Wednesday, January 30, 2008

People are like stained-glass windows.
They sparkle and shine when the sun is out,
but when the darkness sets in,
their true beauty is revealed
only if there is a light from within.
Elizabeth Kubler Ross

Monday, January 28, 2008

message along the highway

Last week, I was driving down a busy road during the lunch-time rush. As I stopped for a red light, I noticed a woman, dressed in tattered clothing, standing in the median. Her arms were stretched high above her head holding a handmade sign. On a paper poster board, large letters were clearly printed in black. The sign read: STOP SINNING, COME TO JESUS. She wasn’t asking for money, she was just standing there, in the middle of the busy road, planting seeds among the traffic.

Her actions were a witness for Jesus Christ. As a child of God, my life is a witness for Him, either for or against. Even as a Christian, I am not immune from testing and temptation. I was born with a sin nature, and will never STOP SINNING. There is no escape from sin; it’s a reality of life. Even so, I can COME TO JESUS and ask Him for forgiveness.

I did some shopping and ran errands for a couple of hours. On my way home, the woman was still there, standing in the median, holding the sign high above her head.

if My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12 (NIV)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

in the midst of life

(Okay. So I had a little fun with my last post. He rather deserved it!)

Lately, I’ve been thinking about life. Actually, my life. I came across this old quote and it made me stop and question just how I am living my life for God: “Our life is a gift from God; what we do with that life is our gift to God”. Am I doing all I’m expected to do, all that I’m supposed to do? Have I loved enough, shared enough, helped enough, learned enough, cared enough, understood enough, laughed enough, accomplished enough, given enough, listened enough, worked enough, or trusted enough? No, I can never do enough, there is always more.

How better can I live my life for God? What should I be doing differently? What purpose does God have in mind for me? When I became a Christian, God changed me. He continually prepares me to do His good works. He also prepares the good works for me to do. (Disclaimer: I earn nothing by doing these good works. I do good works because God is in me.) There is always more that I can do with my life, my gift, for God.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10 (NAS)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

mea culpa

This lovable, adorable little five-year-old was a charming, mischievous, precocious, enthusiastic, compassionate, witty, and energetic child. I was chosen to be his mother, and although not faultless, I tried to do an honorable job.

Sadly, it has recently been made abundantly clear (refer to comment #2, Jan 14th post) that Mark and I are responsible for the adverse effect our parental deceptions had upon the formative years of Andrew’s childhood. In response, I offer the subsequent clarification…

Andrew was raised in a Christian home and was taught of the miraculous birth of our Lord and Saviour, and how God loved us so deeply that He sent the baby Jesus. We read him Bible stories about the manger, the shepherds, the star, and the wise men. He learned the true meaning of Christmas – that it was the birthday celebration of the Christ child.

We also participated in the tradition of the obliviously fraudulent little guy dressed in red, who, on the night before Christmas, traveled the world in a reindeer-led sleigh to leave presents under Christmas trees and fill stockings with goodies. This was part of the make-believe magic of childhood, akin to imaginary fairy tales, tooth fairies, Easter bunnies, cupids, leprechauns, etc. We continued in the pretense of these mendacious customs until Andrew naturally grew out of them.

Consequently, Andrew has an apparent resentment and hurtfulness towards me for taking part in the prevalent Christmas tradition of Santa. “Andrew, I ask you, in this very public audience, for my earnest forgiveness. I deeply regret the disappointment and disenchantment we caused you. I yearn for the day in which you can overcome the traumatizing and deceitful practices we forced upon your childhood. Oh, and no hard feelings...”

Monday, January 21, 2008

a mother's joy

Sing to the LORD, all the earth; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day. Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.
1 Chronicles 16:23-24 (NAS)

Hooray! Andrew begins seminary this week! As another chapter in his life unfolds, I admire him even more...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

spectacular snow

He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes.
Psalm 147:16 (NIV)

What a spectacular sight!

I was especially excited to hear snow was in the forecast today. Last night, eager with anticipation, I dreamed of Callie tasting the swirling flakes drifting from the sky. I would watch her cautious steps along the snow covered deck, shaking snow from her paws with each step. I looked forward to a tranquil walk down the street, holding hands with the love of my life, our footprints following in the new fallen snow.

Okay, time to jump back into reality. This picture is from December 1993. Hey, a person can dream…

Thursday, January 17, 2008

snow.... sleet.... freezing rain.... rain....

The breath of God produces ice, and the broad waters become frozen. He loads the clouds with moisture; he scatters his lightning through them. At his direction they swirl around over the face of the whole earth. Job 37:10 (NIV)

What a progression in the weather today. I saw snow flurries around 4 am. Sometime later, I heard the pelting of sleet. Around 10 am, I noticed freezing rain had replaced the snow and sleet.

