Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wait and See

"The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord," Proverbs 16:33

Almost every day, my thoughts go back to my new friend. What should I do? What do I want to do? What does God want me to do? I'm not 'twitterpated' as Thumper said to Bambi. There are no fireworks. I am not counting the days til our next meeting, but I do look forward to his calls now and anticipate them.

He is a godly man, one I have come to deeply admire and respect and he likes me. Yes, we've had that conversation and I am not sure what to do with it. There is so much to consider and think about.

He is a good man and one that I have no doubt would make a great partner. He is kind and considerate, loves God, intelligent, hard working, fiscally responsible, gentlemanly, and most of all meek.

Amos 3:3 reads, "Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?" When two people decide to pursue a relationship deeper, they must be agreed and have a common vision and purpose, otherwise you can have two oxen pulling in different directions and a whole lot of plowing not getting done.

I don't know that he and I are passionate about the same things or feel called to the same things. I don't know that we want the same things out of life.

During this season of autumn when the leaves are changing colors and falling away from the branches, I ponder the question-What does God want me to let go of in relation to this opportunity? My own dreams? My perception of how things must fall into place? Which ideas or endeavors am I to lay aside?

My friendship with him has been pleasant and healing after the last relationship I was in. It is also encouraging to see that there are God fearing men out there who love God, like women, and are available. Yet after praying and talking with friends for advice, I am still not sure what to do at this point other than continue the friendship with him.

For someone like me who likes to know the plan and how to prepare myself, that just hasn't been enough. Unfortunately, God doesn't seem to agree.

Yesterday afternoon, I grabbed the tall stack of square paper notes sitting on the kitchen counter, ripped off 4 sheets and individually wrote out the following options on each sheet: marry, date, remain friends only, or wait and see. I crumbled each one up, tossed them around in a plastic container and said, "Alright, God. I don't know what to do with this situation, what am I supposed to do?" Thus the lot had been cast in a sense.

Are you ready? Can you guess? It was not what I wanted to see, but just like God to do this. I reached in, pulled one out and slowly unfolded the sheet of white paper. It read:


I hate waiting. I don't know anyone who enjoys it, but I am reminded of Philip Yancey's quote, "Faith is proceeding on incomplete evidence, trusting in advance for what will only make sense in reverse."

I don't know what I am going to gain in the end from all this. I do not see the sense in it now and I do not like having to WAIT and SEE.

My mom, Linda laughed when I told her. She knows I want to know where all this is going and what am I to do with it. My friend has been amazingly patient through this and I, too, am being asked to be also.

Eccl. 8:5-6 reads, "..the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure. For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a man's misery weighs heavily upon him."

So that's it, in a nutshell, for now. I can only hope the time for seeing will be sooner than later, and both of us will be ready to receive what the Lord has for us in this matter.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Trees

I have often wished for and wondered if trees could talk what would they say? Whether it be the Great Sequoia's and Redwoods in California or the Maple's and Oaks at Vanderbilt's Mansion in Hyde Park. What must it be like to remain a tree and observe the people and environment around one evolve?

They intrigue me. Roots anchored deep in the soil, holding things in place, while branches climb upwards and out; they are a symbol of life, solidity, shelter, and beauty. We have used them for a variety of purposes throughout the ages and they just keep on giving.

My favorite is the Great Sequoia. Well over 200 feet tall and almost 40 feet in diameter. I imagine it to be like standing next to God, the Father, so immense, so strong, so stoic and elegant, and yet inviting. Inviting all to come and rest beneath and be nourished by it's beauty.

I've never been to California, nor do I know when I'll go, but I long to stand beneath the greatness of this gentle giant.

Centuries ago, when cathedrals were built, the ceilings were untouchable and many formed an apex, pointing towards heaven. Today, many church structures are not so. Our structures do not reflect the majesty we are to embrace and reverence is greatly lacking. Yet those Great Sequoia's continue to stand tall, pointing heavenward and inviting all to rest beneath.

I do not know when I will have the privilege of coming face to face with one. God only knows if I will even be able to articulate the extraordinary workmanship of He who created it.

Isaiah 55:12 reads, "You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."

Monday, October 25, 2010

What's in Your Hand?

Luke 9:12-14 reads, "Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, 'Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.'

He replied, 'You give them something to eat.'

