Wednesday, February 25, 2009

passing the torch

Today as I was telling of our banner picture, thinking of the season of joy its creation was filled with I realized it was also a season of learning. We had struggled with process management of the waste system within the house and found a reasonable solution. It prepared us for a conversation that came about a few months later. I was able to quickly offer a viable solution.

Greater still was the joy in being able to send an emmissary of help to another state to help the other family with waste management struggles to install a solution device. We passed the torch of learning and solution. It would have been easy enough to not engage in conversation and dialogue aobut the learning curve we have journeyed upon. Rather we had and from that conversation help and heath transpired.

Kind of like life, we all have journeys of learning- some easily shared, some within our heart and soul, less openly revealed. There are times that we quickly reveal the experiences, other times with reluctance. I have found that rarely is an experience that leaves a lasting memory one that does not have value to be shared with others. At times it needs to be covered with prayer and sensitivity, other times laughter or hands one application is the venue of passign the torch. It is in the sharing that I find the pain of the initial experience is validated and expanded to worth.

Funny how often God has used the humble things to reveal wisdom. Once it was clogged pipes to speak to my heart about my stubborn pride. Septic gas to reflect my aroma. Sometimes it is watching nature or the way of children. Other times it is the experience of another to remind me of how my past reflects that which I would be quick to criticize, forgetting my own nature.

I am thankful for lessons that stay and can be passed on to others.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why am I always surprised?

Why am I always surprised when God answers a prayer? When what we hope for comes into being? when it comes back as good news rather than difficulty ahead?

This morning I received a call from my sister in law with the great news of the sucessful surgery on a family member. What could have been majorly invasive and dibiltating was a fairly routine procedure and limited - ectomy. What could have been cancer was benign. What could have been crisis is no longer, rather a recovery. In all this I rejoice. I had not realized the weight of my concern until it was gone and the lightness within.

I am thankful for the good report, for the recovery without further procedures, for the hopes being given life. I am thankful that God was merciful in this unknown situation. I am renewed in my faith that God answers prayers and He cares for those I care for.

I like surprises, and I will continue to take them and enjoy the joyfulness that come with them!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Following a command

Today we put into practice a command of Jesus- love one another. It felt good.

In December we read in the paper about the tent village under the highway. folks had gone to visit to give away personal care items and clothing, many were enjoyed but many not taken as the folks wanted to leave the items for others in greater need. It was a quick view into the life of those less fortunate, those living on the margins of society. A few words of the whole article struck me. Firewood is a great need and hard to get.

Those words planted a seed. My husband LOVES to cut wood. Recently he asked about the freedom to cut wood in a nearby lot where trees have been downed and have remained. He was granted it and so he has joyfully started a new Saturday morning activity with the boys (whose joy does not quite match his), they cut wood, load the truck and unload. The past two weeks we have stocked our woodpile as we have begun to enjoy a fire in the fireplace.

Today the recipient was to be the homeless. We werent sure where they lived but we called the mission and prayed. The family worked together to cut and load the truck and off we went. A few wrong turns and we arrived at the tent village. Only a few folks were home amidst a dozen or more tent sites. Most had more than one tent in their area, all had a bit of wood alongside their burnbarrel.

Larry and Tracy were the couple we met. They helped to unload the wood, thankful for the bounty of it. The wood we saw when we arrived still had some leaves attached. She spoke of it bubbling when put in the barrel. Larry added a few sticks to the ashes they had going and was amazed at the heat it threw off and the rapidity of it catching. It is suppose to be cold tonight. They will be less cold.

They shared how they once had a service business- lawns, gutters, painting, then hard times fell and they are now there. Folks like us, living life, making do. We shared life for a few minutes, maybe the beginning of a relationship? maybe not? just following a command, turning a thought into action, logs into love, meeting a need, making homeless folks no longer faceless or nameless.

