Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Under My Father's Roof

I got a chuckle out of a story that hit the internet today about a father who packed his children and groceries in his car but left the baby behind in the shopping cart.   Thankfully, the baby was found and safely delivered to the distraught dad.  Aren't you glad your parental lapses never made the internet?   Well, maybe they are now.   You did well, Dad, to sit in the car with the bulk of your children, while Mom and a lucky two went into the store to shop.  We were pretty well corralled that way.  There was that one Sunday evening, though,  when you left your youngest at church and didn't know until the pastor brought him home.   I also recall you forgetting to pick up your teens after a football game. Did you really forget, Dad, or were you just enjoying some peace?  I do think that you were your happiest, still, when we were all together under one roof.   You were our own good shepherd, making sure that not one of us were lost.

Luke 15:3-7

New International Version (NIV)

 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Hymn - Brooke Fraser

Songs I'm Enjoying

"Life Cost So Much" and "I Want to Know That Man" by Christa Wells from her Frame the Clouds album.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

You're Beautiful!

Psalm 139:14   

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well.

Thanksgiving evening we were getting ready to move to another house to share family dessert.  My baby grandniece came to me because her headband with a large red bow had come loose from her hair.   I gently placed it back on her head.   Then, because I don't know baby speak, I cupped her small face in my hands and with all the sincerity and expression I could muster, I said, "You're beautiful."   I received a pleased smile as my reward.  She walked away but returned shortly with that headband in hand.   Again I placed it back in her hair in the same manner as before.   "You're beautiful!"   It wasn't long before that pesky headband again came out of her hair.

 I think we all need to be told we're beautiful.   God believes we are.  

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Consecrated Life, An Extraordinary Woman

Romans 12:7 “If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well.” (NLT)

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)

While searching for an image for an upcoming video, I came across the painting by Homer Winslow.   Immediately my thoughts went to my grandmother, with her Lord some 30 years now.  She arrived here, armed with a teaching certificate, in what would have been then and still is to some a remote section of this country.   She taught in a one-room school house.   Later in life, she became a fan of the book "Christy" by Catherine Marshall because the character in that book began teaching at the same age and in the same year she did.  

She would go on to marry a handsome logger and dairy farmer.   They would have three children, one lost at birth,  and ten grandchildren, two lost in adulthood.   She was a farmer's wife and at one time a logging camp cook.   She had a voice that couldn't carry a tune but could reach the far corners of the farm at dinner time.   She was Grandpa's queen, or at least that's the way he treated her.   She was my Grandma, which was good enough for me, actually it was pretty great for me and all of her grandchildren.  Sill, she was so much more than what could be fit on her modest headstone in the old cemetery.

Grandma never stopped being a student and a teacher.   She was gifted and intelligent, a self-taught, Old Testament Bible scholar.  For years she taught the adult Sunday school class at her church.   Her students were so loyal that when she could no longer make it to class on her own they brought her there.   Then there were the individuals who would come to her home to seek her counsel.  Four of her Bible studies were bound into modest books.  That merited a picture and a short article in the local newspaper.  I have thought that if she had been born in the second half of the 20th century, she probably could have made a name for herself.   (She would have smiled at that thought, knowing that I sometimes had leanings towards the call to liberate women.)   It truly didn't matter as long as God knew her name.  She certainly tried to know her God, living a life consecrated to Him.

Not long ago, I learned that her books are now required reading for a seminary somewhere in Africa.  We may never understand in this life what God has planned for us.   I like to think that she may be teaching Bible classes still to the new arrivals in Heaven.  

Let your light shine.   There may be someone out there who needs to see it.

In Your Wind - Take My Life, Audra Lynn

What I'm Listening To...

"If Heaven" by Gretchen Peters on her Circus Girl - The Best of Gretchen Peters album.
"I've Come to Far to Look Back" by Patty Green on her Sky Full of Angels album.
"Calling My Children Home" by Anne & Pete Sibley on their Will You Walk With Me album.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Steadfast Love

My husband and I used to wake my son every morning singing a chorus from this verse in Lamentations.    We wanted him to awake fresh to the steadfast love of our Lord.  Even now, although he's a young man living in a man cave of a bedroom, I believe he would spring awake if we stuck our heads into his room and sang.   Of course, that would be violating his request that we always knock first.   Then there's the fact that he mostly rises before we do.  
When we were facing foreclosure, I told my son that God would provide a home for us.  He agreed, saying, "Even if it's under a bridge, we'd have a home."   Sometimes my son's faith humbles me.  God has been faithful, indeed.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's All About Jesus

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.  Isaiah 9:2

I've accumulated over the years a large and cheery collection of Christmas decorations.  I've been a bit proud of having a festive house.   Now I'm despairing over this tiny house we're living in and wondering where I'll even put the Christmas tree.  It's time to remember that Jesus is my light and my salvation.   There were no festive lights strung in the stable but an amazing one over it!   Christmas is not about me.  It's all about Him.

