Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Nothing quite says Happy New Year's Eve like a $3,000 car repair. It helps one to shift focus from the riches of the world...since they are slipping like oiled pigs through the fingers. Nothing helps one to realign priorities better than knowing the car could have died going 70 miles an hour down the freeway in the dark with one's precious daughter at the helm, rather than sputtering at 35 mph to its demise close to home, where it was able to creak into a safe parking lot. There is much to be thankful for this year. It is good to keep the focus on what God has done, rather than what might have been.
He gave me new mercy every morning.
His faithfulness never comes to an end.
His salvation is eternal and irrevocable.
He has engraved my name on His palms.
He promises His presence.
He is my light, and my strength, a strong tower, and refuge.
All that is worth WAY more than $3,000.
Happy New Year's Eve!
Isaiah 49: 1, 15-16
1 Listen to me, O coastlands,
and give attention, you peoples from afar.
The Lord called me from the womb,
from the body of my mother he named my name.
15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
16 Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
First....eeeeeeeeeeek. There were at least 40 cars at the abortion mill where I volunteer as a sidewalk counselor when I arrived at ten o'clock. Few left till an hour after the abortionist arrived at 11:30...so most appear to have been surgical abortions (rather than medical or pill abortions.) This also meant that the pre-born babies were likely at least 7-weeks old. Very sad. The cars were pouring in.
We had several encounters. Many people stopped to take our pro-life literature, which is always encouraging. One man came over and told us he had nothing to do with the baby - in fact, he was gay. He told us he brought the woman (a friend), but being gay, had never really thought much about abortion. He'd always bought into the idea of "my body, my choice." However, he said, as he pulled into the lot, he was a bit surprised to find himself repulsed. He was taken aback by his response.
"You mean you felt it was wrong?" I asked. He nodded. He took our literature, but didn't bring it inside the clinic to the woman he had brought.
I stopped the car of a young couple as they were about to enter the parking lot, and asked if they would consider a free ultrasound. They said yes immediately. Sadly, our usual RV with a mobile ultrasound that parks just down the street was not there due to the holiday season. I had to try to talk them into waiting a week for the ultrasound. They pulled over to the side of the road, and for the next forty-five minutes or so, one other counselor and I offered every reason we could think of for why they should delay this decision till after the ultrasound and being counseled by the nurses at the pregnancy resource center.
Initially, they were very resistant, but slowly they began reconsidering. Honestly, I was surprised by how long they remained there listening to us. In fact, they didn't seem to want to leave. We pulled out all the stops - the humanity of the baby, the dangers to the mother both physically and emotionally, the terrible reputation of the abortion center itself, the infractions and suspensions of its doctors, the testimony of those who deeply regretted aborting their children, the spiritual significance and value of God's clear admonition not to murder, as well as the Biblical portrait of children in the womb as already known and loved by God. The woman was listening, but solemnly stone-faced and silent. The man was more receptive, but said it was up to his girlfriend. Then, I showed her the picture of L-- a mama who chose life many months ago. L has become my dear friend. I visit her and her new baby often. The picture on my phone was of L and her baby in the rocking chair a Cities4Life supporter had just bought for her. I'd delivered it just a few days ago. L and the baby were both smiling. The young mama in the car gazed at the picture, and finally smiled herself. I felt a glimmer of hope.
"We try to help the mamas who choose life in any way we can," I told her, "Through the pregnancy and beyond."
For a very long time, she scrutinized the picture of a 5-week-old pre-born baby we showed her. (That's how far along she is.) While I spoke with her, the other counselor set up an appointment with the pregnancy center. Then she handed her phone to the young mama, and the nurse from the pregnancy center spoke with her. Meanwhile, the father agreed that if she would keep the baby, he would support her, and would do what he needed to do to raise the child. As we talked, he admitted he had grown up without a father, and he seemed sad that was the case. He did not want that for his own child. Finally, the couple agreed that they would go to the pregnancy center and arrange an ultrasound appointment.
Just yesterday, after church, two lovely families had brought me "blessing bags", filled with supplies for new mamas who choose life. One had gone to amazing lengths, and the bag was huge and brimming with supplies. She had told me she knew that God would show me just who this special gift should go to.
I told the young mama that I was stepping out in faith that she would do the right thing and choose life. Would she accept our gift which we give to mamas who choose life? She said yes, and gave me permission to take a photo of her with the blessing bag to send to the family who had made it. Anyway, they did finally drive away, and we counted this a "shaky save." After a few minutes, they circled back, which made us want to cry. However, they just drove by and did not return. We were there another hour, long after their appointment would have been, and they had not returned.
Later, I texted them telling them I was praying for them, and eager to hear how their counseling session went. (prayers appreciated! I figured if I spoke as though the counseling by the Pregnancy Resource Center was a done deal, it might sway them to stick to the decision to let their baby live.)
