On this Memorial Day remember those who have died in service to our country. We are standing in front of the panel of The Wall, the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. where my mother's brother's name is engraved. I was 10 when he was killed by a land mine. Uncle Buddy left a wife and two small children behind. Our family, like many, knows the sacrifice serving our country is. Please pray for the families who are even now mourning the loss of a loved one.
I started this post Wednesday night after hearing from a sweet friend, Jessica, who is joyfully serving in Thailand, working with the Lord to bring women and men out of a life of prostitution. It struck me that we know so little of all that is going on around the world, what the needs of individuals are, what the pain, sorrow, hunger, homelessness, is really like.
I am not Eeyore just so you know. Generally I am an upbeat person. Every once in awhile, God gives me glimpses into some of what He hears about on a daily basis, and thankfully I am reminded that I am glad He is God and I am NOT! But what does happen for me is I am reminded to be in prayer for the many whose hearts don't yet know the sigh of release from letting the Savior carry them; for those whose suffering is so great they can't think; for those who simply haven't yet heard there is One who longs to comfort them in the midst of their pain...
I heard at a women's retreat several years ago the question: "What breaks your heart that breaks the heart of God?" It stopped me short. I realized I had never thought that way. I began to ponder over several months what things break my heart. I wondered if they were "big enough" for God to care about. I wanted to be caring about what He cares about. I began praying that He would enlarge my heart for the things He sees. What a journey this has been! God is faithful.
When I hear of those dear people in Thailand who don't know that they have options for their lives until someone like Jessica tells them I am moved to prayer. When I hear of the thousands of displaced families in Sri Lanka, I think, "Oh Lord..." and am moved to prayer. When I read my friend Sue's post about her sweet parents who are slowing down more and more I cry and thank God for the blessings of relationships even though they aren't always easy.
Right in the middle of your days, God wants you to join in the chorus of silent and audible voices lifting up concerns to Him. He alone is the One who can hold all these near. He alone can have a broken heart for the hurting and still not be overwhelmed by it all. Please don't say, "well all I can do is pray." Prayer is vital. Prayer is powerful. The work of lifting up others' needs to the throne of grace is the gift God gives us in our relationship with Him; an audience with the King! Please don't neglect that wonderful privilege.
He may also want you to take additional action in response to the things that break your heart. Be aware of opportunities to serve, to write, to fast, to send, to go. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. WE are needed my friends. Ponder your heart; ponder God's heart. Where has God allowed your heart to be soft, weak, broken and yielding? That is a good place to start.
You must be the change you wish to see in the world. Mahatma Gandhi
We hear the bleak reports of economic down turns, flooding in rural areas, war ravaged countries with 250,000 displaced persons, extreme poverty, hunger on the streets of this country as well as throughout the world. Depressing. Put your fingers in your ears and say La La La La La. Avoidance won't make these realities go away. You just get to pretend that in your little world everything is fine and you are in control.
You must be the change you wish to see in the world. Wise words to ponder. What can one person do you ask? One can actually do a lot. Especially when one tells another, who tells another, who tells another, and they all take action.
I want to tell you about one such person. Tim is taking action. You can too. Fast and give. One meal, one day. June 1st, 2009. You choose the organization to donate the money you would have spent on that one meal. But if you tell another, who tells another, who tells another, well you get the idea. Tim is asking us to tweet this on Twitter. If you tweet do that. If you're not on twitter tell your friends the old fashioned way! But any one of us can help make a difference by fasting that one meal, one day and donating to the suggested organizations that Tim mentions on his blog.
You must be the change you want to see in the world. Take action.
Creative. I have several friends who are creative and business people. Dale collects rare beads from all over the world and then makes jewelry or sells the beads to others who make jewelry. Lindsey is a stay at home mom with 3 littles and she creates and sews up a storm. Lisa is an incredible mom of two and as a jewelry maker has designed so many unique creations.
Etsy. I am still amazed at how few people know of this great warehouse of business people. I just found another sweet woman who is creating and selling through etsy. Rebecca has items inspired by the shore and creation itself. Check all these women out; you will be glad you did. Who knows, you might recognize your talent for making things and be inspired to set up your own etsy shop!
I had to have help putting this picture in place because it was huge! In the process I learned how to change the size in html without changing the aspect ratio. All that thanks to my husband the engineer! I asked him if he could tell what kind of person I am from this picture and he said "A duck follower!" He may know how to manipulate pixels accurately but "getting the hint" is not high on his list of skills. Not to mention he has lived with my obsession of control for 18 years of wedded bliss, poor man.
