Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Winners Not Whiners

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is Gods will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

Lately, my husband and I have enjoyed watching The Amazing Race on television. It's a reality show where multiple teams of two (I think it starts with 10 teams) compete to be the first to travel around the world. Each week there are challenges and tasks they must perform as they attempt to reach their destination without elimination. We get a kick watching the different personalities interacting and seeing how they strategized through various challenges.

This past season there was a certain team that was "out there" in every way; by the way they dressed, talked and especially how they interacted with one another. Not wanting to pass judgement on them, I gave them every chance to redeem themselves with each new episode, but by the end they just proved to be the most unhappy, whiniest people I've ever witnessed in real life or on T. V. They were so close to being in the final four but lost the chance when their whiny attitudes over took their good judgement and cost them the race.

In contrast, the top three racing teams remained positive (even joyful) in the midst of struggle, hopeful of their goal, and always thankful for the opportunity to travel the world with the people they loved.

I caught myself whining this morning. I was shocked at how easy it was to start a rant and how difficult it was to turn the struggle into joy. Then, God brought me to Paul's words. Just like us, the first century Christians found it easier to whine about the struggles of life instead of enjoying their new found life in Christ. Paul didn't discount their fears or concerns but rather turned their attention to what really mattered: "Christ in you, the hope of glory" Colossians 1:27b.

That's the prize. That's the goal of this race called Life. Through Christ in us, we bring God's hope, His Kingdom into this hurting, struggling world. Joined with Him we help to bring His redemptive powers, His healing. This Race is so much more than us and all our struggles. It's about the hope of God's glory.

Author Madeline L'Engle sums it up best for me: "(Jesus') joy came from his constant awareness of his Source (God) that takes away our fears and not only allows us, but prods us, even commands us to enjoy our faith."

Saturday, May 7, 2011

My Mother's Lap

My mother's lap was just for me when I fell down and skinned my knee.

She'd lift me up and there I'd stay until she brushed each tear away.

Her arms would hold me to her chest and there I'd fall in peaceful rest.

Lulled by her tones of whispered hymn my eyes would close, the lights would dim.

I grew too big to climb upon my mother's lap which soon was gone.

My own sweet babies when they cried did climb upon my lap and hide.

I'd lift them up and dry their tears until their face showed no more fears.

My arms would hold them close to me and there I'd let them sleep and be.

Sweet hymns I'd whisper in their ears, my eyes dampened my cheeks with tears.

I grew too big to climb upon my mother's lap which soon was gone.

But there I was with child on mine singing those songs so lost in time.

My children all have grown and gone, my lap to small to sit upon.

They'll bring their babies home to me and on my lap is where they'll be.

I'll whisper things like "I love you." We'll laugh until our face turns blue.

And when they fall and skin their knee, upon grandmother's lap they'll be.

I grew too big to climb upon my mother's lap which soon was gone.

My children too, have grown like that. My lap's not empty where they sat.

Grandchildren now do take their place and bless my heart, my soul, my face.

'Though years have left their mark on me "The best," I'm told, "is yet to be."

(reposted from Mother's Day 2010)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

National Day of Prayer

"May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice." Psalm 141:2

There are no greeting cards, that I know of, designed to celebrate today. There are no gifts to purchase or meals to prepare. But it is a day to honor our God and to humbly stand before him in prayer on behalf of our nation, our leaders and the world. This isn't a new tradition, as I first thought, but began in 1775 when the first Continental Congress called upon the citizens of the first colonies to pray for wisdom in forming this nation we now call home.

As much as modern society would like to claim that mentioning God or any form of religious act like prayer, in government is a breach of our Constitution whereby there should be a separation of church and state, it is evident that faith in God was ingrained in every aspect of the forming of this United States. Lest this become a political rant or a history lesson that you can read at the website http://nationaldayofprayer.org, let me stop.

Unlike other Hallmark-profiting holidays like Halloween, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Grandparent's Day, Children's Day or Love Your Pet Day, today is a sincere call not only to petition God on behalf of our nation but a call to posture ourselves humbly before THE Sovereign God.

Today, we put aside our political party and religious differences to unite as "one nation, under God" to thank Him for our liberties, our freedoms, and to ask for His wisdom for our nation and more personally, for his people. May God be lifted up with our lips and may our lives show it is Him in whom we trust.

"I will say of the Lord, he is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Psalm 91:2

"The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." James 5:16b

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." Isaiah 26:3

If I stay camped inside the wall of emotions that swept over me these past few days I'd never step one foot on the floor. Instead, I'd stay in bed with the covers pulled over my head. Right now that image is inviting as I struggle to shake the fatigue making me feel like a soggy sandwich.

Pressing in on one side are the urgent needs of aging parents. On the other, the emotional support and guidance needed by young adult children; topped with rebuilding a physical structure destroyed by the winter storms and running a small business.

The phone rings and I take a deep breath wondering who's on the other end. Is it the builder with word on the garage? Is it my husband asking for help moving Dad's treasures to safe keeping or asking for help at the office? Is it the nurse watching over a loved one? Is it a parent out of touch with reality talking nonsense? Is it a mother who needs help? Or my child needing empathy, comfort, or advice? Maybe it's my granddaughter calling just to say, "Grams, do you know how much I love you?" I never know these days.

At my weakest moments I fall into my husbands arms weeping, "Where do we turn? Who's there to care for our needs in the middle of all this?" Then, I'm reminded that although I'm walking through this valley, sandwiched between the urgent needs of others and my own, God is right there with me. It sounds cliche but truth is truth. So, my spirit settles down as I grab hold of God's promises held true from ancient times until today.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified...for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6

"For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones." 
Isaiah 49:13

"...those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not grow faint." 
Isaiah 40:31

Dear reader, may you be comforted with the same words, strengthened by His Spirit, empowered by knowing you never walk alone, renewed for one more moment.