They believe in God, know abortion is wrong, but think Jesus forgives them, so it is fine to disregard His commands. We tried our best to cut through that twisted logic. Now it is up to God. Still, none of us wanted to leave. We wanted to stand there, blocking the driveway to insure they did not return.
But we knew we couldn't.
So we prayed and dispersed. I had a bag of supplies for L, the "save" we had just given the rocking chair. I scurried over to her place, while praying that the new young couple would remain far away from the terrible abortion center. When I arrived, I got to hold L's sweet baby, who smiled and cooed at me. All the stress of the day was washed away.
"You may have saved a life today," I told L.
"How?" she asked.
"I showed a new mama the picture of you holding your baby and rocking. It seemed to make her think maybe she could let her baby live too."
"I hope so," said L, cuddling her precious child in her arms.
Monday, December 29, 2014
Strange story. I was leaving church when a stranger called me. He sounded old, and a little confused. He had found a black backpack with my name and number. I had not lost a black pack as far as I knew. He said it was filled with women's clothes. Small clothes. Well, I am a woman and I am small.... However, he was located 40 minutes from me, and had found the backpack in a park I have never been to. How could that be my pack?
Then he said the only name he could find was mine on a pamphlet in the backpack. What pamphlet? It was Healing the Hurt, the booklet we hand out at the abortion mill to women who have had abortions. I always put my name and number on it so that if the women need to talk to someone, they have a contact. Often the grief hits them much later, and can be unexpectedly devastating.
I asked him to see if he could find any other names in the pack, since by now, I was feeling it must belong to someone who met me on the sidewalk of the abortion mill. He dug deeper into the backpack and found a pink paper in it, with a woman's name, and the address of the abortion mill where I volunteer as a pro-life sidewalk counselor.
"Is the woman's phone number on that paper?" I asked.
He read me the phone number on the pink paper, and I told him I would call him back if I was able to track down the owner of the backpack.
I figured God sent this strange incident for a reason. I called the number. Guess who answered? A receptionist of the abortion call center! I was surprised as I thought they didn't work Sundays. I asked if they had a client whose name was the one the man gave me. She said they could not divulge that. I explained the situation with the lost backpack and that I felt it likely belonged to someone who had had an abortion there. I was also concerned that she had been grieving as she had the pamphlet, Healing the Hurt, with her. I added that I was a little worried about her, given that the backpack was in this remote wooded park with clinic info and a pamphlet about grieving after abortions. The receptionist promised to call me back after trying to track her down.
I never got a call back. I searched for the woman's name on Facebook. I found several people with that name, but one by one eliminated them. Many were not small women, and none lived in my city. Except one. From the Facebook photo, she appeared to be a small woman, and was the only one with that name in our city. It must be her. I sent her a message on Facebook and hoped that whatever reason God had for bringing this strange encounter, I will handle it properly, as He would have me handle it.
I hope I did the right thing. I had a strong sense God wanted me to act on this. So wherever she is, I am praying for this small, young woman who must have been despairing if she kept the pamphlet I'd given her about dealing with the grief of abortion. I hope she is ok, and I hope she finds solace in God, whose mercies are new every morning and who can offer hope in the most grievous of circumstances. I hope that I did what God had wanted me to do with the information. I don't know what else I could have done.
Meanwhile, this morning I am off to my sidewalk counseling work at the abortion mill again, with six blessing bags filled with baby items donated by two sweet families. My car is overflowing with their kindness -- gift bags for any mamas that decide to turn from abortion and embrace life. I hope I get to give all of them away today. I so much prefer giving gift bags to the mamas who choose life rather than the pamphlets, Healing the Hurt, to the mamas who choose abortion. I also hope that the lady of the lost backpack will return my message. My heart is heavy for her.
Sunday, December 28, 2014
I was on a run a couple of days ago, day-dreaming as I often do on my runs, when a loose black dog came barreling up to me. I stopped running since dogs sometimes decide it is fun to eviscerate prey...which is what I become when I run from them. The dog was young, and friendly however, and had no desire to nibble my intestines. I noticed that the house right in front of us had an open gate to the back yard. I used my great powers of deduction and determined that the owners had unwittingly left their gate unlatched, and their dog had taken advantage of their lapse. So I called the happy dog to follow me, and lured him into the yard, then latched the gate.
Good deed accomplished, I continued on my run. A car with the window rolled down slowed beside me.
"You haven't seen a loose black dog, have you?" the driver asked.
"Why yes! I put him in the yard where you left your gate unlatched." I pointed to the house down the street. It was indeed her dog, but it was not her yard or unlatched gate. She retrieved her dog, and I continued on my run.
Yesterday, I got a message in my email that a neighbor's cat had escaped and hadn't come home the night before. She included a photo. I went on a walk with my dog, and suddenly saw the cat! It was sitting in a sunny spot in a yard up the street from my neighbor. I stood still, and called my neighbor. "Is your cat a tabby with a white chest?"
