Friday, February 28, 2014
When I reached the ski mountain, I was eager to see how the hearing aids worked in the cold, under a helmet. They were completely comfortable under my helmet, which surprised me. I hopped on the chair lift, and understood every word the assistant there said: "Man! I am cold!"
"Didn't your mother teach you to wear mittens?" I asked the bare handed lift operator.
"Yes," he said woefully.
Lesson: Listen to mothers.
I didn't say that to him however.
As I moved peacefully to the mountain top, I discovered a new advantage to my hearing aids. I could eavesdrop on the conversation of the folks in the chairlift in front of me! To my disappointment, no one was saying, "Hey check out the cute skier behind us!"
But, I forgot about my hearing aids as I skied down the mountain. Despite 50 degree wind gusts now and then, the snow was perfect. I went on the trail I rarely go on since I am not a great skier and that trail is the hardest intermediate trail. Even on that trail, I felt in complete control. It was one of those rare days when everything clicked and I felt like the skis were a part of me. I realized about halfway down the mountain that I was doing something right. It was effortless!
As soon as I started to realize I was doing something right...it went all wrong. I was feeling pretty smug about what a dapper figure I was cutting swooshing so skillfully down the mountain. I glanced at the chairlift, hoping my daughter was passing by, watching my perfection. And then, I analyzed why it was all going so well. I think I have shifted my weight forward and my knees are "soft", absorbing the terrain's bumps and valleys. Suddenly, I couldn't shift my weight properly if my life depended on it...which oh yeah...it did....and I began to windmill my arms and go back to my I-am-a-terrible-skier-technique which includes erratic wild swings back and forth across the mountain.
And because my hearing aids were working famously, I could hear the people behind me swearing at the incompetent on the slopes. Oh my, pride goeth before a fall!
Now in complete fairness, this episode lasted only briefly. I was immediately humbled, and decided I needed to stop thinking so much about my success, or how I had arrived at it, and just praise God and revel in it. The mountain and I were one again.
Proverbs 16: 18-20
18 Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.
19 It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor
than to divide the spoil with the proud.
20 Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good,
and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Since they are high schoolers, I have been advised (begged) to leave them alone to succeed or fail on their own. This is nearly impossible for me, and yet I am trying my best to leave them to their own devices. I have to be in the vicinity of where they are gluing, sawing, hammering, and chainsawing...since I have indicated to their parents that no one will die while on my watch. It would really be much easier if I could be somewhere far away, maybe on a beach drinking a pina colada...Then I could stay calm.
While I am not God, and do not want to be, this experience does give me some insight I believe into what poor God must endure watching us from Heaven.
"Goodness!" He is likely yelling, "They are going to kill themselves off within three generations!"
or , "Heavens! Why don't they see they did that same stupid sin yesterday and look at how much anguish it caused! Is their memory truly so short!?" or ,"Why are they waiting so long to listen to my commands? Don't they see the path they are on leads to destruction?"
If God is even remotely wired like me, it must take every ounce of willpower to watch us mess up and procrastinate, and waste all the wonderful opportunities we have been given without interceding.
It must be so hard to sit and watch while we beloved fools ruin ourselves!
He is so gracious however. After we have struggled on our own, and proven beyond any doubt that we are hopeless, He steps in. He does not hold back forever. If we admit our need for Him, He is right there with us. He delivers us from destruction despite the fact that we brought it all on ourselves and deserve His condemnation instead.
A month feels like an eternity to kids. I am sure most of us feel like our day of reckoning before God is a long way off, as well. But it could be here in the twinkling of a moment. I pray my team understands this better than most of humanity.... or we...and they...are doomed.
Psalm 107: 17-22
17 Some were fools through their sinful ways,
and because of their iniquities suffered affliction;
18 they loathed any kind of food,
and they drew near to the gates of death.
19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
20 He sent out his word and healed them,
and delivered them from their destruction.
21 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
22 And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,
and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
I went to my fitting for my trial hearing aids two days ago. My hearing loss is moderate. Some people with my degree of loss like and want hearing aids, but about half do not. The audiologist had just received this brand new product and first had to hook them to the computer which would program my specific hearing needs into the trial aids. Unfortunately, the audiologist could not get the tiny link to click in place. After half an hour, I asked her if I could try. It took me a few minutes but I got it. I was feeling pretty accomplished for an old half-deaf lady!
She programmed the aids and put them in my ears. What I noticed immediately is that the world is a VERY noisy place. Who knew? She left for a moment to get some paperwork, and I heard a very loud and distracting sound, somewhat water like, but loud.
When she returned, I told her I thought I was hearing some sort of feedback, but that it sounded like water.
“It is water,” she told me, “They turned on the faucet in the other room.”
It was at that moment that I realized I had been missing a world of sound.
She warned me that because there were many sounds I had been missing, I might find some sounds almost alarming, like a toilet flushing or dishes clanging.She told me I might find myself startling at common sounds that I had never heard so clearly before.
She instructed me in how to adjust the volume, put the aids in and take them out, and then sent me on my way.
I got in my car and turned it on. I almost jumped through the roof. Since when did cars make so many sounds?!!! Then I switched on the radio. I could understand the lyrics! I don't know the lyrics to any song because I have never been able to decipher what they say. I thought they all were just mumbling. Now I realize I just couldn't hear them!
During our dinner time show of Star Trek reruns, I told my husband to turn down the volume. Everyone was shouting. He laughed at me. He said it was quieter than we had ever set the volume.
The real test was talking to my teenager. I haven't understood a single word she has said for about three years. In fact, she is the one that insisted I needed a hearing aid and regularly reminds me. Sometimes she will subtly leave hearing aid advertisements lying on the end table by my recliner.
“How was school today?” I asked.
“Fine,” she said.
I heard her the first time. It is a miracle.
Then, in the morning during our devotional time, I didn't have to ask her to repeat a single sentence. Normally, I lip read and have to continually tell her to speak more clearly.
I went on a run and was shocked at the cacophony of sounds. I could hear millions of birds! I had no idea how much I had been missing! Or was this an unusual morning for birds to be out singing in profusion?
I remembered my days before knowing God. I didn't come to accept Jesus as Lord until I was 29 years old. He had been calling to me, I realize now in retrospect, for all 29 of those years. However, I had not heard Him. My ears were just fine, but my heart was closed to His entreaties. Now, as a believer for nearly 30 years, I hear Him all over the place. Everywhere I turn, there is God speaking, clear as a bell, with messages as beautiful and profuse as birds singing in the morning.