A good day, fresh air, perspective and a sense of an accomplished goal met. Larry and Tracy will have a bit more heat to keep them warm as the cool weather moves in. love in action- give it a try.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ebeneezer Stones

"Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying , "Thus far has the Lord helped us."
1 Sam 7:12

(Ebenezer means stone of help)

Have you ever had something really cool happen that you want to remember because it was a significant event?? We have had several times where God has done somethingin our lives that we knew beyond any doubt was His hand. We have enjoyed relationships that He has provided. Each occurance of His movement in our life has been worth a stone!

For years a friend of mine would speak about Ebenezers- stones of remembrance. She spoke of labeling stones to help us remember what God has done in the midst of our life's journey. It was spoken of yet we did not act. Then one day I was in the garden section of a store and there was a bag of polished stones. So we began our pile of Ebenezer stones.

First we tried writing with permanent marker, yet over time the print rubbed off. On to paint markers- they worked well and stayed even after handling. We began with a reviewing of what God had done in our lives, things that stood out in our memory. Each season has its own color in my bowl of stones, and each season has its own sweet memories. Lets look at a few....

Sunday Bagels- we lived in the city and every week we'd walk around the corner and get fresh bagels and enjoy them as a family hot and delightful- bonding us in the midst of a season of tight living. reliving memories from my childhood and giving my kids sweet memories in the midst of change.

Mom F Mozambique/ Atlanta - God took my mom across the world and back on a missions trip, in the midst of it, preparing her for a week delay in Atlanta and using this dear, sweet white haired woman to minister to a lady who was in jail there. A post 911 homeland security glitch that followed past abortion clinic protests that brought her life to intersect with another. He protected her belongings and was her peace in the midst of the delay.

new roof- read my past blogs for more details- God was seen in the wisdom of siders, the honor of roofers and the delightful provision of a new roof as correction was made to past errors- when many roofing companies do not call back when called.

Rusty- the car- when we moved to NY in 2000 we were in an accident in the midst of the move. My sister had a car that she was willing to sell us for $1000 and it ran the entire year we were in need of it and then we were able to recoup our cost. Rusty- the faithful car that was a God provision in the midst of our need.

Dedons- while in NY we were house hunting. The Dedons were the couple who were our agents. The couple who spent hours and hours with us looking. Who twice told us "sellers never do this" and graciously walked with us as we took those words as closed doors and walked away from potential houses. When we were FSBO gave us wisdom and support in the midst of selling the house they helped us to buy. God's provision for honorable realtors in the midst of an uncertain time and occupation.

First Church- our present home for worship. While in NC I heard from Paul that Scott, our pastor from Tenn, was there. God whispered in my ear "got you covered honey". And so we did not hunt for a church but settled here. Not always perfect, none are, but where God has placed us and planted us.

job at GE- when Paul was retiring from the Army he started to look for a job. A friend I knew from Germany PWOC was living near where we once did, no longer in the Army. I spoke to Leslie about post Army life. She talked with her husband. He asked for Paul's resume- and so the story of Paul's job at GE began. When we left the area in the 80's we never expected to ever be able to work for GE- yet in the 2001 season of life he worked there and grew in understanding of many things that have shaped into the man he is today.

the Rogers- while in NY we were blessed with many relationships. The Rogers are among the dearest- a young couple who shared life and faith with us. God's provision for friendship and family in the midst of body life.

polyp- ahhh the foolishness of the land of denial. I lived there from 1992-1993 and then it was time to leave. A few days after my son was born I was suddenly rushed out of denial as I reentered the hospital via the ER with a need for surgery and the fear of cancer looming. God in his graciousness had answered my prayer to face whatever was going on inside of me. He provided a christian surgeon to pray with us, a young couple with 3 kids, one who was still in the nursery at the hospital. He provided care for the family, a renewed sense of the love of a body after pain from past wounds. He allowed the polyp to not be cancerous though the surgeon deemed it the largest he'd ever seen. God spared my life, and I am so grateful for His love and provision in the midst of my own stupidity.

