!
Today, I choose to look to you, Jesus. I take your hand. I fix my eyes on you and not on the storm. I will have peace as I settle my heart on your love and not on the underlying current that threatens to pull me under. Thank you that you are my constant anchor.
I will not drown! Because in these waters I tread, I, too am like a pond skater. Dimpling the surface. Skimming. Not sinking. Maybe I won't be pulled from them. I may have to go through them. But I am not alone. Just more of that clinging and confiding in Him as we walk together across this surface. This stormy place.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Falling

Whatever your heart clings to and confides in,
that is really your God.
Martin Luther
Over the past four years there has been an onslaught of events to "knock me off my feet."
Some events and happenings were welcome surprises, while others literally took the wind out of me, like a sudden jolt, a life-stopping moment. Then to follow that, a bitter pill to swallow.
I even had a dream where I saw myself barefooted, toes gripping the edge of a cliff and hearing a voice...a voice telling me to jump. A calm, reassuring voice instructing me to fall into the arms of The One who loves me. In my dream, it was unknown territory though and I couldn't see anything in front of me. So, in the dream, I answered, NO and turned my back only to face a stone cold hard wall. There I heard another voice, enticing me to stay where it was comfortable and familiar. But there was no room to move around and I could only face the wall of stone. I awoke gasping for air. I have thought many times about that dream and attempted to analyze it. I would welcome your interpretations.
Falling. It's a feeling, a state of being out of control.
Last night I fell. And it could have been nightmare. I attempted to step into the tub with Malli to give her a bath. Something I always do. Something familiar. Now, our tub is a sunken one so I usually roll up my pants' legs and join her in the ankle deep warm bath. That way I can readily catch her if she decides to go on a underwater adventure...which she loves to do.
But, last night as I stepped onto the rubber bath mat, something that is intended to keep you from falling, I did just that. I fell. Feet up in the air, with Malli in my arms. Clinging to her with one arm and attempting to catch my self with the other. This resulted in landing firmly on my left elbow with quite an impact!
Thankfully, she was unharmed and I managed to escape serious injuries...just some minor bruising.
Makes me realize again, even in those familiar places, those often visited, comfortable zones of our life, there can be danger. We can become so comfortable that we don't see the obvious risk.
Father, I come to you again, clinging, confiding. Keep me from anything that puts me in danger or distracts me from YOU...THE ONE TRUE GOD.
Stepping into a familiar place,
confident,comfortable
overlooking footing, uncertain shaky,
slippery, helpless, falling, grasping, dependent
I cling, I confide in you,
my one true God.

Blessings

507. cooking with my niece

508. fresh squash for supper

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Bible is Alive!

The Bible is alive, it speaks to me;
it has feet, it runs after me;
it has hands, it lays hold of me.
Martin Luther
Martin Luther discovered a Bible in a monastery library one day. This encounter with the Living Word changed his life and led him to discover that Jesus Chist is the mediator between God and man and that it is God's grace received by faith that saves....not works. This enlightenment led him into a clash with the Catholic Church and was the beginning of the Reformation.
One encounter with the Living Word.
God is alive.
He speaks through His Word.
If we want to connect to Him, we must read what He has to say.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Some thoughts I agree with...

John Armstrong...

The way we gain real access to people's minds and hearts is being altered so quickly that only those who are doing evangelism in the trenches seem to recognize the real significance and power of this hyper-change.

Navigator's President Alan Andrews...In my opinion the time has come to do church differently. I am convinced that we must shift our focus from highly programmed ministry to developing Missional / Transformational Communities that are formed as a seamless organic whole. These types of communities are rare and difficult to visualize because we have moved so forcefully to programmatic ministry in the last half of the previous century. . . . Now the climate in America has begun to shift. Much of the culture is beginning to look for integrity and wholeness. Many people are coming from broken backgrounds with deep wounds in their souls. They long for something that provides real relationships, something that provides integration for their lives, and something that fills the longings of their soul. In short, though they are not aware of it, they seek the whole Gospel for their whole lives.

Steve Addison's Movements That Change the WorldJesus did not come to found a religious organization. He came to found a missionary movement that would spread to the ends of the earth.Christianity conquered the Roman world without an organizational structure, without access to significant resources, without academic institutions, and without a professionalized clergy. Ordinary people, on fire with the love of Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit, told their families, friends, and casual acquaintances what God had done for them.For a movement to grow rapidly it has to spread both within social networks and between social networks.Jesus turned individual encounters into opportunities to touch whole social networks. The Gerasene demoniac begged Jesus to be allowed to join his band of disciples. Instead, Jesus told him to go home and tell his family what God had done.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Transition

You can make many plans,
but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.
Proverbs 19:21



Transition....passage from one form, state, style, or place to another.

That word, transition defines me at this moment.

I am not fond of change, especially the older I get. It is uncomfortable. Goes against my grain.

For a long time, almost 22 years, I have been a mother. I really like that job. I am comfortable with that position. Love it. And for many of those years I have also been a school teacher. I was comfortable with that position, too.

However, children grow up. They do not need you in the same way. Which is the object of the game, so to speak. I mean, that is the goal, right? Nevertheless, this is an adjustment, a transition for the mom when their children become adults.

And all I have ever done is teach, but teaching jobs have been cut in our county and there are threats that more jobs will be cut. I have applied, interviewed but nothing is available.

So, two of the defining roles in my life have been altered, changed, even omitted from my life.
As a result, I am trying to re-defne who I am, what my purpose is all over again.

I am learning to let go and mother in a different way and I am applying for a job out of field. It's a change, something different, transition. And I am not a happy camper.

As I meditated on this today, I came across some notes on a Scott Presson devotion. He said, "...that God’s will is always changing us. He is always transforming us and molding us to be something different than we are. In the Word, God even refers to Himself as a potter and we are His clay. It’s an easy image to see. A lump of clay is shaped into a vessel and then refined in the fire until it is becomes purified and hardened. Only then is worthy of use. Change is never comfortable but it is a fact of life and it is the will of God. We are changed as we grow in age and maturity. We are changed when we accept Christ into our hearts. We are changed as we move deeper into a relationship with God and accept His will in our lives.
God is refining us in His furnance. God is molding us into vessels that glorify Him. This time of transition is going to make us feel uncomfortable but it is God’s will. We all have certain things in life that we want and even have planned for. Some of those plans will undoubtedly be disrupted. Don’t fret.


So here I am learning to trust Him...allowing Him to have His way. Casting all my anxiety on him because he cares for me. (1 Peter 5:7)

I am so thankful that He is patient with me. What a loving Father He is.