Yes it's true; I would love to have all my ducks in a row and going in the same direction all the time. But unfortunately that has yet to happen. My literal husband and son would promptly say "You don't have any ducks." Perhaps that is really the problem, not my lack of control over life but the fact that we don't own any ducks!
Seriously though, I have had to be undone in this area of control so many times that you'd think I would have learned the truth about my small circle of influence in the universe by this season of life. But since I am in the middle of a series of unfortunate events right now, I am recognizing yet again that I don't have control. It's all in God's hands.
He is so extremely patient with me, the slow of learning. He is also extremely gracious in the lessons I seem to need repeating. Truly, at this point in life I just laugh and say, Oh yeah, I forgot again, didn't I Lord? He gently reminds me and I willingly take His hand, as I brush off my skinned knees from my stumbling.
So I shared what kind of person I am. How about you? What does God have to teach you again and again? Or are you one of those vicarious learners who benefits from the open mistakes of others like me? Please, please don't let me be the only one who needs repetition!
I don't know what season of life you are currently in, but I have the best of both worlds in my family. We have two sons: one at home getting really excited about starting high school and one in college really excited about his studies and what God is doing in him while at Biola University.
At Biola they have chapels to attend; a required 30 for the semester. This is the last week of school before finals and graduation. Wisely the theme of chapels this week is "God's Call on Your Life". Our son's a great communicator and is often willing to share what he's been learning (see previous post to know where he got that!) and today was no exception. He called me right after chapel to tell me how great it was and that I need to get the recording. I wanted to know why it was great and he shared some tidbits that made me think of things that God is teaching me right now.
The speaker talked about our common desire to know God's plan for our lives, rather than simply trusting His good plan. He used an illustration of a trapeze artist at the moment of letting go to just prior to grabbing on to the next bar. He called that mid-air. He challenged the listeners to live life mid-air; trusting God without knowing for sure what is next.
The image reminded me of something this very same son made me do two years ago when he was working at Hume Lake Christian Camp as a High Adventure guide. They have trust building activities that are optional for campers to participate in, but for this visiting mom, there was no option. Check this out and then I want to tell you what happened to me.
That's not me in the video, but I did what she did. 42 feet up in the air stands the platform. That's really high especially when you look down! While on the platform you get locked into the harness and the cables. The guide is hooked up to the platform in case any wild camper or mom grabs them for "safety". So there I stood, just like Jessie in the video, getting ready to go off backwards. My son was holding the harness to drop me whenever I gave him the okay. It was a very frightening moment for me and he knew it. He was not trying to rush me or goad me on, he really wanted me to make the decision to fall backwards. I told him I was afraid. He said, " I know Mom. But this is your chance to know you are in God's hands." With that I took a deep breath and said Ok.
Then I felt it. Crazy adrenaline! Weightless falling. Micro-seconds of unseen support. Mid-Air.
When Matt shared what today's chapel speaker had said of trusting God's plan and living mid-air, I was immediately reminded of that sensation. It scared the bejeebees out of me in the waiting, but once I was mid-air I was fine.
What does that mean for us in the waiting for God's plan to unfold? We have to face the fear of the unknown. Fear is an emotion and like all emotions is intended to bring us to our Abba to share it with Him. We don't know what is around the bend or off the platform, but God does. He knows the plans He has for us, plans for welfare and not calamity, to give us a future and a hope.
Can you risk mid-air? I am. And God's carabiners are strong and perfect and His cables go for eternity! What a ride!
Some of you who have known me for awhile already are familiar with my history. But for those who don't, I have spent more than half my life teaching. I have worked with children, youth and adults in a variety of settings from traditional classrooms to garages to auditoriums. I love to teach!
What I have discovered in working with Kathy is that my passion is really to give the tools to learn so that my students, regardless of age, can continue the learning process on their own. Giving away a passion for learning and growing is not an easy task. But if only one student was inspired in each year's work, it would have been worth it to me.
The funny thing is, although I am no longer a classroom teacher, I find myself still teaching! I guess it is because I am an eager learning and I want to share whatever new things I have come across. When I am enthusiastic about something it is nearly impossible for me to keep my enthusiasm to myself. I'm not sure if that is bad; you'd have to ask my family what it is like living with me: "Hey you guys! Guess what I just read?!"
Your passion may not be for learning and teaching what you learn. You do have passion about something though. You may be busy today with small children and can't think much past their daily schedule of needs, or you may be going into a season of change and you don't know what is ahead. Either way, somewhere inside you is some element of creative passion. I know that is true because each of us is created in the image of God and He is the source of creativity and passion!