There's A Light - Beth Nielsen Chapman

What I'm Listening To...

"There's Still My Joy" by Beth Nielsen Chapman
Unfortunately, the song no longer seems to be available for purchase.  Melissa Manchester has recorded the song on her Joy album.   Indigo Girls sing it on their Holly Happy Days album.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday

We were near the end of our return drive from the home of our gracious in-laws who hosted our Thanksgiving meal.   I was comfortably drowsy in the passenger seat, when my husband said, "Look!"  I opened my eyes to the sight of our super big box store with every parking space filled.   We were less than two hours from the start of Black Friday.

As we embark on this season of conspicuous consumption I was reminded of this heart breaking image of a small boy in the rain fleeing the army of Burma, or so it was captioned.
We are called upon to bear witness of the suffering in this world, especially when children are involved.  Consider the words of Jesus, who arrived on this earth in a most humble manner.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
Matthew 19:14

The song, Noel by Selah,is sung in Kituba, the language of the Congo.  There's a profound truth in the words, "If you want to know the Child, you have to come kneel."  

What I'm Listening To...

"Winter Snow" by Chris Tomlin featuring Audrey Assad, from his Glory to the High album.
"Manger Throne" by Derri Daugherty,  Julie Miller, and Third Day, from the Come Let Us Adore Him album.
"O Come O Come Emmanuel" by Rosie Thomas on her A Very Rosie Christmas album.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Song

Holiday expectations don't always meet holiday realities.   I pray for a Thanksgiving that will exceed your expectations and for a heart grounded in gratitude.  

My grandpa would literally pile his food onto his plate into a mishmash of Thanksgiving glory.   "It's all going into the same place anyway," he'd tell his delighted grandchildren.   As you take time to be thankful today remember that it's all going to the same place anyway, the throne room of our Maker, Creator, Savior and  Comforter.   He is the God of all even of those who don't call him God.  
Sing His Thanksgiving song.  Give Thanks.

A few words from Scripture:
I Corinthians 10:31
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
I Thessalonians  5:18
in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
Thanksgiving Song - Mary Chapin Carpenter

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Traveling Mercies

Holiday travel is here and many of us our hitting the road, figuratively and, unfortunately, literally.  Are you praying for yourself, your family and loved ones?   A prayer for "traveling mercies" has become part of Christian speak, an insider, stock in trade prayer.  It slips so easily off our tongues that we may not consider whether it's resonating in Heaven.  I once travelled from my college in the East to my home in the West only to fall out of the front cab of a pickup truck with an unlatched door just a few blocks from home.   I greeted my mother for the first time in months with blood running down my forehead and onto my face.   I spent Christmas Eve in the emergency room and supplied my dad with teasing fodder every time we drove past that spot thereafter.  I still have the scar along with the memory of a regretful decision not to purchase travel insurance.

I'll fast forward to our present life.   It's been more than six years now that my family suffered a catastrophic auto accident that nearly took my husband's life.    We have not taken a road trip since then without first praying for safety.   It was terrible but God was merciful.  He sheltered us beneath his wings.  He has been good to us, indeed.

Psalm 91

 1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
   will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
   my God, in whom I trust.” 3 Surely he will save you
   from the fowler’s snare
   and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
   and under his wings you will find refuge;
   his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
   nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
   nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
   ten thousand at your right hand,
   but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
   and see the punishment of the wicked.
 9 If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,”
   and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
   no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
   to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
   so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
   you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
 14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
   I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
   I will be with him in trouble,
   I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
   and show him my salvation.”

Traveling Mercies - Lost Dogs

Dad,  I don't think you ever had an auto accident until that day you were a stubborn octogenarian jonesing for your Starbucks coffee.  Your pride probably suffered more than that mailbox you hit.  Your life on the road was truly a tale of amazing grace!   You drove an ammunition truck behind Patton's army to the front lines of the Battle of the Bulge.   You drove a cab then a milk truck to provide for your ever growing family.   Family vacations had you driving us all from campground to campground with plenty of Jiffy Pop and marshmallows but without seat belts or airbags!    In retirement you and mom enjoyed all your trips with the trailer and a motor home, even going to Disneyland as happy empty nesters.  Yes, it was amazing grace.   If you haven't already taken time to thank your angels please do so now.   They had to put in a whole lot of overtime.    

