Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why should I?

Once upon a time there was a great and valiant soldier who was highly regarded by the king (2 Kings ch.5).  But although Naaman was a mighty warrior, he suffered from leprosy.  One day his slave girl said, "If my master would go see the prophet in Samaria, he would heal him of his leprosy."  So Naaman left his home carrying gold, silver, and clothing to offer in exchange for his healing.  He arrived at the prophet Elisha's door with his impressive entourage of horses and chariots and Elisha didn't even bother to come outside.  Instead, he sent a servant to tell the great commander, "Go wash in the Jordan river seven times and your flesh will be restored." Naaman was offended and went off in a rage, "I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!  I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me!  Why should I dip in the Jordan river?  Aren't the rivers of Damascus, Abana, and Pharpar better than any of the rivers of Israel?  Why can't I wash in them?"

"I thought ... !"
"I expected ... !"
"Why should I ... ?"
Have you ever said those words to God?  I have.
"I thought things would be different!"
"I expected you to fix this!"
"Why should I have to do this?"

God does not act in ways we "think" or "expect".  He doesn't do things the way we think he "should".
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways", declares the Lord." As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
We can't understand his ways.  We must be like Naaman and obey even when it doesn't make sense to us.  Instead of waiting for God to tell us what we want to hear, we need to act on what he has already said.

Naaman's officers told him, "Sir, if the prophet had asked you to do something very difficult wouldn't you have done it?  So you should certainly obey him when he tells you to do something simple like 'wash and be cured'."  So Naaman humbled himself and did what Elisha had told him to do and he was healed.

We need to stop shaking our fists at God and saying, "I thought...! I expected...! You should...!"  We can't understand, but we can choose to trust and obey.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Abandoned by God?

Once upon a time the city of Samaria was under siege (2 Kings 6-7).  The people inside the city were starving to death while the armies of Aram encamped around them.  One day the King of Samaria was walking around the city wall when a woman cried out to him for help.  He looked at her and said, "If God does not help you, how can I help you?"  He had nothing to offer. He knew that only God could help her.  Before walking away he asked, "What's the matter?"  The woman told a gruesome story of an arrangement she had made with another woman to kill and eat their sons.  Evidently after eating the first woman's son, the other woman had gone back on her word and had hidden her son.  When the king heard her words he was sickened by the disaster that had come upon his people.  He tore his robe and cried out,   "All this misery is from the Lord!  Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?" He felt abandoned by God.  He didn't see any way out of his current situation.  He was hopeless.

Have you ever felt that way?  Have you ever gotten tired of waiting for God to help you?  My neighbor got tired of waiting.  My friend's nephew got tired of waiting.  They thought they were in hopeless, impossible situations.

But God changed everything for the Samaritans in ONE day.  What seemed impossible to them was possible with God.  Unbeknownst to the Samaritans, God had caused the Arameans to hear what sounded like a great army attacking them and they abandoned their camp and ran for their lives.  The enemy was defeated!  God had fought the battle.  He was the victor, but the people inside the city continued to live in bondage--not knowing that their salvation had arrived.

Are you one of the Samaritans in this story?  God has fought the battle for YOU!  He has won the victory over sin and death.  You don't have to live as a victim.  You don't have to live without hope.  You can claim victory in Christ.

That night, four lepers decided to surrender to the Arameans.  They knew if they stayed in the city they would die so they took their chances by going to the enemy camp.  When they got there, they found that it was empty.  They ran into the first tent and ate and drank and gathered gold, silver, and clothes.  After raiding several tents they said, "This is not right.  This is a day of good news and we aren't sharing it with anyone...Come let's go back and tell the people."  At first the guards didn't believe the lepers so they sent out scouts to see if it was true.  When they discovered that the army was truly gone and that they were free, the entire city ran out to plunder the camp.

Are you one of the lepers in this story?  Do you have good news that you need to share or are you just stuffing your face?  Do you go to church and eat the bread of life and never share it with people who are starving?  In the words of the lepers, "This is not right."

Do not give up.  God can change your circumstances in an instant, but even if he does not you can have a hope that is firm and secure.  And if you have good news, share it!

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Family Affair

We are an equal opportunity family, so after enjoying a visit from the Salamys it was time to spend a few days with my parents...

We took them to see  a couple of Will's ballgames...

Under a beautiful sky!

