Thursday, December 31, 2009


This year God graciously brought a younger woman to me and I've been able to share my faith-journey and life with her on a weekly basis. Right now I am reading the book Spiritual Mothering by Susan Hunt to find good advice on how to fulfill the role of "older woman" more impactfully than I do now.

In the forward alone were nuggets to share. It was written by George Grant.

It is women mentoring women. It is older women caring for younger women - teaching, nurturing, and encouraging them. She draws on a wealth of Scriptural material to illumine the righteous and venerable tradition of people actually investing themselves in people - rather than in programs, projects, or perspectives.

That struck me! We can get so caught up in a program or project that we miss the people. Generally, I would classify myself as a non-people person. Plainly speaking, I do not get energized by being with others, rather they just wear me out. I am invigorated by spending time alone - reading, praying, thinking. I can never get enough of it. I know God created me this way; however, I also know that He calls us to care for others. The life of a Christian is not about oneself, but about serving and caring for others. For some that is easier than others.

I'm an idea person. I literally have file box after file box of ideas all waiting to be discovered. I am beginning to see that possibly God has given me the personality and design to be a writer, but I feel woefully inadequate when it comes to expressing myself. Seeing that God has maybe designed me for a certain purpose gives me hope, but I can't get self-absorbed to the point that I forget about the people. There are my family members, my neighbors, my friends, my co-workers, my fellow homeschoolers, and so many more with whom I come in contact throughout my days. Who am I focused on? Them or me? Who does Christ call me to serve? Them or me?

1 Peter 4:9-11 (New International Version)
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Mr. Grant ends the forward with this quote by Theodore Roosevelt:

Do we see as we ought to see? Do we see the warrior witnesses round about us - or are we like the servants of Elisha, purblind and incognizant of the battle raging in our midst? Do we see the Savior before us - or are we like the disciples on the way to Emmaus, obsessed and possessed by our own concerns? Do we see - or are we casting about in darkness, flailing with sightless eyes? With what encumbrances have we ballasted the Gospel of grace with our lack of vision? Surely the Kingdom of Righteousness does not lack for resources. Surely the church is not bereft of ingenuity. Surely the just have bounteous opportunities. Yea and indeed, the single and solitary need - of the hour, the day, the epoch - is vision: the vision to see, the vision to do, and more, the vision to be. Lord of the Harvest, give us we pray: great men, great women, and great families. Lord of the Harvest, give us we pray: vision - the vision of gallant greatness.

My prayer is that you will have a blessed New Year as you strive to serve others in Christ!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Last Random Dozen for 2009

Join us for some question and answer fun. Just visit Linda at 2nd cup of coffee to link up!
1. Do you find it gross to share drinks with family? Friends?

Ehhh...yes and no. I might try a taste of something new with my family or share my Italian Cream Soda at Macaroni Grill with my girls (if they're well), but generally, I'm not about sharing. Friends - sorry.

2. What have you learned this year? (You didn't see a question of that weight coming, did you? At least not for #2.)

The brevity of life. We celebrated my grandmother's 80th birthday in May and she passed away in November. I had a cardiac event (like a heart attack, but with no damage) in August and that clearly painted the picture of how life can change in a moment. I think I've appreciated each day and lived more purposefully since then.

3. When do you dismantle the Christmas decorations?

On a good year during the week between Christmas and New Years (happened maybe once or twice!) Generally, I start taking it down on New Year's Day and it takes me a few days slowly puttering around to get it done. There's always a few items that I find later in Jan or Feb that somehow no one noticed though.

4. Something you wish to accomplish before the end of 2009 is:

A clean desk to begin the new year.

5. How do you feel about winter (after Christmas)?

I LOVE winter!!! LOVE IT! I get giddy when it snows. I love to bake when it's cold outside. I love the "quiet" of winter.

6. Have you participated in after-Christmas sales?

Does buying underwear online count? I do not go out into the fray of Walmart or the mall. I have a return to take back at Target, but I will wait another week or so to venture out.

7. Do you have plans for New Year's Eve?

We usually have a house full, but this year we can't find anyone available. Sad. We might go to my parents or we might go to a co-worker's party and try some international fun/food.

8. Is there anything special awaiting you in January?

My daughter's 8th birthday! She brings me such joy! She loves parties and I'm sure we'll throw a big one with friends sometime in January.

9. If your life this year was a movie, what category or genre would it be? (Romance, Comedy, Drama, Thriller, Suspense, Farcical, etc.)

DRAMA!!! (see question # 2), plus I have a college-age daughter who is seriously dating...DRAMA!!

