Monday, January 31, 2011

Consolation of Time

Wounds of the spirit, which at first appear incurable, are gently soothed and made whole by the passing years.  New life flows again under old scars.  Under a great loss the heart cries that it can never be happy again and perhaps in its desperation says that it wishes never to be comforted.  But though angels do not fly down to open the grave and restore the lost, the days and months come as angels with healing in their wings.  Under their touch, aching regret passes into tender memory; into hands that were empty new joys are softly pressed; and the heart, that was like the tree stripped of its leaves and beaten by winter's tempests, is clothed again with the green of spring.  

(Mrs. Charles Cowman, from her book Consolation)

Friday, January 28, 2011

A piece of the puzzle...

A friend of ours is adopting from Ethiopia.  Anna would be so excited about the baby, so I wanted to make sure to do something in her name.  Buying a puzzle piece to support the adoption reminded me that Anna (and each of us) is just a small part of a much bigger picture.  Our lives can only be understood when they are pieced together by the Master's hand.

A Very Special Piece of Our Adoption Puzzle

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What choice do I have?

How do you respond to tragedy, bad news, difficult circumstances, or suffering?

In Genesis we see a contrast between a father's response and a son's response.  When Joseph's brothers tricked their father into thinking Joseph had been killed by wild animals,

Jacob tore his clothes and dressed himself in burlap.  He mourned deeply for his son for a long time.  His family all tried to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted.  "I will go to my grave mourning for my son, " he would say, and then he would weep.
I have been there.  Like Jacob, I have been inconsolable.  Shortly after Anna died I wrote, "How can I pray that things will get better?  Anna is not coming back so things can never get better."  I thought I would grieve until the day I died and I was hoping that would be sooner rather than later.
But the reality for Jacob was that his son was alive and well in Egypt.  What he could see (a bloody coat, an empty place at the table) did not tell the whole story.  What he thought was true was not.  Not only could he not see the truth, he could not even imagine it.  The reality for me is that Anna is alive in a place I can't imagine.  What I can see (a grave, an empty chair) does not tell the whole story.  What I can see is not all there is.

I know someone who went to his grave mourning for his child.  He grieved for years and in his obituary were the words, "He never got over the death of his daughter."  He died with a broken heart.  What difference would it had made if he knew where she was?  What if he had hope that he would see her again?  What if he had trusted God?

While Jacob was weeping over his loss, Joseph was wailing over his situation.  When he was thrown into a pit and then sold into slavery he wasn't thinking... "I bet this is my dream coming true."   (Earlier in the story he had a dream that his brothers would bow down to him.)  He was screaming and begging his brothers not to do this terrible thing to him.  He was fighting against the very thing that God was using to fulfill his purpose.

When bad things happen to us, do we say, "Lord have your way and fulfill your purpose in me"?  I know I didn't say that.  I went down the cancer road kicking and screaming--just like Joseph.  I remember saying, "I don't want to go down this road, but I have no choice."  Joseph didn't have a choice either.  He walked down that road to Egypt against his will.  He could have been bitter/angry/despondent/inconsolable.  He could have been like his father.  But somewhere along that road Joseph accepted what was happening to him as being allowed by God.  He lost everything--his family, his home, his language, and his freedom-- but at some point he stopped fighting and started trusting.  His understanding of God's hand in his situation is evident later in the story when he tells his brothers,  "What you meant for evil God meant for good." (Gen. 50:20)  I wonder how long it took for him to come to that conclusion?   Was it while he was being dragged down the road to Egypt?  Or perhaps when he was a slave in Potipher's house?  Or maybe when he was in prison after being falsely accused?  The point is, he didn't wait until good things started happening to trust God.  He trusted him before he could see God's plan to use him to save his people.  He trusted him when he didn't know how things would turn out.  He trusted him when things weren't going well.  Wherever he was, and whatever his situation, the Lord was with him--and Joseph knew it.

How about you?  What road are you on?  Do you want to be there?  Do you have a choice?  Are you fighting or trusting?  Are you refusing to be comforted or are you trusting in what you cannot see?