They answered, 'We have only five loaves of bread and two fish-unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.' About five thousand men were there."
They only had five loaves and two fish. I had a bag full of fabric scraps, a box of junior artist cray-pas, and a few sheets of 11x17 poster paper.

Their task? To feed five thousand.

My task? To do the art for Sunday morning service.

Jesus' instruction to both of us? "You give them something to eat." (Luke 9:13)

How? Jesus took what they had, gave thanks, broke it, and passed it out to the disciples to distribute.

Their end result? Luke 9:17 reads, "They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketful's of broken pieces that were left over."

My result? A colorful picture illustrating four trees in four different seasons, with a bird flying from autumn into winter, and a narrow, black path in front for pedestrians to travel along. It was a picture and message God directed my shaky hands towards completing. It was well spoken at the right time for what was happening that day in the service and illustrated what season our church is currently in-autumn.

They, the twelve, couldn't foresee or plan ahead for the amazing opportunity they were privileged to take part in and neither could I.

Before the service I entertained the thought of backing out or not using the cray-pas at all. It was new and different. What if I messed up? What if it didn't come out right? Cray-pas doesn't erase.

I'm glad I didn't back out. I'm glad I prayed, "God, you have to guide my hands because I'm not sure what I'm doing. Help!"

Now, I'm encouraged and strengthened, humbled and blessed. God chooses to work in and through us, in spite of our weaknesses. He looks to us to bless and feed His sheep.

So what's in your hand? What do you have to give for others to feast upon and be satisfied?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Oh, look at the time. How time flies when you're having fun. Time's a wastin'. Time is how most people spell love, especially children. As we all know, we make time for what's most important to us. Unfortunately, that has not included time at the gym this past month or so and my body is not appreciative of it. However, my friends are.

Saturday was time to pray with my dear friend and neighbor, Ellen. "How's it going Ellen?", I inquired when I called.

"Not so good. I'm in bad shape. I'm spending the day just resting and praying. Would you come over and pray with me?," she asked.

"Do you want me to come right now?," I responded.

"That would be great. I'll see you in a bit," she answered.

Ellen is facing cancer for the second time. This has been the roughest for her. She had not been to church in 3 weeks. She longed to play the piano and get up and go. Her body is not letting her do that now. She's found it a struggle to walk and even care for herself on a daily basis. Nurses come to check on her almost daily, neighbors have gone shopping for her and meals on wheels deliveries have become a support as well.

I had not seen Ellen in awhile or heard from her, but I kept wondering how she was. This day, I no longer needed to wonder. Ellen needed a friend and prayer. As I listened to her debrief about the past few weeks' events, I could sense the longing in her to be finished with it all. She would be utterly content for Jesus to call her home to be with him, but it does not appear to be time. I listened. She cried. I cried. My heart ached for her and we prayed. I don't know how long it was, just that it was time needed.

Later that same day, I visited my dear friend, Natalie, of almost twenty years. We spent the afternoon catching up on all sorts of tidbits; from the twists and turns associated with medical practitioners merging to relationships and all the politics of teaching in America today. We shared. We laughed. We cooked together and ate. I can't tell you how much time had passed. All I know is it was late when I got home.

Sunday? I was up at the crack of dawn and picked up my mom, Linda, bright and early at 7:00 a.m. We were walking together at the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. This was the first time my mom could go and we did the walk together. Afterwards we went shopping and had lunch.

I am thankful I did not spend a lot of time on the computer this weekend. I am thankful for the time I had with Ellen and Natalie on Saturday and the time with my mom, Linda on Sunday.

Tonight, I received an email from Natalie with a most gracious note expressing her gratitude for our friendship. It was then that it hit me. We've been friends for almost 20 years and still counting.

Ellen has been my friend for about a year and Linda a mom to me for the past 23 years. All of it precious, precious time.

In the book of Ecclesiastes it reads, "There is a time for everything." It is always something nobody seems to have enough of and yet everyone desperately needs, but the Bible admonishes us again and again that we do have enough time. Ecclesiastes puts it simply when it explains how there is a time for every activity and season under heaven.

