Thursday, November 17, 2016

Packing

How do  you pack for a funeral and a celebration?

I'm filled with tears, knowing that a man who has been so inspirational in our lives, is moving on.
On to his real home but leaving us!

He's 90.  And he's ready.  But we're not.

I'm not.

I haven't learned everything yet.
Just one more visit, one more memory, one more Bible study, one more time around their table.

But time is a funny thing and life is fragile and we can't keep it forever.

He's the most content man I know.  And his wife loves him beyond measure.

They are 90.  And he is homeward bound.

They have showed me, in their everyday lives, what extra ordinary means.

What living in grace and acceptance, and family and community means.
What living with honor, and giving, and sharing looks like.

In ordinary life.

University life, military life, working NYC life, church life,  retirement life.

I hope I get to tell you one more time that I love you.
And you are so important to my life, my family's life.
 And that you have lived up to the gospel you taught and loved.
 And you taught many through your whole life,
not with words so much,
but with your life.
Bravery, honor, courage of convictions, love, and acceptance
And peace
and our Savior
and thanksgiving for the life that was given him
and the people that surrounded him
and the Savior that gave himself for him
and the hope that enabled him
and the direction he focused on
Heaven

Thursday, September 8, 2016

I Corinthians 4:1,2

"Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.  Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."  I Corinthians 4:1,2

Faithful....not perfect or absolutely correct.

But faithful.

We can all do that.

Be faithful, be committed, show up, be present.

I was visiting with some friends last week who have exemplified faithfulness to me over the 52 years that I have known them.

They are 90.  Well into their 80's they were teaching Sunday School to young children; having women and men's Bible Studies, taking people into their home who needed a temporary home, writing notes, calling friends, encouraging others, loving people.  When they moved into their home in South Carolina, she had a sign painted that sits over their kitchen door.  Bethany.  A place for respite for others.

 And they continue to love the Lord and His church, the Word and His people.

If you call or visit them, they will tell you that "The Lord has been so good to us.  He has blessed us so much.  We can't believe all the things He has done for us, given us, blessed us with."

And yet they are having to make decisions that people that age have to make.  And it is hard.

But when I leave......she gives me gifts, as usual, and a note that says:

"What a gift your coming to bless us has been!  Thank you - a taste of heaven.  I have a long way to go to take all this senior stuff  IN STRIDE!  But I have the Son of the King, no less, to help me!"

They both, have taught Rob and I, about living for Jesus, everyday in our ordinary life.

Being faithful and continuing on.......forever.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Emma

I have a friend.

Her daughter, Emma,  just had her 17th birthday the beginning of August.

Emma.

Emma has never sat by herself, stood, walked, talked, dressed herself, fed herself.

She has never crawled into bed with her mom and dad, but they have crawled into bed with her.

She has never begged for a birthday party with her friends, but every year they have a big birthday celebration with family and friends and a table loaded with good food and birthday cake.

She has never irritated her mom by pestering her to go to the movies with her friends.   But Emma has been to lots of movies that all kids her age like to see.

Emma goes to the beach, and wears a bathing suit.

She goes to church, the mall, the flea market, the doctors office, the hospital.  She goes on vacation.

She wears all the latest fashions!  And has the greatest hair ever!

And talk about a teenagers room....Emma has a room that any teenager would long for.

She's run a 5K, right in front of her dad as he proudly pushes her jogging wheelchair.

She has bookshelves full of books.  And likes Harry Potter.

She's never told her mom and dad how much she loves them, but they have told her continuously how much they love her.

And although unspoken, she lets them know when she is content, when she is hurting, hungry, uncomfortable, happy, sad.  Or when she thinks something is funny, or when she is mad!  And Emma lets them know that she loves them, and her grandparents, and cousins, and brother, and aunts and uncles.

I've known Emma since she was born.  Her birth caused me to know her parents and to be a part of their lives regularly for several years while they lived in upstate New York.

I've been a Christian for 50 years.

This family teach me Jesus.






Friday, July 29, 2016

Thank You Notes

My mother taught me a lot of things.  How to be organized, how to clean, how to prepare nutritious meals, how to entertain, how to love children.

But one of the most valuable things she shared, and modeled, was an appreciation of the time, gifts, and fellowship that people gave to her.

