Saturday, January 30, 2010

God Showed Up

No matter how long you walk with Christ or how thoroughly you study prayer, there are times you need more than your own faith. You need the strength of other believers.

I had one of those dreaded weeks. I faced a fear-filled hospital test--for my husband. The procedure had its risks but the news it could bring was even more scary.

We didn't sleep well during the nights before the ordeal. Sometimes we found ourselves awake at 3 a.m. holding hands and talking. Rest eluded us.

The morning for the procedure arrived and I drove my husband to the hospital. I felt alone as I saw my strong husband flat on his back with very little covered up in one of those hideous hospital gowns. Reality dawned and I felt my resolve crumble. Lord, you are a very present help in time of trouble. Where are you, Lord?

My cell phone started ringing. Good friends--an elder from our church and his wife were in route to the hospital to sit with me. "We are driving through Starbuck's on the way. What would you like?"

My mother-in-law called next. My husband's father left early that morning and drove five hours through a downpour. He was only minutes from the hospital.

The pre-op cubicle started filling up. A little Polish nun showed up and asked if we wanted to pray. There we gathered: a scared wife, my husband flat on his back, an elder from our church and a sweet Polish angel talking to the God of the universe.

My father-in-law arrived just as my husband was being wheeled into the surgical suite. They grabbed hands and both swallowed hard. No matter how old you are, there is no one like your dad at a time like this.

I moved to the waiting room with my Starbuck's skinny vanilla latte. God answered my prayer and showed up. My father-in-law sat on one side of me and my good friends on the other. Texted prayers buzzed my cell phone. I was not alone.

The surgical waiting room phone rang 45 minutes later, right on schedule. The nurse reported the good news that all was well.

I thought of Luke 5 and the story of the paralyzed man who needed to reach Jesus.

Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to push through the crowd to Jesus, but they couldn't reach him. So they went up to the roof, took off some tiles, and lowered the sick man down into the crowd, still on his mat, right in front of Jesus.

My husband and I were like the paralyzed man that morning. We felt overwhelmed by what we faced. Our friends and family showed up and carried us to the feet of Jesus.

For more spiritual refreshment visit Spiritual Sundays.

Winter Blahs

January and February are tough months for me every year. I am a SAD sufferer. This may sound pathetic but SAD actually stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder. A surprising number of Americans fall prey to this gray cloud that roles in each winter.

Complete my post at Heart of the Matter {Online} where I am a contributor.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just Add Water

I had not heard a peep out of my two preschoolers. I thought no noise was a good thing--until their big sister suggested I go check on them. And hurry!!

I found them in the bathtub surrounded by all of their stuffed animals. They were playing Noah's Ark. My son was Noah and his sister was.... Mrs. Noah.

They had not missed a single animal. Their giant bear and lion took up most of the room in the tub. The tiny stuffed mouse was there and every sized animal in between.

One thing was lacking. I got to the bathroom just in time. My son had his hand on the faucet as he struggled to turn it.

Who would ever guess that teaching Bible stories to children could be so dangerous.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

God's Faithfulness

The first signs of Spring popped out this week. I let the dogs out early in the morning and I noticed bright green shoots that seemed to have sprung up overnight.

I looked around the yard and saw more signs - just the beginning. It is as if the earth, the plants and all of nature are about to burst forth with life--once again.

Why am I surprised?

While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
And cold and heat,
And summer and winter,
And day and night
Shall not cease.
Gen. 8:22

God is faithful. This past year saw many twists and turns. Shocking events occurred in the nation's economy. Natural disasters abounded. Yet, springtime is showing its first signs of arrival, as it has every year on schedule. The steady rhythm of God's faithfulness undergirds us as His creation reveals.