10. How much time per day do you spend blogging? Please do not lie. I will know.

I go in spurts. At least one Saturday morning a month I will spend the whole morning writing posts for both blogs. I'll get 4-5 posts per blog and feel like I'm getting ahead. Ha! Some evenings I will just check my favorite blogs to read - under 15 min. total. Some nights I just read blogs for a couple of hours. I enjoy getting to "meet" new bloggers and it's a treat for me to spend time in the bloggy world.

11. Who runs your household?

Ummm...I'm the Chief Executive, but the Chairman of the Board is Mark. I keep us running, but the big decisions go to the top!

12. Share one hope/dream for 2010.

I want to reach out and make new friends in 2010...not worry about the house being perfectly clean, the food just right, etc. I just want to spend time with people and ENJOY them.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Prayer Please

Update: The concert went well. I played Nathan's bells and our music pastor directed/kept time for our handbell choir. It went without a hitch! PTL!! Nathan's surgery went well and he's recovering.

Please pray for Nathan, a high school student in my handbell choir. He went into emergency surgery tonight to have his appendix removed. He was to play a vital role in our Christmas concert tomorrow morning and I have been "playing the air" trying to learn his part. Please, say a prayer for me as I try to fill in for him.

Thanks, Everyone!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Devotional, part two: God's Timing

Back to Zacharias and Elizabeth...Luke 1 tells us that while Zacharias was performing his priestly duties the angel came to tell him he would be conceiving a very special son. Verse 8 states that Zacharias was serving "in the order of his division." I Chronicles 24 explains that the Temple priesthood was organized into 24 divisions, with each division serving twice a year for one week. Abijah's, thus Zacharias', division was the 8th. In ancient times the Lord had set the schedule for the priest's rotations. At some future date a descendant of Abijah is going to need to be on duty so that Gabriel can appear and tell him that what he has hoped and prayed for - a son - will finally come to pass.

Verse 9 tells us that Zacharias' lot fell to burn incense. This was a high honor. MacArthur's study Bible sheds light on the perfect timing of God. "Because of the large number of priests, most would never be chosen for such a duty, and no one was permitted to serve in this capacity twice. Zacharias no doubt regarded this as the supreme moment in a lifetime of priestly service. The incense was kept burning perpetually, just in front of the veil that divided the holy place from the most holy place. The lone priest would offer the incense every morning and every evening, while the rest of the priests and worshippers stood outside the holy place in prayer (v. 10)."

Zacharias had been born into a priestly family (the right job) and within a specific lineage (the right division, thus the right week of the year to serve). Then the lot (an unknown procedure divinely controlled by God) fell to him. He was given the honor to enter the holy place where Gabriel would bring him the good news.

Are you resting in the knowledge that God's timing in your own life is perfect? Maybe it doesn't seem perfect to you at the moment, but can you look back and see other events that, at the time, didn't seem timely, but in hindsight were perfectly timed by God? Psalm 18:30 reminds us, "As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him." James 1:17 encourages us; "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

I remember several years ago just after Katie had been born. Within the span of one month our landlord sold the house we were living in, Mark lost his job and we found out we would be having a second baby right on the heels of our baby-in-arms. My parent's graciously offered to let us move in with them. We knew God would use this time as blessing and restoration, but had any of us known it would last 10 1/2 months, we may have questioned our resolve. There was discouragement and faith-challenges during that time, but God's hand was evident. His timing would be perfect.

Let's return to Zacharias. This faithful priest enters the Temple to burn incense and off to the right there appears Gabriel, an angel. Gabriel shares how Zacharias' prayer has been heard and that he will bear a son. Gabriel tells him to name the baby John and shares how great this child will be in the sight of the Lord.

I marvel at how perfect the timing of the Lord is in this story. Not only does the Lord prepare the way for John's birth and future ministry, but the timing of John and Jesus' births also brought comfort and joy to Elizabeth and Mary.

Following the account of Zacharias in the Temple is the revelation of Christ's birth that Gabriel shares with Mary. In verse 34 Mary basically says, "How on earth is this going to happen?" A few verses earlier Zacharias has asked the same thing. Gabriel said that he was the sign as the answer to the long-awaited prayer and gently rebuked Zacharias by making him mute until it happened.

Zacharias was expected to believe.