I may have to keep the hearing aids....
Psalm 103: 20
20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
Ezekiel 3: 27
27 But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God. ' He who will hear, let him hear; and he who will refuse to hear, let him refuse, for they are a rebellious house.
Psalm 105: 3-6
3 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
4 Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
5 Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
6 O offspring of Abraham, his servant,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones!
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
4 Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
5 Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
6 O offspring of Abraham, his servant,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones!
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
"Have some respect you $$##@$%%^&&&!" he cried out, "If I didn't want to be respectful I would call you a B----, but I will instead just tell you to get the @@#@@#$$%%^^^&&&*^^% off of the driveway!"
I employed my "love em to death" strategy:
"OK, God loves you, you know."
"Yes, I know, he loves every soul!" shrieked L.
"You are right about that," I called back, "Every single soul. Every single soul of every single baby too!"
He went on swearing, but I was sidetracked by a car driving along the road. I rushed into the road, and motioned to them to come talk to me. They stopped. The woman looked down and then away. The man, who was driving, looked at the steering wheel.
"Hi," I said, "I'm Vicky. Please don't go in there. You don't have to make this choice. There are so many resources and so many people that want to help you. Please, at least let me show you our literature. And see that RV on the corner? You can get a free ultrasound there. If you go in that clinic, they will take your money but they don't care about you."
The girl was still turned away.
"How far along are you?" I asked gently.
She looked briefly at me, and then straight ahead again, "Ten weeks."
I reached in my pocket and pulled out my little clay baby.
"See this baby?" I said. She turned and looked at my outstretched hand. "This is just a little older than the baby you are carrying. Your baby already has arms, and legs, and fingers and toes, just like this baby. He or she has a beating heart, and wants to live."
Inexplicably, at that point, my voice broke, and I started crying. I wasn't bawling all over their upholstery, but my heart broke for that little unwanted baby in that frightened girl's womb.
"Please, take my literature," I begged.
I handed the man my booklet with baby photos at various ages in utero.
"Here in the front is a whole page of resources in the community that can help you. We have a doctor who will deliver the baby for free, a woman who throws a huge baby shower, the free ultrasound, free pregnancy counseling, and we just had someone come on board that will advise with financial planning. Please take this and look at it. And here is my cell phone. You can call me or text me at any time. I will help in any way I am able."
The man took it.
They still didn't speak.
"If you turn around and park behind the RV, I will walk you to the nurse who is so sweet and kind. No strings attached. Just go see your baby."
The man nodded, and drove forward, but instead of pulling behind the RV, he pulled into the abortion mill lot. I tucked my clay baby in my pocket with a deep sigh.
As they walked into the mill, I called out again, "Please, please. You don't have to do this. Don't go in there. Please don't kill your baby."
They went in.
More cars arrived and more women gave us momentary glances. All of us sidewalk counselors seized those ten or fifteen seconds afforded us to plead for the life of their child. Fifteen seconds to change someone's heart....And then, I saw a car pull away from the mill. It was the car of the couple I had spoken with.
Ten minutes later, I got a text on my phone. Here is what it said:
"I wanted to let you know you inspired me so much. I kept my baby. You're truly a blessing from God."
This is a message I will print and hang on my wall, so that when I forget that God is bigger than all the fear and uncertainty of this world, it will remind me.
If you, like me, were moved to understand that God doesn't need anything but a willing heart to move mountains, please go to cities4life.org to see how you can help.
"I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of
blessing." / Ezekiel 34:26
Monday, February 24, 2014
The need for change and stability is present in the spiritual life as well. Through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we will grow and change, and be transformed. However, the source and goal of our transformation is eternal and unchanging -- God Himself. Hopefully, I greet each new Spring as a different person, a better person, than I was last Spring. However, God, like the Spring itself, is remarkably and comfortably the same, an old friend I can rely on to flash the same brilliant blessings, and life affirming mercies, and promises as He did last year. Amazing how God engineers even the seasons to remind us of Him.
We can count on us changing as surely as we can count on the seasons changing. There is one area however in which we must not change. In God, we are to stand firm, letting nothing change our faith and complete reliance on Him... unless of course we don't yet know Him. Then, this is the one thing we must change.
1 Corinthhians 15: 51-58
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[h]
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”[i]
Where, O death, is your sting?”[i]
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Sunday, February 23, 2014
"Oh," he said mournfully, "We are fresh out of oil."
I was a little angry, truth be told.
"But I just called! You told me to come right away!" I said, fortunately with a calm and not too obviously ticked-off voice.
"I'm teasing you," he said.
I am so gullible. I hate this about me. It happens all the time. People tease me and I don't get it.
"Oh, hahah. I guess I should have known..."
In fact, I believe the same mechanic teased me in the same way last month...and I fell for it then, too.
I don't like being teased, but it is nothing like what I endure at the Abortion Mill. Last time I was there, a young woman was walking to her car. Right before the abortion, the women must bring their purses back to their car. The abortionist won't let them bring phones back to the killing room since sometimes friends text the women, and they change their minds. I began pleading with her not to have the abortion.
"Shut your face!" she shouted, "Not one word or I am going to punch you."
"God loves you anyway," I said, despite her threat, "And He loves that baby inside you too."
She didn't punch me, thank goodness, but turned away. I knew her anger was born of grief and guilt, even if she didn't know it yet.
Taunting is as old as mankind. Look at Psalm 42, if you don't believe me. The psalmist is in despair because of the taunts of his enemies. He is in apparently distressful circumstances because his enemies taunt him by asking where his God is. Sadly, belief in God does not guarantee or insure that we will not face hardship. The psalmist knows this, but nonetheless, the taunting is like a deadly wound to him. Fortunately, he knows that despite the turmoil in his life, and despite the pain of the taunts, his hope and faith in God will ultimately be worth it. His eye is on eternity, which is sometimes the only way to endure what the world brings our way.
Meanwhile, I am writing myself a reminder about this teasing mechanic so that next oil change, I will not fall for it again.
Psalm 42: 10-11
10 As with a deadly wound in my bones,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
"Where is your God?"