I can go on and on, but I will spare you all my stones... two more, hmm where shall my hand fall...

Herdas- neighbors and friends. We delight in relationships with folks of all ages. These folks are special as they have wisdom of time that we dont have. They are a double blessing as they bless our son as well- they employ him as a helper. I enjoy our visits and the sharing of life that they give to us. I delight that my children get to interact with "grand"people who have lived much life- as their grandparents are not closeby.

Feltwell RX NY- when we lived in NY - Ft Drumm we had neighbors who were in the medical field. For me that was a blessing as I cut my finger deeply one night- we were new and I did not know what to do, Paul was away, young kids in the house. He came and checked it out and gave me guidance. Stitches were in order. They cared for the kids until Paul got home. Later during our stay my sister, home from china, hurt her leg. Her insurance was good everywhere, but USA. He cared for her so she was on the way to mending as she returned to China. God's provision.

And so the stories are for each stones, just a few words to triggere a memory, a provision, a blessing ,a relationship. When life is overwhelming and faith is looking hopeless I can walk back in time over the stones of our days and remember how God provided people, stuff, life and be reminded that He is still God and He hasnt left me and forgotten about me, rather I am reminded to call out to Him.

So, if you have sweet memories and provisons that you'd love to share and remember pick up a bag of flat stones in the craft shop, get a paint marker and get busy... what joy it is to remember and to share our faith with others when they ask about your bowl of stones.

Thanks KP for the great idea.... my life is richer for it, as is my faith enriched by it.

one last memory-

Salad, sewage and sin- a difficult lesson for me in TN- amidst a small "rebellion" I was found out and God revealed bigger rebellion of my heart. I had been instructed to not use the garbage disposal often. I oopsed bigtime and stuffed some salad down. It was CLOGGED- as in cut pipes in the basement clogged!!!! As we smelled the stench of sewage gas and I cleaned out the pipe God revealed to me the state of my heart- stinky and clogged. OuCH! my sin - I had been running from it, again in "denial" and He intersected with my life to humble me and clean me out just as the pipes were cleaned out that day. The start of a major cleaning that has been the base for glorious new beginnings.

God is my every present help... of all my needs.... desires.... and life!

what are your Ebenezers? How has God shown Himself in your life? Enjoy the memories and know that they will grow in number over time.

Bill and Sharon
God sells house
Keith vists
memories with Big Grandma
Krista h plant sitter
Mitre job
chord wood gone
Sam's seizures
swimming pool
Ed S- NY helper
Toyota Camry
phone #xxx-2417

What a helping God he is!

Reading the Word

Last week as I was brainstorming with my bear about a class he would lead I remembered an event that I attended in North Carolina. It was a day of reading the Word of God with several fellow believers. What was different about that day was that we read books of the Bible, corporately and chronologically, out loud.

The morning started with prayer and a bit of organization of how many verses each would read in turn and then when we as a group would jointly read. What joy it was for all the pieces of a gospel to be put into order and connect. Slowly around the room, one after another each of us would stand and read aloud 6-10 verses and then on to the next person and verses. We all read along quietly, allowing the gospel story and message to sink in. Every few chapters all in the room would stand and in unison we'd read together.

By lunch time we had finished a gospel and were on our way through an epistle. As we sat under the Word we found the stories of Jesus's birth, life and travels connecting. What once seemed like individual stories were now part of the bigger picture. God's story. The same was found true when we read through an epistle- instructions for the early church now were not snippets of information but a letter to a group of believers facing struggles even as we do.

This past week we chose to lead the group in a read through the epistle to the Ephesians. It was a first for most in the room. As we read through the book we found common focus and the application of this book to our lives. This was a letter for building up the body, we are a body in the midst of learning to grow up and disciple others. For some it was a first to see where some of the messages from Paul were located. Many shared a verse or two that struck them. My verse was Eph 5:10 "and find out what pleases God" .