I gave her directions and stood quietly in the street, watching and praying the cat wouldn't move. My neighbor pulled up in her van and her hopeful face fell when she saw the cat . The cat was still there, and did look a lot like her cat, but it wasn't her cat. I felt terrible for raising her hopes, and leading her to the wrong cat.
I thought about those two incidents on back to back days. In the first, I found the right dog, but returned him to the wrong place. In the second, I found the wrong cat, hoping to return him to the right place. I suspect (as usual) God was trying to teach me something. What if the animals were like the Word of God? If one applies the correct Word of God in the wrong place, on ears unable or unwilling to hear it, it will not find its redemptive home in their heart and soul. In contrast, if one applies an incorrect or untrue twisting of the Word of God on ears eager to hear truth, the hearer will be deceived and misled. In either case, the Word of God will not bear fruit. The right Word must be applied to the correctly receptive ears. The right animal must be returned to the right owner. Otherwise, the lost will not be found...and the found will be lost.
2 Timothy 2:15Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
Saturday, December 27, 2014
The chair was beautiful, and had lovely white pads on it in excellent shape, no stains. The owner loaded the chair in my van, with no apparent desire to hack off my ears or cut out my liver. I brought it to "L", the new mama who needed it to rock her little, sweet baby to sleep.
"That's beautiful!" she cried, as I set it on her living room floor, "I looked on-line to see about chair pads...but this already has them!"
She sat down with a big smile, sweet baby in her arms, and began rocking.
When he called to update me on the car repairs, he asked if we had run over a mattress.
"I don't know," I told him, "It made a big noise but we didn't know what was in the box we hit." However, the service man knew what we had hit. There had been a mattress coil spring lodged in the wheel well....and a bunch of mattress fluff. We were lucky we had not crashed and died on the spot, having hit a mattress! And then, we were lucky that while driving the many days since then, the coil had not caused further damage to the car, specifically the brakes which it was lodged against. (That's if you believe in luck. I suspect "luck" had nothing to do with any of it.)
If the roof hadn't leaked, I would not have found all that catastrophe waiting to happen. To think I was annoyed that the roof that had been repaired was leaking. Now I am praising God for the leaky roof!
God is incredible, isn't He? "L" needed a rocking chair, and hoped for one with pads that she could ill afford. God sent us a stranger to buy her a rocking chair, and lo and behold, it came with pads. I was driving a ticking time bomb with all kinds of potential for devastating problems...and God sent a leaky roof to get me into the service center.
I am learning God sometimes sends problems and impossible needs so that He can demonstrate how much we can trust Him.
I texted "L" last night: "Have you been rocking in your new rocking chair?"
"All day," she texted back.
Friday, December 26, 2014
However, this day after Christmas, the undecorating will have to wait. I will be picking up a donated rocking chair for the new mama who chose life for her little one rather than abortion. A kind supporter of Cities4Life sidewalk ministry found the chair and offered to pay for it. All I have to do is pick it up. My concern is I have never used Craig's List before and am a little worried about going to some stranger's house to get the chair. Do mass murderers lure victims this way? If so, let me know ASAP so I can cancel.
As soon as I return safely (if I return safely...) I will undecorate the house, but not my soul. All year long, I try to carry the message of Christmas. I try to remember that a small, innocent baby was born with one purpose - to die for my sins. His whole life on earth was spent preparing for that terrible ordeal. If I remember that, and picture it in my heart, surely I will be less inclined to sin.
If the rocking chair owner is a mass murderer, the day after Christmas would not be the time he would choose to go on his rampage, right? I mean, undecorating the day after Christmas is one thing...but cutting up innocent people into little pieces to put in the freezer is another.
Thursday, December 25, 2014
One of the mamas I've been helping who chose life for her baby rather than abortion asked me if I knew of anyone who might have a rocking chair. Her new little baby was having trouble falling asleep, but if rocked in her mama's arms, she would sleep. I put out a plea on Facebook for anyone who might have an unused rocker. Last night, a total stranger wrote to me. Through a friend she had heard of the need. She had found a lovely rocking chair on Craig's list, and would pay for it if I wanted it for my friend. God's love and mercy in action through one of His children. A miracle of kindness. The hope of Christmas that goodness prevails in the end in a most unexpected but perfect way.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
I counseled a new mom to choose life on the mobile ultrasound RV yesterday. I have been a pro-life sidewalk counselor at the abortion mill for a year now, but I had never yet counseled a couple on the mobile ultrasound RV which is parked next to the mill. I'd been trained to do so a couple of months ago, but had not yet had the opportunity.
What a thrill! The young couple was very likable, and while there was some concern about whether they would choose life for their unborn child, they both expressed horror at what they learned upon googling what happens during abortions. They thanked me repeatedly for keeping them out of that horrible place.
