Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 29 Extra

What are you doing with your "extra" day today?  I just got back from driving downtown to save the convenience fees for my birthday present.  It wasn't very convenient because it was raining and took longer than I thought, but I figured it was worth $40.  Now I have to act surprised when Richard gives me BRIAN REGAN TICKETS--Yippee!

Now for the rest of our extra day... I have challenged the kids (and myself) to find 29 "extra" things that they no longer need or want.  We are going to toss them (if they are trash) or put them in the garage sale pile (if they are someone else's treasure) to raise money for Jacob's trip to Nepal this summer.  (More on that later!)  Here's what I've got so far...

Some other recent happenings....

Richard went to Peru and ate..... I don't know what.

While we stayed home and had chocolate fondue with some old friends from Africa.

Speaking of food...Jacob has decided to be a vegan for Lent.  That means no animal products (meat or dairy) which means that we get to try recipes like this one...

 It wasn't so bad as long as you didn't look at what you were eating.

 Last week it snowed on Sunday and then was 80 degrees on Thursday.  On Monday we went tubing at Wintergreen.

 This is Jacob and his friend Sam.  I will let the picture speak for itself.

Friday I took Will (#12) and a buddy to their school skate night.  I did the Hokey Pokey for the first time in ? years.  I was more afraid of falling at 44 than I was at 14, but I managed to avoid any permanent damage.  No pictures of me, but I do have this one of a very happy guy in a blue shirt.

Saturday Jacob played his banjo in the school variety show.  (So proud! It almost makes up for wearing shorts in the snow.)

I hope you enjoy your extra day today!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Still doubting?

Today I read a verse that I never noticed before.  It's at the end of the book of Matthew.  After Jesus was crucified, dead, buried and resurrected He appeared to his followers in Galilee.  Verse 17 says, "When they saw Him (Jesus), they worshipped, but some doubted."  Can you imagine seeing someone alive who had been dead?  They couldn't deny that He was standing in front of them, but they were so dumbfounded by what they couldn't understand that they doubted what they were seeing.  In John chapter 20 Thomas doubted because he had not yet seen the risen Christ.  After appearing to Thomas, Jesus said, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."  Thomas doubted because he had not seen.  I know a lot of people like that who what to see proof before they will believe, but according to Matthew 28:17 it is possible to see Jesus standing before you and still doubt.  Some people do not have enough faith to see evidence of the risen Christ when it is right in front of them.  May I not be one of them.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Why this Baptist girl "does" Lent

The other day a friend of mine was telling me about her dad's tombstone.  Her dad is still alive, but his stone is already in place with his name and birthday engraved.  All that is left to do is add the date of his death.  At first I thought that was kind of creepy, but then I realized that we would all do well to have a physical reminder that our days are numbered.  Psalm 90:12 says, "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."  Why would we need to be taught to number our days?  Because we tend to live like we will never die--especially when we are young.  How many more days do I have on this earth?  10,000? 1,000?  100?  1?
Today is Ash Wednesday.  This morning in Catholic churches all over the world priests dipped their thumbs into ashes and made a mark on each parishioner's forehead saying, "Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shall return."    It's a yearly reminder that this life on earth is temporary (and it's cheaper than having a marble stone engraved.)
Today also marks the start of the Lenten Season.  It's a 40 day period of repentance, preparation, reflection, discipline, self-denial, and reevaluation before Easter.  I'm not Catholic so it's not something I grew up doing, but something that I have chosen to do as an adult. I think we miss out if we only celebrate Palm Sunday and Easter without walking through the darkness of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  Lent is a time to acknowledge the sacrifice that was made for us by making a sacrifice of our own.  It's also a time to add something to our lives that will draw us closer to God.
Does your Easter preparation only involve shopping for new clothes and filling plastic eggs with candy or does it include reflection, sacrifice, and service?
When you wake up on Resurrection Sunday 40 days from now, will you be any different than you are today?  Why not?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Still thankful after all these months...

I am pressing on to finish my list of 1,000 things I'm thankful for before my birthday in April.   I hope you are still working on your lists.