11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Over the year, as I worked on it, it became less and less about dogs, murder, or mystery, and more and more about God. I didn't really plan it that way. I just couldn't help myself. But it is almost as though the manuscript attained a life of its own, and wrote itself. Yesterday, I wrote the final sentence and felt like shouting, "Of course! It had to be written this way! How could I not have known until I wrote it!?"
I don't know if other writers work this way. I don't know if they are as surprised by what they produce as I am. When I was rereading a section I wrote earlier, I wondered: who wrote that part? Was that really me who wrote it? I could not have written that part today if I were asked to. How did I write it yesterday? I am really curious. Am I the only one who feels that way? I look back on episodes in my life and often, not just occasionally, but OFTEN think: was that really me who did that, or thought that, or said that?
I know this is kind of strange, but the older I get, the less I feel that I am in control. I feel like if I am willing to just be a conduit, God can take over and do things I would never be able to do on my own.
The Bible sort of backs me up on this. We humans may think we are in charge, but we are not. God has a plan, and it will happen, with our acquiescence or not. I am inclined to let Him have His way.
English Standard Version (ESV)
21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
Friday, February 21, 2014
I saw a post by a facebook friend who does tireless work in dog rescue. She was ready to give up, not from the heartbreak of dog rescue but from the backbiting, insincere, thankless, and faithless behavior of people. Another facebook friend, a fellow author, had his account with Amazon suspended when a disgruntled contributor to one of his books lodged a complaint. He claimed Amazon never even asked for his side, but suspended his account while still selling his books and collecting money. He has no access to the sales. He was blindsided by the contributor's complaint, but complied with her request. Nonetheless, his career is being ruined by the pettiness and short-sightedness, and perhaps downright corruption of people.
It is easy to grow discouraged if our hope is in people. It should not be. People will fail us. Some will fail us less often than others, but ultimately every human being will disappoint us. Our faith should not be in people. God alone does not forsake us. God alone will not abandon us. God alone has our best interests at heart, and not just in the temporal realm. It is in God alone that our eternity rests.
The slope was very uncrowded. I thoroughly enjoyed the peaceful solitude of my thoughts and the beauty around me as I rode the chairlift by myself. One man in front of me waited, and asked if I wanted to ride up with him.
"No thanks," I said, feeling a little bad since he was just being friendly. However, I wanted to be alone with the mountain and God. I wanted to thank Him for organizing this day.
14 For the Lord will not forsake his people;
he will not abandon his heritage;
Psalm 95: 7-8
7 For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts,
Thursday, February 20, 2014
God is a master at using contrast to guide us. Free will/ slavery to sin, sin/redemption, pride/submission, death/life, struggle/restoration, light/darkness, anger/love....etc. The appreciation for one becomes all the more enhanced when contrasted with the other. And the ugliness of one becomes all the more apparent when contrasted with the other. I for one am very grateful that when the cares of my heart are many, His consolations cheer my soul.
When the world becomes too dark and cold and dreary, it is good to remember that there will come days of sunshine and warmth. How fun that He brought that contrast in a single week here in Charlotte!
19 When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
I went back to bed...but not Lucky! Lucky went wandering about, nosing over trashcans, rattling the endtables, and closing squeaky doors with his nose. When we ignored those attempts for attention at 5:30 a.m., he came over and licked my hand, and whined.
And so while I was bleary-eyed yesterday at work on my novel, guess who was sleeping all day? That's right -- the wire faced marauder of the night. He might be senile, or he might just be up at night and wants to be sure all of us are up as well. I went to bed thinking if it happened again, I may just let the neighbors shoot him.
Or maybe because he is old and his days are numbered, he just wants to "number his days aright." Maybe he just wants reassurance that he is on the right track, appreciated, and still loved. Even after knocking over ten trash cans, and waking us every hour.
It is fitting that I am reading Psalm 90 in my study today, about asking God to "make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us and for as many years as we have seen evil." The psalmist cries out, apparently from the perspective of old age that he has waited a long time, and seen much evil, waiting for God to return. One gets the sense he cannot hold out much longer. If he were a dog, perhaps he too would be roaming in the darkness, making noise and begging for attention. "Someone notice! I have lived a long time, and suffered a great deal! Show me I am loved!"
I love what my husband says to Lucky when he comes continually over to him and noses his hand so he will pet him, "Yes Lucky, you are still a good dog. Just like you were a good dog 5 minutes ago, you are still a good dog. And in the next five minutes, you will still be a good dog."
If the psalmist could nudge God's hand, I bet he would hear, "Yes, you are still my beloved. Just like you were my beloved yesterday, you will still be my beloved tomorrow. You will always be my beloved."
Last night, exhausted from my vigil with Lucky the night before I slept like a log. However, I understand from my hubby that in the midst of the rain storm in he early morning, Lucky escaped. He returned drenched a couple hours later and my weary husband crated him. I wonder if he was still thinking, "You are a good dog, Lucky..."
Psalm 90: 12-17
12 So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
13 Return, O Lord! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!
Monday, February 17, 2014
Knowing that all that could be said was probably already said, I decided to add my own hopeful message. I made a little clay baby that would be around the size and age of the woman's baby. I am holding it in my hand in the picture on this blog. It is very hard to make the baby younger than twelve weeks (in utero) since they are so small, and my eyes and manual dexterity are not what they used to be. (OK, yes, they were never very good....) Still, I knew my model was close. I added the little baby to my counseling materials and prayed I would have the opportunity to place the little model in the hands of the mother. Sometimes, if someone can see and handle what is only till then an abstraction, it helps make the choice more stark, more obvious.
It was frigid when we arrived at the mill. The abortion "bouncer" - the security man who escorts women past us dangerous counselors with our Bibles -- was in particularly 'fine form.'
He was using words that would make your toes curl, and performing obscene gestures while shouting crude and rather disgusting phrases our way. In my opinion, his mom had definitely not washed his mouth out with soap nearly often enough.
A car with a driver who had just dropped off his girlfriend was pulling out of the mill.
"Can I talk with you?" I begged.
The young man nodded and rolled down his window.
I told him that there were other choices, including a free ultrasound unit in the RV right along the curb beside us. I told him about the terrible dangers and terrible abuses of the doctors and the abortion clinic staff. At that point, the "bouncer" came racing towards me, screaming and swearing.
"Are you a newbie?" he demanded.
I said , "Yes."
"Well get the $##%%$#@@#$$ out of the driveway! You aren't allowed to talk here!" As he continued spewing obscenities at me, I told him, "Yes sir. I am sorry."