Nonetheless, there was a bit of a nail-biter moment when they asked to speak with each other alone for a moment right before going on the ultrasound. Depending on the age of the baby, as determined by the ultrasound, it was the current boyfriend's child...or the past boyfriend's child. Both the nurse and I feared they would bolt when we reminded them that no matter who the father was, the baby was no less a human being created in God's image, with intrinsic value. We breathed a sigh of relief when they said they were ready for the ultrasound. The baby was too small to find on the ultrasound, but we will reschedule soon so we can show them their little one. This suggested the baby was likely the child of the current boyfriend, which was lucky for the baby. They unequivocally chose life, and already have names if it is a little girl. I hope that is the decision they would have reached if the baby had not been the current boyfriend's child. Only God knows the answer to that.
They seemed genuinely interested in my spiel about why God was logically worth believing in, and asked if I would continue to counsel them over the course of their pregnancy. Of course I would! Their thrill over my counsel for abstinence, purity, and following God's plan for their lives as outlined in the Bible didn't go over quite as big as one would hope, but I gave them a whole bunch of literature to read and ponder. They hugged both me and the wonderful nurse when we finished. (Being hugged after my encouragement that they read what God has to say about sex outside of marriage seems to me to be a good sign.) What a blessing for me to share the message of hope and life alongside a committed and lovely pro-life nurse to a young couple who desperately need to hear it. It was a wonderful Christmas gift for me.
As they prepared to leave, the nurse urged them to read the Biblical account of Mary. Her situation was not totally unlike theirs - poor, young, unmarried, frightened, unplanned pregnancy... God, of course, can always make a way, but what if she had aborted Jesus? All I can say is I am really glad she didn't.
I texted the young couple last night, thanking them for the privilege and blessing of sharing the excitement of their new baby with them.
"It is a blessing!" they texted back, "We cannot wait to meet him!"
The gift of life. Merry Christmas.
If you are interested in this wonderful ministry that helps women in crisis pregnancies, please contact Lisa Metzger at firstname.lastname@example.org
Luke 1: 26-38In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Interesting day at the abortion mill yesterday. (I always learn something new there....) It was frigid, a mix of rain, and occasional white things that looked like snow. I thought I would be all alone on the sidewalk speaking on behalf of the doomed children today, but a whole bunch of unexpected fellow counselors showed up, braving the damp cold with me. I had to keep pacing or I would've frozen to the sidewalk. Most of the people scurrying into the mill didn't pause to do much more than give us the finger. They were cold, too.
Sadly, the mobile ultrasound unit was not there. Normally, the big RV parks just up the street, and we can walk women over to the free ultrasound unit on the RV. It is a fantastic resource, although some days, no one goes on it. Most women choose life after seeing their baby on the sonogram. Of course, we needed it the most just when it wasn't available yesterday!
I called out to one young couple going into the mill that we could bring them to a free ultrasound ( as in drive them to the local pregnancy resource center a few miles away.) They swung on a dime and headed over to us. "Free" had hooked them. They were very sweet, and didn't appear to be abortion minded but they said "We need to get the ultrasound ASAP." It took me a while to figure out why they needed it ASAP. Please pray for 'S'. She is not certain if the father is the old or new boyfriend. I am assuming they need to know fetal age ASAP because if it is not the new boyfriend's baby, abortion may be on the table. I can't imagine why else they are in such a hurry to confirm the pregnancy and how far along she is. She didn't want to wait even a week for the ultrasound.
Anyway, after several calls to various pregnancy resource centers, we got them scheduled for an ultrasound on the mobile RV unit today. I will be meeting them there this morning and will counsel them. Not only will we talk about choosing life, but also about choosing God, and following His very wise and protective commands for purity and abstinence outside of marriage. (Prayers appreciated on this as well.) I love counseling on the RV because I get to see the little baby, with the little heart beating its clarion call of humanity.
In the midst of our concerted efforts to arrange the ultrasound, the poor young mama was shivering, with only a light sweatshirt to ward off the cold. I settled them in my car and blasted the heat while my fellow counselor and I made frantic phone calls to schedule the ultrasound. I gave them one of our "blessing bags" filled with baby gifts which supporters of Cities4Life sidewalk ministries had made for mamas that choose life. The shivering girl seemed very touched, and clasped her boyfriend's hand as the heat from my car finally began seeping into her. Finally, the ultrasound was scheduled. I drove them to a nearby McDonalds to wait for their ride to pick them up. We didn't want them going in the abortion mill, even just to warm up. I was happy to drive them away from there. As we drove, I told them about what a terrible place that abortion clinic was. I urged them to research it themselves.
