Friday, July 29, 2011
So, I told you that I am at a camp for senior adults...they know how to make everything fun. They took on Clear Blue Global Water Project as their missions project for the week.(http://clearblueproject.com/)
In an absolutely hilarious evening, they auctioned jelly, pies, stuffed animals, and an amazing handmade quilt, all proceeds going to Clear Blue. A jar of jelly went for $100.00, and a homemade red raspberry pie went for $1600.00!?!?! That cook must be flat-out amazing! When the evening was over, they had raised over $4500.00, enough for three wells in India. The needy in India are waiting on us to send them money for 10 more wells--here we go! I can't send it fast enough!
Isn't it incredible? People using their resources and hearts of love for Jesus to bless other people they will never see in places they will never go. I'm guessing when they all meet each other in heaven, it will be quite a party.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Charlie and I have the privilege of being speakers for a camp exclusively for senior adults this week. It's in Barker, New York, right on the shores of Lake Ontario. My goodness, it is beautiful here. My first thought a good while back when we were invited to do this was, "WHAT???? When did I get old enough to do that???" I didn't think there would be enough life in a gathering of senior adults for me.
Boy, was I wrong. This is a laugh-happy, full of the joy of the Lord gang. They are continuously active. The roof on the building where we eat and do a lot of things was put on largely by octogenarians. The window screens were installed by a man in his 90's. This group can rock.
Yesterday, Wayne McCown, a gentleman in every sense of the word, took Charlie and I out on his beautiful boat on the somewhat calm (teehee) Lake Ontario waters. It was a blast! We were thrilled! (OK---sheer truth forces me to own that Charlie was more green than thrilled, but it WAS beautiful and great fun..)
It the midst of all these "senior moments", I am reminded, "Age is a matter of mind. If you don't mind, it don't matter."
Monday, July 25, 2011
I was thrilled to be a participant in the Clear Blue Water Splash Dash 5k race. Hundreds of runners from all over the state and some from other states descended on Cornerstone for a scenic run/walk through Coventry township. Congrats to Sean Fremon and Bruce Oberlin, the genius brains behind the scenes. I heard many comments from experienced runners that this was the most organized race in some of the prettiest territory they had ever run in, but "Oh, the hills!"
I can identify. I had never participated in anything like this before, and yowzers! My calf muscles were screaming! But I am proud to say I received a medal, first in my class. I was the fastest pastor there. Of course, I was the ONLY pastor there, but...
It was really good for me in so m any ways. It was great to see the interest and support of our township people and public servants. It buoyed my confidence that I can do things I haven't done before (look out, guys!), it bolstered my desire to get into better shape. And it was great for my spirit,too. Just one little lesson from the race---hills and obstacles look far worse from a distance. If you stare at them long enough, you'll be defeated, positive you can never do it. But if you just start walking, you'll be surprised how you can make it. The hill shrinks as you grow.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Heading back to the hospital to see Max, I shared an elevator wait with a man about my age (yes, very young. :-) We chatted for a few minutes, and he asked me where I was going. I said I was headed to see my brand-new grandson. Instead of the congratulations I expected, he was immediately troubled. Appearing to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, he shook his head and said, "Well, you know it's a terrible world to bring a child into. I surely would never want to do it. Lots and lots of evil here." Wonk, Wah. Debbie Downer in my own elevator, raining on my celebration.
He said that just as the door opened with a nurse already riding. I said to my new troubled friend, "Yes, the world is a tough place with incredible evil in it. That means God needs an army of mighty men--my grandson is going to be one of them!" He looked a little taken aback, but the nurse threw her arms in the air and enthusiastically declared, "Woohoo!!! That is right--and I am in His army, too." We had a mini-revival until the doors opened again.
Later, God spoke to me in the quietness of my car--just He and I riding together. "You know, he's right", the Father said. "Lots and lots of evil out there. I have a fantastic plan for Max, but mine is not the only agenda out there. The great life you desire for him is not a slam dunk."
Quietness as that sinks in for a moment. Then, "You know," he continued, "to a great extent, the weight of his little world IS on your shoulders. He desperately needs you to be an unselfish example, making all your decisions ones that will always bring him pride and dignity. He needs you to live like Jesus, to be a first line of defense against the onslaught of temptations through your unceasing prayer and spiritual energy. Max doesn't know it yet, but he is relying on you to write your life story so big and obedient that the sheer adventure of it will make him want to follow Jesus as he pens his own epic life."