I turned back to the young man, and asked if he would pull over to the sidewalk so I could talk with him. I was afraid he would drive away, but he didn't. He pulled over. I talked to him quite a while, showed him pictures of babies in utero, explained that God had a plan and purpose for that baby, and that there were many resources in the community and through cities4life that would help him. He listened without speaking.
"She's already in there," he said, finally.
"Get her out," I pleaded, "It is not a safe place. Bring her this literature. Please."
He nodded, and took the literature. He turned the car around to go back into the clinic parking lot. I told him I was praying.
Then, another car was driving slowly by and I ran out into the street. The driver stopped and rolled down her window.
"Please can I give you some literature before you go in there? Would you instead use our free ultrasound, staffed by wonderful nurses who want to help you?"
"God must have sent you my way," said the woman, "I don't know if I'm pregnant but I see that RV also says pregnancy tests."
"Yes," I told her, "And I will walk you over. Don't go in that clinic. It is an evil place and dangerous."
My friend who had approached agreed, "You don't want to go in that place."
So the woman took our literature and we walked her to the RV. The people that are coming to the clinic are only coming for abortions. That is all the clinic does. I have been warned that because of their guilt many of the people lie to the counselors about their reasons for being there. It is best to assume they are there to abort, and proceed on that assumption.
When the woman I'd spoken with emerged from the RV, she was overjoyed. She was 9 weeks pregnant, and was certain God had planted us counselors in her path. She showed me the ultrasound photo of her child. I pulled out the little clay model I had made.
"Your baby is almost this big," I told her. She held the little baby I had made and smiled. She hugged me and promised that she would share our literature with anyone who might think abortion was the answer. She was still smiling as she drove away.
Shortly thereafter, another counselor was speaking with a young woman and her sister in law. They agreed to go in our RV for the free ultrasound staffed with pro-life nurses. They were in there a long time. Meanwhile, the young man I had spoken to emerged from the abortion mill with his girlfriend. He stopped and told the counselors at the driveway that they had decided against the abortion. I did a happy dance, not up to Olympic standards, but not bad for an old grey haired lady.
Still waiting for the young woman to emerge from the ultrasound, another car left the mill with a man and woman in it. We knew the abortionist had not yet arrived. The man gave us a thumbs up, smiling. Another choice for life!
I begged for half an hour with a young man to go back in and bring his girlfriend out. He stood by his car, holding the hand of a toddler. He never looked at me the whole time, but at one point lay his head on the car roof and seemed to be crying. The abortion doctor arrived and I told the young man time was short. He must get her out, now. Finally he turned his face towards me and said, "I feel bad about it." But he got in his car and drove away.
At last, the young lady emerged from the ultrasound. She and her sister in law walked towards us.
"Did you choose life?" I asked. (I have been told that subtlety is not my forte.)
"May I hug you?" I said.
My friend gave her a handmade baby cap and booties, and a gift card. She gave her her number and the list of free and low cost resources available to help her make ends meet through the pregnancy and birth.
"I have to go back in the clinic because they have my license," said the woman, "But I promise you, I am coming right back out."
We watched her return to the abortion mill, praying she really would come back out. We told her they might try to bully her and not easily give up. My friend and I watched anxiously.
A moment later, she came out.
"Thank you all so much for being here," said the sister in law, "I tried to tell her not to kill her baby, but she didn't listen to me. Thank God you all were here."
Yes. That is exactly right. Thank God.
While this is told from my perspective and experiences, there is a full team on the sidewalk and it is a group effort. One faithful brave soul speaks at length over the loudspeaker sound system, urging women to leave the mill. A mother with her 6 young children in tow comes simply to see the women and pray for them. Volunteers line the sidewalk, all calling out to the people determined to abort the precious babies. Many people who know of the ministry are at home praying. It is a united effort of people gathered in God's name in loving determination to challenge evil.
I never did get to put my little clay model in the hands of the woman who had chosen life, and then decided to go through with the abortion. I don't know what her final decision was, but I know that I am not the one responsible for the choice for life or for death. All I can do is be there as a conduit through which the light of Jesus might flow. Before leaving for the mill Monday, I was meditating on the verse, "In your light, we see light." We are not the light, the best we can do is reflect His light. If we are faithful in that, we may even be blessed enough to see His salvation in action.
Five babies that we know of were saved that day.
Would you like to be a light in the darkness of the abortion industry? Please go to cities4life.org to see how you can help.
Ezekiel 22: 27-30
27 Her officials within her are like wolves tearing their prey; they shed blood and kill people to make unjust gain. 28 Her prophets whitewash these deeds for them by false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says’—when the Lord has not spoken. 29 The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the foreigner, denying them justice.
30 “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.
My Mom is a gorgeous and sweet woman. She is quiet and gentle and totally NOT materialistic. She has lovely blue grey eyes and white hair and looks stunning in the color teal. She knows this, and teal has always been her favorite color for clothes. Her birthday is quite appropriately on Valentine's Day.
I went shopping a few weeks ago looking for a teal something or other for her birthday. I could not believe my eyes when I saw a teal jacket, the absolute perfect shade of teal. It had everything she loves - zip front, pockets, and elegant simple lines. It shouted "MOM!" to me. I snagged it. It was the only one and was a Petite Medium. My Mom is thin, but not necessarily petite. Still, I tried it on, tried to gauge Mom's size to me, and decided it would fit. It would have to fit! I mailed it with breathless expectation of joy.
On Valentine's Day, I called, anxious to hear what she thought of her gift.
"I opened the most beautiful gift today," she said, "A gorgeous jacket, just the right color...but alas...it is too small."
I was broken hearted, particularly because I had been so certain that jacket had been expressly made for my mother.
There was a 50% off coupon for the store where I had gotten the jacket in my inbox today. I deleted it, remembering the jacket had been the only one like it on the rack. Then, I decided I had a quiet day anyway...may as well go look for the jacket...just in case.
I went to the store and prowled through the racks. And then, I saw it! The jacket! The same lovely jacket! I snatched it off the rack and checked the size: petite small. I almost cried. Too small. God had teased me with the perfect jacket and then ripped it right out of my hands...again.
I scoured the whole rack and all the racks nearby. No more jackets.
Then I did something I don't do often when shopping. I bowed my head and I prayed:
"Dear Lord, my mother loved that jacket. And it was so beautiful, as though it were made for her. Please let there be one more jacket, a petite large."