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. --George Washington Carver

For spiritual refreshment, visit Spiritual Sundays.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Letters to Darcy - a book review

Letters to Darcy by Tracy Ramos (Tyndale House Publishers)

Letters to Darcy originated as a blog, written by a young woman from Texas named Tracy Ramos. The blog was comprised of a series of diary entries that Tracy wrote to her unborn daughter, Darcy, over the course of approximately nine months.

Early in her pregnancy, Tracy learned Darcy had a rare, terminal genetic condition known as Trisomy 18. Of people diagnosed with this disorder, about 95% die in utero, and for surviving infants who live to term, less than 10% survive their first year of life.

Tracy’s response to her unborn daughter Darcy is an incredible testament to the sanctity of human life. You will walk with Tracy and Darcy through each entry and see how lovingly mom Tracy cares for her unborn child. Through her simple, honest, and intensely personal entries, Tracy beautifully and convincingly answers the question: When does life begin?

About the Author

Tracy Ramos is a stay-at-home mother and home educator. Tracy lives in Magnolia, Texas, along with Jason, her husband of twenty years, and their six beautiful children. She will soon give birth to her tenth child, Brooklyn, in mid-November 2009. Darcy, her ninth child, has joined two other siblings in the presence of our Lord.

Tracy’s life and passion are her family. She loves spending time with them and enjoys playing games and sports, watching movies, working out, and riding her Kawasaki Ninja with her husband. She gets a rush from finding great shopping deals—even when she chooses not to buy. Tracy spends her free time reading, clipping coupons, and going on Facebook.

“I absolutely love my life. Thank you, Lord.”

For more information on this book and details on ordering go to Tracy's site .

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Xtreme Parable

In our family's busy, fast-paced life I find one of the best times to talk to my kids is when we are driving. At least they can't jump out of the car and escape if they don't like what they hear.

I felt a discussion or devo on Jesus' parable of salt and light would be appropriate. So on a recent drive time spiritual talk, I reminded them of Matthew 5:13-14:

You are the salt of the earth.
But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

My two teens seemed to grasp the importance of being salt and light in the world. We all agreed that light was meant to shine in darkness and too much salt is not very tasty on food. If all believers hid in churches they wouldn't be doing the job that Jesus had for them. In Bible times salt was used to preserve food so Jesus might well have meant that it is important to be people that influence in an unbelieving world.

Then my Mommy concern kicked in. I reminded them that we have to be careful when we venture into the dark--the world--or places that might easily influence us rather than us as believers influence them. It is not good to lose our saltiness.

My son got it. "It's like bungee jumping, Mom. You take a risk but you wouldn't jump without the bungee cord to keep you anchored to the platform." He knew that if you didn't stay anchored in truth--God's Word and Christian fellowship and accountability you would plunge to a painful end.

I think my teen was quite eloquent. If Jesus walked on earth today rather than 2000 years ago, he might use bungee jumping in one of his parables. I can just imagine Christ smiling or even chuckling as he listened to my son explain Matthew's parable with his own xtreme interpretation.
Visit Spiritual Sundays for more weekend refreshment.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Eating Worms

The refreshing breeze blew in through the open window over the sink as I washed the dishes. I watched my two preschool daughters playing in the grass below. The beautiful day and view of my children made me a happy mama.

The peaceful scene was disrupted by a wail. "I'm going to tell Mommy on you!"

"Okay, okay, you didn't really eat a worm." The oldest started the damage control fast to keep from getting in trouble.

This tale is a family favorite from twenty years ago and it still brings a chuckle. But, I've often wondered how my four-year-old convinced my two-year-old that she ate a slimy, disgusting worm. Wouldn't you know something like that, for sure?

Then I wonder how often I actually swallow some of the disgusting half-truths and flat out lies served to me by Satan - the Father of Lies. I am afraid, more often than I should.

I am so quick to believe:

  • I'm not pretty enough
  • I'm not spiritual enough
  • I'm not skinny enough
  • I'm not a good enough parent

And the list goes on and on.