Max, I will do it. You can count on me. Over your crib, your Mommy and Daddy painted in huge letters:
for when you wake, you will move mountains.
I believe you will. I will carry all the weight I can for you while you sleep and grow strong and dream. I believe in you. And I believe in the Mighty God who dreamed YOU into existence. Team Max is going to move mountains in the world in the Awesome Name of that Mighty God. Mamaw is a proud and grateful member of your team.
Monday, July 18, 2011
I drove her to her appointment today, one she had really hoped would be unnecessary. She was a bit bleak when she got in the car. I said, "What if the examination prompts Max to hurry on out?" She assured me she was feeling nothing, and that was a very slim possibility. I started sorting through my mental files, looking for every encouraging easy/early delivery story and possibility I could find.
After she endured my optimism for most of the ride, she said, "You know, Mom, we are different when it comes to stuff like this. You always think of the great possible outcome. I don't. I think of a less desirable outcome. That way I am prepared for disappointment, and if it DOES happen the way I want, I am really happy and excited."
She's right. I am ridiculously optimistic most of the time. I generally expect something pretty good to happen. When I do receive a major hurt, a deep disappointment, or get blindsided by an unexpected setback,I'm weirdly like a cork. I end up on top again fairly quickly. Just can't seem to help it. Yep--that perspective does get me flattened sometimes, but most of the time there's enough good in however things come down that I don't feel let down. I guess there's something to be said for both outlooks, mine and Rachel's.
BUT--I'm stickin' with mine. Rachel was at the hospital being prepped for delivery within 3 hours of the conversation about our perspectives. I wouldn't think of saying "I told you so". LOL However, I do feel emboldened to share one more optimistic thought. My grandson will be adorable, and I'll be holding him within 24 hours.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
The recovery period was filled with coordinating efforts to get our team safely home, and the Lord's nudging to think about the rest of my life and what He wanted from it. That started a process that has continued.
God has been steadily narrowing down my options. :-) I used to consider few options a less than desirable position. But now I see it as necessary. I have been spending an hour at a time with Jesus in a new way--no prayer except, "What are you saying to me about your desires for the rest of my life?" I read the scripture that He directs and then just ask Him, "What are you saying to me?"
John 15 has figured prominently in His conversations with me. A few months ago He directly led me to NECESSARY ENDINGS by Dr. Henry Cloud. It was a profound voice to me. Among many things I have discovered in a new way is that Jesus is all about fruit. We tend to encourage ourselves by saying it is mostly faithfulness that matters, but the words of Jesus say that is not so. He is BIG on fruit. He says to cut out relationships where you are unable to have a positive influence, to prune activity from your life where you are expending energy for very little or no positive results. He says clearly to get rid of the dead wood in my life, and to excise branches that are sick and won't get better. This necessary ending gives room for new, healthy branches to grow, and keeps from draining the life out of us.
So, I've been having some necessary endings. Some bittersweet, but really positive, too. I just started a new chapter in my life story yesterday with an ending of something that once had been a great joy to me, but now was fruitless. Owning the fruitlessness of my efforts was difficult at first, because I am a fighter and have always lived by the axiom "quitters never win." But the truth that far outweighs any motto I might own is straight from Jesus: He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. John 15:2 My cutting off and pruning was actually a great relief, because I was clear that the Father was doing it.
And he gave me a great promise, too. Believe it or not, I have a clear sense that my very best days for the Kingdom of God and all God created me to be and do are ahead of me. He gave me this promise, Psalm 92:14 They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green. So, here we go! I feel like a kid again!
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Or you are an energized and effective communicator. No one has ever “left you speechless.” You can make people laugh, cry, and jump out of their seats into action. You do it regularly without a hitch. But on this day you have to speak to a committee who hold your employment in their hands. You see the stern, unfriendly and evaluative faces. Your throat is dry, you can barely swallow, and the cotton in your mouth could make a shirt. You barely squeak out a few words.
Or, even worse, you know something wrong is about to happen. A group of which you are a part is about to make a very poor decision. You know that disagreeing may cost you some friendships, certainly the esteem of some of the people you value. So, you tell yourself that you can’t halt the action any way, there’s no point in saying anything. And you stay silent.
Or…well. You get the point. You can tell a dozen of your own true life stories. They all have the same bottom line. “The fear of man is a snare, but the one who trusts the Lord will be safe.” Proverbs 29:25 Fear traps me, and I can’t move forward when I am in its grip.
