Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Sad Day

Today we honor the life of a fine man, doting father, faithful son, and loving brother. His little daughter cries, and wonders when her daddy is coming back. His parents bravely face a future without their only son. His sisters are numb.

We ask questions . . . the main ones being how and why? How did sudden death overcome his outwardly healthy body? And why was it allowed to happen? Why God?

Some questions won't be answered until later. Maybe someday we'll know and maybe someday we'll understand. For now, all we can do is say we cared for him and entrust his soul to the God he loved. And, for now, that must be enough.

"I will lift up my eyes to the hills--
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth."
~Psalm 121:1-2

Friday, June 4, 2010

Family Recipes

Ten years ago, Mom and I put together a family cookbook combining favorite recipes from both grandmas and adding ones Mom made during my growing-up years. I'll always be grateful we took the time to do that!
When I'm feeling discouraged or overwhelmed, the smell of porcupine meatballs simmering on the stove transports me to simpler, safer times.

If this is true of cooking, might it not also be true of family customs? Cultural standards morph so rapidly that young people face sweeping change every decade or so. How unsettling is that! 

On the other hand, if they observe their parents still abiding in the truths of their childhood, still experiencing love, joy, peace, and patience in an age where there is no peace, many will want that for themselves. They will return because the sweet savor of Jesus Christ draws them back to the God of their youth.

"Be imitators of God, therefore, 
as dearly loved children and live a life of love,
just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us
as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
~Ephesians 5:1-2

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Another Lesson from Sam

So Sam is now wearing a bulky blue cast from his upper thigh to his toes, making his leg as cumbersome as a solid wood plank. He doesn't understand that all he's been through will make his life better in several weeks, yet he's not complaining. Nor is he struggling against his cast.

Actually, he's adapted to it really well. When mommy's not there to help him, like in the middle of the night, Sam has taught himself to roll out of his lower bunk, scoot to the door and somehow reach up to flip on the light switch. (Good thing his brother is a sound sleeper!) Not a whimper, not a cry, not a shout! In time mommy or daddy comes to investigate and tuck the little guy back in bed.

What about us? Don't we also encounter distressing situations in life not knowing what the outcome will be? Be honest now--how do you respond in those situations? If you're like me, you chafe against them for awhile, maybe a long while, maybe even kick and scream. In the end you realize that all the fussing in the world doesn't make the situation any easier to swallow. And maybe by that time you've begun to discover some actual blessings from the accursed thing.

How good it would be if I, like Sam:
  • could be more accepting of trials that come my way and press on with my life despite them. 
  • could get myself off my bed of woe and make my way to the door, turn on the light, and wait expectantly for God to pick me up.

    "I press toward the goal
    for the prize of the 
    upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
    ~Philippians 3:14

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Rain Rain Go Away

Across the country and around the world, the weather has been remarkable in its intensity this year. Hurricanes, tornadoes, cold snaps, snow in May, and rain, rain, rain. Besides massive flooding, torrential rain is creating other problems . . . like sinkholes. Rain caused a sinkhole in Guatemala that swallowed up a building and gulped it right down--out of sight.

We in the Pacific Northwest are used to rain. Yet even here we've had enough! The dark drizzly days are getting many of us down. Some television newscasters even seem to be turning against their own meteorologists--like it's their fault. All this weather has caused me to think.

I'm leaving in a few minutes for a planning meeting of the 2010 Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference. Just a few months ago, at the 2009 OCW Summer Conference, we experienced record-breaking heat. Sweltering temperatures passed the one hundred degree mark several days in a row. And don't think that didn't cause consternation!

When it comes to weather, we seem to have a built-in need for moderation . . . not too hot, not too cold, and not too long. Moderation.

Now if we could just see the need for moderation in areas over which we have some control--like diet, exercise, entertainment, and work--we'd all be healthier and probably happier people. But that requires discipline on our part. So, perhaps it's easier just to complain about the weather and express our need for moderation that way. What do you think?

"Let your moderation be known unto all men.
The Lord is at hand."
~Philippians 4:5

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Wisdom with Largeness of Heart

Every day, citizens are bombarded with issues that require a thoughtful response. Every day, politicians and pundits make their cases. Everyone seems right--who do you believe?

As followers of Christ, we know that wisdom is just a prayer away. But keep in mind that God's thoughts are not man's thoughts--they are higher even as the heavens are higher than the earth. Therefore, the wisdom you receive from God will not always make sense to the secular world.

The wisdom that comes from above is first of all pure; 
then peace loving, considerate, submissive, 
full of mercy and good fruit; 
impartial and sincere,

as opposed to earthly wisdom which the Bible calls

unspiritual, of the devil,
full of envy, selfish ambition, disorder and every evil practice.

Is it any wonder that in a secular world followers of Christ often come across as naive and impractical? 

On the other hand, when we rail against evil without referencing God's mercy and grace, we also come across as judgmental and harsh.

When the psalmist needed wisdom, he sought God's commandments along with largeness of heart. May that be our request when we ask God for wisdom to deal with the issues of today. May all our "solutions" for the problems of the world be tempered with God's grace, mercy, and love.

Monday, May 31, 2010

May God bless our soldiers and the country they fought to protect.

We live near Willamette National Cemetery and feel privileged to witness the military jets perform their annual flyover during the Memorial Day observation.

What a blessing to live in a free country! Our soldiers have fought hard to procure that freedom for us. Many gave their lives, others lost limbs, and others still suffer from the emotional trauma of war. May we never lose sight of the sacrifices they made for us.

How can we ever repay them? We can't really. But we can honor them on this day. Throughout the year we should take every opportunity to thank soldiers we encounter for their service. We can support organizations that support them. We can demand that they receive excellent medical attention during and after their terms of duty. We can and should give them extra consideration when it comes to housing, education, and retirement benefits.

Most importantly, we can pray for them and ask God to bless them from above with His grace.