Saturday, January 23, 2010

Two Messages on Her Phone


Standing next to me, arms around my waist, she holds tight.  I start to move away but her voice stops me and we remain in the comfortable embrace of sisters.  “I keep two messages on my phone,” she tells me. 

I know what she’s going to say.  The first is an encouraging message from a friend and the second is…her voice breaks into my knowing, “One says you are completely blind in your left eye.”

I’m genuinely surprised by her confession.  Tears burn my eyes and I squeeze my lids tight to keep them from falling.  I remember that message.      

The voice which started out strong now falters a bit, but she gathers strength and continues, “The other says that your doctor thinks it’s a miracle that you have your sight back.” 

With that, the floodgates are opened and my cheeks become spillways for tears.  Voice thick with emotion, I manage to say, “I didn’t know.” 

Now her tears join mine.  “It’s just such a miracle,” she whispers. 

“I know,” I say.  “It is.  It really is,” and for one holy, immeasurable moment we both marvel at the miracle. 

I can’t help but think how wise she is to keep that visible reminder of our miracle (it’s hers and yours too because you prayed).  Remembering the amazing things He has done for us not only brings us joy as we rejoice in the favor of our God, it also bolsters our faith that He will continue to work on our behalf and do exceedingly, abundantly above all we can ask or think

Are you needing a miracle today?  I encourage you to take a moment to strengthen your faith in His ability to do amazing things for you by remembering what He has ALREADY done!   

photo: tpacific

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Does it Matter if Our Kids See Us?

Bible Small for Blog 

A few days ago, I read an eBook called Maximize Your Mornings.  The author encourages early rising in order to assure that time in the Word, prayer and exercise actually happen each day.  The idea is to be able to do these things BEFORE anything or anyone else is needing your attention. 

While this is certainly logical and efficient, and even the way I generally study personally, I have began to wonder where it is that my kids learn HOW to study the Bible if they never SEE me studying the Bible. 

I have to ask myself, am I willing to MODEL this personal communion with the Lord to my children?  It will no doubt mean more work and less effectiveness initially as I train them about not interrupting and respecting this time with the Lord.  Still wouldn’t it be awesome to transmit by example a thirst for the Word, the need for communion with the God of the universe?

What do you think?  Is it important that our kids actually SEE us studying the Word or do you think it is enough that we do it privately and they witness the fruit in our lives?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Beautiful Art No Matter Where You Live

Need something to fill that blank space in your living room?  Pop over to Missionary Moms for some doable and affordable ideas! 

graphic by Ana, used by permission

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Power is Broken

We were home alone that afternoon, my sisters and I.  I walked into the kitchen, for I know not what, and found them dueling with the kitchen knives. 

The little would-be gangsters froze as they turned and saw me.  Knowing exactly what I was about to say, they stopped me before I could get the words out.  “Please don’t tell Mom and Dad, please,” they begged.  “You can’t tell them.  You can’t!” 

For some reason, I caved to their pleas and agreed not to disclose their foolishness, as long as they promised never to wield knives again.  I don’t pretend to remember my motivation for this kindness.  I certainly wasn’t cunning enough to think that if I didn’t tell, I would have leverage for blackmail.  Oh, no.  That realization dawned the first time they threatened to tattle on me for something I had done.

“You go right ahead,” I’d smirk.  “But if you do, I’ll tell mom that you were playing with the sharp knives!”  Inevitably as fear registered, shoulders would drop, mouths would close and my own transgressions (which were surely many) would be forgotten. 

This blackmail continued for what must have been a months, a year even.  I remember feeling surprised every time my words still evoked fear, every time my power over them was unchallenged.   

Finally, one day my sister ended it.  When I threatened to tell mom about the knives, she look at me with resolve and said, “Go ahead, I don’t care.”  She had finally realized that she didn’t have to submit to my blackmail and just like that, my power over her was gone.

I wonder, how many times I am like my little sister, living under the thumb of that which has no power over  me?  How many times do I, as a Christ follower, surrender to the threats and manipulation of my old man, even though they should be nothing more than echoes in the far reaches of my memory?  How can they be anything else when he who spoke them is long dead?  Oh yes, he was crucified with Christ and thus rendered completely powerless over me.  I am no longer his slave, forced to do all he demands. 