Later, when I got home, the young man called me. He was confirming our appointment today, and also wanted me to know they had gone online to research Latrobe "women's preferred health clinic." He and his girlfriend were so grateful we had kept them out of there. They were horrified by what they found out about it online, and wished they could stop others from going there. He thanked me over and over again.They were so thankful for our help setting up the ultrasound. I am hoping they are grateful enough to accept God's purity and salvation message. I found myself very drawn to both of them, despite the fact that I do not like the choices they have obviously made in life. They were so young, so poor, so frail...but so sweet. I am rooting for them. I have good feelings about this young couple.
After returning from depositing them in the warm, safe haven of happy meals, I returned to the mill sidewalk. Another couple chose life, giving us a thumb's up as they drove away. We all cheered, and hugged each other, as we always do. It is a grim place, and I had been tearful as I drove there, but every life saved makes all the horror, and cold, and abuse heaped upon us worth it.
When I got home, I gathered a stack of papers on purity and God's word on marriage/sex, and then reviewed my "salvation speech." Then I printed a stack of verses on the sanctity of human life in the womb, just in case the baby is not the current boyfriend's and they decide that fact suddenly erases the baby's humanity or personhood or sanctity before God. As I sipped hot tea to try to stop my own shivering, I was warmed by God's word, as well. I am very hopeful as I head back out to the gates of Hell today.
If interested in being a source of warmth and light at one of the darkest places on earth, please contact Lisa Metzger at email@example.com
Monday, December 22, 2014
It was the first Christmas that my children have hosted us for a Christmas celebration. They made us feel wonderfully special. They fed us great food, played wonderful games with us, showed us fantastic sights in Richmond, and took us to a really hip and spirit-filled church. All that, delightful as it was, was gravy. The best part, the real feast, was simply being in their presence, being able to gaze upon their precious faces.
There is nothing more important on earth than family. Those who would seek to destroy family unity are working on Satan's behalf. The family is one of God's strong defenses against the powers of darkness. From the first few chapters in Genesis, the importance of a man and wife and their children in coming together to worship and honor God is stressed. Woe to anyone who thinks that separating a family is healthy or honoring to God. Verse after verse in the Bible offers guidance to the unity and strength of the family, with a clear warning to each member of the critical importance for them to fulfill their role.
I remember many times when a disgruntled student in one of my art classes, or in one of the groups I managed, would complain about his mom or dad. I know the nature of kids to balk at the rules of their parents, and to exaggerate and moan about how hard life is under their parents' authority. I also know that the parent of that child is given the responsibility to raise him before God, not me. I would remind him to praise God he has a mom or dad...many children do not. Then I would remind him to praise God doubly that he has a mom and dad who care enough about him to have rules and strict guidance even at the risk of his displeasure. I was always very careful not to play into the terrible disservice to his family by undermining the authority and good intentions of his parents. Only parents who care deeply about their children bother to risk raising them in a way that is true to their convictions before God even when it upsets their children. One hopes that in the end, it will reap great reward.
I know God is watching. I am glad we hit the big white box on the highway, and that we survived unscathed. My first thought after realizing we would live was how much I love my family. That big bump in the road shook me up. Being shaken is a good thing, especially if it directs us back to God, who is the one in control anyway.
Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Friday, December 19, 2014
We will be gone for a couple of days, and I doubt I will have time to write my blog or paint pictures. I will just be soaking up the joy of being with my son, Matthias, and his dear wife, Karissa. But I did learn something about God as I was painting the portrait above. This is "watercolor", and though it is digital, it behaves like real watercolor. I have to apply layers, work light to dark, and play with how wet and saturated the colors are. Just like real watercolor, it is not an easy medium to work with. It is a very slow process, and the picture only gradually begins to transform into something remotely realistic.
This is not at all in my personality comfort zone. I like instant results, immediate gratification, and quick, steady accomplishments. Watercolor painting will not allow that. I must be patient, plan ahead, keep my eye on the goal in every decision I make, work with mishaps to turn them to advantage since they are not easily erased, and enjoy the process rather than the result. If I wanted a perfect portrait, I should not be doing a watercolor painting. I should just take a photograph. The creative struggle in becoming all I can become as an artist doesn't fill me with happiness at times, but it does fill me with satisfaction when I reach moments of success.
Hmmmm. This is a good description of how we should live our life before God!
I thought of a discussion I had with someone recently about making decisions based on how "happy" certain choices make one feel. Happy? I don't think we should make decisions on how happy they might make us. Happy is a result (sometimes) of living a life righteously and fully devoted to God. It should not be the reason or the goal. In fact, the Bible never tells us to seek happiness. But it does tell us to seek holiness, purity, truth, righteousness, goodness, excellence....etc. We all want happiness, just like I want my painting to instantly be the beautiful image I have in my head. But if happiness is what I am seeking, I wouldn't try anything in which I knew I might not excel, or succeed. Frankly, that describes just about everything God asks me to do.
God is continually asking us to step forth in faith not in assurance of our strength and skill, but of His. He doesn't promise us happiness, but He does promise us He will be with us. I think we all should be asking ourselves with every decision not 'will this make me happy', but 'will it make me more like the person God desires me to be?' I suspect the "brushes" that we would choose to paint our lives might be very different in those two choices.