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  (2 Cor. 4:16-18)

I have a good friend whose mother was recently diagnosed with cancer.  She doesn't want to go down that road, but like Joseph, her choice is not in whether or not she goes down that road.  Her choice is how she will respond while she is there.  Will she refuse to be comforted or will she seek out the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3)?  Will she be like Joseph and trust God when she can't see his purpose?  Will she trust that what she can see (chemo, surgery, sickness) is not all there is?

Will you?

Monday, January 17, 2011


This Christmas our wish list looked like this...
New sofa
Power washer
Extension ladder
Gas blower
Those are not things that you can wrap and put under the tree, so both of our parents gave us checks to help buy things for the house.  We were SO grateful and they were SO generous.  We thanked them for our gifts and then Richard tucked them into his Bible so they wouldn't get lost on the way home.
The next week when Richard went to take the checks to the bank to deposit them, THEY WEREN'T THERE.  I didn't panic at first because I was sure that he put them someplace safe and they would turn up eventually.  I didn't even help look, but assured Richard that he would find them soon.  After two weeks, I could tell Richard was  starting to worry.  He didn't want to have to go to our parents  and ask for another check, but he knew that was what would have to happen.  That night before we went to bed, I prayed that we would find those checks.  It was the first time I had asked for God's help.  The next morning I was reading in Matthew chapter 9 about the blind men who were begging Jesus to have mercy on them.  Jesus asked, "Do you believe I can make you see?"  The men answered, "Yes, Lord we do."  Then Jesus said, "Because of your faith, it will happen."

"Marlo, do you believe I can make you see those checks?"
"Yes, Lord I do."

I wrote this in my journal,
Lord I ask in faith for you to show us where those checks are.  We have done everything in our strength to find them.  Now, if they are found it will be because of you.

Then I got up and looked into the top drawer of our dresser--not there.  Then I pulled the chair over so that I could look on top of our dresser.   Richard had already looked there so I had no reason to search again, but I did.  And there they were!

I think sometimes God is waiting to give us things until we ask so that he can receive the glory.
Have I asked for things in the past and the answer is "No" or "Not now"?  Of course!
Has that made it hard for me to ask for things again?  Yes.
Does that mean that I shouldn't ask?  NO!
The Bible says we are to lay our requests before him and wait in expectation.
Have faith that he is ABLE and wait and see what he will do.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Don't look back

When God told Abraham about his plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sin,  Abraham pleaded with God to spare the city on behalf of his nephew and his family.  The Lord said that if there were at least ten righteous people in the city, he would not destroy it.  Unfortunately there were not even ten, yet God still showed mercy by sending his angels to tell Lot's family to run from the coming destruction.

With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”  
When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them.  As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!” (Gen 19:15-17)
Even though the sins of Sodom were great, Lot resisted leaving there.  Even though everything around him was about to be destroyed, he hesitated.  He resisted leaving the known for the unknown.  He resisted leaving his comfortable house to live in a cave.  He resisted the new life that was being offered him.    The angels had to seize his hand and the hands of his family and drag them out,  for the Lord was merciful.  Lot did nothing to bring about his salvation.  He did nothing to deserve his salvation.  But because of the Lord's mercy, he was saved.

The family was told to not stop and to not look back. To take a hold of their new life, they had to let go of the old one and look ahead.  They had to trust that God's plan was their best option.  Unfortunately neither Lot or his wife trusted God's plan.  Lot begged to be allowed to flee to a nearby city instead of the mountains.  Lot's wife disobeyed and looked back.  Lot eventually fled to the mountains, and his wife became another casualty of the judgement of Sodom and Gomorrah.

When our past controls our present, we put ourselves outside God's plan for abundant life.  When we resist the new people, new experiences, and new challenges that God brings, we become stuck in between the past and the present.  When I look at pictures of the way our family used to be, I long to go back.  But if my longing keeps me looking back instead of looking ahead, then it  keeps me from fulfilling God's purpose for me today.  It keeps me from embracing His plan.  It keeps me from enjoying the abundant life He has promised. 
I must grasp God's hand and go with him.  Like Lot, I may not like where He takes me, but I can learn to live there.  I can learn to trust God with the future I cannot see.  Don't look back.  Look ahead.  