“Our old sinful selves (old man) were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose it’s power in our lives.  We are no longer slaves to sin.”  Romans 6:6 NLT

How perplexing it is that I still voluntarily choose serve him, this old man of mine.  Every time I sin, I it is as if I am choosing to lift his putrid corpse up onto my back so I can marinade in his stench, so I can be poisoned again by his vile suggestions, so I can obey him.  Obey the dead.

Doesn’t it seem ridiculous to keep bowing in obedience to a stinking, rotting corpse?   To make a mockery of Christ’s sacrifice by putting our feet back into the stocks of sin rather than dancing in the freedom He purchased for us with His own blood? 

Indeed, it does.  It makes the voice unkindly raised at my son heartbreaking, instead of excusable.  It makes the pride in my heart revolting, instead of justifiable.  It causes me to evaluate every snide remark, disrespectful thought, gluttonous moment in a new light.  These  are the things My Savior at once paid for and freed me from.  But it’s not paid for so I can go on in this vicious, defeated existence.  It’s paid for so I can, being free from sin’s power, choose to live for the glory of God through Him and with His strength.  Oh, that I would faithfully, repeatedly, daily give myself completely to God and not to that which has no power over me. 

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.  For the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you through Christ Jesus from the power of sin that leads to death.”  Romans 8:1-2, NLT

photo: chowell958

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What’s Different – Trees in the Middle of the Road

Tree in Road

This is another one of my favorite things about Paraguay.  Mature trees are not cut down when a new residential road is excavated!  A reflector is simply placed on both sides of the tree and the road goes around it.  I fid it very winsome and it makes a great landmark too! 

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Looking Unto Jesus – Not at Our Resolutions

Looking unto Jesus and not at the sincerity of our intentions,

and at the strength of our resolutions. 

Alas!  How often the most excellent intentions have only

prepared the way for the most humiliating falls.

Let us stay ourselves, not on our intentions, but on His love;

not on our resolutions, but on His promise. 


Looking Unto Jesus, translated from the French of Theodore Monod by Helen Willis

Photo: lusi

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Mounting Wish’s Horse – Winter in January

Sweat at my hairline and whir of fan cooling me, I sense my roots digging deeper into the soil of  this blessed Paraguay.  She’s home now.     

Still, something about spending more than two decades passing these January days in snow covered landscape fills my heart with a strange longing for winter.

Suddenly, as if the beggar, I mount wish’s horse and am transported to the place where snow angels rest and leftover candy canes swirl in steamy hot cocoa.  It’s winter in January.  

I see myself there at the back door, carelessly slipping into dad’s packs.  Mine fit too well and I don’t want to waste the time to pull them on.     

I slip out the door and run quickly to the wood pile, shivering as I go, snow’s squeaky crunch trailing behind me.  I grab two large logs, followed by  few smaller ones.  Arms full of food for flames hungry belly, I hurry back   to the house. 

Stamping feet at the door, I loosen snow’s pack.  Sliding off dad’s boots, I slow my pace and head to the living room.  Basking in the warmth of this home of mine, I dump more of the same into the wood box. 

I stop a moment, warm my hands and see the old black cast iron kettle on top of the stove.  She needs a drink so I quench her thirst.  Then turning my back on her, I sit on the edge of the hearth till my back is hot and my bones unfrozen. 

At first, I’m surprised that my longing for winter has brought me to this scene.  Bringing in the wood was a chore, not a sacred winter memory.  Why hadn’t I been taken to Fire Bell Hill where all the town’s children wasted away hours sledding, or Christmas Eve the year mom wrapped a huge box of bricks to disguise dad’s new hammer? 

Still, as I look back, I wonder if maybe bringing in the wood was something sacred, both powerfully comforting in it’s repetition, and holy in it’s simple service to family. 

To family casually gathered in the living room,  basking in the warmth of that old wood burning stove.  To dad in that crazy turquoise green rocker, the one draped with a knitted afghan.  To one sister curled up under a blanket, and another lost in her book.  To mom smiling as she challenged dad to another round of Tetris.  To hearts melded together by the warmth of memories and wood.
All at once, I realize, it’s not one trip to the woodpile that I’ve just revisited.  It’s a thousand jumbled together.  Their collective happiness rises and my heart is full.  I’ve had my taste of winter and I’m riding wish’s horse back to reality, back to summer in Paraguay. 


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