What I'm Listening To...

"God's Winged Horse" from Buddy Miller's The Majestic Silver Strings album, sung by Buddy and the incomparable Julie MIller.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Under My Willow Tree As I Occupy Babylon

It seems fitting somehow that a large weeping willow tree graces the yard of the small rental house God provided for us after our foreclosure.   When I'm grieving the loss of our home I wish for a harp to hang in it's branches, like the captive Israelites in Babylon.  Self pity can make it hard to sing the Lord's songs.  Unfortunately, not having a talent for song or music, the best I could do is throw my iPod up in the tree, and I find I'm not that sad after all.

This trouble is for my world but not for my eternity.   Jesus understands sadness, but bur assures me that my mourning will yet turn into joy.  My real home now and forevermore is with my God.   I'll do my best to occupy until the King returns.

Psalm 30:5 (NIV)
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

This World is Not My Home - Blue Highway

Monday, November 21, 2011

Storm Comin'

We're expecting a rain storm tonight, which is not unusual for Western Washington in November.  It was raining when I left for work this morning.   No longer enjoying the comforts of a garage, I thought longingly of my umbrella, in my car, stuck under my son's school project.   Oh, well.   I shrugged on a jacket and arrived at work a little wet.   When I commiserated with a coworker she said that she no longer carries an umbrella.   It's true enough that a visitor to town can be identified by the umbrella they carry.   The rest of us tend to live damp but unencumbered.    

Occasionally a person will comment on one of my youtube videos that a person can be moral and good without being a Christian.   It's a true enough, but can we ever really be good enough?  A Christian who understands even a bit of the goodness of God, will surely know just how short he falls.  How does one move and live without Jesus?  How does one even breathe without the grace of God?  I think forgiven is one of the most beautiful words known to man.  My God is good and great, strong and merciful.   Rain falls on all.   When the rain falls on God's children, umbrellas are optional.  

Isaiah 43: 1,2

1 But now, this is what the LORD says— 
   he who created you, Jacob, 
   he who formed you, Israel: 
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; 
   I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 
2 When you pass through the waters, 
   I will be with you; 
and when you pass through the rivers, 
   they will not sweep over you. 
When you walk through the fire, 
   you will not be burned; 
   the flames will not set you ablaze. 

Storm Comin' - The Wailin' Jennys

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Count Your Blessings

I never knew anyone that liked babies as much as you.   It makes me wonder if you have nursery duty in Heaven.  Have you been holding all of your unborn grandchildren, the babies that went straight from the womb to God?   I was reminded in church this morning of the need to count my blessings.   How many times did you count us?  I remember when the bridge toll taker tried to count all of your children as we bounced around in the car and then just charged you a reasonable toll.   (How you could have ever gotten us all in the Packard if seat belt laws had been in effect?)  You were a man who counted his riches in his children and not his bankbook. 
Thank you for the blessing you yet provided today.   Yes, Mom gave away the car!   You have a happy grandson.   I still agree with you all the times you said you married the best sister of the lot.  She was and is a keeper!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Redeemed and Adopted

I love this picture.  It's wonderful to have such joy in a desert place..  It's getting late but I still have hope that something will yet happen today to give me reason to bust out laughing.   Last night it was the sight of our large dog trying to sleep in a bed meant for a cat.  That poor girl is still trying to get the hang of living in a real home.   She came to us after being rescued from an animal shelter's death row.   She had spent most of her life living on her own, relying on the kindness of strangers.  She wouldn't allow anyone near her at the shelter and consensus was that she couldn't be domesticated.   A kind woman thought otherwise.  She brought her home and cared for her until she could be put up for adoption.   Then she came to live with us.   She's been challenging, stubborn, prone to wander but joyously grateful in returning.  She's much like most of us.  I look at her as she rests at my feet and I'm thankful that my God thought me redeemable, that He sent His Son to take my place on death row and gave me a home with Him.   I am gratefully His.

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.
Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Let All God's People Say Amen

"It's snowing!   It's snowing!" cried the delighted young boy as the meeting broke up tonight.   Yes, it's snowing.   I'm glad to be home now where it's warm and dry.  I miss the house we lost to foreclosure but I'm grateful for the home we have.   We are sheltered and together.   God did not provide in the way I wanted but who am I to question God?    Yes, who am I?  Was not God supposed to provide a miracle so that I would have a grand testimony to share?   See, even as I write my rebelliousness floats to the surface.