Seek ye first His righteousness....then all these things may be added unto you.
However, I really am quite happy with my little painting. Happiness was not the goal, but it is often the by-product.
As I was driving with my vanful of teens to ski, I was listening to Christian radio. The speaker quoted Philippians 4:8, one of my favorite verses: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
One of the teens said, "Notice that verse says 'whatever is true' not 'whatever is true for me'."
God's absolutes, God's plans, God's "paintings"will be infinitely more beautiful and perfect than ours. Meanwhile, I am watching tutorials on my art program. I want to create more intentionally, instead of hoping to stumble on beauty and perfection by accident.
Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
It is a new art program, and very complex. Once I successfully (many pats on the back later) installed it, I realized I had not the foggiest notion of how to begin to use it. I ran into the room of my computer literate daughter. She claimed did not remember how to use this program, though I think she once owned this program. I think she may have been blowing me off.
Nonetheless, I found the "help" chat center, and wrote the folks that developed this indecipherable program a little distress note: "I have installed Corel Painter XC, and have no clue how to use it. I found the tutorial section, but can't figure out how to open the tutorial."
Yes. I know. Sad. It's a miracle I know how to turn on my computer.
They replied instantly, eager to help me, but then I clicked on something...I know not what... and the chat disappeared. So, I went back to the program. I decided sometimes you just have to jump in, try try try, and eventually you might stumble on something that works.
The painting above is my stumbling. I have only about 99.9% of the program's capabilities yet to learn, but each little victory was major to me. I had a long way to go, but step-by-step, perhaps I will get there.
That seems to be the way God works. His whole plan is rarely laid out for us. It would be far too overwhelming if we knew all we would have to encounter to reach the finish line. But if we can just move step by step as He leads us, perhaps we will discover that somehow, we are moving in the direction He wants us to go.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
As darkness came, I was on a chairlift ascending to the top of the mountain. There was no one on any of the lifts I could see in front of me. The fog became thicker as we went higher. The silence was complete, muffled by the thick cloud around me. It became so milky, that even the lights were nearly extinguished. There was only a faint white glow ahead, darkness all around. As the chairs in front of me vanished into the whiteness and I went higher into the cloud toward the distant glow, I thought of heaven. I almost expected God to be waiting as I got off the lift, His arms outstretched, His smile filled with love as He welcomed me to His mountaintop.
With a twinge of disappointment, I stepped off the chairlift. No pearly gates, no angels singing, no welcoming arms of my heavenly Father. Still, it was filled with peace and beauty atop the fog shrouded mountaintop, and reminded me Heaven awaits, in even more glorious splendor.
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
"Do you need help leaving a life of prostitution?" I asked.
Probably not listed as the top ten ways of opening a conversation with a stranger, but I've been told to let the Holy Spirit lead me, and that's what came out of my mouth. It was likely as much a surprise to me as to the young lady I was speaking to.
"Did you just call me a prostitute?" she asked, her voice slurred, her steps stumbling. Her midriff was bared and she was covered with tattoos.
"Well, you and your friend were lifting your shirts to show us your breasts. Frankly, those are the sorts of things prostitutes do."
"I didn't do that...just my friend."
"Do you need help leaving addictions?" I asked, "It is clear to me you are high or drunk...or both."
"How far is McDonalds?" she asked.
"Not far," I said, "I'll walk you there."
It all started when this woman and her friend began spewing lewd invectives at us pro-life sidewalk counselors in front of the busiest abortion mill in the area. One bared her breasts, but both were gyrating in front of us in sexual manners. They'd been dropped by an older man, and they had a friend in the abortion mill. They had listened to us on the microphone, calling out to the women swarming into the mill, and they both were clearly spaced out on drugs. They both were stumbling, and slurring in their speech, provocatively dressed, and utterly lewd and mocking as they yelled at us.
I had started my time on the microphone with a heartfelt appeal to consider the humanity of the child within the women, reading excerpts from "Horton Hears a Who." ( "A person's a person, no matter how small.") We'd already had an incredible day of miracles. Three women chose life for their babies. That brought the number of saved babies that we knew of to 504 babies this year alone. One very emotional incident was when a woman left the mill in her car, and stopped by us sobbing. We asked if she chose life. She was so overcome, she couldn't speak, just nodded and dissolved in heart wrenching sobs.
We gave her our literature, with our phone numbers and told her to call if she needed anything, or just someone to talk to. We would do everything in our power to help her. Then I handed her a baby crib cover, and she began crying harder. I think the enormity of what she had almost done was hitting her with hurricane force. Fellow counselor, Chrissy, gave her a bag of baby gifts. She took them all, and let me hug her, and promised she would call. This was the outpouring of someone who had heard God's voice clearly to abandon the evil path she had almost chosen. Her tears were of conviction. Good tears. All of us were deeply moved.
