Tuesday, November 16, 2010

We've Got Ice Cream. You've Got Fire.

"But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God, as we walked about among the worshipers. " Psalms 55:13, 14

"Hey! We've got ice cream. You've got fire. Can we come over?" That was a frequent question in 2007 from friends Bill & Pam. They LOVED ice cream and bonfires. They'd buy a half gallon of ice cream and we supplied the patio fire in our back yard. We'd spend scrumptious hours licking the last drops of ice cream from our spoons in front of our patio fireplace all summer long with them while sharing the latest news of our lives...from frustrations at work , to heart wounds to praises for what we saw God doing in our children's' lives.

We miss Pam & Bill. Since they moved back to Oregon, we haven't found another couple to take their place. We miss the impromptu visits, the life stories, the laughter, the vulnerability, the honest y we shared. We feel lost sometimes, wondering when God will bring another couple to walk along-side us in life...to share life's journey.

So many times we're looked at as a couple who "has it all together" who "lead by example." But, little do people realize, we need others to help us "have it all together." Bill and Pam helped us do that. In the few years that we had them in our lives, they helped us to see life as it is. We shared our family needs, triumphs as well as our life long wounds. We prayed for each others' healing, victories and shared life as it came to us...weekly...daily. We loved each other.

We miss them. We miss the impromptu calls that say, "I've got ice cream...you've got fire...may we come over for awhile?" We all need Pam & Bill in our lives for life was not meant to be lived alone.

In our new church, we're still looking for our next Pam & Bill. We haven't found them yet. We feel very much alone at times. We wonder if anyone even notices we're there. But that's life in a large, growing church. We must blow our own horn and invite people into our lives, I guess. Or should we? Shouldn't the members of a church reach out to those who are new? Hmmmm?

Until recently, we've remained anonymous. We've spoken briefly with those who sit and worship in our general Sunday morning vicinity. But, have we received an invitation for dinner? Lunch? Brunch? Not as a couple. I've been invited to join a ministry. I've become involved. But, as a couple...nothing. I wonder, as I sit and worship the same Savior, in the same row, in the same church., "What does it take to earn an invitation? What does it take for someone to say, 'I've go ice cream. You've got fire...can we join you?"

I miss Pam & Bill. I miss sharing life with others who 'get it.' I miss sharing life with others who 'get us.'

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Ultimate Sacrifice

"He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners." Isaiah 61:1

Today we honor our American veterans of war. We say thank you to those brave men and women who have and are still defending our freedoms and the place we call home. We pay tribute to those who have paid the ultimate price on our behalf.

I cannot imagine the sacrifice the families of veterans have made. I've lived mostly in a time of peace. I remember listening to war stories from my father, my father-in-law and uncles, but they were unharmed and my husband and my son have both escaped war. I remember holding my young son in my arms during the first Gulf War thanking God he was too young to serve. I cried just imagining the heart-wrenching worry of watching him go into battle, knowing he was taking the hits, putting his life on the line. I couldn't imagine the grief of losing one so precious. So, I thank those mothers and fathers who have freely given their sons for me and my family.

Freedom is not free, they say. It never has been.

The Old Testament is full of war stories; of battles won and lost. But the ultimate battle, even today, is the war between good and evil; the war over our souls. It's the only battle that matters. It's the only battle that assures us freedom and victory, if we choose the right side. And what's funny is it's already been fought and won.

Isaiah prophesied of the One who would come to heal the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom for the captives and to release the prisoners from darkness. That One was Jesus. Through his ultimate sacrifice, his death...he took our sins that held us captive of the Enemy in darkness. Through his resurrection, he gave us freedom and life eternal if we believe in Him.

Thank you, God for your ultimate sacrifice of your Son, Jesus. Thank you for the freedom, the Light and life eternal because of your Son.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

God's Royal Line

"The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant know to them." Psalm 25:14

When you think of royalty what comes to mind? I think of the throne of England. I picture ancient castles, red carpets, tapestries, jeweled crowns and golden statues. I picture Queen Elizabeth in her pristine hats waving to her kingdom from the balcony of her palace. I visualize in detail the wedding of Prince Charles and Dianna as she processed toward him enveloped in layers of taffeta and lace. I recall the scandalous stories of adultery that followed that day. I vividly recall where I was when I heard she'd been killed in a car accident and how I cried while watching her sons following behind her casket down the streets of London.

Jesus was born of royalty as well. He comes from the line of David, King David of the Old Testament. The king through whom God promised to establish his everlasting kingdom. It wasn't a perfect line of perfect people. David was handsome but considered the runt of his family and the last of a long line of stronger, bigger, more handsome brothers. Yet God told Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height...The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7).

David was a shepherd and a man of great faith. He was known for his many songs of praise (we know as the Psalms) and for his courage in facing his enemies, whether man or beast. He strove to communicate with God daily in the pastures, on battle grounds and from his throne. And, because of his great love and faith in the Lord, God chose to reveal His promises to David and establish his lineage as the one from which Jesus, our Savior would be born.