I've been thinking much on the word, amen.   It's more than than a sign off for a prayer.   It's more than a word to shout in a service.   To say amen in truth, I must be in agreement with God.   Yes, God, it is true.   It is so.   So be it.   There is no peace in rebellion, but there is a grand and glorious peace in agreement with my Maker.    I found this on when looking for a definition of the word.

"Acutally it stems from Aramaic -

Which translated means -

Sealed in trust, faith and truth - which is much more beautiful to say out loud (Sealed in trust, faith and truth) until you fully understand what Amen means - "

Until that day, Amen, Lord, Amen.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanking God for Sisters

"To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other's hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time." 
~ Clara Ortega

If your sister is in a tearing hurry to go out and cannot catch your eye, she's wearing your best sweater.  ~Pam Brown

I was living the good life of a baby sister until my little brother came along and spoiled the pecking order.   Still there are reasons to appreciate being the youngest of a gaggle of girls.   Yes, I got the hand-me-downs but I also learned so much!  Through careful observation,  I learned that cotton bras needed ironing,  hair had to be teased to a perfect pouf, and nail polish could be used to stop a run in nylons.   I probably learned more than they ever realized.  As I write I realize a smile has crept to my lips.  Yes, there's still plenty I could tell Mom, ladies.    

I am thankful for my older siblings.   They were first in the line of fire, fighting battles that set me free.   At times I must have been a miserable little goody-two-shoes, getting through the teen years mostly unscathed.  When my parents said something like, "If everyone else jumped off a cliff would you jump too?" it was usually directed to their older offspring.  

A sister's birthday has me running down this trail of memories.  She is a godly woman of grace and beauty.   A better woman than I am, she is still teaching me how to live in a way that is pleasing to God.  Happy Birthday, Dear Sister!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Dog in the Company of a Good Master

My grandfather kept the company of a good dog.   He needed one to help him bring his cows into the barn for milking and to turn them out again until when milking was done.   His dogs served him faithfully.  I only remember two of them.   Pete, a collie, we loved dearly.    My first memories of him were of a well-trained dog, patient in affliction, holding still for the attention of his master's grandchildren, seven of us rolling out of a station wagon in varying degrees of disorder.   We thought he was there for our play but he was still serving, this time herding children.

 After Pete's passing, there was Frosty, coming to my grandfather as an eager pup.   When I first saw him in the farm house kitchen was beside herself with joy at the sight of children!   Under Grandpa's tutelage he became a much loved, happy cow herder and happy herder of children.  Oh, Frosty, he tore my very first pair of nylons greeting me as I climbed out of the station wagon.  Sigh.  I loved him still.  It was clear Grandpa loved him, even though he never would have considered him a pet.   He was a working dog!    

I want to be a working dog, content in my Master's service, a dog in the company of a good Master.  I want to respond at the sound of His voice.  I want to feel His hand of approval on my head.

This picture hangs in my house.  The collie dog is alerting her master to his lost sheep.   Please be the collie calling out to the Shepherd in prayer when I wander away.   I'll try to be the collie praying for you.

John 10: 14-18
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Courageous but a Little Drowsy

Psalm 27 (NASB)

A Psalm of Fearless Trust in God.
    A Psalm of David.
 1 The LORD is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the [a]defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?
2 When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
3 Though a host encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me,
In spite of this I [b]shall be confident.
 4 One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
To behold the [c]beauty of the LORD
And to [d]meditate in His temple.
5 For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His [e]tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock.
6 And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,
And I will offer in His tent sacrifices [f]with shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.
 7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice,
And be gracious to me and answer me.
8 When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,
“Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.”
9 Do not hide Your face from me,
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not abandon me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation!
10 [g]For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
But the LORD will take me up.
 11 Teach me Your way, O LORD,
And lead me in a level path
Because of [h]my foes.
12 Do not deliver me over to the [i]desire of my adversaries,
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
13 [j]I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.
14 Wait for the LORD;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the LORD.

I saw the movie "Courageous" today.  It made me very thankful for you.   I hope you know that there in the mansion God prepared for you, which must have it's own Starbucks to be truly Heaven for you.   Yes, you weren't perfect but you were what I needed.   If you started off wrong, you ended well.   You were courageous, indeed.   Thanks, Dad!
P.S.   No, I still haven't learned to like coffee.   Yes, I am your daughter, I look too much like you to say otherwise.   I know you wondered how I could even stay awake, but, well, you were right to wonder.  I don't always manage.   I think I got your napping gene, if not your coffee one.