It is at these time that I must ask God to let me hear His truth. Let me see myself as He sees me. I want to know how He feels about me. The only way to do that is to dive into His Word and arm myself with His words to me.

For starters, I reread Zephaniah 3:17--God's own love letter to all of us:

The Lord your God is in your midst,

a mighty one who will save;

he will take great delight in you;

he will quiet you by his love;

he will exult over you with loud singing.

That is a message I can swallow and it beats eating worms.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Grateful for Life

The young woman behind the paint counter darted toward us and nearly knocked my husband over as she got his attention. We were on a weekend trip to the hardware store when we encountered the saleslady.

"Do you remember me?" she asked my husband.

My husband nodded and they traded small talk until the girl said, "Let me show you a picture."

She opened her wallet and showed my husband a picture of a two-year-old boy. "This little fellow is the best thing that ever happened to me!" My husband admired the handsome youngster in the photo.

The woman shared a few funny stories about her son and boasted of some things he had done. She was sure these feats meant he was brilliant. My husband nodded with a grin.

The young woman was soon to be married to a wonderful man. Her son adored her fiance and the lady beamed as she shared their future plans.

We walked on and as soon as we were out of earshot, my husband said, "That is a happy ending!" He had tears in his eyes and had to wait to gain composure before speaking further.

He explained that the young woman visited his family practice office three years ago. Young, single and afraid, she wanted to know what to do with her problem--an unwanted pregnancy. The girl felt that she had no options but to end the pregnancy. She was a student and would have no family support if she had the baby.

My husband listened to the young patient that day and then offered the advice she requested. He told her that there was another option--life. He took the time to show her pictures of babies, photos of life in the womb at the same age as her child. He listened again and answered her questions.

The girl left the office without a decision but armed with a brochure and phone number for a local crisis pregnancy help center. He had not seen the girl again until today.

I hugged my husband. We both had tears in our eyes and were thanking God in the middle of the hardware store--grateful for the life of this little boy.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Fingerprints of God

Sometimes a fast trip through a museum can teach us as much as a long, lingering visit. Last week I went to the Museum of Natural History in New York City. With only one day on the schedule for this stop, I had to make every moment count.

I looked over the museum map after buying my ticket and found the nearest employee. "How long will it take to go through the whole museum?"

Without looking up, she said, "A month if you want to see every item." She obviously got this question often.

The urge to meet the challenge took over. Checking my watch, I started off at a fast pace, wishing for roller blades. I wanted to see it all. My husband and teens were left in the dust.

The next seven hours found me stepping through the panorama of history. Every continent on earth was represented with ancient pottery, musical instruments, jewelery, weapons and all manner of cultural items.

There is something clarifying about seeing it all quickly. Artifacts began to blur together but the similarities raised questions. How is it that every culture discovered how music works? Stringed, percussion and wind instruments were prevalent on every continent in every ancient culture. They were made of whatever animal or plant parts were available but the science behind the music was the same.

Beautiful and intricate artwork abounded on pottery, jewelery, clothing and even weapons. What is that drive in every people group that longs for beauty? Engineering degrees may not have existed back then but the science of engineering was evident in agriculture and building. Where did they learn this?

Religious worship or appeasement was evidenced in many forms in each of the ancient cultures. Nature worship was prevalent as early citizens of the Earth sought to understand the forces of weather and the displays in the heavens.

I couldn't help but call to mind some favorite verses. In Acts 17, Paul stumbles upon a pagan monument of worship in Athens, Greece and has this to say:

For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: To an Unknown God. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth. He is not served by human hands... because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.

God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.
For in him we live and move and have our being.

The creative nature of man came through in every ancient culture. This is not surprising when we consider that God created men and women in his own image and he is the original creator. His first act in Genesis is creation--and God created the heavens and the earth. He created plants, animals and finally man--in his own image. God the creator created creative people.

So, I found God in the New York Museum of Natural History. At least His fingerprints were everywhere.