Hmmm, "find out what pleases God", part of me assumes I know what pleases God but part of me wonders how much I don't know. this verse challenged me to take time to investigate, meditate adn contemplate- lots of ating to go on :) . I have in the past asked the Lord to help my heart weep over what makes His heart weep, helping me to be tender to what touches His heart. In the same wayI am now thinking a bit about what pleases God. I expect some of what pleases Him is not what I am accustom to doing, so there may be some changes ahead.

Another stretch I experienced that day was reading the Word aloud. In the afternoon I did it at home, in preparation for the class. Then corporately, with classmates. It was interesting to hear a few speak of how they often read aloud- getting the Word through the ear and eye gate. One gentleman spoke of being hoarse from his reading earlier in the day. That has encouraged me, his testimony of his quiet time with the Lord that isnt so quiet, but I am quite sure quite contemplative.

So, next time you pick up the Word of God, try something new- read a book. The whole book, in one sitting, and out loud. You may find that some of the dots of the pages connect. Some of the stories are richer if there is a tale told in many stages. If its a letter you may well come away with a more complete view of the writers intent. At first it may well seem odd to read aloud, but if you are like me, its just a matter of getting over self awareness and remembering to whom you are reading and the delight that the Father will gain in you reading back to Him his love story to you.

Any thoughts? please share, until then enjoy a good read. I am thinking its time to spend a bit more time in Ephesians- try out a few versions and let it really soak into my heart. I continue to seek out what pleases God.

Thursday, February 12, 2009



The real truth about mothering is that it is the hardest job you will ever do,

and that you are probably less prepared for it than you were for your learner’s permit….

mothering is also the most costly investment you will ever make,

for it involves giving yourself lavishly for others,

filling in the deep wells of self-centeredness in your life with acts of kindness, care, maintenance, and love."

You will arrive, as every other mother before you,

at the end of your own adequacy.

When you find yourself needing your Heavenly Father every moment,

even as you are needed by your children,

you will be exactly where God wants you.”

Virelle Kidder

This is one of my all time favorite quotes. I shared it tonight with a new friend amidst conversation about dependency. I thought back to what has influenced my pespective and this wonderful quote of wisdom is what came to mind. I realized that I have not posted it here, and thought that I should as it has been a shaping factor in how I look at mothering, and how I have endured the challenges that have come my way amidst the journey.

each day brings new joys and challenges. Never do I know what the day will hold. Mostly it is joy- like the days I hear my 16yr old son who stands taller than I say "Mommy" and whine in hopes of getting his own way, knowing he won't. what a delight compared to the battles of the will / or will he nots that have occurred. Far too infrequently do i remember to go to the lighter tone and funny way of looking at his teenage demensia rather than my typical parental myopia. When my brain actually opperates well and I laughingly respond we are able to negotate the hormonal powerstruggle highway with more grace and come out with grins, or at least some churckles.

Todays delight was in watching my youngest instruct and share a game with the neighbor girls on the trampoline. They delighted in his participation and the power of his bounce to "break the egg". To see them all share life and joy together, what a delight. He has not been around many younger, so it is a opportunity for growth and grace as he often finds it awkward, yet today he did it well.

It was a delight to see my eldest helping a friend with an electrical need. I arrived home to an extra vehicle in the drive and they were working on a faulty something in a guitar. what a blessing to see your children living beyond themselves and giving away their skills to help another. My daughter is off volunteering tonight for a dinner for ??? but it involves dressing up and hopefully connecting with some likeminded gals and reaquainting with some she has not seen in a while. I delight in the thought of what that will do for her relational bank account that has run low in deposits.

Mothering, a joy and delight, a giving of self and a laying down before the Lord, entrusting them and the path ahead into His tender care. Not easy, often times seemingly impossible yet once done His peace walks beside and cares for and reassures you of the truth that He cares far more and loves far more than we ever could.

Blesssings to you mothers who are on the journey this day.