I opened my eyes and turned to the rack in front of me. There was the teal jacket, a petite large.
I called my parents instantly. Mom felt certain this one would fit. And Dad was ecstatic, now admitting that Mom had been very disappointed when the beautiful jacket, just the right color and perfect in every way had not fit.
I had done a Bible study with my daughter that day about how God not only provides our needs, but more often than not, even our desires. God is never stingy in His love. I know that sometimes we become confused over what we need, and even think we need things that are indeed harmful to us. God always desires to give us what is BEST. I am thinking God's message today was to my mother, reminding her that she is loved beyond measure, and not only by her daughter.
(PS- I found the 50% coupon on my smart phone so not only was the jacket perfect...it was on sale.)
Psalm 57: 9-10
9 I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
10 For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Ephesians 2: 4-10
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
But, the earthquake shuddered a few houses and then was over and done. And the snow from the blizzard is almost entirely melted now from the streets. Later in the week it is forecast to be 70 degrees. Incidentally, that is the day I have organized the next homeschool ski trip. The mountains will be 20 degrees cooler, but still...Mighty strange happenings this winter.
When things are out of the ordinary, they get our attention. Sometimes it takes shockwaves to shake us out of our complacency. When God sends those earth shaking moments, there is a reason. He reminds us that in the end days, there will indeed be earthquakes, along with a whole host of other fun phenomenon like famines and pestilences, and terrors. Believers will be persecuted. And how does God describe all this terribleness? Opportunity!
Yes folks, that's right. The Bible says this is God's provision of opportunity for us to bear witness of Him. Nothing quite compels the unbeliever to seek shelter in God than disaster. What golden opportunities are presented before us to give the reason for our hope and our future! Might be good to start practicing what we will say for the next time opportunity strikes! ( I mean something other than, "Yikes!")
Luke 21: 11-13
11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. 13 This will be your opportunity to bear witness.
Saturday, February 15, 2014
I didn't think I would be able to do my art class at the nursing home this week. Since the roads were still icy after the wallop of a snowstorm we'd had here in Charlotte, I walked there. It was already warming up, but the sidewalks were difficult to navigate. They were still snow-covered and icy with treacherous valleys and mounds, churned by the other passersby. It was a little tricky, but I made it.
I was glad I had made the effort. I had a full class. We drew a Cupid for Valentine's Day. One of my class members was over 90! It was her first time in the art class, and she drew a very passable Cupid. When it was time for me to go, I was packing up to leave and the sweet eldest member told me she had surely enjoyed the class and thanked me for coming. She told me to be careful walking home, and was grateful that I had walked so far in the snow just to teach her how to draw a Cupid.
"No one will care that I drew a Cupid, but I had fun," she told me.
"I bet if you give it to a grandchild and tell him you drew it, he will cherish it," I said.
"Maybe so," she said, gracing me with a lovely, sincere smile.
I trudged home over the now melting sidewalk ice feeling warmed in heart, and useful. I never seem to struggle to relate to the elderly. I love how they are grateful for company, (any company...even mine! ) and are comfortable sitting quietly. They don't really care if their artwork turns out or not. They have nothing to prove anymore. I always feel appreciated in the company of the elderly.
It was just what I needed. Appreciation and acceptance. It is really what we all need, but so many of us are stingy in doling it out. It took me many years to understand that when I try to meet the needs of those who are weak and most need love, I am strengthened, and I feel loved. No wonder God keeps urging us to care for those least able to care for themselves. He is offering us a blessing.
4 Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked."
From Charles Spurgeon:
"Lord, help me to glorify thee; I am poor; help me to glorify thee by
contentment; I am sick; help me to give thee honour by patience; I have
talents; help me to extol thee by spending them for thee; I have time; Lord,
help me to redeem it, that I may serve thee; I have a heart to feel; Lord, let
that heart feel no love but thine, and glow with no flame but affection for
thee; I have a head to think; Lord, help me to think of thee and for thee;
thou hast put me in this world for something; Lord, show me what that is, and
help me to work out my life-purpose: I cannot do much; but as the widow put in
her two mites, which were all her living, so, Lord, I cast my time and
eternity too into thy treasury; I am all thine; take me, and enable me to
glorify thee now, in all that I say, in all that I do, and with all that I
Friday, February 14, 2014
Day 2 wasn't quite as easy as Day 1 of cross-country skiing. I was sore from Day 1, but didn't realize how sore until I was out skiing. Ouch. I didn't even know I had muscles there....However, I knew I would not be blessed with a Day 3. In all likelihood the snow would be melting by the late afternoon. So I ignored the aching muscles, and the definite escalating fatigue. I would not miss this rare and blessed gift from heaven.
I knew when I reached the golf course I was at least half way tired, and thus should turn back. However, I just couldn't. I did a lap around the golf course. In the process, I got a little lost and a little snow blind. (Stupid not to have worn sunglasses or goggles...) Who knew how different the landscape would look under a foot of snow? I found snowmobile tracks to follow for a portion of the journey. It was getting really tiring breaking a path in the deep snow, so the snowmobile tracks were much appreciated.
I was getting mighty tired, and couldn't figure out the route back to the main drag. I skiied to the top of a green (which was now white...), with a flag sticking up out of the snow that was at a high point on the course. From there, with the higher vantage point, the whole landscape became more clear and I knew where I was. I could see the break in the bushes where I had come onto the field. And there were my tracks! Not only was I happy to have found the evidence of where I had entered, but I could now ski home in the tracks I had made. In deep snow, that is much less fatiguing than breaking a new path.
My reading in Psalms that morning had been about invisible tracks. Despite the storms that rage around us at times, and the unclear paths obscured by the tempest, there is still a Way and we are still being guided. God has been guiding us from the moment we enter life, till the moment He calls us home. However, the psalmist tells us that at times, God's footprints leading us are unseen. This would be particularly frightening in the storms of life, and that is often when we can't see where He is directing us as clearly as we should. What a picture of faith that is! God is leading us, but we feel we are walking blind on an uncertain path. We walk by faith, not by sight. It is always best to find the highest place closest to Him that we can when we feel lost. Sometimes, it makes the way more clear to us. Nonetheless, whether we see them or not, God's footprints are there, and if we walk by faith on the path He has set before us, we will make it Home.