Will is especially good at stealing bases.

Then we went to Audra's school to watch her track meet.
Go Audra go!

We love having a table full of people whether we are outside...

Or inside.
(Notice the TV on in the background.  We were watching the tornado reports in Oklahoma.)

Will loved just hanging out in the backyard...

But he REALLY loved getting to go to Dave and Busters with Papa.

We are so glad when family comes to see us!

And this time they left behind these beautiful stained glass windows in our entryway--hand crafted by my dad.
Thanks Grammy and Papa!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fathers Day

Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged;
Fathers are the pride of their children.
Proverbs 17:6

Happy Fathers Day Pop and Papa.
We love you and are proud of you!

And Happy Day to the pride of my children.
I choose you.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I'm Sorry

What can I say?  How can I start?  I was planning to write about my parents' visit, but I can't today.  My heart is too heavy.  My mind too consumed.
A neighbor down the street committed suicide this week.  Her daughter found her.  The police came.  My kids stood on the corner to see what was going on.  I just went back inside and fixed dinner.   I didn't even know what had happened until a few days later when I heard someone talking about it at the bus stop.
Why do we go through life assuming that everyone is doing okay?  Why do we assume that we are the only ones with problems?  Why do we resist taking off our masks and letting people see what is going on?
This week at my Bible study group (remember, the one I didn't want to go to)  the leader asked us to share how our lives had been interrupted.  My heart was pounding.  I didn't want to share.  I didn't want to be the only person falling apart when I told my story.  I didn't want people to feel sorry for me.
I didn't have to worry.
That small group of women  shared stories of bankruptcy, job loss, children born with handicaps, family splits, depression, panic attacks, and infidelity.  I was not the only one whose life had been forever changed by suffering.
We all took off our masks just for a moment and let others see our wounds.
And it helped.
We prayed for each other.
And it helped.
We studied to see how God can make something beautiful out of something ugly.
And it helped.
I wish I had invited my neighbor.  I wish she could have shared her pain with someone else.  I wish we could have prayed with her and for her.  I wish I could have told her that what is seen is temporary.
But it's too late.
Now when I drive down my street I wonder if there is someone else inside those beautiful houses who is hurting, someone else who is having trouble getting out of bed each day, someone else who needs the hope that I have.
I can't assume that just because their yard looks perfect that their life is perfect.
I'm sorry neighbor.
I'm sorry I didn't even know your name.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Spring Fling

In April we enjoyed a visit from Richard's parents.  We always like to take the opportunity to see the sights around here--and there are a lot of sites to see!
We started the week with a Richmond tradition--dinner and a movie in Carytown.  There is always something/someone interesting to see when you walk around down there.  Plus movies only cost $2 and there is a Wurlitzer organ concert before the show on Saturday nights!

Next it was off to DC.  We parked the car outside of town and rode the subway in because now we know how to do that. 

We checked out the Air and Space Museum.  It was very crowded because it was spring break and it was FREE.

We dined on pretzels from a street vendor outside the capitol.  Not great, but we were in a hurry.

We visited James Lankford's office.  Evidently he drew a high number in the lottery because his office is HARD to find!

We tried out his desk--he was in Oklahoma at the time!

After a private tour of the capitol we headed to an early dinner in Chinatown.  Lucky for us it was happy hour so our food was half price.  If I could remember the name of the restaurant I would recommend it...

This is the staircase in the restaurant--like I said, we were lucky our meals were half price!

The night before Easter we went to see the Flying Squirrels play ball.  They had a petting zoo outside.  It was hard to get Audra to go into the stadium.  Nothing says "Easter" like rubbing the belly of a tiny pig...

Take me out to the ball game...

I don't care if I never get back...

Yea!  They won in extra innings!

Easter Sunday--all dressed up for church

Then back home for an Easter egg hunt. 

Love those azaleas!