The pine trees are bowing down under the cover of ice. The old cherry tree is striking in its crystal glazed silhouette. The bird feeders are crowded and the usual chatter is hushed in the stillness of the morning. Under a dreary gray sky, the landscape is a dazzling crystal kingdom.

and He was saying to them all, "if anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. luke 9:23 (nas)

I enjoy listening to Ginny Owens. This particular song of hers has been stuck in my head all day. I finally listened to it several times. I needed an encouraging reminder that God wants me to go thru some hardships. I know I’m being tested, and often I ask why, but I must remember I’m never alone. The lyrics say it so much better…

If You Want Me To (Ginny Owens)

The pathway is broken
And The signs are unclear
And I don't know the reason why You brought me here
But just because You love me the way that You do
I'm gonna walk through the valley
If You want me to

Cause I'm not who I was
When I took my first step
And I'm clinging to the promise You're not through with me yet
so if all of these trials bring me closer to you
Then I will go through the fire
If You want me to

It may not be the way I would have chosen
When you lead me through a world that's not my home
But You never said it would be easy
You only said I'd never go alone

So When the whole world turns against me
And I'm all by myself
And I can't hear You answer my cries for help
I'll remember the suffering Your love put You through
And I will go through the darkness If You want me to

When I cross over Jordan, I'm gonna sing, gonna shout
Gonna look into your eyes and see you never let me down
So take me on the pathway that leads me home to you
And I will walk through the valley if you want me to

Yes, I will walk through the valley if you want me to

Monday, January 14, 2008

tales/tails from my childhood

This story isn’t about a child’s bunny book, although, there are some very nice books about bunnies. It’s not about The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, not Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt, and not The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.

This story is about a little bunny and a little girl. The bunny had snow white fur sprinkled with black coal speckles, long silky whiskers, and eyes like a deep, dark pool. This little bunny had a large puffy tail, a wrinkle of a nose, and a kick in his heels. He had a comical little hop, a delightful disposition, and recognized his name was Frisky.

He and I had some happy times together. I would often take him from his cage, and the two of us would lie on a carpet of clover. Frisky would stay by my side, quietly nibbling his favorite meal, while I gently scratched his head and tickled his long, soft ears.

My Dad raised rabbits, and my brother helped with the feeding and cleaning of cages. I liked all the bunnies, but Frisky was mine. I took care of him all by myself.

Occasionally, Dad was the hunter, forging the cages to provide for his hungry family. For the sake of my sanity and general well being, I chose to ignore this aspect of raising rabbits. You see, rabbit tastes just like chicken, especially in casseroles, stew, or dumplings. I couldn’t tell the difference, and I didn’t want to know the difference.

One bright, sunny Saturday morning, I skipped out to the rabbit cages to take out Frisky. He especially enjoyed nibbling clover dipped in dew, and I enjoyed watching him. I stopped at Frisky’s cage, flung open the door, and excitedly called for him. The cage was empty.

My Mom had fixed a stew for Friday’s dinner. As Paul Harvey would say, “and that’s the rest of the story”.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

here kitty, kitty

Yesterday, Mark and I went to the NC Cat Fanciers show. We thought it may be a fun thing to do on a Saturday afternoon. It was held at the downtown Radisson Hotel (where Mark once locked his keys in the car).

The setup was rather interesting and educational for us “first timers”. The judging rings were remarkable to me. The pedigreed cats certainly acted like they were aware of their pedigreed status. Callie would never consider standing ceremoniously while an unfamiliar judge rubbed her coat and gazed seriously into her eyes and intently judged her features and closely examined her bone structure and inspected her graceful tail and tested her lovely temperament and whatever else they do. All judging aside, I was amazed that the noise level didn’t frighten the fancy cats. Just being in close proximity to other cats would send Callie into a tailspin. I was truly impressed.

After walking down aisle after aisle of various different cats, I decided my favorite breed was the Havana Brown, with the Russian Blue coming in a very close second. They both were quite beautiful and incredibly striking. Of course, Callie is my purrfect pedigreed, and she is all I want.


Friday, January 11, 2008

pity party

Today, I had a bad day. In fact, the whole week hasn’t been all that great. So, today I sent out invitations to a great big “pity party”. Of course, I was the honored guest. I received three RSVPs, and was joined by me, myself, and I. We all got together and complained about this, whined about that, griped about the other, moaned about another, grumbled about…well, you get the idea.

Shame on me! How could I feel sorry for myself when innumerable others are suffering far worse than I could ever imagine??? This Bible verse teaches me that "pity parties" are never God's will. I asked for forgiveness and for joy.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)

Lord, help me to remember to be thankful for the roses and the thorns, for the good and for the bad, for the joy and for the pain, for the pretty and for the ugly – all things in my life.
My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain; Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant.

Author Unknown

Thursday, January 3, 2008

reflections on the pond

There’s a thin coat of ice on the pond this morning. As the winds blow the coldness over the landscape, the goldfish have settled to the bottom into a comfortable state of slumber. The waters provide protection for them during the cold winter. The days of summer are but a memory of watching their playful antics and graceful dances. Until the season of rebirth, their striking gold flecks are hidden from my sight. But, the sun will once again shine warmly, and its brilliant rays will touch the sleepy little fish and gently urge them into the light. God cares for my two little fish. Oh, how He cares so much more for me.

26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
Matthew 6:26 – 31 (KJV)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008