I followed my tracks all the way back into my neighborhood. Finally, very weary, I stumbled onto my front porch. I made it. I wasn't certain at times that I would.
"You can melt now," I told the lovely snow.
Psalm 77: 16-19
16 When the waters saw you, O God,
when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
indeed, the deep trembled.
17 The clouds poured out water;
the skies gave forth thunder;
your arrows flashed on every side.
18 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
your lightnings lighted up the world;
the earth trembled and shook.
19 Your way was through the sea,
your path through the great waters;
yet your footprints were unseen.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
The last time I cross-country skied was about five years ago. Would I still know how to do it? I strapped on my skis, and headed off on the roads of Charlotte, which get snow like this once a decade. It was perhaps the most perfect cross-country ski snow trail I have ever skied. I was pleased to discover that my muscles remembered instantly how to cross-country ski. I guess it is like riding a bike; you never forget.
The snow was perfect -- just the right amount of slickness. The skis skimmed beautifully across the surface. I glided joyfully though my neighborhood. Then I headed to the sidewalks of the busy street beside our neighborhood. There were few cars out on the unplowed streets, but many of them honked and waved at me, and several rolled down their windows and took my picture. It is not every day you see someone skiing through the streets of Charlotte.
I skied about 3 miles to the nearest golf course, and had fun on the many hills of the golf course. By now, I was covered with a layer of sleet, so figured it was best to head back before the forecast freezing rain commenced. With the wind at my back, I swooshed over the snow, smiling and waving back at the cars passing by.
I was glad I had turned around when I did. It was glorious but tiring. I had had to cancel our homeschool downhill ski trip because of the storm. Who would have figured I would be able to ski on roads in the balmy south? What an unexpected blessing!
It amazed me that after all those years of not being on cross-country skis, it was as though I had just skied yesterday. It was like returning to an old, beloved friend.
When I came in, I sat down and read my Bible section for the day. It was Psalm 73, which ends with one of my favorite passages, about God being with us continually, even when we are far from Him in our trespasses and sin. He is always there, so that when we finally turn and grasp His outstretched hand, we realize it feels natural, as though we have always known Him even when we thought we did not. He never forgets us, even though we often forget Him. But when we return, He "receives us in glory" and our path is dazzling in the exquisite beauty of His presence. We wonder how we could have ever forgotten He was there. It feels as though we never left, so comfortable and natural is the gift of His presence.
I dreamt of streetlights lining my route as the snow fluttered all about me like angels.
The ice is expected this morning. We thought we were all set with our generator...but it won't start. If we lose power, we are going to be little freezepops. We should have checked it out BEFORE we knew we would need it. The symbolism of this is certainly fodder for another day, another blog.
Psalm 73: 21-26
21 When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
22 I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward you.
23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
He had been acting weird again yesterday, prowling the house and nosing over things, following me around, begging for me to pet him continually. He followed me into my bedroom last night and then pawed and scratched and whined for me to let him out of my bedroom just as I drifted to sleep. Stupid dog.
But this morning, he was not on his couch, not on his alternate couch, not on the forbidden couch, nor on the forbidden guestroom bed. (for Lucky, 'forbidden' means 'not while they are watching'.) I opened the back door and called him. No Lucky. I went out in the frigid morning and crept in the darkness, pushing bushes aside and looking under the deck. Had he crawled out here to die?
If so, he had hidden himself well. I went out the front door, thinking maybe he had escaped the fenced back yard. No Lucky waiting in the cold snow. I woke my husband and told him Lucky was gone. As he was getting dressed to go search for Lucky, I opened the front door and called again. I was feeling very remorseful. When Lucky had been asking for all that attention, had he been saying "Goodbye" and I hadn't understood? We never know how long we have with those we love. How could I have been impatient with him for all his whining, and bumping, and following, and then waking me (again) the night before? What I would give to have it all back now!
Oh how sorry and sad I was! And then, a wet cold Lucky rounded the corner at the side of the house and pranced up to me wagging his soggy tail. I have been given a second chance. I was so happy to see him alive that I didn't even scold him for climbing the fence on the coldest day of the year so that he could shiver in the snow and freak us out when we couldn't find him.
God was speaking loud and clear to me. Those we love are not guaranteed to always be here. In fact, it is a guarantee that they will not be, not on earth. Love them as God loves us, in all their sin, and irritable quirks, and annoying habits. Love them today because today may be all we have.
My cross country skis are waiting by the door. If it snows, as soon as there is enough, I will seize the day and latch on those skis. In Charlotte, snow today may melt by tonight.
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
When I arrived, I felt the usual angst and dread, and sense of evil. My chest hurt. I have experienced that before when very anxious. One of the other counselors saw me and said she had a sense that I was going to be used today. I felt chills.
"You are going to speak today on the microphone!" she predicted.
"I am?" I quivered. (Not if I die of a heart attack first which is what I think I may be having...)
Before I was able to fulfill this great joy, we found out the abortion clinic had applied for the public broadcast sound system on the side walk. They don't want to use it; they just don't want the sidewalk counselors to use it. When we can speak on the sound system, the women in the back rooms waiting for abortions can hear us plead to them to come out. Some do actually leave and make the choice for life. The abortion workers do not want that. They make a lot of money from the abortions. In fact, they won't let the women keep their phones when they go into the back room, since so many friends will text and plead with the women to let their babies live at that last critical moment. So there is a weekly battle applying for the sound permit. Only one is granted. Sometimes we get it. Sometimes the abortionists get it.
My friend had a megaphone, and we didn't need a permit to use that. So I bravely (for me) picked it up and made one brief plea to remember that the Bible tells us God had knit that baby together in the womb, and every cell was lovingly created for His purpose, every hair planned and numbered. It was a short utterance, but now I knew even this terrifying thing could be done by someone as timid as I.
Then a car came down the road towards the abortion mill. I stepped into the street, and waved to them. It was a mother and what seemed to be a young teen. I motioned for them to roll down the window. The young girl looked frightened. The mother looked shell-shocked. To my surprise, they stopped. Most of the people who pull into the mill give us the finger, or swear at us, or look stonily ahead. Few ever engage with us.
The mother of the teen rolled down her window.
I pulled out my booklet of all the resources that Cities4Life offers to young women who choose life.
I told them my name, and asked if they would consider instead of going in the clinic, to go into the RV with the mobile ultrasound unit. This RV is staffed with nurses who hope to offer the alternative to abortion -- choosing life for the baby.
