Friday, April 21, 2006

Sherlock Holmes wears the panties in our family. (Or not).

I can't tell you how encouraging you all are.

I'm out of my league in friendships. God just works that way though. Thanks for blessing me with your thoughts.

Have to share this one... straight from Julia.

Apparently, she couldn't "hold it" tonight.

She brought the wet clothes to daddy, with guilty face and apology ready.

Jason asked her where the 'accident' happened. She pointed in one direction in the kitchen, but Jason saw a puddle in another spot. He cleaned up what he saw, and then asked her again about where her "accident" was, because looking around, he couldn't see what she had pointed to.

She matter-of-factly said:
'Daddy, if you take your shoes and socks off, you can find it.'


Apparently he didn't.
Sure enough, about an hour later, I did. :-)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Lost gameboys and worshipping God...

Eli lost his gameboy a week ago.

If you know us, you know this is traumatic. He loves that thing. I do think it is a blessing, for the time being - even as I do hope for his sake we find it.

The painful part was his prayer tonight.

"Dear God, Please Please please help me find my gameboy. Please help me find it right away in the morning, when I first wake up. I have asked you every night for three nights to please please help me find it.
You can do it. You have all the power. I don't know why you don't want to? It's sort of confusing to me. But please help me find it. In Jesus name, Amen."

He walked away, blew his nose ( Allergy season!) and as he threw his tissue away, he began to pray again.

"God, thank you for mom and dad and Julia. Thanks for this day too. Amen"

He looked at me and said;

"You know mom, every time I go to pray, all I can think about is my gameboy. But I know those other things are important and God wants to hear about them too."

I remember somewhere along the way learning not to pray such things. Much like the disciples told the children not to approach Jesus. Jesus taught them otherwise. I'm once again learning to pray for help to find my keys when they're lost. :-) Eli's already got the lesson learned from the persistent widow in practice...:-)

Bigger than that though, is the process of learning that God isn't Santa Claus. He's better. And I would say that my pain is because it is hard for a 6 year old to comprehend that, but in reality, his prayer is so touching because it is so honestly where we all have been at one point or another, even as adults.

I prayed the same words when I desperately wanted to be free of panic attacks, & anxiety. I've prayed it over lesser wants. I prayed it when our daughter was dying.

There is something painful about the process of comprehending just how great God's power is, and then understanding it's not always "up for grabs" in the manner that we ask just because we ask for it.

Some experience that, and upon learning it, walk away. I did, for a while.

The temptation comes when we perceive a "no", or at least a delay in God's response to us. We begin to tell ourselves that maybe He doesn't really exist, or maybe He's not so powerful. Or maybe we're not worthy. And then our anger is directed to God for making us this way and then not accepting us.... the lies all take different forms, but they are all pretty powerful.
In my case, I tried to talk myself into being an atheist. I wasn't successful in the depths of my heart, in spite genuine effort and motivation at the time. His presence and existence are just undeniable, and was so even in my anger. So I settled for believing in Him, but refusing to worship a God that would allow such things to happen and refuse to answer such simple prayers.

What a common spiritual battle... God battles for us to really know Him. Satan battles for us to shallowly believe we already do.

I'm thankful for the story of the prodigal son. And Peter. And the sinful woman. I'm thankful I had precedence to come back after such actions.

Somewhere along the way we begin to limit our image of God to our own sense of justice and logic. No wonder we would quickly tire of worshipping Him. If He didn't call us to a greater understanding of Himself outside the perimeters of ourselves, we would most likely end up worshipping the mirror... being impressed with all the good things we could call God into action for.

But His "No's", and His delays... His permission for pain to enter our life; they all make us take a second glance at who we think He is. The doubts bring about right questions... and if hang in there and we really grapple with them, we get deeper, better, answers than the superficial ones we often satisfied ourselves with previously.

No doubt, this is a risk.
Some walk away, for a time. Some walk away forever.

But for those that grapple with it - for those that begin to understand their place in relation to Him instead of His power in relation to them...they win. He gains worshippers who truly serve Him and not an image of Him in their own mind, and they find what they had always hoped was there...

Invincible power.
Eternal love.
Presence and working in every situation.
Promises and Trust.

Real peace.

Even when the gameboy stays lost and the daughter remains in the grave. (For now....)

I grew up learning of God. I thought I knew God was powerful. I thought I understood His love and goodness.
But in His refusal to instantly gratify some of my wants, in His willingness to tell me no, I began to understand a depth of His power and the intensity of
His love that far superseded my imagination.

And the peace I rest in daily because of that assurance is more satisfying than any artificial peace I would have created by having every whim my limited imagination could dream up answered and put into place.

God has said yes to things I never even dared to pray out of embarrassment. He has said no to things I desperately pleaded for.
And I have learned He is worthy of every last bit of praise I have to offer... everytime.

Pain in the neck. (Yep, really.)

So I woke up this morning with quite a bit of pain in my neck. ( Not proverbial.)

Our dear, wonderful friend Shawn (who's a physcial therapist) came by and worked on my head, neck and shoulders, helping immensely ( THANK YOU!) , and informed me once again that my computer and posture is the culprit behind my pain.
Somehow his suggestions for improvement evoked feelings in me much like what I imagine an addict being told about what they have to do to rehab feels like.....

But I'm still blogging for a minute.:-)
Just one more time. I can do it. It won't hurt anyone!
I'll start being better tomorrow.

Oh yeah. I do have a problem. But if admitting it is half the problem... I'll just start there tonight.