One last meal together and then it was time to say goodbye.
Until next time...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Raindrops on skylights

Do we truly stumble so blind that we must be affronted with blinding magnificence for our blurry soul-sight to recognize grandeur?
So says Ann Voskamp in her book One Thousand Gifts.  Do we save our thanks and praise for moments of magnificence and grandeur?  Does it take a mountain top experience to see God?  Isn't the  God who made Niagara Falls, the Swiss Alps, and the Grand Canyon the same one who made the geraniums by your front door, the sunrise over the 7-11, and the cool of the water rushing over your skin in the neighborhood pool?  Do you have the time and the eyes to see His hand where you are today? Now?
The only place we need to see before we die is this place of seeing God, here and now.
I have started looking.  I have started noticing.  I have started giving thanks. If I continue to name three things each day, I should reach one thousand by my next birthday.
Some are good things,
1. the sound of raindrops on the skylight in the middle of the night,
4. a new contact on my phone,
9. open windows,
14. eating outside.
Some are not-so-good,
37. an "A" scratched on the side of my car  reminds me that Anna lived,
38. dirty socks on the floor remind me that Jacob, Audra, and Will still live,
39. forgotten homework, flutes, and lunches--another chance to say 'I love you' when I take them to their owners.
Giving thanks in all things.
Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives.  Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our YES! to His grace.

Try it.
Slow down.
Look around you.
Give thanks.
Start with  three and let me know in the comment section what they are.

"He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God." (Psalm 50:23) 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Answered Prayer

The other day I woke up and I was having a "bad" day.  Perhaps it was the let down after the big birthday week, perhaps it was spiritual warfare, perhaps it was something I ate.  Whatever the reason, I wrote this in my journal...
Lord I am feeling isolated and worthless again.  NO ONE sees me this way--except me.  Can you please redirect my focus/thoughts/perspective?  Could you please help me to have contact with a friend today?
After that prayer I remembered that there was a new Bible Study starting at church that morning.  I hadn't planned to go.  The announcement said that it was for "homeschool educators" and my kids go to public school.  But I knew I wouldn't see anyone if I stayed home so I decided that maybe I would go.  I ended up taking Jacob to school and then taking the dog for a walk by the creek.  I got home at 9:20.  Was I going?  I only had 20 minutes to get ready.  I had to change my maybe to a yes or no.   Okay, I'll go... I could be on time and have wet hair or I could be late and have dry hair.  I went with wet hair because I hate to be late--especially on the first day of something I'm not really sure I want to go to.  When I got to the church I couldn't find the class.  I asked a lady in the office.  She didn't know where the group was meeting.  I asked the pastor in charge of education.  He didn't know where they were.  He checked the schedule.  Yes, they were supposed to start today.  He called the lady in charge--no answer.  (All this time I am telling myself, "Well, you tried.  You should just go. Just leave.  No one will care.  No one will know that you were here.  You aren't supposed to be here anyway.  GO!")  He called someone else and she told him they were meeting in the basement.  Oh really? Thank you.  So I went to the basement.  I knew one of the women in the class so I sat by her.  The first session was about "Life's Interruptions".

Has your life been interrupted?
What do you do when God changes the plans you have for your life?
The Divinely interrupted life is a privileged life.
An interrupted life is a significant life.
When God changes the direction of your life, he gives you a story that will impact others.
The interrupted life is an opportunity to walk with God and be a part of what He is doing.

All things I needed to hear.

And when I got home I had this email...


I'm glad you came to the Bible Study today!  You are one of my favorite people (bet you didn't know that!), and I'm looking forward to studying God's word with you in this small group setting.


Redirected focus/thoughts/perspective?  Check.
Contact with a friend?  Check.
Answered prayer?  Check.

Happier Birthdays

Last week we celebrated Jacob and Audra's birthday.  They were born on the same day three years apart.  It was great when they were little because we had one big party.  It will be great when they are older because we can have one big party.  But right now they are very different so we celebrate separately.
Jacob wanted to "hang out" with friends in the backyard.
There was skateboarding..

A big cookie...

Really LOUD music....
And a movie that no one watched...

The next morning we had our traditional birthday breakfast and we gave the kids their presents.  

Jacob got his passport and money for his mission trip to Rome

Audra got a unicycle

Then it was time for Audra's party at the pool...

Wait a minute Zoe, this is not the crazy picture...
This is!

The cupcakes were Audra's creations....
Lucky little brother had plenty of chips to eat and a friend to keep him busy...

While big brother worked the front gate.  He charged us full price for all of our guests--no family discount.  This boy takes his job serious!
For this I gave him this pin declaring him the "Employee of the Month"--on his first day of work!

A good time was had by all and now Audra has enough duct tape and sharpies to last through the summer.

Thank you God for friends!