I really encourage you to carve out some time to sit in solitude asking your Maker what your passion is if you are disconnected from the awareness of how you are wired. He knows the plans He has for you...
Some of you are really living out your passions right now and you inspire me! I really believe we are intended to share our gifts and talents with one another for both blessing and challenge. How do we get started though? What can you do today to take a step toward living out your passion? I would love to talk with you about what I have been learning (there I go again!) that can help you get the tools you need to learn about your passion.
In 1989, after experiencing many significant life changes within a short period of time, not all of which were welcomed, a friend gave me this card. I was so touched by the sentiment that I framed it. It has been a part of my visual inspiration for 20 years! Recently I have experienced the second set of significant life changes, none of which were planned. This visual reminder has been inspirational for me still and in new ways this time through.
Life has a way of happening whether we are ready or not. I lost both my parents within nine months of one another through unexpected means. As a result of those huge losses I was unable to continue working in the administrative capacity I had been, so I stepped away from that position. Truly, I could barely function, the grief process was so overwhelming. It has been a two year period of deepening my relationships: with my husband, my sons, and my Lord.
When I was younger along the Way, I really didn't get what James encouraged us with: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Now, after 28 years walking along the Way, I think I finally understand. God tests our faith as He tested Abraham, so that the surpassing knowledge of God in Christ can be ours.
We can have joy in the middle of deep loss and sorrow. And no it doesn't make sense. But God does have a plan, He is still on His throne and His promises are true to those who believe. I have lots more to say about the lessons I have learned and I will in future blogs, but what I most want to encourage you with today has to do with the changes I am being led to and hopefully they will encourage you too.
I have had the privilege of working with a terrific woman for the past six months, who is a follower along the Way and my Life Coach. Kathy has listened to me at this change point in my life; trying to help me sort out what is left of me after losing so much. She has been both inspirational and prayerful for me. Through my work so far with Kathy I have recognized my desire to communicate what God has taught me through the life He has blessed me with. She has pointed me toward tools and exercises to sift through ideas and passions and find the commonalities to build upon. It has been a very inspiring journey that I highly recommend!
As part of this journey I have been stepping out in new ways: this blog is an example. I have joined facebook, twitter, and a women's social network, Exemplify Online. You can find those links down the sidebar on my blog. But today I found a new connection that I want to make sure you know about that can encourage you to make some changes and reach out to others through the internet.
A Woman Inspired is an online resource for learning the steps and short cuts for building an online presence for ministry in whatever capacity God is leading you to do. They will be holding an online conference June 8 - 11. I am so excited for the opportunity to take part in this conference. There is no travel involved; it will be held online. If you go to their website you can check out the speakers and their topics.
I know this won't be for everyone, not because you couldn't handle it but you may not be ready for making any changes right now. But some of you are right where I am and need to know how to get plugged into the opportunities to reach out to those who need encouragement from God's Word and His work in your life and the lives of those you know.
I, like Paul, say this: I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Press on my dear friends! Don't fear the changes; God has greater things in store for you!
I had to take this pic when we were up at Hume Lake at Christmas. There is no end of hilarious images that come to mind for what might happen to someone who would zipline across the thin ice covering the shallow water. If they fell from the zipline they better not dive in!
I know how much we all love the assignments that involve building some model of what the children have been learning, but bear with me here.
Learning really can be fun! Just check out this castle my son Mark designed. If you look closely it is all chocolate! Now I can tell you that was a fun project to help with! Legos, cereal, marshmallow cream and candy bars. Hmm yummy! The downside was when he took it to share, he let the class eat it up (not the legos of course!) Glad I took the picture before hand.
What about our own creative projects? You might have a scrap book to work on or a sewing project to start, but I am actually talking about the ongoing projects of relationships. Our parents, our siblings, our friends, our spouses, our children; you get the idea. There is no end to the creativity needed in the project of relating to other humans in a meaningful, interactive way.
How do you find inspiration for your creativity in relationships? I love to hear what moms do to have fun with their children, or ideas of friends in connecting with others. How about you? What is something fun or inspiring or creative you have done recently to develop those relationship projects?
I don't know if your life has been touched by any spectrum disorders such as A.D.H.D., Asperger's Syndrome or Autism, but in searching for a cute picture of a balloon to lighten things up at my blog, I found this logo for The Balloons Of Hope. What a terrific organization and purpose! You simply have to check them out.