She taught my sisters and I to write a note of thanks for Christmas and birthday gifts.

I was "downsizing" my correspondence basket on my desk the other day when I came across this little letter we received.

We had given a Passover Supper a couple of years ago and invited some families with children.  aAt one point during the meal several children are to ask questions about what the meal is all about.  And currently we did not have any "young children or grandchildren" in our home.

 One family could not all attend but their "older" boys were interested in coming with the neighbors who were attending.  They sat upright and big eyed in the dining room which was all set up with our best china and silver, and various different foods were presented.  During one part of the meal a small glass of red wine was served, signifying the blood of the lamb which was applied over the Israelite's doorposts the night before leaving Egypt.  They did ask for the "real" wine but we thought their mom and dad would appreciate the grape juice we served them and the other children.

We had a wonderful meal together.  Shared scriptures with each other and had a new appreciation of the meaning of Passover.

And on Sunday I received this handwritten thank you note from the six year old who had sat so politely and attentively during the whole meal.

This was a special thank you note!

Monday, May 30, 2016

view from a backyard garden: Memorial Day-Bravery

view from a backyard garden: Memorial Day-Bravery

Memorial Day-Bravery

I just finished reading The Lost Airman by Seth Meyerowitz.

It's the true story of an American top-turret gunner, Arthur Meyerowitz, Seth's grandfather.

 On his second mission, in a B-24 Liberator, the plane was shot down over occupied France.  He was one of only two men on that crew who escaped death or immediate capture after parachuting to the ground.

The bravery and courage of not only Arthur, but of the French people, especially the famed French Resistance, was not only inspiring but extremely challenging.

I'm familiar with the Norwegian Resistance from my family stories.  Of men who skied and hiked over the mountains at night, for contraband rifles and guns.  Returning in the dark to climb trees near their summer house, and hang the weapons high in the branches.  Out of sight to all except those who hid them.  The Nazis hid many of their U-boats in the deep water of the fjords on the coast.

There was a network of brave and courageous men and women who provided safe houses in southern France, shielding fallen US and British airmen from the Gestapo and Vichy government.  The journey to freedom was not only perilous to the airmen but of those that hid them  And many of them, not only the Resistance fighters but local village people, were tortured, beaten, starved, sent to concentration camps and killed, because of their kindness and involvement.

So this Memorial Day I would like to give tribute to those who have given their lives during these wars.  And also to all those civilians who have given their lives to protect them, encourage and guide them and help them.

I hope that I'm as brave and courageous as those I've read about.

The Bible says "Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."  Joshua 1:9


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Love, Grief, Honor

I started in Genesis again in January.

Beginnings.

I'm in 2 Samuel.  The time of the judges ending and beginning of the  kings.

I'm reading over a familiar passage now.  David's lament for Saul and Jonathan.

David speaking after being told that Saul and Jonathan have died in battle.

"The beauty of Israel is slain upon the high places; how are the mighty fallen!  Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.  You mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neithter let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings; for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away. the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil.  From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty.  Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided, they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions........."

Wait!

Did David say that Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives?

Yes, Jonathan was.  He was David's best friend.  And knew that the Lord had taken the kingdom away from his father, Saul, and given it to David.  And Jonathan still loved David.  He risked his life for David.  He swore an oath to David.

But Saul was lovely and pleasant?

Really Lord?

 The previous chapters tell me that Saul was not pleasant.  At least to David.   He hunted David to kill him.  He threw spears at David in the palace.  He put impossible demands on David to keep a promise of his daughter in marriage.  Saul made David an outlaw.

And yet throughout the narrative of Saul's kingship, David is always honoring him as God's anointed.  David fights the Philistines for Saul, He sings to Saul when Saul is morose and melancholy.  He encourages Saul, is obedient to his demands on David.  David will not let his men kill Saul when the opportunity presents itself.  He always honored Saul as God's anointed.

It's amazing.

We live in an inhospitable world.  Either nature, accidents, illnesses, famines, wars, abuse, anger, difficult relationships at work, home or community put a stress on our ability to live the way the Lord intended.

David, though by no means perfect, gives us a window into love, grief, and honor.

Unconditionally.