In contrast (vs. 35-37) Gabriel explains to Mary that the Holy Spirit would come upon her (the how). One commentary says that Mary's was not unbelief, but wonderment. I don't know if there was a stark difference between their questions, but God gave them each what they needed to grow their faith and it didn't look the same. Gabriel also encouraged Mary's faith with something akin to "by the way, Elizabeth is also having a baby because" "For with God nothing will be impossible." That was quite a faith-boost to a young girl who has witnessed the longing and faithfulness of her dear relatives. Then Mary in faith says, "let it be to me according to your word."

God gives us all we need to trust Him. Zacharias' name means "Jehovah has remembered." He was not forgotten; He just needed to wait for the perfect timing of God. He lived faithfully, but he should have lived expectantly too. Easier said than done, isn't it!

My immediate family and my parent's recognized that God had given us a unique opportunity when we lived together for nearly a year. We did our best to maximize the time together and allow the Spirit to bring restoration/healing amidst a trial.

God has not forgotten you! Luke 12:6 says "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God." God is good and He is for you. Rest in faith believing that His timing is perfect, not only in the lives of Biblical characters, but in your life, as well. Remain faithful; God remembers you!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Random Dozen - Christmas Edition

Join us at Linda's blog for some Random Christmas fun!

1. Which physical trait do you now accept--maybe not love, but accept--and no longer feel extremely self-conscious about?

Hope this doesn't make anyone ill, but I've never felt extremely self-conscious about my physical traits(except the mole I got removed from my nose in Jr. High). My body has changed a lot, but I think I take most of these changes in stride.

2. This week Meredith Baxter Birney, best known as the mom on the favorite 80s sitcom "Family Ties" came out of the closet, which led me to formulate this question: Who do you think is/was the best TV mom?

Tie! Mrs. Walton and Mrs. Ingalls. Both dispensed wisdom with calm, both let their kids learn some things the hard way, both made the most out of what little they had, and both looked at life with a sense of humor. I miss those shows!

3. Do you speak any foreign languages? Are there any you'd like to learn?

I speak a LITTLE Spanish and German and I know some French lullabies (thanks, Mom!).
I would like to improve my Spanish skills.

4. Who is your personal hero?

Ugh, I saved this question to answer for last. I'm not a big "hero" person. I admire many traits about everyone I know; I struggle to find a "hero" in any ONE person, but the one person who keeps coming to mind is Peter, a disciple of Jesus. I identify with Peter's personality a lot. I can be impetuous, unreliable, passionate, adamant about truth and fallible. What I love about Peter is that as Christ's transforming work continues in his life, we see Peter become steady, reliable, while continuing to walk in truth passionately. Peter gives me hope that God can use anyone. So, I guess, that makes him a hero to me.

5. What is one holiday food that you find extremely difficult to resist over- indulging in?

Maybe Red Cake or fudge...yum!

6. Tell me about a Christmas decoration that has special meaning or sentimental value.

I inherited my grandparent's Christmas ornaments. When being stored they still reside in their original boxes which date back to the late 1920's and 1930's. They are delicate and beautiful. If for some reason I lost everything, Christmas would not be the same without a tree full of these family favorites.

7. How do you feel about snow?

Beyond giddy...I LOVE SNOW!!! LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT!!! We usually get our first snowfall on Dec. 5th (Really, it has first snowed on Dec. 5th about 7 of the 10 years we've lived outside of Wash DC!) My son shares with others that if I see a snowflake whirling in the air, we take the day off of school, break out the winter gear and get the hot chocolate ready. Snow makes me happy; I just can't help it.

8. On average, how many hours of sleep do you get each night? Not that I'm jealous of any number over three or anything.

7-8 hours; love my sleep too!

9. Tell me about your first crush.

I was in 1st grade (yep, I started early.) Mrs. Spencer, my teacher, had an 8th grade son who attended the same elementary school as I did. Mrs. Spencer's son, Tom, would spend his recess in our classroom grading our papers. I was IN LOVE! He was Sooooo Cute! I did my very best on every paper, because I wanted to impress Tom with my good grades. Ha! Can you imagine! When he was in our classroom, I just sat there staring...did I mention, soooo cute? :) Poor boy!

10. You're stuck in a room for 2 hours with only a chalkboard and chalk. What will you write/draw?

When I read this question, I immediately knew my answer. It's embarrassing. I would write whatever - probably the Pledge of Allegiance. I would be working on perfecting my chalkboard writing skills. Weird! I used to be a kindergarten teacher, what can I say.

11. Do you dress for the current temp or for the day's forecast?

Dress for the forecast. My kids have a cow when I make them wear a heavy jacket, knowing it will turn cold in the afternoon. Funny though, I never hear them complain about it once the cold weather gets here.