Then the lewd mocking girls began their suggestive dance. One of them approached me, as fellow counselor, Flip, on the microphone, urged her to take my literature. She stopped in front of me, her eyes unfocused, and waited.
"Take this into the clinic, to your friend," I begged. She took the pamphlet, nodded, went to the curb and sat down, flipping through the booklet. After a little while, she threw it down. Then she and her friend got up, stumbling and laughing, and went to the other side of the parking lot.
I followed along the sidewalk, and saw them sitting on steps, partially shrouded by the foliage. All of us were concerned that these were girls involved in sex trafficking. If this were true, I needed to at least offer them help.
I called through the bushes, "If you are being forced in a lifestyle you don't want to be in, please let us help you. We can find you help." They laughed at me, screamed more vulgar things and obscenities. Then, one went into the clinic, and the other started across the lot and to the street, where I intercepted her.
"Is McDonald's far?" she asked again. She was struggling to walk in a straight line.
"I'll show you, if you don't mind," I said.
I told her that I had hope and help for her if she was tired of a life of covering hurt with sex or drugs. She made a feeble attempt to deny the drugs, but then fell silent. We both knew what the truth was. I asked how old she was.
"I have kids around your age," I said.
"Does someone force you to stand on the sidewalk to call out to those women?" she asked.
"No one forces me. I volunteer."
"Because I love God, and I love His children. And I want to help them if I can."
She looked at me with her glazed eyes, but I saw a spark of interest.
"I had an abortion," she told me, "Do you think I go to hell now?" All the mockery in her voice had vanished.
"Do you believe in God?" I asked.
So we walked together, and I told her the true meaning of Christmas, how Jesus was born a baby to come into this world to save us from our sins. We talked about how it is impossible for any of us to be good, and that we all deserve God's punishment and condemnation. Then we talked about Jesus, and how He offered to take our punishment upon Himself instead. All we had to do was accept it.
I would not have believed it if I hadn't been there. Her slurring stopped, her gait began to straighten, and she began to ask me about Jesus. Her eyes had stopped sliding about like jello, and she looked at me with steady intensity.
Then she stopped suddenly and cried, "I'm so tired! How much further to McDonalds?"
"I know you are tired," I told her, "And the Bible talks about being weary. Do you know Jesus tells us 'come all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest for your souls.' ?"
She looked at me, and didn't speak. There was so much longing on her face, I wanted to cry.
"Here is a pamphlet about Jesus. Would you like to read it later, or would you like me to read it to you as we walk?"
"Read it to me," she said.
We continued walking and I read her the steps to accepting Jesus as Lord.
As I finished, Flip pulled up in his truck. By then, we had walked about a mile, and I'd been gone a long time. I don't even know if the other counselors had seen me walk off with the girl.
"Hi Flip," I said, as he rolled down his window, "S is very tired. She wants to go to McDonalds. We've been talking about Jesus. Could you drive her the rest of the way?"
Flip is a minister, and a kind man. I knew he would bring her Jesus, and a McCheeseburger.
"Sure," he said, "Hop in."
"May I hug you?" I asked S.
"Yes," she said, turning to me, "Thank you for everything."
I jogged back down the hill. A few minutes later, Flip and S pulled up. She had a bagful of food and a drink. She smiled at me. Her face shone with hope, gentleness....perhaps even peace.
"Thank you," she said, with genuine sweetness in her demeanor and voice. Flip asked to pray with her, and I lay my hand on her shoulder. We all bowed our heads together, beseeching the only One who can eternally heal the pain each of us carry.
As she walked back to her car, Flip said, "That was a miracle."
"Yes," I said smiling.
"She is not the same girl she was when she started up that hill with you," he said.
No, she was not. No one who has been broken, and healed with the hope and love of Jesus is ever the same.
"When she gets back with her crowd, she may fall right back into what she has been," said Flip, "But she will never forget that walk up the hill with you."
I hope not. Neither will I.
If you would like to be hope and light to women who are hurting, or donate to this frontline ministry, please contact Lisa Metzger at firstname.lastname@example.org
Matthew 11:28-2928 Come to me, all who are weary and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Monday, December 15, 2014
We are slated to go Tuesday, but there has been a warming trend, so no snowmaking on the mountain, and it is supposed to rain on top of it. These are the times when I really hate being in charge. I pondered this while listening to a series of Christian broadcasts by Larry Crabb, about relationships. He is so insightful and I am learning wonderful Biblical truths. (Believe it or not, this relates to my skiing dilemma.) One thing he said applies to so many areas of life, and could transform every human relationship if everyone abided by it. He said, "We should be profoundly committed to the well being of another rather than ourselves."
Profoundly committed to the well-being of others.