I pray I'll understand the times I'm in and apply a heart of wisdom. I pray I continue to cherish the opportunities to reach out, pray, rub shoulders with, and bless the ones God has placed in my life for this time. After all, nobody knows how much of it is really left and it's hard to keep track of that which has escaped us.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Something New, Something Inevitable

I recall hearing the infamous Holocaust survivor, Corrie Ten Boon say something to the effect of "Hold onto things with loose fingertips." To be more direct, in the book of James we are reminded in 4:14, "why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."

Life being what it is, we never know what will happen and must be open or prepared for anything. More than anything, prepared, is what I prefer to be. Sometimes this is feasible and other times not.

While driving to the airport on this past beautiful, sunny Saturday, I hear, the announcer very matter of factly, inform us of a frost forecast for Sunday. Twenty eight degrees- yikes! The one weekend I decided to go away and my garden was left defenseless against Mr.Jack Frost. What could I do? Desperately, I called my mom and dad to see if they could go over and cover the plants. I left a message and never heard back from them, so I wasn't sure if the pink Hydrangea along with the others had survived or not. Upon returning last night, I saw mom and dad had indeed answered my call for help and everything was in tact.

However, driving home tonight, I hear once again, "Patches of frost expected throughout the valley." After dinner, I pulled out the white, tall, kitchen garbage bags and headed out the door with a pair of scissors in hand. Clear as day, inside my head, I hear, "You're prolonging my work." Yes,I know the frost is inevitable for this time of year, but naturally, I still want the precious flowers to last through til the end of the month.

Once I got outside, I proceeded to slit the bags down each side and then carefully cover the flowered plants while tucking the sides under stones. Some of them still have new buds that have not yet opened. I don't want to see them die.

After treading back upstairs and into the warmth of my apartment, I remembered a verse I read this morning from Isaiah 43:19, "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it?"

I love the pink Hydrangeas, and white impatiens amongst the other blossoms in the garden, much like I love many other things in my life as well. I wish they bloomed year round. I wish Jack Frost was an enemy they would never encounter. Yet, I also know that change can be refreshing and is always inevitable. It is the something new God brings to us through His hand.

No doubt, I'll still be outside each night the rest of this week, doing what I can to protect the blossoms that remain. May God grant me the serenity needed to accept the things I can not change.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Let Them Play

"The glory of God is man fully alive," wrote St. Irenaeus. At times I've contemplated what that means to me and in my own life, but today there was no mistaking that people, more specifically kids, are fully alive when they play.

This year, I decided to have my fourth grade students learn a new American English proverb each week. Monday they are given the proverb to copy in their journals and practice at home for the week. Each day's activities then revolve around some type of lesson that connects the statement of truth with language arts, science, or social studies. The more connections made linking everything together, the better it will stick. Letting them play as part of that process? Absolutely unforgettable and necessary. Today, was a testimony to that.

"In unity there is strength" is our proverb for the week. Their task for science was to experiment with loose parts-tape, paper clips, Popsicle sticks, rubber bands, pipe cleaners, and yarn. They had to play or tinker with the items to create a design that represented the concept of unity. They could use all of the materials or just a few, but their final product could not break or it would be back to the drawing board.

Three of the girls gathered together at the first station, while the boys paired off at two other stations set up in the room. Feverishly, all of them worked trying to put things together that would form some kind of shape and not break. Kim started out with a circle and kept adding different materials to reinforce the edges while saying, "I'm upgrading." The other boys made triangles or diamond shapes with all the materials and the girls simply created one large circle linked together with all the different items. At the end of class came the testing time. I took each item one by one and proceeded to pull or break the items apart. Every one's broke, except for Tiger's. He started with a triangle shape and then reinforced it with other materials and lot's and lot's of tape. On the way out to the bus he boasted to another teacher, "Mine didn't break!"

Their conclusion? The more tape and stickiness, the harder it is to break; which leads me to thinking of another truth. "And over all these virtues put on love which binds them all together in perfect unity." Colossians 3:14

Love is the glue that binds us together, "because love covers a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8.

I have a long way to go in learning to love others that completely. Being the first one to take the initiative to love that way is quite another matter also. My prayer is that my students will be able to fully grasp how important it is to love and grow into that for the sake of peace and unity.

Today they were fully engaged, alive and testing what it is that makes materials strong and unified. I have no doubt they will remember the lesson for a long time. Now it is making that connection to loving and working with others. I suspect that too will come through more playing. Why? Because it's fun and they each have their own part to play.