I don't think there is a better way to lighten things up along the Way than to hang out with children! I don't mean simply observe children, I mean play their games, sing their songs, IMAGINE things with them, read stories and just enjoy!
Jesus put children in very high standing you know. He made sure no one would keep children from Him; He told us that we are to be like children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Ever wonder what He meant by that? Was that another mystery image that didn't make literal sense like being born again? I am not a Bible scholar but I like to think after 28 years of formally hanging out with children I have an idea of what Jesus meant for us to do.
Children are so completely without guile and trusting. They don't judge, they accept. They imagine and enjoy God's creation fully. They love you just because you show up.
I think we are to love Jesus just like a child loves. I think we are to trust with the child's complete non-judgmental way of trusting. I especially think God wants us to fully enjoy His beautiful creation including all the people He made in His image.
You want to lighten up like I do? Go out and play!
Isn't this a beautiful picture? Looks like a day coming to a close on the Pacific Coast. Actually this is a sunrise over the Indian Ocean on the east coast of Sri Lanka. Such a peaceful image. Such beautiful people, a beautiful country.
It is not so peaceful there right now. What do you take for granted? Food? Water? Running water? Flush toilets? A roof over your head and a floor under your feet? Peace in your neighborhood?
Families in Sri Lanka have been caught in the cross fire for 25 years and lately things have gotten worse. People are being forced from their homes because of fighting and are once again being relocated to IDP camps (no border to cross so they are not refugees but Internally Displaced Persons) They have a common well, sometimes, corrugated metal for make shift shelters and palm fronds to weave into a roof. Poor sanitation, limited food. Relief supplies sent by international Red Cross is not getting to the IDP camps because the Sri Lankan army is preventing it.
Hope you saw my Friday Fun post. Humble Pie is a real thing not just a figure of speech. I am going to try that recipe this week; thankfully my family likes savory pie for dinner on occasion and a steak pie sounds yummy! But strawberry rhubarb sounds better!
That is really how we are isn't it? We would rather have things easy or fun and to have our own way than to have to give way to someone else. Dessert is better than veggies in some minds. I have been mulling around the difference between humility and humiliation since last Friday when I was hunting for a picture of a pie to use on the blog. I have a few thoughts and a couple of questions.
We want recognition for a job well done. You have seen it in a child's face when they finish a chore. You have felt the need when you have done a good deed that was almost hidden from view. We all have. Our self wants an Atta Boy! But what about when the opposite kind of attention comes? The kind of attention that points to a mistake or misunderstanding? What of our need for recognition then? Don't you want to just have the ability to become invisible? To have the elven cloak that was given to Frodo? I know I do.
Along the Way there are many opportunities to learn the difference between humility and humiliation. Some are public, like tripping and falling in a restaurant on Valentine's Day. True story. I did it this year. Hmm. You don't need me to define those two words for you but I do want to remind you of the importance of living out the difference. Being embarrassed by a mistake does not mean you lack humility; how you respond to the correction of your mistake will demonstrate the difference in your life. Do we assert that we are in the right when there is a conflict? Do we demand we get our way? Do we look for the recognition for our actions by talking about our accomplishments? If you or I say yes then we lack humility in that area (or maybe in all areas? Ouch!)
Jesus helps us with how our behavior needs to look as we walk along the Way in Luke 14:7 - 11. This isn't the only spot in Scripture we can see the difference between humility and humiliation. Paul exhorted us to remember how Jesus modeled humility for us in Philippians 2:5-8.
Big sandals to fill no doubt. But if you are a Christ follower you have the beauty of the indwelling Spirit who equips you to make the choice to grow in humility rather than demanding your own way. So here is my question: Do you walk with Jesus along the Way? Following Jesus is both a one time decision and a process involving moving from one model of life and behavior (self-centered) to a very different model of life (God-centered). Walking along the Way is full of change. The Way of faith is the ultimate grand adventure! For the Way up is really the Way down. It is really living out the difference between humility and humiliation.
Doesn't this look yummy? I had so much fun hunting for a picture that I had in mind for today's post. Ten in the morning looking at photos of pies may not be the best idea if you are trying not to eat too much, but this particular pie stood out because of its name: Humble Pie I don't know if you have ever used the saying "eating humble pie" but the above link tells a brief history of the term and gives a modern version of the recipe for what sounds like a delicious main dish! In my next post I'll tell you why I went down the rabbit trail hunting for pictures of pies. For now you can learn two new things by checking out the link! Happy Friday!