Thursday, January 6, 2011

C U in DC

On Tuesday we had the opportunity to visit Washington DC and see a newly elected US Representative sworn in.  Two years ago James Lankford was working in Oklahoma as the director of the state Baptist youth camp, when he felt like God wanted him to run for congress.  In faith, he quit his job and started his campaign.  No one thought he could win because he didn't have any political experience.    But, on Tuesday he was ceremonially sworn in to represent the 5th district of Oklahoma. There were about 50 of his friends and family who journeyed to DC to be a part of the celebration.   Although we lived the closest, it was still an all day affair, but well worth the time and effort.  We are so glad we were able to be there!
 We got there just in time to take a tour of the capital building before the ceremony.
 It's impossible to tell from this picture, but the statue of Liberty (her body, not the base) could fit inside the dome with room left over.
 Inside the rotunda--on the right is our tour guide.  In our group there were people from Germany, China,  France, Japan, Nigeria, and Mexico--and our guide could speak all of their languages!
 Audra is standing under the painting of Pocahontas being baptized.  Audra attends Pocahontas Middle School!
 Each state donated two statues to the capital.  We found one of the ones from Oklahoma.
 This is one of the newest presidential statues--Ronald Reagan.  Chunks of the Berlin wall make up part of the base.  The man from Germany loved seeing that.
 Richard's favorite part of the tour was the old Supreme Court room.
 After the tour we walked across the street to the House Agriculture committee room.  It had a balcony that overlooked the capital.
 Frank Lucas from Oklahoma's 3rd district performed the swearing in ceremony.
 I hope the kids remember James' speech, but I'm afraid all they will remember is the metro.  This is Will being disappointed because we did not ride in the last car.  I think he thought it would be like a roller coaster and the last car would be more exciting.  I was afraid that there would be gang members in the last car.  Which one of us is more childish?????
 We embarrassed Jacob who was trying to be cool and act like he had done this before.
We had a great day and are looking forward to our next visit to DC.  

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Christmas Story

Twas the week before Christmas when what to our wondering eyes should appear.....

Our dreams of a white Christmas came true.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care--in hopes that Santa would come early this year.

 School was canceled so we decided we would celebrate by opening our presents and pretending it was December 25.
 Richard received a lovely handmade scene from Will.
 Will was happy with his Steelers paraphernalia and his claw machine.
 Jacob liked his ukelele.
And Buttons got a new sweater.
 The next day it was time to hit the road for the LONG trip to Oklahoma.
 One of the first things we did was go to a Fiesta Bowl pep rally for the OU Sooners at the cancer clinic where Anna was treated.  This mariachi band is actually part of the OU starting lineup.
 Will scored big with autographs from all the players and from our favorite coach, Bob Stoops.

 We knew who Landry Jones was even though there was one woman there who asked him what position he played.  THEN she followed that up with, "And what does a quarterback do?"
 Sittie treated Audra and I to lunch at our favorite tea room.
We enjoyed eating and visiting with friends and family. 

All of the excitement was too much for Will. Here he is during our Christmas Eve dinner.  He had to settle for leftovers later.
 He woke up in time to leave cookies and carrots for Santa and his reindeer.
 Audra and I treated ourselves to Christmas pedicures.

This box scared me all week.  I knew we didn't have room in our car for something that big, but SURPRISE!  It was just a baseball bat.
After opening presents, we headed to Wichita, but first a trip to the cemetery.  

 Will and Audra both got cameras from Grammy and Papa.  They wore out the batteries the first day.
 After a few more days it was back in the car for 20 more hours.  We enjoyed the drive through Kentucky and W. Virginia.  BEAUTIFUL!
Three tired kids.  (Jacob's knee is in the background.)
Home again.  Home again.  Jiggedy Jig.