"It's free," I told them, "If you go in that clinic, you will pay. And that is not a safe place. Do you know it was recently closed down because of illegal procedures? And both the doctors have had their licenses revoked. Please consider the free ultrasound. They are not after your money, and they are kind and gentle."
I glanced at the teen. She looked close to tears.
"Are you frightened, honey?" I asked.
She nodded. I showed them my booklet, with the full page of resources and services in the area that can help them. Believe me, I was stumbling over words, but praying in my heart.
The mother of the girl paused, and took a deep puff on a cigarette. She glanced at the teen who had not spoken but was looking at the pictures of the baby in the booklet I had given her.
"OK," she said.
I could have kissed her. I walked them to the ultrasound RV where I passed them off to the nurses. Then I stood a few feet from the RV and prayed.
About fifteen minutes later, they emerged. The girl clutched something in her hand. The mother said, "Well, now we go home and tell my husband the good news." She was not being sarcastic. Something miraculous had happened in the RV. My friend, another counselor, gave the girl a gift card to BabiesRUs, and a hand knitted bonnet for the baby. We walked with them to their car. As the girl sat down, I noticed what was in her hand. The ultrasound picture of her baby. The baby was clear as a bell.
"May I see?" I asked.
She smiled slightly and handed me the photo.
"Oh my! Look at that precious head, and bottom and legs...!" I handed the photo back to her and told her my name and phone number were on the booklet, just inside the cover. If she ever wanted to talk, or had questions, I would be there.
"God bless you in this decision," I said.
As they drove away, I no longer felt like I was getting sick, or headachey, and the fatigue of a sleepless night was pushed aside. A precious life was spared. I cannot tell you how blessed I felt.
When I got home, I read a Bible study by Max Lucado. I loved what he said about following God's call:
"Does Jesus still do it? Does he still use simple folks like us to change the world?God doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called. Don't let Satan convince you otherwise. He will try. He will tell you that God has an IQ requirement or an entry fee. That he employs only specialists and experts, governments and high-powered personalities. When Satan whispers such lies, dismiss him with this truth: God stampeded the first-century society with swaybacks, not thoroughbreds. Before Jesus came along, the disciples were loading trucks, coaching soccer, and selling Slurpee drinks at the convenience store. Their collars were blue, and their hands were calloused, and there is no evidence that Jesus chose them because they were smarter or nicer than the guy next door. The one thing they had going for them was a willingness to take a step when Jesus said, "Follow me."
To see how you can become involved in this frontline ministry, go to cities4life.org.
Psalm 72: 4-7
4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the children of the needy,
and crush the oppressor!
5 May they fear you while the sun endures,
and as long as the moon, throughout all generations!
6 May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
like showers that water the earth!
7 In his days may the righteous flourish,
and peace abound, till the moon be no more!
And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Monday, February 10, 2014
I was thinking about this concept in another way during our Bible school class Sunday. I was thinking about how much Jesus knew of what would happen when He went to the cross. Since He was fully human, did He have the same limitations that we humans would have in knowing exactly what would happen in the future? Or since He was also fully God, would He know exactly what He was going to have to endure in all the gory terribleness? He certainly knew He would have to endure separation from God, something He had never had to experience, and the horror of which caused Him to cry out,"If it be possible, let this cup pass from me!"
However, did He know the full degree of suffering and physical pain that would be inflicted upon Him? If He did know, and I suspect He did, it makes His sacrifice all the more remarkable. Sometimes I wish I could know the future, but when I look back on my life and think of some of the struggles I endured, I wonder if I would have had the courage to go on if I knew ahead of time what I was in for? I am pretty sure the answer is NO.
Which is one of the reasons I love Jesus. His courage and sacrifice humbles me.
I still cringe thirty years later when I remember a group of friends who picked up a live frog and were tossing it amongst them like a baseball. I was horror stricken, but stood frozen and mute. I knew what was the right thing to do and say, but couldn't. I wanted them all to like me more than I wanted to save the innocent frog. Finally, unable to stand it another second, I called out, "Oh, the poor frog."
The frog tossing stopped. They let the poor frog go. I still wonder if the frog lived after all that knocking about.
If I could have seen into the future and known that thirty years later my conscience would still sear over my lack of courage in doing the right thing, taking a stand earlier and boldly...might I have spoken sooner? I think episodes like this are in part why I feel so driven to write. We humans can't see the future, but we can use our own failures to warn those of the pitfalls and consequences of ignoring or trivializing the danger and lure of sin. I think few young people understand how deeply remorse cuts into one's soul. Who considers the repercussions of not standing up for a frog?
I guess I will take the plunge and buy the full paid version of Sketchbook Pro. I should not hold back because I do not know what the future holds. I should embrace it, and go forth boldly using every God-given talent for His glory. Maybe if I am courageous in the little things, God will give me the character and grace to tackle the bigger things.
39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will."
Sunday, February 9, 2014
With the Olympics now in full swing, I am also only a spectator. I watch those incredible athletes and wish I could do what they can do. Since I know I never will come close, I enjoy camping out in front of the television and marveling at their skill.
It is important to know when one should be content to be a spectator, and when one should be an active participant. Sometimes, we get those roles confused. I fear that Christianity is becoming a spectator sport. Lots of people cheer those in the trenches on, but how often do we excuse inaction on the commands of God, saying: "Oh, I could never do that....?"
Yes you can! Who is on your side? If God has commanded you to do something, He will equip you to do it. And if you are willing and give all you have, even if it is not enough, God will bless you and the work of your hands. Sometimes we won't see the result, but a willing spirit is all that is required of us. Leave the results to God, but don't squelch the Spirit with a reluctant heart.
Never cheer from the sidelines when you should be running the race.
However, much as I love to ski, I will never be participating in the Olympic Giant Slalom so I will be sitting in my recliner sipping a hot beverage and rooting for team USA.
However, I did manage to slip out for a ten minute walk in the beautiful day. It was gratifying to feel the actual sun on my face rather than watch the sun on the faces of everyone else.
Psalm 69: 6-7
6 Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me,
O Lord God of hosts;
let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me,
O God of Israel.
7 For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach,
that dishonor has covered my face.
8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here I am! Send me."
