Thursday, November 9, 2017

Resurrecting Zombies

I can’t tell you how many times in decades of Bible study I have read the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead:
“When [Jesus] had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’” (John 11:43)
Confession: Every single time I’ve read or heard that story, the movie that plays in my head has Lazarus walking out triumphantly, arms raised in praise and smiling victoriously. Rays of heavenly light are streaming across the horizon behind him, and a crescendo of soul-stirring music magnifies the miracle...
I'm over at Grace Church again; you can read the rest of the article there!

How Covenant Keeps us going

I recently went to the wedding of a young friend I’ve known since she was a skinny eight-year-old. She is now 27. The wedding was beautiful in both its simplicity and its message....

You can read the rest of this post at Grace Church's website

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Reading to the Children

Apparently there is a guy named "Lakeside Dave" who asked my wholesome daughter back to his cabin last night at the camp where they work.  As odd as it may seem, I think I like Lakeside Dave.

You see, his invitation was for her to come back to his place and read to his bunch of exuberant 4th graders before they crashed for the night.  This morning she sent me a quick text: "I read Tom Sawyer to a room full of 10-year-old boys last night.  I can die happy."

She can't help it. We come from a long line of people who believe that books were meant to be shared, reading is best as a communal activity, and the best written words deserve to be given VOICE.

In my twelve years teaching writing and English, I've become more and more convinced of the value of reading aloud.  As Andrew Pudewa, the founder of the Institute for Excellence in Writing, points out: before we can get excellent written language out of a child's brain, first we must put it in!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

When Perspective Crashes Your Pity Party

I've gotten into the routine the past several months of taking dinners regularly to a friend who is battling cancer rather majestically.

If you know me, you know this particular category of servant behavior is not normal.  If you don't know me, I'll just lay it out there: I don't even cook for my own family that often.

You know how some people are just natural servants?  My husband, for instance, has service wired into his genetic code somehow.   Me, not so much.  I'm fairly certain that if I took a spiritual gift inventory, "service" would rank somewhere in the basement.

Still, every two or three weeks, I find an empty spot on the "Take Them a Meal" list. I sign-up, listing "To Be Discovered" into the box where I'm supposed to state what meal I'm bringing.  Then I hunt for tasty, cancer-fighting recipes and then prepare not one, but TWO meals.  One, a typical "potluck" type meal for the family and one for Barb designed to help her body fight the enemy within her.  When I learned that she is now left with just diet and lifestyle to battle her disease and the strict dietary plan she follows, I couldn't stand the thought of making food for the troops that she would love but couldn't eat.  So each trip, I try to find a dish for her that is both healthy AND satisfying.

I'm heroic, aren't I?

As a matter of fact, I'm not.  Here is my dirty little secret.

The first time I took a meal, I signed up because there was a need and that's what good Christian women do.  I'll be honest, as much as I love this woman, it felt a tiny bit inconvenient to lose an entire afternoon making a meal. (I'm a highly inefficient chef.)

Then I delivered the meal--still feeling a bit hassled by the whole thing because this servant thing is NOT me--and here's what I found: It's addicting.

I took the meal hoping to minister to a friend, but found myself the one ministered to.  It has been the same with every meal I've taken her--perhaps a different way every time, but no matter how harrowing the day or week preceding the drop-off has been, I walk away with a spring in my step and smiling.

So, you see, I'm not sure you could call my meals-on-wheels to Barb an act of Christian service--because when it comes right down to it, I find I'm doing it for myself as much as for her.  I realized it today as I left her meal with her.

This past week has been a doozy between the re-structuring at my husband's company that means a significant pay cut for him, and the rather measly enrollments for my homeschool classes that means even less money--but still the same bills and kids in college.

Out of curiosity, I did a quick scan of possible jobs for which I might qualify---and had the devastating realization that although I am smart, capable, and highly educated, I don't think I could get hired for a single one of them. The last time I received a paycheck from an employer was before the turn of the century.  (The current one, in case anyone wonders.)  It seems the greatest career achievement I could aspire to now is to be the oldest living bagger at the local Publix.

On top of that, we have all the nail-biting angst and frustration that can accompany the season of parenting young adults and releasing them to make their own way, mistakes and all.

You get the picture.  Big old pity-party going on in my head.

I'm sitting here now after my time with Barb, and how things have changed.  Not in my circumstances, but in my heart.

She greeted me with the same 1000-watt smile and beautiful, gracious welcome that has not been dimmed one bit by cancer.  In just ten short minutes we shared news, encouragements, hugs, LIFE, and once again, my step and my mood were lighter.  Then, as she waved goodbye, she said, "I'm just so glad I get to see you!  Not everyone in my clinical trial did so well."

Meaning: not everyone in her situation still has the health to stand and chat with friends.

Well. Nothing like a little perspective crashing your pity party.

I drove home slightly heavier of heart than I normally am after time with my sunny friend, but it was a good heaviness.  I was heavy from the grief that brings repentance.

Who am I to complain?

I may have mountains of bills and less money to throw at them--but not a single one of them is a hospital bill.

My life might feel like rolling a boulder uphill most days, but I pretty much take for granted that I will get that next day to push--and have the strength to do it.

My kids may be making some choices that are not what I would choose for them, but they are generally heading in the right direction and attempting to live lives of meaning and contribution. We still have close relationships and for the most part they like spending time with me. (And if any of my darlings happens to read this, of course I am talking about your siblings, not you.)

Most significantly, despite all the worry-inducing events of the week, this week also marked the twenty-fourth year that I have gone through this life with possibly the best man alive.  No matter how great or how sucky were the circumstances we've gone through, one thing that has been a constant is that we actually relish walking through them together.

So, here is my official declaration: I REPENT of my ingratitude, Lord.

I love you, Barb.  Every single breath you take is touching someone.


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