The root of all human relationship struggle is selfishness. We love and respect others as long as they meet our needs. When they falter and our needs aren't met, we grow angry with them, and tension escalates. Being in charge of a large group helps me to understand this on a different level. The needs of everyone else rather than my own is paramount, or I could be responsible for widespread disaster and unhappiness. It is a burden, but I shoulder it because I want to give my daughter and her friends the opportunity to ski at the group rate. Nonetheless, despite all my volunteer efforts and headache of running the group, I get constant challenges and complaints because the way I run the group doesn't meet certain people's needs. This has been true of every group I have ever run, and I have run many. (And yes...I do wonder sometimes why I bother given the heartache I know will ensue.)
As soon as any rules or restrictions or guidelines are placed by the group leader, some members of the group become ruffled because all their precious needs aren't met. There have been terrible episodes of nasty attacks and back stabbing of the very person (me) who made it possible for them to have whatever great group activity is being provided. Those people seem to believe that their needs outweigh the needs of others and they are justified in their defiance and undermining.
It is also very true in marriage and any other committed relationship. If we are truly committed to others' well being, and subjugate our own needs and desires to the welfare of others, we are most Christ-like, and as a result, transformational. What is best for others may well conflict with what I want, but if I am committed to being more like Christ, I must do what is best for them. Profoundly committed to what is best for them.
That's what I want to be.
So I am watching the weather, and praying, and by tonight, have to decide what is in the best interests of everyone. To ski, or not to ski, that is the question. (If we ski, expect no blog on Wednesday as I will be back home too late, and much too exhausted.) I am profoundly committed to making the choice that brings the most benefit to all involved.
Saturday, December 13, 2014
I know I had left my car key in some pocket...but which pocket, and which jacket? I looked all day, and couldn't find it. I went to bed, praying and wondering. What had I done with the key? This was very unlike me. I am very organized. I always put things back where they belong. In the morning, I looked for the key, and almost forgot to prepare for my volunteer work teaching art at a nursing home. I decided (of necessity) to walk to the nursing home - only two miles away. Part way there, I realized I was not going to make it on time. (That is not like me either. I am always early.) So I was glad that I had worn jogging shoes and warm up pants. I began running, and ran all the way to class, arriving just in time. A little sweaty...but on time.
I walked into an empty classroom. Now my art class is very popular. Normally, I have 10-15 senior citizens, eager to learn how to draw. Not a soul was in the room. And I had just run 2 miles to get there on time....
A sweet, somewhat confused lady with a walker came down the hall. She peered in.
"Is this where I am supposed to be? I think I'm lost."
"This is the art class," I said.
"Oh, I can't draw."
"That's what they all say. I promise you, I can teach anyone to draw."
She slowly pushed her walker ahead of her and made her way to the table. I helped her sit down and learned that she was new to the home, and was very concerned that she couldn't draw, and shouldn't be there. She didn't really know where she was supposed to be.
"Well, it looks like you are the only one coming to my class. If you leave, I will have no one. Can I teach you to draw a Christmas tree?"
"Well, ok, you can try."
Another lady who is one of my regulars came in.
"Lorraine!" I said, "Are you here to join us?"
"Just to watch," she said.
"But Lorraine, we are drawing Christmas trees and you like to give your drawings to your grandkids!"
I had brought pastels, which we have just begun working with in the past two classes. The first lady, Muriel, told me her "hands are slippery" and she struggled to even grip the pastel. I put my hand over hers, and together we drew the lines. Then I helped her draw the pastel strokes, but she was able to blend with her finger all by herself. Both ladies worked diligently. Slowly our Christmas trees developed, first the trunk, then the branches, then ornaments, then garland, then a shimmering star atop it all.
As Muriel gazed at her finished drawing, she said, "I'd like to keep this to show my daughter." She sounded very proud.
"Of course!" I said, "It's yours."
"It's beautiful!" said the activity director rushing in, "Did you do that, Muriel?"
Muriel smiled and nodded.
The activity director had been pulled out for an emergency and hadn't gathered the residents to my class as she usually did. That was why no one had shown up. She apologized profusely.
"It's ok," I assured her after Muriel and Lorraine left, "If there had been more than just those two, I wouldn't have been able to help Muriel, and I don't think she would have been able to do it."
"She did a beautiful picture."
"Yes," I agreed, "God had it all planned. I recently was told if only one person shows up for my book signing, make it the best book signing ever for that one person."
I was so happy that I had spent all that time with that dear, sweet woman, new to the home and confused, and wondering where she was. I thought how sometimes we all feel lost, all our efforts for naught. Maybe it is just that we don't know exactly where to look, and that our blessing, our victory, has been there all along, waiting to be uncovered.
I walked home in the lovely sunshine and had an epiphany. I entered my house, went to my bathroom where my running jacket was hung, and reached into the pocket. There was the lost car key! It had never been lost! All along, it had been there. I just hadn't known where to look.
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.