802. Touch screen Coke machines (if you haven't seen one yet, they are SO cool)
805. Popcorn with milk duds (these taste best when eaten at the movie theater)
806. Free refills at Chic Fil A (I especially love the lady who comes to my table and gets my cup and brings it back full)
810. A sunrise on the beach
816. A song leader who takes requests
821. Laughing so hard your stomach hurts (doesn't happen often enough)
827. Planning a party
830. A blanket of darkness covering our sleep (so thankful that God turns out the lights and says "Rest")
831. Feeling lonely and friendless and wanting to go "home" (I hate it when I feel this way, but I try to be thankful because it reminds me that this world is not my home and it forces me reach out to different people.)
835. Milk and Twinkies at midnight
837. God with us (an amazing thought!)
847. Kids big enough to help (and especially a daughter who will do dishes for as long as she has music to sing to)
848. A new mom at Mom's In Prayer (love this group of women who get together each Friday to pray for their  kids)
849. Praying for Audra's future husband and his parents (Did you know that you can do that????)
850. Father/daughter dances
852. Clean water from the tap (so easy I take it for granted)
854. A de-cluttered closet
857. Remembering to slow down
858. My first time to make a chicken pot pie
861. An invitation to have coffee--even though I don't drink coffee
863. Learning something new
877. Snuggling on the couch between Richard and Will
880. Lemonade stands in February
882. A future and a hope
885. A chocolate cherry fudge cake waiting for company (If you are feeling lonely, invite someone over for dinner.)
887. Butterfly bananas

Friday, February 3, 2012

Made Perfect

Hebrews 2:10 says that Jesus was made perfect through suffering.  What does that mean?  And, if I am supposed to be conformed to the image of Christ, am I made perfect through suffering?
As I was trying to understand this, I thought of Baby.  Anna received Baby on her 1st birthday.  She was just one of many presents.  Nothing special.  She cost $3 at Walmart.  Today Baby resides in my dresser drawer, but for 4 1/2 years she was my daughter's constant companion.  When your child is admitted to the hospital you have to fill out a lot of forms.  One of them always asks the question, "What does your child need for security?"  I always wrote, "Me and Baby."  I wasn't always there, but Baby was.  (Except the time we left her at the library or the times she was hidden under the covers and we had to frantically search for her.)
Because we were afraid of losing her or having her fall apart,  we tried several times to replace Baby.  I even found a doll exactly like her that soon became known as "Baby's sister."  The other dolls weren't good enough.  They weren't Baby.
This week I bought another $3 doll at Walmart  just to compare her to Baby.  The new doll  comes with a bottle, and toys all packaged in a shiny plastic pink backpack.  Her clothes are clean.  She is wearing a hat.  Her skin is smooth and unmarked.
She's perfect.
Baby's hair is matted from being twirled around Anna's fingers over and over and over again.  She sports patches on her neck and arm--sewed on by a kind nurse who specialized in fixing dolls as well as little girls.  Her clothes are nubby and worn from repeated washings.  Her skin is mottled and there are pen marks in her ear.  Her thumb sports chew marks from when our dog was a puppy.  There's a hole near the top of her right leg.  The hat she came with is long gone.
She's perfect.

If you ask me what the two dolls are worth, I would tell you that the one in the package is worth the price I paid, $3.  Baby on the other hand is priceless.  The one in the package will be given away or end up in a garage sale or returned to the store.  Baby is one of those things I would grab if my house was on fire.  She is that valuable--not because she looks perfect, but because she was made perfect through love, through suffering, through time.  Jesus was perfect when he came to earth--he was God.  Then he was made perfect through suffering.
You see, there is more than one way to be perfect.  You can be without flaws or you can perfectly fit the need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose.  Baby has flaws, but she was exactly what Anna needed.  Jesus was without flaws and he fit the need for a certain purpose.

Our goal in life is not to be like the new doll and stay in the box.  That's not the kind of perfect that Jesus modeled.  To be like him, we must learn to stand firm in the midst of suffering.  To be like him we must be willing to be broken.  How much is untested faith worth?  About the same as a perfect doll sealed in a plastic wrapper.  In this life you will have problems/trials/tribulations, but trust in the one who got out of the box and came to be tempted just as we are, suffer just as we suffer, and was made perfect--just as we are made perfect through faith in Him.  Some people may look at your scars and your brokenness and see nothing of value.  But God looks at you who have pressed on through the storms of life and stood firm through the testing of your faith and sees perfection.
So your goal is not to avoid being broken.  Your goal is to be made useful, complete, beautiful, and perfect in the hands of the One who holds you.
"I got Baby on my first birthday.  I always holded her by the hair.  But now she's not very pretty like she was when we first got her.  Now she's sort of messed up and not very pretty anymore.  But she's still special to me.  She goes wherever I go and she's still good.  I still love her and she's always the best doll that I've ever had." (Quote from Anna, 4/26/2007)