Saturday, February 8, 2014
Then the bedroom door crashed open, and our crazy terrier Lucky came running out. With an explosion not unlike Mount Vesuvius, he spewed yellowish goo and a huge gob of something that looked like a partially digested mound of paper, grass, and LKW (Lord Knows What.) Then he hurried out the dog door, presumably to complete whatever tummy unrest had unfortunately erupted in our living room.
Well, that certainly put a kibosh on the peace and sweet scent of the morning...At least now I knew why he has been acting so strangely lately. He was busily preparing his canine enactment of the Big Bang. Afterwards, he ate his breakfast lustily and seemed normal the rest of the day. No more strange wanting to crawl into my lap, or bumping his nose into things. I think he had had a massive tummy ache and now felt much better. Whatever nasty thing he had eaten that he shouldn't have appeared to have found its way out.
I felt a little terrible. All those days that he had been begging for attention, and I was getting annoyed were because his tummy hurt. He wanted comfort, and since he couldn't use words, he used dog language. I didn't understand. And I didn't comfort him nearly as much as I should have.
Lucky is not alone in not being proficient at expressing despair or distress. So many of us are hurting, and we express it with anger. Anger at each other, loved ones, and God. Or we express it through destructive behavior or addictions. Some of us turn our discontent upon ourselves, in depression or fretful continual worry. And almost all of those responses, instead of drawing others near to help us, push them further away.
With one notable exception.
God knows why we do all the things we do. God knows what we are trying to communicate in such dysfunctional ways. God knows our heart, and our hurts...and the remedy. And even when we spew our worst vitriol His way, He doesn't run from us. He cradles our soul gently until the awful causes of our angst has been dispelled, and then He reminds us we are loved, have always been loved, will always be loved.
That's our hope, and our model.
When Lucky came back inside, I called him over and rubbed his tummy. He was happy enough to accept my ministrations, but he no longer was demanding it. I hope next time I will be gentler in understanding the need behind the annoying attempts to communicate it.
My Soul Thirsts for You
A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.
1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
6 when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
7 for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
Friday, February 7, 2014
"It only happens about four times a year," said the Group Sales manager, when I told her I had never seen the mountain so beautiful.
The freezing rain the night before had fallen and then instantly transformed the trees all over the county. I stood on top of the mountain and as far as I could see, the shimmery white trees glittered. As the day progressed, I noticed that from the top of the mountain I could see the glistening white slowly giving way to the brown and grey of a valley in winter rest. The brown slowly spread in the distance, and I knew that the ephemeral gleaming of the mountain would likely not last another day.
I think the ice has already vanished from the trees on the mountain.
Deuteronomy 30: 15-20
15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life....
5 Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" 6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Thursday, February 6, 2014
During the day, he has a new habit as well. He follows us around, and when we stop, he pokes his nose in the back of our knees. When we move forward, he follows like a shadow. When we become annoyed because every time we turn, we are tripping over Lucky, he looks at us through his mop of wild terrier hair with a completely unconcerned look on his face. It is clear he doesn't think he has gone bonkers.
He doesn't seem sick or in pain. He just seems ... clingy, and plumb crazy. And the more he begs for attention, the less I want to give it. He is so needy that it is overwhelming. None of us can meet his need for constant affirmation.
As I was on a walk with Honeybun, I thought about how she is just the opposite. She is aloof, and doesn't want us to pet her, especially around her head. She follows us and settles always in the same room where we are, but she doesn't whine, ask to be petted, or poke her nose to make things clatter to the ground so we will give her attention.
I am sorry to say that I am a Lucky. I need a lot of affirmation, and a constant stream of "good girl!" to feel I am worthy. I want to be a Honeybun -- content and secure in the knowledge that I am loved. I was considering the implications and reasons for this, and then reminded myself that we all seek applause to one degree or another. It is hard to remember that the only applause that really matters is from God. I don't know if He physically is in Heaven clapping for us, but we do know that whenever anyone makes the choice to follow Him, the angels rejoice. So I am already getting heavenly kudos! And while I couldn't find any verse that specifically says God applauds, there are a few that say He rejoices over us and even sings in delight over us! Even when we make a mess of our lives, and bump into those things we shouldn't be bumping, He continues to love us and delight in us.
I will try to keep that model in mind when Lucky is playing the guitar at midnight again.
New International Version (NIV)
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Finally the test ended. Not a moment too soon. I was pretty sure little air was still left. We went to the sweet audiologist's office to go over my results. She showed me my hearing graph. I don't need extra volume at all. My hearing at all levels of loudness is normal. However, the clarity of sound hearing is in the moderate loss zone. She told me in all honesty that half of the people in my range don't need or want hearing aids. Half of them do benefit however.
The place where I went has a great new program where I can try an aid for two weeks with no charge, no strings attached. If I find it worthwhile, I buy one. If not, I go home, a tad hard of hearing but none the poorer. As we chatted, she found out I was a writer and asked what kinds of books I write.
"Well, really they are all about God, but told through true stories. My first one was about a rescue dog we saved who turned vicious, and it is about the trials and struggles trying to rehabilitate her. But it is really about how God teaches and reveals Himself through hard times."
The sweet lady grew a little teary, and said, "I want to show you this, not to make you sad, but to show you how much I get what you are saying." She held up a framed photo of her with a handsome young man.
"This is my son," she said, "He was 18 in this picture. He was killed in October by a car while on a mission trip. I lost my husband 4 years ago. It was very hard...but I learned not to ask God 'why', but 'what'.....what do I do now in the face of this? And I learned that you cannot bear it, but you can get through it, and He is with you."
What is left to say?
She always wanted to write a book, and wondered if she should write this story.
"I have always believed," I told her, "That the only thing I understand about tragedy is that it feels less meaningless if I can help others going through what I endured."
"Yes," she agreed.
I gave her some pointers on how to get started on her book, and made an appointment to come back to be fitted with my free trial hearing aid.
"Now I know why you were meant to be here today," said the audiologist.
My thoughts exactly.
Psalm 55: 4-8, 16-18, 22
4 My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
5 Fear and trembling come upon me,
and horror overwhelms me.
6 And I say, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;
7 yes, I would wander far away;
I would lodge in the wilderness;
8 I would hurry to find a shelter
from the raging wind and tempest."
16 But I call to God,
and the Lord will save me.
17 Evening and morning and at noon
I utter my complaint and moan,
and he hears my voice.
18 He redeems my soul in safety
from the battle that I wage,
22 Cast your burden on the Lord,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved.