Monday, September 29, 2008

"OUR" friends

My friend across the country - but as close as a "click here" provided the inspiration for this post when I read hers from this wknd.

Over the summer we began meeting w/ a few other families w/ teens for The Truth Project. We meet in each other's homes weekly for 2-3 hours of food, fun & fellowship & some interesting/thought provoking discussions. The younger kids enjoy playing while we meet.

Long story short.....We've enjoyed getting to know these families much better & our relationships w/ them have been taken up a notch.

I love that both parents & kids are involved in the relationship building that just happens because we're meeting w/ the common desire to get to know God & His will better - & as we carve out precious time to devote to that end, we naturally get to know others who share similar passions, struggles & other "common denominators".

In this group, we've found something very special...a sweet blessing.... "Our" friends --- Not ...his, her, their or my friends....but our friends :)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What's wrong w/ this Picture!?

Edit: Should clarify - I'm not certain of what I wrote below as it relates to birth control in high school ....haven't asked the right people the right questions myself. Spoke w/ my daughter after I posted this & she's not sure about the birth control prescription either - but said they do give out condoms. Hmm - they won't dispense over-the-counter Tylenol w/o a doctor's (not a parent's) written permission - but they'll give out condoms? Even putting aside associated moral & ethical concerns...which one do you think poses more potential risks? This is what happens when we let others think for us!? UGH - scary!

Even more frightening is the thought that a minor needs parental permission to get their ears pierced - but in some places , can secretly have an abortion w/o parental consent?!

This just boggles my mind....

My daughter - who's in public high school, wasn't feeling well at school ....wanted something (non-prescription/over the counter Tylenol or whatever) to relieve aches & pains --- & I had to bring it to her - which I was happy to do. Students are not allowed to carry it/take it as needed on their own. Could this be b/c of concern that students may not be mature enough to use it responsibly &/or may abuse it? In the future, if I want the school nurse to give it to her, I need to have a doctor's written consent form completed & on file. I can't write & sign the note myself.... - yet - ....from what I gather.... if a student ever decides she wants to begin taking birth control (a hormone altering prescription drug!), they'd give that to her w/o even seeking parental permission --- & would even go so far as to keep it a secret from the parents.

Does this make sense to anyone?!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Wedding Dress?... woven w/ Strands of Three Cords?

Seems to me that God essentially "wove creation" w/ strands of three chords in a pattern that communicates relationship - in that it seems all living things inherently possess both needs & something others need in order to survive. And - as it all relates to the crown of creation - Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. - that people possess those same two inherent needs as well as a third - an inherent need to be needed (loved?!) -- and that all healthy human relationships hinge on the element of humility (versus pride) which enables authority to lead best/most effectively by serving -- & those under authority to submit out of honor, respect & devotion (sure sounds like LOVE to me!).

The Trinity - Father, Son, Holy Spirit

Church - Pastor, Elders, Lay People

Marriage - Husband, Wife in submission to God

Family - Father, Mother, Children

Faith, Hope & Love (the greatest of these is love)

(The greatest demonstration of love): The Cross - a vertical beam, a horizontal beam, Jesus

Hmmm....The closer I look... the more I seem to see a simply elegant(!) tapestry of grace unfolding -- that resembles.... a Wedding Dress(!?)...seamless!, flawless!, perfect! - A magnificent, exquisite, unique, extremely intelligent & totally original design - beautiful beyond description.

* * *

Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV) Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken

Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV) You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

2 Cor 3:12 - 13 (NIV) Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the LORD, the veil is taken away. Now the LORD is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the LORD’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the LORD, who is the Spirit.

Psalm 19 is definitely worth reading after considering all of this :)


Note: Some other strands of three chords - my list keeps growing - feel free to add to it via comments if you think of others :)

- Umbilical Cord (life giving/sustaining connection!): Three vessels/Three components... vein, artery, gelatinous material

- Human Life: mind, body, soul

- The strongest structural compenent - a triangle

- Education (Understanding?): Science (Creation), History (HisStory), Math

- Volume / Three Dimensions: Length x Width x Height

- American Government - Executive, Judicial, Legislative Branches

- Nature's Elements: Earth, Wind, Fire

- Needed to sustain life: nourishment, light, breath

- Atoms: protons, neutrons, electrons

...and - have you ever looked closely at a diagram of DNA? The essence/building block of life! ...If you ask me, it also resembles ... a strand of three cords -- Dioxi-Ribo-Nucleic acid

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Do you believe what you believe is really real?!...

...Does this question haunt you? I realize that with the confidence I have in the ability to answer w/ an emphatic "YES!", I should reflect the courage & conviction wrapped in that answer....yet I know I don't always.

Check out this link: & view the short & long trailers. After having taken this world view tour ourselves, my husband & I are now facilitating the discussion in two separate "classes". The material is so well presented & thought provoking so the discussion part is easily inspired.

"We're challenged to either confront culture, to abandon it - or transform it."
Gordon Pennington, The Truth Project

On Sept. 27 a one day nationwide Truth Project simulcast is scheduled (more info is at the same website). If the trailers peak your interest, I highly recommend you register! This curriculum is not available (or shouldn't be) from retailers - or even from Focus on the Family, who sponsored/produced it, b/c it was designed to only be made available for purchase to those who have taken the course - but - the entire DVD curriculum/12 lessons (reg aprx $80 I think) is included in the cost of this one day simulcast - so it's a great deal!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sticks & Stones vs. Brooks & Stones

Sticks & stones may break my bones....but(!) ... brooks (God's Word) & stones (specific verses) will cleanse, refresh, encourage, empower (& the list goes on & on)!

Last night: heard a sermon re: David & Goliath. Tho' a familiar story, an interesting analogy was used -- one of God's Word being the brook (source of life giving sustenance, refreshment & cleansing, etc...) before us to reach into & pick out stones (specific verses) to use to defeat the "giants" in our lives. David picked five stones - but only one was used to "do the job".

This msg was timely - tho' I didn't realize how timely at the time. After talking w/ my girls after church/before bed, I realized both are learning so much more than they ever needed to know from peers (don't think "friends" is the appropriate noun here) ... Both are being robbed in ways that what's being taken can never be given back --- & it seems almost impossible to stop...short of "hiding" from it all. While it's tempting to hide-- I'm convinced it's not the right solution to the problem.

I can relate to them ...even on the level where common/everyday words are given new vulgar/profane definitions...that cause it to be so difficult to think purely let alone worship God. - In fact, I often feel cheated (robbed!) after attempting to worship God. I realize having a pure heart is what matters most -- but being bombarded w/ profanity makes it so hard to keep the mind/thoughts pure...and it can be so distracting.

This morning the thought occurred to me - to give my kids a "stone" (Bible verse) each morning to "carry" thru'out the day.... & from there, I chose five stones for myself today.
When I consider that God wants us to face our giants (NOT to avoid them at all costs!), it builds confidence to understand that He doesn't expect us to face them alone. I gather this b/c, it seems over time God has made it easier for believers to enjoy His presence continually -- as the Holy Spirit now indwells believers - b/c of Christ/The Savior's death/sacrifice on the cross - & in our obedience - in this case, as we face our giants - the Holy Spirit works thru' us to defeat them.

The 5 stones I chose for today:

1) Joshua 1:9 (NIV) "...Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

2) Acts 4:31 (NIV) After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

3) Ephesians 1:13 (NIV) And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession - to the the praise of his glory.

4) Romans 8:28 (NIV) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

5) 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV) But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Once a father....Always(!) & Forever(!) a father

Slightly I try to clarify my own thoughts...

I rec'd one of those dreaded phone calls last night. My brother called to tell me his son had died. He hadn't seen his son since he was about 4yrs old (& he was "now" about 32 yrs old, I think). This news totally(!) and completely broadsided my brother - as it came from "out of the blue". It's a looong sad story that "ends" like this: "that's just the way it was." Nonetheless - this news moved my brother to tears. Naturally I had a hard time sleeping ... & tho't to journal here where some of my thoughts led ...

My brother NEVER forgot his son - & I think quietly he hoped one day his son would seek & return to him & they'd be reunited.

From there, I found some comfort in understanding that once a person becomes a parent....they are forever & always a parent after that ... NOTHING can ever change that. No matter if the child is aborted, miscarried, placed up for adoption, taken away, dies, eventually runs away in an attempt to disown his family, -- or they enjoy a long & healthy relationship that leads to much blessing. Even if a father doesn't know he has a child, it doesn't change the fact that he is still the father!

While our earthly relationships are all imperfect to some degree & we can change so much in regards to them based on the choices we make, I can't help but wonder if this "once a father, always a father" concept illustrates what God, in His perfection, really wanted us to understand as it relates to the relationship between Him and His children .... and so created something inherent in the (biological) father/son (parent/child) relationship that simply/absolutely could not ever be changed.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 6:37-40 (NIV)
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

Romans 8:38 (NIV) For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our LORD.

Hebrews 6:17 - 20 (NIV) Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Creative Memories ... an heirloom of the heart

Edited this post after realizing it certainly didn't flow like the river in the pics :)

Hopefully my children are collecting memories we're making & tucking them away in their own sweet hearts & minds, but there's something about pictures that cause memories to come rushing back after time passes - in much the same powerful way the water in this river was rushing yesterday...

I'm not very creative when it comes to making crafty things - but since we've been really trying to make Sundays so much more of what God intended, they've become, for me/us, times to make more of what I enjoy making most.... memories & friends! -- & some of the very best of them have been made ... on Sundays :) Perhaps one day I'll collect pictures of many of them "all together in one place" - in a photo album labeled "Sundays" to give to my children as an heirloom from my heart...a collection of creative memories made
together (key word here) as we explored God's incredibly creative(!) creation...that whispers & shouts "relationship" everywhere you look & listen.... & that provides us with so many amazing places to really enjoy getting to know Him & each other better. Can't think of any place in the entire world I'd have rather spent yesterday -- or any heirloom I'd rather leave my children..than creative memories collected "this way".

Note: Visited this beautiful corner of God's creation yesterday (Sun) after a huge rain storm. So timely - as a river & kayaking were used as an illustration in the sermon we heard at church.... In a river, you don't get out where you get in as in a lake ... & in the process of moving along (making progress) so many opportunities present themselves to improve our skills ...(my note: so much like life!) -- & how a healthy church should provide similar opportunities to grow in Christ & encourage others to do the same in the areas of evangelism, worship, fellowship, discipleship & service.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Thank you, Honey!

Mark 9:35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all."

This week, among many others, my husband has been my best personal example of this "leadership style". I could bore you w/ "woe is me details" - but instead I'll skip to the part about how despite all I do, I think his role in our endeavor to train up our children in the way they should go is more demanding - & perhaps more effective - b/c of how he goes about fulfilling "his part" in personal & practical ways. I wouldn't even want to attempt so much of what I do if I didn't have my husband's reliable support in word
and deed.

While I tend to be more "up front" in various leadership roles, my husband more often is faithfully serving behind the scenes in ways that often go unnoticed. He spends aprx 12 hrs a day commuting & holding down a demanding job, drives a "nothing-special/very economical car by his choice, & I can't think of a time when he was ever too busy for us. He's a continual encouragement (a daunting task b/c it's me he's encouraging & I tend to require a lot of it!) He prays for & w/ me, listens as I "vent" frustrations & gives me advice. Truth be told, he does more than "his share of my share"- which frees up time for us to attempt to reach beyond ourselves to serve others. When our schedule doesn't run like clockwork & to do lists grow, he's rarely rattled. His philosophy: "you can do most anything yourself cheaper than you can hire someone to do it" - which adds to his workload! I honestly don't know how he does "it all" - & can't imagine doing what I do, without him!

While "up front" is one of my husband's least favorite places to be, I really admire his confident, "uncomplicated", stable faith & appreciate more & more how very blessed I am to be the beneficiary of his servant's heart & therefore also of his beautiful example of faithful leadership & provision.

I suppose I could've rented a billboard -- or shouted it from our rooftop -- but
I guess I decided to share this here - simply to say "Thank you, Honey!!" - in a way that others will "overhear" - & hopefully be encouraged to say the same to their honey -- or others who lead/serve them in this selfless way -- b/c sometimes even a simple "thank you" shared in heartfelt appreciation can make a world of difference..... and it's toward the hope of that end that I share so much of what I do... here.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day

Lessons Learned in the Absence of Answers

Wrote this a while back - about a year and a half ago - revisited/edited it this AM & tho't to share it here:

Lessons Learned in the Absence of Answers

Have you ever noticed that the more you know it seems like the more questions you have?

It's been several months since we were led to believe our daughter had a potentially serious medical condition. In a quest for answers, we’ve met with well respected doctors at prestigious medical facilities and she has undergone tests with the use of amazing technology. Fortunately most "news" - and the most recent diagnosis – are encouraging and seem to “make sense”. Praise God! Yet, still we have a lot more information but few solid answers.

This experience causes me to consider how creative and personal God is with respect to how He teaches us. --- And to consider as well that in our attempt to train up our children in the way they should go, if a child is struggling in his schoolwork to “get the answers”, perhaps we should not assume he isn’t learning -- no matter how frustrating that process is. Rather consider that he may be learning much more than we realize….because he/she is persevering in the pursuit of those answers (struggling!)

Recently, on a trip to a lab for more medical testing, the audio book we intended to listen to didn’t work in the car. In frustration I thought of the wasted school time. But it was during this precious “wasted time” that my daughter shared with me something she’d been talking to God about…..something to the effect that she wanted Him to be glorified with whatever it is she has and about how she realized that her life is not her own because it belongs to God.

An e-mail from a friend reminded me what a blessing it is when God allows our children to share with us what He tries to teach us all along. She encouraged me by indicating that by my life, teaching and example, my daughter is seeing the heart and eyes and will of God! ---Wow! I was taken back by that!!..... because that would mean God is using me to teach her what I at times don’t know or understand myself!

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV) But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

The more desperate we are for answers, the more fervently we tend to seek them out, and therein seems to lie passion for learning. If we try hard enough, we may eventually find the answers we’re looking for. However, it seems to me that God intended for the pursuit of the answers to the really big questions in life to ultimately lead us to Him and that the more passionately we pursue them, the better we’ll get to know Him and the more we’ll want to be like Him. Before we know it, we have a relationship rather than a religion and even though we may not know or understand all the answers, so much of what we do know seems to finally make so much sense!

I don’t claim to understand how it all works. I admit I find it perplexing that His power is made perfect in weakness (so very opposite of “survival of the fittest” and a concept beautifully illustrated in creation Flowers/bees!, etc.) -- and that many valuable lessons seem to be learned even in the absence of answers. And as I consider the incredible(!) transformation a caterpillar undergoes during the struggle it must go through to become the beautiful butterfly God intended it to be, I’m encouraged!! Because that just seems so like God….. inconceivably creative and incredibly personal.

Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV) You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Proverbs 2:3-6 (NIV) and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.