But like the scandals of the English throne, David had his own. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, got her pregnant and murdered her husband by putting him on the front lines of battle. Because of David's sin, a dysfunctional kingdom and family ensued. Yet, God forgave David when he confessed and restored relationship with him. God kept his promise and did establish His kingdom through David's line through his son Solomon.

We may not be born of royal blood but we're all dysfunctional in some way. We all suffer the consequences of bad decisions we've made or the scandals of past generations. That's how life works. But God gives us hope. Scripture says, "If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. " (Romans 10:9,10).

God doesn't demand perfection from us. It's impossible to ask. He doesn't ask that we look perfect on the outside. He only asks that we seek him with all of our heart. Why? So that he may continue to reveal His kingdom through us. How? By confiding in us; by speaking to us through His word; by conversing with us through prayer; by planting a desire in our hearts and by our obedience to share His promises to those around us in a way that comes naturally to us.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Unhurried Peace

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful."

Colossians 3:15

I don't know what it is about this fall but it's barely Thanksgiving and I'm anticipating Christmas already. I want to listen to familiar caroles, get lost reading advent books, bake my traditional holiday cookies, plan the Christmas Day dinner menu, write my annual Wish List, go shopping and decorate. Maybe it has something to do with being immersed in a holiday craft fair this past weekend or the early November snowfall on Monday. I'm not sure but, whatever the catalyst to this feeling, I'm excited to start the Advent season.

Thinking I was way ahead of the game, I cracked open an Advent devotional yesterday, titled Preparing My Heart for Advent by Anne Marie Stewart. To my surprise, I was already a week late in my preparation! Stewart starts what she calls "a spiritual pilgrimage" on November first. I put aside my disappointment and dive in, frantically trying to catch up to day eight.

As I eagerly wade through days one through four of this devotional, I'm challenged to read the nativity stories in Luke and Matthew with new eyes; to ask questions regarding missing information in the narratives; to create an historical travel timeline and to visualize the busyness Mary and Joseph experienced before and after Jesus' birth. But it was Stewart's question on day five that challenged me the most. "What about your timeline? How will you keep it uncluttered?"

I'm certainly eager to start the busyness of the season like I mentioned above. But of all those things and the OTHER things that could creep onto my calendar in December, what will give me peace? What will help me to focus on the birth of Jesus? What will enable "unhurried peace" as Stewart puts it?

First, I will be deliberate with my planning. Starting today, I will be selective with what goes on my calendar for the month of December so that I may make time for "unhurried peace."

Second, I will make time each day to be alone. Alone with my thoughts, alone to write, alone to prepare my heart and focus on the events of Jesus' birth and to anticipate his coming again.

Third, I will take time to play with my family; to laugh and share traditions and simple fun.

Fourth, I will create an atmosphere of peace in my home each day so that my husband may rest from his stressful, hurried days.

Finally, I will share my thoughts in writing to encourage others to prepare their hearts for this advent season.

You may think I'm crazy, anticipating Christmas six weeks in advance. But truly, in this fast-paced society, I think it will take me all six weeks to properly prepare my heart for that unhurried peace that comes when Christ rules in my heart. Are you up for the challenge?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


"Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king." 1 Peter 2: 17

The elections in Connecticut did not go as my husband and I had hoped. We groaned over breakfast and fear the political projections for the next two years. We fear for our small business as well as for the dreams of our children and grandchildren. We know we live in the wrong state for our political and religious beliefs but our business is grounded here as well as our extended family. So, what to do with our situation?
We have a number of options:

1. We could continue to groan, complain, whine and bad mouth our political leaders and their decisions. WE didn't vote for them so we DO have the right to complain, don't we?

2. We could become more politically involved other than voting, but we don't have that much time or patience.

3. We could start all over again and move ourselves and our business to another, more suitable state. But that's economic suicide right now and besides, we'd miss our family.

4. We could show our politicians the respect their office deserves.

My last supervisor and I differed in our thoughts about respect. She believed that NO ONE deserved respect (based on position of authority or age) unless they EARNED it. I however, argued that everyone deserved respect, especially if they held a position of authority or out of courtesy for their age. However, I also believe an individual can lose someone's respect based upon their misconduct or misbehavior.

In reading Peter's writing today (1 Peter 2:13-17) my thoughts are in agreement with scripture. In this section Peter is addressing the issue of submitting to authority (rulers and masters). He instructs us, (v. 13,14)"Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king...or the governors..." Why? (v.15)"by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish of foolish men." How? (v 17) By showing "proper respect to everyone..." From those who are like-minded in the faith, to honoring the king and especially God.

So, to my newly elected politicians I submit to your authority and the office you hold. I will continue to hold you up before God's throne in prayer. I pray that you will be able to hold the respect of your office by conducting yourselves with honor and by respecting the people that you serve. I will hold onto God's promise "that in all things God works for the good of those who love him..." Romans 8:28.