12. Favorite Christmas movie is?

I LOVE White Christmas. It is the only one I MUST watch (you know, "Snow, Snow, Snow, Snow!), but I love It's a Wonderful Life and Alastair Sim's A Christmas Carol too. It really wouldn't be a complete Christmas without all three.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Devotional, part one

Often during the month of December I spend my morning quiet times reading and meditating on the Scriptures describing Christ's birth. My first reading this week began in Luke 1.

Zacharias' story opens in verse 5 with "There were in the days of Herod...." MacArthur's Study Bible notes that this was Herod the Great, the first of several important rulers descended from the Edomites, offspring of Esau. "Herod was ruthless and cunning. He loved opulence and grand building projects, and many of the most magnificent ruins that can be seen in modern Israel date back to the days of Herod the Great. His most famous project was the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem [although it] was not completed until long after Herod's death."

The stage is set. In Jerusalem there are massive building projects, trade, worship - the hustle and bustle of a busy urban life. The scene opens on "a certain priest named Zacharias." We quickly learn that he and his wife Elizabeth were from the priestly line of Aaron, but more importantly "they were both righteous before God, walking [emphasis mine] in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless."

Can you imagine being recorded for the rest of human history as righteous and blameless before God? This couple's life was marked by faithfulness. Day in and day out they lived according to the Law. They faithfully worshipped at the Temple and sought to please God with their lives. Then the next word of verse 7 strikes me,


Luke records the faithfulness of two people, BUT the one thing in life they desired more than anything else - a child - they had not received. Then, as if to highlight the tragedy, Luke tells us "and they were both well advanced in years."

We, as 21st century Christians, know this story so well. We read over these first eight verses as the descriptive precursor to a miracle by God's hand, and although that is the exciting culmination of Zacharias and Elizabeth's story, there is much to be learned in the preamble.

When I was thirteen years old my mother took me to my first women's conference. I'm sure she just wanted to spend some time with me and give me opportunity to hear encouragement from a female perspective. Little did either of us know that by the end of that conference I would walk out with a calling of God on my life. The conference speaker didn't even address the topics of callings, and I was thirteen - what did I know about them? All I know is that I left that meeting knowing - completely assured - of what God was going to do in my life. It was quite a moment for a young girl.

I continued through my teen years, not focused on what God had revealed, but aware enough to not make any decisions that would exempt me from fulfilling God's will for my life. I went off to Bible college and began looking for opportunities to fulfill my calling. God, in His great kindness, gave me room to grow and I, like most college students, felt I had the world by the tail. It was all going according to the plan I had envisioned.

Then I got married to a pastor and we began working with youth and teaching in a Christian school. Life was hard, but again, God had put me right in the center of His will. I thought my life would be this way until death. BUT...

God delights in change. He loves to take a scenario in our life, and if it were recorded for history, it would include the word "but." It's as if God voices

"you may have thought this, but...",

"you may have wanted this, but",

"you may have gone here, but..."

Not only does this challenge our trust, but it challenges our faithfulness also. When those unexplainable circumstances in life come, are we faithful like Zacharias and Elizabeth? Do we accept the life God gives to us - trusting that He knows best?

In my early thirties my life fell apart and from my perspective, I thought the calling of God would never be fulfilled. Instead I was just beginning to be refined by fire. Oh, how I needed it! God had not shelved me, but it sure felt that way. All that I had been striving to accomplish went up in smoke. It hadn't been God's work through me. I had some God-sized lessons to learn.

In my late thirties, as healing continued, I realized that I didn't truly grasp foundational truths of God's love and grace. It's as if I had known about God, but didn't know Him. He patiently unfolded truths that had been so obvious mentally, but never truly experienced. God was real; He really loved me and there was enough grace to continue on.

Now into my early 40's I see the Lord's restoration in my life, but I've stopped striving for the calling in my own power. Like Zacharias and Elizabeth, my greatest desire is to be found faithful. Living daily by the Holy Spirit's guidance is by far the most challenging, but as I give up my own will and rest in what He calls me to do, I find that faithfulness manifests itself.

Like Zacharias and Elizabeth, God's calling will be fulfilled in me. I may be advanced in years, but God is faithful.

Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

I encourage you to take some time this holiday season to think about where you are in your walk with the Lord. Do you need to be more purposeful in your obedience so you will be remembered as faithful? Maybe you're in the middle of circumstances that have you clinging to God's faithfulness. Wherever you are, Immanuel, "God with Us," is there for you. Praise the Lord!