Childrens fears most often revolve around the loss of the presence, love, and support of a parent. They typically try to avoid anything that may cost them that valuable resource and foundation. It doesn’t change much as we get older. Fear rises, a lump grows in our throats, and knots multiply in our stomachs when we are called upon to make a decision that may cost us the love or the support of our mother or father…you don’t think so? You think you’ve grown past that? Well, as adults, who is your Daddy? Who is your Mother?
Your “Daddy” is the guy/place/source of your financial resources—the guy who “writes” your checks. When we are faced with the challenge of being courageous and speaking up for something unpopular, if it may cost our job, our relationship with our “resourcers”, or be a financial hardship on us, that’s our “Daddy”. The fear of loss of our Father’s support can paralyze us.
As an adult, your “Mother” is the source of your comfort and encouragement. Who believes in you? Whose love and affirmation is your rock? When faced with the potential loss of that approval and affirmation, we may slide under the table, and fold in fear.
The heroes we most revere did not. The Apostle Paul said, “I have learned to be content (not fear) in any situation, because I know I can do anything as Christ gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-14). When all of his troops were against him, David obeyed God any way, and the Word tells us he “encouraged HIMSELF in the Lord. I Samuel 30:6
We have this profoundly strengthening promise: “Though my mother and father forsake me, the Lord himself will lift me up.” Psalm 27:10 We can afford to be courageous and obedient, even when our resources, comfort, and affirmation is threatened. God will be our supply. As someone said, “When I get to the place where Jesus is all I have, I will find he is all I need.”
Saturday, July 9, 2011
I have the privilege of enjoying my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter two mornings a week. Last week we wanted to go out to swim and swing, but it was raining very hard. Skylar began the time-honored method for dispelling showers, sing-songing, "Rain, rain go away. Come again another day!" Imagine her delight when literally in about 5 minutes, the rain completely stopped and the sun appeared. "Mamaw!", she exclaimed. "The rain listened! It went away!"
Friday we were together again. Early in the morning, we had a steady downpour that settled in for a long haul. She stood at the storm door, nose and palms pressed against the windows. She began singing again her rain song, and determinedly sang it a few times through. Eventually, Skylar turned around, dejected, and said, “It’s still raining.”
I replied, “Yeah—well, I think it’s ‘another day.’” She crinkled her nose and her eyebrows crowded together like two little blond caterpillars facing off.
“What?!?!?”, she said.
So, I tried to tell her that it HAS to rain some time. We had really enjoyed it last week when the rain seemed to cooperate with our plans and went away without much of a grumble. But now it was back. It shouldn’t have been a surprise guest. She told him to come again another day.
Skylar said, “Yes—but not THIS day.”
She’s a lot like her Mamaw. Technically I know that the phrase “into each life some rain must fall” is actually a truism. But when clouds threaten and rain starts to come down, like Skylar, I always try to command the rain to go away. I even often beg and bargain with God to make the torrents go away, even if it means returning another day. Many times the clouds do become fluffy white and the downpour abates.
But I am not an exception to the rule. Into each life some rain WILL fall. Clouds don’t always go away. Sometimes the downpour happens, accompanied by thunder and lightning. Another day always comes.
But it doesn't mean God doesn't love me. It doesn't mean I've done something wrong. It doesn't mean His hand is off my life. It just means it is another day.
And I have learned the lesson all little girls who love Jesus eventually figure out--if there's no rain, there can't be any flowers. It takes some "another days" to grow true beauty.
If you're in "another day", it's ok to be disappointed. It's ok to cry. It's all right to sing your songs and tell your Father you surely are anxious for the skies to clear. But try to remember--when the skies clear, and the sun shines through again, the blossoms you enjoy couldn't have come without the rain.
Here's another song to give a try when it's raining.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Well, the fact is, they didn't do what you'd like to do by wishing for it. They worked, made decisions that took them the direction they actually wanted to go, said yes to many things they preferred not to, and said no to many things they would have jumped at otherwise, if they didn't have a goal.
It's always that way. That "when you wish upon a star" song is rooted in Cinderella, not reality. Glass slippers and mice that become coachmen are splendid inventions for a magical story. So are "ships that come in" and rich uncles. But the truth is, life can be very rewarding, almost too good to be true, when we quit wishing, and start working a plan with focus.
Dreams never come true until the dreamer gets out of bed--early!--and starts mixing some elbow grease in with the stardust.
What are you dreaming about today? Dream with God, and then get to it! "God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us." Ephesians 3:20