Just kidding. I'm sitting up tall, and facing the screen directly RIGHT NOW!

Monday, April 10, 2006

You know she really likes you when....

It cracks me up, but when Julia feels especially affectionate, she doesn't use the normal "I love you" or similar terms to express it.

No, instead she slides up beside you with a side hug and says to you:

"I like your shirt."

Doesn't matter what you are wearing. Doesn't matter where you are... church, in the yard, cleaning, just got done exercising, if you are mom or a stranger.
If she just feels like she likes you right then, she says it.

"I like your shirt."

And she says it so cutely, you sort of feel happy- like you really do have a nice shirt on, and are pretty special since she thinks so about you.

Oh that I could use that line with the same power & influence whenever I wanted to!

Kindergarten has the best diet plan

Sitting at the table yesterday, Julia decides to assert that apple juice is her favorite drink. In typical sibling fashion, Eli decides to see if he can take issue with the appropriateness of her choice.

Eli - "I don't even know if apple juice is healthy Julia."

Me - "Well, it's not as healthy as eating an actual apple, but it's a lot healthier than a Coke."

Eli - "Yeah, Coke doesn't even have vitamins. It goes in the fats and oils, and sweets category."

Leave it to the good old food pyramid to blow my vision of my favorite drink!

Monday, April 03, 2006

How much do we trust Him?

Been catching up on good reading lately. I have been captivated by reading the book "End of the Spear" by Steve Saint - a much more in-depth look at the story portrayed in the recent movie. It is captivating to me...and I wanted to share a little of it. At this moment, I am reading Steve's writings of the conversation with the Waodani that took place following his aunt's death, and revealing the actual details of how his father and the other 4 missionaries were killed, and by whose hand. I guess this is especially fascinating to me, because as this was occurring, I was in the same country learning the original story of what had happened as well. I'll share the parts that have impacted me the most this week.

"Several years ago, my dad's brother Sam died. His daughter told me that he wanted me to have a spear that had been found in Dad's body. She gave me several, but did not know which one it was. When I got them home and was alone, I finally looked at them closely. It was hard to do, but one of them caught my attention. The tip had broken off. I noticed a speck of white near the tip. I examined it closely and saw that it was a tiny fragment of a New Testament that had been taken from the beach. It is customary for the Waodani warriors to decorate the spears they are going to use on their enemies with something that belongs to that enemy or something that would be associated with that enemy. There was little doubt that I was actually holding the spear that took my dad's life.
....The Wadoani had one more burning question for me, and then we were all anxious to change the subject. One of the men who had not been a part of the spearing party asked me, " All the other foreigners being speared, the smallest one got to the far side of the river; what about that? What about what? I wondered. "What did he do?" I asked. Another warrior answered, "Not fleeing, he just stood their and called to us, 'We see you well; why are you spearing us? We see you well; why are you spearing us?'" ... Their question was, " Being on the far side of the river, why was he not fleeing?"
"Surely fleeing, you would have just tracked him down and speared him anyway?" I meant it as a question, but I know the Waodani are expert trackers. Even I could probably track someone wearing tennis shoes.
The Waodani said "Baa"- No. One of the warriors told me, as though he was revealing a dark secret, "When we speared, first we were furious. Then having speared, we were afraid. If he had fled just a little, surely he would have lived. "
I could see the pain on their faces. They were all wishing that at least one of the five had survived their hatred. I think they would have liked to have been able to explain to at least one of the men that they had gone to spear them because hatred was the only way they knew to live then. As Mincaye says "We acted badly, badly until they brought us God's carvings. Now, seeing His markings and following His trail, we live happily and in peace. "

(** Now I know this is long, but the following is the part I love. It carries weight because it is not a flippant, untested statement, but one rooted firmly in love and faith that has been weathered and born though the reality of pain and loss. - h )

It is only my conjecture, because none of us can know the will of God, but I think it fit God's plan that all five men died. I know that might offend some who have a narrower opinion of parameters within which God must operate, but I don't think what happened to my dad and his four friends caught God by surprise. Nor do I think God simply allowed it. No, after learning in detail what happened on January 8, 1956 - while I was so anxiously waiting to see the speck of my dad's little 56 Henry airplane appear over Penny Ridge- I believe God was much more involved in what happened than merely failing to intervene.
... If I could go back now and rewrite the script, I would not change a single scene. I have come to understand that life is too complex and much too short to let amateurs direct the story. I would rather let the Master Storyteller do the writing. I don't say that casually....

The details Steve Saint shares of the impact and results of that day are profound.

The scene John records in Revelation 6:9-11 in fresh on my mind because of a recent look at his life and writings:
"When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the alter the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the earth and avenge our blood?" Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brother who were to be killed as they had been was completed."

What I love is that the picture of God is one of patience because of His eternal vision and faithfulness. He knows of our capacity to change and turn from even the darkest lifestyle because of the power of love and faithfulness.

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." ( Rev. 21:4)

Gikita, the Waodani Indian who fueled and led the spearing raid on the five missionaries that day, got a taste and a glimpse of this peace & promise of God because of God's holy patience and the faithfulness of men willing to die for what they knew to be true of God. They were ready to die. The Waodani were not.

After Steve shared with Gikita the news of Rachel Saint's death, Gikita responded:
"Babae, being old I, too am soon going to die. Going to live, then, in God's place, I will wrap my arms around your father, whom I speared first. There we will live happily together."

What an amazing God we serve. What an amazing gift He offered us. What an amazing story He continues to tell the world through us, if we let Him.